Can You Feel It?

Can You Feel It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

What’s Your Superpower?

whats-your-superpower.jpg

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

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.”

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

What’s the Rush?


What's The Rush

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Well, it’s that time of year again. The holiday rush is upon us. My goal has been not to be overtaken by the wave and to enjoy the most wonderful time of year. To control the overtures of urgency as crazy schedules, long to do lists and heavy demands burden my mind and try to influence my heart. The expectations placed upon us during this time of year are tremendous. It is important as believers to rely on the Lord and His Offer to partner with us. He will share the load of life with those who allow Him to. However, that means pride must take a seat to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Busyness is a product of pride. To take full responsibility for the happiness of others is not what God intended for us. If our motto is “if I don’t do it who else will” is a prime indicator that pride has crept into our heart and mind. God is ultimately in control, in charge and the confidence of our life. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and have the privilege of choosing how to use it. It is the freedom given to us by the Lord. We can rush out or rush in. Rushing is the result of urgency. Urgency is driven by importance that creates persistence and earnest drive that insists on our immediate attention. Insecurity and fear play roles in the development of urgency. To try to survive on anything other than the Love and Grace of God given to us in ample portions is to live a life of urgency for lesser things that will not satisfy us but fuels our flesh.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.

All that I am must learn to wait quietly before the Lord. He is my confident hope. The only hope that I have a rich and satisfying life. I can make people happy for a moment or even a season but as surely as the sun rises and sets each day – that is always subject to change. Those who applaud you one day will revile you the next – it is human nature driven by fickle hearts. God has given me a wonderful husband. He is my best friend and soul mate. I am blessed to have him. However, there are times when our imperfections cause us to be at odds and it is our commitment to each other that keeps us together. If my hope is in anyone other than the Lord, the relationship is subject to failure because it is God who fills the voids left by sin and imperfection.

To wait quietly before the Lord requires my spirit to rule over my flesh. We see in Romans 7 that this is not an uncommon plight among people who want to do all the right things and live a life pleasing to God but fail miserably on any given day. To transfer my life and all my expectations to Jesus Christ takes time. It demands my full attention. It takes a whole lot of energy…just like any good marriage does. It takes all of me – not some of me.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What are you doing here?

When Elijah rushed away to hide from Jezebel, it seems so ironic. After the miracle of God on Mount Carmel, one would think that he would be full of confidence. Yet, the threat of one person landed him on another mountain hiding in a cave. Life happens. If faith were easy or came in large quantities, it would not be compared to a tiny mustard seed. If confidence were a cloak easily worn on a daily basis, we would not experience fear, doubt and unbelief on a daily basis. Faith and confident hope in the Lord is a day by day and moment to moment decision. If you are overwhelmed with fear, anxiety or stress today, the Lord is ready to meet you right where you are. He asks only one thing, “What are you doing here?” What has caused your insecurity? What is the root of your bitterness? Why are you so down?

The Lord does not force us into His Presence. He invites us. God doesn’t beat us into submission. He offers a better way. The Holy Spirit doesn’t barge into our heart demanding space. He waits for us to open the door and let Him in. The area of your life that has created this urgency and need to rush about is the very place the Jesus stands at the door waiting. You have the mind of Christ. You have been given the opportunity to rest in perfect peace. He gives understanding to those who ask and seek Him. Rather than being influenced and driven by this life, we must become Kingdom minded and Spirit led into the peace that passes all understanding. To the place of refuge. To the strong tower given to us to lean on and live in. His Name is Jesus. His Love is unquestionable and undeniable. His Grace unfathomable. His Glory incomprehensible. His Presence is our peace. His Place is in our heart and mind. As we begin to allow Him to take over, so will the love, peace and joy that brings full satisfaction to our soul.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

Psalm 46:10-11 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Be still, and know that I am God!

Stillness in the Lord is a decision to take our life and place it fully into the Presence of God. It means that rather than taking full responsibility for our life into our hands, we place it into the capable nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ. He is our life partner. The one who can take all our worries, cares and burdens in exchange for full satisfaction. We must trust in His Goodness and Faithfulness with full confidence that His Grace is always enough especially when we are not. Confident hope relies on trust beyond the capacity of our understanding.

We must discipline our life today with stillness. Stillness not subject to the urgency placed in us by the rush hours of life. Our persistence must be in patience not immediate gratification as we allow the Lord to do exactly what He promised according to His Timeline even when it differs significantly from our own. The Blessing of the Lord comes but without sorrow, regret, remorse or indebtedness. We are to owe no man anything but love. It is not your job to fulfill the expectations and desires of other people – it is God’s Job. Let go and let God is an effort far beyond human ability, reasoning or inclination but absolutely essential to live the abundant life that the Lord has promised us. Even when God begins to move our mountains, it will create uncertainty and instability to our flesh. Those who have learned to look to the Lord rather than man will be able to stand steadfast during the shaking until faith gives way to His Glory.

Be still today oh beating heart given to so many other things. Listen for the Lord’s whisper in the stampede of the holiday rush. Pursue the Presence of Prince of Peace and let Him overtake you! He will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him!

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Under One Roof

Under One Roof

Ephesians 1:23 (NLT) And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

There is something about having our children together under one roof. Even though there is chaos to just be together enriches my soul and fills my heart to overflowing capacity. Last night, we have the privilege of our oldest daughter spending the night with us. Sitting around the table at a local Mexican restaurant, the girls were chatting and my husband had that look. The smile that effortlessly creeps across his face when his girls are with him. There is something about daddies and their little girls. Even though the group around the table are far from small anymore. Our oldest daughter is great with child in her last trimester of pregnancy. Our middle daughter graceful and beautiful even in a t-shirt, athletic shorts and hair put up in a messy bun has become a woman right in front of us. Where has time gone? In a week, our baby girl, the last to join our large family will be driving a car as her fifteenth birthday comes and goes. God has blessed us with this group. Our boys are now men building families and careers. How does it all happen so quickly? I cherish these moments and times like this when I can enjoy these kids that once had me running in five different directions.

Two people came together with the commitment to love each other no matter what. Now close to twenty years later, look what love has done. It wasn’t always easy. We are a blended family. My new husband and I brought a handful home from the church on our wedding day. God took two empty lives and filled them to capacity with love. There were days when the commitment to God and each other held us all together. He did it. Now our next generation will soon arrive. The connection of family is important. It is worth the cost of love, grace and forgiveness that is required. How often we allow insignificant things to breach the bond that God has instituted? Thoughtless words or careless actions cause offense to root in human hearts as pride tells us that we somehow in our imperfection still deserve better. Families have been under attack since the first one was created in Genesis. We belong to individual families; but it is only a fragment of our true family.

The Body of Christ is a family or at least it is supposed to resemble one. With many members, there is but one unified body that should work together to be unified. I wonder if it brings the Father the same joy it brings my husband when all of his “kids” work together, enjoy each other, share with one another, and long to be together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our family doesn’t always enjoy peaceful harmony. My girls can be arguing over a borrowed shirt one minute and helping each other pick out tomorrow’s fashion statement the next. But let another person come against one of my children, and you must contend with the tribe. They will circle wagons and turn on you with a vengeance. There are little insecurities in the heart of our youngest at the thought of a new baby arriving soon. She has always been the baby. She sometimes feels forgotten as we gush over movement in our daughter’s belly or talk about when the little man arrives. It is foolish to think she would lose her place among us but in her heart it is real. These are little things the Family of God encounters although the Word of God says that we are “made full and complete by Christ.”

Romans 12:9-10 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Love is a commitment. I have tried to vehemently express this to each of my children in their relationships and preparing one day to be married. Love as the world knows it is not real love. It is based on emotions and feelings. It requires reciprocation. It is conditional. God’s Love for us and in us is not like that. It is defined as “patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Love never fails.

To “love with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” takes hard work, motivation and concentration. You can fall in love but you will not remain in love without a commitment to love. God is love. Our identity in God must be characteristic of love to unite the family of God as instructed. Not just to love the lovable, but to love our enemies as well. It is a pure and true love based on how God loves us not how people do. Romans 12 begins with a plea to give our life as a “living sacrifice” and then goes on to tell us to love each other, honor each other and bless one another and more…

Romans 12:14-18 (NLT) Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

The Christ in us allows us to love others unconditionally. There is freedom in such love because it casts out all fear. The fear that breeds insecurity. The kind that allows unbelief to flourish in doubt and choke out the new faith that is growing inside of us. We are to be a representation of Jesus Christ to others. We must not expect others to be our Savior or allow them to reign as Lord. This is evidenced in our ability to love and be loved despite human imperfection, betrayal, and offense never allowing bitterness to disturb the newfound love growing in us as our relationship with Christ makes us one.

Ephesians 2:4-6 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. My body houses the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God who identifies me as His Child. The same Spirit that unites me with every other living breathing human who God created with purpose and promise. He is Father to us all. The Spirit lives in those who have taken their place in God’s Family by a choice to be reconciled to the family. Estrangement from God because of sin gives way to reconciliation by accepting Christ to be our Savior. His Grace is enough to give us access to the Kingdom and our rightful place in the Body of Christ. We are all unique. There is no competition and God has no favorites. Our desire to be one with Christ which leads to repentance keeps us unified with His Body that completes us so that we can give our life away recklessly. This allows us to take on the Character of Jesus Christ who is humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving. This is not a human trait. Pride hates these attributes and fights to reject them in our life. It is His Spirit who allows us to become like the Lord by producing good fruit in fertile and broken hearts.

As I mentioned before, though my children may bicker and pick on each other, if anyone comes against them they instantly become a unified front. A few years ago, while I was caring for our son who was undergoing cancer treatment, I got a call from my oldest daughter. Someone was bullying her younger sister in middle school and she was really mad. She called to tell me that she was on her way to confront the girl and do something that were less godly to her. I reminded her that she would be arrested for assault but at that moment she did not care. She continued to vent while I listened with a grin on my face. Someone was picking on her sister and she was ready to fight. She finally calmed down and chose only to stare the girl down. The bully and my daughter are still friends today.

What would happen if the Body of Christ became protective of relationships? What if we decided to become one family? I live in the South. There are churches on every corner, in just about every strip mall, and even small groups in homes. Why so many? There are some churches being planted, but it seems that most of them are products of disagreement. Someone gets upset and spreads their discontentment. People choose sides and suddenly a molecular split occurs. I cannot imagine how this breaks the heart of God who gave His Son, His Only Son, to bring His Children back under one roof.

We must make the decision to agree. To find common ground in Christ, and stop being led by emotions and feelings contradictory to those given to us by His Spirit. Just like a family, the Body of Christ must make the commitment to stop allowing fear, insecurity and offense to be the guidelines for their life and overcome them with the Love of God that gets rid of such nonsense. There will be disagreements. There will be hurt feelings, disappointments, unmet expectations and failed attempts in human relationships. When we allow the Love of God to be our response rather than reacting to the imperfection of humans it will produce the kind of love that will produce unity in the Body of Christ once again.

Is your family coming home for the holidays? Will all of your children gather around the Christmas tree? I find no greater joy than when our family is able to worship together in the House of God. Imagine what the Father would experience if all of His Children gathered together under one roof labeled Jesus Christ. Choosing to put aside personal feelings and accept perfect love, joy and peace from our Living Breathing Source of Life and Hope. It would change the impact of the church. Functioning as one body, the church would become effective. Salt would become salty again. The Light would reach the darkest corners of the lost and dying world. Imagine the Glory that would pour out in our services when Jesus was the Center of it all. Last night my husband slept like a baby, just the thought of all his girls under one roof. He woke up with the same look on his face. I wonder if the Father smiles when we get it together…of course, He does!

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

The Open Gate

The Open Gate

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful and photographed bridges in the world. U.S Army Captain John C. Freemont named the waters beneath the bridge “Golden Gate” strait as “it is a golden gate to trade with the Orient.” Freemont was an engineer, geographer, scientific collector and explorer who earned the nickname “Pathfinder.” The suspension bridge was built to provide a practical route for travelers across the San Francisco Bay. Before the bridge was constructed, a ferry provided service back and forth. At the time of construction, it was both the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.

A beautiful masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Golden Gate Bridge serves a useful and productive purpose. Prior to the bridge being opened, the growth rate of San Francisco was well-below the national average. They were not prospering and needed access to the surrounding communities. To continue with new growth and development they needed access. San Francisco needed to be connected. The Golden Gate Bridge did just that and soon San Francisco was thriving again.

Yes, I am the gate.

The Kingdom of God has a gateway. His Name is Jesus. He is the gate that gives us access to the Father and His Kingdom so that as our soul prospers our life will as well. There is an abundance for those who choose the Way, the Truth and the Life. A way of provision, productivity and purpose that cannot be entered into via any other route. He is the ultimate bridge. Laying down His Life for His People (or sheep in this illustration), those who are followers of Jesus Christ will enter into new life as new creations. They have the opportunity to come and go freely without boundary or restriction. They will find good pastures that are plentiful satisfying our soul, body, mind and spirit as Christ completes us.

Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Are you content and thankful in all circumstances knowing prosperity, purpose and promises belong to you no matter how bad your situation seems? Do you believe that God is making good of every detail of your life today? Life is hard. Faith comes in small quantities and takes time to grow, develop and mature. We must be disciplined, persevering and enduring while we wait for it to prosper into God’s Promise. I am quite certain that back in the 1800’s when the Golden Gate Bridge was built in all its glory that there were many people who were afraid to cross it. Suspended above icy waters with a strong current driven by great and mighty winds. Some probably just stuck to the ferry. It was slower and cheaper. I wonder how often we stick to what is known rather than entering the open gates, good pastures and perfect promises of God for us. Hindered by doubt, fear and anxiety, settling for the known rather than venturing out into the unseen realities of faith given to those with confident hope. What is keeping you from a rich and satisfying life?

 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. (John 10:14-16)

Is abundant life for me? Yes, it is absolutely for each one of us. Jesus Christ died for us all. Accepting or rejecting Him does not change the fact that you have gained access to Heaven or the Kingdom. There is nothing you can ever do to be separated from the Love of God. (Romans 8) His Plan for you remains intact even if you choose something else. His Purpose for your life was instilled in you during the creation of your being. (Psalm 139) You are fearfully and wonderfully made no matter what you perceive yourself to be. To follow Jesus is to enter the abundance of God for our life. You must only follow Him. He is the access point who bridged the gap from our broken and busted life to secure His Kingdom and all its glory.

Too often rather than seeing the Truth of Jesus and His Grace, a carefully constructed lie made up of all these regulations and rules keep us from entering into the good pasture given to us. There is nothing I can do to ever deserve or earn the grace I have received. My only response is full acceptance of all God has for me in Christ Jesus. Any lesser life is by my acceptance of that which is not what the Father has for me. Grace is not perfection it is persistence. To constantly go before the Throne of God exchanging my messed up life to become His Masterpiece.

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:17-18)

The Gate is open. Jesus gives us a choice. He doesn’t force His Goodness or Glory on us but gives us daily opportunities to enter in. He calls us. Invites us. Woos us. He sacrificed His Life for those who would accept His Gift and those who would reject it. God doesn’t have favorites. He is partial towards all of us. This unconditional love is very hard to understand and accept because this world doesn’t love that way. Our experience tells that it is too good to be true. There must be a catch of some kind. You can live a life of full prosperity and abundance with complete satisfaction. It is found in the Way, the Truth and the Life – His Name is Jesus Christ and he will never let you down. You just need to follow Him. Where will He take you? Out of the mediocre life you are living into the supernatural life that He promised. He will take you from death to life. He will bring to fulfillment all those things you gave up along the way. He will redeem every tear that you have ever shed. He will take all the pieces of your broken heart and give you a new heart. The lie of the enemy limits our ability to take the first step of faith. He tells us that God doesn’t love us. He doesn’t care. Why would God allow this to happen if He is such a good God? What if we were the one who allowed it to happen by going our own way, doing our own thing, and trying something else?

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

The Gate to God’s Kingdom is indeed narrow. It has one name – Jesus. You cannot access the Father any other way. We are people who like options. Since our family resides in Florida, I have had many opportunities to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As a child, I had no idea how expensive such a trip was. Now taking our children, I have paid the great price. Entering the gates, you have a choice. You can ride the monorail for quick access to the Magic Kingdom. Or you can ride the much slower, Ferry. Both will get you to the same place. Upon entering the park, it is always breathtaking looking down Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle. I have been making the trip for decades and it always is the same. The gateway of life is very narrow and the road difficult because it is the least traveled. It is not the popular way or customary route of many. Yet, those who do will experience a breathtaking encounter with the Living God that will change your life forever. We choose the life that we live. Jesus gave us the freedom of choice.

There is an open gate before us today. God’s Mercy points to it each day. His Love endures forever and when He opened it – no one can ever shut it again. The promises, purpose and prosperity that is given to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ awaits us on the other side. We must only muster enough courage and confidence to take the first step. The gate is narrow. There is only one way. If you believe that a rich and satisfying life awaits you – you will step in. If you believe God’s Abundance is for you – what are you waiting for? What is your hesitation? If you believed, you would follow the Lord right into fulfillment! Those who sow seeds of faith in the open pastures of His Grace will prosper now and forevermore. What are you waiting for?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Good Intentions

Good Intentions

Psalm 33:11-12 (NLT) But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

I am full of good intentions. Things I would like to master in my life. Attitudes and actions that could certainly benefit from sound wisdom and complete transformation. I would like to be a better wife, mother and employee. I strive to make better choices. I would like to write a book or two or twelve. I would like to keep my house cleaner and my schedule less busy. I would like to pray more. Seek His Presence more. Do more. So often despite my best intentions, I fall far short of the goal right into insecurity. Is there anyone else who might stand with me? Someone who has good intentions that never seem to make it into reality no matter how much effort given.

The Lord’s plans stand firm forever. The dream thought to be dead. The goal believed to be given up on. The purpose considered aborted rather than birthed in this lifetime. All these things sum up the desires of our heart. Those inscribed by God’s Spirit before our life began have no expiration date. You are fearfully and wonderfully made designed with a purpose filled with promises that the Lord will bring to pass. Before you drew your first real breath, God’s Plan for your life was written from beginning to end. All those details of life which didn’t go as expected are already turned into good because you decided to accept Jesus and follow Him through this life. His Plan for our life including a future and hope are not changed by our ability to live a perfect life. We are imperfect. God is fully aware of our imperfection. It doesn’t change a single promise. We do not access God’s Presence in our perfection but imperfection. When His Grace becomes sufficient, we giving up on fixing our dysfunction and allowing Christ to function in us. There is a process. It produces pressure and sometimes even pain as death gives way to life in us and to the purpose that once was dormant due to sin.

I know what you are thinking. I feel that way sometimes, too. Those seasons of life when God seems so far. Days that I cannot seem to do anything right. Or those when the hits just keep on coming. The enemy of your soul cannot change God’s Promises, Purpose or Plan for your life or mine. The only hope that he has is to change our mind about God. To make us doubt that faith is the reality of our life which will keep us from confident hope that leads to everything the Lord has for us. Our steps are ordered. A map of carefully guided steps straight to prosperity. The enemy must distract us, detour us or somehow dissuade us from pursuing God one step at a time.

His Intentions can never be shaken.

God’s Purpose for your life cannot be shaken. It is the immovable and constant reality of our life that considered every step before one is ever taken. Even those wanderings in our life that took us through the wilderness have potential and purpose in the process of faith. Despite our good intentions, we flounder, fall and fail every day. (Romans 7) But God decided in advance what our purpose and plan would be and didn’t once think twice about or change His Mind. Your purpose will be a reality by faith because of Jesus Christ.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s Purpose will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21)

The Lord’s Purpose will prevail. His Intention or Purpose designed for us is not driven by how God feels about us. He loves us unconditionally. There is nothing that can separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) God is greater than our feelings. This concept is life changing to the one who believes. Regret, shame and remorse are melted. Repentance will lead to new freedom rather than emotional overtures of insecurity and fear. The debt for our life paid in full is priceless. We cannot afford it. To think that it can ever be repaid even in the slightest measure cheapens it. The love, mercy and grace of God for us can only be accepted. Acceptance of God’s Love is to release His Purpose.

I John 3:19-21 (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. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.

God is greater than our feelings. I love this verse. It is a reminder that my self-perception or reputation do not change the heart and mind of God. When I do not see my worth and have no confidence – the Lord doesn’t agree with me but holds me to the same standard of grace as before. Confidence in my ability or personal strength is pride. Confidence in God and His Intentions is an act of humility. To trust the Lord more than how we feel or what we see or what we think is the beginning of heavenly acquisition when prosperity comes and purpose is fulfilled.

God knows everything. Everything. He knows what we do right and when we fail miserably yet still loves us and gives us grace. His Glory is for us and accessible by us. Faith in the love of God reaches beyond our daily perception of life overcoming our natural instinct to react to natural circumstances and respond to His Promises. Just because today did not end well, our hope is not compromised and faith still has the same potential for us. We must only believe. That’s the hardest part. To know, understand and believe in full that God’s Love for us is unconditional and His Plan uncompromised no matter what we do or lie fallen for. His Purpose for our life is not influenced by shortcomings because He is Sovereign and constant no matter what.

Don’t let the lie of the enemy keep you bound in dead dreams, hopelessness and wandering. Find out the Truth about God’s Love for you. Discover His Purpose for your life. Enter His Presence today with bold confidence. Yield your heart, mind, body and spirit to the Lord. Let Him change you from the inside out. He will show you great and mighty things. Hidden secrets that will lead to success. The Lord has a plan for you. His Future and Hope secure in Jesus Christ. It is Christ who completes us. It is our brokenness that allows Him access to our heart and mind. God is good! His Intentions for you are good. He is constant. Nothing you do or do not do will ever change God’s Deep Devotion and Love for you. This is the Truth that allows us to walk boldly through this life no matter how many times we stumble and fall. Thank you Lord for your unfailing love today. Thank you for your good intentions.

Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

When I Fail

When I Fail

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I entered the role of motherhood just shy of my 24th birthday. Sitting in the empty hospital room, it was the first time I was alone and awake with my tiny son. He was perfect. Though small, he was chubby with a head of thick dark hair. As he lay sleeping, sunlight peeked through the room, beams falling on him and in that moment he looked so angelic. Overcome with emotions, tears began to fall from my face unto his little feet. My imperfection abundantly clear to me in that moment in the fact that I would make mistakes and could not promise him a “perfect” life. I was overwhelmed at the thought of failure. I would fail him. I knew it. I couldn’t stop it or control it. My weaknesses would cause me to mess up time and time again. I felt insecure in that fact that God had entrusted me with him because I wasn’t good enough for the job that lay before me.

Well, my son is now 27 years old. He is engaged and about to become a bonus dad to a precocious six-year-old. How time flies by when you are having fun? An update…I did fail. I failed in parenting time and time again. In fact, I apologized to my son a few years ago. He was the guinea pig. I learned to parent using him to mold and shape my skills for the four that would come later. I believe in discipline and this boy got his fair share. When I told him that I was sorry, he hugged me close and replied, “That’s okay, mama. I know everything I did and you probably didn’t spank me enough.” Plot twist – the perfect baby given to me wasn’t perfect either yet I still felt ultimately responsible. But now I felt my heart at ease for my boy gave me the grace needed to live free from guilt as a mom.

I am a failure. I was born a failure. I will always be a complete and utter failure. From the moment, I arrived due to my innate nature to sin – I fell short of God’s Glorious Standard. This type of failure is fatal. It can only be overcome by God’s Grace in all of its sufficiency. Have you accepted God’s Grace? Have you invited Jesus to save you? To be your Savior and Lord? If the answer is “yes”, then despite the fact you are a failure – you cannot fail God ever again.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Our success in life as a believer becomes completely dependent on faith in Christ alone. Your prosperity is from Christ in you. The complete takeover of His Spirit filling our life with good fruit that produces good things in us and allows us to take full advantage of God’s Promises. We are made right with God in this one simple gesture. If our rightness ever becomes based on anything that we do, it has become convoluted with religion rather than fully reliant on a relationship with Jesus. A believer is defined as one who believes. What do you believe today? It is important as it is the validity of faith.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.

You cannot fall farther than you already did with a single sin. Someone needs to hear this today because somewhere along the way you gave up on God’s Glorious Standard when the enemy told you that you failed God. You cannot fail God. Failing God would mean He needed us for something. It would compromise the Sovereignty of a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If this were the case, it would make God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ insufficient. Sin was our failure. It is our daily struggle. But it doesn’t make us a failure. Though we fall, it is not fatal unless choosing to stay there. His Grace is enough for me…and you…and every other person ever created.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Have you imposed a penalty that God has already removed? Yet (already done) God in His Grace (not my ability) freely (without a condition or cost) makes us right in His Sight. He did it through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. He freed (past tense) us from the penalty of sin. What you called “lost” has only been “left” behind and can be reclaimed when you stop trying to pay for something already covered completely! The enemy of our soul cannot lay claim to us anymore. Sin had a penalty of death. God’s Grace paid it in full and released us from punishment for our sin. To think that we must somehow pay God back is to cheapen the priceless gift that was given.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. Oh how I wish someone would believe today with me. Condemnation produces a punishment or penalty. God paid our penalty in full. To impose a penalty or decide that God is punishing us is to live a lie. Self-imposed penalty is a product of pride. Sin’s penalty is paid in full and no longer condemning. When I fail, I fail myself by living beneath God’s Glorious Standard returned to me with redemption. It is to refuse resurrection power and live in the discarded death shroud of guilt, shame and remorse. It restricts and limits us in insecurity and fear that the Blood has lost its power and grace is not enough due to our inability.

According to Romans 5, God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The grace given when accepting Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Not just the ones already committed, but every sin past, present and future. It is only the weight of relinquished that applies weight and heaviness to our life. It is easily removed by repentance. To say, “I’m sorry, Lord” with true repentance and remorse. Our relationship with God is secure in Jesus Christ. Every promise is valid. Our purpose remains intact even when I fall or fail. It is what I believe that changes everything. Do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Grace to remove the penalty and punishment of sin? Do you believe that you are given life abundantly? Or do you live in condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ therefore even when I fail – my relationship with God through His Son means nothing is lost. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I failed God. He forgave me and wiped out the penalty of sin that I once carried. The power at work in me is a direct result of His Son, Jesus Christ who died for me and then put His Life Spirit in me. I cannot take credit for anything good that has come of it. To think that I can fail God now that I am saved and filled with His Son renders grace incapable of full satisfaction. In other words, it is me saying, “God – Your Grace is not enough!” Who would ever dare? We do. By accepting the bat of guilt, shame, remorse and insecurity that the enemy has us when we fall short and beating the life out of ourselves with compromise and substitutions for the Gloriousness of His Grace. Pride tells us that we have to do something. Humility accepts that it is in our constant and utter weakness that His Power is fully executed.

Grace is enough. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. His Grace is enough to cover every single sin ever committed and therefore you can never fail God again. When we fall, it is an opportunity to reach up and take our Savior’s Hand again. He continually pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. Each morning mercy is given to us regardless of acceptance or not. His grace is all I need. His power works best in my failure and weaknesses. For it is then that the Glory of God reaches me and is reflected in my life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NLT) Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

There is obviously a difference in willful sin and wandering. Who am I to judge? The wonderful grace that God has given us cannot work in a hard and inflexible heart. To love sin is to reject the Lord. Those who hate sin will still fall into it. It is inevitable. Paul talks about the struggle with sin in Romans 7. Despite our best intentions not to sin, we still do it daily. We are united with Christ and His Spirit lives in us showing us a better and more glorious lifestyle. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that in my weakness – His Power changes me from the inside out. He prospers my soul in my willingness not ability. When I fail, I must not let pride give me the responsibility but hand it right back to the Lord. We have a right relationship even when I sin based on grace alone. God doesn’t turn his back on me but sees His Son and pulls me closer. We can live a new life. A free existence in choosing what is beneficial to our life in Christ for it is where success and full satisfaction are found. It is a choice. To accept God’s Grace or refuse it.

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Grace made us right with God from the beginning. One sin was our failure. There is no further falling in the life of a believer. Sin put you at rock bottom. When I fail, it is a personal setback not a supernatural event. God already knew I would fall short of His Glorious Standard and Jesus paid the price already. Do you feel like you failed God? Do you think He is punishing you for something you have done? Are you punishing yourself by believing you cannot have what God promised because you failed? The enemy will give you ever burden that you are willing to accept. We can easily fill are heart and mind with all the reasons why we are not worthy of God’s Grace and they would all be valid except for the simple fact that His Grace is always sufficient. In every setback, fault, failure and wandering, when we thought we were lost – God will show you where you left off. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. We just have to hand Him all the broken pieces. You will fall. You will fail. Your still have a future and hope because His Grace is always enough!

Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of your people today with a new revelation of your amazing grace. We do not deserve it and certainly couldn’t earn it even though many times we try to. Please God take captive every rebellious thought that I must do something more to receive it other than accept it. Lord help my unbelief until I have full confidence that your grace is sufficient for me. It is always enough…even when I fail! Amen and Amen!

Acts 20:32 (NLT) “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

Be the Light

Be the Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The calendar page and it is finally December. Christmas music is now socially acceptable on every radio station. The Christmas trees at the local department store all already on sale after breezing past Thanksgiving. The days are full and nights even more so adding even more busyness to already overloaded lives. My email box is full of enticing advertisements. One particularly caught my eye today. It is a candle sale at a local specialty shop. I clicked the link and began to view their selection. The fragrances of the holiday pine, vanilla, cinnamon, apple and even desserts gave a hint of the deliciousness in each aroma. Then there were the ones for stress, relaxation, happiness, and energy. The mixture of the holiday senses all together in candles. These candles are special. Instead of one wick to burn, there are three. I stopped adding to my cart, and decided to take some time to study the Light.

The Light of the World is celebrated this season. He is evident in the atmosphere of churches but how effective are His People in taking His Light into the world. It is so easy to get caught up in our doing, cooking, wrapping, giving and celebrating that our focus shifts and distractions take from the simplicity of Christmas and the One who is honored during this busy time. Jesus did not stand alone to be the only light but went on to tell us that “you (and I) are the Light of the world. The ones to drive out darkness with radiant light that reflects our Savior and Born on that holy night. Only two people attended the party that cold and lonely night with a single star to illuminate the sky and let the world know the Messiah was born. It was a simple night in a manager filled with animals and hay. But the impact of the One born is still shedding light on the Truth that God loves us. He desires us. He sent a gift never to be given by a parent again. I know of no one who would allow their child to die for another if life is an option. Yet God did this for us so that the Light of His Amazing and Unconditional Love could fill cold dead hearts bringing new life again.

Let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise the Heavenly Father. The true meaning of Christmas is best expressed by the Love of God given to all mankind freely. It is not in the best party, stellar performance or even the ugliest sweater. It is to be so captivated by a baby born in a humble setting who would be the Savior of the world. The best gift to bring are the fruits produced by His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are found no other place than from Christ in us. There is no greater generosity than giving from the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and forgiveness that Jesus has given us. When our gifts begin in our heart, they are born of the Light within us.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fan into flames the spiritual gift that God has given you. His Spirit identifies us light-filled children of the Living God. It is the inner beam with in us with the power to chase away darkness by entering a room. I have a shirt I wear this time of year that says, “Stay present.” I need the reminder with all the runaway lists, overloaded schedule, and holiday demands. The reminder that it is “presence” that is important more than anything else. I must continually enter the Presence of God to refuel the Light that lives inside me. He continually renews my passion and purpose day by day so that I do not forget who I am. The Presence of His Spirit is in me. He goes with me. I am never alone or forsaken even during those times I fall for the deception that I am isolated. I am always full of Christ. Finally, presence among people is of utmost importance. Relationship shares the Light of God’s Love with others as they get to know you they will see the Christ in you. They cannot see it if we are too busy to slow down or overburdened by details not meant for us to carry.

God did not give you the spirits of fear, timidity, anxiety or stress. You must decide that they are not for you and therefore, will not entertain them. Do not buy them either. Holiday giving should come from our heart with generosity from what we are able to give not according to the unmet or unrealistic expectations of others enhanced by a supply and demand world filthy from greed. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow added to it. We must master our emotions and not allow them to carry us away. It is not our job to give our children better than we had. It is not our job to meet all earthly expectation. We can burn ourselves out trying to do so, then where is the light to share with others.

Last night, my daughters and I took a late night run to the store for some extra touches for our tree. I realized walking through the store that I was actually enjoying decorating the tree this year. This is the first time I can remember in forever. Going through boxes of ornaments, my thoughts turned to our grandson not yet born. Next year, he will be here and our son will be married with a new bonus grandchild as well. Our family is growing. It is expanding with new life and new love. My heart is full. I am satisfied. God is slowly removing those feelings of insecurity, doubt, worry and stress from me. It has taken many years. His Word is forcing out the lies that overshadowed this miraculous season. His Spirit in me has been slowing adding those lies to a burn pile that is changing the darkness to light. Jesus is a life giver. He will make new whatever old things you entrust to Him. He doesn’t give us like for like but gives us so much more.

I John 2:10 (NLT) Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

This Christmas will not be successful unless there is love. Love came down from a Heavenly Throne to a dirty stable so that you and I could be part of His Family. Rightness with God was made possible because Jesus came to us. The Light of His Love was given to us when He died on the Cross and sent His Spirit to live in us. The Christmas Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Light of God’s Love flows from us when we decide to give others the gift of love and life. We do that not by expensive gifts, fancy menus or perfect parties. No, we do it when we offer someone our place in line. Give up our right of way in traffic with a smile. To help someone carry their packages to the care. Hold the door. Thank the cashier. Invite someone to church and offer to come pick them up. Pay it forward. Buy an unsuspecting friend lunch when the bill comes. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you. Sometimes we try to share Jesus without sharing His Love and find it to be frustrating and ineffective. God is love. The character and nature of God is graceful, faithful, gentle, and giving. We must love those around us with the Light of His Love to lead them to the manager and celebrate our newborn king.

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Is your light burning out? Do you feel dim? Do you have a cloud of darkness on the horizon? Maybe the holiday blues have taken a hold of you? Are you feeling overloaded this first week of a very long month? I have wonderful news for you! The Light of God’s Love lives in you. He is ready to reignite the flame of passion to pursue Him this busy season. Jesus will break every stronghold of insecurity, fear, stress, worry and the like from you – you only need to ask for His Help. Light always chases away darkness. Let the Light of His Word brighten the path before you. Let the Light of His Wisdom show you what is important and what is not. Let your Savior and Lord – save and deliver you from unrealistic expectations and the demands of society to step into the Light of His Love all over again.

Father, Son and Spirit are the three-wick candle of His Love today given to us as a precious gift. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. His Love will never let us down. His Passion in pursuing us is resilient. Take charge of your heart and let His Light fill every dark corner. Be transparent with the Lord and His Light will reveal any darkness looming within. The struggle against our flesh including our will, desires and emotions is a constant battle. Feed your Spirit – starve the flesh. Fuel the Spirit and burn away the darkness. Make it a point before you light up the tree, wrap a single gift, prepare a holiday menu or attend a performance to fan the flame of His Spirit within you. It will change the Spirit of Christmas every time.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The Cleansing and Call

The Cleansing and Call

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NLT) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Everyone reading these words today are called by God. There is an express purpose which will lead to absolute fulfillment for those who answer this beckoning of God within them. The purpose you have is cultivated by faith. Faith that believes in its unseen reality and fruitfulness. What is your calling? You may think you know what it is based on the terms and conditions of natural life. However, there is a whispering of the Lord to each human heart to come closer. It is the urgency within us reminding us that there has to be more to life than this. God’s Call requires a cleansing. Righteousness is only attained and maintained by the Grace of God flowing through us. The Blood of Jesus Christ makes our offering of affection for the Living God acceptable gaining us access to His Presence. Many will hear the call of God but refuse to allow His Spirit to remove every barrier and purpose between themselves and full satisfaction. To choose something less than God’s Plan for our life in no way lessens it’s worth or potential but simply is our decision to settle for something less.

Psalm 24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Before Isaiah could answer God’s Call, he had to first enter His Presence. It was in this place of worship that the prophet encountered the Living God. The moment that one is in the Presence of the Lord there is absolutely no way to maintain our pride or prejudice. God is perfect. His Presence presses us to release sin in order to move a little closer to His Perfection. It is in this atmosphere of melting flesh that our spirit rises to answer the call. It is through the cleansing process that God prepares us.

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure… Jesus had only twelve close companions. Yet even in the close knit community of a handful of chosen men, one still managed to betray the Lord. Human nature is depraved and innately in opposition and rebellion against God and His Spirit who lives inside believers. The Presence of God offers a glimpse inside as full transparency reveals just how sinfully corrupt people really are and creates a desire to change. So often normal life and church culture are varying positions with certain acceptable behaviors, attitudes and actions based on one’s environment not their inner evolution of death to life. To integrate our personality into one being completed in Jesus Christ requires a right relationship that is constantly maintained and the focal point of life and aspiration.

There are daily requirements not set by God as a religious routine but the necessary steps to maintain a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son. Studying the Word of God. Meditating on it. Doing what it tells us. Prayer. Fasting. Cultivating the Fruit of His Spirit. Using our faith to move mountains. Telling others about Him. However, none of these will ever produce fulfillment apart from true and constant repentance. Removing the barrier of sin, shame and regret are essential to come boldly before His Throne.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) There is no expiration date on the promises and purpose of God for your life. The only limit on your potential is placed there by you. Dead dream are buried in doubt, but faith can bring them back to life again. Isaiah was changed in the Presence of God and answered the call on his life. If you read a little further in Chapter 6 you find that the message of the messenger was not a bright and cheerful exhortation but a stern warning from God of the consequence of sin and rebellion. Thank you God for grace today!

One encounter with the Living God will change you. It allows you to experience the freedom associated with your identity. How often we forget that we are sons and daughters of the most high God living far beneath the standard that He has given us. If only we believed…referring back to the disciples it is also noted that though they walked and talked with the Messiah daily some still did not believe. It is a conscious decision to answer God’s Call. It requires clean hands and a pure heart. These are not available by any other means but through Christ and His Resurrection Power inside of us. We must remove every barrier and release what is held in our hands to receive the consciousness of our calling and carry it out.

Psalm 51:9-13 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

One must never forget the importance and relevance of daily repentance. To continually examine our heart and ask the Lord for His Cleansing Power all over again. It keeps us close to Him. It revitalizes His Spirit and keeps the fire of passion burning within us. A loyal spirit can be challenging when the adversary continually feeds our flesh lies and substitutions. It would be easy to settle for a good life. The moment of salvation begins a process of fruitful production in every life as a form of sowing and reaping in a fertile heart. However, there are times when we allow sloppiness and busyness to keep us from the Presence of God. God is perfect. His Plan is perfect. I am not. It requires a constant process of purification to find full satisfaction.

When our daughter was very young, I noticed some developmental milestones were off. Not significantly, but enough for me to know something was wrong. Her pediatrician decided she may have some form of cerebral palsy. For ten months, they poked, prodded, scanned and tested her. There was nothing to suggest any form of disease, illness or infirmity. We were given a referral to a Neurological Specialist at a teaching hospital. The doctor came in and immediately noted that she looked “pretty good to me”. I would not define this as a stellar moment in my walk with the Lord because I lost it. I reprimanded him harshly for his flippant remark. All those months of watching her struggle in therapy, and the continual noting of muscular spasticity and pain that no one was aware of had taken its toll. He quickly examined her and left the room with hands full of all the medical records I had brought to him. Upon his return, he apologized. He told us that he saw horrible cases each day so she looked great in comparison. Then he said, “But if it was my little girl, I would not be satisfied either.”

Today as I consider the call of God on my life and the process by which it is obtained, I have reflected on that visit. We would be willing to forego the process just to accept the mediocre improvement gained by simply coming to Christ. But God is a good father. He will not allow us to settle for less than His Best. He will pursue us relentlessly with His Unfailing Love and Goodness hoping to captivate us by it one day. He will stop at nothing to lead us to a life of full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He gave us a purpose, provided a plan, fills our life with everything needed to achieve it and then waits for us to come. I wouldn’t settle for the life my daughter was living if there was a better way. How much more God our Father feels about you and me!

Lord, create in me a clean heart today yet again. Renew a right and loyal spirit in me that pursues You. Remove every sin that I have ignored, entertained or may not be aware of. Thank you for the Blood of Jesus that covers me. I ask you Lord to show me your better way today and give me the willingness to go after it. In all things and all ways Lord – send me! I answer Your Call with a resounding, “Yes!”

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