Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.



A Time to Reflect

A Time to Reflect

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This morning writing the date in my journal, I still cannot believe it is the last day of 2017. Where did this year go? It flew by in an instant. I love the New Year…every year. It is always a new beginning. A fresh start when gym memberships flourish, new habits are formed, and so many good intentions are set forth. Looking back over the past year, how many were successful? What about the unexpected things that happened? Did you lose someone close to you? The seasons of life go by and without time to reflect one becomes another until our life is nothing but a course of events.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging as our family has been hit by a nasty virus that I have labeled the “plague”. Sickness and exhaustion have kept us homebound. It has been a quiet time. The usual hustle and bustle stilled to a snail’s pace. My husband actually went to Target with us yesterday desperate to get out of the house. Ironically, it is in this sickness when activity grinds to a stop and best intentions turn into a long winter’s nap that I have time to reflect.

The highlights of the past year far outweigh my disappointments. God is good. He is always good. His Faithfulness is evident in my life. We have many things to look forward to in the coming year. However, human nature often discards those good things to focus on what didn’t happen. Reflection will often lead to regret if not redirected. Perception is driven by perspective. I must align my perspective with God’s Promises and by faith accept them as the inevitable. Faith believes all that confident hope offers as a definitive in our life or at least, it should. Fear tells us to give up on faith when it doesn’t produce what we want in our timeline. God has placed eternity in our hearts and we are eternal beings. The Grace of God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us access to the Kingdom and every blessing God has for us. His Promises become the premise of our life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. God will do exactly what He has promised to do in you and through you. He will prosper you as your soul prospers right where you are. The effort that releases such things in our life is faith. We must fix our heart and mind on faith for 2018 to experience the life God promised for us. It is important to reflect on the past year but to leave regret in 2017. God’s Grace is always enough. It is completely sufficient and will make a way where there is no way. It opens doors that no one can shut. All you have to do is believe. There is no need to carry regret, disappointment or sadness into the coming year. It is not the lifestyle of the believer. Repentance offers things like refinement, renewal, restoration and revival which are all good and life-giving qualities. The enemy can take nothing from you or the Hand of God in safekeeping for you. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. He is protecting your promises and potential until the time comes for fulfillment.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 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. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I am reminded in my reflection that I cannot see things with the clarity of God. At least not yet, there are things that exist in my life that create uncertainty. Not because God is not completely confident in His Way, but because like everyone else I struggle with believing sometimes. When God speaks to my heart, I grab hold of His Words a paint an elaborate portrait in vivid detail of what it will look like creating a master plan of my own. When He has only given me of a glimpse of the greatness of the work that He is doing in my life. When it does work out the way that I planned, I am often humbled at the feet of my Lord in the realization that He didn’t let me down. I let myself down. If I can do it, it’s not God. This year, I want to be mature in childlike faith. When God speaks listening, but not assuming.

Three things will last forever – if the thought, attitude or action is not representative of faith, hope and especially love then I must let it go. Rebellious thoughts that come disguised as good intentions, motivation or even hard work that are really just pride trying to get a leg up – they must also be subject to God’s Word and His Three Essentials – faith, hope and love. It sounds simplistic. It is. We have so complicated the gospel of Jesus Christ that no one seems to be finding their way to Him. I don’t want to be that person. My hope for 2018 is for my life to reflect Jesus Christ to all mankind. I must fight my flesh to make this a reality.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2018, it is my goal to make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and NOT REACT to everything and everyone else. This is going to require a disciplined life. It is a character change from humanity to Godly Identity. To live in the spiritual and supernatural realm yet function in the natural. I can do it. But it will mean a great deal of self-control which is a fruit of God’s Spirit in me and not human nature. I must strive to allow God to build my character to acquire every promise set forth for my life. I must grow, mature and develop in order to be more productive and useful for Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

In 2018, I will live in freedom. Free from fear, worry, anxiety and doubt that will restrict and inhibit the freedom given to me by Christ. I ask the Lord to help my unbelief. My relationship with Jesus Christ is defined by freedom. To live, love and laugh. To pursue the dreams and aspirations that He has given me. To live a limitless life unrestricted so the Lord can change our ordinary existence to extraordinary abundance as I am changed into His Image. God has not given me the spirit of fear so I must strive daily not to accept it in my life. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. It is in this freedom that God can complete the good work that He began in us.

Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NLT) And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

In 2018, I will enjoy the gift of life that God has given me. Are you happy? Are you content? Are you at peace? What is missing? There is an attitude of gratitude that can overcome many of these problems. God’s Goodness is for us in the land of the living. Too often – we get so busy living that we lose sight of the goodness evident in our everyday existence. I have a good life. Thankfulness for this gift that I have been given and His Goodness all around me will change my life. As my soul prospers, so will everything else. To a life aligned with the Lord is to acknowledge the good things that He has already done for us. Thankfulness overcomes discontentment. It will change our sadness into joy turning our face from the clock marked “waiting” to all the answered prayers around us. Every good thing in my life came straight from God.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.

Looking ahead to 2018, I carry the hopeful expectation of God’s Word that has not yet come to pass in my life. I will leave behind regrets and disappointments because they are all just lies of the enemy. Worthless weight better left in the past. Lord, I will enter the New Year full of expectation. As I reflect on 2017, all I can say is “Thank You!” You are awesome as usual. Moving ahead, I will continue to trust your Plan for my life because “a day is like a thousand years to (You) and a thousand years is like a day.” You are not in a hurry because time is not an issue for you because you have made a time for everything already. Moving into the next year, I realize that there are things from this year that will bloom, blossom and reproduce there that would have been aborted if risen up too soon. Thank you Lord that Your Promises are my reality. Keep me close in 2018 – it will be another good year – of this I am quite sure! Let my life and everything in it be a true reflection of Your Love and Faithfulness and the fact that You are always good!

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart fail…Have I failed God? What happens if I do not pass the test? When my flesh and heart feel like failures – what then? What’s next for the believer who doesn’t get it right? In the midst of spiritual droughts, it is not uncommon to feel like a failure. To wonder “what’s the point” of even trying because I have made a fine mess of things. Or even worse lug out the heavy bat marked regret in order to beat yourself up over and over until you live in shame. The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that failure is not an option but inevitable. Do you feel like a failure today?

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We can be our own worst critics. Examining our life and choices with a magnifying glass. Comparing our success to others. Trying to do it all and do it all well. A life of excellence is not defined by doing everything but doing what you do well. The accomplishment of excellence takes focus on raising the standard of our life with commitment and discipline that cannot be diverse. It must be consistent. It must remain constant. How does a human being accomplish such a daunting task? With fickle hearts and wandering minds, how is it even possible to achieve God’s Standard of Living. Truth is it is impossible. I cannot make my life any better. I can make better choices. I can change some of my behaviors. I can develop good habits. Yet still I cannot change my future and hope. It is already established. A plan carefully written for me, my good and God’s Glory before I was born. It contains a future and hope. Always good things in store for me. But the only way that I can have constant success in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Is it possible to fail God? We already did. Is it possible to fail? Yes. Our flesh and heart will fail us over and over again. The good news is that even when our flesh and heart fail that the Lord is our strength and portion forever. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

The definition of failure is a lack of success. It is absolutely possible and inevitable that there will be failure in certain areas of our natural existence. In fact, our body is born in a state of aging and deterioration. Our choices directly impact the advancement of the process. At some point in the future, everyone will die. It is unavoidable. However, as sons and daughters of God this does not impact our future negatively. Others will mourn our crossover into Heaven, but I do not think a single person welcomed by Jesus ever looks back. Disappointment is unmet expectation. Any expectation placed in people or the world will often result in disappointment or discouragement. This impacts our heart and mind. Unless we understand the greater picture of our new life in Christ it is easy to become persuaded that there are things that can separate us from the Love of God and His Plan for us. This is simply not true.

I John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I am a child of God. Are you? If you are a child of God – you have an inheritance. He becomes your portion. What does that mean exactly? Every promise and blessing that the Father has for you is unconditional. It is your inheritance. You receive it simply by becoming His Child. Let these words sink in for just a minute. Failure means nonperformance on something due, required or expected. God released His Word for your life. His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what He pleases and it must prosper in the thing for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) It doesn’t matter if you fail what matters is that God’s Word cannot fail. God is not like mankind. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He commands a blessing in your life, it must happen. It will happen. Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance. (Psalm16:5-6)

Lamentations 3:21-25 (NKJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

I have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of the unseen reality in our life. God is our hope. Faith attaches us to the hope. We must believe it to receive it. If only men and women of “faith” could overcome fear of failure. Imagine the explosive impact on those who were not afraid to fail in their faith but flourished in hope. Confident hope becomes consistent faith. Faith that moves mountains is not the kind that whispers words of uncertainty or remains tangled in regret. Fearless faith is that which relies on God’s Mercy that comes to us each day. The Spirit-Filled Bible puts it like this – “Where grace emphasizes the freeness of God’s Love toward us, mercy stresses the freeing of our lives from the misery of disobedience.” The truth is that we obey God’s Word because we do not believe it. For if we believed in our inheritance, we would devour the Word of God finding ways to make it work in our life. When new mercy came this morning, did you receive it? Did you use it to cover the wounds of disappointment, the marks of regret, and the stains of shame? God’s Compassion for us does not fail. His Love for us provided a wave of grace much larger than any mistake or indiscretion. The current of His Love, Grace and Mercy gently drawing us closer to Him so that our inheritance is released to us as His Children.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion for us. It is His All Consuming Commitment to bring us into the good things that He has prepared for us. It is the invitation to live in everlasting communion with our Father. Mercy is the key to our success. It is the understanding that though we may fail, God never fails in His Love including His Compassion, Commitment and Communion with us. He is our portion. This is vital in our understanding of faith and hope and how it all works together. We need His Mercy every single day because we will fail. It allows us to see that He never fails. We will prosper by remaining in His Love.

Psalm1:2-3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I wonder if a barren tree sitting in a blanket of snow in the winter feels like a failure. Or maybe a flower whose blooms are wilted and withered on the ground, does it bow its head in regret at what it has lost. It knows what season it is and therefore waits in the soil for the conditions to change. You are God’s Child. He is molding and shaping your life into a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Just because your life looks like a mess right now, does not in any way mean you have failed?

At the end the school year, my youngest partnered with a friend to do a class project. She asked if they could use some of our crafting supplies and work on it at our house. I agreed. When I came home from work from my kitchen to the porch all the way in the back yard including covering the girls – it looked like a paintball war had occurred. I was quite sure her oldest brother was involved but I cannot prove it. I was less the enthused by the condition of our home. They completed the project with a “B” – I think. I am still cleaning up the paint. Life is messy. There will be tests. Some you will pass with living colors, others only barely get by and there will be those that you fail altogether. God’s Grace is sufficient in every season. His Mercy is new every day. His Love for His Children unfailing. He is constantly working success and prosperity according to the measure of faith that He put in our hearts and the Spirit that He has given us. He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do it all.

All that the Lord desires is that we seek Him. Make a commitment to love Him wholeheartedly and seek Him the same. He will make His Way known and empower us to follow and equip us for success. We must only know that though I may fail – it is impossible for God to fail. His Hope NEVER leads to disappointment – we must follow through. God is good! He loves you! He is our inheritance which is freely given to His Sons and Daughters without condition. He is prospering us from the inside out. God is for you – you cannot fail. His Grace is producing His Glory in us and through us. Where my life ends, and my new life in Christ begins is the day I leave failure and regret behind. He is working all things together for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Take hold of Jesus today. He will lead you from victory to victory. Let Him tell you who you are. Stop looking around and look up. Let the Lord be the strength of your heart and your portion forever. You will be satisfied.

Proverbs 3:21-24 (NKJV) My son, let them not depart from your eyes—Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Shortchanged – Dealing with Disappointment


Romans 5:3-5 (Message) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:5 (NLT) 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.

Disappointment – To fail to fulfill the expectations or wishes of. To defeat the fulfillment of hopes or plans. To thwart, oppose successfully or prevent from accomplishing a purpose. To frustrate.

Disappointment is a dangerous word. It ends the pathway to fulfillment in thought and theory. It is a stumbling block caused by disarmament of God’s People. It is the lie of the enemy that he can stock God’s Ability or someway hinder the Lord accomplishing more than we can think, ask or image. It is the persuasion that God’s Word might in somehow or someway return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. It is the thought or whim that the Christ living in me is not enough to overcome every obstacle in the way of destiny and myself. Disappointment is the cultivation of doubt. To feel that in some way grace may not be enough which eludes to the idea that the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not sufficient in providing a rich and satisfying life. It is a pitfall. We must learn to deal with disappointment and do away with it in our life.

Disappointment and discouragement are weapons in the enemy’s arsenal against every believer. If he can successfully introduce doubt to the heart and mind of a believer, it subtly begin to eat away at our faith sowing seeds of bitterness along the way that will captivate our thoughts binding our minds in the lie that God does not love us. He is not good. He does not care. Fulfillment is not possible. All of these things begin to work within the person to prevent fulfillment of purpose. How does one deal with disappointment? Overcome doubt? Move past the delay? Find joy in the deferment? This hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you holding hope by a thread today? Wondering if God really is working all things together for your good or making you a prime example like Job? Friend, I am right there with you.

There’s more to come… Our life is prepackaged with a future and hope handwritten by God and set into motion not according to our faithfulness but His Faithfulness. His Grace is enough. God is good. His Love for us is always working in our favor. No matter how long the wait…fulfillment will always exceed our expectation. There is more to come. I must wait for it.

God forgive me but I am sick and tired of being patient. Would you be so honest to say the same? Tired of waiting, watching and wondering when the Lord will do as He promised. Impatience has been my biggest challenge in life. I was born with a stubborn nature and strong will. Patience is the pathway. God is always found in the waiting.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Joseph understood disappointment. When his face hit the hard ground at the bottom of the pit, his dream could have died from the fall. But instead as he was sold into slavery and destined to a life of serving others under a heavy yoke of oppression. Joseph held on to hope. The dream that God had given him playing over and over in his mind. In the house of Potiphar, Joseph faithfully served his new master. The Lord was with Joseph. God blessed Potiphar’s house for Joseph’s sake. Joseph was promoted to the highest position. (Genesis 39) Then his master’s wife decided to seduce young Joseph, but his character and integrity would not give in to her powerful persuasion. The woman scorned reared her fangs and claws. Her attack successfully landed Joseph in prison falsely accused and wrongly convicted. But the Lord was with Joseph, even in jail, and soon he was promoted again. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed.

While incarcerated, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two men working closely with Pharaoh. His only request was “please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.Yet another painstaking betrayal by people as the men left that day and completely forgot their new friend. (Genesis 40) Two full years later, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams that no one could make sense of. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph. You know the rest of the story…Joseph successfully explained the meaning of the dreams and soon Pharaoh would put him in the highest position in the land. Not only did God save and prosper Joseph, but Joseph was able to save his family in the midst of famine. His dream became a tree of life just as the Lord has promised.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) 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. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

All praise to God. Oh, the power of persistent praise in the life of a believer. I have learned through many deferments, detours and delays that praise is a valuable partner. People can say some really dumb things as they struggle to offer encouragement from an empty well. They want to lend a hand but don’t want to fall in with you. Offering prayers of encouragement, maybe a little advice, a quick hug or pat on the back – they are gone as fast as the cupbearer and baker that day the invite from Pharaoh opened the prison door. They forgot Joseph…or did they? His time had not yet come. I know this may come as a jagged little pill if you are in the midst of a long waiting period, but purpose born too soon is an abortion. God makes everything for a season and it will be beautiful in that season. In the meantime, He builds our character to receive it.

We live with great expectation or at least we should. We have a priceless inheritance. The Lord is an awesome caretaker who provides our needs according to His Glorious Riches. (Philippians 4:19) He doesn’t stop there but blessed us “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are untied with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) It all comes together with the promise that the Lord will make us “complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:19) And finally, “God, who is able, through His Mighty Power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Do you believe the Power of the Living God is at work in your life today? Even with the smallest measure of faith, and hope hanging by a thread that decides to praise God one time, serve Him one more day, believe Him for one more second and let it be the anchor for our soul will cause disappointment to dissolve as His Spirit is free to move through us uprooting bitterness, drowning disbelief and filling us with His Love and empowering us by grace even in our weakness. God isn’t finished working out the masterpiece of our life. (Ephesians 2:10) We must remain His Steadfast Canvas in the midst of being stretched, stressed and pressured to give in. It will be worth it.

Romans 4:16-22 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 

Faith makes the impossible possible. Miracles require the impossible. God’s Glory shines brightest in the impossibilities of life. However, these can be some of our darkest days. Trials and testing produce God’s Glory in our life. Those times when trusting God is the only option. When our hands are too small to hold all the pieces of our broken heart that is when we give all its pieces to the Lord. When I cannot possibly make it without Him, I learn to trust Him more. God has promised that He will never lead us to disappointment which means I must follow Him to fulfillment. Nothing is impossible for those who believe. I believe. I trust. I have faith. I have confident hope. Even on those days when my heart is sick and mind plays tricks on me, the Holy Spirit accompanies me through the challenges of my humanity to the place of His Presence. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. Not only waiting for his son to come, but all the way up the mountain of sacrifice when nothing seemed to be going right. Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping. Our does not, cannot and will not ever lead to disappointment.

Feeling shortchanged by God today? I fully understand. Wondering if the promise will ever arrive? God’s Word says it will so I must believe it. Go with what I know not how I feel. Remind myself how many times impossibilities became realities in my walk with God. The enemy wants us to accept disappointment so we become defeated in life. Choose faith and confident hope today. Take control of every thought rebellious to God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Speak God’s Word in and over your life and every situation. Pray without ceasing. Ask for God’s Help and He will gladly give it. Tell the giant what God says, not God what the giant is saying. On those days when life is overwhelming, put off fixing the problem for another day and rest in His Presence. Our hope in Jesus Christ never leads to disappointment. We are not shortchanged have a priceless inheritance. God will never stop short of His Best for us. Until then, we must wait. Hold our hope. Keep the faith. God is faithful. He is good. He will never let the righteous fall. He knows the desires of our heart. He is working it all out for our good and His Glory.

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Holding Hope

Holding Hope

Psalm 43:3-5 (NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) Discouragement is a bummer. It is not the product of confident hope that is incapable of leading us to disappointment. God loves us. We know that but it is difficult to hold tightly without wavering to hope which cannot be seen or experienced right now. The absence of hope is discouragement. How can a believer be discouraged? Don’t beat yourself up too bad. We are all human beings comprised of dying flesh no matter how pretty the package or righteous one appears. Some days life is more than to be handled and burdens just too heavy to bear. If perfection were possible, grace wouldn’t be necessary. However, the Word of God is clear that grace is always enough. We need God’s Grace. No one can live beyond their last breath without it. In fact, no one can live a life of potential and purpose in the here and now without it.

Faith is the reality of what we hope for – it is the evidence of what cannot be seen but is relevant to our life. If you can see it, do it or produce it in your life – faith and hope are not necessary. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible if one believes. Hope is the essence of what we believe and invest our faith in. Yet there are days when our heart, mind and soul can empathize with the psalmist. Our prayer to the Lord is one for help and rescue. “I am slipping!” (Psalm 94:18) The support that keeps us from going under in such times is the hope that anchors our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Like the massive piece of metal resting on the bottom of the sea, it holds the ship safely. But still, the vessel moves up and down in the waves, feels the weight of the wind, and experiences the natural conditions of the atmosphere. Lord, help me to hold on to hope today even though I cannot see it – it is holding me in place. Let me feel its strength and security surround me and hold me even tighter than I cling to it.

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” God’s Word is our Source of Hope. Spoiler alert – Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1-5; 14) He came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) I need God’s Word in my life spiritually to survive beyond my last day. Even reading the Word of God can be difficult when the wet blanket of discouragement finds us. These are the days our prayer might be “send out your light and truth.” Obedience to God’s Word is nothing more than accepting His Guidance from Glory to Glory as one lives in the Presence of God. We need His Presence to comprehend illogical faith that makes no sense outside of the Word of God. God’s Word gives us knowledge and understanding that allows us to hold to our hope. It gives it substance. Psalm 119:105 calls the Word a light and lamp that helps us find our way. Proverbs 24:13-14 compares it to honey that is sweet to taste. Nothing will overcome bitterness like the sweetness of the promises found for us in God’s Word. We must always use God’s Word to anchor our heart and mind to the reality of faith and hope that is to be clung to. Life is hard. The struggle is real. Our anchor is secure.

“Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.” The Presence of God is the place of restoration, renewal and revival of the weary and fallen who are righteous. Just because you are down doesn’t mean you have fallen. Just because you are discouraged doesn’t mean that you have lost your hope. It just means you need more Light and Love found in His Presence to drive the darkness away. Some people make Presence about manifestation. I say that sometimes the greatest miracle that can happen is to find peace in the storm and joy in the midst of great sorrow. It produces satisfaction and contentment that God is enough. He is no bigger than when His Love surrounds us and His Goodness overtakes us. To sit in the Presence of God and decide not to move until He comes will allow you to experience the faithfulness of God in the absence of doing, moving or even speaking. It is to allow Him to be God and in control at least for those few moments. God is the God of perfect peace and inexpressible joy. He is the One who promised to do more than we can think or imagine to ask for. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life that can only be discovered in His Presence. Stop worrying about what you can do for God and let God do what He wants to do for you today. “The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.” Psalm 145:14-16) Too many times we put certain conditions on our life that Jesus never mandated or authorized. Our feeble attempt to somehow earn what has already been given makes us think there is something of worth in our actions that Christ did not already complete on the Cross. This burden is not one that I am called to carry so the weight overwhelms me until I realize again that Christ is enough. He is all that I need. He is my hope. His Name is hope. (Matthew 12:21) I must put all my faith, hope and trust in the Lord to avoid discouragement in life. I will fall. I will fail. I will be discouraged. The Lord promises to be my refuge. I must go to Him.

Hebrews 10:20-23 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

My hope is in Christ alone. Period. God’s Plan for my life comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) God doesn’t say, “Now go make it happen.” No, the Word of God goes on to say that those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13) Maybe I am discouraged because I somehow took parts of my heart, mind or life back? It’s possible. Romans 8 is not for babies. It is not spiritual milk. No friend, Romans 8, is the reality of hope. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) Therefore, I have absolutely nothing to fear or be sad about. It doesn’t matter what other people think or how harshly I may be judged. There is no condemnation in Jesus because His Grace is enough. If I continue in His Word to build a new knowledge base for faith to become wisdom and I invite the Holy Spirit to live, breathe, move and have His Way in my life – I will not be led to disappointment. If I find myself discouraged, I have everything I need inside of me to be encouraged by hope yet again. I am not in this alone. The entire body of Christ longs for and groans for completion in the Lord. “We were given this hope when we were saved.” (Romans 8:24) Since we do not have it yet, we must wait patiently and confidently in it. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He will even pray for us. (Romans 8:26) God promises that He is working together every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Things are looking up. Finally, the greatest detail of hope is that no matter what I have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ and absolutely nothing can separate me from His Love…not even me or my bad attitude or inability to hold “tightly” to hope. He still is holding on to me no matter what! (Romans 8:35-39) I didn’t learn these truths in the last couple of hours but have invested and reinvested my life in believing, trusting and living in God’s Word and His Presence. He is my hope when everything is hopeless. Jesus makes all things possible when life is impossible. This is what I believe and today what God is reminding me of.

Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT) I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Could it be that God uses discouragement to reproduce faith and confident hope in us? Those times when our burdens overwhelm us push us into His Presence. When the details of life just don’t make sense, it forces us to find the reality of our faith in the Truth concerning us (the Word). Sin is rampant. Love is cold. Bad things happen to good people every day yet still God’s Mercy is new every morning. Day after day an opportunity to experience new faith and confident hope that fills our life with His Glory and Goodness. It is time to reinvest faith in hope. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen – the Lord can still reach you with His Love. He is strong enough to rip bitterness from its root and restore the soul drowning in doubt. The anchor of hope may be unseen but rest assured it is secure, unmovable and unshakeable in the foundation of faith who is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 94:18-19 (NLT) I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

I have to laugh a little today even feeling a bit overwhelmed and slightly discouraged at the irony of Christ. I cry out to the Lord, “I am slipping!” But the reality of it is I am secure! His Unfailing Love is holding me tight. He is supporting me in this time of weakness of spirit and feebleness of heart offering me time, grace and mercy to get over it and keep walking with Him. Isn’t this what being yoked to Jesus Christ is all about? (Matthew 11:28-30) He says, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens…” Is that you today? “Take my yoke upon you…” Jesus is inviting us yet again to partner our faith and hope with Him, it’s called trust. The Lord offers to teach us His Way. He will give us a new heart that is gentle and submissive to His Way that never leads to disappointment but victory to victory and glory to glory. The promise is that we will find rest for our souls. Hope gives us peace so that we can rest on God’s Promise even in the midst of a storm. His Yoke is easy and burden is light because Jesus will do just as He promised. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He completed His Work on the Cross and released His Spirit to live in us. Our hope is secure. Faith attaches us to hope. It doesn’t have to be “big” faith just enough to truly believe. Lord, as I read your Word and enter Your Presence, I ask you Jesus to bring me comfort, renew a right spirit in me, and give me the inexpressible joy and cheer that is only found in You! Teach me to hold on to hope as tightly as You are holding me!

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Perfect Holiday


John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Welcoming Sorrow

Welcoming Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NLT) For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

“Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.” – Harriett Beecher Stowe. Have you experienced sorrow in your life? Are there things that just don’t make sense that cause you to live in a state of continual grieving and sadness? Sorrow is distress that can be caused by many conditions and circumstances in our life. Trials produces it quite readily. The emotions caused by loss, affliction, and even disappointments that linger in our heart and mind well past the event that precipitated such thought. I know people who live in this state of transition. It is a place somewhere between death and life. Afraid to step out of the past, but in need of the future and forever, we struggle to understand why God who loves us so much would allow such things to happen to His Beloved Children.

There is purpose in your sorrow today. Sorrow leads us from sin and results in salvation…at least the kind of sorrow that the Lord allows in life. Godly sorrow will always turn us from sin. Sin is the point in time when God’s Will is abandoned for lesser things. It is not the Lord who takes it from us but our own behavior that keeps us from the greater things that He promised. We blame God for our freedom rather than embracing it to have all that is ours as sons and daughters of God. Today we must learn to welcome sorrow especially the kind that leads us to repentance for as we turn from sin and all the less things, we can fully apprehend by faith what belonged to us from the beginning.

John 16:32-33 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Trials and sorrows should come as no surprise to a believer. Jesus told us that they would be part of life on the earth. You will have seems pretty clear and apparent that there will be hard times associated with life on earth. But those things aren’t going to happen to me, right? Wrong. You will have trials no matter how saved you are. You will experience sorrow even if you heart and mind are set on Jesus. Those who serve in churches faithfully still go through hard times. The good do die young. The wicked will prosper all around you. There will be a good fight for faith. Please understand this is not the Lord punishing us or ignoring His Promise. In each of these instances, it is an opportunity for sorrow to become joy. Mourning to become dancing. Dead places to be resurrected to life. Your disappointment becomes hope when it is attached to one’s faith. See God is using those sorrows to bless you and complete you. You must be empty to be filled. Thought painful in process, it will always prosper you.

“The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich. He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) This is the promise verse for my life right now. I am learning that my wealth in the Lord does not have any sorrow attached to it if I am willing to wait on the Lord to complete every good work. The Lord promised me when our son was sick that He would cause everything to work together for my good because I love Him and am called according to His Purpose. This is kind of hard to visualize cleaning up vomit and watching your child suffer helpless to relieve his pain and suffering. It doesn’t always make sense what the Lord is doing or how He will do it. This is why faith is important. We must trust Him enough to stick it out no matter what. It is then and then that we overcome the world and step into His Promise.

Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT) He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Jesus was “a man of many sorrows”. It was our weaknesses that He carried and it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. Jesus carried every single one of our sorrows to the Cross with Him. We find relief from our sorrows at the Cross when we lay them at the Feet of Jesus. He did not place the sorrows on our back. Sin is the cause of our sorrow as it leads us away from the Lord to partake of lesser things. We feel regret because the eternity hidden in our heart knows the potential of our life when purpose is fulfilled. We are disappointed because the measure of faith in us knows hope offers so much more. The Holy Spirit is given to help us in our weakness. As we surrender our sorrow to the Lord, the Holy Spirit works in its place to prosper us.

“Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.” – Victor Hugo. In the midst of suffering, please do not tell the person that God only gives the toughest battles to the strongest warriors. The person fighting does not feel strong, they are being completely undone in weakness. No one knows God’s Purpose and Plan in each trial and trouble. Only the Lord knows what He is doing, the outcome and the promise. When I read this quote by Victor Hugo, I wanted to punch him. No seriously. Just haul back and pop him one, sorry Mr. Hugo. But as I let the words sink in, it makes sense. The Lord knows the potential of our life. He allows things to happen to us so He can work through us. Sorrow presses us into His Presence. Let’s face it when things are good we tend to say, “God, I got this” and keep on trucking along. God loves us to much to allow us to stray too far from His Divine Plan for those who love Him and strive to live for Him.

In I Samuel 1:10-20, we see Hannah crying out in anguish to the Lord. So grieved by her barrenness, she desperately pleads with the Lord. Her devastation leads her to a place at the altar. Her performance convinces Eli that she just may be drunk. However, after speaking with her, he knows that this is complete desperation for God. Pregnancy is often used to explain the birth of promise. Jesus says in John 16:21, it will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. He is talking about his death and resurrection, but could the Lord also be cluing us in to the process of promise which is the birthplace of purpose. It is in our sorrow that we turn to the Lord like Hannah. She promised to return to the Lord the child she was given. She would bring Samuel back to the Temple to serve for his life. She would not share life with him but watch from afar. Would this not produce more sorrow? Life is a process of redemption offered to us by Jesus when He bore the sorrow of our sin. Our decision to love and serve Him does not end sorrow but makes it productive.

Jeremiah 31:12-13 (NLT) They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

It says in the Word of God that He tracks our sorrows even keeping our tears. (Psalm 56:8) It also tells us that those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126:5) Sin causes pain and suffering to be a part of life. Whether you serve the Lord or not, you will go through many things in life that are difficult if not completely devastating. The difference between doing it with the Lord or on our own is evidenced in the harvest. The outcome can be life or death depending on what we believe. God wants to prosper us with all the promises that He preordained for our life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can get to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6) If we want God’s Plan and His Promise for our life, we must take our sorrow to the Lord. We have to go through Jesus to get there. Jesus has already paid for our sin so that we can make the exchange of sorrow for joy and mourning for dancing. We must only strive to live in His Presence to experience such productivity. Are you willing to plant your tears and trust the Lord to make something beautiful out of them? You must take your sorrow, regret and disappointments to the Lord and leave them there.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) 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.

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole source of all our adversity.” – Sophocles. No, don’t pick up the big bat you use to beat yourself up over and over again. Sin is the reason that there is sorrow, regret, shame, disappointment and devastation in this world. If people could avoid sin or be rid of it on their own, Jesus’s death would have been unnecessary. Sin is unavoidable. God’s Plan is inevitable. As we give up our sin, the sorrow it produces in our life is changed to purpose. We begin to prosper as the Holy Spirit uses the fertile soil of a broken heart to plant seeds from the Word of God in it. He uses our tears to water our soul and make good things grow out of the dead things in our life. Nothing is wasted when surrendered to the Lord. He will use every broken detail to bring good to us, in us and through us. Let go of your sorrow today. Let the Lord turn it into joy. That was always His Intent to turn our mourning into dancing. Sorrow is the birthplace of promise but will abort if not birthed properly. Let go of the pain and suffering when the season is over so the harvest will come. Jesus is asking you to closer. Just a little closer, let go of anything that keeps you from Him and run into His Waiting Arms. He bore every sorrow for you so that you could have joy and peace. Honor Him by taking it.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Dying Dreams and Dead Queens

Dying Dreams and Dead Queens

Proverbs 24:13-14(NKJV) My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; If you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off.


I have friends who are beekeepers. They have several hives hidden out in a bee yard. The hives are not doing well. The queens currently ruling the hives are not doing their job. The queen is the most important bee in the entire colony. She lays the eggs. She determines the overall health and productivity of the colony as well. She influences how hygienic her daughters are toward mites and disease. The queen is the real beekeeper in the organization. A queen only lives a few years. Over time her productivity decreases. It is time to re-queen the hives in order to repopulate the hives with a new generation of good bees that will do what they are created to do.


The process is a bit violent in my opinion. My friends found new queens that are being shipped to them. Now that the new queens are coming, something must be done about the old ones. To put two queens in one hive would start a war and only one would survive. So they must remove the existing queen. If she were just removed, the bees would look for her. Their loyalty is fierce and unrelenting. So the beekeeper pops off her head, and drops her to the bottom of the bee box. Why? Why so violent? Why so barbaric? I asked if the bees swarm or try to defend their queen. They do not. The moment she dies, the queen releases a scent in the air that tells her colony she is dead. The bees immediately flock to the dead queen. They stop everything just to take care of her. I find that fascinating. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) When things don’t turn out the way we planned or how we have decided they will be in our devastation, how many times do we also run to the dead thing and try to revive it? We do not think about what may be coming next or the fact it may have not been producing that which God planned and purposed in our life, because we “want” it. We can visualize it. We can touch it. We are familiar with it. We are comfortable in it. The Lord has something more but we have become completely overwhelmed with what has been taken.


When the new queen arrives, she comes in a little box with a candy plug. If the new queen were released directly into the hive, the bees would likely “ball” her leading to swift and immediate death. So she is introduced slowly, the bees must eat through the candy plug to get to the new queen. This process takes a couple of days and by the time they reach her she is accepted. With the demise of the old queen, the bees desire a queen but their zeal might destroy that which they long for so a process is created to acclimate the new queen and prepare her throng. We have longings and desires. There are things that the Lord has promised and we wait for them to come. Could it be that this process of waiting is much like the bees? So we will not rush in killing the dream or overtaking the promise without proper timing which aborts the purpose altogether. We have been given hope in the Lord. How does it work? Where do I find it? What do I with it?


Knowledge and wisdom are often discounted in the midst of sheer enthusiasm and overwhelming zeal. We lose ourselves in the elation and excitement of the prospect, anticipation, expectation of that thing we can now visualize and see. We feel its closeness and have a need to overtake it. Control it. Produce it. Make it happen in our life. But sometimes… most of the time… the Lord makes us wait. There is a prospect. God has a plan for us that includes a future and hope. We must be ever so careful that we do not become like the bees who serve a dead queen. The Lord is good and He aids in this process – it’s called waiting. Waiting stretches us and teaches us in the midst of an ordinary life to serve an extraordinary God who does more than we could even think to ask for.


Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”


Blessed is the man who trusts the Lord. Do you trust the Lord? If so, you understand that He gives and takes away. He has placed Eternity in our heart, yet there is still a time for everything under the sun. Good or bad. Happy or sad. There are seasons of life designed to plant us in the Love of God and grow our wisdom so that we can be productive in every season of life. Just as beehives must be re-queened on a regular basis, we must be pruned by the Lord to increase our productivity in life. We cry out for growth and prosperity not desiring the process but end result. The Lord desires to plant you in His Presence burying your roots in Living Water so no matter what you are going through – you do more than survive but learn how to thrive. God’s Standard of Living is much greater than our comfort zone and complacency allows so He allows us to become uncomfortable and unsettled so we are forced to move.


Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NKJV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”


Soul searching starts and heart testing begins when things do not turn out as one expected. Before that moment, most people do not think past that very moment or what they are doing. This morning as the sun comes up there are hives filled with hopeless bees. Their queen is dead. They cannot survive without a queen. Desperation is born of lost expectation and they are beginning to think of ways to live and not die. What happened when things didn’t turn out the way that you planned? What happens when the Lord doesn’t do it your way? What happens if your dream dies? Our heart is deceitful. No, it really is. Sometimes we think we are serving the Lord, but somehow get tied up in what we are doing rather than remaining committed to what He is doing in our life. We lose sight of forever getting caught up in today, this moment, this time and this season.


God is a good father who will not let His Children fall into harm’s way. He searches our heart for insufficiencies. He tests are minds for anything less than trust. He inspects the fruit of our life and allows what is necessary to produce the kind of fruit that He desires. The Fruit of His Spirit that nourishes and satisfies our soul. The kind that feeds our desire until completely satisfied. Just because you and I are willing to settle for less than God’s Best doesn’t mean that He will do the same. Praise the Lord!


Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NKJV) For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.


Most of us know the verse, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Or maybe you have heard it like this, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” How exciting! God has big plans for us. He is giving us a future and a hope. Both of these words imply waiting yet we ignore that tiny part, at least I do sometimes. When I think of all the times, I started and abruptly stopped waiting on the Lord, it makes me ill. I did so in ignorance and omission. I picked out the parts of God’s Word that I liked and left the rest on the plate. There is a problem with this mentality. You cannot have God’s Plan without going about His Way, according to His Word, and doing His Will. You can’t make God’s Way happen in your own life but it is accomplished by placing your whole life in Jesus Christ.


Look at verse 10 which proceeds the Plan of God for your life, it says, “AFTER SEVENTY YEARS ARE COMPLETED…” The Lord promised to visit the people and DO His Good Word to them after seven decades. Talk about waiting on the Lord. This is the problem. We want God’s Prosperity, His Future and His Hope but no one is willing to wait for it. I used to be the most impatient overbearing person who you have ever met. There was a right way and a wrong way. Lord, help those who did not understand and conform to my ideology of what those two ways looked like. I didn’t look at people just purpose. How do I get from point A to point B. Then, cancer paid a visit to our life. Talk about waiting. I had to wait on the diagnosis, the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, appointments, tests, treatments, results, approvals, and more. I had to wait on remission for three long and tedious years. I had to watch our son fight a battle that I could do nothing but pray and hope in the Lord that His Word would come to pass. With a tissue in one hand and my Word from the Lord in the other, I spent countless days waiting for His Word to come to pass. Now if this had been something superficial or small, I would have continued in my cycle of abandoning those things that took patience and perseverance to obtain but this time what I valued most was at risk. The price of failure was too high. I wasn’t going to leave because God took too long or didn’t do it as I planned. No this would be a fight to the finish.


The second part of this verse, right after God makes us His Promise, He delineates His Plan. There are not a series of steps for me to tread upon or hoops for me to jump through. No, He tells me that I can have His Promise if I do only one thing – “you will call on me, go and pray to me, and you will seek me Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart.” The pursuit of God’s Purpose and Plan is all dependent on my passion for the Lord. Do I want Jesus above all things? See those bees would kill their promise of new life if she was released to them directly. Their allegiance was to the dead queen. It is in the process of waiting that their attention is redirected to the new thing that is happening in their life. Sometimes we get caught up in the things that God does for us and pursuing the promise more than the Promiser. So we must wait.


Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


Romans 5:1-5 can be broken into three pieces for consumption sake. The first is “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Let’s stop here for just a minute. God’s Plan and Purpose for our life is predetermined. God does not lie or change His Mind. He wrote the entire plan of your life so it is prerecorded. We only must make peace with God through the remission and repentance from sin to follow Jesus to have it. There really is nothing else to do above and beyond that because Jesus did something for us that we cannot do for ourselves. No matter how hard you “work” for the Lord or how long you “serve” Jesus Christ, it does not influence the future and hope that you have been given. It is already there.


“Not only so, but…” Please understand that God’s Goodness involves a process. The process has a purpose so don’t give in to the thought of abandoning the discomfort or desperation of such moments. We boast in the times of trial and testing that the Lord is our refuge and strength. He is our hope, but do we really mean it. It is by our “sufferings” in this life that we discover the contents of our heart and whether our faith is sure and hope confident. Peace with God produces certain pressure in the world around us. This world is at odds with the Lord for He is its Judge and Destroyer. It is in our discomfort that we discover perseverance, character, and confident hope. As we wait even when the world says, “Let it go.” We watch as the watchman waits for dawn. It is times like this that we are being changed, renewed, revived and restored. It’s hard to wait. We do not like to suffer. We hate inconvenience and complain about discomfort.


Finally, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” It is the moment that the Lord finally reveals His Plan and His Purpose and we step into the future to see that He works all things together for us that we decide it was worth it all. You will never know true satisfaction until you can say, “Look what the Lord has done” and mean it. This comes through suffering, discomfort, brokenness and constant undoing as the Lord shapes and molds us to fill us with His Glory.


Lamentations 3:21-24 (NKJV) “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”


I know what you are thinking…how did she know that I was just about to give up? How did she see that my faith is tired and expectations unmet? How could she even know that my dream lay slowly dying? Friend, I had no idea. I only know my own heart and the things I struggle with myself. There are days that I want to give in. There are days that I have given up just to have the Lord pick me up, dust me off, and set me on my way again. I have made it to the end of the race of faith and been disappointed that it was not like I thought it would be or how I determined I might finish. See it is our human nature to take the Word of the Lord and try to make it our own. Yes, we are to own it but it is never our choice of fulfillment or the outcomes in our life would be uncertain. God has a plan for you and for me. It includes a future and hope. I have been allow it through my relationship with Jesus Christ. I accept it by surrendering my life (all of it) to doing God’s Will, God’s Way and according to His Word every single day. Peace with God opens His Right Hand releasing every pleasure in it. On those days that I am not the Child that I should be, He has already provided the mercy that I need to overcome my doubt and fear. The Lord is all I want and all that I need to live a rich and satisfying life. I must tell my heart that sometimes. I must remind my soul. I must sing and not be silent of His Goodness until all of me hears it and is glad. Those poor bees think their life is over today. They are struggling to do “something” about their situation. What they don’t know is that joy is coming in the morning? If it is coming for them friend, how much more for you and me?


Hebrews 16:17-19 (NKJV) Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”


Achy Breaky Heart

Achy Breaky Heart

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.


You know that God has a sense of humor when at 5:30 AM when “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus is blaring in your head while reading Isaiah 61:1-3. “He has send me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners freed.” Either that or I have a severely warped mind that takes hold of the strangest things. I don’t even like country music. As I try to shake off this image in my head, I cannot help but fall more in love with my Lord who meets me in this place each day even when my attitude is poor and I am barely awake. Day after day – He pours His Love, Mercy and Goodness into my life even when my stubborn humanity is bent on being disappointed or discontent. I went to bed that way last night and today I am fighting the urge to remain there. I have certain things that I have determined should be a certain way. Do you? Even in the midst of following Christ, we must fight our flesh every day for the little things it tries to hold on to as we try desperately to haul it all to the Cross. The Lord has spoiled me with His Goodness so much that when I experience brokenness it is unsettling and contradictory to the life that I have found in Him. My heart struggles when it hurts to see the relevance. My own spirit goads it with testimony of all the Lord has done while it harbors its pain and holds on to all the pieces. Like many people can attest, our life has not turned out exactly as I planned it. In most ways, it is way better than I could have ever imagined. But there are still some things that are not as expected and these things hurt. If my purpose in life is to bring good news to the poor, and as a Child of God it is, then I must learn to step over the broken pieces of my heart and find the joy hidden just beyond. The Lord’s Favor is come even on those days I do not feel it. He has given us beauty for ashes but there must be a sacrifice to create the substance of such things. Festive praise is born of the good that God produces in every situation according to His Word. (Romans 8:28) Brokenness causes every seed planted in our life to harvest something because it is part of the process of sowing and reaping. God has planted you in this life to harvest souls by the Blood of the Lamb and sharing the Word of our Testimony. Your life is intertwined and connected with the lives of others who need the Love and Grace discovered in Jesus Christ. We must be broken to produce such fruit.

There are days I am sick and tired of the pain in my heart. Fed up with the process and ready for relief, my flesh cries out to stop all this nonsense. It encourages a little self-preservation in this thing called life. Pace yourself, Lori. You don’t need to press so hard. God loves you. Jesus saved you. What’s the rush into His Presence? Live a little. Such things bind up the heart, holding in the hurt, planting seeds of despair that give root to bitterness. We can live with a broken heart.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT)

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.


“But don’t tell my heart… My achy breaky heart… I just don’t think he’d understand and if you tell my heart… My achy breaky heart… He might blow up and kill this man…” Believe it or not – there is some hidden truth in the catchy and corny lyrics of this song. The old saying, “Sticks and stones will break our bones but words will never hurt us” is untrue. Many people will survive near misses from death with broken bodies but if the heart is broken by unkind words, misunderstood deeds, and unexpected outcomes – sadly some people will never recover. So why would God say that He desires a “broken spirit” and that He “will not reject a broken and repentant heart”? To decide to remain committed to Christ even when it causes our flesh to die and our spirit to be broken yet still find it within our heart and mind to praise the Lord – we are drawn closer. When our dreams become ashes that produce mourning in our loss but we choose to remain faithful in our pursuit of confident hope – it gives potential to our sacrifice. This is when the impossible becomes possible. God is good. He is always good. He never lies or changes His Mind. He has decided to bless and prosper us. It is up to us whether we decide to push aside our achy, breaky heart and step over our crushed spirit to continue to pursue Him as passionately and fervently as before. God sees our heart. He knows it is broken. He sees our withering spirit and is on a quest to give it new life.

Psalm 34:18-22 (NLT)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Our willingness to be broken in life and one’s ability to overcome those things meant to crush and destroy us is called endurance. The Bibles says that “the same destiny ultimately awaits everyone.” (Ecclesiastes 9:22) It’s true. We will all face God. With that in mind, it is clear that “good people receive the same treatment as sinners and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t.” There goes the idea that once you are saved troubles evaporate and problems dissolve. The difference is our faith that changes our outcomes in life not the situations we will go through. This life prepares us for forever. We must live in a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ to step past death into Eternity. Brokenness is a part of life but so is healing. Crushed spirits are going to happen but so is renewal for those who dare to live in the Presence of God. Faith makes all the difference in the world. When something breaks us – it means by faith to accept His Healing rather than trying to glue all the pieces back together ourselves. When we are being crushed – we push back with prayer and praise to elevate the pressure until the Lord eliminates it altogether.

The Lord draws near to the brokenhearted. What has hurt your heart today? Is it still poking you? I have come as a messenger today to tell you the Lord is close. He is faithful. He has not forgotten you in the midst of your pain but is working His Goodness through your life. Keep serving the Lord with your hands, your feet, and your mouth giving it all you’ve got! He is redeeming you as we speak. He is pursuing you with His Unfailing Love and Goodness trying to overtake you as you try to find relief from the pain and release from the pressure. His Love for you makes His Heart hurt when yours does. He catches our tears in a bottle to use them to water the harvest coming when we decide to plant seeds of righteousness even when we do not feel like it at all.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NLT)

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”


Over the course of my life, it has become apparent that I need Jesus more and more. Just when I think I have arrived, I am broken all over again. Just when I think I am above being crushed, it happens all over again. My need for Christ is a daily necessity. I cannot live without Him. He gives purpose and meaning to every single detail of my existence even those things that leave me brokenhearted with a crushed spirit. These times reveal my human weakness and allow me to accept the full sufficiency of His Grace as I am moved aside not to be forgotten but to be fortified and strengthened for fulfill God’s Purpose for my life. Humility will always be a requirement of faith. We must mourn to know what true comforting is. We must hunger and thirst to learn the art of satisfaction. Our hearts must be broken so we can examine its contents accepting back only that which is pure. We must work for peace. It is not a common commodity but consider a valuable asset. In all these things we are broken, now realizing our constant need for the Lord. This will carry us through this life into forever.

Psalm 27:4-8 (NLT)

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

I don’t think this is the first time I have recalled this old song in my quiet time. Oh Lord, please let it be the last. I didn’t like it when it was popular so please change the chorus resounding in my head. The one thing that I ask of the Lord and seek most is to live in His Presence. A soft, pliable heart is necessary to do so because it is in my complete undoing that I find the fulfillment of who He is. I have always loved Psalm 27:4 but find that the true secret of finding such a place is in Psalm 27:8. When our heart is hurting on the verge of breaking it is okay to let it, this is when we hear the Lord speak to us. What does He say? “Come and talk with me” and we say, “Lord, I am coming!”

Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!