Humility’s Harvest

Humilitys Harvest

Proverbs 22:4 (NLT) True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

True humility. What is humility? What does it look like? How does one live it? What is its worth? It’s funny how the Lord leads us to certain secrets in His Word. Verses read over and over again suddenly become new seed to a soft heart. Pride rules human flesh. Survival of the fittest governs our mindset and thought process. God called His People to thrive. To be like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in every season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:3) It is only human nature to excuse lack in our life to some form of greater humility in life rather than calling it the bold-faced lie of the enemy that it is. God has created us, called us and committed us to prosperity in all things according to His Riches in Glory. How many times have we called Grace – God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense? A limited life does not represent a limited God but rather limited faith governed by a lack of humility. To live a life humbled before the Lord will lead to riches, honor and long life. You cannot fake it until you make it but rather must learn what faithful humility is to have a prosperous life.

Humility is to be humble. To become lower in condition, importance or dignity. It means that I must become less and less so Christ becomes more and more in my life. It is to live with a meek spirit that follows Jesus. It is to live in awesome respect of our Father in all that we do. However, when all that we do becomes the determining factor of our salvation suddenly grace gives way to pride and suddenly our life is impoverished again. Where is God’s Glory in the things I do? It is what the Lord wants to do in me and through me that bears significance in my life. Those things I don’t want to do but give because His Word instructs me to do it. Everything that I put my hand to in a day is impacted by the placement of my heart. If my heart is committed to Jesus Christ in adherence to the two commands given – to love Him with all my heart, mind, body and soul and to love others the same way – I am open to receive God’s Glorious Riches delivered at Christ’s Expense. As my soul prospers, the Spirit plants His Fruit in my heart and it grows not only intangible blessings in my life such as confidence, fulfillment and trust but it delivers prosperity in our life in the natural as well.

It is human nature, also to believe what we see or can perceive as possible in the future. Total trust in Jesus Christ is to believe Him for the things we hope for and cannot see. It is to give our all with no guarantee that shows God our heart condition. Humble hearts give their all-knowing God will supply all their needs. We have needs, wants and desires. The secret is in Matthew 11, Jesus invites those who are weary and carrying heavy burdens to come to Him. He promises them rest. Let me teach you! What did Jesus say that He would teach them? Humility and gentleness of heart. When our soul is secure and resting in Jesus Christ, there is a yoking of our heart to His Heart. It is in this place that the impossible becomes possible. Grace delivers us the opportunity to live in unison with Christ. One’s ability to do so is completely dependent on humility. Can I give up my way to follow His Way? Can I give up my wants and desires to allow His Contentment and Fulfillment to consume me instead? Your flesh will fight this every step of the way because it dies in such a place. The seeds of faith planted in such a decision grow into prosperity that fill our life naturally and supernaturally.

Luke 8:13-15 (NLT) The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

I am challenged today with self-examination. Have I limited my life by believing that God’s Grace is dependent on my service? Do I settle for less in my life because my eyes are on me and my ability rather than Christ and His Ability? My faith in healing is secure. I absolutely believe that God is our healer. The Stripes of Jesus have proven their worth. God has healed my family and others right before my eyes. But what did He tell Thomas, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing?” Since I have witnessed God’s Healing firsthand, I must move on to other things that I haven’t seen to continue to grow and develop my faith. I must examine my life for the areas of lack that are not fully reminiscent of God’s Glory, His Grace and His Riches. These are the areas where seeds must be planted so that they will produce a huge harvest.

In order to experience God’s Riches in my life, I must be responsible in continually sowing and reaping God’s Word. I know that I have prayed prayers that are yet to be answered. Did I stop praying when I did not see the results I expected? I know that I have sown financial seeds that have no shown their worth. Did I leave the field to pursue other interests? God has given me dreams and visions of supernatural increase in natural things that religion tells me are not the Will or Way of God. Well, who do you think gave you the dream and vision in the first place? God is in everything we do. It is in Christ we live, breathe and exist. God doesn’t always give us things that are super spiritual but reveals Himself in all creation. If you have a business idea that could yield big dividends in your life, who says it is not of God? God’s Riches should not be limited to spiritual return but knowing that everything we put our hand to has a potential blessing and harvest hidden if done as unto the Lord.

Isaiah 45:3-6 (NLT) And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.

My life is to be a light to the world. A beacon that draws people to the One who changed my life forever. I remember as a little girl going to my friend’s house. Her mom always had sweet tea for us. Our family was struggling. My parents were divorcing. She had a family and sweet tea. I decided in that moment that when I was a mom, my kids would always have sweet tea. Silly isn’t it. How the smallest of things leave a mark in our memory? I remember declaring that over my life in the second grade. But guess what? My kids have sweet tea. We make declarations over our life every day. I remember years ago sitting in church. It was a new experience in a full gospel church. A new friend who was quiet and shy moved by the Holy Spirit began to voice a message from the Lord – loud. Way more boisterous than her meek personality – it was clearly not of her. Yet in that moment, I asked the Lord under my breath – “Please God don’t use me like that.” Recently as I have prayed for the Lord to have His Way in my life – take my whole life, these words came back to me. I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for limiting His Power in my life with a simple declaration that had silenced me for years. Well, not anymore.

The woman with the little jar of oil representing years invested in ministry did not experience the fulfillment of God until she was on the verge of losing everything. It was only then at the prophet’s prodding she broke open the seal and let it flow in her life. Her life would never be the same. The overflow produced prosperity that would carry her through the rest of her life in abundance. It was only limited by the vessels she procured. The other woman who I have been studying is the one with the alabaster box. She poured it over the head of Jesus Christ in desperation. It represented all that she had in life. Her life worth and savings in a box hand-carved by man. In the Presence of Jesus, she was ready to give Him her all. I have an anointing in my life. You do, too. God does not lie, change His Mind or withdraw a single call or blessing from our life. No matter what we do or do not do – His Grace is enough. Grace is truly God’s Riches at Christ’s expense. I must humble myself before the Lord. When I do, God will show me all the treasures hidden in my life. The jar tucked on the shelf. The perfume that represented all my brokenness. Given to Jesus, it produces prosperity. It fulfills my purpose. It makes my light shine bright in a dark world. Humility does not produce poverty naturally or supernaturally. Humility produces prosperity in the life of those who choose it.

2 Corinthians 6:10 (NLT) Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

Humility is not an abased state but an abundant position. We must have an eternal perspective that impacts all we do on the earth. Work without it will leave us emptyhanded when the end does come. (Ecclesiastes 5:12-16) We must evaluate every working in our life for spiritual prosperity and expect natural prosperity as well. God has given us every spiritual blessing. In Genesis 1, we are blessed with the power of prosperity in every area of life. Proverbs 27 challenges us to know the state of our flocks. The areas of our natural life lacking in prosperity must be carefully evaluated and examined. Does faith apply to that part of my existence? If not, why not? To be the Proverbs 31 requires the same effort. She is confident in her eternal and earthly future. Christ in us guarantees His Glory around us. (Colossians 1) Is your life glorious? Is favor a factor in all that you do? Do you see supernatural results in your natural life? God’s Riches are glorious and when we humble our life to the Lord they will be evident in our life. Who would want a God who starves His Children? Who desires a Savior that causes them to needlessly suffer? What good is grace if nothing good comes of it? We must allow faith to expand our expectation from what we think we can do to what God knows He will do for those who humble themselves before Him.

Philippians 4:18-20 (NLT) At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

God is a good father. He take premium care of His Children. I have every spiritual blessing given to me. I have all I need and enough to live a generous life. He supplies me from “His Glorious Riches.” If I win the lottery, but never turn in the ticket – my bank account remains the same. If I claim healing – I must give up the disability check. I have all of God’s Riches given to me at Christ’s Expense. To honor Him means taking full advantage of His Gift. His Goodness is for the land of the living. The Children of Israel were just passing through the wilderness, fleeing Egypt with only their family and what they could carry. Yet when it was time to build the Tabernacle, the craftsmen had to go to Moses and tell him to instruct the people to stop giving because they had given “more than enough to complete the whole project.” If you read the elaborate design of the Tabernacle, the miracle is clearly laid out. How did a people fleeing slavery and exiled in the wilderness in a nomadic state have such a surplus? They were God’s Children. What has the God hidden in your life today that is not being used for His Glory? What have you exempted from fulfilment by limiting your expectation to what you can do rather than committing it to the Lord to see what He has in mind? God’s Riches are given to me by the Grace of His Son, Jesus. I will never deserve the extravagant gifts of His Blessing and Benefits that He bestows on me day after day. It doesn’t change the fact that God desires to do these things for me and in me.

God’s Glorious Riches are on reserve for you today. Humility is the key to the access point of prosperity. Do not stand on the threshold in doubt. Walk in the prosperity of God available in all areas of your life committed to Him. Declare His Blessings in your home, church, workplace, and everywhere your feet take you today. He is with You! Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. Let Him increase today! For as your soul prospers…your life will, too! What is the Gospel of your life today? Is it pain and poverty? This is not the message of the Gospel at all but the process by which God is attempting to reveal Himself to you. Ask the Lord to show you were to plant seeds of faith and wait for that humble harvest. Do what He says? All of it without hesitation and step out of your limitation into His Unlimited Power today!

Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)  And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

Invisible Ink

invisible-ink

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Many Christmas’s ago, my grandparents gave me a science kit. It had various little experiments that were quite intriguing including invisible ink. After writing a message, it would disappear leaving a clean white page. There was a super-secret special chemical that would bring the image back when applied. I found it quite fascinating. On Valentine’s Day, I also liked the scratch off cards  with sentiments hidden under metallic-like seals. My kids have always enjoyed scavenger hunts. A series of messages leading the chase to a gift tucked away somewhere. The thrill and anticipation of the chase before realizing the blessing seems to be enjoyable to them. They are definitely my children.

After fifty New Year’s celebrated, this morning I have invisible ink and hidden messages on my mind. I have made more resolutions than I can count. Some have become useful habits and others long since forgotten. I have had many revelations since coming to Christ which culminate on the famous eve as prayers and commitments for the coming year. So this year, I am all out of ideas. I want Jesus. I want His Way, His Truth and New Life. I have seen many social media posts that indicate “today is the first blank page of a 365 page book” going on to encourage people “write a good one”. Well, I have tried this approach for many years now and find that this may not be the approach I will continue to take.

“Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.” On this first day of the New Year, as I consider resolutions and revelations that might promote new habits for a better life, I cannot help wonder if I have gone about it all these years. I posted many years ago, that my resolution was “instead of deciding what I want to change or telling God what I am going to do…this year all I have to say is ‘God change me into who you want me to be the way you want to do it!’” I may have been on to something back then, but it is not necessarily the way things turned out. It was the first Christmas after our son’s diagnosis. We thought he was in remission, but little did anyone know that it was only for a moment. Would I have prayed that prayer knowing what was to come?

Our life is a mystery. It is already prerecorded by God. It was written before our conception at the time of our creation. The same time when God the Father prescribed everything I would need to live a complete life. How many times as believers do we forget this important detail? Thinking there is something…anything in us that has the power to perfect our life and make positive change outside of total surrender and submission to Jesus Christ. If it were possible, it would have happened long before desperation and devastation came to call. The inner power and strength of self would have been able to change our situation, endure our condition, or overcome our circumstance… but it didn’t. His Grace is enough for me and His Power works best in my weakness. Jeremiah 29 reminds me of this perfect plan elaborated upon in Psalm 139. It also tells me that the only way to find it is to seek Him wholeheartedly. This is how new life is revealed. I can do nothing. But through Christ all things are possible.

Psalm 138:8 (NLT) The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

The Lord will work out His Plans for my life. This is my revelation for 2017. I have tried everything that I know to do to make God’s Plan manifest in my life. I have “done” the things I thought were required. This year, I am doing the one thing that I know is required. I must seek Him wholeheartedly. I cannot look for something if I think I found it. I cannot search for what is already revealed. Deep is crying out to deep today because my life is not complete. I am not completely satisfied in my proximity to Christ or content with the fruitful productivity in my life. Yes, there are some habits I intend to change and new attitudes I am working on but that is for this life. It is not for the future and hope that I have in Him. This year I will not work for the church but become the church. I will not wait for the move of God to come but let God move me so I become the current that brings revival. I cannot offer the world something I have not found or attained. I need Jesus this year.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Reading this today, I am reminded that His Glory has not completely filled my life…yet. God knew (me) in advance. I am called according to His Purpose for me. God knew me in advance as evidenced and recorded in Psalm 139. He gave me a future and hope as delineated in Jeremiah 29. Having chosen me, God called me to come to Him. Having called me, I have the right to stand with Him. Having given me right standing, the Lord gave me His Glory. If I do not see God’s Glory manifested in every detail of my life, it is because I have not fully assumed my position standing next to God in righteousness. The only way to come to the Father is through the Son. If my life does not line up to God’s Written and Spoken Word in my life, I just need to move a little closer than before. Skip all the fancy fasts and habit changes. Fasting is good. It is an act of not service. To fast without prayer and true repentance is a diet. To do more is not the design or plan of God but rather to give more of my life to Jesus.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them. Did you know that? It says, “And we know…” Knowing is not the same as believing. I know a lot of useless information that I do not necessarily believe. You cannot know until the idea or thought is tested. This mystery called life is not a mystery to the Lord. If I put all of my life in His Hands, it becomes all that He planned and purposed it to be. Every single moment of my life becomes seed to be sown. Every tear is caught. Every sorrow is recorded because My Redeemer lives today. It is only by investing all of the real estate of my natural life in Jesus Christ that I gain the Kingdom.

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

My new commitment for the coming year is for clarity. To continue to pursue God wholeheartedly and give more of me than ever before to Jesus Christ. It is important to realize that even if we think our life is almost sinless and perfectly aligns to the doctrine our church completely dedicated to serving Christ that it is still “partial and incomplete”. I will not know for sure that I worked out my salvation successfully until I stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment. It is then that completion is realized. Tears redeemed. Sorrow satiated. I am humbled by the thought today that no matter how far I have come…I have so far to go. His Plan is for my whole life not just bits and pieces.

Revelation 3:5-8 (NLT) All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Welcome to a brand year! It is a mystery to you and me what God has in store for us, but He knows exactly what is coming. He has provided everything that I need to get over the mountains and through the valleys. He has lit every dark place and gone before for me to prepare the way. Doors are opened and shut soundly around me. I must simply trust and obey. There is nothing more “I” can do. I must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. He is working every detail for my good. Examine my heart today, Jesus. Reveal any part of me that is not in complete alignment with Your Will, Your Way or Your Word. Wash me in Your Blood and rinse me in Your Word so that the magnificent masterpiece called Your Purpose is revealed in me more than ever before in 2017. Show me my wanderings and lead me back to Your Way. Show me my rebellion so that I may submit to Your Will. Lord, thank you for Your Word today that sheds light on my life. Let the invisible mysteries be visible to me according to Your Plan for my life. It is a good one. Be with me this year Lord, as I seek You wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT) “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

 

Wash Rinse Repeat

wash-rinse-and-repeat

James 4:7-10 (NLT) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

My sweet sister is an esthetician. She is a skincare specialist. During her visit to care for mom during her open heart surgery, there were endless hours of conversation in the waiting room during our more than 24 hours stay the first night. Please disregard any and all Dubsmash videos that may or may not have been posted – it was a very long night. My sister’s skin is perfection. Given her profession, she has a routine of care that has made her completion nearly flawless. She promised to send a box of products for our teenage girls who battle the usual adolescent skin issues. The box arrived yesterday as promised. Late last night my phone received a series of text messages with instructions for all of us regarding the products that she sent. As I read through them this morning, I found that none of the bottles contain any medicine but rather it is all about the proper cleaning. This is definitely intriguing to me.

Wash, rinse and repeat with a once-a-week special treatment. Anyone who knows me knows this is bound to strike a connection with my spirit and surely it did. Sometimes I think we over complicate the process of spiritual freedom by making about more than it really is. I am set free by the Grace of God offered freely through Jesus Christ. The products my sister sent to us are expensive. Probably a higher price than I would pay since I balk at the skin products at Walmart. She must be so ashamed. However, do I also take for granted the simple process of repentance, renewal and restoration offered to me day by day by my Lord? It begins with humility. At first, I asked her not to send at her expense. She insisted. I offered to pay her for the items which she generously declined. Jesus offers to cleanse my heart and mind each day. The gift already given yet I leave it in a box on the counter of my soul much like the box of products not yet applied. He wants to renew me each day so that I may be restored and find joy in my salvation yet I choose to remain guilty, dirty, stained, and full of regret somehow. Am I the only one? Do I carry a burden of sin that could be so freely given in exchange for more freedom than I have ever known? Do I have stains covering a radiant countenance of righteousness freely given but not used for anything in each day? It is time to learn a new soulful routine. It is simple – wash, rinse, renew and restore. I need to do this each and every day to make my soul secure and my Light shine to a world looking for love in all the wrong places. I have it. It is at my disposal. I just need to use it.

Humble yourselves before God. This thing called “humility” is a lifelong endeavor that is produced through our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is promoted with each encounter and experience offered in the Presence of God. You cannot enter His Presence and remain the same. He changes us day by day. He frees us from sin, guilt, shame and regret to renew and restore the life that God planned for us to have not the one poor choices delivered. You cannot resist the devil covered in sin. You cannot tell him to flee or make any other authoritative directive to the enemy without the Power of God at work inside of you. The Power of God that gives us strength is His Grace. It cannot be usurped in our own strength and power but humbly accepted as it cannot be earned in any way. To come close to God and live in His Presence begins with repentance. Repentance is a continual process of exchanging sin for salvation each day. This process cannot change for if it does our loyalty is divided between God and this world. No such division will withstand the process called judgment.

Psalm 51:1-4 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

I recently posted the lyrics to the song “Brokenness Aside”. It begins “I am a sinner if its not one thing its another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies.” It’s funny because I could feel the buzz of people wondering what I had “done” or how far I had “fallen”. The truth is that I am a sinner every single day. I am almost willing to bet that you are, too. I am aware of it and try to continually repent as not to become weighted down with transgressions. His Mercy is because of His Unfailing Love so no matter what I do I can come to the Lord and request cleansing. The Lord does it. Right there. On the spot. Whatever I submit to repentance, Jesus washes away as far as the east from the west. However, just as if I were to put a toy sailboat in the current of a river holding it tightly it will not float away – my sin cannot go away from me if I do not let it go.

We hold sin in our life two ways. First, we do not repent. Continuing to engage in it, calling it weakness, attempting to cover it up in grace, there is no freedom from it as it plagues us night and day. The second way to hold on to sin is regret. The same God that removes our sin renews our life in the process if allowed to. God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force us to accept anything that He has to offer.

With three daughters, the skin issue has come up many times. All three girls have a different skin type which requires a variety of skin regimes. However, there is one thing that works for all three. I have instructed them to wash their faces in the morning and evening. After school, they should remove makeup and rinse the impurities picked up that day. They have all balked at me until they tried it and found that their skin cleared up. Women use makeup to cover imperfections. However, that is not what we need as believers. Don’t cover up sin. Let it go. Let the Lord remove it and send it away as far as the east is from the west. It doesn’t matter what other people think if you choose to crawl to the altar in every service. So what? You didn’t sin against them. It is God alone we live to please and Jesus who died for us and now we live for.

Psalm 51:7-9 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

Purify me from my sins and I will be clean. Salvation is a process. It is not just one prayer one time at an altar but daily acceptance of Jesus Christ, His Word, His Will and His Way. We must work on it. Daily surrendering ourselves to Jesus. But unfortunately here is what happens. We wear one face for the world and another when alone at home and no one is watching. There are times when like the Pharisees, it is easy to become enthralled with what we can “do” for the Lord rather than allowing Him to do what He would like to “do” in me. Pride takes over holding on to sin rather than relinquishing it to the Cross. Repentance admits weakness. Our flesh isn’t comfortable with such a thing.

There is no true joy outside of salvation but to fully accept the terms and conditions of the New Covenant means to lay one’s life down at the Cross each day. In John 13, Jesus was preparing to wash the feet of His Disciples. He knew the end was near. The Lord also knew that He had been given full power and authority by God His Father. Symbolically, he removed his robe and knelt to wash their feet. When Jesus made his way to Peter, you have to know he would raise a ruckus. He did true to form saying, “you will never wash my feet.” Jesus said, “Unless I wash your feet, you do not belong to me.” There is no personal pride or accomplishment in our salvation. Jesus did it all. He paid for our life in full. There is nothing else for me to do other than accept it. When I try to maintain my pride and take hold of His Grace, I find this to be impossible.

Of course, during this discourse, Peter the extremist tells the Lord well if you are going to wash me – wash me from head to foot. Salvation cleanses us from head to toe. We work to maintain it by daily cleansing called repentance and humility. Those who do will be renewed day by day. Life will rise up in the places left void of sin as God does a new thing in each surrendered space of our heart and mind yielded to Him. His Word sheds light on the dark places. He speaks softly to us to come closer and let Him get that smudge off our face and stain out of our clothing. God is meticulous in His Care for us and will wash us as many times as it takes until each area is fully surrendered to His Unfailing Love and Amazing Grace. You will never not be a sinner. Full redemption comes when we meet Him face-to-face. Be washed in His Presence daily. Cleansed by His Word.

Psalm 51:12-15 (NLT) Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

My daughter was frustrated about her complexion one day. I asked her if she was washing her face regularly. She promised she had. I asked her if she had taken the prescribed medication. She again promised that she had. Now I am the “drug dealer” in our home who orders and usually picks up pharmaceutical orders for the crew. I know that I had not refilled her antibiotic in quite some time so I inquired further. How long have you been doing this? She admitted a couple of days. Well, of course. The Word of God tells us that He will restore us. Come on God. However, there is a second part that we are not so excited about…”make me willing to obey you.” Oh that part…

We must allow God time to restore us and commit our lives to the process called restoration. This means waiting, patience, persistence, faithfulness and commitment. We must continue to do what we know to do even when we cannot see the results. This my friend is faith. If I believe, the Lord is working to restore me and renew me I must remain faithful to the process which is what we call endurance. But God is even more faithful and does not make us wait or work out our salvation alone…

Titus 3:4-7 (NLT) But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

I love it when God “buts” in don’t you. God our Savior is full of kindness and love. He is mercy full! He washed away our sin. Gave us a new birth so we could live a new life. Jesus gave us a partner, advocate, guide, protector, defender, teacher, instructor… I could go on and on. The Lord gave us His Spirit. His Grace made us right in His Sight. We can have full confidence that every dead dream can come back to life. Old things will become new things. Dead ends are of no use because the Waymaker lives in us. Nothing wasted. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain as Jesus makes good of every detail of our life. We just have to remain in right standing. He did that, too. But God.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Repetition can become religion without true repentance and daily surrender of our life to Christ in all humility. We can become indignant like Peter to our own detriment. Lord, I am going to serve You. Not the other way around… Pride can sound so holy. It can make its point about being right but righteousness is only found when we surrender and submit our life to Jesus Christ – humbly accepting His Gift of Life day after day. We cannot sacrifice anything of worth. We cannot do anything to earn this wonderful gift that we are given. All we can do is wash, rinse and repeat day after day until He comes.

John 9 tells the story of a man who was blind from birth. Jesus takes some dirt off the ground, spits in it, smears it on his eyes, and then tells him to go wash it off. He does. The man is instantly healed. Yay God right! No not so fast. This begins a series of interrogations of the man, his family and bystanders who witnessed it. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. Well, as you can well imagine this drew the attention of the Pharisees who were already sick and tired of this man named Jesus messing everything up. Surely the Messiah would obey the rules and regulations of religion.

Reading this story again, I have come to the conclusion that maybe there is purpose in the mud covering the man’s eyes. I wonder if our natural and spiritual condition is easier to heal then the “muddy messes” of this life. We overcomplicate the process making salvation way too hard. When asked about his healing for the umpteenth time, the man said, “I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” Have we overcomplicated the process stopping the next great move of God? Could it be so simple? Maybe it is as easy as “then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) These are God’s Words to Solomon after he completed the temple. Our temple is complete in Jesus Christ maybe these are the words resonating from Heaven today. If my people…

I John 1:8-10 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

I am a sinner. I sin every day. If I told you or implied differently not only am I a liar, but I am calling God a liar. If I choose to coat my life with good works, good deeds, good words, and the like it is not the truth or the Gospel. It is not my job to set the standard of life and love for the rest of the world. God set the standard and it is glorious. It says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He then gave us this wonderful benefit package to open and enjoy as we continue to journey to forever through this life. I must engage in the process which begins with humbling my life at His Feet every single day and accepting the Grace that is given. New mercy meets me each morning. Will I scoop it up and use it throughout the day? Or will the mud of pride, doubt, fear and anxiety cause me to lose my way? God wants to do a mighty work in us. We are His Temple. He wants to fill us with more of His Presence day by day. Repentance gives way to restoration which makes way for renewal which is how we live in true freedom day by day. Our life is raised to His Glorious Standard each day we say, “Forgive me, Lord. Your Grace is enough for me.” Sin is a burden. It renders us powerless to fight the enemy. It keeps us in bondage. Jesus says, “Come to me all who are burdened.” It is an open invitation to wash, rinse and repeat every day! I speak freedom over your life today in Jesus Name!

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Just Disappear

just-disappear

Hebrews 13:1 (NLT) Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

There are many stories popping up from time to time about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. These men and women do what they do and then the news article reports and “they just disappeared”. Every day heroes, modern day saints, just regular people who could not walk away. There was a terrible car accident. A drunk driver slammed into the car of a young woman. It was a horrible wreck. Despite ongoing efforts, her condition was worsening and they could not extract her from the mangled automobile. A priest came upon the scene. He anointed her with oil and prayed for her. He then told the first responders to try again. When they did, she miraculously was removed and they were able to save her life. The man just disappeared. Some touted him to be an angel and others mocked those who would hope. One commented on the story, “so now angels come dressed as priests.” I have to laugh a little because there is irony in ignorance because angels do come in all shapes and forms. Yes, even as a priest.

After much hoopla, ABC News found the priest. The angel’s identity known, suddenly no one focused on the miracle but the man who “produced” it. Sadly this is the case most of the time. People do not chase after God who is the Miracle Maker, but rather those who He uses. How do we just disappear so all they see is Jesus? How do we keep the spotlight on Jesus and not all the wonderful things that He does? I want God to get all the Glory for my life. How do I make sure that the spotlight remains on the Lord? There are many preachers today who have forgotten how to do that. They didn’t mean to step into such a role. Humility is tough. Humans come with pride. The Power of God in us is strong and indisputable. Those who tap into it must daily crucify flesh as not to be overcome by pride and self-righteousness.

We have the opportunity each day to “entertain angels without realizing it.” God supplies all of our needs. He gives us an abundance so that it can overflow into the lives of other people. He fills us with everything that we want, need and desire to fulfill His Divine Purpose and live for His Glory. The question is not can we, but will we? Will we choose to stop looking for ways to blessed and become a blessing? I am challenged by this today. I decrease, You increase. It’s all about you, Jesus – it’s not about me. (John 3:30)

Matthew 25:34-40 (NLT) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

We must become socially challenged as the church to meet the needs of a dark and dying world. It is easy to be caught up in the order of worship, production and weekly services. God is looking for those who will take heavenly hospitality out to those trapped in the bondage of life. We walk by angels unaware on our way to church. Those who lay down their life for a friend, please Jesus. But getting involved with people is messy, especially those who live in terrible conditions or complicated circumstances. It may require giving something that we do not want to give. The priest may have been running late for mass that day. Sitting in his car in traffic backed up due to the horrible accident, maybe something compelled him to get out and see what was going on. Perhaps, and this may be pure speculation, he wandered upon the scene compelled by the Holy Spirit. His actions in that moment did not go unnoticed but he didn’t want to wait for recognition for he had a church of people waiting. In one moment, he just did what he knew to do and went about his business.

See miracles, signs and wonders are not really for those who believe, but for those who walk by sight. Those who believe just want to be in His Presence to live in that secret place where they know that He is close. Knowing by His Word that God can AND will, such people are so in love with the Lord that they just want to please Him. Their compassion is not based on anything other commitment to Jesus Christ and a deep desire to be where He is. What if we just disappeared in the Presence of God rather than basking in His Glory? What if we gave and walked away? To love Jesus and let Him be the One in the spotlight again. What if? I wonder. Notice what the “righteous ones” replied when blessed by the King, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?” The Lord’s Response – when you did it for the least of your brothers or sisters – that is when you did it for me. How we respond to people when we think no one is watching matters. The way we live when it is not required is the point. The Lord is looking for those people who will give their lives away without looking for immediate blessing or glorification. Those who will just lay down their life day by day.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT) “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

What can I do for the Kingdom and just disappear? How can I learn to live in such a way that the focus is not on me only Jesus? To be a good steward of our life is to tithe our time, talent and treasure to Jesus Christ. If I gave away just ten percent of my time, talent and treasure to others what would it look like? Tithing is the easy way out if it only means writing a check when we get paid by our employer. It is the percentage of our life given to God that nobody knows about that blesses His Heart. The time we give to others whether they know it or not. The things we do when nobody is watching that result in His Glory. “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Hmmm, so when I give my life away it is best to just disappear. We can learn from the actions of the priest that day. He walked right in the middle of things – did what the Lord told him to do – and attempted to disappear. What can I do to bless God today and then just disappear? Do I need people to recognize my good works or am I okay waiting on the Father to bless my life? Your Father who sees everything will reward you when serving Him is a private matter that speaks a consistent message in our life. We do not need the attention or affirmation of others when we become confident in the Lord and His Ability to validate our life through genuine faith. It is better to give than receive. We must give our life away day by day moment by moment to please the Father without looking for personal praise. After all – it’s all about Him and not about me. Our mission today is to “keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters”. We must remember those in bondage. It is up to us to experience the pain and plight of others as if it were firsthand… and then just disappear. We are the hands and feet of Jesus today. Everything we have and can do is from the Father with Love. Let all we do today be wrapped in Love for the Glory of God.

John 15:13 (NLT) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Moving Into Greater

moving-into-greater

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

How do we walk from victory to victory? Do we really win? If the Spirit who lives in me is greater than why does it seem like the one who rules the world is winning? The news around the world wreaks of turmoil, death and destruction. How do I keep my hand to the plow and my eyes on Jesus? I know a man who had a difficult childhood that gave way to many bad choices as a young adult. After attending a rehabilitation program, he met a girl and they made a beautiful family together. They raised their children in the admonition of the Lord. Went to church. Seemed to do all the right things to be in the Will and Way of God. I got word recently that the two are in the middle of a nasty divorce. One of their precious babies overdosed on heroin, died and was brought back to life by her father and paramedics. One is selling the stuff that almost killed a sibling. Another lost in an identity crisis trying to figure out who and what is real. How can this happen? How can Christian families who know the Lord fall apart so completely? They are not the only ones. I know a pastor whose family engaged in the same battle our family did at the exact same time. His sister battled cancer and won. Her victory was secured in Heaven with Jesus, not as they had hoped. We experienced a different kind of victory. Why do I feel guilty sometimes? Why do I feel like life is so unfair? Every day as I pray, I plead the Blood of Jesus over my husband, babies, church and friends. The battle for them is real and the adversary is ruthless. How do I take my eyes off all the fires burning around me? How can I not be distracted by the disturbing images to see the view from God’s Perspective and walk in it? I must learn to move into “greater”.

“You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” The people referred to in this passage are the false prophets. There may even one or two still circulating in this world (written with a hint of sarcasm). The Spirit who lives in me is greater. Jesus is greater than any other power or authority. (Period) The Sovereignty of God is passed down as power and authority to Jesus Christ in honor of His Sacrifice for all mankind. If the Spirit of God lives in us based on our decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior, to repent of our sins and turn from our own way, and make Him the Lord of our life – we have the Power of God and His Kingdom hidden inside of us. We can speak to mountains and they will move. We can cast out demons. We can drink poison and it will not harm us. We can do anything in His Name and for His Glory because He has given us His Victory. So why am I not winning? Are you fighting the right fight?

We engage in “civilian matters”. 2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” Our civilian life are all the “things” we do to survive in this world. Kingdom business is the life we live for the Lord outside of our daily routine and scheduled activities called living the American Dream or running the rat race depending on who you are and the given day. We get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. I get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. People are complicated. Circumstances are messy. Complications are inconvenient. I have feelings you know? Yes, God knows how we feel yet cannot leave us all emotionally caught up but tries to loose us because He is greater than our feelings. The Lord is fighting for our freedom. The battle begins inside of you and me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

If only I could get past how I feel some days, and live only in the greatness of who He is. I know my life would be greater. Yet, I struggle with people and purpose every day. Less of me will always make room for more of Him. As I yield my body, mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit – He moves in and fills me with love, peace, joy and satisfaction allowing me to walk by faith and not by sight for that moment. I find that once I completely yield my broken heart or spirit to the Lord that He is faithful to fill up and secure it in me. Yet there are those areas that I give Him and before He can get there snatch it back. I want the greater things of God and to live for His Glory. Lord, move me into greater today by moving in and taking over more of me.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. 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 Father.”

I have seen modern day miracles. I have seen the Hand of God touch human beings and supernaturally change their condition. Yet, there were times that I still did not believe. I believed in God the Father, of course. I believed in Jesus Christ and the fact that He died to save me. I also believed that His Holy Spirit lived inside of me. The struggle was for the greater things. I would give up to avoid disappointment. I did not fully believe or accept God’s Intervention in my life or my ability to do the same works that Jesus did. I do not believe that anymore. I absolutely believe that God is moving me to greater things. Miracles, signs and wonders. Sharing a message that will be received by many.

The confidence and boldness that I have found did not come the way I assumed that it would. It arrived at the end of me. Complete and utter brokenness. The days that I thought I could not move another step in faith and the “mustard seed” seemed too small. I found it when not a single thing in my life added up to victory, when everyone around me did not see a win and on that day when all I had left was His Word. He made me a promise. The ruler of darkness had done everything in his power to make me relinquish it. I did not wail. I did not beg. I did not plead. As I recall, it was in a quiet and calm voice that I reminded the Lord – this is what you said.

As Christians, we are always trying to “make things happen” in the Body of Christ to promote repentance and revival. I am wondering if it’s possible that we are taking the wrong approach. Am I trying to win a victory already won rather than going through the Victor? What do I mean? King Solomon called life meaningless because he believed there was nothing new under the sun. While I agree with him that there is nothing new under the natural sun, I concur with him that God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind. It is that seed of faith that changes everything in our natural life to the possibility of supernatural outcome. God put divine purpose in each heart for harvest. We must allow it to become greater than us in order to reap the reward.

John 15:19-21 (NLT) “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.”

Jesus was abundantly clear that the world pretty much hated Him and everyone associated with the Gospel. “A slave is not greater than the master.” If you think that the world is ready for the gospel, you are wrong. Christians have not helped our own cause. The Word of God tells us “students are not greater than their teacher” and that “slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 10:24-25) We must be like our teacher. (Luke 6:39-40) The messenger is not greater than the one who sent the message. (John 13:15-17) Mega church is big business. Pastors reside in mansions and fly around in private jets. The world sees church as just a big business endeavor. I hear people refer to preachers and podcasts every day but don’t hear them recite the Word of God at all. If the world embraces you and celebrates me, am I serving God or man? The Love and Grace of God are wonderful. Those who experience them will be forever changed. However, they have the Gospel message when preached appropriately leads to opposition. If not, we must compare our life and our message to our Teacher, Master, Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. He healed people. He helped the community. He did nothing wrong. He did not defend His Innocence but went to the Cross. John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid His Life down for us all. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him to attain the greatness offered to us in His Word.

On Shark Week, the Discovery Channel shows men and women who will put blood in the water to summon sharks. They will then take a video camera, jump in a steel cage and be lowered in the water to film the shark’s frenzy. Some of the sharks will ram the cage. Others grab it with their razor sharp teeth and shake it with all their might. Those crazy, yes crazy, scientists though narrowly escaping with their life will do it again and again for their love of science and species. No thank you! I believe that as believers set their heart on revival and allow the Lord to remove lesser things to make room for greater things, they will encounter the same. We will go into the world with a message of love, peace and joy some days feeling as though we barely escape wrath.

I John 3:19-20 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Winston Churchill is credited with the statement, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Good advice. If you want to get to Heaven, you are going to “go through hell” to get there. The enemy is not going to sit lightly by and watch you pass content with those who he has already apprehended. His hatred for Jesus is too great. His demise is too eminent. He will fight tooth and nail to pull you out of God’s Best to settle for lesser things in life even if that lesser thing is religion over a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our actions must be based on the fact that we belong to the Truth and absolutely believe the Promise of God is for us and worth having. Why? It will cost all of me and every ounce of pride in me to attain it. We have been promised “far greater glory” (2 Corinthians 3:8-9) and friends we are not living in it so there must be more to it. I must believe that the God in me is greater than everything outside and around me. It will take all of me to get there. The greater ones desire to see the greater things of God and experience the Greatness of His Kingdom, the more that will be required. Are you willing to give God all of you for a higher view? A new perspective comes when we get out of the way along with our feelings about our faults and failures. We must move past our pride, insecurities and doubts that cause conflict and division in the Kingdom to work love, grace and mercy in and through our life. I want to move into greater things today. I must get past me to do it. He must increase and I must decrease not just today but every day!

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 Father.”

Learn To Run

learn-to-run

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Not really sure how it happened, I guess I was just one bowl of ice cream away from a binge. After working for a long time to establish a good diet and consistent exercise routine, I just stopped. The workout was the first to go. Three or four days at the gym turned to one here and there, which constituted good stewardship and ending our relationship. I quit the gym. But that’s okay, I still had a “good” diet right. I ate healthy for the most part. Well, I did anyway. It did not take long for old habits to come creeping in and late night snacking to take over. Now as I like to joke with others, I have noticed a waist line that resembles a “busted can of biscuits” so it is time to bet disciplined again. It is important to be a good steward in life and that includes our health. I will never be a 5’10” super model with abs of steel. In fact, as I shared with someone yesterday, I am not so sure this model came with abs. I believe that balance in life is mind, body and soul. We cannot be healthy in our soul and it not impact our mind and body. As my soul prospers, so will I in health and other things. (3 John 1:2)

It is with this thought that I am embarking on the journey once again to get my body back under control. I am not a runner. I aspire to be one day just because I believe it to be the ultimate endurance. If you see me running right now, should probably do the same because something is obviously chasing me. However, as I gain endurance, I have learned that running becomes a little bit easier. As my heart gets stronger and lungs learn to breathe under pressure, I am able to go longer and farther without stopping to catch my breath or ease a cramp. Hebrews 12:1 offers excellent advice to those who want to run a marathon or continue in the race of faith. I am interested in both.

“We are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to (our) life of faith…” If I profess with my mouth to be a Christian, the folks around me will immediately place new expectation on me as a person. They will indeed judge me. I know God is our judge, but if we use His Name I believe that to honor Him – we must be conscious of those around us just like Jesus. Jesus was always aware of those around Him. He took notice of the weak. He looked past infirmity to find their purpose. He did not discard those clothed in darkness and filled with hatred. He reached out to them – dismissing that which was hindering them to remind them who they really were. It is easy to build walls of righteousness around us. It is even easier to “work” ourselves in a frenzy in the Name of the Lord. But until we love others like crazy…we have missed the point. Yes, they are watching. Yes, they are evaluating. And yes, they are more than likely judging you. But does it really matter what they “think” as long as in the end they find that the love that never fails. We must be aware of the huge crowd of witnesses – it is every face that we encounter in life.

“Strip off every weight that slows us down…” Our life was very chaotic during the time it took to sell our old house and move into our new home. Our church life is very busy now too as we have become more involved than we were able to be in the past several years. Our kids are on the go. The transition period completely wrecked our schedule and routine. The ordered fell into disorder. When we finally began to establish a new routine, a hurricane came blowing through our community. Now as it all settles, it is time to examine our life and place new priorities on certain things.

I believe it is easy to become undisciplined in areas that once were under strict control. Discipline is not welcomed by our flesh so if we let our guard down it is easy to become distracted. We start eating bad again because fast food does not equal healthy diets. We stop exercising because there are too many other “things” we need to do. We stop reading the Bible because work is overloading us. The prayer closet door remains closed because there is not a moment for ourselves. Church is the last thing on our mind when home is the last place we go. If we do not check the weights in our life and seek the Lord to remain in good order, we will become overloaded, weary, and weak so we give up. People experience burnout not because the burden in their life is too heavy. They burnout because they do not balance their life according to God’s Word and His Way. You can have it all but are not called to do it all.

“Especially sin…” Sin is in everyone’s life no matter how hard one tries to avoid it. No one will ever be without sin. It is human nature. We escape sin only when fully redeemed. The perception of innocence is false. It is by grace we are saved by faith because we will never overcome our battle with sin without Jesus Christ. I find that if I focus on other people’s problems with sin that I somehow fall into it myself. If another person does wrong, and I choose to discuss it with other people – I am a gossip and I have sinned. If a new person comes to church who doesn’t look like a believer, act like a Christian, or dress like the rest of the religious folks, and I look down on them or think of ways to change them OTHER than introducing them to Jesus Christ, well then I sinned again…in church no less. Comparison with anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ will always open the door to sin and darkness. He is our example.

Finally, “run with endurance the race God has set before us…” I aspire to run the marathon at Disney one day called Disney Princess Half Marathon. It supports the Children’s Miracle Network. Participants don tutus and mouse ears running for an excellent charity. Why? I have no idea other than I feel like it is impossible for me to run that far. In order for me to successfully complete the event held in February each year, I must train and run for the other months in order to be prepared. When I (notice my optimism) arrive at the event, they will give me a map of the course and mark it out so that I can follow it. God has set a course for my life. It is in each step from the moment I am born until I leave this world behind and step into eternity. Nothing is wasted or forgotten. He makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) There are days when I fall or fail but that is not the end. It is in the rising again that I discover a little more character where my flesh used to be. It is when I push and press against adversity that I discover the overcomer who lives in me. This life is a marathon. It has a clearly marked course. We find it in the Word of God. We work to claim the Will of God. Jesus is the Way of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

“Keeping (my) eyes on Jesus…” I am good at getting distracted…the Good Lord only knows. I am surprised that He never put blinders on me. If He did, I would never develop faith. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. A word of warning needs to be interjected here. This is not just about fellow believers or those living in sin and darkness around us. We must be very, very careful not to look at preachers and teachers as our example either. I have heard people quote famous preachers from Billy Graham, Jentzen Franklin, Steven Furtick, and Joel Osteen. I have heard young people quote their leaders, teachers and the like. I challenge you to quote Jesus. To make His Word the authority in your life. To make His Spirit the guide for your life. To stop listening to what everyone else says about Jesus and experience Him one-on-one for yourself. Our encounter with Jesus Christ must be personal to be credible.

“The champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” We are in a process. This process is not a sprint but a marathon. It will always require patience and endurance whether you have them or not. Jesus is the Source of all faith. He is the only way to God the Father. (John 14:6) We cannot bypass faith and collect grace. It is by grace I am saved THROUGH faith. I must believe. I must believe that Jesus Christ has given my victory or how will I ever sell my soul on commitment. What’s the point if the end is uncertain? I can certainly find ways to entertain myself until I die if there is no relevance to Heaven.

“For the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross…” We are the joy that awaited Jesus Christ on the other side of the Cross. Do we joy enough in Jesus Christ to endure this life to reach Him on the other side? He gave up everything just to be with me. Yet, on some days, I struggle to give up small things just to be with Him. We will never be committed if find no joy in Jesus Christ. He is ready to satisfy our soul. We must believe that to engage and endure in the marathon of life called the race of faith.

I Corinthians 9:23-26 (NLT) I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

I must run with purpose in every step. My life has the potential for constant victory. I can live each day in full satisfaction without disappointment. It requires a discipline in faith that I have not yet achieved but have the potential to do if I give my life to Jesus in each step. My life is recorded by God moment by moment. (Psalm 139) Nothing escaped His Immediate and Divine Attention. It is my inability to remain disciplined and committed that keeps me from fullness and completion in Jesus Christ. He demands my full attention yet I constantly find myself looking to lesser than things and giving them what belongs to God including my energy and time. Thank you Jesus that your Grace is enough for me to get back on track again and again and again. You have a prize for me worth having if I will just discipline myself and devote this life to You.

Philippians 2:13-18 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.  But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Are you stuck in a rut? Is there a certain part of your life naturally or spiritually that has become a place of discontentment? Are you tired all the time? Do you feel weak and weary? Do you feel like God has moved away from you? Or that Jesus is no longer with you? That’s God. He is working in us giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. He will never force us to change but encourages us from deep within. How do I know? You came with a measure of faith that is purposed to grow. When we pray and seek the Lord, it nourishes that seed and it begins to press back against every oppressive thing in its way from full realization. We become discontent. We feel isolated. It seems like we just can’t get ahead. What happens? We begin to dig deeper in His Word, seek out His Face, call on His Name and He comes rushing in to lead us, guide us and direct us to better things. It is God’s Love moving inside of you telling you to get up, dust yourself off and start running again.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Do not speak against the promise that is putting pressure on your life for change by griping all the time. Such conversation is a curse on that promise and alignment with the enemy’s declaration on your life. You are an overcomer. You are a winner. You are a runner. You are a mover. You’ve got things to do that require messing up your routine. You have a purpose that is not on the corporate ladder. You have people to reach so your arms must be emptied of all that extra weight and unnecessary burdens you picked up along the way. God is rearranging our lives to make room for the discipline and commitment that leads to revival and full redemption. “Hold firmly to the Word of Life.” You cannot give up! It is those who endure to the end who are saved. Most mamas want to give up in the process of labor just before the baby is born. It hurts. You are tired. You don’t think you can give any more to the process. It is with that last push something wonderful and perfect emerges in your life. The promise you have waited for all this time is here. God is doing the same in you, my friend. He is birthing a promise more wonderful than any child ever born. It is called faith. It is the one thing that can take you into Eternity to live in His Love forever. We must learn to run and not grow weary. Walk and not fall. We run this race of faith with purpose. Never giving up until we win!

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NLT) Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Counter Pressure

counter-pressure

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

Newton’s Third Law of Motion is “to every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and directed to contrary parts.” It is commonly described as “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I am not a scientist or physicist and do not claim to be yet I see this in operation daily both physically and spiritually. To explain the third law of motion simply – whatever presses another is as much pressed by the other. For example, if I hold a stone or rock in my hand pressing it with my finger, my finger is also pressed by the object. It is counter pressure. It is this law of motion that can also be applied to our spiritual life. As we press into God – He will not relent or move but presses back.

Counter pressure is to use pressure in the opposite direction. It is how one applies pressure in the opposite or opposing direction. If a wound is bleeding, it is recommended to apply pressure to it which should cause the blood to clot and stop the flow. We must learn to apply counter pressure in our life in order to exhibit change. When pressed by circumstances or conditions rather than giving up, believers must learn to press in. Press in to our Bible, press in to our prayer closet, press into His Presence, press into the Spirit – the church must learn to press again.

“I press to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” It is not easy to go against the flow. The current of society is hard to overcome to live in a place of totally trusting the Lord and living for His Purpose. You will not achieve such a thing in giving up but rather pressing in. We come to Christ with certain expectations and once any kind of hardship or pressure is encountered – we give up on perfection and decide to give in to maintain our comfort. We accept what life hands us rather than pushing back on compromise to receive the promise. God gave His Only Son for me so I could have His Perfect Plan. By grace I am saved through faith with a promise. There is purpose hidden in my life that must be expressed by pressure. It has to make its way past my emotions, feelings, pain and exhaustion to be birthed in my life. The birth process is a response to pressure. As the baby moves from the womb to the world, the mother labors and yes, there is pain but more so there is pressure. Right before her travail is over, she feels the need to push as hard as she can. It is innate. It is primal. It is built in her DNA to continue to push until she hears the baby’s first cry.

I am a firm believer in natural childbirth. I do not think pregnancy is a sickness. Delivering five babies was not fun, and yes, it hurt very much. I would do it all over again to have these precious and wonderful people in my life. What I discovered through my different experiences is that the less intervention the more effective the process. The three times I was able to deliver outside the hospital with little to no intervention, the more quickly the baby came. It was when I diluted those natural hormones with saline IVs and pain medication that my body slowed down. Why would I do such a thing? Afraid that my body could not do what it was created to do maybe and obviously looking to avoid pain, of course. What I have found after successfully delivering healthy babies is that when I did not accept outside intervention, I was able to press and push more effectively.

Could it be that in our avoidance of pain and discomfort, the Body of Christ, His Church has forgotten how to press through? We do not like to wait or be inconvenienced so we skip the steps in the process seeing them as unnecessary. God has ordered each step of our life. It is filled with blessing, provision and purpose that will ultimately lead to fulfillment. If a baby is born on the first push, the mother’s body has no time to prepare the way and open to release her child. What would happen? The mother would be harmed. The baby would not go through the process needed to press all the fluid from its lungs. There is purpose in our pressure today. We must learn to press back.

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5) The hope given to us by Jesus Christ never ever leads to disappointment. To believe this one truth will allow you to press through. Disbelief and doubt will keep us from exerting energy and investing time into pressing through and overcoming. We would rather work for now than wait until then. We have been filled with the Light of His Love and it is driving away the darkness giving way to fulfillment of purpose as His Promises are revealed to us and desire rises up to know Him more. To get that light out of us, there is tremendous pressure. What did you think your flesh would die without a fight? You have fed and nurtured it your whole life. What makes us think that when we attempt to live for Jesus and crucify our flesh that it wasn’t going to fight back? We are going to experience hardship as Christians. (PERIOD) The days of blab-it-and-grab-it ministry has proven false. Yes, the Lord wants to prosper your life. It begins with your soul. We must be broken to expose the light hidden inside our soul and connect with forever. We must learn to press again.

Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

As the church cries out for Jesus to come closer and for revival to break out, it is important to note that there is an equal and opposite reaction created by pressing God for more of Him. You cannot move closer to the Lord without yielding your way, giving up your ideals and pressing into Him. We ask for more of Jesus but fail to make room so when brokenness comes it is perplexing. If you want more of Jesus, it will always require less of me. He must increase, I must decrease. (John 30:30) New wine will not work in old wineskins. The response of the Lord as we cry out for more of Him is to prepare for the outpouring. Pressure. There will be pressure. What is our response to that pressure? Do we look for relief or choose to respond?

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

There are some women who endure one pregnancy and go through one birth and decide that is enough for them. The pain is too great so they decide not to go through with it again. Or maybe there were complications throughout culminating in a traumatic birth or early delivery. We often tease our youngest that if she had been the first, she would have been the last. Endless nights of colic almost did this mama in. We pressed through. As we walk through life with Jesus, we must take the time to know His Word (Psalm 119:143) and His Way. The narrow road is filled with heartbreak and brokenness but not disappointment or despair. For every curse there is a blessing. For every problem there is a solution. For every sin there is a Savior. For every failure there is grace. You cannot achieve such things if you do not trust the Lord enough to keep pressing through the pain to find the healer. You must apply the counter pressure of praise when perplexed by circumstances and adverse conditions. It only works if we press on to the perfection we are called to. Jesus is perfect. God’s Way is flawless. The giving comes from us. We must know that in calling on His Name and crying out for change – it is to invite pressure into our life. Revival will come when we get out of the way so when we ask for it – understand you will be moved by it. Such movement causes discomfort and it is inconvenient so we press into the Lord so in our weakness, He becomes our strength.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

If our heart’s desire is truly Jesus Christ, we must expect pressure in our life. Pressure to change. Pressure to move. Pressure that keeps us from settling for the lesser things and compromising for now rather than enduring to obtain forever. We will settle for less if allowed the convenience. God is pressing us today because we are asking for more of Him. His Automatic Response to our cries is to give us that which we ask for. If in fact we are crying out for revival or Christ’s eminent return, then we can expect lots and lots of pressure. It is time to press back. Get in the Word. Close the door to your prayer closet. Find your way into His Presence again. Jesus is all I need to endure the pressures of life. I must learn to press in. As I am pressed, He is released in my life. He never grows weak and weary. The Lord wants to be my refuge and strength – I must learn to keep pressing.

Psalm18:1 (NLT) I love you, Lord; you are my strength.

Intentional Kindness

intentional-kindness

Two arms reaching together with sun.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Random acts of kindness is not a Biblical principle. It is a humanitarian effort. The golden rule only goes so far in this life but it is the Truth in I Corinthians 13 that governs our life. God is love. (I John 4:8) If God’s Holy Spirit lives in us, we will produce love, joy, peace, patience and kindness…among His Other Fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is patient and kind. It “is” not it may be, could be or should be. To be a Child of the Living God, filled with the Holy Spirit, means that we are to live a life of love that begins with these two attributes.

Spontaneous or random acts of kindness are given on a whim. Gestures that do not really cost us anything at all because what we offer to another did not require a sacrifice. However, God desires us to show intentional kindness to everyone we meet, at any given moment, each and every day. The Lord provides opportunities every day for His People to extend His Loving Kindness to others. Are we taking full advantage of these moments to share the Love of God unconditionally based on kindness and compassion rather than human judgment. I am challenged today by to examine my heart for kindness. To see if I am measuring up to God’s Standard of Love by living to be intentionally kind not relishing in those moments I mess up and do the right thing offering kindness to others.

Kindness is not a natural response. It is a learned behavior. Why? People do not trust. It is not human nature to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Fearing others will take advantage of our giving or yielding to others, we judge those who are worthy of our grace rather than understanding it is not ours to evaluate only to communicate in every interaction.

Ephesians 1:4-8 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God loved us before He created the world. He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault providing the grace that we needed to do so. God decided in advance. His Love is intentional. He decided to do it and did. It is what He wanted to do. It was His Pleasure. It is in these statements that we can identify God’s Intentional Nature. When God decides to do something – He does it. He doesn’t change His Mind. To be like God our Father and follow the example of Jesus, our love must be intentional and marked by kindness.

Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We have a little dog named Izzy. She is a tiny 4-pound monster. She makes a lot of mistakes. Barks all the time. Yet, she is very loving and loyal. The thing about dogs that we love so much is their loyalty. I can fall over her. Yell at her. Even put her in the crate when she does not behave, she still loves me and wants to be with me the moment that I let her out. Her love for us is relentless. What is it in dogs that make them so loyal? They must have very big hearts. People can learn a thing or two from dogs. We are to be clothed in “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Clothed meaning covered in it. It should be what people see and experience when we are with them at all times not just when we feel like it or think they are worthy of it. But with the same loyalty as our furry friends, give it freely and willingly to those around us.

Psalm 145:16-17 (NLT) When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.

What is kindness? Desiring to help others, indulgence, consideration, helpfulness, mildness, gentleness, generosity, tenderness and compassion all underlined by love. We love others because He first loved us. When the Lord opens His Hand, He satisfies. When I open my hand, mouth and heart to others are they satisfied or do I leave them lacking because I once again have failed to be intentionally kind as Jesus has been to me.

The Word of God promises that kindness will be a reward. (Proverbs 11:17) Kind words are like honey that is sweet to the soul and healing to the body. (Proverbs 16:24) It doesn’t say who it will sweeten and soothe. To be a wise woman, I must give instructions with kindness as I work within my family, life and world to be the Proverbs 31 kind of girl I long to become. (Proverbs 31:26) God defines a lack of kindness in our life as judgment. (Romans 2:3-4) Who am I to decide another unworthy of the kindness that I have found in the Lord? Not sure, yet I somehow manage to do it every day.

Matthew 5:46-48 (NLT) If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We offer kindness to those who we trust. Plain and simple. It is fear that our kindness may be rejected or taken advantage of that keeps us from giving it freely and without condition. We offer random acts of kindness like pennies in a fountain. No real loss if we do not see our wish come true because we don’t really put a true value on a single cent. However, remove all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” means that we must “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” now this puts a whole new spin on things. We must live with intentional kindness to walk with Jesus. It is His Way. It is the Truth. It is how we find new life in the giving of ourselves to other people.

Through trial, tribulation, problems, hardships and brokenness, there is a small opening in my heart and soul that has developed some patience. This is by far the hardest fruit of God’s Spirit to cultivate in me. To be intentionally kind requires patience makes us slow down and become acutely aware of those around us. Busyness is no longer an excuse. No one is undeserving of our kindness. We are called to love one another and there is no specification that I can find of any person who excused or eliminated from this group. I must live in kindness. I must walk in kindness. I must be clothed in kindness. I must speak words filled with kindness. I must give in kindness. I must love with kindness.

There is an old saying, “I am going to do it but I don’t have to like it.” It is a lie when it comes to loving others and being kind. Obedience to God is love. Anything else will not be accepted. I think that is why so many churches fail and ministries fold. They come together with the best intentions but forget what they are brought together to do. A commitment to Jesus Christ will always be marked by love and kindness. It is who He is. Our character is no different if we say all the right words, do all the right things yet fail to love every person who we come in contact with. If we will become intentional about our kindness, I believe we will begin to walk in love. Lord, examine each word before I speak it, every gesture before I do it, every action before I commit it, and every act I do in Your Name. Jesus make sure it is based on the unconditional love and amazing grace that I have found in You.

Proverbs 3:3 (NLT) Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

 

 

Grace Rules

grace-rules

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

It has become apparent on careful inspection that over the last couple of years, my face has wrinkles. Lines and creases have emerged that were not there before as my age becomes apparent on my face. The very origin of the word means “defect or problem” so no wonder society offers so many things to fix “wrinkles”. If wrinkles or creases are in clothing, the iron uses heat to smooth things out. Steam can also offer a quick fix when needed. Neither an iron nor steamer seem to be a safe alternative for the ones clearly taking over my appearance. Walking through the store, I have read a few bottles of the miracle creams and overnight lotions meant to help stop the signs of aging. Professionals say to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Believe me, I do each day. Yet still they occur despite my best intentions, nightly routine and antiaging rituals.

Collagen is the key to avoiding wrinkles. Collagen is the support structure that keeps our skin young in appearance according to medical studies. When levels are plentiful, our skin looks young and fresh. As we age, these levels decline and wrinkles begin to form on once supple faces. Researchers believe that the solution to wrinkles is more collagen to supplement our body’s inability to produce it. Some people resort to injections to fill in creases more quickly and eliminate crevices all together but these are only temporary and wear off over time.

Collagen is the answer to wrinkles in our face. Grace is God’s Solution for wrinkles in relationships. Ah…you didn’t see that coming did you. Me either. When I felt like I should study grace this morning, it was not about me…or was it. It was, of course. Grace is the most valuable asset that God has given us to share His Love with all people. Everyone needs grace. An abundance of grace to maintain our relationships. Are relationships necessary? Absolutely. God has called us to love one another. Grace gives us the capability to do so. Filling in the gaps left by hurt, harm, offense, and discouragement.

From the moment a person is born, human expectation is placed in another. An infant looks to their parent (or guardian) to meet their basic needs. Helpless to care for oneself – to survive means depending on other people. How those people respond to our needs and fulfill our longings develop our individual mindset of care and that which we offer to others. Since imperfect people beget imperfect people – there is a certainty that no matter how hard a parent tries they will let down their child and make mistakes in the nurturing process. When introduced to Father God and His Son, Jesus Christ, it is easy to apply our perception of people not realizing that we serve a perfect God. We love God. Serve Christ. BUT do not know how to transfer our life, wants, needs and total expectations to the Lord like we need to.

I Peter 1:2-4 (NLT) God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus gives us great expectation. As our life is transferred from this world into His Kingdom, it is no longer bound to the conditions and consequences of sin. We are given a second chance to live with a priceless inheritance. But if we do not take the time to discover what this new life is all about, we will not experience a difference. God is not a fairy god father in a white suit with a magic wand. He is God. He is Sovereign. Our Father created us with a perfect plan that was exchanged for sin. Now we have the opportunity by His Grace to have everything lost to death and depravity. Salvation is the act of repentance or turning our life over to Jesus Christ. His Death, Burial and Resurrection gave us this thing called Grace. It is truly amazing but seldom understood. Grace is not an excuse to sin. It doesn’t give us permission to ignore God’s Word and still experience a supernatural existence. May God give us more and more grace and peace.

Grace and peace are partners. Grace is found by those who choose to live as partners at peace with God, His Word through His Son. Grace is not given in small amounts but massive doses. It is not for us alone but for others around us. It fills in the gap that creates division in relationships which keep us from fulfilling the Great Commission and loving others as ourselves. We must apply grace to live in peace.

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT) God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Word of God identifies the “sin problem” that people inherently have from conception. It is unavoidable. God’s Word would bring condemnation if not for the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now when we read about our shortcomings, God provides an immediate solution. This is why the Word of God “as people sinned more and more, God’s Wonderful Grace rules instead”. Does the Grace of God rule our life? Good question…

I have right standing with God through Jesus Christ. There is no higher goal or attainable honor than oneness with Jesus Christ that gives me a renewed relationship with my Father in Heaven. However, if grace stops with me than it is not being applied correctly. Grace must abound in my life to be effective as a believer and to administer the Gospel of Jesus Christ efficiently. See without grace there is no good news. The Light of the Word put His Light inside of me and it should always be defined by faith, hope and love. All of these qualities come from the grace that I have been given and must therefore administer to others. Grace fills the gap of human imperfection allowing us to partner as the Body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NLT)  We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

“As people sinned more and more, God’s Wonderful Grace rules instead…” does God’s Grace rule our life? Before you answer, think about your daily interaction with others. Are they peaceful? Do you get worked up when someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you become offended when taken for granted? Do you get mad when others do not do their fair share? Do you judge people by their appearance or choices? Do you compare your life to others? Where sin abounds, grace must abound more. When faced with the challenges of life that cause division and strife between us and other people, grace is always the solution. It is always the answer. The yielding of our way to allow others to see Christ in us is more important than being right, having our fair share or even taking our place. We must learn to allow the Grace of God to be our everyday expectation and stop depending on people for fulfillment, happiness and joy.

Our spirits are to be renewed day by day. When I go to the local fast food restaurant and place my order, the clerk will hand me a cup. I can take that cup over to the drink station to fill it up. There are many choices. Carbonated sodas, fruit drinks, ice tea and water. I make the choice what I fill it up with. If I choose not to read God’s Word each day, I may forget that His Grace is enough for me in every trial, trouble, problem and hardship that comes my way. If I do not pray, I may miss the Voice of God telling me what is coming and how to overcome it. If I do not make it a point to seek His Presence day by day, I will not experience the supernatural because I have chosen to live in the natural. It is up to me if my cup overflows with the love and grace of God today or I choose to drink from this world’s offerings of unforgiveness, jealousy, strife, malice, division and brokenness. I have been given the glorious grace of God and permission to use it. It is up to me what I do with it.

2 Peter 1:2-4 (NLT) May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Living in full expectation of the Grace of God is not easy. It is a call to walk by faith and not by sight. We must take our natural needs, wants and desires pinning them to God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word completely letting go of expecting perfect things from imperfect people. Isn’t that why we restrict grace from others, because we are not completely sure it is enough to satisfy me? God will give us more and more grace and peace as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus. Without such knowledge, we cannot expect to trust the Lord or follow His Ways. Ignorance will lead to death. When we call on the Lord, do we know what we are asking for outside of His Word? Not really. To surrender my life to Christ means all my expectations, too.

Releasing other people from our expectation will allow us to show them the love and grace that God has commanded us to do. We can now love them and forgive them because we have an abundance of grace poured into us by the divine power of God living in us. He called us to live by means of his marvelous grace and excellence. When we choose to hold other people accountable for our happiness, joy and fulfillment – it is to reject that which is our inheritance to settle for lesser more immediate gratification. This is a forfeiture of fulfillment.

“These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” Faith in Jesus Christ means faith in His Ability to satisfy our life completely. It is according to this promise that we take back expectation from other people and liberally apply grace. Is there someone in your life today that you are withholding God’s Grace from? Release that person in Jesus Name and forgive them. It is not because they deserve it. They are just as guilty as you and me when it comes to sin. Grace is God’s Solution to sin always. When we give grace to another, it fills in those imperfect places in our life to allow God’s Spirit to continue the life-giving renewal process that meets and exceeds our expectation as grace abounds so does His Peace. Let grace rule your life today!

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Beating a Dead Horse

beating-a-dead-horse

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

“Beating a dead horse” is to bring up an issue that has already been concluded, something that has been considered to be pointless. If an argument erupts and it is the one previously settled, often people will say that “you are beating a dead horse”. This phrase is thought to have originated in horse racing. The animals are often “beaten” during a race to push them harder and make them move faster. The jockey will use a riding crop to slap the horse on the thigh in an effort to get the horse to respond to get to the finish line securing the victory. So you can see the irony in “beating a dead horse” it is not going anywhere therefore it is futile to keep hitting it.

You are probably thinking to yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with the narrow road and small gate that leads to life”? I will be the first to admit God speaks to me in mysterious ways sometimes. I guess the truth is if I knew the direction our conversation was going and didn’t like what it meant, I would probably change the subject or just lie down all together. I have a stubborn nature that takes God’s Will and Way often trying twist and turn it a little to be more comfortable and convenient. There is but one way. I know, I know I struggle in that too many times wanting God to consider my way that usually requires a little less of me and a whole more of Him. God will not relent in His Persistent Love for us. His Plan is perfect and needs no tweaks by us. What the Lord desires of us is faithful obedience to get from where we are to the wonderful things He has for us. We need only follow His Direction.

Well, that seems to be a consistent problem for God’s People dating back to the Garden of Eden. When given only one rule and a plethora of rights – humanity chose to disobey the only rule. It is that “one thing” or “what if” that often drives us from the narrow path of faithfulness and small gate called obedience to settle for lesser things and compromise in life. Something in us rises up when told “no” or “don’t” or “go this way” – why is it that it is that very thing we desire? As the road gets narrow, our options are fewer. Our flesh hates that so we tend to deviate just a little. Nudging the lines of obedience and fudging a little on faithfulness sure that the Lord will let us slide this one time on the grease called grace.

Numbers 22:23-28 (NIV) When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam was a prophet who heard from the Lord but had not given his heart to God. The Children of Israel had moved into Canaan and the King of Moab, Balak, summoned Balaam to curse them and drive them out. But God objected as it was His Plan to bless them. When he declined, Balak summoned Balaam again this time with an even greater reward. God told Balaam, “You must not put a curse on those people because they are blessed.” This time the Lord told him, “Go with them, but do only what I tell you.” Hello flesh! Seriously this is like a red flag in front of an angry bull. Anytime that we feel restricted or restrained, it is human nature to rebel.

Although we find out later that Balaam never had a change of heart, we can still learn from his example along the “narrow” way. On his way with the Moabites, Balaam cannot see the angel of the Lord ready to kill him but his donkey can. The angel stands at the narrow point of the pathway. When the animal stops to save his master, Balaam becomes angry and beats the donkey. The donkey responds by continuing the journey. The angel moves down to the “narrow” place.” The donkey sees him and stops again to save his master who in return beats him again. This will happen one more time before the donkey says enough is enough and begins to speak to Balaam whose eyes are opened to see the death angel in the “narrow” place.

What does this story have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 7:13-14 or the story of Balaam? Everything. It is all about the narrow path, road or gate. We want to get to Heaven… our way. We want to please God… our way. We want to serve the Lord… our way. When all along the only way to get to God the Father is through His Son who is called the WAY. (John 14:6) We cannot have the blessings of God without doing it His Way. His Way is not broad and general but narrow and specific. Everyone thinks that serving the Lord will lead to greater acquisitions in our natural life but I believe it is in the complete yielding of our life that we can be saved, healed, delivered and set free to enter the Gate that is narrow.

The donkey resisted three times and got the daylights beat out of him as we say in the south. He finally was given the ability to speak reminding his owner of his faithful service and inquiring about such harsh punishment. When Balaam’s eyes were opened and he could see the angel – he knew that the irritating, stubborn and belligerent animal was really sacrificing his life for his master. The angel of the Lord would have killed Balaam had the donkey not stopped or turned away. As a believer who is serving the Lord with your life, there will be times when our life does not add up to God’s Plan. When experiencing some difficulties or irritations, we must evaluate the direction and ways of our life.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Way of God is narrow because the Will of God is perfect. There is no need for deviation because it id divine and distinct leaving no margin for error or omission. Human beings are not perfect. We need grace and lots of it. The more narrow the road the more evident our need for God’s Grace to maneuver. Three times seems to be consistent in our passages today. The irritations, difficulties, setbacks and curveballs in life may just be God’s Grace making its way to us as we attempt to live our way and do our own thing with the delusion that it will produce prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Balaam was looking for a tangible reward. He would find it in the end as he gave in to his evil heart. God intervened by ultimately Balaam chose a broader path and wide open gate to fulfill his heart’s desire.

When we experience hardship and weakness in life, it is simply because the Lord is doing His Part to keep us on the proper path and headed in the right direction. The narrower the road becomes the more we need His Grace. The more of His Grace we get the stronger we become in our faith and trust in God the Father through Jesus His Son. The path is narrow because God is perfect. It is built to lead us to righteousness and fulfillment in God that is perfect! Just because you are experiencing weakness, insults, hardship, persecution, difficulty doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong path but it could just mean you are closer to breakthrough than ever before.

Balaam kept lashing out at his donkey when he could not see the danger in his way. We do the same thing when faced with irritation sometimes reacting to our condition rather than responding with faith. To trust the Lord is to walk by faith and not by sight. Balaam knew of God and was used by God but He did not love the Lord withholding his heart. We must daily examine our heart and life for signs and symptoms of rebellion, stubbornness and spiritual blindness. Instead of beating dead horses, we must check for signs of life. Life in our words, deeds and actions that keep us on the right path.

Psalm 16:11 (NIV) You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

If you want your way today, the Lord will let you take it. He will continue in each step to attempt to reveal Himself to you. The Lord will make the path of life known to you. It will be the road less traveled. It will require letting some things (okay maybe a lot of things) go in our life to take hold of His Hand and walk humbly with the Lord. He is leading us to better things if we will let go of the past including our will, our way and our wants to fully embrace His Will for our life. It may not be easy. It will always be worth it. You cannot rush God. He does everything in His Timing. This life is worthless and meaningless outside of knowing our Lord and Savior and walking in His Ways. Are you tired and weary today? Frustrated and worn? Give it all to Jesus and He will show you the better way. The way of rest is only found when we give Him our burdens allowing faith to produce peace and rest. When we give up our way to fully embrace His Way, we will find what we are looking for and pleasures evermore.

Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”