Never Say Never

Never Say Never

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

I don’t remember who spoke these words into my life. Like a challenge issued to every part of my stubbornness, I set out to prove them wrong. Never is a powerful word. It is difficult to enforce. It is final. It means not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, and to no extent. However, who are we as mere human beings to dictate time. Ecclesiastes 3 tell of God’s Outline of life including the relevance of His Timing in that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” climaxing with the promise that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, and even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Never implies control over God’s Will and Timing that is simply not the case.

When our daughter was very small, she developed rapid onset asthma. Within a matter of weeks, her condition had worsened to the point of daily doctor visits and an extension list of medication to manage her breathing. We had to carry a nebulizer with us everywhere. Her activities were limited in order to prevent a respiratory illness due to the compromised state of her lungs. This would be the beginning of a journey of faith. I had been praying for the Lord to give me faith. I wanted to see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and even the dead raised. I wanted to see the signs, wonders and miracles. For weeks, I struggled with the condition of my child. A couple strong in faith mentored us and taught us about the elements of faith. To them I am forever thankful for their teaching and guidance by the Holy Spirit. On the day that the Lord would reach down and touch our daughter, forever removing this dreaded disease in a single instant, I found a truth about the Lord that I will “never” forget. God rules forever. He dictates the boundaries of our life with His Love. When the enemy tries to cross that barrier, the Lord firmly enforces His Position of the Reigning King. When the doctor told us that she would remain the list of medications forever based on a slightly improvement and never be without it. Heaven and earth collided. The room stood still as His Presence filled that place. Our God is the One who has dominion over forever. Neverland is not a real place. God does not ever except never but gives it a time and place.

I have found it to be true that every never I ever have spoken is a line that I have crossed. Never makes us think we have some kind of control over our life including our mind, will and emotions. The moment it is established as some kind of boundary – it seems our flesh takes the challenge. As a young person, there are some things that I said that I would never do based on the mistakes of my parents. Disappointments and doubts that formed a plan for my life with certain boundaries which I am sad to report – I did them all. Giving my heart to Jesus during my teenage years, I accepted a harsh doctrine with many more definitive items on the long list of never. I did them all, too. Every never has become a reality in my life. I wonder if Peter felt the regret of never, the pain in his heart as he discovered that he was all too human by denying Jesus not once, or twice but three documented times. Jesus told him that the enemy wanted to “sift him like wheat.” I am sure it was a painful process but oh so necessary to make the reunion on the beach more wonderful.

Matthew 5:34-37 (NLT) But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

To say, “I will never” is a vow. It is implied control over our present state that is just not the case. We are ruled by a master – be it sin and flesh dictating our attitudes and actions or the Master who gives us the Mind of Christ. The enemy uses the statement that “I will never” to set up false barriers and invisible boundaries in our life so when we cross them we are shackled with guilt, shame or regret. The feeling of failure erodes faith as doubt and fear take over. We cannot ever say that never is possible for us or become insistent in one direction. This life that I live given to Christ is a humble offering. It is to yield my life piece by piece to the Lord. It is to accept His Will giving up my own. Therefore, I cannot say never but remain hopeful that whatever happens in my life that the Lord will keep His Promise. What promise? This one:

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

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Predestination – now that is a word that will start a quick theological debate. I am not looking for a discussion or a debate simply to reveal the promise of such a revelation. Predestination means to decide in advance, to foreordain, to predetermine which is exactly is what the Lord did for us. He provided a plan for our life including a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before our birth. (Psalm 139:16) He decided to give His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my life. Not to bring condemnation but grace sufficient to cover ever sin in advance. (John 3:16-18) The Lord has provided everything I need according to His Riches in Glory (Philippians 4:19) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) to yield abundance and prosperity in my natural existence on my way to heavenly hope. Jesus even promised that He went to prepare a place for us in eternity and will come back for us one day. (John 14:2-3) We are predestined. Freedom allows us to choose our destination. There are many flights leaving the airport today that will go to a variety of destinations around the world. The people in the airport must choose their destination according to their free will. We do the same. To indicate “never” in our life may be the very dictate issued that limits the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised us. (John 10:10)

The promise found in predestination is this: “we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.” Jesus came to save us and provide the grace needed to return to right-standing with God. Humility is the route to such a destination. It is to release control of our life including mind, will, emotions, body, spirit and soul to live in His Love completely. This eliminates never and impossibility from our life. Faith in Jesus is the requirement which means I give up my way to follow Him beginning with my stubborn heart set on dictating the order of my life and accept His Spirit to lead me into the everlasting.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

The New International Version translates the same verse as – “And I will give them an undivided heart”. We want Jesus in our life. However, to release perceived power and control contradicts everything the world tells us. We are to protect our heart. Gather all the broken pieces and hold it all together. Hide our insecurities. Build walls between ourselves and fear. Fake it until you make it. God has placed eternity in our heart because that is the part He longs for. To pursue God with our life and keep our heart for ourselves will end in disappointment and frustration. God is love. Love is messy. It requires brokenness and giving up our way to unite with the object of our affection. No marriage can survive two people bent on having their way all the time. There must be giving.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Is the Gospel of my life hidden behind a veil? This veil can be constructed of many things. It represents the veil in the Temple. The one that kept people on the verge of knowing the Lord but dependent on someone else to endure the process. The Spirit of the Lord ripped the veil in half when Jesus died for our sins. There is no longer anything separating us from God and His Heart except those who decide to reconstruct a barrier in our life. The limitation in our life is built by us not the Lord. He made it clear. God wants His Children. His Desire is for us. He longs to live in love with us. He has created a life for us worth having.

We cannot share a love that has not been experienced. If we do not give our heart and all its stubbornness and brokenness and insecurity to the Lord to accept the new heart that He offers then what is the point. I can share the Good News with others but without the Light of His Glory which is His Love shining forth – it’s just another fairytale or feel good story. I can share all the miracles that we have experienced in our life as a result of faith – but without the love found in the careful and constant intervention of Jesus – it is just another coincidence or inexplicable random event – gawked at today and forgotten tomorrow. The Gospel is a farce without the heart of God’s People shining His Love through fragile, clay jars containing grace and mercy for all. We must give our hearts to Jesus. Every part. The broken parts. The hidden parts. The held-on-to parts for safekeeping. Our life is nothing under our own control. We cannot even keep the simple promises and vows made in our life. Jesus makes all things possible. He erases impossibility completely according to His Will and Way. His Goodness can only overflow from a heart freely given and a responsive one accepted in return.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So we go back to the beginning…God has promised to give us a new heart. He also offers us a new spirit. A tender and responsive heart. What is the never in your life that is holding you back? Or maybe it is the never that you did anyway? You and I are created in the Image of God. Christ is the visible image of God. Before departing this world, He took the Light of God’s Love and placed it in our heart. The cold, stony, and stubborn heart still held on to carries the potential to live a rich and satisfied life not in the choices we make or our ability to “change” our life making better choices or improving habits, but in our acceptance of a tender and responsive heart. We must respond to God’s Promises beginning with accepting the new heart and new spirit that is freely given to us. However, this is a position of trust that believes no matter what happens in our life that His Love is working out everything for our good. Do you believe that today? If so, your love will be made in the image of God. Your giving will be complete as you give your life away in love relinquishing control. God is intent on changing us not the environment that we live in.

The Glory of God shines brightest through the broken. This verse came to me praying for a mighty woman of God with congestive heart failure. A year ago, she testified in church that through many complications she did not have a “zipper” meaning no heart surgery. She gave the Lord glory for her healing and was a source of encouragement to me. She is in the hospital today facing her third heart surgery. Her faith in the Lord is stronger than ever. She still sings louder than everyone else when worshipping Him in the sanctuary. The first to proclaim “Hallelujah” at the mention of His Name. Her testimony is even stronger today than it was a year ago because in the midst of her trial she is still in love with the Lord. Her faith shines through the darkness of a broken body. Her heart for Jesus beats strong though her human heart is struggling. Jesus let that be me today. I give you my broken and beat up heart for a tender responsive one that shares the Light of Your Love consistently in all things, in all ways, from now until You come! I must decrease allowing You to increase Jesus! Like a wineskin bursting with new wine, I give my heart to you again. Make it beat with Yours, Lord. Give me the desires of Your Heart, God. Make me one with You today Jesus!

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Four No More

Four No More

I Peter 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

I could blame it on a hectic and chaotic week or admit I am no spring chicken, either is fine. My usual Saturday routine is wrecked. Usually up before everyone else to spend time with the Lord and get a jump on the day, I dragged myself out of bed much later than most weekends. With my usual schedule disrupted, I tried to gather my thoughts and filter them into an organized list. Saturdays are the one opportunity to do everything that you cannot incorporate into the work and church flow that orders our everyday life. The disciplines in my life allow me to maintain some level of control. (Written with a chuckle or laugh.) I no longer fancy myself in control of this summation of time called life but rather have finally decided each day is simply a new opportunity filled with moments and increments of time to be invested. I know that God has a plan so I loosely hold on to my timeline and prepare for the inevitable interruptions along the way. But I digress…

For those who do not know me, during the week I begin my day around 4:30 AM. Shuffling out of bed stumbling through the darkness, I grab our fur baby – feed her and take her out while the microwave brews the detox tea. With power bar and banana juggling my tea, I then head to my study to enter my prayer closet and spend time with the Lord. On the weekend, the routine is the same just a couple hours later. But not today…today was different. I woke up two hours later. Put on the tea and took care of the fur baby. But before heading to that quiet place, I decided to start a load of laundry. The machines were enshrouded in hanging clothes so retrieving mine I went to the closet to put them away. Trying to find them a place in the midst of the plethora of clothing crammed, I made an impulsive decision to finally get rid of all the pants that don’t fit. I used to be a size four. I am a size four no more.

I will not bore you with the details of my plundering but I will admit that I have not been a size four for quite some time. I have only worn that size once in my life a few years ago. Now some may say – oh man she fell off the wagon. Yes, I fell alright but not off the wagon but an impressive elliptical at the local gym. My fall was not physical but mental instead. I began working out halfway through our son’s illness. Walking for the first year or so gave my clarity and time to talk to the Lord about our journey. It was during the downtime of the battle or in between treatments. Our son is an adult so I am quite certain he welcomed those times of independence and solace from doctor’s and mom’s poking and prodding. I was in the gym a lot during those times and would run on that poor machine until my head was clear, mind at peace and heart still again. It was a long journey. It felt like running up the steep side of the mountain. But this is not about that journey (okay maybe a little) but when I was exercising to benefit my mind, something crazy happened to my body. I melted to a size four. What is ironic is that for my whole life I have struggled with my body image, but during that time my heart and mind was set on healing and nothing else. For God’s Word to come to pass, I was just doing what I needed to benefit my heart and mind. I got healthy – go figure. Well, our son is healed and living his life as it should be. I no longer am fighting a battle within myself and my body is a four no more.

What I realized this morning is, though maintaining my health is important, I do not expect to be a size four anymore. I am quite fine with a solid six. I am so certain that I am gathering all the smaller clothing to post online. Somebody will get a new wardrobe for mere pennies…any takers? Well, God as usual was using this exercise to show me something important. To release limitation in my life comes at the price of human expectation. I must examine my life and ask some pointed questions. Do I want an ordinary life or an extraordinary existence? Do I desire the natural or am I set on the supernatural? Do I settle for face value or will I wait to obtain vested interest? There is a difference. Life is filled with opportunities. They look the same but have great potential according to the mindset of each person. The probability of earthly success is measured by hard work and motivation. Spiritual success is to move the asset called your life into the person named Jesus Christ. The details of the natural for all are the same. The conditions may be different but everyone has a mind, soul and body to do with as they will. You will find many successful and wealthy people who have terrible health habits and horrible mental capacity. Though they prosper in business they are failing at other things. There are many people who lack financial success who are amazing athletes with sharp mental aptitude. Their focus is on health and strive for longer life through making good choices for their body. Though their body is flawless, a few bad choices may lead to the end of the life that was otherwise fit enough to live a hundred years. I have been given the freedom as an American to live my life how I choose. I have been given freedom in Christ to pursue His Kingdom. My life is my opportunity.

Proverbs 8:27-31 (NLT) I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!

I am going to let you in on a little secret – in Proverbs 8 wisdom who is speaking is actually Jesus. He hints at His True Identity in these words and no I cannot back it up with a whole lot of resources but I know it is Him. I know Him. He was with God in the beginning. His Hand is part of all creation. Everything exists through Him the Spoken Word of God. Jesus came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love to us. He lives with God forever seated at the right-hand side of God with all power and authority in heaven and earth. This is important. Remember it. Jesus is God’s Constant Delight. Christ lives in us. God also delights in us. Oh wait, “how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!”

God created the world with limitation. He established the boundaries of heaven and earth. He marked the line of the horizon which divides night and day visibly. He put the clouds in the sky. He limited the depth of springs. He set limits for the sea so they could not spread beyond the boundary. He plumbed the earth’s foundations. Jesus was the architect at his side. But when God created mankind it was different. He set us up differently with the potential of an unlimited life. Genesis 1:28 – he gave us the ability to increase, be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. It is our potential. He planned it and decreed it for His Human family. Sin came to call and humanity chose it. However, God wasn’t done with us. In Genesis 8, though God was angry with the world so He wiped it clean, He found goodness and grace for Noah. He was pleased with this man’s sacrifice so he said, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think is evil”…”As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” The place where you are standing right now is blessed. There is potential in the real estate of your life whether you realize it or not. The situation you are in may seem limited. The conditions adverse to growth and prosperity. But the Word, the Jesus in you is much greater than that. In creation, you were ordained for prosperity from the inside out. When sin took over the world, God blessed the very ground you walk on. You work the land and there will be growth and increase despite our inability to be perfect. The Grace of Jesus Christ and His Blood allows the growth potential of Heaven to live in us and so what is limited to the natural can give way to supernatural because Jesus has all power and authority over every boundary in our life. The ordinary can release extraordinary if we just take the time to work the place we are whether than envying the greener pasture next door. Everything I need to prosper is in me and around me – the only possible limitation is me.

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT) The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

Hope is the expectation of the godly. Hope is not what we see but faith in the unseen reality of our life in Jesus Christ. I cannot see heaven but I have the keys to it. The first one is labeled faith and it has the powerful potential to unlock every promise of God beginning in Genesis 1:28 including every promise from Genesis to Revelation and ultimately that place called Eternity I am destined for and strive for every day. Faith in God makes all things possible but I must believe. During our journey with our son, I got a tattoo. I can hear some of you gasping. There are times when I must cover it as not to offend the religious and that’s okay, too. I did not get it for you. I got it for me. I needed to remember that this whole journey called life is about faith that produces hope. When I look at my wrist, I see the word “faith”. If I extend my arm, you will see the word “hope”. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome of this endeavor, whether God healed our son medically, miraculously or even mercifully taking him home – it was all about faith and confident hope. This would be the journey that changed my life forever. It was the battle that once overcome I experienced true fulfillment like Peter that day when Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” I know Jesus. Everything has changed. Human expectation has melted into the spiritual realization that things of this world really don’t matter. I have absolutely no control over the situations, conditions or circumstances that rise up in my life but I do have the power to overcome and experience His Glory in each outcome.

Hope is the inexpressible joy that many search for and never find because it is not an outward accumulation but an inward uprising. It is the prospering soul transitioning from earthlike expectation to holy inspiration breathing in Christ and expelling doubt and fear along with it. Just like my husband has always loved me no matter what size my body is – Jesus love is far greater than any limitation that I face or boundary built before me. It is in His Love that I overcome every obstacle of faith. It allows me to plant in tears and still sow joy. It is the kind of faith and hope that gives God time and freedom to work all things together for my good and His Glory so I keep myself in the race for faith and fight the things that come against it. I know God will do it. I have experienced it.

So today I am a four no more and truly I am okay with it. I am emptying my closet to make room for the size that fits. I am okay with that. I will still work to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a good steward of my physical health. I have stopped evaluating my image by a human standard. Is there a closet or two that need to be cleaned out in our hearts and minds today? Do I need to make more room for faith and hope to expand and take over new areas of my life? Human expectations create the limits and mark boundaries around us. They give increase in size to the obstacles that we face. God is greater than our feelings. Perfect love casts out all fear. We have nothing to lose but a Kingdom to gain in our personal life and in the realm of influence called our life. Is it time to stop shaking the keys to the Kingdom trying to scare the enemy off or use them to open the door to God’s Presence running boldly and confidently before His Throne?

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Deep in conversation with someone the other day, I shared with her the simplest truth about faith secured in the love of Christ. I have come to a place in my life where I don’t have to argue religion or the relevance of Jesus Christ. I know Jesus lives in me. I am confident enough not to need anyone else opinion to confirm or deny. I know Jesus loves me. I know His Way is the best way for my life. I know that even if I died to discover there was no truth to heaven or eternity that my life is significantly better just by believing anyway.

I “know” that I will not be a size four again. If I do somehow stumble my way back into it – God will supply all that I need to walk in it and wear it. Just as I am cleaning out my closet of unwanted clothing, I must examine the expectation in my life to determine if it is limited by my human condition or if it is spiritually secured in the Love of God. God calls us His Precious Treasure. He promises an inheritance that is secured in Heaven. This does not mean that I must wait for eternity. It means that I must connect my natural and spiritual life to be mutually conducive rather than ultimately exclusive. (Matthew 6:10; 16:19) We must live in constant faith and confident hope every day for entrance into eternity. Our life does not have to be limited to the natural. It does not have to be ordinary. It is not God’s Plan for us. It is not His Way. It is a choice. We must learn to stop limiting our life by human expectation and yield our life’s capacity to the Lord so He can complete our life by His Design giving us the fullness of life and power that He promised.

Can I just encourage you today? God really is working every detail of your life for your good and His Glory? He is offering daily opportunities to release your natural expectation and increase your expectancy in Him. Focus on faith today. Do you believe that the Lord can and will do more than you can think to ask for? Explore new regions of hope that extend beyond the boundaries and obstacles of your natural life. Consider the impossibilities in your life. God will make them possible according to His Will and Word. Faith and hope are the evidence of believing that must be a daily consideration. The limits placed on our life are natural. God gave us everything needed to prosper from the very beginning and to have a blessed life. Jesus came and handed us the Keys to His Kingdom so now not only do we have all of His Resources but He lives in us empowering us to overcome all barriers and obstacles to have a complete and full life. We can find overwhelming satisfaction in this life and forever. Release those natural expectations today and let the Lord fill you with new revelation that will increase your faith and fortify your hope. The best is yet to come!

I John 3:2-3 (NLT) Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

Even Though

even-though

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Excuses will always be there for you. Opportunities won’t. (Unknown) Today is an opportunity to choose to believe in God’s Love. His Goodness. His Glory. His Promises. You and I have Potential and a Plan carefully constructed in all the qualities of God mentioned above. It is a choice. Your choice and my choice that is made intentionally or unintentionally by the attitudes and actions formed to respond to the challenges of each moment. An excuse is to obtain an exemption or release. Our excuses are the very things that disconnect our faith from God’s Future. Excuses are evidence that there is a lack of belief on our part to the Characteristics of God that make Him perfect in all things. When I decide not to follow the Lord, and make an excuse I eliminate the potential in that moment accepting defeat. I have reduced the Greater is He that lives in me to just not enough. Is Christ enough for you today? Is He enough to eliminate excuses and execute excellence in your life?

Dani Johnson was a young woman who suffered violence and abuse in her childhood. As a teenager, she became pregnant by a deacon’s son in her church. She gave up her baby for adoption and walked away from church for good. Or so she thought, but the seeds of God’s Words were already sown deeply in her heart. God had a plan. Her potential became evident as she was an excellent sales person with a flourishing career who married a conman who was taking her money. He abandoned her with huge amounts of debt. Dani lost her job and her home. She was living in her car with $2.03 to her name. She was depressed and contemplating suicide. It was at that very moment she felt God’s Spirit within her telling her to press on, to rise up and do something with her life. She did. She went from homeless and broken starting her first business in the backseat of her car and in two years became a millionaire at 23. She is quoted as saying, “Excuses are well planned lies!” The enemy wants to destroy all of God’s Potential in our life. He does so by offering excuses when opportunity presents itself. He hushes the Voice of God with all the reasons it won’t happen. He recalls our past. He fills the present with busyness. He discounts our future. The productivity of his cultivation are all lies that become our excuses.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

God has a plan for your life. These moments called past and present are all with in the woven threads of the dream and vision for your life. Romans 8:28 is His Promise that even the bad ones, hard ones or those deemed to be a failure have goodness in them providing for our future. He has promised that the plan is good with a future and hope attached which I believe references this life and forever. The fruit of the Spirit cultivates good things for now and later. Our steps are divinely ordered by the Lord so even when we walk through the shadow of the valley called death there is no reason to fear. The Lord is waiting for you to respond to His Offer. Will you willingly accept His Plan or continue to wander without purpose with blinders called excuses? The secret is in verse 13 – If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. To find Him is to have all that He has promised. We will not find the Lord if we do not believe. The evidence of belief is faith. Faith to follow the Lord without excuses.

Romans 4:20-21 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

Even though there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become a father despite his age. Even though – he was 100 years old and Sarah 99. Even though in the natural, Sarah’s womb would be considered dead. Abraham believed in God who brings the dead back to life. The promise of God is received by faith. Faith encounters the impossible and says, “Even though…I still believe.” This is the mindset of spiritual success. To be and do all that God promised requires this very idea to take root in our heart and mind and grow to be tree of life within us. The tree that provides the fruit to sustain us during drought seasons and times of famine when our life does not represent the purpose or potential that is God’s Plan. It is faith that meets the impossible and does not turn away but says…even though!

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (NLT) So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Faith is not necessary until the impossible presents itself. We are to live by believing and not seeing. It is only natural to have the “who-turned-the-lights-off” and “what-was-I-thinking-moment” in our journey. Peter had it. He was gung-ho jumping out of the boat to come to Jesus. But a few steps into it, he had an epiphany that revealed that he ran out of faith too soon. He began sinking. What happened? Jesus reached out and grabbed him. We will all experience such times when venturing off the short, dock or stepping out of the boat and walking by faith. Faith is illogical in the natural. It is uncomfortable to the flesh. If at any point in the process you dare to look down, it will absolutely suck the breath right out of you. God is ready to exceed all human expectations with His Excellent Love, Power and Providence for us.

As long as I live in this body, my faith in God will be tested. I will be given opportunity after opportunity to trust the Lord. I must surrender all of my life – heart, mind, soul and body to have all that He has planned and prepared for me including eternity. I cannot get tangled up in lies that are the foundation of excuses as to why I cannot or God will not but must live by confident faith in His Unfailing Love, Overwhelming Grace and Constant Care for me.

Hebrews 5:7-8 (NLT) While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.  

Even though Jesus was God’s Son – he learned obedience through suffering. Jesus was God incarnate. He had every component of humanity. He had body. He had a mind. He had a pulsating heart. Jesus was a man. He did not lack any of the physical qualities that you and I have so when it came to suffering the pain of heartbreak and the brutality of his beatings then the cross. Jesus experienced it just as any other person. Yet He was still the Son of the Living God. God lived in Him. How are we different? God is exercising and conditioning our faith to endure the trials and hardships of life so that we will have confident hope that can obtain resurrection power and new life. He is not picking on you. You are not being left behind. There really is no excuse for our lack of persistence in following Jesus Christ. He endured the exact same things successfully to become our example.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Jesus Christ said, “It is finished.” The Lord meant every single word of this three-word statement. He released His Spirit to live in us from that moment on. Romans 1:20 tells us that God has demonstrated His Love in perfect form so that no one has a good excuse not to know Him. Your past does not define your future. Your present condition doesn’t necessarily project your future. By faith, all of this is according to God’s Plan. He offers a future and hope that is accepted by faith not excuses. God speaks to guide us. Why aren’t we listening? He gives us His Word as a rod and staff to steady our way. To discipline our steps to avoid many pitfalls. Do we read it? He is ready to communicate 24/7 through prayer yet the door to our prayer closet remains closed. The Lord asks just one thing of us to be humble enough to love others – all others. We flatly refuse to give up our position of pride to love one another.

We have the Power of the Living God available to us by His Grace – yet we choose control over surrender every day. If life is immediately gratifying – an excuse is formed while we do it ourselves rather than waiting on the Lord. If hard times come, we exit. When it’s time to press, we rebel and pull back. God is God. He is the great I Am and perfectly able to do every single thing that He promised. He works best in the form of “even though” but we choose excuses instead abandoning ship to sail in other directions afraid to get our feet wet much less sink in the waves. No trust that He will catch us, excuses form a tower that becomes a prison. A place where His Promises cannot reach us.  A cell of simply not enough. Caught up by stress, anxiety, and worry – all the while Jesus is saying come to me. I will give you rest. Where is faith in your priorities today?

Ben Franklin said, “He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.” Friend that is a stinger. Lord, I don’t want to be that person. What has the Lord laid on your heart to do? Have you abandoned ship? Have you walked away? Do you think you have a good excuse? God doesn’t believe in excuses. He is moved by our faith. The times when “even though” everything is stacked against us and the situation is impossible – we dare to believe just one more day. Or even better, take one step closer to Him by faith that God will do it anyway. These situations, circumstances or conditions that we think will break us only make room for God’s Grace to flow through us. His Grace produces His Power in the place of our weakness and supernatural strength to keep following Him even when nothing is going “right” in our own eyes. As our faith flourishes in such conditions, the hope that anchors our soul becomes a little more secure. God has a purpose for each step. Especially the hard ones, taking in absolute faith with nothing in the natural to support them. These are the ones that release His Power the most in our life. Stop making excuses and pack faith in its place. Be the one who believes “even though”. Walk by faith not by sight. The best is yet to come for those who stop making excuses and step out in faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him

Watchtower or Worm Plant

watchtower-or-worm-plant

Psalm 85:6-9 (NLT) Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

Revive us again, Lord. The cry of the modern day church is loud and clear. We wait for the Glory of God to fill our churches spreading out across the land. We desire the next great move of God to sweep through our country but do we really know what that will look like? God revives us individually through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ day by day. His New Mercy meets us each morning to prepare us for a new day with another set of choices and footsteps of opportunity to respond to His Gentle Summoning and Still Small Voice. I believe that the outcry of the Body of Christ is within earshot of God but He knows in His Omniscient Wisdom that His People have no idea what exactly they are asking for. It is important to understand what it is exactly when the Lord His Spirit and an outpouring as Joel hints at is made manifest on the earth. This is not a personal plea for our individual life. Revival is a wide spread epidemic of repentance that draws all people to the Lord.

Psalm 85:10-13 (NLT) Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

What a beautiful thought! Unfailing love and truth meeting together consummating to provide righteousness and peace to all mankind. As men and women grasp this new place in God – it begins to live and breathe inside of them producing a Gospel of Love to reach the farthest place in this big world. Right? The Lord pours down His Blessings. To us right…to those who are righteous. To those who “have” repented, right? The abundance of heaven is for God’s Children. The ones who live right. Do right? Speak truth. Those who are generous in all things. The do-gooders right? It belongs to us. We are waiting for You, Lord to come and fill “the temple” of our church with your great love and prosperity. It’s all about me…I mean us. The rain falls on the just and unjust. God is ready to bring revive and bring to life every seed of potential called eternity in every human heart. This is revival. It is the justice of God for all mankind. Not judgment against those who don’t get it…yet.

Jonah 4:5-7 (NLT) Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away.

Poor Jonah! We have heard of his plight. God tells the prophet to go to Nineveh and tell the people that the Lord is about to destroy them. Apparently Nineveh was not a good place but filled with prevailing evil that had drawn the attention of God. Jonah did not want to go to this wretched place to warn the unsavory and violent people of God’s Wrath. So he thought he chose a ship headed in the opposite direction that turned into whale food. The whale deposited Jonah on the beach and Jonah obeyed God. Upon his arrival, he shouted to all the people that in 40 days God would destroy them according to their sin and betrayal of him.

Well, Jonah did not expect them to respond as they did. They didn’t throw him out of the city. They listened and believed. All the people including the king repented and returned to the Lord. When God witnessed their change of heart, He relented and did not carry out the destruction. Revival broke out in Nineveh that day. One might think that Jonah would rejoice and in turn seek justice from God for these people, but instead he climbed a nearby hill overlooking the city and waited for God to destroy them anyway. When God did not destroy the city for its overwhelming city but honored their return to Him and rending of their hearts – Jonah was mad. In his anger and distress, God arranged for a temporary shelter in the form of a “leafy plant” to spread its leaves over his pouting prophet and shade him from the sun. He also arranged for a worm. The worm ate the stem of the plant. The plant represents God’s Grace for Jonah as the Lord reasoned with Him. The worm is the bitterness that comes when a person chooses judgment over mercy for others. Poor Jonah! He was waiting for judgment but God provided justice. When a person repents, He offers righteousness. Jonah thought he was right, but God honors righteousness.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk was crying out for revival. This man was waiting and watching for the Lord to come and shower righteousness on the people. He said to the Lord, “I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer my complaint.” Expectation makes all the difference in the world. While Jonah expected judgment, Habakkuk desired justice for the people. There is a difference. Judgment is the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion or conclusion based on current circumstance or evidence presented. Justice is to be just, righteousness, equitableness, and moral rightness. There is a profound difference in these two words.

John 3:17-21 (NLT) God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

There is no judgment or condemnation in Jesus Christ. His Spirit who is the very essence of revival is not being poured out in judgment but to offer justice. To pay the debt of sin owed by every single person and offer the grace that is enough to overcome every test, trial and temptation ever faced. To cry out for revival is to swing wide the doors once housing religion to allow the Light of His Love to illuminate the way from every reprobate, perverse, violent and felonious person to enter our sanctuaries and discover our Great God. It is a cry for every sinner to meet our Savior. Is it what we really want? As Children of God, it is important to look around our waiting room and prayer room to discover what it is made of. To inspect our heart and examine the contents thoroughly. Revival is not here yet for a reason.

Luke 15:25-32 (NLT) “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

What if that thing desired, but delayed is not because of the Lord but by me? Could it be that the Great Outpouring of His Spirit called revival is to protect me from myself? The prodigal son had returned home safely. The brother who remained at home working side by side with his father was angry. Like Jonah, he expected his father to punish his brother for his abandonment and rebellion, but instead the father celebrated his return. He would not attend the banquet held in his honor. Justice declared the son a son and safely home. Judgment cried for punishment for wrong doing. Mercy always triumphs over judgement because Jesus came to give us all grace. A son is a son to God and a daughter a daughter through true repentance. Can we accept that in our church setting?

Rightness has no place in the church. Righteousness is the relationship offered only through repentance and acceptance of God’s Grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Religion is to add order to the body to incorporate a higher standard than already set forth by God. Why do we attempt to crucify sinners? We hug them and welcome them into our churches. It makes us feel good to help someone who is struggling. We want them to come to the empty altar – God knows we don’t need it anymore – yes I am being sarcastic. Why are the altars empty? Because we don’t believe they are needed in our rightness. We talk about the sin of other people ignoring the most vile sin of all – self-righteousness. I am a sinner. I need the Savior. Every single day of my life from here to Eternity I need His Grace and Mercy to cover me. The moment I think another person deserves less than God’s Full Justice or my full attention in sharing His Love – my own life is in jeopardy.

“For your brother was dead and has come back to life!” This is what revival looks like to God. It is for restoration of life. It took only one sin to require every ounce of Jesus’ blood. There is no hierarchy of sin and nothing anyone can do to earn salvation. When we are ready to receive every single person with mercy – the Lord will spark revival in our midst. When saints of God cut down the worm plants and choose watchtowers waiting for God to revive all mankind again – change will come. The only righteousness possible is through the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ who doesn’t offer judgment but justice to all mankind.

Isaiah 30:16 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Where are you waiting today? If you are waiting on God to judge the world, the shelter you sit in may just be God’s Grace protecting you while He changes your heart and mind. God desires mercy. So much so in fact that He gives it to us brand new in each day. Our hearts must become soft and pliable filled with compassion overflowing in grace. If the first thing you notice about someone is their sin or appearance, you may be in danger of judgment. Judgment causes us to fall under judgment again. It is one of the biggest things holding back revival. God is after hearts today beginning with each one of us. We must wrap our head and heart around true repentance and righteousness to offer it to another. If the altar is a foreign place, maybe its time for a return trip. Consider your conversation. What do you say about the lost? Wandering? Those who live beneath your expectation. Your opinion is judgment. The truth is that God has no grandchildren and Jesus no stepbrothers or stepsisters. God’s Grace poured out to you the “good” kid is equal for all God’s Children. The Lord is waiting for us to change our opinion of others so He can send them straight to us. His Grace is all we need. His Love is the binding force that allows His Spirit to flow through us. It doesn’t matter how much you or little you do when it comes to His Love. It is there for the asking. Lord, change our hearts and minds to always walk in righteousness not rightness. Lord help us to love justice and never again walk in judgment. Increase the fruit of your spirit especially mercy until our love for others is equal to ourselves. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. God delights in those who show mercy.

Proverbs 8:19-21 (NLT) My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.

 

 

Time to Activate

time-to-activate

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NLT) For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

The email was tempting. The newest IPhone at a great price. It was so enticing that I opened it surely too good to be true. It all checked out. Up to this point, I had not been able to decide on a Christmas gift up to this point. I consulted my technology team (hence my daughters) who approved and encouraged me to act. I have an extremely difficult time doing things for myself. It is easy to gift good gifts to my family and friends. However, I do not like doing for me. I didn’t act right away but thought it best to sleep on it. The next morning, I got another email – “Hey, did you leave something in your cart?” After way too much deliberation and too much time thinking about a dumb cellphone made the decision and pushed the button.

A couple days later, I received the brand new shiny rose gold phone. Much larger than my old one, I carefully put it back in the box to await the protective case I had also ordered to arrive. Boxing it up carefully, I put it on my dresser. Another couple of days passed by and the case arrived, I put it in the box with my new gift. The box is still sitting on my dresser. I have not activated the new device even though everything I need to do so is right there. What’s wrong with me? I can psychoanalyze this all day long. I do not feel worthy of something so awesome. I do not want to take the time to go through the steps. I am afraid that I might be disappointed if I run into trouble.

God has given me many promises for my life. Promises that are not currently active in my life. Jesus Christ made every single gift and promise available to me through His Grace. When He died on the Cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” When I finished wrapping all the gifts, it is with great satisfaction that I look at the tree with all its treasures for our family. The blessings of God evident in our life in a snapshot. I wonder if Jesus from His Place next to God looks at us wondering why we do not open and activate all the gifts given to us directly when He finished His Work on the Cross. What if on Christmas morning our children did not rush out of bed to open their gifts? What if they didn’t like them or chose not to use them? How would you feel? I would feel like I was taken for granted and my hard work wasted. Wouldn’t you? Does the Lord?

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

I love Christmas but my favorite is New Years. The chance to start over with a brand new year, make new commitments, to start fresh and all the hope attached to change. I love it. About mid-December each year, I begin to look past the coming holiday to the New Year. It is with such a mindset I do not look to make resolutions but seek divine revelation from the Lord. I want more of Him this year. I want to see the Promises laid on my heart so long ago come to pass. With this in mind and spoken in my prayer time a lot right now, the Lord laid the word “activate” on my heart today.

To activate means to make active or cause to function. In physics, it means to excite. Chemistry uses the word to refer to the hastening of a process or to make it begin to work. For those in the military, it is to be stationed or placed in position. All these things speak to me today for the coming year. Are there gifts and promises in my life that are simply not activated? Yes and amen. Jesus is yelling, shouting and jumping up and down (in a dignified godly manner, of course). He is cheering me on! Saying – “just do it”, “go for it” and “what are you waiting for.” See so many times we don’t see the potential of God’s Promise around us because we are too busy looking at ourselves with every flaw and imperfection listing all the reasons why it cannot and will not come to pass. What if the only thing keep you from fully achieving God’s Purpose for your life is that you simply refuse to activate the Gift within you? It is not only possible, but highly probable.

Why? Why me? Why now? What makes me so special that God would give me such good and perfect gifts? We are His Prized Possession. It really doesn’t matter how one perceives self but how we respond to God’s evaluation of us. Our faith is not in our personal ability or attributes but the Living God who is in us making all things possible. We are our biggest critics. No one beats us with a bigger bat. No one can inspect us any closer than we examine ourselves. What does all of this do? Lower our expectation. Raising fear and doubt. My worth is not based on my physical, mental or natural ability but solely on Jesus Christ inside of me. The gift of salvation activates every other gift in us when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. There is no other reason than I am a Child of God.

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.

Activating this phone has opened a whole new revelation in my life. In preparation, I realized that my old phone with all its contacts and photos has not been backed up since April of this year. So I plugged it into the computer and downloaded all the new software. I just got a message in order to fully activate the new information that I must restart my computer. I pushed the “not now” button. The minute I did, I could feel the Holy Spirit tug on my heart. How many times do I put off time with God? Doing what He says? Seeking His Direction? How many gifts are left unopened in my life while I settle for lesser more comfortable things? Change is not comfortable or convenient but completely necessary to move the past into the future.

As I prepare for the New Year, my word for the coming year is “activate”. It is my goal to look within my heart for all the hidden things that I am holding on to which need to be surrendered by faith to have the hope that is reserved for me. God has blessed my life already so much that I feel unworthy and undeserving but that does not change the fact that He has blessings and promises yet to be filled. I must “fan into flames the spiritual gift God” has given me. All of them. Not just the ones that I am comfortably in control of but also those that take me out of my comfort zone with bold confidence that He who has promised is able. God did not give me a “spirit of fear and timidity” so if it exists in my life it is not of God but a ploy of the enemy in a vain attempt to keep me from assuming my position. Finally, Jesus gave me the Holy Spirit to be my helper. It is the Spirit of God within me that activates “power, love and self-discipline.” I must acknowledge His Spirit and depend on Him fully to step boldly into God’s Gifts and Promises all ready for me. It is up to me if 2017 will be just like 2016 or if I will activate all that God has for me. Will I function according to His Word and His Will? Will I be excited about the Lord? Will I hasten the process and allow the Lord to work in me through complete submission and full surrender? Finally will I take my position in the Kingdom of God and live like His Child? It is up to me. It is time to activate.

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

True Reconciliation

true-reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Probably one of the most difficult things to achieve among people is reconciliation. In this day and age, most people don’t reconcile their own bank account let alone anything else in their natural life so to consider spiritual reconciliation is out of the question. As believers, if we do not learn to reconcile our life first to Jesus Christ and then with other people, we miss the point of Kingdom building altogether. Christians and followers of Jesus are called to be the Body of Christ. To reconcile is to bring into agreement or harmony. It means to make compatible and consistent. Reconciliation is to reconsecrate our life to Jesus Christ and build relationships according to that connection. Our expectation is then removed from other people and placed fully in the Lord. Whatever we give to others is from the endless and limitless supply that Christ gives us. But how do we get there from here…

True reconciliation is only possible as the next step after true repentance. Put on your waders people because this is about to get deep. We are called to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. New creation. Not a fancy remodel. Not a Band-Aid fix. No weekend makeover. One or two trips to the altar does not instantly produce new attitudes, actions, thoughts or intentions. Salvation is a process. We must work it out inside of us to share it with the world. The trouble is the human component of pride that will not allow our heart and mind to be fully transformed by God. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are not like ours. The idea of surrender is not acceptable to our flesh. We don’t really want to be crucified with Christ. We want to walk with Him. Talk with Him. Even dine with Him in precious communion but when it comes to laying our whole life down for His Cause – it is a quick no thank you followed by a frigid plunge into denial. Religion makes us feel good about ourselves and what Christ is doing in us. Relationships make us feel good about other people and what Christ do within us together. How do I stop evaluating myself and others from a human point of view? After all I am only human. Oh how I loathe it when people confess this over their life. Just as much as, I am what I am. Stop limiting the potential of your life by remaining human, reconcile your life to Jesus Christ, put all your faith in Him, put all your trust in Him, surrender your whole life to the Lord and let Him make you into a new creation.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

“The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  You cannot step into a new place without leaving the old place. It requires an exchange of where you are for where you are going. You cannot live in the past and step into the future. Time will pass but nothing will ever change. To be crucified with Christ means that I lay down my old life for a brand new one. No longer living by the same set of standards, I accept God’s Glorious Standard which now belongs to me in Christ. Now I must daily examine my life for those things that do not “reconcile” with what God has promised me according to the New Covenant handed to me when I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” How is that even possible? To be alive in our body yet dead to ourselves. Welcome to the plight of all mankind? We must die to our flesh and live by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in us. He is our Helper. He is our Advocate. Our Teacher who guides us and instructs us along the way. So how am I reconciled to Christ exactly? The Christ in me is greater than any other force in the world around us. He is the Sovereign Living God in us who has all power and authority in Heaven and earth. I have a free will. I can call Jesus my Savior in Name only but until I call Him Lord and surrender my life – I cannot be reconciled or called a new creation.

Matthew 9:19-21 (NLT) So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Everyone has issues. Everyone has problems. Everyone has hang ups. Everyone sins. You can dress it up. Clean it up. Pretend. But the truth is that every moment of every day every single one of us need Jesus Christ completely. The woman who bled for 12 years. She sought help from doctors. She expected comfort from her friends. She was shunned by religion. Twelve years of disappointment, hurt and isolation that finally led to desperation. She was desperate for change. She was focused on deliverance. She had heard of Jesus. She saw a glimmer of hope. As her desperation grew she would make one final attempt. The crowd was packed. The road was narrow. The way was blocked. She lunged for the hem of his garment just as Peter did when the waves and wind wrecked his faith. In that instant, the glorious and marvelous moment, she was healed. Set free. Delivered of pain and shame just because she reached out to touch Him. In that second, her body became reconciled to Christ and started working properly again. Her heart took a long time to decide. Twelve years of reconciling her trust to others. She took it back and handed it to Jesus. She was complete.

Jesus can only heal those who admit that they are hurting. The man with the withered hand had to reach out to receive restoration just like the woman who touched the hem of his robe. Are you reaching out today? Or are you still trying to fix it, resolve it or heal it yourself? Afraid of disappointment or worse devastation? Our faith is not worth anything outside of Jesus Christ. If we reaching within for solutions rather than crying out and reaching out – restoration is not possible.

Jesus can only comfort those who are broken. He is close to the brokenhearted. Hearts filled with pride and surrounded by unforgiveness are uninhabitable by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, fear and anxiety make people who live in such strongholds feel safe and secure. Pride bolsters their confidence with the lie that this is a godly position rather than a horrible compromise. We must let our walls be broken down and live openly. Forgiveness is essential to spiritual freedom. It is trusting Jesus to guard our heart, keep us safe, and restore our brokenness with hope that never leads to disappointment.

Jesus can only satisfy those who are empty. We cannot be full of our self and full of His Spirit. The two are like oil and water. They conflict. If what we are doing does not stem from our heart but our hands it is hard to be fulfilled in Christ. Every good thing comes from the Father. It is looking for a place to fill or void to replace. I must lay down my life on earth to inherit the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not something that I can see but must experience. If God’s Glory is not filling my life, it means that I have not given Him room to move or a space to fill.

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 cannot be an effective minister or ambassador for Christ if I do not submit my weaknesses to Him every single day. I cannot be an effective messenger unless I am willing to share my inabilities with other and point to Christ for the change that people see. We do not glory in our transgressions but to paint a perfect picture is a lie. No one can live up to that. Church is for the hurting, broken and those desperate to reconcile their life to Jesus Christ. For when I am weak, I am strong. God never called me to be the strong one. I am just to have faith. Not a bucket of faith, but a teeny tiny mustard seed because let’s face it that is really all we can muster. It is my total inadequacy to save myself and redeem my life that I am made into a new creation. It is not my ability to serve God with my hands but in full surrender of my heart.

John 15:5-9 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ is an act of surrender. To maintain the constant conviction that apart from Jesus Christ I can do nothing. It’s true. Apart from Him, you can do nothing of worth just random acts of kindness and some generosity. I cannot save a single life, fill an empty void or offer anything of worth outside of Christ in me. If I construct a wall of pride to protect me or a fence of offense to secure my feelings, there is nothing of worth that God can do through me because Christ cannot move in my life. He is with you. He will sit behind that wall with you as long as you want. He will never leave you or forsake you. But if the Glory of God is not manifested all around you – lives changed, people healed, strongholds broken and chains falling as revival breaks out – it might not be a God thing…it might be a you thing or a me thing.

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ means reconciliation with the Body of Christ. God desires that all of humanity to be saved even though He knows full well it is not going to happen. Jesus tells us to “remain in His Love.” His Love is farther, deeper, wider and longer than our human comprehension can ever conceive let alone experience. His Love is big enough for everyone. How big is your love today? If it is your own heart, emotions and feelings, it will only be big enough for the first hurt, insult or let down. It is in Jesus Christ that we can tap into unconditional love and never-ending grace that we as human beings are incapable of.

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

Pride keeps us from renewal and restoration in Jesus Christ. Self-preservation tells us to hold on so we don’t fall apart. The truth is if we do not fall apart and had all those pieces to Jesus Christ there is nothing for Him to work with. He will not take our life from us. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him. Jesus Christ invites us to think about all the possibilities of heaven not the things of this earth. If you are willing to die to this life including all the drama, emotions, feelings, hurts, injustices, unfairness and let Him flood those empty spaces – the Lord will fill  your life with every good and gracious blessing that Heaven has to offer. It belongs to you. True reconciliation is giving up less to acquire Heaven’s All. You are worth it. You may not feel like it. You may even doubt it. The work of Jesus Christ on the Cross says differently. You are worth it all. All of Jesus. Why not give Him your all today? Every disappointment, hurt, shortcoming, downfall, broken piece, letdown, all of it. His Hope never leads to disappointment instead He will fill you up! True repentance must be followed by true reconciliation to seal the deal. Hold tightly to your promise of new life today.

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

 

Condemned Buildings

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Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

When purchasing our house, the home inspector came to examine the property for inherent defects that may be detrimental to our family’s health. The inspector looked for evidence of faulty mechanical, electrical and structural defects pointing out each and every tiny flaw in a detailed report. He inspected the property from pillar to post. The pest control folks came out to see if there was evidence of a termite problem or any wood rot on the property. Not only did we want them to come to check things out, the bank who financed our new home required it to secure their investment. They did not want to lend us the money to purchase a condemned property. A property appraiser came to establish its worth. In our eyes, it was the perfect home for our family. We had decided in our hearts to move here. However, it had to be deemed sound in order to make that happen.

The structure of our new life in Jesus Christ is based on a foundation of faith. Faith in God that the sacrifice of His Son provided enough grace to allow us righteousness to have a right relationship with Him once again. It really is simple. The three most important things in life now are faith, hope and love demonstrating our relationship and deep abiding connection to Jesus Christ. However, we have built fancy houses and even fancier sanctuaries that have faulty foundations. Beginning with good intentions, sometimes our ideas of what God meant and thoughts on His Ways take shape into something that is far from the structure the Kingdom of God is building. We must examine the contents of our hearts, capture the ideas circulating in our mind, and even chew on the words of our mouth to determine if it is still a profitable investment in the Kingdom.

There is no condemnation is Jesus Christ. Say that again, “there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ.” This is a freedom verse for those who love the Lord and have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. It doesn’t mean perfection but rather persistence in our pursuit of Jesus. When Christians try to add importance to our investment rather than understanding the significance of the solidarity of His Sacrifice, it is easy to become prideful, stubborn and selfish. God doesn’t need us. God desires us. Christ doesn’t have to have us. He wanted us enough to die for us. There is nothing for me to contribute to the Kingdom outside of accepting the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. My love for Him will keep me from willful sin. It secures my wandering feet from finding the dark. He does it with love not condemnation. He clothes me with righteousness based on compassion. What am I offering the world? Is it what I have been given? Or what I think I deserve?

Luke 6:36-38 (NLT) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

You must be compassionate just as Your Father is compassionate. Is the Body of Christ compassionate? Do they see sin as a desperate situation or call for condemnation? Have we forgotten that a single sin is enough to convict us? If we murder with our heart, it is just as bad as if we do it with our hands. If we consider evil, it is committed in our heart. Our religion has overtaken our relationship when how a person looks and how they act is more important than what they believe. Our church life should represent our daily routine. Worship is a life style. Praise is provision in all things. To honor God on two days and live for the world for five is adultery in the eyes of God. To decide that what I think is right is more important than compassion is judgment. Judgment condemns. It condemns me.

Compassion leaves no room for condemnation. To condemn another is to restrict their growth and development by imposing a personal set of standards and rituals that are not part of Christ’s plan. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He is our helper and our guide. As far as I know, we are to build up and equip other people. Fanning the flame of the Holy Spirit so our hearts are consumed with godly passion that is compassion. Stirring up the Spirit so our own fruit is worthy of sharing rather than spewing our own poisonous rhetoric on people and imposing our own set of standards outside of love, grace and mercy. Our churches are empty because our construction is flawed. In our doing, we have condemned the building called church and defiled the temple. With what you may ask? Judgement, pride and selfishness.

The church is being judged as an exclusive organization. People searching for an authentic God to give real faith to have come up short due to the lack of compassion found among His People. Forgiveness is forgotten in our self-justified state. Seventy times seven has become one and done. How do I know? What gives me the right to say such a terrible thing? Well, the Word of God says in verse 38 to “give and you will receive. Your gift will return to you full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” If we were giving love selflessly, the relationships in our church houses would be solid and significantly growing day by day. We would add to our numbers rather than daily dividing and falling apart. What we are sowing is what we are reaping? Crying out for revival is pointless if I don’t want to change? My heart must change. My mind must change. My life must change. To follow Jesus and have His Way is constant change as I turn more and more of my life in for more and more of His Love, Grace and Mercy. It would hypocrisy to take such a thing and give another.

Luke 19:20-26 (NLT) “But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’  “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ “‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!’ “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away…’”

The Parable of the Ten Servants (Luke 19) tells of a nobleman who went away on a trip. He called together his ten servants and them each ten pounds of silver with one simple request, “Invest this for me while I am gone.” When he returned, he called each servant to give account of that entrusted to them upon his departure. The first servant invested his money receiving ten times the original amount. Well done, he was told and given a reward. The second servant’s investment yielded five times the amount. He was also rewarded the same. Then the third servant came with to show as he did not invest what he was given at all.

“I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid…” The king’s response was to call his servant wicked. It was not fear that kept him from investing at all. Fear was his excuse. What is mine? What makes it alright to decide others are not worthy of this Gift that I have been given? We seek the lost yet destroy the saved with condemnation every single day. Along the Highway called Holiness – how could we ever lose sight of grace? We do. We live in condemned buildings called church who judge each visitor who walks through the door by the weight they carry or the label give rather than seeing and responding to the person. Jesus is compassion. It was our need for His Love and Grace that led to the compassion that nailed Him to the Cross. He is our Savior. He is always our Savior. Even when the sin in our life is less, it is present. When we repent and accept righteousness – it is still in our imperfection. Lord, teach us to love and build the Kingdom as you have prescribed rather than tearing it down from the inside. Give us humble hearts given to compassion rather than hard ones solidified by pride.

John 5:24 (NLT) I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

Romans 5:18 (NLT)Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

Perhaps, the church might try a new approach to the people who enter their doors. Rather than judging them by the way they dress, how they smell, the lifestyle they live or the choices they make…what if for a moment our objective is to give them exactly what we have received from Jesus Christ. Love. Grace. Mercy. Acceptance. Seeds of hope rather than a list of changes. What if we let the Holy Spirit convict and instead adopt the role of builders rather than inspectors? Those who hear His Voice and do not harden their hearts but believe “will never be condemned for their sins but have already passed from death to life”. One sin brings condemnation for everyone. Even me, I know that I sin and need God’s Grace every day. I guess when I master sin in my own life then I will tell you how to live. For now, we are all in this together – one body, one church. Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. If you hear nothing else hear this today – we all need Jesus. Just Jesus to make the foundation of our life secure. We do not need religion. We need a relationship with Christ alone. We are to be builders not demolition experts. Expert builders will stand the test and be found complete when Jesus returns to inspect the foundation of our life. In the meantime, my faith is in Christ alone.

Can we do a little better? Absolutely. Should we give a little more? Yes! People don’t need our opinions or advice. They certainly don’t need me to tell them what to do or how to do it. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When I share these things with you, it is because the Holy Spirit is convicting my heart of those things that keep Christ’s Investment in me from multiplying until it is shaken together and running over in my life. Are you living in a condemned building today? Do you want revival to come to your church? This could be the hour of restoration. A radical makeover that produces a sound return on God’s Investment and Christ’s Sacrifice for our life. God lives in us. He connects us and completes us. We must build the Body of Christ and stop tearing it apart. It begins with me and you. We are the Body. The Temple of His Spirit. Together we can make a difference if our objective is compassion demonstrated by His Love pouring out to all mankind.

I Corinthians 3:13-17 (NLT) But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

The Lion’s Roar

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Psalm 91:9-13 (NLT) If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

Ever wonder why lions are referred to as king of the jungle? For centuries, lions have been called the king of beasts (not of the jungle). Due to their majestic appearance and position as a top predator, they are the assumed “king” of the beasts due to their raw power. They are the only wild cats who form a community called a “pride” where they live and hunt together. Male lions are the protector of the pride. They defend their territory and protect their cubs from invading males. Human kings were once perceived to play the very same role and do the same things. Where are all the kings now?  Kings are for fairy tales and folklore or are they?

As I read about the King of Kings today, the Lord has promised me a place of refuge. He gives me shelter from evil so I may not be conquered by it but live in His Grace. Nothing can come close to the home I have found in the Lion of Judah – the King of all kings. He promises His Angels will protect me as I go – holding me up with their hands so I will not stumble or fall. I will trample upon lions and cobras. I will crush fierce lions and serpents under my feet. All of this is promised for those who “those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”  (Psalm 91:1-2)

Shortly after graduating high school, I felt a tug on my heart to pursue full-time ministry. The College and Career pastor and I were talking about the many aspects of ministry. He offered an opportunity to travel to Africa and spend the summer with missionaries. Lying in bed in Nairobi, Africa in a villa just outside of the city, in the still of the night lions would roar in the distance. I was completely in awe that I could hear lions in the wild roaring. I was not afraid safely tucked in bed. The home was secure. Men of the Masai tribe in Kenya were employed to patrol the perimeter of the property for protection as well. I was safe in my refuge yet I could still hear the roar of the lion.

God promises us power over the enemy but there will be many times that he roars at us. The lies hissed by the serpent are shouted by the lion painted in false power and fake authority. The enemy has no power over us when our faith and trust is safe and secure in the refuge of God in His Presence. Do you trust the shelter of faith built around your life today by the Most High? Do you run when the lion roars? Have you fallen for the whispered lie of the serpent? Today is the day to get back on your feet. The roar of the lion is inevitable but the Power of God manifested in you through Jesus Christ is the greatest authority of all. Greater is He who lives in you than he that is in the world. Do you believe that today? The roar of the lion is silenced by the Power of God for those who choose to love and trust Him.

I Peter 5:6-11 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” As a true believer in Jesus Christ, it is imperative to live battle ready. The enemy is ready to engage from the moment your feet hit the floor. He will keep your mind awake through the night with fear, anxiety, worries and care that are nothing more than lies taking up real estate in the human mind. Faith and trust cannot exist in occupied space. Faith can only come when fear is given up. Trust is the act of expecting God first enough to make room for Him to be our expectation. If you do not trust the structure, you will not live in the house. If you do not trust the Lord, why would you live in His Presence?

On the other hand, there are those who do not believe that here is an enemy who seeks to overtake them. Remember the story of the three little pigs who set out on their own in the great big world. Two of them built shelters that would not withstand danger. The wolf easily toppled the homes they had constructed. The huts built in haste to get back to living life and entertaining the world. The two fled to their brother’s home who had taken the time and expended the energy to build a sound structure that would not fall down when the enemy arrived. His faithfulness and obedience saved his family from being devoured by the big, bad wolf. Friend, there is an enemy out there that wants to steal you from the Lord. But I have good news…

The enemy is walking around like a “roaring lion” looking for someone to devour. Those who stand alert, watch out for him, stand firm against him, and remain strong in faith cannot and will not be overtaken. It is up to you and me who to believe. The lie of the enemy may sound like a powerful lion who is about to attack but the truth of the matter is “you will trample upon lions” and “you will crush fierce lions.” It is the Word of God so it is true. The only power that the lion has over us today is that which is allowed. The truth of the matter is there is no power in his roar. It is but a kitten’s mew in the ears of a believer.

Daniel 6:16-23 (NLT) So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night. Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “Long live the king! My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

The king could not defy his own order. If he did not put Daniel into the lion’s den, it would be to go back on his word and subsequently cause a ripple of uncertainty to ripple through his kingdom. His power and authority would not allow him to go back on this decree even to save the man of God. Sound familiar? God is not a man. He cannot lie or change His Mind. It would compromise His Authority and make His Power invalid. His Perfection is what makes Him Supreme and Omnipotent. He is Sovereign. This is why Jesus had to pay the ultimate price as the Sacrifice for our sin.

God sent an angel to shut to save Daniel. The king fasted and prayed all night for his servant’s safety. He wanted to believe that Daniel’s God would save him from certain death. I believe the King of Kings is always pulling for us, too. Hoping that this will be the day our trust in Him is secure. The moment that our faith keeps us firmly positioned in His Presence. There was not a scratch on Daniel when he was taken from the den that day. Not a proverbial “hair out of place.” God didn’t promise that we would not hear the roar of the lion or even find ourselves sleeping in his den, but He did promise that in His Presence, in the Shadow of the Almighty, that He would be our Refuge. He is our Protector and Defender. Psalm 91 says “for he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Psalm 34:9-10 (NLT) Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Do you hear the roar of the lion today? Is fear creeping in that you will be overtaken? Do you feel forgotten in the lion’s den sure to be consumed? Do not fear. Have faith today. God is with you. He is in you. He is working for you. The roar of the lion is based on his hunger not his power. In fact, the lioness are the real huntress in nature. The king of this world may be asserting his power but it is temporary and will soon be destroyed. His breath is filled with lies. He walks with his “pride” which is the small realm of influence that he has. The enemy is desperate. He cannot overtake anyone who dwells in the refuge called God’s Presence. Those who trust the Lord will not only survive but thrive lacking no good thing.

Proverbs 28:1 (NLT) The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.

I believe that based on Proverbs 28:1 – the Lord does not want us to cower in His Presence but become filled with boldness and confidence because He who is greater lives in me. When will the church start roaring back at the world? When will our voice shout to the victim running from the lion to come with us where you are safe from harm? When will the church become the refuge that Christ ordained us to be? When we stop running from the lion’s roar and come back roaring! Praising His Name. Trusting His Word. Having faith in His Kingdom enough to live there now and invest in our future with hope.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Lying in bed in the middle of a foreign country surrounded by the jungles of Africa, I did not feel one ounce of fear when I heard the lion’s roar. Why? I knew that I was well-protected. I could hear the sounds of the night and felt the darkness surrounding me but it did not cause me to fear or worry that I was in any danger. God wants His Presence to be that profound in our life. So that when the enemy shouts at us, we are not afraid. When darkness is foreboding, the Light of His Love comes shining through. During the tests and trials that are inevitable to develop our faith and trust in Him, the Lord has given us freedom that no man or beast can take from us. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us are his lies. Once you know the truth, you will no longer believe the lie. With all this in mind, how loud is the lion’s roar now?

Come into His Presence today with boldness and confidence. The Lord wants to be our refuge and strength. It is up to us if we will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty with peace that passes understanding and inexpressible joy or will we live on the run? I choose you today Lion of Judah. Give me back my voice. Fill my mouth with Your Promises today to dismiss every lie the enemy offers. I trust you today! Let the lion’s roar.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Have You Asked?

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

My girls are known for strategically asking and making requests from us. They know what is more than likely a yes and then the odds of no for certain things. When it comes to the things that they want, they will be quick to tell you ask dad. He is much easier then mom who is often referred to as the “hammer”. I am commonly referred to as the “hammer” because I am able to say, “No”. My husband has such a soft heart for these kids. Despite the burly guy with the full beard, behind the façade of strength and toughness, there is a giant soft, squishy teddy bear. There are times when they will come straight to me and ask for what they want but when the stakes are high, they try to bypass me making it dad first. He is more likely to say, “Yes!”

Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us. He wants His Goodness to overflow as abundance in our daily life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the one who allows us access to the Father’s Love and all its benefits. God has always loved us. He is constantly trying to make His Way closer to us bringing heaven to earth to connect with His Children. Do you believe that today? What we believe about God as a Father is often formed by our experience with our natural caregivers. Those who have experienced disappointment in natural parental relationships will extend these traits and characteristics to the Lord. There is a reason why we need the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts day by day. We need Him to change our mind so that we will approach the Throne of God with confidence and boldness as He has invited us to through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I am overcome almost daily by a Savior and Lord who knows my weaknesses yet invites me to continually come boldly into His Presence asking for those I want, need and desire with full confidence that He will open His Hand and grant these pleasures evermore. (Psalm 16:11) The Holy Spirit points us in the right direction so we can walk in the Goodness of God. But sometimes we shrink back from God’s Hand fearful of the consequences of our failure and inability to live the perfect life. Afraid of disappointment – we avoid the Father and His Presence altogether.

Our youngest daughter is not limited by doors or partitions. When she was very young, she learned that she could unlock the door to almost any room in our house with a butter knife. So if someone locked her out, she would go to the kitchen and grab a “key”. She assumed she was welcome and the locked door did not apply to her. One morning while getting ready for church, my husband locked our bedroom door and our bathroom door to avoid interruption during while getting ready. He was just getting out of the shower when the door flew open. I caught it mid swing to close it quickly as our daughter shrieked. Thankfully my husband’s dignity was preserved and our youngest was only startled by my abruptness. As I comforted her in the other room, she asked me why I didn’t tell her that dad was in the shower. I informed her that we had closed and locked not one but two doors which she had opened uninvited and unannounced to which she replied, “I didn’t know you were trying to keep me out.” She is a persistent one. She doesn’t like being separated from us. She doesn’t believe a locked door applies to her even today.

What if we as God’s Precious Children began to believe the same way? What if we decided that God really is a Good Father? What if we believed that He really does want good things for us? Would we ask more? Would we see more? Would we begin to knock? Ephesians 3:12 reminds us today that “because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence.”

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I wonder how many things in life that we have settled for out of fear of asking God to intervene. Maybe afraid that He will not come? Perhaps we do not believe that His Power is available to us? Persistent prayer has given way to comfortable compromise. What if that which we are asking for takes a little too long? Do we stop waiting and move on? Yes, I am sliding my hand up. It is hard to wait on the Lord sometimes…okay a lot of the time. Our circumstances, conditions and crises are real. We feel the pain and frustration in each trial yet must walk by faith not by sight. This is our plight. It is the true test of our faith. Are we willing to hang on to the promise even the pain until Jesus comes? Keep asking. You will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will open. It sounds so simple. It is caught up in just two verses. It can take a lifetime to understand the true meaning of pursing God and His Promises.

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

Earning the prestigious title of “hammer” in this group of comedians did not come because my children are not blessed or spoiled to say the least. It came because I do not just give them anything on a whim. To whom much is given much is required. I am not just going to hand disobedient and unfaithful children anything, it would be like handing a loaded gun to a toddler. I must teach my kids how to live and responsibility along the way. I must teach them how to live in receiving just as giving.

There are two reasons that we do not ask the Lord for certain things. The first is disbelief. We doubt God will do what we ask Him to do for us. The disciples could not cast out a demon. They were perplexed. Jesus told them the problem, “You do not have faith.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Why? Because it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. Without faith, we cannot access the Father. We ask. We knock. We seek. But until we ask by faith. Knock by faith. Seek God by faith. We will continue to be frustrated.

There are also times we do not ask the Lord or even seek Him because we become distracted. We want natural relief when God wants to give us supernatural release. Trials and temptations are a part of our life. They are unavoidable. The Lord knows the plans that He has for you. He has made them good with a future and hope. We are ready to settle for lesser things when the journey takes a turn for the worse. In the depth of the darkness or bottom of the valley, we abandon our promise and run from the pain. We must know what we believe and keep our eyes on Jesus to obtain those things we want, need or desire in life.

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.”

In Mark 6 is the story of Herodias, the daughter of King Herod Antipas. She danced for her father at his birthday party and he vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom.” Her mother hated John the Baptist who had been imprisoned by the king at her request. When she inquired of her mother what to ask for, she told her to request the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The girl petitioned the king for her mother’s request and it was granted that very day. I wonder if we do not know what to ask for sometimes. We limit our scope of vision to the present. Whatever it is that will give us relief rather than release? We cry out to God in the natural and overlook what He is doing supernaturally in our life.

As if the voices and opinions of others is not enough, the enemy questions God’s Word and His Faithfulness. This is the voice that caused sin to be introduced into the world in the first place. The enemy questioned the woman about the scripture. She fell for it. Will you? Will I? Temptation comes in the form of a question. If we can answer the question with truth, we will make an informed choice. However, since most people to not read, study or know the Word of God, they fall for it all. We can have everything the Word of God says we can have and obtain it exactly as the Lord instructs through His Word and His Spirit. By faith, it is received. We must decide who and what we believe or prayers will remain unanswered.

Matthew 18:18-20 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

To see Heaven come to earth and miracles to happen again requires agreement in the Church. We must decide to have faith in God together that overcomes ever relationship obstacle that has been built. If we can learn to agree, God’s Kingdom will come and touch the earth again. The Lord will live in the midst of our disagreement. He must wait for us to decide to come together and agree. Though we confess with our mouth that despite all our differences that we are united in purpose – we are not. Agreement will permeate relationships and solve those differences in order for the Lord to live among His Followers. My faith in God will impact my relationships. The more I know Him the more I trust Him. The more I trust Him the greater my expectation is in Him removing it from people.

The woman at the well came to satisfy her thirst in the natural and was offered the supernatural. She did not immediately understand exactly what Jesus was offering her because she was caught up in the natural. (John 4:9-14) Jesus broke her hard heart and living water came pouring out of her. How many prayers might be answered if we stopped worrying about what other people thought and decided to ask, seek and knock together wholeheartedly? What if we stopped looking around when offered the opportunity to come and pray at an altar and pressed into His Presence once again? Is your life perfect? Mine is not either. Are you still falling short? Me, too. Do you want the Lord with all your mind, soul and body? You are not going to find Him sitting on pride and self-righteousness but must go through the Son to get to the Father.

My kids will work hard to get to dad when it comes to “good gifts” and even “unreasonable requests”. They know that their daddy wants to bless them. He will do everything in his power to make their dream a reality. What if we have some of that confidence in God our Father? Would it make a difference? Yes, we would continue asking not stopping as long as we have breath. We would keep knocking until our hand or the door falls off one. We would keep seeking until we find Jesus never settling for the lesser things just to know Him more. Have you stopped asking today? Have you stopped knocking? Are you tired of seeking? Do not give up. The Father is waiting to bless you. Continue to walk by faith and not by sight. He will answer. He will open. He will be found. He will grant your requests if you do not give up. Ask one more time, knock again, and take one step deeper by faith. This just might be the day! If you don’t, then you will never know.

John 16:23-24 (NLT) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

Missing Church

missing-church

I John 2:28-29 (NLT) And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.

I will be missing church today. After a fun-filled girl’s weekend, I am serenaded by wiped out sleeping people this morning. In just a little while they will begin to stumble out of bed and pack up to head back home. Meanwhile at home, everyone is preparing to head to the building called church and praise our Savior. Part of this weekend included worshipping Jesus in an open stadium under a starry sky. I believe that could be considered “church”, too. Just because it is not an organized event with a published schedule and streamlined program doesn’t make it any more “church”.

We are the church. Collectively and corporately and more importantly individually – we are the Body of Christ being knit together in His Love, Mercy and Grace. It is hard to see this important truth when caught in the rigors of routine. This morning I miss my church. I would love to be there serving and worshipping with my husband, family, friends, acquaintances and even the visitors who may wander in. It is possible and entirely likely that the Holy Spirit will meet them there even though I am not. So I think I will have church here in the quiet of the morning, I can miss my church family but I don’t have to miss my church.

Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:19–21), the father of Methuselah, and the great grandfather of Noah. Not very much is written about Enoch, yet what little there is points to a tremendous man of faith who lived in complete unity with God. The kind of unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17. Living 365 years, one might think there might be more details of his life shared with us. Or maybe God wanted to shine a spotlight on the most important component of our religion. It is a true relationship with Jesus Christ. United with His Will, Word and Way living on purpose so much in fact that the world becomes dead to us. It is the point when all we want, need and desire is to be one with the Lord.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Ironically, Enoch was in the same situation that you and I are. He knew of the Messiah and that He was coming but did not live when Jesus lived. He did not hear of His Birth or witness His Death, but Enoch had faith. So much so in fact that he was “taken up to heaven without dying.” He simply disappeared because God swept him away. I love the lost feeling in worship. When we begin to praise the Lord until every weight and worry melts off our shoulders so we can lift our hands. The moment bondage ends with chains falling from us and our heart captivated with lesser things is finally free to commune with our Savior again. God made it clear from the beginning in the cool breezes of the garden that His Intent was to live with us, be with us, walk and talk with us. God loves us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

It is easy sometimes to get lost in this life. We are presented the opportunity to worry, stress and become anxious with mounting responsibility, peer pressure to perform, and a church lost in religion that sometimes forgets it is all about a true relationship with Jesus Christ from beginning to end. Everyone will have a grave marker with a date. The date usually has a little hyphen between the day that we enter this world and the one God chose for us to leave it. This is the brevity of life. It is our opportunity to take our faith and give it to the Lord. Perhaps, that is why God made it so simple and the enemy uses its simplicity to make us stumble right over it. We are to do what is right. We are to love mercy. We are to walk humbly with God. That’s it. Coming back to the heart of worship is the realization that we make more out of worshipping the Lord than what it should be. We give Him everything we can yet fail to give the Lord our heart, surrender our way to take up our cross and follow Him. Just to walk with Jesus – day by day and moment by moment.

Amos 3:3 (NLT) Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?

My girlfriend and I took four girls to Walt Disney World. Before leaving on the trip, we bought matching t-shirts with monogrammed Mickey Mouse ears on the front and #Disney Squad on the back. It really was just a cute gesture in the beginning. I discovered it to a great tool in the park which was exceptionally crowded. I could easily pick out the girls in the midst of large groups of people. It unified our little “squad”. Throughout the day, we would discuss where to head to next and what each person would like to do or see. It was important that we agree and walk together so no one became lost along the way.

Without agreeing on the direction two people cannot walk together and most certainly one must yield their way. God is perfect. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He said it, He does it and it is complete whether manifested in our life or not – it is finished. With this in mind, Enoch yielded his life completely to the Lord. He lived in total and complete agreement with the Lord. This included living a life of true religion which is godliness, righteousness and self-control.

Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis 5:23-24. These are qualities and characteristics that led Enoch straight into Heaven never to experience the sting of death:

  • Walked with God setting God before self.
  • Acted as though God was always present.
  • Lived in communion with God in both ordinances and providences.
    • Ordinance – He obeyed God’s Authoritative Law.
    • Providence – He lived in God’s Divine Care and Direction.
  • Made God’s Word the rule.
  • Made God’s Glory the end.
  • Constant care and endeavor in all things to please God.
  • Did not want to offend the Lord.
  • Complied with God’s Will.
  • Concurred with God’s Design.
  • Worked with God.
  • Followed the Lord always.

If I want to experience a life like Enoch, I must follow his example. It is a good one. To be honest, sometimes I forget that the excellence and perfection in my life are Jesus Christ and nothing I can do or say. I must simply, humbly, soberly and completely follow Jesus to be with Him forever. Selah.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Enoch lived true religion. He also lived a new religion. Enoch was entirely dead to this world. Enoch did not want to chase God or even follow Him at a distance. No, this man wanted to walk right beside Him. The Lord cannot stand next to me in my sin not yet covered by grace or His Goodness will consume it. The Light must overtake the darkness by rule so it means that I can only pursue God until I completely repent with a heart intent on not sinning for the love of my Savior. Enoch walked without earthly ties. He did not “get caught up in civilian affairs” but was a man on a mission to be with His God. He lived his residency in heaven while still on this earth. Lord, teach me to live a new religion just like Enoch did.

I Peter 2:9-12 (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.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Enoch lived true religion. He lived a new religion. Enoch also lived a “do” religion. He was a priest by profession. In most legacy passages in the Bible, it simply states the individual “lived” but by divine inspiration, Enoch’s legacy passage says, “walked with God.” God was the business of Enoch as a priest. You and I are part of a royal priesthood thanks to Jesus Christ so we are called to the same business. Christ is our business. Salvation is our business plan built to prosper our life by faith. Are we working the plan correctly or failing miserably? It is question of faith nothing more or less. Enoch lived as a “temporary resident and foreigner” in this world completely consumed by His Creator’s Love. Do I live that way?

Our life should give evidence of the joy and support experienced in Jesus Christ. This satisfaction that emanates from our life can only be reflected when the Lord is glorified in and through our walk with Him. Without a true commitment and consistent relationship with Jesus Christ including repentance, surrender, submission and humility, we will never come close to walking with God as Enoch did. Our life is a continual process of producing spiritual fruit such as love, joy, kindness, goodness, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and self-control. I cannot make these characteristics consistent in my life only the Lord can. His Spirit lives in me and thrives all the more in His Presence.

John 4:24 (NLT) For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Today I am missing church – the building I go to and the people that fill it. I am not missing church completely. God is a Spirit. His Presence is with me always. His Spirit lives inside of me. I have everything I need to worship the Lord every day, all day and all by myself. If I want to live like Enoch and experience the same kind of communion and fellowship that he had with the Lord, then I should probably do the things he did. I need a true religion that is based solely on walking WITH my God. I need a new religion not bent on rules and regulations but rather one that brings Heaven to earth along with all the miracles, signs and wonders that reflect the Glory of God in my life. Finally, I must live a “do” religion always representing the royal priesthood I am a part of with commitment, consistency and consecrating my life to Jesus one day at a time.

Psalm 15:1-2 (NLT) Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill. Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.