Make the Investment

Make the Investment

Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Complete lacking nothing. Fulfillment. Abundance. Oneness. The purpose of Christ in us is to give us new life as Children of God. We make excuses for the “lack” in our life to accommodate the real problem. Those areas of life not meeting our expectation are not fully given to God in our covenant with Him. People live diversified lives. Christians are people. Rather than putting all our proverbial eggs in one basket, but choosing to invest time and energy in multiple endeavors. Kingdom potential requires a Kingdom commitment. Our covenant with Christ is made complete as we learn to live in union and communion with Him forming one body, mind and spirit. It is truly a spiritual marriage and relationship that requires all of our physical, emotional, and spiritual effort to form and maintain. It is not different in the natural realm. If I half-heartedly approach my marriage, I will not have one for long. I will not reap the benefits and blessings of living a lifetime with my soul mate if I choose to share my life, mind, soul and body with someone else. It is easy to commit spiritual adultery and it be socially acceptable to the world when in fact it limits our potential relationship with Christ.

I am in this world but not of this world. Where is my investment? Where is my interest? Am I really living a Kingdom life or just merely imitating a commitment that really has not been established on a covenant level? All in. That is the commitment demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the Cross when He died for us. He gave everything to have a forever relationship with us. To give us a new life. To hand over the keys to His Kingdom giving us full dominion in this life traveling to eternity.

Matthew 6:20 (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

How important is unity with Jesus Christ in your life? On a personal level, how much time, talent and treasure are invested in pursuing the Lover of your soul on a daily basis? Do you treasure your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you value His Words, His Way and His Work? Where is your treasure today? If everything was taken from you, would you still say, “It is well with my soul”? My prayer for you is that you never dip to that level of abasement like Job to lose it all just to find his soul. Usually, it is the harrowing edge of life and death that call our attention beyond the daily struggles and daydreaming to the reality that this life is short. It is futile. We are merely traveling through to eternity which is far more important in the grand scheme of things called life.

Jesus hinted to the level of investment required when He shared two short parables in Matthew 13. The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl give us insight to the level of commitment required to obtain the Kingdom and God’s Standard of Living. Once you discover the Kingdom, it must become your passionate pursuit to possess it such as the man who sold everything to own the field with hidden treasure or the merchant who found a pearl of great value and also sold everything to obtain it. Kingdom life will cost us every second of every day until our last breath is exhaled. It must be the thing that we desire the most. It must be our life’s mission to find it and own it.

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

What are you settling for today? Trust is the union that produces Kingdom life for ordinary people. To have faith in Christ that supersedes what we see and decide to trust Him right there at His Word. Faith is not logical apart from the Word who is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love and desire for us. To trust Him with our heart. Our broken and jaded wavering heart is to believe that no matter what happens God loves us and intends to welcome us into His Kingdom. The secret is simple. Seek His Will in all you do. He will show you the path to take. It means developing a relationship with the Lord that becomes a strong union so that He becomes a viable partner in our life. Someone we confide in. Converse with. Listen to. Take instruction and guidance from. Wait for. Believe in. Trust implicitly with our life.

I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT)  Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

When Jesus died for you, He did not claim you a prize or reward. He has given you and me the freedom to choose how to live life. You are free to choose the Lord or reject Him. It is really that simple. It does not change who God is or the identity of His Son or the Presence of His Spirit – the decision belongs to you. It defines you. Kingdom living is not some intricate and detailed rules and regulations set forth by doctrine or theology of great churches. It is not that “old time” religion. The Kingdom is the community formed by the Body of Christ. In other words, there is a place for you in the Kingdom. You belong there. Your new life has benefits and blessings – intangible and tangible – that are waiting for you and can be claimed by no one but you. Our covenant with Christ has given us an inheritance whether claimed or forsaken it is still designated for you. The over complication of Kingdom principles have been set forth by the church to explain the lack of consummation. In other words, if there is no open heaven – it is not our fault.

Jesus Christ offers a place for us to abide in His Love and live in unity with Him. Like God, He doesn’t lie or change His Mind but simply waits for us to respond to His Love. Grace is always enough to open the doorway to your residence in the Kingdom of God. All you must do is walk in. Moving our life into the Kingdom works just like moving to a new city, home or location. The greater the baggage the longer the process. When our family recently moved, I spent months going through our old house getting rid of all the stuff accumulated over the years. Closets were cleaned. Items sold. Many things given away. When it came time to leave, it was all packed in a moving truck, trailers and several cars to be moved to the new house. Box by box. Piece by piece. Everything found a place in our new home or was discarded. We must do the same in our spiritual life. We are not homeless. There is a place in God’s Kingdom for each of us. An open invitation to come and live that life now. It is not just an eternal promise but daily offering to taste and see that the Lord is good.

The simple steps set forth in I Thessalonians show just how easy it is to begin to plant our life in the Kingdom of new beginnings. Daily choices to seek Jesus and live in communion with Him. These are the steps of completion that lead to success and prosperity that produce natural, physical and spiritual abundance. The giving of our life to Christ is a sacrifice of this life and common practices to live in partnership with Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. I must decrease to allow Christ to increase in my life and spill forth as He promised. Evaluate your life. How do you spend your time? Living in the rat race or fighting the good fight of faith? Working 9 to 5 or pursuing the Lord 24/7. When we acknowledge Jesus in any area of our life, abundance and blessing will follow. When we give Him our problems, Jesus has the solution. Our pain is exchanged for healing. We are Kingdom people who have real estate unspoken for that will only be claimed by commitment to become one with Christ.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

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Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I don’t know about you but I set some pretty high standards for myself on any given day. Without goals, there is no way to reach higher levels of expectation. Comparison can be the worst of all enemy’s because it adds to the pressure of performance. So naturally, with all this focus on me, I fail miserably. The unmet expectation puts a baseball bat in my hand so I begin to beat myself up over and over again in all the ways I fall short. Taking it to the next level, all things I want to do to please the Lord, to be faithful, obedient and steadfast in faith never seem to reach fulfillment. I continue to sin despite every effort to avoid it. I cannot seem to get control of the rebellious thoughts and stinking thinking. Trying to fulfill all responsibilities and religious obligations combined is overwhelming with such weak flesh and a rebellious mind. God’s Grace is enough for me. His Grace emphasizes the freeness of His Love toward us. It is a product of His Mercy.

God gives us new mercy every single day. It comes because we need it. It is available. It is already provided. Mercy is the character of God that religion often misses but relationship fully embraces. God’s Mercy is always available but seldom considered. Maybe if we could understand God’s Characteristic called Mercy, we would understand the significance of it.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion

Psalm 78:37-39 (NKJV) For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.

God knows you are only human. A breath that passes away and does not come again. He knows the workings of our heart and the weakness of our flesh. Yet, His Compassion for us never fails. When Jesus went to the Cross, He died for every single sin and offense of every single person. Think about it. No fault of failure, past, present or future, is unknown and unforgiven by God through Jesus Christ. Even when our shortcomings and weakness surprise us – His Mercy keeps us from the punishment deserved. God is love. (I John 4:8) Our sin keeps us from God but doesn’t not in any way change the fact that He loves us. His New Mercy delivered each day is evidence of His Love.

Mercy is God’s Consuming Commitment

Romans 5:7-9 (NKJV) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

The Bible tells us that “greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) But what about your innocent child…your only child. I love my friends. Yet I am called to love my enemies the same. I might lay down my life for a friend. But if you are asking me to love anyone enough to give up one of my children, I must draw a line. My kids are nonnegotiable. God’s Mercy is evidence of His Consuming Commitment to a restored relationship with us. It is the precedent of His Grace that provides access to His Love again. It allows us to live apart from the consequences of sin and bask in the Light of His Love. God loves us completely and wholly right now. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost, or somewhere in between. His Love for us is uncompromised by our current condition. Freedom in Christ and application of His Grace gives us access to God the Father to enter His Presence and experience His Love in a tangible way. It was and is always available and just one prayer away.

His Offer of Everlasting Communion

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 

John 14:1-3 (NKJV) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

God’s Mercy provides a place in His Presence and Heaven for us. Revelation 3:20 describes the relationship that the Lord desires with us. It is not as a slave or servant but beloved child. God prepared a place for us in Heaven in advance. When sin barred our entrance, God’s Mercy kept justice from consuming us. He sent Jesus, His Only Child, to die for us and provide the grace needed to pay our sin debt. Jesus released His Spirit to commune with us now as a helper and reproducer of God’s Likeness in us. He identifies us as Children of the Living God. When we fail or fall short, it is not a shocker to the Lord. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even in the foulest and most depraved state of any human being, God’s Love remains intact for them. His Desire to receive them and commune with them is the mercy that meets them each morning. God will stop at nothing for us to discover His Grace and does it with new mercy each day. By grace through faith – we are able to access the place that mercy built for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

I always love to see “but God”. “But” nullifies everything stated before it. Ephesians 2:1-3 outlines my condition before I received God’s Grace. That’s right, even when sin consumed me, death imminent, in complete disobedience, rebelling against God and His Kingdom, and fulfilling the desires of my flesh – God loved me and gave me new mercy every day. It is His Longsuffering Character called Mercy that leads us to repentance. God is rich in mercy. It is because of His Love that He send Jesus to die for us. His Desire to make us part of His Family alive together in Christ is what caused Him to build a place for us called Heaven. God’s Love and mercy for us was never compromised by sin. He loves and desires us anyway. Mercy is the evidence of this valuable truth that should bring us much encouragement today. His Expectation of us is to accept His Love and Mercy by His Grace to live in a right relationship with Him forever. This should resolve unmet expectation with confident hope that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s Love. I need to be aware of God’s Love and Mercy every day. His Mercy is all the encouragement I need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. His Love is a constant commitment to me that I cannot brush off, sin away, or refuse. He will send it anyway! Open the door to your heart today and you will see you have a special delivery. It’s a package marked mercy. It belongs to you. Why not use it today? Those who do will overcome and be more than conquerors empowered by great love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

How’s Your Love Life?

How's Your Love Life

Matthew 27:50-51 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Everyone loves a love story. A feel good tale of the boy that comes for the girl against harrowing odds. He catches her right before she gets on the plane. Throws pebbles at her window before singing her a love song. The Hallmark-made-for-television-movie love where boy meets girl, they fall in love, overcome obstacles, and end up together when all seems lost. Love is awesome. Relationships matter. Stumbled upon often yet so hard to maintain. Love begins with desire that is fueled by passion. How do we keep love alive? I shared some words about intimacy last night in a church service. I have an intimate relationship with my husband, my children and even a few close friends. But do I have an intimate relationship with Jesus? The sum of my life will amount to nothing at all unless I discover this love stronger than death.

What is intimacy? The world defines it in a variety of ways. It pursues it by different means. Intimacy is the state of being intimate. It is a close, familiar, and affectionate, loving, and personal relationship with another person. It also means a close association with, detailed knowledge and deep understanding of a certain subject. Finally intimacy is expression of love and affection that is exhibited in an abiding union. It is synonymous with terms such as closeness, familiarity, warmth and affection. It is to allow people to establish a place in our life much closer than the usual and customary. Christ desires intimacy with us. It is the first thing Jesus established once He died on the Cross. He paid our debt and claimed His Prize. His Beloved. It says it right there in black and white. Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. What happened next is often overlooked but should be cherished forever! “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The veil in the Temple was a barrier prescribed by God to keep us from carelessly wandering into His Presence covered in sin. Sin is immediately consumed in His Presence and men literally died from their irreverence and ignorance. So the Lord placed a curtain around His Presence so that only those fully prepared and ordained would come and go – He didn’t want us to die in our sin but live in His Grace forever. The curtain was no joke. Its dimensions were significant. It was about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick. When the ultimate offering was made and His Sacrifice accepted by God – this massive material woven together into a single piece which was seamless was torn from top to bottom. No man could have done such an act and so quickly – clearly it was a message from the Lord and open invitation to enter His Presence and live in His Midst.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

We can make God into a lot of different personalities according to our experience or lack thereof. He is often defined by the human beings around us rather than getting to know Him in an intimate and personal relationship. I have a lot of friends who I love dearly but none of them will replace my relationship with my husband. He is my partner. He is my soul mate. I live in constant and abiding covenant with him as one. I am also the Bride of Christ. My relationship with Jesus trumps even the relationship that I have with my spouse. In fact, there is a strong possibility that I would be another failed marriage statistic outside of the Grace and Goodness of God that is the center of our life. In Christ, we live, move and breathe or at least could if we so desired. There is a difference between receiving Christ and embracing Him. I may meet ten new people today. Not all of them will be given immediate access to the innermost workings of my life or details of it. It takes time and trust to decide who is allowed in our inner circle. Jesus Christ immediately imparts His Spirit to us when we believe. Now whether or not we accept and embrace His Spirit partnering and becoming one with Him is really up to us.

Jesus gives us hope. It finds security in our life of love and commitment to Jesus Christ. Outside of Him, the concepts called love, faith and hope really do not make any sense. God is love. The very essence of His Being is love. He created us from His Love, for His Love and to be the focus of His Love. Have you entered into His Love today? Have you embraced the privilege called Presence? ”God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable…” The Lord has made it a point to express His Unfailing Love to us. He opened the door to His Presence and invites us to come in and commune with Him. Become one with Him. To let His Love become so passionate and fulfilling that it radiates from us like a beacon in the dark. The whole point of the Cross was God’s Desire to love us up close rather than from afar. To make our life better by making us better from the inside out. Have you ever watched someone fall in love, grow in love, and mature in love? There is nothing more precious than to watch to elderly lovebirds who still hold hands after 50 years. My grandparents were together 70 years before he passed away. I cannot imagine being alive that long much less in love that long. Jesus wants to live a love story with you and me that lasts forever. He was willing to die for it. He longs to give it new life and new possibilities. Will you be the one who ventures past the veil today? I intend to be.

Song of Solomon 8:5-7 (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.

How’s your love life? Is it passionate or fizzling out quickly? Do you know what true love is? Have you ever experienced love at first sight? Do you dream of falling in love all over again? My husband and I went on a date last weekend. We do not do it nearly enough. Caught up in life and family it is not our habit to carve out precious minutes just the two of us. We planned our date midweek. After spending most of our Saturday doing chores, it would have been easy to just order takeout and stay home but we didn’t. He even opened the car door for me. Put away our phones and just spent some time together. We do not do it enough. However, it is moments like these that keep love alive. To stop life long enough to enter intimate moments of togetherness. It is the kind of love that fuels passionate marriages, families and friendships. God loves relationships. He is the one who instituted it. Jesus came and did away with all the other commandments leaving us with just two mandates – love God and love each other. We cannot do one without the other.

Jesus demonstrate love as strong as death and jealousy as fierce as the grave. He placed the Light of His Love inside of us to be a catalyst in our relationship with Him so that all other relationships in life can find security on its foundation. We can love and be loved without expecting anything from anyone because Christ is our fulfillment. Such a love cannot be drowned out by noise, taken by a lie, overcome by trial and troubles, it is secure by the hope found in an intimate relationship with Jesus. Will you accept His Invitation today? He will never force His Love on us but offers it day in and day out. He is a gentle suitor and always the perfect gentleman. All we says is “yes” and make a time and place for Him in each day. Love comes with a price. Jesus gave up His Life to love us. It would seem a little time and energy wouldn’t be too much on our part. Set Him as a seal on your heart today. A seal on your lie that will become a love stronger than death. He is jealous for you. Why not be jealous for Him? Desire His Attention. Long for His Embrace. Listen for His Voice. Come when He calls. Jesus wants to live a love story with each of us today. When the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom immediately following His Death it was a declaration of His Love and His Commitment in pursuing us and having our love and devotion. The happily-ever-after is up to you and me.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A Covenant Life

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Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Nothing creates division or conflict faster than politics and religion. I avoid both subjects completely when working and socializing due to the usual outcome. Conflict is not the lifestyle of the godly. Our thoughts, ideas, morals and ethics may not be the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ or the world, it is not important that I am right as that I am Light. Living at peace with God promotes unity and is pleased by harmony among all mankind. We have only one enemy. He comes in many shapes and sizes even using people to do his dirty work. However, righteousness offers freedom that ends arguments and overcomes conflict. I have always told my kids that it takes two to tango. Ending an argument is as easy as walking away and choosing not to engage in it. It is important to pick and choose battles. Conflict must end in covenant for the godly to experience fullness of life. Why is living with others so much work? It is a prerequisite to living a holy life. We must look after each other or risk receiving grace. If I am not gracious and forgiving to others, the same is withheld from me. Bitterness has a price. It robs us of God’s Glory shining bright in us. We must learn to overcome pride and pursue peace at all cost.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT) When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

To set the scene, there is a famine in Gerar, the land of the Philistines like the time of Abraham. (26:1) The Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but remain in the land as a foreigner reminding him of the covenant between God and his father, Abraham. So Isaac stayed. When the men noticed Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, and her beauty fearfully he lied telling them she was his sister. However, King Abimelech called out Isaac on his ruse instructing all the men to stay away from his wife or risk the wrath of God. (26:7-11) So there is already bad blood between Isaac and his neighbors.

The bitterness only grew worse when Isaac planted in famine and harvested abundantly. The Philistines reacted to his sudden wealth and unexplainable prosperity by filling up his wells with dirt. (26:15) The king decided to kick Isaac and his family out of his country. (26:16) So Isaac moved on and reopened the wells his father, Abraham had dug. In addition, he opened a new well discovering fresh water. The shepherds of Gerar claimed it to be their water so Isaac named the well – Esek which means argument. (26:20) So his men went and dug yet another well, but again there was a dispute over it so he named it – Sitnah which means hostility. (26:21) Abandoning that well, he dug another one. There was no dispute over this well so Isaac named it Rehoboth which means open space. He said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” (26:22)

Genesis 26:23-25 (NLT) From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Overcoming conflict, arguments, and hostility maintained the Blessing of Abraham on Isaac’s life. When conflict arose, Isaac simply moved on. Not once, but over and over again. The Lord spoke to Isaac reminding him that there was no reason to fear. God was with him as he remained in right standing with God by overcoming conflict in his life. Isaac had every right to fight for the wells his men dug and defend his righto the water flowing from them. He didn’t. He walked away from conflict choosing covenant over conflict will produce prosperity in our life every time. It is by faith in believing that God our Father will meet and exceed our expectation that allows us to stop fighting for our rights and walk away from conflict to maintain our covenant with Jesus Christ.

Genesis 26:26-29 (NLT) One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.” They replied, “We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!”

Isaac’s commitment to covenant rather than embracing conflict allowed him to have great influence over King Abimelech and the people of Philistine. The same ones who threw his family out of their country came seeking a covenant with him. By choosing to embrace our covenant more than pride offers us influence in this life that bickering and bitterness never allow. “That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”).” (26:32-33)

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Jesus Christ brought us the new covenant. The old covenant made complete by His Sacrifice for sin. We have but one new law to live by. Love. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) How does Christ define love? “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) What is love? “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is not lust. Love is not emotional. Love is messy. Love is hard. Love is a commitment. Is the life that I live demonstrative of true, real and authentic love as defined in God’s Word? Does the world know me by my talk, walk or religion? Or are they fascinated by my love and commitment to others? Conflict has no place in covenant. If we are in covenant with Christ, it means the end to all conflict. Pride must be crucified in covenant. Covenant is the end of self to choose a new union. Those who believe have entered a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. This covenant should be evident in every attitude and action in life. The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out. Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:9-10)

2 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

Conflict usually stems from pride. Pride is a faith stealer and joy killer. It tells us that our expectation will not be met if fully reliant on Jesus Christ. It gives us an inner need to be right. God didn’t tell us to change the world. He called us to be Light that shines in the darkness that draws people to the Love of God fully expressed in our life. Conflict leads to dysfunction, division and death. It is not enough to forgive and forget. We must remain in covenant with all mankind to be firmly established as God’s People. This begins at home and also includes friendships, work, and church. Disputes do not honor God. They place our faith in someone or something else to satisfy, bless or prosper our life. Complete unity with Jesus Christ makes Him the Mediator of the new covenant in life. It means when I am wronged, hurt, abused, betrayed, lied about, disregarded, ignored or put out that He is all I need to forgive every offense, hurt and devastation because He is enough. He is more than enough. When I reconcile my life to Jesus Christ the result is peace with God and mankind. All people. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am free to love without expectation because I am fully loved.

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

My husband and I have been married a long, long time. The early years were tough. Marriage is work. It is the commitment to love one another until death. Those years included some knockdown drag out fights, loud arguments, and many disagreements – but our covenant of marriage meant that after the dust settled and tempers cooled coming back together and working it out. You cannot ignore these issues or they become roots of bitterness that rise up and overtime will suffocate love. We chose to honor our covenant more than our feelings or need to be right. There were times when forgiveness was not based on agreement but commitment. Our marriage to Christ partners us with Him and secures our membership in His Body. To live a life worthy of such, we must live a life worthy of our calling. It doesn’t matter how much we do, how loud we preach, how right we are, how committed we seem, or how devout our church life – if we do not learn to love each other choosing covenant relationships over conflicted emotions – our light will go out. A marriage cannot survive when threatened by pride. Each must give up their way to pursue one way. The same is the truth of the Body of Christ. If the members of a church meet in agreement, forgive one another, and establish healthy godly relationships – how can we every become disciples of Christ who love completely, fearlessly, selflessly and sacrificially as Christ first loved us? Thank you Jesus for new mercy that allows me do-overs when I mess up or miss it. Lord, teach me to love like you do. Show me the way. Examine my heart and remove all pride and bitterness by covering it in Your Blood and washing it with Your Word today. Thank you Jesus for this new covenant. Lord, I want to live a covenant life. Teach me to always choose covenant over conflict so Your Spirit may move freely through my life. Show me the way! I want to experience Your Glory and be the Light called Love that attracts others (all others) to You!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Rain is Coming

the-rain-is-coming

Hebrews 11:6-7 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Living in Florida, one becomes accustomed to the humidity. When my sister moved to Nebraska many years ago, her body acclimated to the weather up there that is much drier than the tropical conditions of the south. On her visits, the intensity of the humidity was much worse because she isn’t used to it anymore. It doesn’t take very long. Our daughter moved to New Hampshire just over a year ago and feels the same way. The environment has changed and their bodies have adapted to the conditions around them. It is human nature to conform to the world in which we live as a means of survival. God didn’t create humanity to survive but made us to thrive.

Life is full of the unexpected. It has many twists and turns along the way, not to mention all of the distractions. Storms come and go. The road of life is filled with peaks and valleys – highs and lows. Yet in all the change there is one constant. God is constant. He is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word for my life is relevant, true and enduring – no matter how many times I mess up. His Grace is always enough for me. It is sufficient in my failures. He is all that I need to successfully navigate this life and reach Eternity. Yet there are days when the rain drowns out the sound of His Voice because I am afraid to get wet. There are times when the conditions call my attention to my physical state rather than relying on the New Creation that I am becoming.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2) My life is not a call of conformity but a promise of transformation into a new person. I must change the way that I think and learn God’s Will for my life. His Will is pleasing and perfect. It is my belief and full expectation of God’s Faithfulness that allows me to endure the rain to see His Harvest in my life. It is my destiny. It is the covenant that I live in. Lord, I know the rain is coming. I can feel it in the air of my spirit. I can smell it all around me. Make me faithful like Noah. Lord, transform me.

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. It is impossible to please God without faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Our faith in God allows us to be transformed by Him giving way for the substance of our life to be changed and reformed by His Love, Grace and Mercy. Faith makes my life pliant and compliant. It transfers my belief from what I can see to what I know is true. This is important. Why? Into each life some rain must fall. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Genesis 6:9 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

The account of Noah begins in Genesis 6. Noah was righteous. He was the only blameless person living on the earth. Note: it refers directly to Noah and not his whole family. Your righteousness and faithfulness can be the salvation of your entire family. He walked in close fellowship with God. God was sorry that He ever created mankind and decided to flood the earth and rid it of people altogether. All except for Noah and his family. (vs 11-13) The Lord had already made the way for Noah and his family to be saved and recreate the world for their future. God told Noah what to do and Noah did it. The task was overwhelming. The Lord did not bring anyone alongside of Noah to assist and partner with him. It was all up to one man, God’s man to get the job done. Funny in the tests of faith – that we find ourselves all alone even when surrounded by many people. Noah had a relationship with the Lord long before the flood. His faith already evident so that when the Lord told him to build the ark in the sunshine of day – Noah did it.

Genesis 6:22 (NLT) So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Genesis 7:5 (NLT) So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 8:15-20 (NLT) Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.” So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.

Noah was a faithful man. He did everything as the Lord God commanded him exactly as God indicated. His faith would be the vessel (or boat if you will) that saved his family. Noah’s faithfulness was not based on his current condition or the surrounding circumstances but consistent through every season and change in his life. He was 600 years old when he entered the ark and 601 when he exited. He did not complain of a year wasted but came prepared to worship God when he arrived.

Those who walk in close fellowship with the Lord cannot help but worship Him. Noah was that man. I want to be that woman. God’s Response is noted in verses 21 and 22. “And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Did you know that in every season, change, trial, hardship and pain that we endure faithfully that God will always release His Blessing? He cannot help Himself. Our faith opens the windows of Heaven. His Outpouring is the rain that washes us clean and prepares the way for us to not just survive but thrive on the earth. What is the blessing of the flood? Prosperity. God blessed the earth and commanded seedtime and harvest so that whatsoever we plant we will reap.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT) “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Could you really blame God if He went back on His Word and destroyed the earth today? The sick depravity of our culture and abased state of society even the tainted form called church could be easily destroyed in its utter demise. Sin is rampant and love is cold. We are living in the end days. The rain is coming. Are we building a life that will be a worthy vessel to crossover to the future found in Him? Thank you Jesus for the fact that you are constant, do not lie and never change your mind about us. I would. Your Faithful Love is forever. My faith in you must live as such.

Paul described the struggle best in Romans 7 when he wrote – “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” The struggle is real. My faith must be intact and worthy of sailing through the violent storms and torrential rain to carry me from everlasting to everlasting. But it is not about me, I cannot build anything worthwhile in my life because sin is always attacking it. I must rely on Jesus to become the vessel of my life that carries me through every trial and hardship. I must strive to do what He says when He says it in spite of me. The Word of God tells us that those who put their hand to the plow and look back are not fit for the Kingdom. I wonder if it is the same for those of us that hear the command to build a firm foundation of faith but choose to put our hand out to feel for rain first.

Luke 17:26-27 (NLT) “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

The isolation of obedience driven by a life of faith means ignoring what we see to act on what we know about God. It can sometimes make you feel a little crazy. Everyone else is doing their own thing, enjoying life but you are in a field alone hammering away at a boat to sail in a storm that is not yet seen. You feel conviction that compels you to press on obeying God’s Word and doing exactly as He commands yet the enemy taunts you from the sidelines. Faith seems so illogical sometimes and probably will right up until we meet Jesus face-to-face. It is still the only way to please God. What is the Lord telling you to do today? Is He telling you to do something crazy like build an ark for an imaginary flood? Faith is telling you to do but human nature is calling you a fool. Build the ark, my friend. The rain is coming. Keep pounding away at the foundation of your life until it is completely reliant on the Word, Will and Way of Jesus Christ. It not for you, do it for your family. God is faithful. Jesus is coming. The rest is up to you and me.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Every Blessing

Every Blessing

I Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV)

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

Just two verses hidden in the Old Testament bear a revelation much larger than the text. Many years ago, Bruce Wilkerson brought the story of a man named Jabez to light. Pulling this individual out of the Old Testament and thrusting him into the light, many people including myself were greatly encouraged by his story. The first verse tells of how he came into this world and that despite the bad label of “I gave birth to him in pain”, he went on to be an honorable man. It is my belief that anyone whose name makes it into the Word of God does so with a purpose so I also believe that Jabez caught God’s Attention with his obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. The second verse is the request of this man before the Lord. His petition was simple yet profound. Lord, bless me. Enlarge my territory. Let you hand be with me. Keep me from harm that I will be free from pain. “And God granted his request.”

 

I am challenged in my heart today by the concept of fullness in God. What does that mean? My baby girl woke up with an upset stomach today. She is a Child of God. She is saved and full of the Holy Spirit. She shares Christ with her friends. She is demonstrating faithfulness in her young life at a tender age. If she indeed living an honorable life, why is she sick today? Why do we have pain, suffer, endure hardship and experience trials if we are saved, sanctified and filled with God’s Spirit? Do we ask the Lord for more if there is fear that it will need faith produced only through fire? His name bore the mark of his arrival with pain. He was delivered by pain so much so that his mother named him after his past. Did Jabez run from his past or learn to live in the present? He lived in the present. He was honorable, credible, consistent, and upright despite the mark against him. My past has marked me severely. However, it does not limit me from the Fullness of Christ today. My thought is that sometimes we settle for less because we know who we are and fail to accept all of Who Christ is.

 

Ephesians 3:10-12 (NIV)

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 

 

God’s intentions from the beginning was for His People (us) to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ so that the “manifold wisdom of God” should be made known the rulers and authorities of the heavenly realm. This is important. Our enemy, satan, is the ruler of the earth. His army is the attacking force that distracts us and discourages us from proclaiming and living in the Supreme Power of God given to us through Jesus Christ. It is who we are apart from what mankind has chosen to call us or how it has judged us. The world and every demon in it including the devil have absolutely no power over a believer’s life unless surrendered to him. If you (or I) are not living in the fullness of Jesus Christ including dominion, power and authority over every situation and detail of life, then it is on us not the Lord.

 

In Jesus Christ and through our faith in our relationship with Him, we may approach God with complete freedom and confidence. The only restriction is sin. Repentance is turning from our sin (or at least that is what it means) so we can come closer to the Lord. Our life is a perpetual turning of all of who we are over to who God created us to be with all the divine benefits. What does this mean?

 

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 

Our life is predestined. Predestination upholds the belief that God has a plan for us with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The problem is not God’s Planning or His Timing and certainly not a question of ability. It is all up to you and me. We decide if we live in the spiritual blessings of God or endure the curse that was ended on Calvary. In Jesus Christ, believers are blessed with every spiritual blessing through Him. He chose us. He loves us. He desires us. In our repentance and return to Him, Heaven is opened to us while still here on the earth. Miracles still happen. Psalm 103 delineates just some of the spiritual blessings warning our soul not to forget. Sometimes we forget who we are in Christ and live the life designated by birth. Jabez chose to live according to who God said that He was and reach for who God placed in his heart that he could be. He came to God and laid out his request according to the confident faith that he had in the Old Covenant. “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?” (2 Corinthians 3:7-8)

 

2 Kings 4:1-6 (NIV)

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

 

The Glory of the New Covenant in our life is unquestionable and yes, unfathomable. Believers are full of spiritual blessings that are not tapped into but wasted in bondage to fear, anxiety, worry and stress. God promised that His Children would have His Fullness. Do you feel full? Are you full? If you are a saved, Blood-bought, Spirit-filled, believer, you are most certainly full of God. Trouble is that when life gets good, people stop pumping. If the water is running, why all the work? We do not think beyond today about our future. This family had experienced terrible tragedy in the loss of their father and husband. They were being preyed upon by creditors. The man who passes was a godly man “from the company of the prophets.” Bad things happen to good people. Tragedy strikes God’s People. It’s life. It’s the world we live in. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. We were warned. However, we were never lost, forgotten or forsaken but arrived fully equipped. She had the oil. She needed to pour it out. She needed to tap into it. She needed to see that greater was He in her than he that was in the world. It only stopped flowing when there were no more vessels to fill.

 

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

When Jabez came to God with his request, it was not the usual give me this or that, fix this problem or that, or any tangible thing. He asked the Lord to bless me. He didn’t say how or why just bless me, Lord. What might happen if rather than telling God what we need and how to do it but rather asked Him simply to bless us according to His Will? I wonder. He asked God to enlarge his territory – to increase his influence. To give him broader perspective. He wanted God to move the stakes of his faith out a little farther, to explore new places in the Lord, and to claim his ground. I wonder what might happen if we did that, too? He asked the Lord to keep His Hand on him. He wanted a relationship with God that was more intimate than before. He invited the Lord God to be with Him. He wanted the Father’s Blessing in all that He did. Finally that I will be free from pain. Love covers a multitude of sin. Harmony is better than the oil that flowed from Aaron’s beard. Jabez knew the importance of his legacy in life and asked the Lord to make him loving and lovable all at the same time. When we follow Christ, though the world will hate us, they cannot deny that we loved if we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

With this in mind, what was God’s Response? He granted this man’s request. I don’t think that believers lack any good thing, I just think that fear keeps us from getting tapped in to the fullness of God because it comes with a price. Obedience. Confidence. Honor. See you can have it all. You do. God placed it in your design. You are not a note scrawled on a cocktail napkin. You are an elaborate masterpiece designed by God. No one else could see the image in Michelangelo’s head that would become the display in the Sistine Chapel. It is intricate. It is magnificent. It is spectacular but it began as a tiny image in one man’s mind until he allowed God to move him to the scaffold with a brush in his hand. It took the artist four years to complete. God has filled you with the same potential that He does every living, breathing human being as we are created in His Image. When we connect to Christ becoming rooted and grounded in His Love, we are established as God’s Children. The spiritual blessings in our life are limitless. We limit them by unbelief. You will never know the power invested in you without taking a step of faith by beginning to let pour from you. God is ready to release spiritual blessing in our life always. We must decide if our vessel is open or shut.

 

Today, I am asking the Lord to strengthen my innermost being and stir His Spirit up within me. I am ready to level up and grow some more in Christ. It is time to acknowledge my authority and power in Jesus and claim victory again over all the details called reality that are holding me back with invisible power. I want to know just how wide, long, high and deep God’s Love really is so by faith I must venture out past my comfort and step over complacency to be stretched just a little more. I want to be filled with the measure of all the fullness that God has promised through Jesus Christ and I believe that He will grant my request in Jesus Name.

 

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

 

New Benefits

New Benefits

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

With the arrival of 2016 comes immediate change in our family’s healthcare benefits. Our insurance provider and benefits have been the same for many, many years now. Before our son was diagnosed with cancer, our family seldom used our health insurance for more than the occasional injury or minor illness. I understood our benefit planned and how it worked. I knew who was a “provider” and what medications were covered. When our son became ill, my knowledge and experience rose to a whole new level as we encountered the limits of medical insurance. A few months back, my husband’s company was sold and new benefit packages were provided. I have to admit that while I am thankful we are provided the blessing of healthcare coverage, it has also caused some anxiety. I was comfortable with our old insurance. Even with its limitations, I knew what it would and would not cover. I was familiar with the cost of care and the fact we could afford it. Now as the New Year arrives, it is with a new insurance company, new providers and a new plan.

The Irony of God does not escape me. God is doing a “new thing” in our family. He is doing something “new” in me which culminates with the arrival of 2016. We have experienced many new things recently. New job, new company, new cars, new church, and more new things are just around the corner. I am excited to see, feel and know God is moving in us and through us again, but I would be a liar to say that I am not a bit uneasy. I relish my comfort zone. I really like order and control. When the Lord moves in our life, there is always change. Change brings uncertainty that makes us need more faith and confident hope in order to continue moving in the right direction. I want the Lord to use me in 2016. I want Him to have my whole heart. I am willing to be moved and changed to walk in true freedom. I long to experience all the many benefits that the Lord has promised but it will require change. I will be uncomfortable in the process because faith, trust and hope are required.

“Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” As our family prepares to enter a fast to start the New Year, I know from experience that during times of fasting and prayer as we turn to the Lord that He will begin to reveal new things to us. Things maybe that need to change, be redirected, or refocused. The Spirit of the Lord in us is always leading us to new freedom in Christ but sometimes the way seems hard and unyielding. It is with good reason. I have many benefits available to me in Jesus Christ that sin and rebellion keeps me from each day. It is when I turn my life back over to the Lord completely that I am set free again. It is in this capacity that the Glory of God transforms me and ever-increasing glory makes its way from the inside of me to the outside where others can be impacted. This is my desire. To experience new freedom in Christ and all the benefits that I may be missing.

Psalm 103:1-12 (NIV)

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) It is by faith that we experience all the benefits offered to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. If we do not have faith, we remain powerless. Salvation is not possible if we do not have faith. To believe is essential to freedom. It requires acting on what we know about God and His Character without every seeing His Faith. We believe in His Word. (Romans 10:17) We must believe that God is good and rewards those who “earnestly” seek Him. The trouble is our humanity grows comfortable with controllable “faith” and confident that what “hope” for is a now thing rather than forever endeavor. Hope never leads us to disappointment. Our hope is not something found in this world but in Jesus. If we can see it, do it, attain it, make it or have it in this life, it is not a product of hope. Faith in God that becomes confident hope makes the impossible possible.

Do you know the Benefits you have been given by God and accessible through Jesus? It is important that we do to know what is attainable by faith and decide if it is worth having. Freedom in Christ means that He will never force them on us but we can choose them if we so desire. According to Psalm 103, my life is praiseworthy. (vs.1) I have the potential to live from victory to victory and glory to glory by faith in God alone. My life is full of benefits. I am beneficial. (vs.2) If I do not feel blessed or have not experienced the Glory of God around me, it is not because it is not available to me. I am forgiven. I am healed. (vs.3) Healing is an act of the body, mind and spirit. Although I did not undergo rounds of chemotherapy for a cancer attacking my body to go it with our son produced psychological trauma which severely impacted my life until Jesus healed and restored my very soul. I am redeemed bought with the highest price and crowned with love and compassion which quite simply means that I have the Favor of God. (vs.4) I am blessed with good things from a Good Father who is intent on my complete contentment and total satisfaction. (vs.5) I am renewed. His Mercies are new each day to heal the broken parts, forgiven the hidden sins and bring me to wholeness of body, mind and spirit. (v.5) I am free. (vs.6) I am loved tremendously, overwhelmingly and unconditionally every moment of every day. (vs.7-8) His Grace is always enough for me. (vs. 9-10) Though the world may try to shame me and others guilt me, the Lord says otherwise. Guilt and shame are worldly offerings that are overshadowed by His Grace for that is always sufficient especially when I am weak. I am in right standing with the most, high God. (vs.11-12) There are some days that I forget all the blessings and benefits that are provided through Jesus Christ for my life. It doesn’t mean that the Lord forgets. No, He patiently and lovingly waits for me to extend my heart, pay attention and listen for His Careful Instruction to lead me directly to them – each and every one.

Proverbs 2:1-8 (NIV)

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

When the new company took over, my husband was sent a booklet that explained the new benefit package offered to employees. It outlined the coverage one would receive and the price they must pay. It also offered the option of opting out and not accepting any company benefits. You and I have been provided the same resource in the Word of God. If you can find it in the Word, it belongs to you. You must follow the instructions and steps to obtain those benefits. Why are we so quick to do this in the world but not in the spirit? We can see, feel and touch worldly benefits. Human beings thrive on immediate gratification. But when it does not meet our need or satisfy our soul, we are at a loss. Many turn to Jesus in that moment unaware that they could have been experiencing life changing moments all along. Prayer is not a crisis hotline. The Bible is not an emergency plan. Loving God and living for Him is a lifestyle. We are given everything we need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3) If only we choose to put our trust in the Lord and live what we believe, our lives would be changed as His Benefits became our lifestyle. Others would be saved, healed and delivered as His Power and Glory made its way through us. We have benefits. We have a contract for coverage. We have everything we need to live a godly, prosperous life. Are we accepting it or opting out? It really is up to each one of us if we will live the blessed life we are offered or choose something much less.

I Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIV)

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) We are told that America is a “free” country. To some extent this is absolutely true, but in others ways it is not. True freedom means that we have the “right” to do anything. So when it says, if the Son sets you free that you are free indeed – we are not sure how to interpret it. Some think this means that I can live in whatever way that I choose and still inherit the Blessings of God. Other think that our covenant with the Lord requires His Grace to excuse our sin (willful or not) and grant us His Glory regardless. There are churches that tell Christians that God is going to make this life better if they just give what they have emptying their pockets disregarding their heart. We are free to do what we choose, BUT not everything is beneficial. Not everything we do is constructive, in fact we lean toward destruction most of the time. Our flesh longs for and presses us to live for today rather than thinking about tomorrow or even the future of eternity. This is the only time the flesh will live. We have been promised forever.

 

If the Benefits of God are not manifesting completely in our life, we must turn back to the Lord and dare to step closer. In His Presence, we find everything we need to be completely saved, healed, and delivered to prosper here into forever. If you are not completely satisfied and totally content, you can be. He is the Way, Truth and Life. Jesus is our access point to God but no one can come to the Father outside of Christ. One way. The only way. You can know the way. You must decide to walk that way.

 

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” What does this mean? How does this impact our life as believers? Well, it doesn’t say that whenever anyone turns to the Lord, He does a new thing and makes a new way. No, it says that when we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. It was there all the time friend. We have benefits that we fail to use or take advantage of in our life. Most of the time, it is ignorance. Other times, it is rebellion. God shows us the way but we choose our way. The way that we know or may be comfortable with. If I want all the Benefits of God in my life, I must walk His Way. I must give Him my whole heart. I must seek to know Him more and apply new understanding to my life which turns it into wisdom. All things are permissible because I am set free.

Not all things are beneficial or constructive to a blessed and prosperous life – there is only One Way to accomplish that. I must follow Jesus. So as I prepare for 2016, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me those things that are not beneficial or constructive and remove them from my life. I want to walk in the everlasting and experience God’s Glory and Favor as He has planned, promised and purposed for my life. I completely understand and acknowledge it means going where He goes, doing what He says, and following His Lead. I want to experience all His Benefits so I am willing to go! How about you? Will 2016 be the best year of your life? Will it be beneficial? Will it be constructive? Well now that’s up to you isn’t it? God called us to a glorious standard of life that we had once forsaken by our sin. Through righteousness it can be easily attained for those who desire it.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Bride

The Bride

Revelation 19:6-9 (NLT)

Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”

It has been almost year since our daughter got married, I think I still suffer from “post traumatic wedding syndrome.” I had no idea how much work went into such an occasion until I was deemed the esteemed honor of mother-of-the-bride. I already have begun coaching my other two daughters on the advantages of elopement. Maybe I am overreacting or perhaps it is because the blessed occasion was just three months after returning from our son’s bone marrow transplant on the heels of three years of cancer treatment. Call me crazy, but I found it all a bit stressful. Thankfully there have been a few other moms who were recently in the same position, I found that they had the same experience. When our now son-in-law came up with the brilliant plan to marry our daughter, it was right before our son’s transplant was to begin. How could he know that this would be a bitter fight with the insurance company, medical boards, executive committees and hospital administrations that would drag on for months delaying treatment? I remember the day that it was decided the wedding must be postponed as treatment started much later than expected. I felt terrible as my daughter wept with disappointment. One month to a young bride anticipating the beginning of a fairytale seems like forever. But thankfully from that point on, the favor of God surrounded us without any more setbacks. Our son successfully completed treatment and stood by his sister, the most beautiful bride on her very special day.

Over the course of her engagement, countless hours of planning and preparation went on. It was fun. It was exciting. It was stressful. It was expensive. But when she walked through the doors on the frigid November day, she was a breathtaking bride. As her father led her to the aisle, her groom openly wept at the sight of her. Overtaken by the moment and the beauty before him, he hung his head with tears streaming down his face as his dad put his hand on his shoulder. Surveying the wedding party in front of me for the first time in what seemed like forever, I took a deep breath. The Lord is good. All of my precious children stood before me together, alive and well just as He promised me from the beginning.

We are the bride of Christ. I wonder if somehow we have forgotten what it feels like. Maybe you have never experienced such an event firsthand only watched from the sidelines. We must maintain our position as bride-to-be with the same anticipation that a young girl feels for her betrothed. At some point right before the big event, my daughter told me in the midst of wedding details that she just wanted to be married. Yeah, no such luck young lady, we are too invested to turn back now. Where is our love for our beloved? When will begin preparing for the big day when He comes for us? Are we ready? Do we even care?

Jeremiah 2:32 (NLT)

Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.

 

I wanted my daughter to have the perfect wedding day. Everything had to be just what she wanted so early that morning while the rest of the wedding party and family were getting ready her dad and I headed out to the reception hall to prepare for the big party after the ceremony. Thank God for Pinterest as it is the birthplace of miracles or at least great ideas for weddings. Armed with the details for her place settings and a young lady who would be a godsend. We lovingly and carefully set each table for each guest right down to the silverware. Each centerpiece adjusted and readjusted right down to the little hand-cut special order confetti on the table. For hours, we poured over every detail until finally time was up and I had to get ready. Once I returned, my friend who would take over the schedule for the day had arrived to help do the very things completed that morning. She just shook her head, “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” We have been friends for a very long time. She knew my heart – it had to be perfect.

Choosing a dress took trying on countless gowns. Picking out jewelry consumed hours of shopping and ordering until we had it custom made. Every detail mattered. Why aren’t we the same when it comes to our wedding to Christ? Where is the need for perfection? The life of the family of the bride is consumed with the smallest detail and the tiniest whim, yet we balk at the request of the Lover of our soul. Have we forgotten the Bridegroom? Throughout the day, I could have paid for the wedding each time my daughter asked about a detail or item. Where is this? What about that? Each time I assured her its right here. “Honey, it is taken care of don’t worry.” When will we begin to prepare for our wedding day like a bride to be? When will our bridegroom become our first love?

Matthew 25:1-12 (NLT)

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’”

Our son-in-law is an extravagant giver who loves to bless our daughter. He sets the bar high for future men that will one day court our two other girls. From the moment, he decided to ask her to be his wife. He began planning their engagement. His love for our daughter evident in every detail. What more could a first love do then die for His Beloved? Jesus died on the Cross so we could be a bride dressed in white and come to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Perhaps this sounds like mumbo jumbo to you. The Love of God for His People was demonstrated on an old rugged cross high on a hill when His Son, His Only Son, was tortured, abused, and ridiculed, nailed with pegs to die the most brutal death possible in that day. He was humiliated. He was perfect, He was sinless. He died for His Bride. Have we forgotten? Why are we so ill-prepared? What will it take to get us excited about the return of our bridegroom? When will become a giddy bride rather than a wandering one? In my heart, I can hear the Spirit saying come – it’s time to get ready. This is not a religious call but a jealous whisper straight from the mouth of my Bridegroom. This isn’t a call to good deeds but a life of love. He wants me to love Him like I first did when I gave Him my life. The Lord wants me to be excited about the day we meet again with the same heated anticipation that He has. He wants a lover. He wants me. Now I must show that I want Him, too.

Song of Solomon 2:16 (TLB) My beloved is mind and I am his…

 

People who are in love understand the longings written in the Song of Solomon. Just before this declaration of love, it says, “The little foxes are ruining the vineyards. Catch them, for the grapes are in blossom.” Distractions. Schedules. Appointments. Routines. I know that there were days during the execution of her wedding that our daughter was ready to elope. Run off and marry her love. Weddings do not always bring out the best in people. It is all about love. The love of two people who want to become one. Isn’t that our life as a believer? We are one person who wants to become totally consumed by Jesus Christ. Why? Why make such a commitment? Without love, what’s the point? The only way that we will ever become the Bride of Christ is to fall hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with Him. It is in the confession above all others I choose you that we discover the Love of our life and are willing to serve Him.

Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)

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

Are you overwhelmed with joy in the Lord today? He dressed you (and me) with the clothing of salvation and draped us in a robe of righteousness… like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. Our perception of salvation is flawed if it is anything less than extravagant love. Endless and copious amounts of grace come from blind and jealous love. God passion for His People is matchless. No one can or will ever love us like Jesus loves us. So why are we not excitedly preparing our life to meet our beloved? I am asking myself this question today. Why are there some things that I am not willing to do to meet Him? Why wouldn’t every detail be important? Why don’t I want to please Him in every motive and action? Have I lost my first love? Obedience and submission are gifts for my natural husband. Things I choose to give him but certainly do not have to according to this world. In return, he loves me like Christ loved the church. We both do these things to the best of our ability for one another. Why do anything less for Jesus? He is our Bridegroom who will return one day! Will He recognize us as His Bride? This is not an arranged marriage. He chose to die for us. In doing so, just like a young man offering a girl a ring, He offers us salvation to enter a covenant union with Jesus forever. It is a love affair of epic proportions not forced or arranged. I chose to fall in love with Jesus. Or have I? Those who approach their relationship with the Lord as their Beloved will enter the greatest courtship ever known. As I surrender my heart, mind and soul to Jesus as my Beloved and not as a chore, I suddenly become like that beautiful bride waiting for her bridegroom again. It is all about love. Without love, there is no marriage. Without commitment, there is no covenant. We are offered it all in our relationship with Jesus Christ if we are willing to become like a bride! Our daughter was radiant on her wedding day. I am bias. She is a beautiful girl. But the moment she saw her beloved she absolutely glowed. This is the relationship that we are after with the Lord, it is the one that He desires, too. To love and be loved for the rest of our life. To live and prepare for our wedding day paying attention to the tiniest of details. If only we would live like a bride waiting for our groom!

Jeremiah 33:10-11 (NLT)

“This is what the Lord says: You have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord.”

I Choose Life – A Devotion

I Choose Life

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

 

After eating good food and opening their gifts, the kids decided to play a game of “Monopoly”. Believing this truly may be a Christmas Day miracle, my heart got all warm and fuzzy as they joined each other around the table with the well-worn board. Many a wars had been started over this game between siblings, but surely since the majority were now adults it would be more peaceful and fun. I was in the other room when the argument erupted. Our two sons and son-in-law in a heated debate with the girls trying to interject some peace and love. I had to chuckle as I moved in like Switzerland to find some common ground. Each person had what the other one needed to make a “monopoly” so they could build houses and begin to build their tiny empires. One son and our son-in-law had both masterminded compromises which they were trying to encourage our other son to join in. He did not like the deal. Finally agreeing to disagree the two made exchanges, and the game went on…for about twenty minutes and then the next bomb went off. When I entered the room again, my daughter was on the couch shaking her head while the guys engaged in yet another heated debate with our usually quiet giant in the thick of it. Now the two who had traded had mini-cities all across the board and the other boy wanted it but now had nothing to bargain with. He refused to roll the dice or move because he now wanted to make a deal but refused to give anything anyone else wanted but wanted what he wanted. He wanted the blessing but did not want to take the risk. Trying to help him understand that he had to take a risk to earn a profit, he firmly disagreed. He made his choice several turns before and now could only salvage what was left. He was mad. He did not understand. It seemed illogical to him. Finally to the great relief of everyone else, the game ended with two happy young man who enjoyed the past time and one very disgruntled man. The household order finally restored.

Life is all about perspective. The course of our life is set and established before we were born when God created us with a purpose and plan. (Psalm 139:16) Life is not what we make of it but rather the course we choose to take walking with the Lord or doing it our way. These are the only two choices that we have to make. They also bear the mark of “life” and “death”. We make the choice of which way we go in every single breath we take including our steps and decisions throughout each moment of every day. How do I know? Our life is written by God moment by moment. The entry to God’s Kingdom AND His Presence are very narrow gates. However, the highway to hell is wide and well-traveled. But the gateway to life, the life we want to live is narrow. We must intentionally choose to live it. But most of us are like my son who didn’t want to make a deal that did not clearly benefit him from the beginning. He wanted it his way or no way. He refused to give in and ended up losing the game blaming everyone else for his own distrust and lack of vision. We have the “monopoly” on life. Monopoly means exclusive possession or control of something. You want life? You got it. It is the gift of God. In the game called “Monopoly”, you cannot buy houses and then hotels until you own all the property in a certain block. We expect God to prosper our life even when we do not give Him our all. It doesn’t work either way. So today…God is reminding me to make better choices. I want to prosper in the coming year. I must evaluate my life in spirit and in truth to be sure that my perspective and bearings are on course.

Romans 6:14-18 (NLT)

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

 

God’s Grace has given us the freedom to choose how we live. I am trying to fully grasp the potential of God’s Grace in my life. It should create humility that a God so Big and a Son so Powerful would come down to rescue me who was born into sin and so often doesn’t do anything about it despite the ability to do so. When the Israelites were given the right to choose life or death, they did not have the Grace of God yet as I do. They had to return to the Law. I am free from the Law yet most of the time bind myself to it. Trying to do all the right things, say all the right words and be the right person rather than allowing the unfailing love and grace of God, I try to change me and do not allow the Lord to complete the work that He has begun in me. It is easier because I can do it my way. I feel in control. I am my own person. Not really, not anymore. If I want to choose life, it has to be God’s Way on His Terms.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

 

If I follow Jesus, I will never miss it. I will have life if only I become diligent in my pursuit of Jesus Christ. When God offered the Children of Israel the choice between life and death, it says “Today I have given you the choice…” Every day is God’s Gift and every day we have the ability to choose whether or not we will live life or choose to return to death. Like everyone else, I like to skip through the Word of God to the good parts. The verses that benefit me directly are always my favorites. But the verses before and after are of infinite worth. We are not bound to the Law of God any longer, BUT it is still the key to life. God’s Word does not change. We just have the grace to go back when we mess up. So the Word of God is still very important to finding life in everything that we do. If at any time I decide to return to the Lord and obey with my heart and soul, He will accept me. (Deuteronomy 30:2) So this must mean that I cannot ever have the things of God my way but must always remain repentant turning my life back to Him day by day. God uses His Word to do His Work in me so that I can serve Him with all my heart, mind, soul and body. (Deuteronomy 30:6) I will become successful in everything that I do living in agreement with God. (Deuteronomy 30:9) It begins with the Word. We must know the Word of God, study it cover to cover and apply it to our life. It is our life contract. It is the only way that we will ever find eternal life. Jesus is the Word of God. Looking back over the past year, I can evaluate my successes and failures according to this principle. It is clear to see that when I chased after God attempting to live according to His Word, trust His Word, do His Word and believe His Word that I indeed was successful. I did not see it coming, but chose to live as I believed. It happened over and over again. The enemy wants to forget the times the Word worked in my life to convince me that it will not work now or forever.

John 4:23-24 (NLT)

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

Not only must I worship the Father by obeying His Word, but also by worshipping in Spirit, too. We need to couple God’s Word with His Spirit. To live according to God’s Word means humbling my life to live His Way according to His Word. To live according to His Spirit means that I must humble my heart and mind to be led in the right direction. This is a choice. My flesh will not ever go down without a fight. It seems as the New Year approaches that God is bringing me into it on my knees completely humbled before Him. I am so weak. I am so tired in my spirit. I just want to see the success that He promised when we walk in His Way. I desire the prosperity that begins in our heart overflowing into our life. I want to be a true worshipper in the coming year even though the thought is quite scary. The road is narrow and the gate is small for those who truly want such a life. It is a simple choice made every day in every breath of every moment. With each exhale, we must whisper from our heart, to our mind, through our body releasing it into the atmosphere – I choose life. Then we must live according to our declaration. That’s the challenge of it all remaining totally surrendered to God’s Will, His Way, and His Word each day in every way. I want that life but can I really ever live it?

Isaiah 66:1-2 (NLT)

This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.

Just like everyone else, I have no idea what 2015 will be like. I do not know what to expect. Truthfully and transparently, I am afraid to dream right now. I have found my heart, body, mind and soul engaged in a battle stance of faith. God has been encouraging me to drop my sword and rest. I am slowly trying to let it down. I have been on the offense so long after being caught off guard a few times that I am afraid to ever drop my sword anymore. He is the One who fortifies my soul. I can rest in Him. There is nothing that I can give Him other than my love and trust that matter. Everything belongs to Him anyway. God gave me life. Jesus gave me my birthright back. These are the keys to life that I needed. Faith keeps me close and hope keeps me searching for all of Him. But right now, I must consider not so much what I have given up for God but what the Lord is trying to give me. He wants me to have life more abundantly. Perhaps in that abundance will be the wisdom that I need to see the purpose and meaning of the past year’s struggles. I can do nothing apart from Christ. I must cling to my faith in Him at all times. I may have become distracted but with the each breath I have the opportunity by His Grace to refocus and reroute my course. God didn’t designate me to be strong but asks only that I am humble with a contrite heart. I can do that.

Proverbs 22:1-3 (NLT)

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both. A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

 

Charging into the coming year is not where I am coming from this year, but rather a position of prudence. When my son was struggling in the game of Monopoly, it was because he could not see past what his logic comprehended to the possibility. He wanted to see an immediate return or he was not willing to make the investment or take a risk. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) For the past couple of years, I went into the New Year asking God for specific things according to my will that did not happen. I am not perplexed or bewildered because in the end I have seen the Goodness of God working in our life. Rather than putting my expectation for this New Year in what I think I need or what I want, I have decided to put my expectation completely in the Hands of Jesus Christ. I am not asking for anything specific but rather just choosing life. How does one do that with a grocery list of wants, needs and desires? Put it all in Christ alone. Faith is confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. Do you want it your way or do you want God’s Best? Hope is the assurance that what we don’t see will happen. Worshipping God in Spirit and Truth allow us to have His Wisdom so when things don’t go according to our plan – we will not abandon the narrow road or give up on abundant life. I didn’t choose Jesus – He chose me. (John 15:16) I scarcely can imagine someone going through everything that He went through just to make my life a living hell. No, His Love for me was so great that He suffered and died for my sins alone. How can I expect anything short of miraculous from a God and His Son who loved me that much? I do all the time. But that was last year, this year I will take the “risk” of trusting the Lord with all my life. I choose life for 2015. Whatever that entails is up to God according to His Plan!

 

Proverbs 8:9-11 (NLT)

My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it.

 

That Thing You Do – A Devotion

That Thing You Do

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT)

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

 

The alarm rang and vibrated into the darkness trying to wake my sleeping form. Allergies kicked in yesterday thanks to the abrupt change in weather so I took some medicine before bed that kept me deep in the morning fog. As I struggled to open my eyes preparing for another day, a sigh of relief came over me. It’s Friday, hallelujah! Just in the nick of time, this work week is rolling to an end. What a week it has been! Like most businesses, there is an ebb and flow of activity. Currently we are there are many tasks vying for my attention. It has been a bit overwhelming. With my prolonged absence with our son, work piled up and there is much to process to get caught up. When I realized it was Friday, the jubilation to finish the week got me up and moving. With consciousness began the powerful revolution of my thoughts surrounding the scheduling and timing of the day mapping out my designated responsibilities. Being a task-driven person, I tend to get all spun up when things are not done and worse when they are not done right. Some might call it a Type A personality. The problem is that sometimes I forget who I work for and the job that I am to complete. It has nothing to do with the expectations of my employer. It is everything that I do in my life. All should be done as a service to Jesus Christ.

What do you do? If you have an employer, than you fall under the category of slave. We are uncomfortable with this term due to the stigma of our past. The blemish in history were mankind took advantage of one another ruthlessly and mercilessly. It has not ended no matter how civilized that we think we have become. It may not be racial any longer but the strong still prey on the weak thanks to the prevailing evil in this world. You and I freely give our time in exchange for money. It is the giving of ourselves. Anyone who invests in our life with an expected outcome becomes our master. Debt can be our master. Sickness can be our master. Anything we allow to consume our time is our master. However, there is One who is truly the rightful receiver of every minute of our day and that is Jesus Christ. He is the reason that I am alive and have the great potential to live forever. His Plan and Purpose for my life is to make my time valuable once again as He has added forever to the end of it. We are encouraged to “try to please them (earthly masters) all of the time” as we are to serve them “sincerely.” Why? You are in covenant with your employer. You have agreed to give them your time in exchange for compensation. This is an oath or agreement between two parties which the Lord does not take lightly. Because we belong to Jesus Christ, anything that we agree to do should reflect Him as our Savior and Lord. We are to “work willingly at whatever you do as thought you were working for the Lord rather than people.”  I struggle in this area sometimes and need the reminder that Jesus Christ should be reflected in everything that I do. I serve Jesus Christ. This is not an unpaid position but a highly favorable one.

Psalm 139:13-15 (NLT)

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

 

God made you. He did not just throw some body parts together, install a brain and hope for the best. No God watched closely and acted in divine purpose when He created you to be who you are. He considers you to be a marvelous work. You, my friend, are God’s Masterpiece. Ta-Da! (Ephesians 2:8-10) But He did not just make you a work that is pleasing to the eyes but filled your life with purpose and potential as well. He developed a working plan for our life that is good resulting in a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Then He recorded every single minute of every single day leaving nothing out (Psalm 139:16) so the Lord could make good on His Promise that everything can turn out for your best. (Romans 8:28) There is potential and purpose packed in the life of every Creation of God who made its way to this earth in the form of a human being. We must never take that for granted. What is your life work? What is the one thing you take the most pride in? This is where you will invest your time and energy. Before making such a commitment, one must decide is it worth it. There is only One Thing who is worth our everything including every second of every day and that is Jesus Christ.

Hebrew 11:1 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

God gave us a measure of faith to be our substance. This is what our work should be poured into. Developing our faith in the Lord will produce certain works in our life. Faith is a gift from God just as is our salvation. We cannot work for it. Our faith will produce good works in us if there is any substance to it. As we embark on a journey to follow Christ at all costs, we demonstrate our belief that Jesus Christ is the Way. We are surrounded by many witnesses who want to make the most out of this life just as we do. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Jesus Christ is our example. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith who has infused it with great potential. I can have a bag of concrete, a hose connected to a water tap with a wheelbarrow and an assortment of tools but if I don’t mix it all together and do something with it there will be no foundation. This is how faith works, too. God gave us everything that we need to have a rich and satisfying life – now we just have to do that thing we do to make it happen. Faith without works is useless and produces nothing in our life. (James 2:17-20)

James 2:21-24 (NLT)

Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.  And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

Faith requires actions for activation. True belief is demonstrated by what we do not what we say. Our faith and actions must work together. I love Martha. She is quite the worker managing her household and getting the job done. Yes, it was Mary who Jesus commended sitting at His Feet taking in His Every Word. But when faith was needed to raise Lazarus from the dead, it was Martha who ran to meet Jesus. It was this woman who demonstrated the power of great belief. She knew with confidence that even though her brother was dead and all seemed lost that Jesus could change everything. Martha was a great woman of faith who just got a little too busy now and again. What are you doing for the Lord today? If your answer is not everything, than you are missing the greatest blessing of all. God will reward you exceedingly and abundantly above what you could even think to ask for. You do not have to struggle for your supervisor to acknowledge you. You do not have to fight your way up the corporate ladder for an administrator’s attention and approval. If you decide today and every day to work for the Lord rather than people, you will be satisfied.

 

Ruth was a hard worker. When she returned with Naomi to her family’s home, she decided to get to work. “Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.” (Ruth 2:5-7) Ruth didn’t go out in the field to find a husband to care for her. She was a worker who needed to find work. She did. She worked hard enough to gain the attention of Boaz who would become her “redeemer”. (Ruth 2:2-12) Ruth entered the field a widow with no hope. She left a woman with a future full of hope. God knows exactly what you need when you need it. Faith in God is just that believing that He is doing all that He promised in everything that we do. You do not have to draw attention to yourself others will notice. God will put a spotlight on our life when we do all that He has called us to do. We will be the city on a hill and lamp on a stand when we work for the Lord and no one else. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Our acceptance of God’s Love for us requires dedicating our life as a living sacrifice to the Lord. (Romans 12:1-3) We have accepted His Gift of Eternal life in exchange for a dead and dying existence with no future. We are a reflection of our Creator and Redeemer. We must demonstrate our belief in everything we do, each day with every season.

Titus 2:1-8 (NLT)

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

We are really good at telling each other what not to do to honor God in our life, but few understand what we should be doing. Everything we do should be a reflection of our commitment to Jesus Christ. Every single choice we make in the course of the day should demonstrate the wholesome teaching found in His Word. We must be filled with love and patience. Do what is good. Use our self-control. Live in such a way as not to shame our husband-to-be, Jesus Christ. We should encourage others to live wisely as well. As they see us prosper in soul, mind and body, they will want to as well. Faith walks and seldom talks. We are to live wisely doing good works of every kind. We are God’s Masterpiece. His Workmanship is marvelous. We are to be fabulous walking always in mercy, humility and love… even at work and abroad. No more excuses it is time to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and live wisely in the Shadow of His Great Love! It is to be that thing we do!

John 14:12-13 (NLT)

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Fat