His Love Never Quits

His Love Never Quits

Psalm 139:1-3 (MSG) Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits. Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits. Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.

His Love never quits. The equivalent to “His Love endures forever” in other translations is mentioned 43 times in the Old Testament. From Genesis to Revelation, it is all about an enduring love that never fails. God is love. He loves us. The Father decided to love us when He created us. He was careful and specific in making us calling us “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and preparing us to become “masterpieces” (Ephesians 2). The plan is complete from inception. No modifications. No do overs. No second thoughts. The Love of God given to us never quits.

Lack of faith and fear from realizing our full potential. We try to “do” all the right things. Live the right way. Make better choices. To be honest, I fail the Lord every single day. Doubt and disbelief live on the doorstep of my heart trying to gain access. Pride doesn’t want to die. My flesh has proven to be a formidable foe. When I am ready to give up rather than enduring, I wonder what might happen if rather than focusing on me, my inabilities, my failures, my feelings, and everything else that comprises my ego, I chose to focus on the fact that His Love NEVER quits.

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

It’s not about me. It’s all about the Love of God for me. Me, myself and I were destined for death. When Jesus came to offer me a better way, I chose it. But did I really choose His Way, or did I want the new life without the new way? Do I want new life my way? How is that even possible? It’s not. The Sovereignty of God that works for us in that His Love endures forever means that He cannot change His Mind including His Complete Opposition to sin. It’s what makes Him who He is. His Word is the power and authority in our life because it is infallible. God doesn’t make mistakes and is completely confident in His Love for me. To become less is to accept His More.

Psalm 117 (MSG) Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!

As God’s Love takes over our life, faith and confident hope are established. Not in my ability to do the right thing and never sin again, but full acceptance and acknowledgement of God’s Amazing Grace. The relationship that I am growing with Jesus makes sin less appealing because union with Him is more appealing. The things of this world fade to black while the Light of His Love attracts us to move in closer and keep surrendering more of our heart to engage in more of His Love.

Galatians 6:9-10 (MSG) So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

The more I know about the Lord, the less I understand the vast potential of His Great and Constant Love for us. Unconditional love is not possible in this world. Expectation creates certain conditions on love and relationships that must be met for the partnership to continue. But imagine this, no matter what you do God’s Love for you never ever fails. It is unending. It is not contingent on our love in return. It was in the beginning and remains until the end. I have seen Christians walk by faith and drift into darkness. I have found myself in the wilderness many times. But when I began to grasp the concept that no matter how far I wander, how deep in the darkness I sink or how crazy my rebellious thoughts may be…God still loves me. Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with me. His Spirit never leaves me even when I don’t want to be with me. It is the moment of realization that His Love never quits that I find new strength. The greatest lie the enemy tries to hand you every day is that there is something too great for grace or a problem too impressive for God, it is simply not true. God is love. His Love for you endures forever.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

Ridiculous, radical and reckless love belongs to us. Love stronger than death and the grave that executes the power of sin and drives away even the darkest shadow. Could the problem with church be a lack of confidence today? We can produce services, performances and doctrine, but can we live in love with Jesus. The body of Christ would function properly with one beating heart and one mind set on loving God no matter what. Believing that His Love never gives up so we won’t either. Before charging out to save the world today, let the Love of God surround you. Bring your broken, tired and beat-up heart to the Lord and let His Love put all the pieces back together. You don’t have to be anything you’re not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. God will complete the good work that He began in us – we just not to give Him our life to work with. Fall in love with Jesus today – He is already head over heels in love with you!

Psalm 18:26-229 (MSG) Blessed are you who enter in God’s name—from God’s house we bless you! God is God, he has bathed us in light. Festoon the shrine with garlands, hang colored banners above the altar! You’re my God, and I thank you. O my God, I lift high your praise. Thank God—he’s so good. His love never quits!

Advertisements

Perfecting Love

Perfecting Love

I John 4:17-19 (NLT) And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

The local department store is filled with helium heart-shaped balloons. Aisles overflowing with chocolate and conversation hearts expressing “true love”. A jungle of stuffed animals larger than life surround me. The smell of fresh cut flowers and rose bouquets fill the air. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love. Expressing love with trinkets and tokens. I will admit I am after some of these things for my family as well. The perfect gift to express my deep affection for those I love and cherish.

Our family “went to town” together. My husband joined us. Not because he likes to shop but he loves us and wants to be with us. We meet our oldest daughter and precious new grandson at her favorite store wandering the aisles. There is nothing really that is needed just spending time with them. Together sharing candy hearts and chocolate on our way to the local mall, it is becoming the perfect date. Entering the mall, there is a section filled with sparkles and tulle. It is almost prom season so the girls and I begin looking through racks of newly discounted dresses. Our middle daughter has a big week. She turns 18. Soon, she will go to her last prom and graduate high school. Where has the time gone? She sees a dress and deems it the perfect princess dress. While she is trying on graduation dresses, I pull it off the rack. She is one of our princesses so it only seems fitting that she would try it on. She made her graduation selection and her eyes sparkle as I enter the dressing room with the “princess” dress. As it slipped over her head, and pooled to the floor nothing could wipe the smile from her face as she whispered, “I love it!”

Well, the end of the story, her dad approved and it came home with us. There was no real thought or discussion about the price or the timing of the purchase only that she loved it and we love her. I am a bargain hunter. It is my goal in life to get a good deal. Hence the huge discount signs walking in caught my attention. But when she put on the dress, and her countenance changed – I just wanted to bless her because I love her! We were blessed to spend precious moments together – to be in each other’s presence. That really doesn’t happen very often. Like every other family – we are busy. We all have places to go and things to do. I wonder if that could be called our Valentine’s date. I wonder if that is really what God is after. Precious moments of time together. To love each other and learn to love others with the same commitment as the ones in our earthly family. To be together and enjoy each other with no real agenda. To stop worrying about all the details of life and wander off together.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. I wonder sometimes if we have overcomplicated the perfecting of love. My husband can go buy every box of candy, flower and stuffed animal in the store but if he doesn’t love me the other 364 days of the year – it really doesn’t represent anything other than marketing dominating another holiday. We can get all dressed up and go on a fancy date but if we do not have love for each other – what’s the point? We can follow every rule and regulation in the Bible. Even get dressed up and head on church “dates” every Sunday but if we do not love then what’s the point? I Corinthians 13 tells me I can do all these things even understanding God’s Secrets and have faith that moves mountains but if I don’t have love – “I would have gained nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Are you dating God or devoted to Him? This is the question in my mind. Dating is when the decision to love is made. It is the testing of our partnership that leads to union. But once married, the covenant of love is a commitment. I Corinthians 13 is God’s Definition of Love. It is not limited to our spouse, family and friends because God sees us all as beloved children. Often – our love and commitment to people is not the same as how we approach the Lord. Expectations are put in others that really belong to the Lover of our soul. God’s Love for us is perfect. His Presence in us allows us to perfect our love for Him and others. Love is a discipline not an emotional overture. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be lovers.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. What keeps us from loving the Lord with all our heart and loving others the same way? Fear. Perfect love expels all fear. However, humans are not trusting souls. Grace is difficult to accept when we know the level of sin and shame once lived with. Does God really love us with unconditional love? Does He really pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every single day? Is He really a good, good Father? The answer is a resounding “yes”. It is impossible to replicate perfect love without first knowing and accepting it. You don’t have to understand it to receive it but you do have to experience it to exemplify it in your life. I cannot give away something I do not have. There is nothing to give if I do not know the Love of God and live in it.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The source of our fears, worries, regret, shame and deepest concerns are not products of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in us. He has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. The Lord has given us His Power which is from a grace that overcomes every weakness. He has given us perfect love in spite of ourselves. He has given us self-discipline to produce change in us from death to life. It is not by anything we do or say but in the truest revelation of a love worth having and worth giving to the world. Fear comes from doubt. It takes the Gospel and turns into religious habits skipping God’s Intent to form a family of perfect lovers and uses discipline to mold and shape others to fit human expectation. For example, we love those who think like we do but if they make bad choices and still manage to come to church on Sunday – they face people who scorn, shun, or shame them rather than the unconditional love of Christ. If I try not to sin, but do not do it out of love for Jesus Christ it is not enough. I must love Jesus so much that I avoid sin because of that love and devotion. I can make better choices. I can do different things. It doesn’t change the fact that I still sin every day and struggle with my flesh. I am no better than the person committing a crime. I have already failed God enough to require every ounce of His Son’s Blood. Friend, we are all in this together. We are all the least of these. The very ones who put Jesus on the Cross. I can change my ways but I can only get to God by His Son – Jesus Christ who is THE WAY.

Romans 8:38 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

What are your fears today? What are you worried about? Do you have things that keep you awake at night? Doubt in God’s Perfect Love causes us to feel that way. To think that there is a limit to the Limitless Love of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. It is the lie of the enemy that keeps us from being overcomers. The greatest barrier in the life of a believer is doubt. The mountain to be moved is not an obstacle in the world but in us. The place where God cannot move is because we do not believe in the God of more than enough, greater than he that is in the world, and the perfect Lover of the less than lovable. I must be completely convinced that there is nothing that can ever separate me from God’s Love in order to live in love with Jesus Christ. To accept God’s Unconditional Love is to admit my weakness and live in His Grace. Pride dies in this place. Human expectation is exchanged for Godly Expectation. Ordinary becomes extraordinary. Natural turns into the supernatural.

I John 4:9-10 (NLT)  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I John 4:15-16 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

I encourage you…no challenge you to read I John 4 today. The love of God is the birthplace of confidence and trust in the Lord. It cannot be skipped or overlooked. It must be undertaken above all things. I cannot become who God has planned and purposed me to be outside of His Unfailing and Unconditional Love. I must be completely confident in the sufficiency of grace at the forsaking of self in order to have all that God has ordained and planned for my life. I must live in His Perfect Love and allow His Love to perfect me. God’s Idea of Perfect is to be completely overtaken by His Love until His Love overflows from us. It requires an honest and forthright examination of our heart, mind and soul for true transparency. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down strongholds built by fear and doubt to protect us with the Sword of His Spirit – the Word of God. Until we understand and believe in God’s Love for us – we can never effectively express it to others. God loves you. He wants to bless your time together. He wants to fill you to overflowing with good things. He will perfect love in us when we choose to put our trust in Him.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Onward Christian Soldier

Onward Christian Soldier

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

Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His Banners go! (Onward Christian Soldiers, Sabine Baring-Gould, 1865)

There always seems to be the one situation that seems overwhelming. No matter how many times you pray, cry out to the Lord or try to move on – it keeps coming up. I have one of those “things” in my life. It doesn’t matter how many times I shake the dust off my feet it comes back like a monkey slinging mud or worse at the zoo. The longer it takes for resolution the more blinding the doubt that keeps shouting things will never change. Is there anything too big for God? Lord, help my unbelief today.

I have fought many battles since coming to Christ. Each one strengthening my confidence in the Lord and His Promises. But everyone has a Jezebel who in the midst of celebrating a win comes with the ultimate threat that leaves even the strongest reeling and reaching for support. I am embarrassed to admit that even in my conversations with the Lord – I am perplexed wondering if this one may be too strong for us. Is this giant too big to bring down with a single stone? Is this roaring lion to be the one that destroys someone? How silly right? The Word of the Lord for our life is “despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ…” What are all these things?

Romans 8:35-36 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s Love? Of course, not. However, until I decide for myself that He lives in me, is always for me, loves unfailingly, always looking out for my good, and fights for me, my faith is wavering and belief not rock solid. When wrong gets its way and things are not “right” the waiting for the win seems like it is taking forever. For those who know God’s Word for their life continually seeking His Way it may seem even more unjust as the trial is endured and the test engaged in, but overwhelming victory belongs to the confident. The person who continually remains steadfast as the Lord works out the Plan of Victory His Way and in His Timing. In the meantime, He works on our heart. There is always more of ourselves to yield to the Lord and His Spirit.

Onward Christian Soldier, we must march as unto war. Each day the battle rages within us to give up on this new life in Christ that is so drastically different than the world lives. To continually turn over the real estate of our reality to firmly establish our faith and confident hope in Christ alone. The more it is attempted the more people will let you down. The church is an imperfect mass of people being formed and fashioned into one. It is a process that takes a lifetime. The battle within us to do right when everyone else is doing wrong. To stay firm in our own convictions and not sucking the weak and helpless into our rules and regulations. To remain steadfast in our seeking even on the narrow road. To let the higher thoughts and grander thinking of God our Father be our knowledge and understanding rather than trying to figure everything out. Overwhelming victory is not produced by my hands, my head or even my heart. It belongs to Christ alone. To inhabit His Presence and let His Spirit permeate me leads me to victory day by day basking in His Love and thriving on His Grace.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Though it was a torrential downpour outside, my heart was excited to be at church ready to worship. I walked into the classroom for a quick good morning before service began. Cold, dead stares. Was I really begin shunned? Shock and dismayed – I tried to break through the ice. Like a huge iceberg floating in the Bering Sea, it was clear this would not thaw anytime soon. Why? My dear brothers and sisters be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically…for the Lord. It is so hard to remember sometimes that my life is not my own. Everything I do or say has potential in Jesus Christ no matter how it is received or even rejected. Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. What are you bumping up against today? Have you been met with opposition? There is no need to fight back the battle is already won. Perfect love drives out all fear and doubt while fulfilling our expectation so we do not need the affirmation, acceptance or approval of people therefore in every season and situation – we walk in love because God’s Love for us is perfect and perfecting.

At the sign of triumph satan’s host doth flee; on, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory. Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise. Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Like a mighty army moves the Church of God; brothers, we are treading where the Saints have trod. We are not divided; all one body we: one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

Colossians 2:14-15 (NLT) He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

The enemy cannot take our victory. When Jesus canceled the record of charges against me by nailing them to the Cross – I became victorious. The only way that I can ever lose in life is to give up the grace that I have been give. When I decide another way is better, or that I cannot win so choose to walk away – it is in that moment I hand over my win to the liar. I exchange the Truth about my life for the lie of the enemy. Are you being taunted today? Tempted to give up? Every spiritual ruler and authority has no power over you. Christ disarmed them. He publicly shamed them all by His Victory over sin, death and the grave. He triumphantly arose and gave it all to you and me.

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

We are not divided; all one body we: one in hope and doctrine, one in charity…these words are an inspiration for the church even today. The Spirit who live in you and me is greater than the enemy who lives in the world. Do you believe that today? Your victory is secure in Christ. It is not a narrow win but an overwhelming triumph. Are you immovable in your faith? Are you unshakeable in confident hope? Faith and hope are the prevailing factors that lead us from victory to victory. To believe with all our body, mind, heart, soul and spirit of God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace, Constant Goodness, and that He is always for us. These are the things that allow us to walk in victory. The enemy has been defeated. Stop letting him defeat you with doubt, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. Overwhelming victory belongs to us simply because Christ loves us.

I John 5:3-5 (NLT) Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Every Child of God defeats evil achieving victory through our faith. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God who came to set us free can walk in victory daily. Not just in spiritual battles but just living ordinary life. The only way to lose is to forfeit your faith and allow fear to take away what God has already given you through the Sacrifice of His Son – Jesus. We are destined to win. Victory is in the Blood that now flows in us. There are two halves in basketball, four quarters in football, and nine innings in baseball. No athlete whose heart is set on winning gives up before the final buzzer – why are you giving up now? God makes everything beautiful in His Time not ours. We must wait for the masterpiece to be completed or it is just another pretty picture worth only as much as what it is made of. Stop comparing your life to others. Decide you will have all Christ died for you to have today in spite of other people and their opinions. There is a reason the narrow road is called less traveled. Lean not on your own understanding and follow Jesus. Let His Truth be your roadmap to victory today. Let His Spirit show you how to win!

Onward, then, ye people; join our happy throng. Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song: Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ, the King. This through countless ages men and angels sing.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

 

Flawless

Flawless

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

God’s Way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless. Do you believe it? Do I? Our words indicate a confidence that our way does not always reflect. If God’s Way is perfect, why do we choose our way most of the time? If His Word is flawless, why do not we pursue His Wisdom on a daily basis or listen for Him each new day? His Way is perfect. The Word is flawless. It is our insecurity and imperfection that challenge our heart and mind when it comes to confidently and boldly living in agreement with His Way, His Will and the Word.

We have five children. Each one with their own individual personalities. Our family rules have not changed over the years. Yet as they have grown into adulthood, our adulting kids have the right to live their life as they see fit. Once accountable to us, they are now responsible for the choices made and pathways pursued. As their parent, I love and support them but cannot change the impact of their actions or consequences of decisions. I may offer advice or opinion but it is purely suggestive.

God has given us a perfect way. From the beginning, it is human nature to choose our own way. Jesus offers us access to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we can be reunited with the Father once again. All of heaven rejoices when one lost soul returns to the fold. He forgives us, loves us and immediately begins to revive, renew and restore us. It is reconciliation to Christ that begins to radically change our life. To be reconciled to Christ is to choose His Way rather than continuing to seek our own way.

How can I have God’s Perfect way when I am imperfect? How can perfection be possible once I have messed up and made countless mistakes? Shame? Regrets? Weaknesses? Is it possible to become flawless once flawed? Flawlessness is defined as having no defects or faults especially none that diminish value or worth. Or to have no discernable blemishes or imperfections. To be perfect. The word “discernable” is important to the definition of flawlessness in Jesus Christ. Sin will always be the blemish and imperfection that keeps us from oneness with God the Father. The Blood of Jesus Christ covers the sin and washes it away. I am flawless in Christ. However, when I look in the mirror – I see me staring back. To change my perception of self – I must find my identity in Christ. The identity of Christ is the Word of God.

John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. The Word became flesh to come be with us. To show us the Way back to the Father. He made the way to become the Sons and Daughters of God once again. To know our true identity including who we are, what we can do, what we are given and where we are going requires knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word (Jesus) to our life. In Hosea 6:8, it warns that people die because of a lack of knowledge. The Spirit comes to live inside of us. A holy inhabitation from on high that is given to us and accepted without action only willingness. It is the Word of God that deals with our flesh and its doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity. The flesh is a much more challenging beast to tame.

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Be perfect. Be flawless. How is it possible? It is. You can live in the perfect will of God without being perfect.

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Who better to explain the process of reconciliation than the man who persecuted early Christians than Paul? He was a murderer. He was an enemy of the Cross? When he met Jesus it changed everything including his identity as Saul becomes Paul. You have a new identity in Christ that is flawless. The process of reconciliation takes knowledge and understanding of the Word to integrate it in our heart and mind. This allows us to become living sacrifices by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Our identity is not established by what we think but in Who Christ is. It us up to us to allow the Word and Spirit to solidify our identity by faith and confidence in Who we are becoming rather than the world’s perception of us. To become a new creation means I must change my mind about who or rather whose I am.

Romans 5:9-10 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14) It is important to understand that reconciliation is fully accomplished through Christ, who is the Word. Reconciling my life to the Word allows the blessings and promises of Heaven to flow into my natural life. It is not a requirement but definitely my privilege. I can only accomplish this by giving up my way to pursue His Way completely. It is evident in Matthew 19:21 that something simple becomes complicated when we must choose between this life and Kingdom living. Jesus is the author and finisher of faith in us. He is called the “Perfecter” of faith. It is the Christ in us that permits flawless in the imperfect being called mankind. However, I must reconcile or accept and bring into agreement my life with the Word. This is the beginning of abundant life. This is consummation of worship when Jesus ordained it be in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4)

Philippians 1:6 (NIV) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Over the next few days, we will continue to study the impact of the Word in our life. It is often easier to accept the Spirit of God who is in us because our emotions and feelings are often impacted by the Gifts and Fruits that He produces. However, if the Spirit of God in us is not properly armed with the Word of God then the lie of the enemy will win every time. The Shield of Faith gains strength from the Word and a shield protects while the sword brings victory. The Word is our sword. It is effective in circumcising our heart to expose doubt, fear, insecurity and disbelief to be routed out so that God’s Love can take root in its place. To live confidently and boldly in Christ requires a relationship with the Word. You cannot fully know Christ apart from the Word because He is the Word. Christ began a good work in us. It is by His Spirit and the Word that it becomes the Masterpiece that He promised. Christ is flawless and brings His Character to those who desire it. Who are willing to allow the Word be the map and compass of their life? To assume His Identity and let go of any other label or title. Be confident. You can be perfect even with all your imperfections. You can do, have and be all the Word promised because the Word cannot and will not return to God void of completion. To live a flawless life is to live in the sufficiency of God’s Grace fully surrendered to the Spirit and Truth. The Word is the Truth that makes us perfect!

James 1:22-25 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

The Steadfast

The Steadfast

2 Chronicles 27:6 (NIV) Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

The view of strength and power based on human perception implies influence and affluence. One might think those who have it all are set, when in truth their souls are empty. Void of peace, looking for love, and hoping for acceptance outside of the social circle, those envied and sought after often are the loneliest of them all. Even in the church, people paint a pretty picture over the reality of a life lived in fear and insecurity. Setting up a religious order, that makes us feel comfortable in our inability and effective in human weakness. The Lord tells us His Grace is enough. He has overcome the world. We have the victory. If only we believed Him enough to stand steadfast. To wait and watch for the Lord rather than human acceptance, affirmation and acknowledgement. To order each day and every single step in accordance with the one who offers all of this one neat package labeled Jesus Christ. The One who will fill us with His Spirit to produce all the things ever longed for that will overflow from a prospering soul into our natural life. If only we became the steadfast…

To be steadfast. It doesn’t sound exciting. It really seems to be quite boring. Maybe the enemy tells us it is such to keep us from the blessing and prosperity found in walking steadfast with the Lord. To daily be loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependent, steady, true and constant to our calling in Christ. What would be the impact? We would grow more powerful. It happened for Jotham, King of Judah and son of Uzziah. Though he never entered the temple built with human hands, He walked steadfastly before the Lord His God. His reign only lasted sixteen short years yet he defeated his enemies and grew in great wealth. He was a good king who walked in alignment with God’s Kingdom.

What about Enoch? He walked faithfully and steadfastly with God until he was no more because whisked him away. There is no record of his death only that God took him away. Hebrews 11:5 says that “he did not experience death” for “he was commended as one who pleased God.” Faithfulness until the end is exemplified by a steadfast and immovable heart that does not react to this life but responds to the Promises of God and His Purpose for our life now and forevermore.

I Corinthians 7:37 (NKJV)  Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

This passage from I Corinthians is part of Paul’s letter to Corinth regarding principles of marriage particularly referencing the unmarried and widows. While this refers to the one who cares for the unmarried, I love the inspiration to stand steadfast – He who stands steadfast in his (or her) heart, having no necessity (content) but has power over his own will (self-control) and has so determined in his (or her) that he will keep ________ , does well. There is instruction in the Word of God that is to lead us to a better life. A life filled with a future and hope. Jesus has given us freedom and complete liberty to choose how we live and make our own choices. He has given us abundant grace when we choose less than His Glorious Standard or decide to sin. True repentance leads us back into the waiting Arms of God who never left us and waits for us to respond. To be steadfast is a heart decision to choose the Lord over anyone or anything else in this life. The impact of steadfastness blesses this life – it doesn’t make sense but the Grace and Goodness of our Lord seldom does.

I Peter 5:8-11 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

You do not fight for victory but from victory. Jesus Christ has given us victory. We must only assert His Power and Authority in our life to secure it. The stand of steadfastness is our battle stance. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God which is the details of our covenant and what belongs to us as Children of God. It is not our job to oppose the enemy or even other people but rather to oppose our flesh. The inner tendency to try to do something that has already been done for us. The drive to be perfect or at least appear worthy of the priceless gift that has been given. To stand in opposing flesh demands a certain death. Will your faith die or your flesh? You decide. Day by day – a steadfast heart must stand on faith in God’s Word, His Will and His Way to overcome the thief who will try to steal from, kill or destroy you. How is your stand today? Are you unshakeable, immovable and fearless?

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Fear is a symptom of insecurity. Something inside of us is not convinced and unbelief exists. We must secure our heart and eliminate fear. The spirit of fear is not given to us by God and therefore can be refused. Fear rears its head in many ways. Stress, worry, and anxiety are just a few. When we experience any feeling or emotion of dread and do not have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) there is a trust issue that requires immediate attention. Our steadfastness is compromised and in need of immediate attention. A steadfast mind produces a peace-filled life. Trusting the Lord defies who we are as human beings. Circumstances and situations do not impact or influence our heart when set on the Lord. It is a daily pursuit of His Presence guided by His Spirit to become a new creation as He promised. It will cost us every ounce of our flesh. As more of our natural life is yielded to Christ, He fills our voids, heals our wounds, roots out insecurity and doubt to fill our life with the good things that He has promised beginning with the soul-strengthening Fruit of His Spirit.

Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Could this be the guidelines for a steadfast life? A steadfast heart is important to our spiritual success. We have a plethora of promises yet to come to pass. There is an abundant life waiting for those who desire it enough to pursue it. Our flesh wants to fight, but our spirit guided by the Holy Spirit tells us to stand fast on the Word of God and let Him complete the work that He has begun in each of us. To be steadfast is not a proud position but a humbled existence that considers God’s Word, Will and Ways before our own. Jotham grew in power because he walked steadfastly before the Lord. Enoch did not die but instead was simply swept up in the Presence of God. The lives of both men are briefly detailed in God’s Word. The message of faithful obedience and steadfastness speaks volumes. In our need to acquiesce our flesh, it is human nature to complicate things with overwhelming details and complexity. It weaves a tangled lie making the excuse that such an existence is impossible. The simple truth is a life lived in steadfastness before the Lord is powerful.

Proverbs 4:25-26 (NIV) Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

From the Inside

From the Inside

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT)  Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it. I have heard this statement many times. I have also heard a number of conditions and excuses as well. The Word of God tells us plainly, “If you pray for anything” – it is not qualified as “according to His Will” or “if He can” or “if God will”. Jesus says it without any qualifier but one thing – you must have faith. If you pray and have faith – you will receive it. What are you praying for today? Is God answering your prayers? Are you trying to do good and live right? Still nothing? Do you go to church regularly, serve faithfully and give religiously? Still nothing? Could it be that the missing factor is faith?

Jesus told His Disciples that “if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and more.” He had just cursed the fig tree so it withered and died on the spot. The disciples thought it a cool trick and wanted to know the secret. Jesus told them. Have faith. Don’t doubt. These men who walked and talked with Jesus Christ every single day would still struggle to find faith throughout His Ministry. Some continued to doubt all the way to the Cross, the empty tomb and even when He was living before them. Those who believe can tell the “mountain” to be lifted up and thrown into the sea and it will happen. Got any mountains getting in the way of your success or prosperity today? Yeah, me too!

What if we have been going about this “mountain-relocation program” all the wrong way? What if mountains are dislodged and moved from the inside out? Could it be that an important step has been overlooked? We had a huge tree in the flowerbed of our new house. It looked like a Christmas tree towering over our house. Deciding to tackle it one day, I began to prune it. I thought maybe if it just looked a little better and I could get it under control – it would be easier than trying to dig it up. I could stop here. I could and meditate on the thought of how many times I compromise in life. Rather than removing the thing I know is hindering me, I keep it as earthly security attempting to control the thing that is controlling me. Less I digress, so once I was done shaping the tree in a more uniform fashion, I decided it wasn’t good enough. The thing was still an eyesore so I began digging around it to expose the roots. There were some superficial roots that were easily severed. Some had been growing a very long time, these were thick and hard to cut. Finally lopping the trunk inches off the ground, coating it with paint to hinder new growth, I gave up and left the little stump.

What if the mountain in your life is not moving because it is not dislodged from doubt? Faith severs ties to fear, doubt and insecurity. The Lord has given me a measure of faith to move mountains, teardown strongholds and overcome every barrier between His Promises and me. I must use my faith actively to build confidence in God, His Willingness and Availability to me through Jesus Christ. It is only then that the thing holding my mountain in place will be removed and my words filled with the Power and Authority of Christ will cast it from before me.

Matthew 21:23 (NLT) When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”

What is challenging the authority and power of Christ in your life today? Hope is the anchor of our soul. Fear is the root immobilizing the mountain. The religious people such as the Pharisees were challenged by Jesus Christ who wrecked their religion by offering people a relationship. In Hebrews 12:18, it says, “You have not come to a physical mountain…” Reading this today, I believe the Lord is telling us that the people and problems of life are the challenges that expose the truth concerning our faith. We look at the momentary troubles and trials of life as terminal when they are simply an opportunity to plant faith and uproot doubt. Sowing and reaping the benefits of the Kingdom begin with seeds of faith…always. It is impossible to please God without faith. (Hebrews 11:6)

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

It is not the quantity of our faith that is important. It is the quality of our faith and authenticity of it. A single mustard seed has the potential to produce an entire tree full of more seeds to build a forest. If that seed is not planted, it will produce nothing. Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to have great faith just a little bit of faith. The potential of faith is to do the impossible. The limitation of faith is human doubt that renders it ineffective. When our faith is limited to conversation and not cultivated, it does nothing. I can say I have faith but if my life is not lived according to that faith then I will be disappointed and discouraged by overgrown doubt that keeps me from the prospering life full of God’s Promises. The promise is secure but my faith is not.

Matthew 6:30 (NLT) And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

Do you constantly worry about life? Do you stress over every detail? Is your life clothed in anxiety? Do you believe God is your provider? God is good. He will never let you down. Faith in His Person is essential to know our Identity in Jesus Christ.

Matthew 8:10-11 (NLT) I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

Who has been given power and authority in your life today? Did the “devil” make you do it? Is the “enemy” constantly attacking you? Could it be that you have given him the right to do so? Jesus Christ has overcome the world. He has given us victory. Glory to glory flows through us. Faith is confidence in the authority and power of Jesus Christ at work in every detail of our life as He makes good on His Promise. (Romans 8:28)

Matthew 8:25-27 (NLT) The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us. When the storms of life come, it is human nature to hold the Lord accountable. However, the Lord is always in complete and uncompromised control of a life yielded to Him. When we yoke our life to Christ by faith, it is the opportunity to share His Peace even when all hell breaks loose in our life. We don’t have to run off and look for the Lord because He is already right there with us.

Matthew 9:21-22 (NLT) “She thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

When the woman ran out of options, there was an opportunity to be healed. She had been to every physician and taken her friends advice. She had endured pain and suffering for a long time. When she heard about Jesus, the woman felt hope tingle on the inside. She left her home desperate to find Jesus. Faith told her just touch his robe and He will heal you. She tried it. It worked. Sometimes desperation is the pressure applied to our life that forces faith to the surface. Have you tried everything to eliminate the pain? Have you exhausted all your resources? Are you desperate for relief? Your faith can make you well.

Matthew 14:30-32 (NLT) But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Fear is the enemy of faith. Perfect love casts our all fear. The Love of God for us is reckless. It is pursuing us day and night. However, one strong wind can cause us to look at our situation taking our eyes off the Savior. Seems silly doesn’t it – Jesus standing right there in front of Peter yet the man looked around at the waves losing sight of Him. Distractions. Detours. Delays. All these things will cause doubt to be revealed in our life. We must use the self-control given to us by the Holy Spirit to keep walking face down in prayer and eyes forward on Christ.

The Lord is asking each of us today – “Why did you doubt me?” He is not reprimanding us. He is not about to punish us. He is encouraging us. He is showing us the root keeping the hindrances, barriers, strongholds and even “mountains” blocking miracles in place. The Lord has good things in store for us in the land of the living. We must keep our eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith in order to achieve these promises in our life. The potential of our life is uncompromised. Faith will remove every barrier that unbelief was held us in place with. The mountain can be moved. It can be lifted up and tossed into the sea. We must remove every root of unbelief, fear, doubt and insecurity by faith to give it the freedom to do so. It is never an instance of “if” God can or “if” He will – it is our faith in Him that makes mountains move.

Matthew 25:20-21 (NLT)  The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

According to Romans 12:3, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” You have faith already. You choose where to invest it. Faith is confidence. Confidence is given to the one who has authority and power in our life. We decide where our treasure will be and invest our time, talent and treasure to multiple it. If you are not satisfied with the return on your faith, it is time to plant your faith somewhere else. You have complete freedom to sow and reap where you choose to do so. When our life doesn’t line up with the Word of God, it is not a limitation of potential but misappropriation of our faith. To trust and believe in God requires more than just words it is an action. It is to live our life as Children of God through Jesus Christ every day. Giving Him full power and authority over every situation and condition. Faith with works will produce completion. The work of our faith is total trust and complete confidence in Jesus Christ. He is good and He will never let us down. He does not leave us or forsake us. He is pursuing us always with unconditional love and grace. This is our confidence. It is the perfect place to invest our faith. You have faith inside of you and it is from that source that productive sowing in life occurs. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2)

James 2:22-24 (NLT) You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

Can You Feel It?

Can You Feel It

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

It happened in the middle of the local superstore. Holiday shoppers scurrying all around. A cart full of supplies for the ladies Christmas party. The checklist of details in my head somehow got tangled up in my brain. Completely turned upside down with every other to-do list it began sucking me into the vortex of too much to do and too little time. My heart began racing . My head pounding. Stress, anxiety and pressure met together and staged their attack and it worked. I left the cart and walked out the door.

Can you feel it? The pressure, stress and anxiety waged against the human heart and mind during this busy season. The Light shining in our heart somehow grows dim under the shadow of human expectation and high demands. It doesn’t have to be the world. It can even be the church often found to be a shelter of peace and place of rest. I have openly shared my own struggles with the holiday season in an attempt to help others overcome the enemy’s plight to steal the love, joy and peace out of Christmas. To somehow overshadow the hope that arrived when Jesus made His Arrival.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles…” The first step to overcoming the burden of our heart is to find the source of the pressure. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. It is no respecter of persons. The uninvited guest overstaying their welcome – it begins to take over our thoughts and feelings. Like a thief in the night, it comes unexpectedly and takes others belongings. There is a promise in the pressure. We will not be crushed. When we are perplexed, there is a limit before reaching despair. Though hunted down by a ruthless enemy, we are never abandoned or forsaken by God. No matter how many times knocked down, we cannot be destroyed. It is through suffering, our life begins to resemble that of Jesus. What is your response to pressure? Walk away? Tap out? Shut down? Melt down?

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

Reading this today, I can’t help but thing “no kidding”. What if this is not a slight or cut down but a simple observation? God’s Word is instruction. It is not uncommon for Christians to think that every bit of opposition and adversity that creates pressure in our life is from the enemy of our soul. I believe God uses the very thing the enemy has tried to break us for His Glory. What if the pressure is not from the external force but the internal God who lives in us? What if it is the Holy Spirit pressing out the doubt, uncertainty and insecurity found in hidden unbelief in the deepest darkest recesses of our heart? To fail under pressure often reveals parts of our being reliant on an insufficient source.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

The father brought his son to Jesus. Filled with an evil spirit, he was constantly tortured. Convulsions that through him violently to the ground. Foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. It even tried to kill the boy by throwing him in water and fire. The father was desperate so he came to Jesus. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not. So the father came to the Lord sharing his plight. He said to the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us…if you can.”

“If you can…” Words fatal to our faith and evidence of unbelief. Driven to the edge of despair, the contents of the father’s heart poured out before the Lord. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Do you believe today? The father was honest in his response to Jesus. “I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief?” This is the product of pressure. Pressure forces what is in our heart out of it. It allows us to carefully inspect the contents. Careful examination often reveals the fears, doubts and insecurities hidden within so that we can give them to Jesus so He WILL DO what He has already promised to do!

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

Pressure is applied by expectation. Expectation in any other source than Jesus Christ has the possibility of being unmet. God’s Word tells us exactly what is given to us by the Lord and what is not. It is a light for our path and compass for our soul. It reveals the traps and pitfalls set for us by the enemy. Jesus gives us examples time and time again of ways to overcome fear with faith and triumph over trouble by simply believing. We need the Word of God for faith to become logical and for practical application in our life. The Word was made flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. There is no way to know Him without knowing the Word. There is no way to reach the Father without Jesus. Faith is seeded by the Word and then watered by it as it grows, develops and matures in our life. A seed undergoes tremendous pressure to be transformed into its true potential as do God’s People.

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

Are you pressed today? What if the pressure is coming from the inside and not the outside? What if the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you so that God’s Goodness and Glory will be manifested in your life? Pressure requires change. Our old life, old ways, and old habits must be revealed to be removed. As God begins to change us from the inside out and do that new work inside of us – it produces pressure. Those who choose to stay the same will burst under pressure – give up, go back and quit the process of redemption, restoration and renewal that the Lord has begun. Those who allow the Lord to transform them from the inside out will see new life, new hope, and all things become new because they believed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Can you feel it? God is pressing us today. He wants to give us new life. To make us into a new creation. There are some things that must go and seeds to be planted in its place. Generosity in our life begins within our heart. We must not give in response to pressure but rather willingly. God will do exactly what His Word says for those who believe. He is doing for those who do not believe but because their faith is in other things – they do not see results. Pressure, stress, worry and burdens are part of life. What we do when trouble comes dictates the outcome. I can choose to retain them in fear and doubt caused by unbelief or I can surrender them all to Jesus Christ.

Faith is an action not just a word. It means taking my life and sowing it as seed into the Kingdom. When pressure comes don’t blame the enemy but seek the Lord. Failing under pressure means our strength is not coming from God but either self or some other unworthy source. You are a Child of the King. Live like it. Let Him show you who you are and what He has for you in His Word. Talk to Him and listen for His Whispers to you. Your life has purpose and it is glorious. Lord, let us be vessels that do not give into pressure but give way to Your Spirit – In Jesus Name!

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

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

Mud Slinging

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I was a little girl, my family spent a great deal of time at the beach. My grandmother and I would sit on the edge of the surf where the water’s edge would almost reach us and the sand was wet to build sandcastles. It was there she taught me to create “drip” castles. Taking a handful of saturated sand, holding it up and letting it drip – you create a sandcastle by moving your hand around to create a monument. It almost resembles a mountain with tall peaks resembling turrets. I have been thinking lately if our words may be the very essence of some of the mountains in our life. Words thoughtlessly released or aimed directly at another that hardened into doubt or even offense. I wonder if the dripping sarcasm or biting dissatisfaction is weighting down the very thing that we are requesting the Lord to remove.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a tall order. Our life is built around convenience, comfort and control. When one of these three are threatened, our pride and selfishness quickly work to construct the foundation as to not interrupt these “vital” necessities of life. Crying out to the Lord to move a mountain, but then firmly packing it in place with words thought to be idle and careless maybe just a release only to stand in frustration before the insurmountable thing which we cannot seem to overcome. What does your mountain look like? Is it made of grumbling, complaining and constant whining?

Pure and blameless” faith comes from a heart that is confident in God’s Salvation and Sovereignty. His Ability to now only save you but sustain you in life. Faith, even in the smallest measure, will move any mountain. I wonder if our faith is being choked out or suffocated by a barrage of worthless banter. If I am complaining about my life as a Child of God, I am telling the world that He is simply not enough. I am confirming their doubt that He is not a saving God full of unconditional love and amazing grace. I am actually feeding the darkness rather than creating new light.

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of the world now lives in us. Is He shining brightly today? Are you confident that He lives in you and works through you? Do you believe that the Lord is working every detail of your life for good as the Word of God tells us in Romans 8:28? Reading just a little further, are you confident that nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God and that you have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ? See if we believed, our conversation would change. Our way of conversation would shine brightly with confidence that His Love is enough to overcome the mountain of doubt rather than constantly fortifying doubt with mud-slinging words and negative connotation. We give our God and His Son a bad reputation when our words and heart are out of alignment.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will give account on the day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” What is your daily conversation? Do you listen to the words coming out of your mouth each day? God does. He judges us for the abundance of idle and worthless words that are empty. God has filled us with good fruit. His Spirit gives us the ability and abundance to pour out for others. Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Did you think it was for you? The generosity of God is poured into us to be released into the darkness of this world and fill it with the Light of His Love. To feed the hungry physically, emotionally and spiritually with the Word of our testimony. Seed left in the silo will not grow it must be put in fertile ground to grow, develop, mature and reproduce. What is your testimony today? In Revelation, it tells us that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb AND the Word of our testimony? What are you saying about the Lord? Grumbling, complaining, and negativity are born of a hard heart that has not discovered the satisfaction born of faith and hope. Has fear, doubt and anxiety filled your heart with negativity and doubt?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” It is my responsibility to monitor the words flowing from my lips. Fresh water cannot come from a salty or even stagnant pond. My words should build and not destroy. Build others up. Build my faith in God. Build a solid foundation of faith rather than adding weight the mountain I am trying to overcome. Faith-full words speak things not yet seen into existence welcoming God’s Spirit to do His Work, not grieving Him, but rather moving “me” out of the way. Bitterness is the root choking out the goodness God is doing in us and through us when we decide that His Word, Will or Way is not for us. It is absolutely for you. Faith makes the unseen hope we have a reality. It moves mountains of doubt out of the way so that we can become one with Christ enjoying all of His Benefits, Promises and Prosperity.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Today I must consider the conversations I will have and monitor closely my communication with others. Every word I speak is important as it tells of the contents of my heart. I have some mountains still to be removed. I have some doubt that must be washed away with the Word. When building drip castles on the beach, I did not see the significance of the lesson the Lord would teach me in that moment. “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

My grandmother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I miss her every day. Soon it will be my turn to build drip castles on the beach with my grandson, I want my conversation be filled with faith that will build him into a mighty man of God – full of life and favor. I must first build that kind of heart in me. I cannot share a faith I do not own for it is not mine to give. My Gram introduced me to Jesus and I hope to have the same privilege with him one day building sandcastles on the beach. Until then, it is up to me to take captive every thought contrary to faith before it leaves my mouth and cast it back where it came from. To allow the Water of the Word to wash away fear and doubt just as high tide melts sandcastles along the beach. It is important in overcoming the fears, doubts and insecurities that compromise my faith and hinder my hope to take make sure my heart and mouth agree on a daily basis. It is no easy task but always well worth the effort. Mud-slinging words filled with complaining and grumbling feel way better leaving me but then harden into yet another weight keeping my mountain from budging an inch much less melting in the sea. We must put away childish conversation and speak the words of our Father each day.

Lord, let every word I speak be pleasing to you. Pull out every root of bitterness and plant a new seed of faith in the void left behind. Strengthen my heart and remind my soul that you are my confident hope. I have new life in you, Jesus and Your Promises are for me. I give You my heart, mind, soul and body to you again. Lord, use me and my words to bring You glory today. You are worthy of it all.

Revelation 12:10-12 (NIV) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

James 2:20-22 (NIV) You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Moving through the brush excited and full of expectation. At the base of the mountain full of energy and exuberance – beginning the ascent to the top while taking in the natural beauty all around. Body, mind and spirit fully engaged. As the steps continue it gets a little steeper, naturally so, you are moving higher therefore it will require climbing to reach the highest peak. Maybe at this point, your body aches but your mind is determined to reach your destination. Minutes turn to hours and yes, you’re still steadily moving up but at this point losing sight of the surrounding beauty our mind gives way to focus on breathing and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You are tired. You begin to contemplate giving up. This was a stupid idea. A complete waste of time. You have better things to do. Maybe I should just turn around and go back. I am not getting anywhere. This journey will never end. Pushing through the trees, they finally give way to the peak of the mountain and the limitless is right before your eyes. Breathing in deeply you cannot fully contemplate the vast beauty surrounding you. You didn’t give up. You pressed in. You made it to the top and now you can see from a new perspective.

Have you ever climbed a spiritual mountain? The feelings and emotions are really the same. You start out full of excitement and expectation at the promise of God set before you. You believe it is for you. Beginning the daunting task of walking it out seems so easy until the first obstacle rises up. This may be harder than first considered. Pressing on – more obstacles and even some opposition and now your own body works against you. The place of decision and crossroads of thought to consider rather to give up or continue to preserve. Relief sounds wonderful. Rest is appealing. An escape from the challenge seems like the most viable option. What will you do? Will you continue the climb or run back down the mountain to live a comfortable, complacent, and convenient life?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

The last couple of days, I have studied the mountain looking closely at its structure and evaluated it by design. We can all draw a triangle and fill it with what comprises our latest challenge and become the mountain in our life. But as discovered yesterday, the mountain is not what it seems. The mountain is nothing more than doubt ready to be overcome by faith. You have to climb the mountain to overtake it. A daily commitment to overcome doubt is the only way to have the Promise of God for those who live in His Righteousness. But how do I get there from here?

Faith and our actions must work together. Faith is made complete by the two becoming one. How is that possible? Faith in the Promise of God must become our motivation. Doubt is the obstacle. The mountain in our life may be comprised of a number of challenges, difficulties and even impossibilities. We overcome them all by believing God over our situation, circumstances, trials and trouble. God’s Word refutes the enemies lie and is the truth concerning us. Those who believe the Word of God claiming each promise personally must engage in overcoming doubt including fear, stress, anxiety and worry which keep the mountain in place. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21 – Jesus)

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. This is the God we serve. He is a miracle working God who can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary. He has a plan and purpose that will lead you directly to fulfillment but you have to work His Plan not make up your own variation. There is an amusement park about an hour and a half from our home. It is not as far away as Orlando or the Magic Kingdom. Living on a tight budget with a large family, it would be a weekend getaway. Even though many great memories were made there, it did not compare to the wonder and excitement when we took the kids to Walt Disney World. I remember our youngest watching the parade and whispering, “A real princess, mommy” in breathless awe of the fairytale unfolding before her eyes. Compromise is evidence of doubt complicating our life and deteriorating faith.

Abraham had nothing to lose. When the messengers came to deliver the news that his promise was about to arrive, he continued in his expectation just as he did the day before. For years, he and Sarah struggled with heartbreaking infertility. Abraham did not sit idly by. He did do try to compromise. He did try to do it himself. Advanced in age, it was now impossible humanly and then God showed up. The promise of God comes by faith. The ultimate promise is eternal life. It is only achieved by faith. Faith is evident in our everyday life…or at least should be to be effective.

Romans 4:18-20 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”

Here are some important truths to remember to overcome doubt today:

The promise comes by faith. If you can do it, see it, or make it happen – it is your plan – not God’s Perfect Plan. If you decide to change course, and stop pushing, pressing and planting seeds of faith in the mountain called doubt it will stay right where it is.

Against all hope – you must believe. Believing God at His Word and deciding it belongs to you is the beginning of fruitful expectation. A broken heart is a fertile heart. Humility softens our heart and it receives seeds of faith more readily. Sometimes it takes the impossible for us to finally give God all the pieces of our broken heart and allow Him to make the beautiful masterpiece that He promised in Ephesians 2:10.

Without weakening in faith – you must continue to believe. Faith is not logical because it is not based on anything we can see. Thomas encountered Jesus after the resurrection. He had followed Jesus throughout His Ministry. He was there when Jesus performed miracles. He was witness to signs and wonders. He heard the Word right from the Living Word. He saw Jesus crucified. He was at the empty tomb. Minutes before the Risen Lord walked through the walls and filled the room with His Presence. What more would anyone need to believe? Thomas had to see and touch the Lord to finally believe. What will it take for you to finally believe that Jesus is Who He said He is and will do exactly what He has promised to do? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 – Jesus)

Do not waver in unbelief. When did you stop trying to overtake doubt and give in to it? We all find ourselves at the crossroads of decision – continue in faith or abandon the effort. How do I know when I waver in unbelief? Fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and retreat are all characteristic of doubt. Doubt cannot coexist with belief. It is the polar opposite. If you believe, you will continue. If you believe, you will wait. If you believe, you will not go back. If you believe, you will accept no substitution. If you believe, you will obtain God’s Promise in the land of the living and forevermore.

Genesis 22:9-14 (NIV) When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham finally had a son. Years and years resulting a single precious boy that would make him the “father of many nations” per the promise of God to him. Now Abraham did not see the real meaning of his promise for his eyes were on the natural. God instructed Abraham to take his “promise” to the mountain. I just want to stop here and interject – would any parent reading this do anything to intentionally harm their own child. I didn’t think so. Me either. Well, God instructed his servant to take his son to the mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. How important is your promise to you? Does it have a face? Is it a person? Can you see, hear or touch it? It may be required of you. It is all too easy to decide what is best for us or to lay hold to the identity of what we need, want or desire and lose sight of the Source. The Source of Hope beyond today, tomorrow and stepping into eternity. Abraham went to the mountain but now the face of it had changed. He offered his son, his only son, Isaac to the Lord. The Lord provided the sacrifice so now we can live with the promise. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide” and to this very day it is said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” What will be provided? Faith.

Your mountain must be overtaken. We overtake doubt with the Truth of His Love and faith in His Word. Jesus overcame the enemy in the wilderness and even on the mountain simply repeating the Word of God. We must remind ourselves that God love us. He is Good to us. He fights for us. He desires us. He has a promise for us. It is all received by faith that does not doubt. The mountain cannot be cast into the sea unless we believe. Faith and confident hope begin to break down pride, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. As faith grows, it breaks up any foundation of doubt so when the time is right the mountain will be cast in the sea. What is on the other side of the mountain? Well, why don’t you just go and see!

James 2:23-24 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.