Now and Later

Now and Later

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When I was a kid, my favorite candy was called “Now and Later”. Small squares of taffy individually wrapped in a variety of flavors wrapped in colorful paper sold at every corner store. A bit sour at first, it took a while to chew it until it softened and completely swallow it because it stuck to every corner of your mouth. The inventor decided to take a bar of taffy and cut it up so it could be enjoyed – you guessed it – now and later. Previously the bar was sold in whole pieces so it had to be consumed all at once. Surprisingly this candy has withstood the test of time and is still available in nineteen different flavors. Have you ever eaten a “Now and Later” candy? It is very dense, thick and chewy. At first it requires a great deal of jaw strength and a whole lot of work to make it soft enough to enjoy. It takes a while to process and swallow to digest. So it is with faith and the process is called endurance. The only requirement is patience.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation now. Afterward (later), they will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. Why would God test and tempt us now? He doesn’t. God will test us, but it is our flesh that does the tempting. Today – there are many in the middle of a test who think God is tempting them or otherwise engaging them in this difficult process. It is human nature to try to escape those situations and conditions that require us to “patiently endure.” Who wants to be stretched? Who asks to struggle? Yet throughout our life certain circumstances and difficult conditions call for this very thing. We must learn to patiently endure because Jesus told us those who “endure to the end will be saved.” I think we have painted a multifaceted picture with brilliant color of what that means in accordance with our situation or condition. However, God in all things sets forth a redemption process in our life. We endure the process and He produces the outcome. Not just any outcome, the best of all possible outcomes. He gives us victory in all things through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are overcomers.

What does it mean to patiently endure? I looked up both words and here is what I have come up with. To be patient means bearing provocation. Provocation is anything that incites, instigates, angers or irritates. Provocation occurs each day. People seem to be the ones who hit the deepest nerve and many will give credit to the enemy. Proverbs tells us that if we fall under pressure that our strength is too small. There is no provocation that can overtake us unless it is our reaction to give in to it. Provocation is like the giant taunting David in the midst of the battlefield. His words and verbal attack could not hurt God’s Man. He patiently endured his brothers ridicule and the Philistines banter. He won!

To be patient means bearing annoyance. I grow annoyed every day don’t you? Little things become bigger things by dwelling upon them. How many thorns in the flesh do you have? Overcoming annoyance means to learn to ignore disturbances and those pointless arguments. We must learn to focus on the One who brings peace and rest to our mind, will and emotions. Those who trust the Lord will have perfect peace. Annoyances become disturbances that distract us. Leading us from following Jesus to be driven by the fuel of emotionalism.

To be patient means bearing misfortune. Everything may not work out the way that we think it will or expect it to but that does not mean it is not working in our favor. God takes every detail of our life and works it out for our good and His Glory. When reading the Gospels, it is hard to understand sometimes the doubt and disbelief exhibited by the disciples. However, we have the whole picture. We see Jesus on the Cross. We know that He released His Spirit and soon it would be available to us. We know that He is coming back from the dead and resurrected to life. But to these men, this was real life. Depicted in real time without a higher perspective or futuristic vantage point. They say Jesus persecuted. They witnessed the violent beatings and torture of the Man they called Messiah. They heard the nails being driven into His Hands and Feet. They experienced the humiliation of the Cross and the belittling of those who watched everything they believed made a sacrifice that day. We were not. We are given the whole story beginning to end. Yet many still do not believe…it was the same then as it is now. Unmet expectation only means that it was not in Jesus Christ. He will fulfill every desire of our heart if we are patient in misfortune.

Patience is bearing delays, deferment or postponement in life. It means taking a seat right there and being still when God says, “Wait.” I don’t like to wait. In fact, over time I can see all the ways the Lord has offered me opportunities to learn to wait. A little here and a little more there. Over time, I have become much more patient. From my early childhood to young adulthood, my grandmother probably told me once a day – you must be patient. The church told me no matter what to never pray for patience for the process is too hard. Knowing all this, the Word of God tells me that I must by all means endure the process that produces patience to receive God’s Blessing. Proverbs says a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. I wonder if God proverbially calls life a tree so that we will come to realize growing faith is a slow process involving many seasons. We will wait. Those who wait in the Lord are promised not just the strength to do so but in their humble state to be lifted up at just the right time. I know you are tired of waiting – I feel your pain. I also know the joy and life that comes when the dream or desire is finally fulfilled. It is always worth the wait.

To be patient is to bear hardship. Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people. Sin is the rampant. Love has grown cold. Worldly expectation cannot count on fulfillment because the heart is fickle. Difficulties are certain. Oppression will come. Suffering is inevitable. Feeling any better yet?

Of course, the final thing and probably the one most understood is pain. Human beings experience pain from birth. It is a common thread. We know how to support each other through painful processes including physical infirmities, emotional breakdowns and mental suffering. Most people have some form of compassion. Pain is part of life because of sin. It was introduced by the first humans who chose their way over God’s Plan. They picked the lie over the Truth and so here we are now. Your sin does not necessarily produce the pain in your life because of anything you do or do not do. It is just a prevailing factor of human depravity. If a virus or germ goes undetected by our immune system, it becomes an infection. If our body doesn’t come against it fighting it, it will lead to death. Sin is a factor in our DNA. God’s Word, His Will and His Way are given to us and we are guided by His Spirit to avoid it. However, we are still subject to the invasion of our life due to the sin that is already here. God’s Grace given in Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin and death over our life. Though there is pain, there is the promise that He will relieve our pain, wipe our tears, and heal us forever.

All of those bearings in life will inevitably happen in your lifetime, but the thing that makes the difference between going through them or to do so patiently is this: to do so with fortitude and calm without complaint, anger or the like. I have endured many things in life. However, by definition there are not many of them which I have done so successfully. I have quit and I have definitely complained. I have been angry. Pitched a fit. Walked away. How about you? God uses these natural situations and everyday occurs us to teach us endurance. To endure means to bear without resistance, to hold out against, to sustain without impairment. It is to tolerate and put up with it. Those who learn to do so are promised God’s Blessing in their life now and later.

Maybe you are thinking as you read this – you have outlined my life, trials, tests and temptation in great detail – are you really trying to make me feel better about it? “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a change to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing!” God has a purpose in this process called life. It is not easy. It requires patient endurance that is only possible by faith and confident hope. That is not easy either – faith is evidence of unseen things that cannot be experienced in the natural. It is to explore possibility in the impossible. It to live a life that is illogical compared to our flesh and human nature. It takes time to produce such a change in the heart and mind. Trouble is when the pressure and pain that produces endurance hit us – it is our desire and temptation to escape. Temptation is the personal desire to give up, give in, or go another way when faced with obstacles and oppression the force the God in us to be expelled from us. The pressure of death to life is overwhelming. New life takes time. Like a tree planted by the riverbank going through many seasons, but the promise is that we will prosper in all of them. A tree must withstand every season because it is planted with deep roots in the ground. What about you? Are you planted in a firm foundation of faith? Are you patiently enduring the change of each season? Are you struggling just to hang on? Does the end of your rope appear to be a disappearing thread?

I Peter 2:19-21 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

I used to perceive God only as futuristic. This was my way of avoiding the things I did not understand or could not reconcile to the Love of God and found contradictory to His Character. There will be things in my heart and mind that I struggle with. Certain outcomes that do not meet my expectation. Are you patiently enduring today or just struggling to get by? I want to encourage you today. If we decide to apply faith and confidence to our struggles each day, it will produce peace and joy as God begins to complete the work that He began in us. Do not be discouraged. The disciples struggled to believe in all things with Jesus right there with them. God is pleased when we patiently endure. He did not say that we were perfect, He is perfect. It is His Perfection that blesses us as He makes good out of every detail of our life. We must only try wholehearted to seek Him and we will find Him. Patient endurance is holding on to our faith without wavering from our faith. He knows life is hard. He knows we are tempted. He knows we are only human. He is working every detail for our good. His Blessing is not our success or failure to overcome the obstacles presented in each day but our simple obedience called patient endurance.

Mark 6:47-50 (NLT)  Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 

When the disciples were caught in a storm in the pitch black darkness right in the middle of the lake, Jesus was walking across the lake. We often think it is to them, but in the Gospel of Mark it tells us that Jesus was going to pass them by on His Way to the other side. It was a test to measure their faith. Their faith ran out before they made it to the other side. They cried out to the Lord in fear and terror. So He came to them… Jesus will do the exact same thing for you. Yes this may be a test. This may be the opportunity God has designed to grow you in faith and confidence. If you are in need of strength or courage, cry out to Jesus today. He did not tell you that you must do it alone. He is our example. The Lord is our every present help. We are not called to be the strong ones but to be yoked with Jesus so He can be our strength. Don’t go it alone. He is our Lord both now and later.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT) 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.

 

 

Fizzy Soda

Fizzy Soda

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 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.

Have you ever been then grocery getter for your house? You have those thin and useless plastic bags rolling around in the back of the car. When you get home an army of helpers hoping to plunder the new supplies arrive to help carry the hoard in. Some of those big two-liter bottles of soda were on sale so you got them BOGO or to the novice shopper – buy one, get one free. Immediately, my people turn up their nose at them. In my efforts to be a wise consumer, I find that they do not want the surplus of soda and list their complaints. Opening the bottles at the release of pressure, the dark syrupy liquid becomes a foaming bomb shooting soda everywhere creating a huge mess that even the dog is incapable of licking it all up. They don’t like the way that after a day or so they go flat – no matter how tight the lid is kept or how quickly they try to consume it. When the fizz is gone – so is their appetite for the once coveted drink. In all fairness, I bought them for portion control. Tired of pouring their unwanted, forgotten soft drinks down the sink that sounds like change falling in the drain. Yet now, I have a garage full of unwanted bottles but wait what just happened? Suddenly, they are grabbing water bottles instead. How did that happen?

For more than a week, I have had this image of fizzy soda in my head along with the idea that it is just like the zeal a Christian might have at first for the things of God. We come to the Lord full of expectation and excited about the potential of His Spirit’s Inhabitation in life. But once the “fizz” is gone, our life goes flat so we return to our old life and old way of thinking abandoning the potential of faith in God that remains there. Where are we once the excitement is gone? What happens when things take longer than expected? Why is discipline necessary? God is greater than all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He supplies all we need but when I ask I must wait. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. We must desire to move from things that are not good for us to those things that benefit our life. It will be a struggle in a world that offers immediate gratification and feeds our emotions. God wants us to be godly people who have joy in Him and those who trust Him will lack no good thing.

For the last month or so, I have been attempting to give up a beloved diet drink. Is it bad for me? Depends on who you ask. Water is better for me. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. When I was young, my birth mom was a “Coke” addict in the soft drink form. She gave it to us freely. As I began to share time between both parents’ homes, my new mom provided sweet tea – the soft drink of the South. Loved it and consumed it freely. However, I became more aware as I grew older that water is a much better choice. However, I don’t necessarily want water. I don’t care for the taste. I don’t really want it or desire it. It is good for me in many ways. It is the best for my body health wise. It is excellent for my skin. It keeps me well-hydrated. But I prefer other things and none of that I desire is illegal or prohibited. I make the choice to drink a gallon of water or at least try to every day. What I have found is the more water I consume the less capacity that I have for those things that are not as good for me. Water is more beneficial. How does this all tie together? I am glad that you asked.

So many times, we try to make a Godly life resemble our good life worldly expectations applying our appetite to the things that the Holy Spirit would like to do in us and through us. Did you know that the primary content in all soft drinks is water? We add the sugar or sugar substitute. We put the carbonation in it that makes it fizzy. Have you ever noticed that conscientious parents do not give their newborns soft drinks or tea? They give them milk. If not straight from mom, they sterilize the bottles. Everything they do is to make sure that their baby grows, develops and matures. God sees us as His Children. He feels the same way.

I Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Pure spiritual milk. What is it? I believe that it is the Word of God. We must know the Word to enter fully into a productive relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. Salvation is not an arranged marriage but a personal choice to engage in an active and committed relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. We make that choice. All things are permissible yet not all things are beneficial. Just as in our relationships naturally, there must be development and growth to mature our relationship so it is no longer superficial. If we are not growing in the Lord, we are growing apart from Him. I find it interesting that in this passage, it says, “Get rid of all evil behavior.” Then it begins to talk about things that destroy relationships first. To cry out for nourishment once we have tasted the Lord’s Kindness is to grow in our knowledge and capacity to love the Lord and other people. We focus on our list of seven deadly sins and regard religious rules and regulations but miss the part about love. God is love. To be godly we must be good lovers.

John 7:38 (NLT) “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

A newborn primarily exists on milk although the newest parenting trend does add water at an early age. When my babies were little, I only gave them milk, some juice and lots of water. Growing in our walk with Christ, spiritual milk gives way to living water. Jesus promised that living water would flow from His Heart to us. He has given us His Spirit. The Word of God works with the Spirit of God to allow us those benefits offered to those who choose the better way over the permissible options in life. We must discipline our body and mind to live a healthy spiritual life. Have you ever tried to take candy from a baby?

The little children at our church flock to “Memaw” a beloved matriarch. She always has a sugary candy treat for them so after service like little ducklings they flock to her. They want the contents of her big bag. They know she has treats for them. However, mom and dad have the opportunity to train their children in healthy habits. Thank God I am headed into “memaw” days! I found with my own children that in order to take something from them, I offered them a better choice. If they did not want the new thing, they would often pitch a fit. As a mom, I hated that they were so upset but my heart was set on giving them the very best start in life. Candy and sugar was limited. I made sure they were given the right food – all the things that were nutritious. Too many times, it is human nature to cave in to emotions rather than stand strong for goodness and so it is with the church.

Romans 10:1-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

To pursue God emotionally but not spiritually is misdirected zeal. To claim to know Him but not take in the spiritual milk and living water is spiritual suicide. You are starving your spirit to feed your flesh. False teachers pave new roads every day and we fall for it because our flesh is strong and our spirit weak. Many years ago, in order to lose some weight, I switched from full-powered soft drinks to diet soda. Ironically or not so much, it was after a Daniel Fast, where for a solid month I only drank water. After becoming addicted to them, I read an article that warned of the high sodium content in diet drinks that they wreaked havoc on weight loss efforts. How is this possible? Well, the sodium that settled in our body soaked up the water and got fat, too to put it in layman’s terms. Bottom line – water retention. Ugh! Darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Is it possible that rather than relying on water – we are substituting things in our life that are not God’s Best and of no benefit. Absolutely.

Zeal is not bad. In fact, the Bible encourages and endorses spiritual fervor for the Living God. Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. See the “but” – it is our warning. It is easy to direct our zeal toward the Lord, and then get detoured, delayed, or distracted. In fact, it is the greatest scheme of the enemy. He challenges our knowledge of God every day in the temptations of life. Religion is the diet soda of the church. Rather than truly loving people somehow church folks get an appetite for judgment and hypocrisy based on false knowledge of God who expects love to be our first and foremost motivation. If I can do it, God is not required. It’s everything I cannot do that is where grace causes His Power to manifest. I am not supposed to be strong but weak and reliant on Jesus Christ for all things every day. The psalmist admits in Psalm 119 that “zeal wears me out” and goes on to admit that his enemies ignore his words. Words must hold power. The power of my words is based on my knowledge of the Truth and its ability to set me free. I am free to choose the life I live.

God is not emotional. Our feelings do not move the heart of God or His Hand, His Focus is set on our future. He is working in us now for forever. Endurance means making it to the end. It is a struggle because usually somewhere around the middle we begin to wonder what were we thinking. Towards the end, everything in us screams quit. Those who endure to the end are honored because not many will. When the zeal is gone and the fizz goes flat in their spiritual life, many become discouraged, discontent and disinterested in Living Water which runs steadily and consistently in us. Water seems boring. It doesn’t seem like anything of worth. Yet 71% of the earth is covered in it, and mankind is made up of about 60% water. It would seem that water is important. Living water is essential to spiritual survival and one’s ability to thrive in Jesus Christ. Maybe there are substitutions in our life that must be filtered out so that we can engage in spiritual growth and development again rather attempting to survive in deprivation.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

People spend a great deal of time on what they consume. Whether deciding what to eat or where to eat. Challenged to consume more or eat less or even just make better food choices. Intake is a primary concern in many households. There are even some that wonder if they will get to eat. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. The first day of the water challenge was horrible for me. I didn’t want to drink one glass of water let alone almost eight. Some days I do great and other days I choke it down. I know that if I stick to it that over time I will develop a taste for it. Why the struggle? Water is good for me. It is good for my body and skin. I hate when my flesh dictates things so the more it fights me – the more I fight back. I want a healthy body.

God is not building a building – He is creating a body. The Body of Christ. The Bride for His Son. It is important that I do my part to be the best member of the Kingdom I can be not for others or even me but to be who I promised to be when I partnered with Jesus. I would become less and He would be more. I would decrease so He could increase. I John 3:20-21 is clear that God is not an emotionally-driven God. Thank you, Lord! His People are emotional enough. When our spiritual life goes flat, maybe God is facilitating an appetite change in us that will produce growth and maturity. He is giving us something better if we will endure the process of refinement. Our flesh wants none of it and will fight it all the way. Until our relationship is not emotional but faithful – the blessings and benefits promised in His Word may seem elusive. Nothing could be further from the truth – they are exclusive. Exclusively for God’s Children, those who decide to use their freedom to become part of the Body of Christ rather than building another church.

To become rooted and grounded in the Love of God through Jesus Christ, we must stop wavering back and forth. Discipline gives way to faithfulness when we decide to engage in the process called endurance. We must move from the emotionalism of infancy into the steadfastness of adulthood – the Body of Christ must mature to become effective. The Holy Spirit and Goodness of God’s Word produce the spiritual growth potential in the lives of those who are committed to its consumption daily. (Hebrews 6:1-6) We must learn to hold on to the progress made in our spiritual life and build upon it. (Philippians 3:14-16) If our goal is to press on and obtain the high calling, we need something to stand on. The firm foundation of faith built in trust is the only way to reach the heavenlies and bring it to earth. God promised that our earthly life and heavenly existence can be connected in heaven and on the earth. We put in the effort.

Discipline is not a warm fuzzy feeling but a tough painful process. Immediate gratification is not part of it but endurance is. There may be some things in our life that although they are permissible are not beneficial to our walk with the Lord. When runners pass a checkpoint, they are not handed coffee or a can of soda. The helpers hand them water or a supplement filled with electrolytes to replace those used while they run. What do we give others when tired, thirsty or weary? When weighted with sin, do we give them yet another set of rules to fail at or the grace that has been so sufficient for me? The first discipline that is to be readily accepted in the modern church is love. Not love for the rules and regulations set forth by religion, but to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and relaying it to the world including every single person in it. Our language is love and we must not only speak it but live it. You cannot give what you do not have. God’s Word and His Spirit give us new life to give to others. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. Has your spiritual fervor gone flat? Are you growing disinterested in God’s Way? It is time to make a change. Call a fast. Ask the Lord to stir you up. It is up to you to develop a taste for spiritual things rather than feeding full of substitutions. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life – now we just have to tap into it. It’s a choice. Better life or best life. Permissible or beneficial. Good or God! I know what I am after…how about you?

2 Peter 1:3-8 (NLT) His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Life in a Pressure Cooker

life-in-a-pressure-cooker

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

The pressure cooker was invented by a Frenchman, by the name of Denis Papin, who was a scientist rather than a renowned chef. His goal was more of a science experiment in physics more than a culinary innovation. The first pressure cooker was called the “Digester”. A solid metal pot with an airtight lid and steam-release value on top to adjust accordingly. The early models of his invention resulted in many explosions that ultimately led to the development of the piston-and-cylinder. The Digester was also the forerunner to the autoclave used to clean medical utensils before and after each use for hygienic purposes. I have never used a pressure cooker, but have had food cooked in one. The high pressure cooking brings out the moisture in food making even the toughest meat tender. It cooks much faster than normal as the boiling point is raised from 212 to 250 degrees. However, by design, it can be a bit intimidating with the bubbling value that shoots out steam under pressure. Though I cannot relate to cooking with pressure, I certainly will “amen” that I live under constant pressure.

“Pressed by every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.” The pressures of life though unseen can feel unbearable at times. Pressure is force upon the surface of an object. Life is fueled by expectation influenced by society, culture and even religion. Certain expectations that create external pressure to perform up to the level of the expectancy of others, self and yes, God. We have the Light of God’s Love within us and it is trying to make its way out. All the while the enemy tries to snuff it out with half-truths, lies and deceptions meant to make us give in, give out and buckle under the pressures of life. But what if the pressure you are feeling is not from external force but internal resistance trying to extract our purpose and fill our life with God’s Goodness to His Glory. The Light in us resisting the darkness around us and we are caught in the middle. What if the pressure is not to crush us but promote us to the position God intended for us? We are filled with a Great Treasure not meant to be hidden under a basket but positioned on a hill high above the city for all to see. Our life is not supposed to be ordinary but extraordinary thanks to the God in us. Natural gives way to supernatural by allowing God to move through us … the process that is used most by God is pressure. Pressure to change. Pressed to release. To be pressed down, shaken together so the Lord can run over in every area of life. Are you feeling the pressure today?

Job 23:8-14 (NLT) I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

One of the most challenging things about God and a pressure cooker is that you cannot see what’s going on inside of them. The pressure cooker is sealed for the entire time. Who can see or really know what God is up to inside of us? During times of testing, it is only natural to feel like God has abandoned us when nothing could be farther from the Truth. He prepared you for this moment when pressure surrounds us. He has been positioning you for such a time as this. When taking a test in school, does the teacher give you the answers during the exam? No, the answers were provided before the day of the test. God prepares us along the way with His Word. He teaches us discipline. He gives us discernment so that when the time comes to be tested – we will pass. If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (Proverbs 21:10) Job expresses this very feeling in Job 23:8-9 but comes to a very important conclusion by faith – “But he knows where I am going, and when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”

What is the purpose of the test? God is working to develop faith in us to be used to overcome and prosper. To be successful in all we do demands obedience to His Word, Will and Way. This is not about a religion or church guidelines. No, this about purpose and destiny inscribed on your heart and brought about by Christ living and breathing inside of you. Too often, we do what people say and don’t listen for God’s Voice or study His Word or follow His Way. Instead we rely on people to take us somewhere they have never been and do for us only what God can do. God applies pressure so that we will not settle for where we are, who we are or what we have. He wants His Goodness and Glory to overflow in us and around us.

In Psalm 23, David writes “even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Like Job, David understood the Presence of God all around him. He knew that “rod” of discipline and “staff” of direction were absolutely necessary to make it through the shadows and valleys of life. Everyone has tests and trials in life. Everyone experiences pressure. It is our response to these things that dictate our destiny. David knew if he remained faithful and followed the Lord through these hard times and did not succumb to pressure that he would experience tremendous and overwhelming blessing despite his hardship. How about you? What do you do when pressure bears down on you? Is your strength in the Lord strong enough to endure? To seek relief from the pressure is to start the whole process over again. If I release the pressure cooker value before my meal is done and ready to eat, I must begin the process over again. God’s Way is perfect. His Plan is fulfillment. To comprise and give in to pressure will result in costly do overs and lengthy delays in reaching our destination.

Job decided it was better to remain faithful and true to God’s Word, Will and Way. He made the choice that when his world fell apart around him to continue to honor and serve God despite the horrors he faced. He did not give into the pressure of life. When others would have cursed God and died, Job made the right choice yielding to the Lord and walking in His Ways despite his pain, heartache and complete devastation. How are you responding to the pressures of life today? Jesus tells us in His Word that we must endure to be saved. Pressure produces endurance in the heart secured by faith and confident hope. Is that you today?

“But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does so he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.” I love Job’s declaration in the midst of devastation. Job surrenders to the Lord. God’s Way is perfect. Say that with me: “God’s Way is perfect.” Even though it may seem perfect – He is always working to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) If He is working everything for our good like His Word says, we must trust the Lord to complete this work that He began in us. I cannot work God’s Plan – He will work it out in me. I must simply surrender and submit to the Lord every area of my life. To endure the pressure to make it to the gold inside of me. To know that God is love. God is good. God is faithful. God is steadfast. His Love unfailing. His Grace neverending. All this means nothing, if I do not believe. Belief is demonstrated in trust. Do you trust the Lord today? If you do, you will not be tempted to turn the knob of rebellion and give up midway again. You cannot seek to relieve the pressure but endure it so that what God has placed in you, your potential will be refined and released as purpose.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Would the Lord really tear us to pieces? The Lord works best in our brokenness. His Grace is perfected in our weakness when His Power can completely overtake us. When a colt is introduced to a bridle and bit, the first urge is to resist. It shakes its head and tries to go its own way trying to wrestle the reins from the trainer. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. The Lord will not make you follow Him. He will not force blessings and prosperity in your life. Simple obedience provides basic provision. Radical obedience produces an abundance of prosperity. Not because of what you do, but because of where you are going. The deeper in love I am with Jesus the greater my desire for His Presence. The more I seek Him, the more I find Him. Where He is – there is my greatest treasure. The only thing that gets me closer to the Lord is faith and trust. I must learn to not give in to the pressures of life and rather rejoice that the Lord is up to something wonderful and if I don’t give it – it will come to pass in my life. Trusting the Lord keeps us steady under pressure. In the meantime, let us press to know Him more.

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

As I have shared before, transition is the final phase of childbirth. It is also the hardest. You want to give up. You don’t think you can do it anymore. The pressure seems unbearable. The promise is so close. The very thing God is birthing in you is in transition. It is closer than you think. You cannot give in now. Get your hand off the release value, you are going to see this thing through. Maybe the pressure around you is not intended to break you down, but bust through the darkness to let your Light shine. Perhaps, it is your purpose about to break down every wall between you and prosperity. God uses pressure to promote us but only those who endure will know the sweet taste of victory. Are you feeling the pressure? Dive into God’s Word find your promise. Let Him strengthen those weary hands and weak knees today. Those who do will learn to rejoice under pressure because they know God’s Promise waits on the other side. Release is coming. Everything is going according to plan! God’s Plan. The Holy Spirit is cooking up something wonderful in you so taste and see that the Lord is good!

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

My Time

New Year's at midnight - old vintage clock and fireworks

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the morning after his oncologist came by to make introductions and schedule his initial appointments for evaluation and treatment plans. He has two oncologists who are amazing and definitely sent to us by God. After explaining the beginning processes and possible avenues of treatment, they asked our 19-year-old son if he had any questions. He quietly looked up clearly processing all the information and said, “I do not smoke. I do not drink. I do not go places where these things happen. Why me?” Completely plausible question considering our son never really was a social kid and has always stuck pretty close to home. He was honest in his estimation of his life including the fact I was a complete fanatic about our kids not being exposed to secondhand smoke. Why? How is it even possible that he could have nasopharyngeal cancer? Good question. No, that is exactly what the doctor said to him completely validating his estimation that it was inconceivable. He went on to explain that our son’s case was indeed rare and they were at the moment scratching their heads as to where it came from and how they would fight it. But…his final words were quite impressive. His doctor walked around the foot of the bed to his side, placing his hand gently yet firmly on his shoulder, looking him directly in the eye and spoke something quite profound and unforgettable to him which applies to all of us. He changed positions in that moment from doctor to philosopher of sorts. “Everyone goes through something in life that defines who they are. This is your one thing. You can overcome this and life a better life because of it.”

Is this your “thing”? Are you going through something that has you asking the Lord, “Why me?” God’s Grace and Character can handle your question even when it becomes a harsh interrogation. He welcomes it, in fact. It is in the moments of time when everything we know and believe about the Lord is challenged that fallacies of faith are discovered and filled with His Grace to grow a little more faith each time. When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. You learn to believe God’s Word a little more. Walk out on the water just a little bit further. One day the thing will come that causes you to cross over from being caught up in little things and you will be consumed by one thing. Jesus will be all you need. He will become your greatest desire. It will be in that moment that satisfaction and completion produce fulfillment. Is your time coming? Is it already here?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

There is a time for every activity under heaven. The list is long and comprehensive but covers the whole gambit in Ecclesiastes 3. It does not change when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. The potential of each moment is infused with the Power of God so that every detail can result in our good according to Romans 8:28. The Christ in us makes us triumphant overcomes in all things but does not exempt us from the process of endurance that solidifies our faith. We all must endure something that allows our faith to grow larger than our fear, confidence in God greater than any human insecurity, and our perception of life greater than tomorrow but firmly secured by hope called forever. The realm of hope is the place where the impossibilities of life become possible by faith.

God makes everything beautiful when? He makes everything beautiful in its own time. This implies process which will require patience and endurance. These qualities of discipline must be part of our life to keep us on track yet they are not very pleasant physically or spiritually. I do not like to wait. I do not have a vast supply of patience. My entire being rebels against endurance. But God says, “Hold on, I am doing something here. Maybe not around you, but in you!” He has placed eternity in my heart that has become desire to know Him more. As I call out to the Lord, He answers but not always the way that I would like Him to. Growth is a process. It cannot be hurried to accommodate my feelings but rather I must learn to wait for its proper time. For such a time as this…

Esther 4:13-14 (NLT) Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther was not pursued by the King Xerxes but rather part of a roundup of sorts. After he had deposed Queen Vashti, his attendants suggested that they search the empire for the most beautiful virgins. They would be brought to the palace (whether they wanted to come or not) and be subjected to months of preparation for a night in the king’s bed. This is not exactly what I would call a fairytale but rather enslavement. Esther was one of those young women. I cannot imagine her fear at being taken from her family and prepared to be presented against her will to the king. She endured the process and would become his queen. However, God knew exactly where Esther needed to be for such a time as this… She is not the only one. David had his “for just such a time as this moment” when he faced a giant with only a sling and handful of stones. He didn’t go with an army or even in armor. He faced the giant by faith overcoming fear. Daniel spent the night in the company of lions. Alone. Surely he would become a feast, but that’s not what happened. Daniel had been groomed and prepared for just such a time as this. What about Abraham? Walking to the mountain alone, completely by faith as he hoisted his son on the altar. He would honor God even if it meant driving a knife through his son, his only son to honor his God. He left his servants behind. Just Abraham and God went up that mountain with a sacrifice, but came down with a son. Even Jesus had a moment when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” We are made for the moment, for that thing that moves us past ourselves into a faithful relationship with our God. When given the choice to press in and endure of give up and move on – we give our all to Jesus like He gave His All for us.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Sin is rampant. Love is growing colder by the hour. The world is a dark and perverse place. We have a Light within us that must find its way out. Eternity planted in our heart is only potential unless it becomes our purpose in life. We are given the opportunity to have eternity by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Faith turns our potential into purpose. Jesus was clear that He came to give us a rich and satisfying life that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy daily. We must endure to the end to be saved. Our footsteps are ordered by the Lord to take us the valley to face the giant or lead us to the den filled with hungry lions or even to the mountain of sacrifice where the price may be more than our willingness to pay – it is that moment when there is nothing left of me to give and all I have is the Christ within me to offer. Jesus is enough. His Grace is always sufficient but if I never reach one of these places in life then my faith may not be strong enough or real enough to take me Eternity. It must be tested. I must know that it is true.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Peter the disciple of Jesus Christ was quite firm in his stance that he would die for the Lord. When the time of testing came – Peter denied Jesus three times in one night. However, when Jesus rose again and came to meet the group of disciples on the beach that day – Peter dove in the water and swam to Him. Something had changed. Peter became the Rock Jesus told him that he would be. However, what about Judas? He left the group and killed himself. I believe that if he would have come back to Jesus after the resurrection that the same grace I have been given would have been bestowed on him, too. Judas didn’t believe it. He felt despair so deep he could not go on. I know you are being pressed too far. I understand what it means to be perplexed when our life doesn’t look like what God promised. It feels like the enemy is hot on our heels…he is. We get knocked down. We feel the pain of suffering, the hurt of betrayal and devastation of trauma – but we are never crushed, driven to despair, abandoned by God, or even destroyed. No – all these things are the obstacles that must be removed so our faith can grow. It is all part of God’s Plan – “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

I Corinthians 9:26-27 (NLT) So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Be encouraged today! You have purpose in every step. Now is the time to begin to discipline your body like an athlete, take control of your thoughts making them subject to God’s Word, and it is up to you if you will choose His Way. If you have asked, “Why me?” You are very close to a breakthrough a moment when the Light of His Love breaks through the dark and your faith has a chance to grow a little or even a lot. Do not give up. Do not give in. Press. Push. Do whatever it takes to take the next step, reach out a little further, and make it through just one more day. God is with you. He did not abandon you but is trying to take all that potential and burst forth with purpose today. A successful life is a purposeful life. A purposeful life is a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is a satisfied life. It is impossible to have this kind of life apart from our faith. We must live, breath, move and exist in Christ to have all that He has promised expressed in each moment. You were made for just such a time as this – it doesn’t matter how it looks or what anyone thinks – it will be defined by what we know and believe which is relayed in our faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ. Beat the giant and you will win every other battle. Shut the mouth of lions and you will never fear their roar again. Go to the mountain and come back full of faith. There are a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on! You can do it. You were made for this moment! This your time! This is my time to be blessed, prosperous and fulfilled by the rich and satisfying life that Jesus purposed for me!

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Time to Push

time-to-push

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Over the years, as a woman, I have heard more than my fair share of birthing stories. Testimonies of life on the battlefield of childbirth shared as the glory days of each mother. Why not? Most of us bear the scars and weak bladders proving it was a fight for life to get that little person here. God made woman to bear children with bodies equipped to nurture their babies and hearts read to nurture and care for them. It is engrained in our purpose. This does not make having a baby any easier. In fact, included in all the joy and anticipation of preparing for the new arrival, somewhere around the eight-month mark with a belly too big to get around the revelation comes – what is in me must come out of me. I will not deny the pure beauty and wonder of seeing our child for the first time and falling in love all over again but the moments proceeding their arrival is not so glorious. Labor is hard. It takes every ounce of energy. It is surrendering our bodies to the process that God designed in us and is written in our DNA. However, when it is time to push, there is a sudden shift during the transition phase. With every fiber of our being and all that is within us, it is time to see our promise come to pass and hear the wail of a new being. What is God trying to get you to push out today?

We come pregnant with certain promises. In God’s Time, He makes all things beautiful and it is time to push them out into the atmosphere. That’s right, we have to push. To press and to push are too different forces. One is to obtain and one is to release or move away. There is a term to promises in our life set by the Lord for completion. If it were to arrive too soon, it would be a spiritual abortion. If left to its own devices inside of us, it will become a dead dream. But when God puts pressure on us to push, those who respond will see His Glory fill their life. His Glory and His Goodness begin to bring to life all the things He has promised and release His Blessings along the way. His Power in us must find its way into the atmosphere around us. It is time to push.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

When a mother is given the news that a baby is on the way, most moms will begin to make certain lifestyle changes to give her little one the best possible chance. She changes her diet, stops partaking in things that may be harmful and even may begin an exercise plan. Reading all the latest literature and seeking the advice of others, she engages on a journey to receive her tiny promise. She gives up her body. She disciplines her life according to the promise within her.

I have a promise. Truly many promises are wrapped up in my purpose according to my Champion who is Jesus Christ. He handed me victory in all things and the power to overtake every obstacle between me and His Glory. How do I get there from here? I have to push my purpose from the inside out of me. This is a process. I engage in it by preparing for the arrival of my purpose. I must “strip off every weight that slows me down especially the sin” that keeps derailing, detouring and delaying the completion of my promise. Jesus has initiated and even perfected my faith, but I have to use it to change the way I think, the things I do, my attitude and my actions. To push purpose from within me, I must prepare the way. The process is repentance. It clears the way for His Glory to be expressed and fill my world with the Light of His Love for all to see.

Psalm 44:4-8 (NLT) You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Women endure many insults to her body during pregnancy. The growing child zaps her iron from her blood and calcium from bones and teeth as it develops. Many endure months of morning sickness, and continuous illness. There is swelling in her ankles and feet. She is exhausted in daily tasks and her body performs 24/7 in the background making a new person. Even though God made women to reproduce, it doesn’t mean that process of pregnancy any less difficult. Yet I have delivered five babies and I have friends who have even more than me. Why do we do it? Why do we push even when we know the toll it will take on our body? Because it is worth it.

The worth of our purpose does not go unnoticed by the enemy. He has but one purpose. He wants to steal, kill and destroy the purpose of God ready to come out of you before it makes its way out. The enemy wants to destroy our confidence in the Lord with doubt. He wants to force us out of process with discouragement. He wants to create delays that will make us want to give up. With our fifth child in the ninth month, I was exhausted, swollen and done with the whole business of baby making. I remember sitting on the table looking down at my elephant-sized ankles thinking enough was enough. When the doctor came in, he chuckled and asked, “how are you doing, mama? All I could say was “get this baby out.” It is important that when the pressure to give up or give in comes that we push it away and push back the enemy. How do we do that? Simple – praise.

When I choose to praise God in my process, it releases His Power all around me and protects me in my process. When it was time to deliver our children, my husband was by my side and the midwife close by. I was surrounded. God has given us His Spirit inside of us. His Power is in us. Praise release it to the surrounding atmosphere. It announces the promise is coming and prepares for purpose to break loose. Sometimes praise is difficult when the pain too much, the pressure to hard, and the process too long. Praise pushes back the enemy so to discard our complaints and grumbling and replace it with praise is God’s Power being released from us to prepare the way before us.

Psalm 18:30-32 (NLT) God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.

God’s way is perfect. Do you believe that today? Do you trust God’s Process for your life? Careful before you answer because a life of true believing is characterized by godly obedience. Those who truly believe in God’s Process, His Promise and His Purpose will walk in his ways. To the faithful – God shows He is faithful. My faithfulness to God tells God that I believe more than a single word uttered from my mouth. If I believe that every promise that the Lord has made me is true, then I would be ravenous for His Word and gorge on it daily. Why? Because if everything that God promised really is true, it would produce a much better life than I have now. Faith is just a word, believing it makes it a verb. When the promise of God becomes my purpose, I will discipline my life to have it. I must decide that I believe that His Purpose is what I want and push through to receive it.

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

If there was not a process to the process of purpose, why would we need Christ to give us strength? We want God to do it. The Lord gave us the Keys to His Kingdom, and Jesus lives in us for a reason. We are supposed to do something. We must exert energy and force in pushing out the promise and purpose of God within us. Faith makes the impossible totally possible. However, we spend a whole lot of time shaking the Keys to the Kingdom while the enemy laughs. It is when I take those same keys and use them that he begins to tremble and retreat. The Lion of Judah is quiet and still confident in His Power. His next roar will be the shout of His Return. The enemy, however; is roaming around roaring on his leash hoping to instill fear, doubt, worry and despair so that rather than pushing through you will run and hide. Not today, devil. I am pushing out purpose today.

“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.” (Proverbs 24:10) Weakness is not failure but the very moment I am completely moved out of the way so His Power can become my strength. I cannot obtain spiritual things with earthly force. Heaven comes to earth when I say, “You are perfect in all of your ways, Jesus. Have your way in my life” and mean it. Five times in labor, I have said, “I can’t do this”, “I don’t want to do this” and “I am not going to do this.” Each time it was within minutes of delivering my precious child. The pressure to give in and give up is always the closest to breakthrough. If you are considering such things, tell yourself that transition has arrive and breakthrough is almost here. Praise Him in that moment for the victory that is close and promise that is just outside your reach. It’s coming!

Ephesians 3:16-20 (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. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Holy Spirit is our partner in the process. He leads us, guides us, teaches us, instructs us, comforts us and even empowers us. Purpose has a process. The pressure is overwhelming as my flesh gives way to supernatural possibilities in my life. I need the Spirit to help me. That is His Purpose. Our purpose and God’s Promises that are obtained by faith are much bigger than me. I cannot comprehend fully what the Lord has in store for me. It is too big for my ordinary life and therefore takes an extraordinary process to prepare my environment for His Glory. God is able in His Mighty Power to accomplish “infinitely” more than we might ask or think. The productivity of our process is much larger than we think or know with this in mind the pressure may be indicative of the promotion and prosperity God has in store for us rather that when we think is going on or the end result. Faith is for those things that I cannot do. Faith is outside the boundaries of comfort and control strive for in by humanity. Faith is for the unfathomable and impossibilities of life. God is pushing us past all fear, doubt and insecurity because what He has for us is greater than anything we have chosen for ourselves. I must push to know the extent of God’s Love and Power invested in me so that I can push forth the purpose which He has placed inside me and empowered by His Son, Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NLT) Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

Whether pregnant with a promise, purpose or even a tiny person, you will need endurance and patience to endure the process. It is not a coincidence that God also uses these two things to perfect our faith. To strengthen it. What are you waiting on today? What is the promise that seems so long overdue? What is the purpose hidden in your heavy heart today? God’s Way is perfect. He created you with that longing in your heart and is perfecting all that concerns you. (Psalm 138:8) He works out EVERY detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Whatever your place in His Process, it is important that our response to pressure is to push. Push away every weight that keeps us being fully engaged. Push back the enemy. Push away the urge to give up knowing breakthrough is coming. Our promise is on the way. Pressing in to the Presence of God and pushing aside every obstacle. Protect your promise today. Do not douse with venom called complaining and grumbling but immerse it in praise and worship for the Father who gave it to you and the Savior who died for you to have it. It will be worth it but only if we push through the process and receive that which is greater than we can think, imagine or even ask for. We are birthing God’s Promise. Laboring for His Purpose. There is a glorious prize when victory is achieved in the life of a believer. It is time to push!

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NLT) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

 

More Than a Follower

more-than-a-follower

Luke 14:25-27 (NLT) A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Or are you a disciple of the Lord? I am challenged by this question today that can only be examined and evaluated by one’s commitment to Christ. There were many followers in the days that Jesus walked the earth. Some curiosity seekers while others in need of a cure. If you read the account of the miracle of the fishes and loaves when Jesus made a meal for more than 5,000 out one little boy’s lunch, it is easy to see that people poured out in droves to hear His Message and receive His Word. But when it came down to those committed to serving the Lord, it was only twelve. According to the Bible account, but even all twelve did not fully believe or have true faith. How can I be certain of my commitment level to Christ?

Jesus told the people that day, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else…yes, even your own life.” Well, that seems a little bit harsh, huh. How can I hate those who I am called to love? John 13:35 seems to contradict this: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” If you look closely at Luke 14:26 – it says, “by comparison.” It is natural to love, care for and nurture our family and even some friends. Each day is set forth to make a better life for them, meet their needs and support them any way possible. Every follower of Jesus Christ may remain committed to both serving Jesus and their family as well. However, as His Follower, there are certain things left behind in pursuit of Jesus. We must choose to go His Way and leave our old ways behind. Is this enough? This is completely and totally up to you. Many received signs, wonders and miracles simply because they followed Jesus. There were those who prospered in the natural because they successfully served Jesus with their life. But need I remind you – there were only 12 disciples.

Matthew 9:9 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

All disciples begin as a follower. The invitation is always the same. “Follow me.” Leave the darkness and come into this marvelous Light of Love. He will wash us in His Blood, and soothe us with His Word. Cover us in a Robe of Righteousness. Supply enough grace for every weakness and mercy for every shortcoming. We have all that we need according to His Riches in Glory. To be a follower of Christ and work the Word creates prosperity and goodness as His Favor reaches us. Is God’s Favor enough? Yes, for the follower…but not for a true disciple.

A follower is an imitator. To do what Jesus did. To apply God’s Word to life. To serve the Lord. To identify with His Spirit. It is not a bad gig and yields many spiritual blessings and success. But is it enough for you? To become a true disciple of Jesus Christ is to become a pupil. A pupil does not simply imitate or mimic the instructor. They listen, observe, take notes and prepare for the next examination. The goal is to past the test. Score high in the evaluation. To be found fit and the end of the course – enduring training and assessment. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is a commitment to discipline that radically changes one’s heart and mind putting Him above all things including our family when necessary. It is to carve out the best portions of our time to know Him more, study and become an approved worker.

Luke 14:28-30 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

Before deciding to become a disciple, one must definitely count the cost. The transition from one role to the other will cost you more than something, it is a commitment of everything you are, own and hold dear to know Him, trust Him and seek the Lord wholeheartedly. It is to lay all of our life on the altar in surrender to the Lord and to say, “Have your way, Lord! Here is my life – all of it!” You cannot be a true disciple if you are not willing to give up this life. There is always a cost for anything of worth. Our willingness to pay for it is the only thing that keeps us from our heart’s desires a lot of times. I would like a new couch, for example, but I am not willing to pay the price because there are other things that I feel are more important right now. Where does Jesus fall on your priority list today? This will indicate your chosen role. He must move His Way to the very top to become his disciple.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Busyness is the excuse the enemy gives us to accommodate failure. It is the snare that traps followers who desire to be disciples. Your time, talent and treasure belong to you. You are free to use it as you please. We must learn to tithe these three things and give the Lord our first fruits. Until our time is invested in the Kingdom, our talent given to the thing He called and created us to do, and our treasure in Heaven not the things (or people) of this earth – we can only follow at a distance – held back by the shackles of a need and desire for lesser things. When the Kingdom becomes our treasure – we will be given to discipleship because it becomes worth it all. When God’s Glory is our desire over His Goodness – miracles begin to happen and His Glory will produce a vast revival with the potential to be global in effect. How precious is the Kingdom to you? Enough to reprioritize your schedule? Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ? To carve out the choicest portion of your time, talent and treasure as a tithe and offering to the Lord rather than slinging yesterday’s leftovers like scraps on the floor? We are free to become disciples if we choose to pay the cost. Cost is driven by worth. Is He worth it? Yes, Jesus you are definitely worth all of me AND my life.

Luke 14:31-33 (NLT) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” or “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Jesus did not come to bring peace to this world. In fact, He came to set the world on fire. To start a wildlife of love and compassion that would sweep through the world and burn in the hearts of people. He came to empower us with His Power by His Grace to be overcomers. To walk in victory. To live by faith. To give us a place called hope where all things are possible for those who believe. To be a disciple is to believe that Heaven and the Kingdom requires force. (Matthew 11:12) To be willing to invest the time and energy of the “good soldier” who is willing to their families, homes, jobs and life goals to secure freedom for all people. Discipleship is fighting the good fight of faith even when it means forsaking our comfort. “Foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to even lay his head.” They promised to follow Him “wherever you go.” Jesus said, “Follow me now.” They made excuses. (Matthew 8:19-22) Faith is ready to follow. Trust is the first step.

You must be ready to give up the “civilian” life. To fight the good fight called faith. Most of us will never endure suffering such as Jesus and the early Christians did. There are people in the world right now who must endure great oppression and even torture to be disciples of Christ. We are so tied up in civilian affairs and unwilling to give up our personal comfort, pursuits and passions to take up our cross, follow Jesus and become His Disciple. Yet, still have the audacity to demand revival and wonder where it is and why His Glory has not come.

Matthew 16:25-27 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

Jesus will not make you follow Him. He will simply invite you. He offers you the opportunity to be His Disciple but does not force such a lifestyle on you. He has promised us a place in His Kingdom. He has even given us the keys to unlock it and unleash it here on earth. We have been given everything needed to prosper in faith, promoted by trust, and a hope that is confident. The rest is up to me. If I want to be a disciple, I must be willing to make a difference in the atmosphere of my life by committing it all to Jesus. All of it. The truth is – it all belongs to Him anyway. The test is – do I love my life more than Jesus? We all must evaluate our position – am I a follower or a disciple? If you do not like your current position – it is completely up to you to make the change necessary. He will meet you in that moment, but will never push or pull us into it. Faith. Love. Hope. Trust. Commitment. Discipline. These are the labels on the steps of discipleship. The stairway to the Kingdom is before us. His Glory is ready to descend from the Highest of Heaven to meet us right where we are if we are willing to take the first step. The moment that you and I believe it will be worth it, we will be willing to step up. Lord, make me more than a follower. I want to be your disciple. Here is my life today – take it all. I love you Jesus and want Your Glory to fill my life!

Matthew 28:19 (NLT) Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

Had Enough?

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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (Amplified (AMP))  Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

Have you had enough yet? Are you fed up with certain conditions, situations, and circumstances in your life? Wondering where the Lord is or what He is doing because things are simply not okay. It is human nature to get tired, overwhelmed and just plain done sometimes. Believe or not – it is an ordained condition that will produce increase in a believer’s life. It is easy to become full of ourselves even when it is our desire to be full of His Spirit. When we come to the place of “I have had enough” is the exact moment when our desperation becomes motivation. Dissatisfaction creates hunger for more. Disappointment looks for hope that is unseen in our current state of mind or being. It is the point when are willingness turns from a whim to drive. Are you there yet?

God is able to make all grace including every favor and earthy blessing come in abundance to you! Well, where is He? I am working His Plan but His Plan ain’t working for me. Oh, yes it is! The Lord has a purpose far greater than mere satisfaction. It is called complete sufficiency. It is a comprehensive plan that meets the needs and desires of our body, soul and spirit all at the same time producing peace and contentment that allows us to forge forward in faith not worrying about our future. We must find total sufficiency in Jesus Christ to move from striving to thriving. Are you ready? So am I…I have had enough.

Luke 6:38 (AMP) Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”

God doesn’t need anything I have to promote His Kingdom. God doesn’t need my hands, my mouth or even my heart for that matter. There is nothing good or worthwhile in me because sin infects every fiber of my being. Christ is the only good thing about me worthy of giving to another. Every action and attitude must be filtered through Jesus Christ to make it worthy of giving away. Pride and self must be completely removed to purify my offering and make it worthy of His Name. Give and it will be given to you. We spend a whole lot of our time focused on getting. Getting to work. Getting more money. Getting to church. Getting things. Getting promotions. Getting…getting…and getting. The Word of God tells us to focus on giving and generosity instead. I am challenged today by this concept as for the first time I see that giving is not about reducing my life but expanding my faith. God is trying to press down those things that are taking the place of abundance in my life. He is shaking things up so I will reach for Him. He is ready to pour out His Spirit in my life until it is running over and ready for others to receive. The thing that He is after today is not what I have but me. The previous verse hints at God’s Plan but we skip to this verse because it seems like a recipe for success. However, the Lord tells us to give so that He can make room for more of Him not for me to get more but to be more.

I Kings 19:3-8 (AMP) And Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life, and he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and slept under the juniper tree, and behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and by his head there was a bread cake baked on hot coal, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Get up, and eat, for the journey is too long for you [without adequate sustenance].” So he got up and ate and drank, and with the strength of that food he traveled forty days and nights to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God.

The abundance of God is produced in obedience. Obedience according to God’s Word is demonstrated by our faith in God. Faith is not a noun. Faith is a verb. It is the unseen step into God’s Reality. Faith requires movement to be relative in my life. I cannot speak by faith and stay where I am. Faith always takes one step closer to God according to His Word – not the conditions of our natural life. In fact, faith is usually the step between the boat and Jesus. The one where we let go of natural security hoping for spiritual security relying completely on God to do exactly what He says. Too many times, we keep waiting for the Lord to pull the boat up to the dock real close and reach out His Hand to hold ours and guide us without incident to the next secure step. Where is faith? If you are waiting for God to make His Word come to pass without results, consider this – the next move may be yours. The biggest step of all is using our faith to trust the Lord.

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal. Needless to say, Jezebel was livid. A woman scorned who vowed to kill the prophet. I know it is hard to believe that a mighty man of God would be fearless one day and full of fear the next, but this is the place called “had enough.” Elijah had drained his faith and so fear rooted easily in his heart. He was isolated under a solitary tree. He was ready to die. His physical, emotional and spiritual strength evaporated in the events precipitating his departure. Elijah was a man of God. Elijah was just a man.

When our son was declared in remission, I decided that it was time to go back to normal life. I was certain that our routine could be re-established, my career would continue, and it would be like three years before when our life was rocked to the core. It was not the same. Slowly I came to the realization that nothing would ever be the same. I carefully wrapped up my faith in a tight little package. Set it down on God’s Altar and slowly backed away. Why? I had had enough. My self somehow lost in years of fighting for faith. I laid down the sword because I no longer could carry the weight. Maybe you feel that way today? You have fought for faith. You have tried to be obedient in all things. You have given all that you know to give. You have followed all the rules of the church and what you know of the Word to be true. You just cannot do this another day.

Your obedience today will be the abundance of your future. I know you are tired, but you must not give up. When the Lord came to Elijah – he was determined to die right where he sat. The Lord told him to eat so he ate. The Lord told him that the journey would be too long for him without sustenance. What a meal it must have been? He ate a single meal that lasted him for forty days. I can’t last 40 minutes most of the time. This is the abundance of God in full operation. It is not to give from our enough but give when we have had enough. This is when the Power of God takes over and is made known for all to see.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (AMP) Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].

I was talking to someone about transition yesterday and birthing God’s Promises. I have five children who I delivered naturally. The final stage of labor is called transition. It is marked by a desperate need to exit the process. I know it sound foolish, but trust me and those who have endured it. You are ready to get up and leave. Done with the whole thing. It is the point of giving up when the motivation God put in us as mothers kicks in. It is time to push. It is time to press. When it finally dawns on us that it is time to meet the little person who we are desperately and totally in love with already – our inner drive and motivation is to birth them into are arms. What if this season you are in is actually transition? What if God’s Promise is about to burst forth in your life? Why is it so hard? He is finally getting you out of the way. Weakness is the place where God’s Strength and Power take over our life to produce the promise and potential that is our purpose. I know what to do as a mother because God engrained it in me as a woman. As a believer all those years of planting faith and harvesting hope will be the very thing that empowers me to breakthrough transition and obtain the promise. When I have had enough allowing Jesus to be more than enough in my life.

Lessons of faithful obedience are learned along the way. Those little seeds of faith growing from the Word, walking God’s Way, and surrendering bits and pieces of our life to His Will are the very things that will sustain us when it comes time to push and press through to breakthrough. Elisha came to the woman and asked for something to eat. She was preparing the final meal for her family in anticipation of death over the enslavement of her children. Elisha didn’t stop her. He told her to go gather more jars and vessels. She did. Obediently. Faithfully. When she began pouring oil it did not stop until all the vessels were full and she ran out of space. (2 Kings 4) God is making space in us for more faith that will increase His Abundance in us to overflow around us. We must be willing to give up what we have for more of Him. Even if it is all we have, faith says it is more than enough. The Israelites were taught faithful obedience in the wilderness crying out in hunger. God gave them quail and manna instructing them as to its use. (Exodus 16) They learned satisfaction at the hand of God but that’s not all. When it was time to build the Tabernacle, an incredible miracle happened. These people who escaped from slavery with just what they could carry, wandering with it strapped to their backs, and begging God for food had more than enough to build God’s House. In fact, they supplied so much that Moses had to issue a command for them to stop. Where did it come from? (Exodus 36) Where do you think?

2 Chronicles 31:5-10 (AMP)  As soon as the king’s order spread, the Israelites gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, [olive] oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and placed them in heaps. In the third month [at the end of wheat harvest] they began to make the heaps, and they finished them in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel.  Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and Levites about the heaps. Azariah the high priest of the house of Zadok answered him, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the Lord has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”

They brought in the tithe of everything abundantly. I believe in tithing. I absolutely can testify that tithing will produce abundance in our life. The abundance is limited to our giving. I don’t want to lose anyone here. This is not about money but first fruits. The Holy Spirit produces all kinds of fruit in our life. It is produced in abundance for the purpose of giving. Faith is the seed of prosperity making all other fruits in our life. To tithe our life is not in our wallets but in our heart. We must portion our life according to faithful obedience in all things including time, talent and treasure. The very thing we are withholding is where God wants to grow us the most. Where have you had enough today? This is the place God wants to infuse His Power and instill His Strength. It is usually our area of weakness that is the first place to give. But see what happened to the people in 2 Chronicles, “since the people began to bring the offerings into the House of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and plenty left over.”

Every step in our life is framed in faith and its purpose is to trust God more. To release what we have to have more of Him is the only way it works. What are you holding on to? What are you unwilling to give up? It is the chain on the door to abundance in life. You hold the key to that door. The lock will give way and the chains will fall when you apply absolute and total faith in God demonstrated by radical obedience. It is the moment we give up on our plan, our way and our self that God fills us with more of Him. His Power is made perfect in what? My weakness. His Strength works best when I move out of the way. I cannot move a mountain but my faith in God can. It is not about me but my willingness to admit I have had enough – giving my all to Jesus so He can do it through me.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

Dare To Be Disciplined

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Proverbs 10:17 (NLT) People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

The dirty little word called “discipline.” It makes our pride buck up. Our mind comes to complete attention. The call to order within our mind, body and soul. It is the pathway to life called the Highway of Holiness. If you look around, it can be a lonely road. The destination is important. It is eternity. Forever. To cross from death to life forever with our Savior and the Lover of our souls. How I choose to live this life directly impacts my future. Do not be deceived. Without proper discipline, I will not see the Kingdom of God. I will not endure. Destination is secured by direction. Direction is heeded by discipline. I can route and reroute as much as I want because I am free to do as I please. However, if I have a particular goal in mind, a certain desired destination then I must choose a disciplined life to obtain that which I am after.

This is not just applicable to our life in Christ but all endeavors. We must set a course. Develop a plan. Decide our course. Discipline is the vehicle that carries us from point A to point B successfully. Discipline is behavior in accordance with rules of conduct. My attitude and actions must be maintained by training and control that is not natural. It is taking the knowledge given to us by God and applying it to our life. The reward of such an endeavor is called wisdom. Why? Why is this thing called “discipline” so important? Jesus has given us grace to overcome our weakness. God supplies new mercy each day to erase yesterday’s mistakes and make a way for today. Why do I need discipline?

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

Genesis 6:8-9 (NLT) But Noah found favor with the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

My deepest desire in life is to walk like Enoch. To exhibit the faithfulness of Noah in response to God’s Direction in my life. To live a life of absolute faith in Jesus Christ and complete dependence of God in all things. This is not a natural lifestyle but requires supernatural discipline. My flesh wants no part of it because it is pride’s death sentence. My mind will always create opposition to the unseen relied on by faith and confident hope because it desires knowledge that is common and logical. My heart and soul desire a connection to God so close that I disappear and all that is seen is the Light of His Love through me. I want my offering to become the sacrifice of seed in others honoring the altar Noah built after the flood. The one that produced promises for all mankind not just goodness and grace in His Life. If this is your goal to be one with the Lord, one must take hold of discipline and never let go.

Revelation 3:19-21 (NLT) I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

Each day the Lord desires to move closer to you. His Deepest Desire is to commune with us dwelling in our life as friends. This type of relationship is not movement on His Part but acceptance on our part. To give up my way and fully embrace the Way is an act of discipline. Discipline opens the door of fellowship between the Lord and I. It allows me to partake of the feast that is set before me by the Hand of God and have His Favor in my life. The key to spiritual success is not found in religious duty or church doctrine. The door of communion with Christ is opened by relationship. Discipline rights indifference. We must become diligent in discipline to have a right relationship with the Lord.

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

The month of February became the new January for me. My usual foray back to the gym and decision to make healthy eating choices did not start until the second month of the year. For the last couple of weeks in January, I plotted and planned my strategy. As the new month grew closer, my body loathed the turn of the calendar. My mind made many excuses as to why the timing was not right. However, come February I started. One of the changes was a “squat” challenge recommended by a friend. She faithfully followed the plan for a month with excellent results. The first couple days were tough, but by the third day – I could barely walk. My legs were stiff and every muscle in my lower extremities ached to the point of tears. These muscles had been dormant for months. I disciplined my body to endure the discomfort, press on, and keep doing it despite all these things. Now well into week two, my body is beginning to accept the new way of life.

No discipline is enjoyable. It is painful most of the time. Whether physical, mental or spiritual – our humanity is not a fan of discipline because it requires giving up our way, comfort and complacency to accept change. For forty years, the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. During that time, the Lord provided everything they needed according to His Plan. The people became disciplined in following the Lord and indifference was killed off never making it to the Promised Land. The Children of God were not punished during that time as some complained but rather in a training process under the strictest control by God. Their shoes didn’t even wear out during the journey. God protected them from the tops of their heads to the souls of their feet. The difference between punishment and discipline is relationship. If my child enters my house when I am not home, he or she is welcomed. My adult children all know how to get in. They are still my kids. But if a stranger comes in uninvited, well they are consider to be an intruder and the law will be called. Discipline versus punishment is defined by our relationship with God. He will not let anyone come to Him over the fence but must come through the Gate called Beautiful. His Name is Jesus and there is only one way – God’s Way. Faith opens the gate and discipline guides us through.

I Corinthians 11:27-31 (NLT) So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.

If our goal in life is to be close to Christ and live in His Shadow, discipline is absolutely necessary to filter our life of those things which keep us from a right relationship. It is by paying careful attention to our walk with Christ to ensure a proper relationship. This is not about never sinning though our goal is to avoid sin. Never falling – everyone makes mistakes as part of the growth process. It is not absent of failure – it takes the pit to make the palace just ask Joseph. Failure produces humility that causes the King of Kings Face to shine His Favor on us. Discipline is a commitment to never give up making our way closer to God by allowing His Word, Will and Way to shape our behavior. We must love discipline. (Proverbs 12:1) Respect for the Lord and His Ways are the foundation of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7) To reject discipline is harming us. (Proverbs 15:32) Discipline purifies our heart so that we come to the Lord’s Table worthily. (Proverbs 20:30) Not just during a Communion Service at church, but in our daily fellowship with Jesus Christ as friends. Discipline is not just a change in our attitude but our actions back it up. (Proverbs 29:19) Discipline must be evidenced in our deeds as well. The Holy Spirit helps us as He offers self-control to become a fruit in our life that sustains us causing discipline to thrive.

Isaiah 38:16-18 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness.

A woman at church approached me a few years back at the gym of all places. She had discovered this blog sharing that she also felt called to be a writer. She then asked, “How do you find time to write every day?” I quickly responded, “I get up two hours early each day to spend time with the Lord.” She began shaking her head, “Well, I can’t do that. I love my sleep.” I chuckled a minute because I love to sleep, too. Mornings are not my favorite at all. Then I realized she was completely serious and my heart grew heavy for her in that moment. She gave up an hour almost every day to maintain her health but she was willing to give up her calling for a couple hours of sleep. What have you given up your calling for? What is the thing that makes you comfortable and complacent enough to become indifferent to the whispers of Jesus to come deeper? Discipline will break the stronghold of indifference in our life. It connects us with our destiny. It puts on the course to the proper destination which is eternal life. We cannot have a right relationship with God our Father and Jesus if we do not accept discipline from Him. If the goal of my life is to be found IN Christ, I must use discipline as the vehicle to get there. Faith without works is dead. Discipline is evidence of deeds worthy of His Calling. Discipline never leads to disqualification. It is the pathway to life.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

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

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

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

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Worth the Wait

worth-the-wait

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

The most difficult part of sowing and reaping is the inactivity of waiting. The seed is planted safely under fertile soil and watered sufficiently. Now what do I do until I see its potential? I must wait. Waiting takes a little thing called patience which I was not born with. One of my earliest recollections is my grandmother lovingly but firmly telling me, “Lori Lynn, you must learn to be patient.” However, historically in the church I was told whatever you do for the love of all that is holy DO NOT pray for patience. So where do I find this little genetic insufficiency called patience. Waiting. Waiting. And waiting some more. I have tried my whole life to do whatever possible to avoid waiting one moment longer than absolutely necessary. God has jokes, friend. If I pick a line at the grocery store, I can guarantee you it is behind the world’s most famous coupon queen or the cashier is slower than Christmas. Do not follow me, I am prone to extended wait times. I prefer ordering lunch from the sandwich that boasts being “freaky fast” and lives up to its name. God has prescribed the perfect plan for me and it has included long arduous periods of waiting. But, I can attest to one thing – each time I have waited for the Lord, it has been worth the wait.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Forgive me, if this sound as though I am stating the obvious but indulge me for just a few minute. Ecclesiastes 3:1 is important. It is the purpose of waiting. Everything has a season. Not some things, but all things. This is referenced in two places. Psalm 139:16 tells us that during the Creation process as God packed us with potential that He prerecorded every moment of our life. Every year, every month, every day, every hour right down to this very minute. Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has a plan for us including a future and a hope. Future is not today but later. Tie it all together with the principle that God does not lie or change His Mind, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – it solidifies the truth that EVERYTHING has a season.

There is a time for every activity under Heaven. Again the word “every” is used. There is not a moment of a person’s natural existence that does not have the potential to yield His Purpose and His Promises in our life. Seeds of potential that must be pressed in the broken and fertile heart to produce those things that faith has promised in our life. If Romans 8:28 and Psalm 138:8 are correct, and they absolutely are, it means every moment of our life can yield God’s Promises and Abundant Blessings. Every detail of our life can be made into something good no matter how terrible or tragic. God is always working to perfect those things that concern us. Everything good or bad in our life can be made right through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The seasons of life are carefully listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, while some are joyous others can be quite devastating. We celebrate life but mourn death. We complain about planting but love to reap the harvest. Killing is tragic but healing is a miracle. Tearing down is tough but building up quite rewarding. Crying is soulful pain that makes us all puffy and snotty, but doesn’t laughter produce the same tears sometimes. Nobody likes the grieving process. We all love to dance even if alone when nobody is watching. Who doesn’t love a hug? Parting is such sweet sorrow. There are times to hang on and times to let go. There are times to press in and times we give up. Things kept while others discarded as unwanted, unnecessary or not beneficial. Time to tear and time to mend. A time for conversation and long separations of silence. There is good and evil and so therefore love and hate. Finally, the Latin adage of “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or if you want peace, prepare for war. The Lord went to all the trouble to touch on every season of human life. God has a plan. It is a good one with a future and hope. It will always require waiting.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In every detail of our life, God has placed a promise. God will make everything beautiful for its own time. The seeds of potential the Lord placed in us all have a set season or time for which they are entrusted. The attempt to harvest any seed prematurely will abort the potential within it. A baby born too soon, a harvest cut before it is ripe, and even a promise entrusted to God but snatched from His Hands impatiently because there is no faith to secure it. Hope is the anchor of our soul but it is not based on anything that can be seen with the human eye. It is help secure by one’s ability to trust God at His Word. The good seed planted in our heart. It is called eternity. It is based on forever and a day.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Faith is defined in worldly terms as confidence and trust that is not based on proof. Tangible evidence is absent when faith is applied. Faith comes from the Latin root word “fidem” which means “to trust.” The only way to engage in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is referred to as a mustard seed. The smallest of seeds with the largest potential. Faith demonstrates that hope is a reality in our life. It is evidence of our belief in the unseen God to the point of entrusting our life and future to Him. Hope is to look forward to (expect or anticipate) with reasonable confidence. To believe and again to trust.

In a world of broken promises, hearts and dreams, trust is a tough commodity. It is not harvested easily from our very human heart. Yet, it is in brokenness that the promise is received. If life was great all the time and our future secure – who needs a Savior? Why make Jesus Lord? Well, life is hard. Love is cold. The future uncertain. We need a Savior because sin has devastated the life that He purposed for the people who God calls His Special Treasure. Jesus died so that our faith could harvest hope in our life. Many people believe in a God or higher power, but few truly will commit their life by faith in the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I will not engage in such conversation. The need for a god comes from the eternity placed in each heart. Everyone searches for meaning and purpose in life based on this motivation. If my faith becomes a tree of life for me, it will become an attractive resting place for others. They will want what I have. What I have is not a law by which I cannot abide, but a book packed with promise and potential that by faith, hope and confidence trust – the Lord will produce in my life. It takes time.

Christian character is marked by three distinct qualities – faith, hope and love. The Lord is quick to point out that the greatest of these is love. Love for the Lord produced in our life gives us a distaste for sin. Why? Taste and see that the Lord is good. It is not based on my ability not to sin but avoidance of sin because I love Jesus. Christian character is not defined by doctrine or religious beliefs. This is why I do not argue with people about religious choice or how they choose to worship. No one could convince me. It is the moment in time when all there is to make the next breath possible is faith no matter how small, hope no matter how distant, and His Love that is not tangible yet perfect when something grows in me just a little. It is called confidence. Trust yields confidence in our Christian character. Trust is only possible by faith. Faith in its smallest form yields great potential.

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.

The greatest test of my faith by far so far has been our son’s battle with cancer. The moment when his future became negotiable in this life and solely dependent on the Lord. Truth is that life is brief and uncertain no matter how hard one tries to secure it. If only each person could see the brevity of life and let it change our priorities each day. When I came to the throne boldly, angrily, devastated and broken before my God, I recanted the commitment of my life to Him demonstrated by the things done, ways served, and daily acts of devotion. The words fell on the hard cement floor accompanying the pieces of my broken heart. Like Elijah, it was after my rant, tirade, frustration and fear emptied and silence surrounded me that I heard the Voice of the Lord. It was calm and quiet just as described, the still small voice asked, “Do you trust me?” “Of course, I do!” Thinking back, I almost hurled them back insulted by the fact that clearly God did not listen to my previous rant. Chest heaving and tears flowing, the God of the Universe asked me again, “Do you trust me?” Completely broken before my Lord, I whispered, “Yes God, I trust you!” In that moment, He said, “Your son will live and not die.” This was not the end of the season, but only the beginning. It would take five years for God’s Word to come to pass.

Endurance develops strength of character. Christian character is faith, hope and love. Human expectation causes us to think that our faith is vain and trust misplaced when God’s Plan is not our way, our will, and in our timeframe. The one who endures to the end with faith, hope and love is saved. I added those three things to keep us focused on what we are after. If my faith is for today is not faith at all. If my hope is anything other than what I cannot see or do myself it is futile. If my love is conditional or contingent on any tangible quality of life – it’s not true love. Real love. Agape love. God love.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. A farmer cultivates the field, plants his seed in fertile soil, watering and caring for it when there is no sign of harvest. He trusts that something is growing underground based on what kind of seed that he has planted. A farmer believes in the process. It is his belief that allows him to wait and not dig up the harvest while it is seed in the ground. It keeps him from leaving the field when little plants sprout up rather than the harvest that he expected. It allows him peaceful rest knowing that if just waits until it is ready that he will reap what he has sown. He knows his labor is not in vain but that timing is everything. We must be like the farmer. We must be patient. We must learn to wait for God’s Promises to be ready for harvest. It is this confidence that keeps us close to Jesus through the process until the very end. It is the kind of faith and hope that opens the door to the eternity placed in our heart that satisfies our soul.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

God’s Plans for our life are always good. Never for disaster. The Lord has given you a future and hope. He has given us a desire for eternity. Forever is secure by seeking just three things wholeheartedly. Faith, hope and love that begin and end in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Those who desire His Kingdom will sow seeds of faith each day. God’s Word is proof of the promises that the Lord guarantees. If the tiny mustard seeds are never planted and given time to grow, how will I ever have confident hope? Hope that keeps me standing. Hope that keeps believing. Hope that endures to the end. Hope that cannot be shaken or moved by the not-so-favorable seasons of life. Hope is expectation. To look forward with reasonable confidence. Faith is only logical when confident hope causes us to trust Him more. The more we learn to trust God the greater our satisfaction, contentment and peace in this life knowing that our future is secure forever. It makes a difference. I cannot give you satisfaction, contentment or peace. I can only share what the Lord is doing in my life. My family was right. With each test of my patience and lesson in waiting – my faith in the Lord has grown into confident hope. To walk by faith and not by sight is a process developed by sowing God’s Word and waiting for it to come to pass and produce the harvest for which it is intended. It takes time. It requires waiting. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

What are you waiting for today? What is trying your patience? What seems to be taking forever so you are considering striking it from your prayer list? What is impossible? What dream is dying? God’s Purpose for us is that our character be fully developed, perfect and complete so that we need nothing. Satisfaction and contentment are godly traits that demonstrate trust in the Lord not the evidence of life. Are you confident in God’s Word today? Do you believe His Promises? Do you trust Him? Are you willing to wait for Him to make good of all the details and perfect all that concerns you?

God’s Goodness is for now. His Glory is promised by placing all that I am into the person of Jesus Christ. Grace is only sufficient in our weakness. Waiting is not a weak position but the very place when His Power overtakes my life and becomes a harvest in my life. The fruit of His Spirit are not of this world. His Harvest is named love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is what nourishes our soul and strengthens our heart to achieve the future and hope that is offered to those who invest wholeheartedly in pursuing the Lord and His Harvest. Wait for the Lord. It is a requirement as faith and hope make us confident in His Love for us. Believing God’s Word means trusting Him to do exactly what it says, not backing down, giving up, or even complaining about it but waiting patiently until it comes to pass. He promises that everything will be beautiful in its own time. Everything even that thing which is ugly and seems to be dying will produce new life according to its purpose. Nothing is impossible with God! It will be worth the wait!

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.