Worthless Words

Worthless Words

Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. If only our tongues were not the wayward beasts set ablaze and out of control, imagine if our words were under the control of God’s Spirit and not the rebellious heart and mind of mankind (and woman-kind). If the door could be slammed shut and the hurtful, ugly and worthless words swallowed up from whence they came but that’s just not how it works now is it? Oh for the reckless, careless tirades if only could be taken back. Images erased from those who received them and now dwell on the hurtfulness which is becoming bitterness. Using only a vocabulary to encourage, build up, fit for every occasion and full of grace to the listener, it is the desire of God for us to communicate in such a way that builds the Kingdom rather than tearing it apart person by person.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

It says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and I believe that wholeheartedly. Sticks and stones will break bones but I also am convinced that words penetrate much deeper. People survive broken bones but some cannot survive a broken heart. Relationships, once strong, can be eroded by careless communication and unfiltered anger. Robust outbursts that feel so right and relevant at the time are meaningless when our partner, loved one, friend, coworker, or whoever are hurt beyond repair. What is the fruit of your lips today? I must consider mine. It is important. I was cooking dinner. Our new diet requires quite a few fresh vegetables. Though I stopped by the store, I did not purchase any because there were plenty in the fridge. However, as I pulled the packages out to prepare them for our meal, I noticed that some of them were going bad. The ones clearly soft and gross that touched others were causing them to rot, too. I ended up throwing away several packages because one vegetable went bad and corrupted the whole pack. Can we learn from this? Absolutely. The one bad vegetable did not intend to destroy the rest but it happened as its inward condition began to manifest outwardly and contaminated them all. The fruit of our lips can have the same effect. Whether intentional or not, they can pierce the heart and soul of another quickly adding our toxicity to their thoughts, feelings and emotions. I want my words to give others life. The life I have thanks to Jesus Christ has the potential by faith to produce good fruit in me that will become the offering of my lips if only I pay attention.

From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Proverbs 18:21 is the popular and well-known verse. However, God always has a promise to us in our faithful stewardship to others. Our words will satisfy our own soul first. As the soul prospers, so do we. The abundance of fruit that pours from our lips is not a fake fruit but the productivity of authentic faith. By allowing God’s Spirit to filter every single word through the Truth of His Word, the Light of His Love, and the Hope of His Glory – suddenly those unnecessary banters and tirades are softened to swallow. Being right becomes a little less important when righteousness is highly sought after. God wants to bless you. He has a purpose and promise that will meet its full potential and exceed the perceived abundance in your mind when you choose to say what He says about you, to you and for you and then decide to communicate His Message to the world.

Matthew 12:34-37 (ESV) You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Our words are evidence of what the heart truly believes. Good people can say good things, but godly people only say good things like good fruit. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good. Jesus warns us explicitly that our words are a prime indicator of the condition of our heart. I know that when I am angry, hurt, frustrated and tired the thoughts circling in my head will form words that I cannot take back if released. I am learning to discipline my heart and mind to take those rebellious thoughts and smash them along with my pride to close my mouth tight. As they cannot to try to stir up a fire in my, I ask the Holy Spirit to stomp them out before they flare up again. It is not easy. I am not always successful. God gave us His Grace so there is always enough to share with others. True believers say, “I’m sorry” and mean it. Pride tells us the person deserved it or it was their fault. Humble hearts understand that it doesn’t matter what the other person does because my life – mind, soul, body and yes, even my tongue – belongs to Jesus Christ. End of story.

Lord, close the door to my mouth and prevent any offensive thing from spilling out of it. Teach me only to speak life and love to others. Help me to effectively communicate your love, grace, joy, peace and hope to others because what I think about other things really doesn’t matter. Humble me, God. Help me to filter every single word for kindness, relevance and truth not according to my standard but raised to Your Standard. In Jesus Name…

Proverbs 10:11-12 (ESV) The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

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Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Fruit Inspector

Fruit Inspector

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Examine yourselves. Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. I would much rather inspect the fruit of another tree than take inventory of my own sometimes. The old saying, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Our reactions reveal a lot about who we are on the inside. I am striving to learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than constantly reacting to the conditions and circumstances of life. The enemy will constantly try to sow seeds of doubt and discouragement to hinder the growth process of God’s Fruit in our life. It is His Constant Agenda and Overwhelming Passion to fuel any thought or idea that might take root to become fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, bitterness or the like. It’s easy to react. Reactions are driven by impulses and feelings. It is a spiritual discipline to learn how to respond to God’s Promises and hold tight to His Word when things aren’t going as one planned or hoped for.

Paul says, “Examine yourselves…test yourselves.” It is easy to find someone to blame. It is much harder to trust the Lord to work every detail of our life for good. To constantly sow good seeds of faith rather than unleashing fury when things don’t seem to bearing the right kind of fruit or given the desired results. I am not responsible for attitude and actions of others. I am responsible for my own. It is up to me to behave in the disciplined and dearly loved role of God’s Child who is filled with Jesus Christ.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

To abide in Jesus Christ is to bear much fruit. Those who live in love with Jesus cannot help but prosper. The prosperity of our life begins in our soul. The environment of our life is conducive to spiritual growth. It is up to us to sow Kingdom seeds in the hard ground of human nature to allow God to prepare us for natural prosperity that only comes with spiritual growth and development. To covet another person’s garden or think the grass is greener on the other side is to believe that God has favorites and that I am not favored by the Living God. Not true. I must examine my fruit. Allowing God to prune my vine. To live so in love and involved with Jesus that I know and understand that He has already given me a rich and satisfying life to be cultivated in our walk together.

Luke 6:43-45 (ESV) “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

It is easy to inspect the fruit of others. To judge them in the moment rather than giving the same grace that is required by us. However, I must always focus on my own tree. The fruit of my tree must be of the Spirit. The Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The first fruit is always love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” God defined love. We cannot change the characteristics of love and still please God. The Word of God stands as the Truth that governs and details our life. The first fruit is love. I must daily inspect my tree for it. It is the beginning of all things in Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. If I give away all I have and produce every other fruit but have not love…I gain nothing.

John 13:34-35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The fruit of my life must be love. Not my interpretation of love, but by God’s Definition. I must examine the fruit of my tree. I must test myself. My faith is dependent on the Spirit cultivating godly fruit in my life beginning with love. People will know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ if I love them properly. Completely. Soul-ly. Purposefully. The way that Jesus loves us. Even when we rebel, run from or hurt Him, His Grace is always enough.

Lord, examine me today. Help me properly access my own fruit rather than looking at the productivity of others. Keep me focused on my garden and the brokenness that is possibility in my own heart. You know exactly what you are doing. I do not trust man, Lord I trust You! Let my life overflow with an abundance of good fruit that feeds others the love and goodness that You have so graciously given to me!

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Keep the Peace

Keep the Peace

Matthew 10:11-15 (MSG) “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.

Where in the world did the saying, “Save the drama for your mama” originate? This mama doesn’t want any drama. The world today thrives on the dramatic overtures of emotional tirades and all about the “feels”. It is important to set boundaries and guards as filtration of certain thoughts and ideas that stimulate emotions ultimately causing a reaction. According to a good old-fashioned dictionary, drama is any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest or results. It is highly emotional, tragic or turbulent in nature. In the age of technology and social media relationships, the filter once set by face-to-face communication has created a commonplace of tirades and overtures of drama that becomes barriers in life.

When Facebook released the “unfollow” button, I was overjoyed. I do not want to unfriend anyone. It sends the wrong message. How can you love your enemies when you can’t even stand the sight of them? Social media has a way of producing unprecedented courage and bouts of bad judgment, as it becomes a platform (or soapbox if you will) for dramatic tirades, rants and even off-handed slights. I don’t want to be a part of it. God doesn’t want His People to fall into the trap of offense or become entangled in bitterness which are produced by mislead emotions and misunderstood gestures and comments. I wonder what would happen if we unfollowed people to maintain peace rather than unfriending them completely? To unfollow…it’s Biblical. To unfriend…is not.

Jesus sent his disciples out with specific instructions. Travel light. (Matthew 10:9-10) Leave the baggage behind. There is a lesson to be learned in these verses. People tend to carry their feelings like luggage from one place to the next. It is human nature supported by pride and selfishness that causes people to allow personal feelings to take precedence over someone else. To carry the weights and burdens of past hurts is not the Will of God for us. Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” We must release the burden of bitterness and take hold of grace to the fullest extent which means forgiving others and forgiving ourselves to love freely in a world that no longer knows what love is. Offense is an enticing offer but builds a stronghold around our heart that hinders the one who harbors such feelings. When the Lord sent His Followers out to be the light of the world and share His Message, he told them not to take anything with them including money. Why? Relationships require dependency and trust. Jesus was instructing them to form bonds with the community which would require humility.

Let’s move on as not to meddle. When Jesus sent His Disciples to share the good news – the instructions given are useful today. If you are welcomed, be gentle in your conversation. If you are not, quietly withdraw. Oh, the wisdom in the Lord’s instruction. Our rights are forfeited for righteousness in coming to Christ. We are commissioned to people. Christian ministry begins and ends with people. All people. The ones we love, like and dislike all fall under the same category in the heart and mind of Christ. We must learn to build the Kingdom of God rather than allowing it to be destroyed by drama. Drama keeps us locked in today because it is an emotional instance rather than a supernatural existence. To leave behind our emotions, and decide to pursue the heart and mind of God through His Son, Jesus Christ is an act of complete humility and surrendering our emotions for God’s Will.

Luke 10:5-6 (MSG) “When you enter a home, greet the family, ‘Peace.’ If your greeting is received, then it’s a good place to stay. But if it’s not received, take it back and get out. Don’t impose yourself.

Luke relays the same experience like this, “When you enter a home, greet the family, “Peace”… How do you greet others? Is it with peace? Every encounter with another person should be in the pursuit of peace. If I cannot project peace to people, I must find it first within myself so that I have an overflow for others. We are called to be a body – not just any body – but the Body of Jesus Christ. How can a hand hate a foot? What good is a thumb that cannot work with the other fingers on the same hand? It sounds silly – I know. It happens all the time.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (MSG) Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

The only weapon that the enemy has to use against us is the lie. The lie of the enemy allows bitterness and offense to be viable emotions and feelings. The Lord warns in His Word about these two lies. We must tend that which grows in our heart and mind carefully. To be rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ means relinquishing our right to be bitter and offended. We must work diligently to silence gossip even those words veiled in false concern and regard. You can be the place where cutting, backbiting and profane talk end. You have the power within you of resurrection power and life including the ability to bind and loose. When gossip makes it to your ear, you can stop it and reverse the curse with blessing…if you choose to pursue peace. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “Troublemakers start fights and gossips break up friendships, but Proverbs 19:11 says, “Smart people know how to hold their tongue – their grandeur is to forgive and forget. My behavior can grieve the Lord. We must become diligent in pulling up bitterness before it takes root. We must teardown walls of offense. God in Christ forgave you. He forgave me. Who am I to withhold love, grace and forgiveness from others?

Romans 18:19-21 (MSG) So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.

The pursuit of peace will sometimes require a quiet withdrawal. We must learn to live in the robe of righteousness offered to us by Christ. The wardrobe God has chosen for us is compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and discipline. To be even-tempered – not emotional. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises and not react to people. It is hard to remember but a simple truth. People are not our problem but comprise our purpose. Every person in our path is divinely placed by the Lord. Whether it is to instruct, influence or enhance us or it is our mission to offer them something or maybe an equal exchange. We are all predestined to be part of something greater than could ever be accomplished on our own. The person who is deemed offensive or unforgivable may very well be the one who holds the keys to the next open door. The people divided are hindered by separation because the Lord has given us the command of unity – one heart, one mind, and one purpose – Jesus Christ.

When a relationship is broken by bitterness and offense, it breaks the heart of God. Like two quarrelling children hurts the heart of a parent, ugliness and strife between two people (any two people) does the same to God. We must learn to reconcile our life to Christ completely so that we can learn from His Example and reconcile our relationships as people. People are not in control of your destiny – Jesus Christ controls every outcome of our life. People do not have the power to hurt you unless you give them access to that which belongs to Christ. Our full expectation must be in the Lord to protect our heart in earthly relationships. When I don’t want to forgive, I must remember that He forgave me. When I don’t want to forget, I must remind myself that the Father chooses to release my sin into a sea of forgetfulness. When I want to lash out at others, I try to remember these careful instructions – if they welcome you, be gentle… if they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. To maintain peace with God through His Son Jesus – I must keep the peace with others. His Way is not my way. His Thoughts are not my thoughts. However, His Way and His Thoughts are what I desire. I am chosen by God for this new life. I must wear love and never be without it.

Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

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

If I had a dime for every time I have recited this verse to my rambling mind, rebellious thoughts and overwrought emotions. God did not give me the spirit of fear but there are days I completely own it myself. Stress and anxiety fuel doubt and disbelief. The enemy whispers, “But…” Lies that get me all hot and bothered as I try to wrestle in my flesh and take captive those thoughts that so easily distract me. God did not give me the spirit of fear or timidity. He didn’t give it to you either. Anything contrary to God in our life must go in order for us to fully embody Christ and experience freedom that is given through Him.

Yesterday was one of those days, after a week of fighting the good fight, it seemed like it was going to be a good day. I got out of the house on time – major victory for the time challenged. I had an awesome worship, praise and prayer time on the way to work. Two major victories before the morning meeting at work had me feeling pretty confident that it was going to be a great close to the long week. Well then the enemy lobbed a bomb over the fence and immediately I was on the run. I was angry, mad, stressed, worried and anxious all at the same time all of a sudden. Caught off guard, I was unsuccessful at pulling in the wild horses dragging me off fast and furiously. It’s hard to remember to never let your guard down especially on the “good” days. To think that the enemy is not lurking in the darkness just looking for a foothold. For me it came as a “misunderstanding” mixed with some “confusion” all the enemy’s tactics waging war against a confident heart and made up mind. “Are you sure? What if? Or else?” Subtle attacks that lead to devastating results if not handled immediately.

So this morning, I am going to share three tips for reining in “wild horses”? Those thoughts and notions that there is a limit to God’s Love, Power and Faithfulness in our life. I hope they help you. They are not quick fixes. It will take a lot of time and practice to instill them as habits in an emotional world that has decided God is not who He claims to be and tries to rob the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So here goes…

Power

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail.

Grace is available in our weakness. Power comes when we relinquish control of our life to the Power of God promised by Jesus and the Word of God. The problem is that our world is D-I-Y obsessed even the church. “Well, if I don’t do it – who will?” The one called and commissioned to. Giving up control is what crucifying the flesh is all about. To decide that you will fully invest your life in God’s Way through the Way – Jesus Christ means giving up your power to fully embrace His Power. How do you do that? Repentance. Obedience. Trust. Key components to full embracing God’s Power is at the end of self. We cry out for God’s Intervention asking Him to open the windows of Heaven over us and fill our life with the abundance that is promised but never really understanding the change that comes with it. We cannot live in the Presence of God unchanged. We cannot reach the depths offered without giving up our current position. There is no way to discover the vastness and limitless boundaries of His Love and Grace for us without accepting His Grace fully.

Love

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.

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

There is no limit on God’s Love. He pursues us with unfailing love. (Psalm 23) It is endless reaching from creation, through life and into eternity. God demonstrated His Love by giving us amazing grace. The kind of grace that works best in our weakness. Christ was the example who was crucified in weakness to give way to resurrection power and new life. We have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ who loved us. His Spirit lives in us as evidence of adoption. No longer are we exiled from God but through Christ reconciled as sons and daughters of God. Do you love your children? How much? Too much sometimes, right? How much more does God love us? Do you believe that God loves you today? Are you convinced? Love is the conviction of God’s Faithfulness to us outside of our ability to remain pure and blameless. His Love came down and rescued us in our weakness and gave us victory. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We can do nothing to repay God for His Gift. The only thing we can do is believe it and live in that love fearlessly.

Fear is evidence that there is doubt or disbelief in the fulfillment of God given through Jesus Christ. It does not fully embrace the finished work on the Cross or grab hold of the “overwhelming victory” promised in God’s Word. The only hope that you and I have of living a courageous life is in our ability to completely and confidently receive God’s Love. To allow His Love to change our heart, soul and mind until it is completely convinced that there is nothing that can separate us from His Love. His Faithfulness is not contingent on anything we do other than to believe it enough to embrace it and stop running from Him.

In fact, the Word of God says those that believe in the perfect love of God live fearlessly. Perfect love expels fear. The solution to the problem does not end fear. Fear continually sows seeds when not eradicated. It is in the constant sowing of God’s Love in our life that fear has no place to grow, mature or develop into worries, cares, stress or burdens. The conviction of God’s Love is the birthplace of freedom. It is the place where ordinary life takes on an extraordinary existence. Right where you are even if nothing changes. Perfect peace takes over until God delivers.

Self-Discipline or Self-Control

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I Peter 1:13 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Each week I make a grocery list and menu for the upcoming week. I have the best intentions of making delicious meals for my family that are often upended by busyness. Just because I have all the ingredients doesn’t mean I will follow through with my original plan. The Holy Spirit produces all the good fruit for an amazing life – but self-control is what we must use to make it all work together. My thoughts are pivotal in execution of God’s Plan. I must rein in every thought contrary to Christ and adverse to God’s Word. I cannot allow myself the opportunity to worry, stress or fear what is to come. God promised to work every detail of my life for His Good and Glory. Do I believe Him? My response to lies and taunts of the enemy will reveal the content and true conviction of my heart. Consumed by worry, I must decide to worship. I cannot give lies permission to remain but must pray and praise my way through it. I must give up every other conviction than the one that says, “God loves me and He is for me – I cannot fail!”

When I was much younger, I had a good friend who owned horses. We could go riding on Saturdays. There was one particular horse that I was riding which was a bit skittish. My friend who was a confident equestrian asked as we were headed home, “Would you like to change horses because the one that I was on was “barn sour”? I had no idea what that meant and later wish I did. Coming out of the woods when she saw the pens and barn just past it – she took off running out-of-control. I pulled the reins with all my might but she was not having it. All I could do was hang on and pray I didn’t fall off in her haste.

A “barn sour” or “herd bound” behavior is produced by anxiety. Fear of separation from the herd or physical location which it deems secure such as a pasture or barn. It is a dangerous behavior as the rider loses all control of the animal. There is no threat except the stress of the animal. The basis for this equine problem is one that many humans suffer from, too. Insecurity. According to experts, the insecurity caused by this instinct in horses is exacerbated by a lack of training which is easily overcome.  You must teach the horse to be responsive to your clues. It is the same with people who want to live a fearless life embracing fully the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Father, I ask you to flood our hearts with light today. Expose every lie that the enemy has sown in us that it may be uprooted and replanted with faith. I rebuke fear, stress, anxiety, worries and care commanding them to go in Jesus Name. Lord, I trust you. Help any disbelief in me to give way to resurrection power and life. I believe that You love me. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from Your Love even my fears, doubts and insecurities that you are removing right now. Lord, let your Spirit complete His Work in me. I give you permission to permeate every part of my life for my good and Your Glory! In the Name above all names – Jesus!

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

Fairytales are Fiction

Fairytales are Fiction

Ephesians 6:10-12 (MSG) And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

What did you expect coming to Christ? A happily-ever-after fairytale with a prince on a white stallion coming to steal you away? Or maybe the final scene in An Officer and Gentlemen when he comes to whisk you out of an ordinary life to embrace a new journey? Did you expect every problem to disappear? What did you expect? What do you expect now? I do not want to dissuade you. I do not bring bad news. You are called more than a conqueror for a reason. You have more than enough to achieve great purpose. There must be a challenge to find victory. There is no glory in surviving. God called us to thrive.

God promises to be our strength. To give us His Power by Grace in our weaknesses. He give us the land and then commands us take it. Did you really think the enemy would give up that easy? Oh, he came to Christ – game over. The enemy is desperate. He has nothing to lose. The end of the story is clear and the odds not in his favor. Like a thief who comes in the darkness looking for an open window or unlocked door to enter the unguarded heart or unfiltered mind. His weapon is not hewn out of metal or forged in steel but a tiny little lie or half-truth lobbed into our thoughts. What if? Or else? Really? All he has to do is trick you into believing that God is not Who He says that He is, or He will not do exactly as He said. In that moment, faith falls apart and confidence crumbles.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG) The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

We must demolish the mindset of culture set forth by life experiences and encounter Jesus Christ as the powerhouse that governs our life. If we could just change our mind about Who He is and What He came to do – we would channel our life including our goals and dreams through Christ. Reconciling our life to His Word mandates change from poverty to prosperity in our soul that begins to change every possibility in our life. The impossible becomes possible in Jesus. Every detail of our life turned for good to His Glory. The enemy has no power against us. It is embracing the lie over the Truth that caused us all to fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. The struggle is real. It is in our heart and head. How do you wrap your mind around surrender that gives way to power and submission that becomes freedom? To give up and gain it all. It just doesn’t make logical sense outside of faith that believes God does exactly what He says and the Gift of His Son is all that we need.

Mark 9:22-24 (MSG) He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?” “Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!” Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

There is a young man who I met just over a year ago at our daughter’s birthday dinner. Before the food arrived, she asked him to bless our meal together. As he began to pray, I almost fell out of my chair. The thick anointing in this kid’s honoring God just to say grace got my full attention. I immediately left the “adult” table to meet him. His testimony will blow you away. He was not raised in church but when he met Jesus Christ – he was forever changed. His mother passed away prematurely. He and dad are distanced. No real parents living with grandparents yet finding his way as a Child of God. The potential in this kid is unprecedented. God is going to use him. There is no doubt in my mind. His grandmother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer last week. He knocked out a tail light yesterday. On his way, he got pulled over. He is battling discouragement. He feels alone. What did he expect? To set our heart and mind on Christ paints a big red target on our back. To engage in the pursuit of faith and confident hope gains negative attention from the enemy. He begins lobbing attacks to stop you from reaching your destiny, becoming a bright light or just a little salty. It is up to us to identify these attacks and fight back. How? What can I do?

You just have to believe. You must pump up Jesus and not your problem. Put the Lord on the throne and make Him the king of your hill. The mountains become molehills for those who believe. David didn’t see a Philistine giant but rather knew a Gigantic God. The devil wants you to think that the impossible is the ending point. It is the starting line of faith. It is the entrance to the realm of hope where all things are possible. Do you believe? If you do, then the battle indicates you are about to step into God’s Promise and the place right in front of it is enemy territory. Go back. Give up. Don’t be ridiculous. Why would God love you? You are nothing. You can do nothing. You will be nothing. All the taunts of the father of lies. He is ruthless in his candor and relentless in his taunts. But they are all just words unless we hold on to them. The Word for our life is God’s Word. It contains every promise and provision given to us by the Cross. If we hold it with both hands and wrap our mind around it, it becomes the shield of faith that guards our heart in battle.

Matthew 24:13-14 (MSG) “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

Jesus was clear in Matthew 10 that He did not come to bring peace but a sword. Life is a battle to the finish. We must endure to the end. Jesus is not all about world peace. He is love. To teach us to expect His Love and love others from the Source. We must tear down every stronghold and leave no stone unturned when it comes to claiming God’s Promises. He has given us victory over every scheming attack. It is found in faith for those who choose to believe even when such a thought is illogical. Confident hope keeps us in the battle when it looks like we are losing. Sometimes it takes losing everything to gain our very soul. I have to lose my life to find it. I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!

We are called to be soldiers of the Lord. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in civilian affairs. The unit will provide his basic needs. He is trained. He is equipped. He has his objective. His life is a mission. Not every soldier is a warrior. A warrior becomes seasoned in the fight. His hands calloused from holding his weapon. His mind now confident that he can win. His scars are his glory of victory gone by. He does not flee engagement but welcomes it because he longs for the next big win. He is ready to see glory. I wonder today what would happen if we lived for the battle rather than running from them. If our faith was aroused by confrontation and hope became our life force. What if the impossible got us excited because we knew God was about to do something big? What if we expected miracles rather than settling for mediocre? Let me assure you if you are not living a rich and satisfied life of exceeding abundance beyond what you could think, ask or imagine – there is more to life than this. You have a land to take. A promise to claim. With every promise, there is a fight. With every miracle, a battle in our heart to be won. You can do it. Christ lives in you. He is enough!

Fairytales are fiction. Faithful expectation produces in real life. Every story has a climax. An evil to overcome. Every princess at times must straighten her crown. Every prince must find his way to the throne. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are not called to poverty but prosperity. It gains the attention of the thief. The battle rages on. The promise that we live for is that Christ is enough to make us overcomers. He gives us the victory. He infuses power in our weakness. He will be our Strength. He is more than enough. Live in expectation. Focus on your faith. Pick up your sword (the Word of God) and partner with His Spirit. You are in it to win it. Fight for it. It’s yours!

Romans 8:31-39 (MSG) So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

 

Make the Sacrifice

Make the Sacrifice

Psalm 118:26-28 (NLT) Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

After a spectacular Saturday, I awaken to an overcast and humid Sunday. What a disappointment! I had plans for today including washing the smelly dog, planting a hydrangea and maybe going for a leisurely drive with my sweetie. The forecast for today now seems to include a trip to church and a long rainy day nap. Ugh!

I could feel my emotions dampen a little bit. It is in the moment I realize that my heart is sinking for no reason at all that I am reminded I am not a child of darkness but live in the light. The Light of God’s Love wraps around me. It floods every shadowed part of my existence when I choose to keep my face, heart, mind, body and soul set upon Him. It is an intentional life to live in His Love. We must daily combat emotions lending themselves to temporary things and fully embrace the new life set before us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar. What are these sacrifices that keep us near the heart of God and detached from worthless feelings and overwhelming emotions?

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Thankfulness is a sacrifice when you really don’t like what you see. To be thankful that God is good. He is for you. His Love for you unfailing and unchanging even when you are really not thankful at all. Thankfulness allows gratitude for flow where ungratefulness once hindered you. To begin to count the blessings in our life allows faith to rise up and bring hope along with it. The quicker our words begin to give thanks to the Lord it is the same time when His Light and Love illuminate the darkness trying to overshadow us. There is line in one of my favorite worship songs that goes “you can’t turn out light that shines from the inside.” Thankfulness is a light in the darkness even when it is a sacrifice. The attitude of gratitude will do nothing more than lift you up!

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 

Praise honors the Lord for who He is. He is God. He is Jesus. He is the life giving source of every good thing in our life. Sometimes our heart becomes cluttered with the temporary worries, cares and concerns of life. Distracted by busyness and overloaded by feelings it is easy to forget WHO HE is and all that He has done. Salvation in and of itself would have been more than enough, but God didn’t stop there. He didn’t just save us but adopted us as His Beloved Children. I am a Child of God. Praise offers allegiance to His Name.

Grumbling and complaining are not the vocabulary of victory. They imply a lack of faith and flourishing doubt in our life. To bless the Lord, oh my soul, with all that is within me means that even when I am not happy or content in my present situation that I honor the Lord with praise. Our words are like a shovel. They either dig a pit or fill in the spaces. One pulls us deeper while the other makes a way out. Praise is the proverbial shovel that provides a pathway to the Presence of God and a change in our perspective.

Psalms 54:6 (NLT) I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Every week I shop at a local department store. It is known for its low prices. It is also a pain in the neck. I usually end up with an overflowing cart at a long line of closed registers wondering if the savings are really worth all the hassle just to pay for my purchases. There are more than twenty checkout lines but only four are open with long lines at each one. I pick the one that will inevitably take the longest. I begin to pray for the patience not to glare at people or complain with those who feel the same way. If someone comes up with only a handful of items, I have made a practice of offering them to go in front of me. I can only think it must be the Holy Spirit working in me because that is one more person I must wait for. However, over time it has made me consciously aware of those around me. I cannot count how many times I have offered and the person in shock and awe goes before me. I also have found that every single time I am in a hurry and need a break that the person in line has done the same for me. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The command to love one another begins in simple gestures and random acts of kindness. To pay it forward with the Lord is to give a voluntary offering which requires something of our heart. God doesn’t need our time, talent and treasure. He is Sovereign. All-knowing, all-powerful and everywhere all at the same time. I believe that when we become His Hands and Feet relaying His Heart to others by offering acts of loving kindness, goodness, forgiveness and every other good fruit His Spirit gives us that He is glorified. I can invite people to church to experience the Lord but if I only have that instance will my attitude and actions off an encounter with Christ? To be a living sacrifice requires a renewed mind that comes from a changed heart that is willing to lay down its selfish ways to make a sacrificial voluntary offering to the Lord. I must lay down my life. I must lose my life to find it in Him.

Psalm 97:10-12 (NLT) You who love the Lord, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name!

Well the day is still overcast. The humidity is rising. Rain is in the forecast. I am thankful for the rain today. I wasn’t when I got up but surely it will wash away the pollen and water the grass. I praise the Lord for He is good! Always good! I am thankful for His Word today and His Spirit who come to me when I am sinking and life my heart. I have a hope that does not lead to disappointment. When my feelings or emotions try to pull me into the pit of unthankfulness riddled with grumbling and complaining, I will begin to praise my way out. I am a Child of God. Every detail of my life is destined to turn out for my good. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God even my bad attitude. (Praise God!) Thank you Lord for inexpressible joy that I find when I choose to enter Your Presence rather than succumbing to the pitfall of pitifulness. I have much to be thankful for. My life is praiseworthy just because you are in it and I belong to you. Lord, help me to find a way to give you a voluntary offering today! Do something for someone else that will bring glory to Your Name! Thank you Jesus for being the Light of my life!

Psalm 118:23-25 (NLT) This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success.

The Feels

the feels

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

Not sure where it came from but glad to see it go, the little dark rain cloud that overshadowed my day. There is nothing worth than an optimist who wakes up pessimistic. I could feel it like a shroud over me. Is this what they call the “feels”? Let’s be honest. It’s called a funk. No one is immune to it and some succumb on a regular basis. I warned those around me. I tried to pray, praise and press through it. With a deep sigh of resignation, it was just going to be one of those days. Are you having one of those days?

To make the day even better (with a hint of sarcasm), I had visit to my hygienist. Every princess needs a crown and my dentist believes that I am such a person. Another tooth that needs immediate attention. Checking out – an unexpected bill. I just keep walking, moving and breathing through this day. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before but some are just a little more difficult to maintain the love, peace and joy found in our sweet Savior and Lord. Why? We are only human. With emotions, feelings and our own strong will to accompany our flesh in trying to stop this wonderful hope rising up within us to overflow into the darkness of this world. The Lord IS good to those who depend on Him – even when we don’t feel good. He is good to those who search for Him because in His Presence is fullness of joy. It is good to wait on the Lord. He always comes to our rescue.

It is not natural to be happy all of the time. Life happens. God is always good. His Goodness pursues us accompanied by unfailing love. He promises rivers of living water and inexpressible joy. We have hope that does not lead to disappointment but sometimes it’s just a little harder to grasp. The days that are a struggle have purpose and meaning. These are the times of endurance when you go with what you know about God rather than how you feel about life in general. The good news is that joy comes in the morning. Every morning comes with the promise of something better than yesterday. We live from glory to glory and victory to victory even on the days overshadowed by dark clouds. Our hope is in the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The faithfulness of God towards us is His Love. It really doesn’t matter the details of our day because God has promised to work each one for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) On the tearful days of sadness or frustration, the Lord captures each tear. (Psalm 56:8) The Word of God says, “You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Why? Is He keeping track of something? Yes, the details that will be changed into goodness. The Lord promises to change our mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy. He prerecorded our life from beginning to end so that His Grace would be sufficient in our weakness and His Power manifested in our life. The Lord is my inheritance so on the days when nothing adds up I am still blessed exceedingly abundantly even in my bad mood.

Darkness is the absence of light. Light always drives out the darkness. The Light of His Love carries us through dark days. His Breath gives us words to offer a sacrificial praise and thanksgiving when we just don’t feel like it. He is our strength. The Lord in us gives us the ability to press on when we are pooped out. God is my strength and portion forever, but I will never know that without dark days and difficult circumstances. Opportunities to trust and believe come in moments of testing. When offered our feelings or future what will I choose – to give up or rely on confident hope to get me through a bad day or bad mood. The enemy wants you to believe that they will begin to pile up but God says, “My mercies are new each day!”

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

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.” The energy expended in a bad day should be in shifting the burden of our heart, mind and soul to the one who promises to give us rest. The mitigating circumstances and troublesome conditions are temporary. They will not last forever. The Lord offers His Yoke to us. To partner with us every day. I wonder if on those less than stellar days if maybe I forgot to give up my way to fully embrace His Way. Or is the struggle that He is offering me rest and I insist on working for it. The blessing of the Lord comes and brings no sorrow with it. Sometimes we put the burden on ourselves in our disbelief or doubt concerning the Lord’s faithfulness. We worry, stress and become anxious in the waiting heaping weights of disappointment and discouragement on a heart set free in the Lord. He promised us an easy yoke and light burden. To be weighed down is of our own design – His Sweet Offering is to simply, “Come to me…” In exchange for submitting our way to His Way, the Lord promises to give us rest and relieve those burdens and sorrows not meant for us to bear.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the “feels” are a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be explained. You will be tempted to give into your feelings from time to time. Yesterday’s little black raincloud doesn’t have to follow you into today. I John 3:20 reminds us that God is greater than our feelings. Emotions and moods do not dictate the direction of our day unless given the authority and power to do so. On those days of such overtures, when a good dose of the “feels” overtake us – those are the times to endure. Do not permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. Good advice…if carefully considered and applied to our life. When tempted to give in, give up or if you grow weary in well doing, consider the new mercy granted in each new day and reach for it. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Optimists can become pessimists from time to time. Yet dare I hope in this – the faithful love of God never ends. His Faithfulness is new each morning. Yesterday does not set the course of today or have to leak into tomorrow. God’s Grace is sufficient for me to exchange every weakness for His Power. I live in constant hope and expectation. It is a choice. It is His Promise. Say goodbye to the little dark raincloud, and “hello” to the Light of His Love.

Psalm 30:10-12 (NLT) Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.”  You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Moving Into Greater

moving-into-greater

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 14:11-13 (NLT) “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”