Don’t Move

Dont Move

I Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I went to bed exhausted. Fell fast asleep, slept through the night, yet still woke up tired. My body is ready to jump into the day but my mind is not quite so enthusiastic. My plate is full. May I be so transparent today? I needed to come into His Presence just for me today. My thoughts are filled with too many details to stop the cursor from spinning 24 hours a day. I know God loves me. I am absolutely certain that He is in complete control. He is working every detail of my life for good and His Glory. I know this full well. My faith and trust are in the Lord and His Love for me. His Mighty Hand provides and protects me. His Intent is to prosper me. However, I am a human being just like you. The stone slinging hand of every giant killer needs a rest. The sword wielding arm grows weak. You know the days when it seems like carrying our cross, holding the shield of faith and dragging the sword of the spirit is just too much. Yeah…I think I am there today. Just a little while longer…

Endurance takes time. Endurance takes patience. Endurance drains all of our strength. It brings us to the end of self where the Savior is waiting. The key element of survival in the process is to be “steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord”. We can do this by “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Note: It does not say “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This would limit the text to what we do to just those things done expressly as an act of direct service to God. No – it says that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Life is full of details. The more it is one’s intent to serve the Lord completely surrendered and submitted to God’s Plan and Purpose the greater the target painted on your back. The enemy doesn’t have anything to take from halfhearted servants or those who choose another way. He attacks God’s Children who seek to do their Father’s Business. He wants to move us from knowing God loves us and waiting for what is coming. He wants to steal, kill and destroy every bit of faith and trust in us in order to stop us from receiving eternal life. I know the cares and worries that fill you because the same are on my plate, too. However, at the end of the day, it is all about the Kingdom. My future. My hope. My forever with the Father who loves me.

I Corinthians 15:58 is a little different in the New Living Translation. It says, “Be strong and immovable.” Such a simple statement can be the greatest challenge a believer may face. To be completely confident means that when chaos interrupts, everything falls apart and all hell breaks loose in our life that God is in control. To believe this enough to remain strong and immovable.  “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” The enthusiasm and zeal that produces inexpressible joy is not from the outcome but the onset. To know that no matter what the task or undertaking, nothing done for the Lord is ever useless. Do you believe that today? If so, you must not move.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV)  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I love the Lord. Don’t you? I have come to the realization that no matter what I cannot walk away from my relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say it has been tested. It has even made me feel a little bit guilty. To love the Lord more than anyone or anything else challenges our roles as children, spouses, parents, grandparents, even with friends and acquaintances. I remember before this realization thinking it’s just not possible to ever love God more than my husband or children. Climbing the mountain with our son, there came a day when I wasn’t sure if he was going to win his battle with cancer, then what? Would I still love God? Would I still believe that He is good? Would I be convinced of His Love in my loss? I heard a weak whisper from the bottom of my heart and soul rise into soft broken words from my quivering lips say, “Yes.” It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a celebratory moment. The accuser came to whisper – “You are a terrible wife and horrible mother to forsake your own.” But then His Grace rushed in to remind me that I can truly love through Christ way better than I ever did apart from Him. I am a better wife and mother because I know Him, love Him and trust Him with my life.

“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love…”

I have shared before that I was once given a word from a friend. He said the Lord had given him the image of a peg being driven deep into the ground and that peg was me. I thanked him with a chuckle for such encouragement. I didn’t really think much of it until later. It was a word from the Lord for my life. I must be rooted and grounded in God’s Love. My heart must be broken from hard ground to soft fertile soil for His Love to get inside and give me the new heart that is promised. His Spirit comes in to tend to God’s Planting and strengthen us from the inside out. This wonderful power is a product of grace. When our weakness is evident, His Grace can produce His Power in our life. It begins inside of us. To change our heart and mind until we know, understand and believe His Love for us is real and immovable so hope is established by faith in such a way. This is not anything I do but what Christ wants to do in me and you “according to the riches in glory.” See God has something for us far greater than this ordinary life. Mundane is not in His Vocabulary only “magnificent”. The Lord is ready to do the miraculous. Your natural life is not representative of the supernatural life coming once you are fully invested, rooted and grounded in His Love. This is where a believer becomes steadfast and immovable.

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I am convinced that there is always more. Jesus came to give us an abundant life marked by satisfaction. Are you satisfied today? Me either. Are you content to point of continual thanksgiving? Nope, me either. Are you living in God’s Abundance – physically, spiritually, financially and completely? Funny…me either. There is more. God’s Love is endless, limitless and always abounding. Our faith is small. It takes time to grow it and develop it. Endurance is required. It is always in the waiting that God’s Love is most evident. In our complete desperation for Him that keeps us from giving up or giving in even when we are weary of well doing, tired of pressing on and ready to just stop. God’s Grace is enough for you to stop but you cannot move from the foundation of faith that is His Love for us. Why? Because Jesus able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Nothing is wasted. Nothing is useless. So what do I do when I cannot do anything at all?

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Your life is productive even in the waiting. The process called endurance can bear much fruit. Colossians 1 gives us some very practical steps to walking through tough seasons defined by waiting on God. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Hold your head up confidently. The Lord is working every detail of your life for good and His Glory. You are not defeated. You win. You are victorious. God is moving us from grace to grace and glory to glory planting seeds of righteousness that are blooming into every promise that He made. You must wait. Like a good farmer, sowing seeds faithfully knowing that God is going to increase them. Successful farmers plant in all seasons not always in favorable conditions. They have faith in the process. They believe if they plant that they will harvest. We must do the same. I will never be worthy of the unconditional love and grace that I have received so I must walk by faith in the Lord and His Love and Grace rather than my worthiness. I live for Him because Jesus is worthy of my best. I live to please God. It doesn’t mean I get it all right or never make a mistake. Lord, knows I still sin despite my best effort not to. When the Lord looks into my heart, He must see good intentions and conscious effort to please Him. He knows I am incapable but am I willing to try? Bear fruit in every work…not just church work. To live out His Love in season and out of season in every societal setting. To live as a Child of God who loves like my Father does. Increasing in godly knowledge by planting God’s Word in my heart, allowing His Spirit to water it and waiting for it to grow into all He says it would be. To be thankful in all things for all things. To be strengthened by His Grace while my pride lay slowly dying. To allow His Power to work through me rather than always wrestling for control. To endure and be patient in the waiting joyfully. God qualifies us for this wonderful abundance in life that comes by His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. We just have to remain steadfast and immovable in His Love to attain it. It is His Work in us – I don’t work for it. I wait for Him.

Mark 14:3-6 (ESV) And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. He was fellowshipping with Simon the leper. The woman who came with the alabaster flask did not have a very good reputation. The flask was all she had. It represented her total worth. Her future was in that bottle. Her past filled it. But in the present, she just had to worship Jesus. She wasn’t worried about tomorrow. When she came in and anointed Jesus – the others were offended. The worth of its contents wasted on the ground would have been a huge benefit to the poor. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” She was not moved by public opinion or she never would have come to the house of a leper or the Presence of Jesus in her sinful condition. If she had evaluated her offering by the way she had procured it, she would have turned away in shame. She was not moved by the many faces who knew her intimately or even had taken advantage of her, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered to her was Jesus. She had to worship Him. She had to give her all. So she did.

I wonder if in the midst of our doing, serving and trying that we miss the fact that it is really the place of waiting that allows us to see that worship is the key. It is not what tomorrow holds but our faithfulness in just worshipping Him today for who He is. Jesus didn’t do anything for the woman with the alabaster box other than accept her worship and she was made complete. He didn’t change her or require anything of her but accepted her offering with complete satisfaction. Immediately Jesus became her Savior, Provider and Protector warding off even those closest to Him including their indignation. What seemed like a careless and thoughtless act to others drew her closest to His Heart. If this is all there is to life will Jesus be enough for you? If there is more to come will you forget this moment walking into your promise? The Lord is securing us to be rooted and grounded in His Love so that nothing will ever move us from this place. Don’t move. Don’t allow the enemy to goad you from the place of waiting and watching. The Lord is working. You must only wait. Worship Him in the waiting and do not be moved from Him but move closer than ever before.

Acts 17:28 (ESV) …For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

Those Who Wait

Those Who Wait

Lamentations 3:25-26 (ESV) The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Sitting in the doctor’s office with our son, I was looking at apartments and sharing my discoveries with him. Newly graduated from college, he will be moving back to our home town to pursue a career. Look what the Lord has done! The waiting room was overcrowded and it took him longer than usual to get checked in. As I continued to scroll through listings, he shifted back and forth in his chair until finally announcing it had been 38 minutes since his appointment time. I laughed. He should be used to waiting by now and told him the same. After years of appointments, testing, procedures and treatments surely this came as no surprise. Flashback to my grandmother in her kitchen with blue linoleum floors and rooster wallpaper. “Lori, you must learn to be patient.” A short passage of time into my teenage years sitting in Sunday school, the teacher giving us a staunch warning to never pray for patience for it is born of trials, trouble and produced by waiting. I will be the first to admit I am impatient. Just when I think I have acquired a little bit of patience and longsuffering, I realize it is usually not enough. I still get frustrated when something takes too long. Those times when my expectations are not met according to my own personal time table. Then there are other times like at the visit with our kid that I realize I have learned to wait a little.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…can we just stop there? Galatians 5 clearly details the productivity of His Spirit in us. He plants seeds of love, joy and peace but then there is patience. I guess there is no need to pray for patience because God already commanded the Holy Spirit. The pathway to patience is waiting. Not to wait, complain and grumble but to live in the love, joy and peace of God fully trusting that His Timing will produce only the best for us. It is good for us to wait. It is good for us to wait “quietly” for the Lord. You know the old saying, “I’ll do it but I don’t have to like it.” Well, I don’t think this is true of waiting for the Lord. I believe that trust comforts us so that waiting quietly is the most productive. What are you waiting for today? What is it that you can do nothing about but must wait solely and completely on God to do? Maybe you have done everything you know to do and still the desired result has not come. You have prayed until you are blue in the face. You have tried every door only to find it locked. You have done it all now you must wait on the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (ESV) I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

At the end of the appointment, the doctor promised to call next week with the results. I knew that would more than likely be the outcome of our visit. It didn’t really sink in until the long two-hour drive back home as I shared the information with my husband. Ugh! I feel the wrings of the watchtower ladder in the calluses of my hands. I can feel my feet curving around them as I climb to the top. It used to be a hard climb but now I scale it effortless for I know the way. Yet, even in this time of waiting, I am still feeling the angst of impatience and overwhelming desire to complain. My nerves rise to the top and frustration becomes evident in my responses to everyday inconveniences. The Lord whispers words of encouragement. He reminds me of His Word. He tells me He loves me. My spirit is a petulant child who balks at the attention of the loving and doting yet unyielding nature of the One who loves me best and the most. Honestly God I am tired of waiting. He responds – “You find me in the waiting.”

Psalm 37:3-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

About six years ago, the Lord asked me point blank, “Do you trust me?” I immediately and without hesitation said, “Yes, of course I do.” He then asked me again. “Do you trust me?” From that point to this very morning, I am still in the midst of the testing of trust in my life. We all are if you want to know the truth. Trust is a word that is overused and misplaced in this life. We give it away only to have it betrayed and shattered. By the time the Lord inquires of it, there really isn’t much left unbroken or untainted, yet still He outstretches His Hand to ours and invites us to try again. Do you trust the Lord today? Trust in the Lord allows us to do good, our best, what we can, and wait for Him to do all that He promised. It is a foundation of love, joy and peace that keeps us steady during long droughts and famines in our life. Without trust, there will be no production of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith and even more impossible to know its validity without trust. Trust is made evident in how one waits. Those who do and continue to dwell in the “land” of His Presence in the midst of circumstances while befriending faithfulness and choose to delight in the Lord will have the desires of their heart. God knows every secret desire hidden in the deepest recesses of your heart. Even those dead dreams and barren visions that have died in the waiting. You may have given up on a future and hope but not the Lord for He is intent on giving it to you. I can wait on people. I can wait on things. I can wait for earthly solutions. I can wait for what I want. OR I can wait on the Lord…Those who wait on the Lord trusting Him will see Him act.

Psalm 37:7-9 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land

Be still in the Lord. On those days, you feel caged and trapped pacing back and forth to find your way out of the watch tower of waiting, be still. Just as Jesus calmed the storm and raging sea, He is perfectly able to calm you and me. Waiting works out impatience, but if must be carefully supervised as not to produce bitterness in us. When a woman gives birth and sees her promise arrive, suddenly all the inconvenience, sickness and pain of pregnancy and childbirth disappear. She remembers all the unpleasantness but does not bear the scar of suffering. Why? Her promise has arrived. As she falls in love with the little person, grace falls like soft waves over her. But during the process, she felt all these feelings, emotions, and even tremendous pain. Yet in fulfillment it is all forgotten. God is birthing promises in each of us today. Yes, the journey to victory is often paved with problems, pain, inconveniences and change. But to cross the finish line, those who win forget the journey and bask in the glory. God has a purpose for your life that will produce prosperity and abundance in you, through you and for you. It requires total trust and complete faith that keeps us in the waiting. As the mother of five, I can testify that it was worth the wait every single time. To birth a promise too soon is spiritual abortion. To wait on it, trusting the Lord and to do so quietly is to have the Peace of God that passes all understanding as He leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory.

Isaiah 30:15-18 (ESV) For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

The fatal error of fallen prey in the plains of Africa is the moment they become separated from the herd. How many times does it happen? The predator will not take on the entire group but waits for the one who is weak, wanders off course, or becomes separated. It is in that moment the error of their way is realized as the sharp teeth sink into their flesh and they are brought down hard. God has promised to do exactly what He promised to do. He has proclaimed Himself to be the God who does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord has offered each one of us a future and hope. The only way to miss out on God’s Plan is by being unwilling to wait for Him. Trust is required to wait on the Lord. We must walk by faith and not by sight to stay in a place of waiting safe and secure.

Psalm 40:27-31 (ESV) Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Can I encourage you as I encourage myself through God’s Word today? God knows exactly where you are today. He knows that you are growing weary in the waiting room. He understands that your heart and flesh are crying out for relief. He has not forgotten you or given up on you. The Lord is going to do exactly as He planned to do from the beginning. Every promise and blessing secure with your name on it. You just have to trust Him even on the days when impatience becomes unbearable and your mind argues the logic of faith that is produced by endurance. Will you wait with me just a little longer? Will you wait for the Lord just one more day? He promises that those who wait on the Lord will be given power. He will increase their strength. He will renew them and they will soar above circumstances, situations and problems to live in His Presence now and forevermore. He is an everlasting God with a much greater perspective of our life including every step from here to Eternity. He knows the desires of our heart. When we delight in Him, the Lord gives us that which is desired most. Usually the very things we gave up in the waiting. He didn’t give up but dug in so that we could have His Very Best in spite our bad attitude and impatience. Will you wait one more day? One more minute? One more breath…just breathe in. Exhale. This one act signifies a moment of waiting that has passed as the Lord renews every cell in your body with oxygen. Why not breathe in His Spirit the same way and let Him produce love, joy and peace in this place marked “still waiting”?

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

The Promise of the Living God designated for your life is worth having. Remind yourself today. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the Lord in the LAND OF THE LIVING. Don’t be like Martha pushing all those things she couldn’t do or comprehend into the afterlife. Instead, take hold of Jesus who is the Resurrection and Life. He is breathing life into all the dead things around you. He is life to every promise, hope, dream and desire hidden in your heart. He is faithful whether we are or not. He is always working for us even when we grow weary and give up. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit sows seeds in us each day. It is our job only to have a soft and fertile heart. Are you willing to wait on God’s Promise? You must believe. You must trust Him at His Word until it comes. He promises those who wait will not be disappointed. Hope cannot lead to disappointment. God has only good things for our life. It is all found in the waiting. Those who wait for the Lord become strong. Those who wait on the Lord rise above the momentary, temporary trials of this place to live in His Presence now and forever.

We find Him in the waiting not in the wandering. We find Him faithful when our own faithfulness is wavering. It is the moment of giving up or giving in that His Outstretched Hand is evident. When we become weak and His Power takes over. Don’t give in to the thought of quitting today but take hold of your hope with both hands. Get down on those weak knees and ask Him to wait with you today. To fill your life with the love, joy and peace that ease our heart and mind while waiting for patience to yield its prosperous fruit. Those who wait on the Lord will be blessed.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Through It All Again

Through It All Again

Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV) But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

“Through it all.” What a great old song? “I’ve learned to trust in Jesus. I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all. Through it all. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” No truer words have ever been spoken about someone. This is my song. This is about me. I wish I could testify that this is enough to keep me from wanting to throw in the towel and give up some days but it’s not. One might think that after many battles a seasoned warrior does not hesitate for a moment before engaging, everyone has to step over fear. Trusting Jesus. Believing that salvation is real and His Grace enough takes many trials and tests to gain strength and validity in life. To fully comprehend the unconditional and boundless Love of God that knows no limits is an act of constant surrender. Depending on God’s Word can be a lonely proposition. Psalm 77 talks about God’s Steadfast Love and His Promises. His Graciousness and Compassion. His abiding faithfulness and the many deeds that He has done for us. But it also does not hesitate to mention that often His Footsteps are unseen. (Verse 19)

Through it all. We are called to walk through it all. Keep moving. Do not turn back but go through. In Psalm 23, the promise of God’s Love, Protection and Provision under the careful eyes of the Good Shepherd are still not without challenges. The table prepared for us has an audience. There will be low spots. Dark places and even valleys to go through. The promise is that He goes with us – before us, beside us and even behind us. God goes before us and prepares the way for us. He fights our battles and obtains victory for us. Strength and courage are not in our ability to fight but that Jesus overcame the world – ahead of time. The promise is secure not in my own faithfulness but in the Lord’s Faithfulness. I have blessed assurance in my future by faith. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to walk beside you and be yoked with you in life. To help carry ever burden, relieve pressure, eliminate stress and keep us upright in the tough times of life. Finally, as if all that is not good enough or more than enough, the Lord constantly pursues us and falls in behind us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness just waiting to overtake us with His Blessings. With all these precious promises made simply out of love for us, there are still days when the struggle is real. It all may seem pointless. The next step too hard. The flesh cries out. The mind plays tricks. What do I do when I don’t’ want to keep going? What do I do when I have had enough?

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Psalm 139 is the passage where I find myself in the Lord. The place where it is clear that I am not a random act of conception and cellular reproduction but a planned creation by God who gave me a purpose and plan. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not insignificant. My life has purpose beyond what I feel or reason. It is planned and executed by the Lord with a future and hope. The Lord who created you, who formed you is telling you (and me) today to “fear not, for I HAVE redeemed you! I have called you by name, you are mine.” Why is it important to find yourself in God’s Word? Faith is illogical outside of knowing God’s Word, Will and Way. His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. If I do not take the time to gain knowledge and mull over them for understanding, where will wisdom come from? The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and works into my psyche changing my thoughts renewing my mindset and positioning me to see my life through His Perception and not worldly speculation.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The last week or so it has rained quite a bit. Off and on but consistently hot and humid. We needed the rain even though it is inconvenient. Rain comes as dew in the early morning like a fine mist. Other times, it may be a light shower on a sunny day. Then there are the sudden downpours that come out of nowhere and drench us. Some storms come accompanied by wind, thunder and lightning. Even hurricanes are just mighty storms wrapped in ferocity. All of them produce rain. We need the rain to water the earth, but who really wants to inconvenienced and uncomfortable in the process. It never seems to downpour on days when I have nothing to do but curl up on the couch with a furry animal, junk food and a book, but those times when my schedule is full, errands endless and work is calling. Maybe that is the whole point of going through things…to overcome complacency and become completely confident in the Lord. We need Him. We want Him. But when He comes in like a flood, suddenly it is uncomfortable, inconvenient and change is required to let His Love, Faithfulness, Goodness and Graciousness to sink in the hard ground around us and make it into our ready and waiting heart. I must go through it even though I don’t want to. I must endure the storms of life to have the harvest it produces. Even on those days, it is messy, uncomfortable and inconvenient because I cannot maintain my current state and be who God called and designed me to be. I must be renewed. I must be restored. I must be revived. I must be transformed. To grow in God I must position my life in obedience in order to increase.

While this verse is encouraging, it does not aid my cause. I want to walk away. Avoid this difficult time just throw my hands up and say, “I quit.” Yet something inside me says, “Wait!” I have something I am doing. It will be all that I promised. You must go through it. God’s Word for your life today and mine is that you must “go through it.” When I do not have a clear perspective of what the Lord is doing and His Footsteps are unseen, I find that I begin to dig in the Word deeper. Call out for more understanding or even a fleece. God, I have to know you are right here with me. I need you to remind me that I heard you correctly. I want to follow you, but geez this one is tough. All of these things running through my head and circling my thoughts.

I looked up the word “through” desperate to find a loophole or escape. Maybe there is another meaning that I missed and provides an open door. I really want a shortcut to the good part. I would love something to make the harvest grow faster and victory come sooner. Through means in one end, side or surface and out the other. It means to move past and go beyond. It is during the whole period. Through is to have reached the end. Isn’t that the same as endurance? To endure means going through without stopping, leaving or turning back. I must go through it to endure it. Ugh…I must go through some things to reach the other side. To have the future and hope that God has promised. It is unavoidable. It is inevitable. It is my pathway to every promise.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

The passionate, all-consuming Love of God is pursuing us. Pushing us to keep going and moving through the deep waters, raging storms, darkest night, and lowest valley to get to the other side. These are the times when our strength fails. When our mind cannot comprehend how in the world there is anything good to come of our situation. It is during these times that the Lord seems silent, unmoving, and nowhere to be found. Do you trust me? That really is what this is all about. Do I truly believe what I am calling faith?

I am currently refinishing an antique table. It is an amazing piece with intricate carvings and uniqueness. In transport, one of the legs broke off so I had to repair it. Wood glue and a strong clamp for a couple days would do the trick. I carefully removed the clamp and gently moved the table a bit to see if it would hold. This table will be a conference table in its new life. I put it through a number of rigorous tests to be sure that the leg would hold up under pressure. The last thing I want it to do is collapse during an important meeting or when everyone’s lunch arrives. I wonder if this is part of what I am going through…the Lord testing the bond of my heart to Him. To make sure that it will stand tests of time, waiting, uncertainly, lacking clarity, and an end. I must make it to the end of this journey called life with my faith in Him. I must hold tightly to the substance of what I hope for so I can access eternity. It doesn’t matter if I do anything else “for” God – I must love Him wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (ESV)  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

I cannot have what I hope for absent of faith. Faith is not something I do though it will produce certain works in our life. The faith that I hold tightly to along with the hope that anchors my soul is the fact that God loves me. Jesus died for me. I accept His Grace fully and decide to seek Him wholeheartedly. The effort in my relationship with Jesus that means the most is my love for Him accepting His Love for me a fully consummated and full-blown relationship. If Jesus is on the other side of what I am going through, then I must go through it. Through it all – learning to trust Him and depend on His Word.

I Kings 19:11-13 (ESV) And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I believe I am having one of those “what am I doing here moments?” Elijah had an amazing victory yet the malicious and threatening words of one woman put him on the run. What did it for you? Elijah was hiding in a cave when the Lord came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah lodged his complaint. The Lord then told him, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” Of course, Elijah obeyed. It was there that the Lord passed by Him in all of His Glory. God cannot move apart from His Glory. It surrounds Him. As He went by, what happened? A great and strong wind tore the mountain apart. Rocks rolled into an avalanche. The wind was followed by an earthquake. The earthquake gave way to fire. Finally, after all of that, the Lord had his full attention again. He asked Elijah again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah recited all that he had “done” for God again. God didn’t even stop for a moment but went on to tell him what was next. God hears us but will not indulge us. He has a plan far greater than our whining and complaining will ever cause Him to stop trying to make a reality in our life. The Lord has purpose for prosperity in us that will not allow us to stay in hiding but prods and pokes us to go on. Oh how I just want to run into hiding. Elijah was looking to relieve the pressure. He wanted to stop pushing. He didn’t want to fight anymore. He was tired of being brave. He had lost his confidence and courage. God had other plans that did not involve stopping, quitting or giving up.

There will always be a Jezebel. Opposition is inevitable. Enemies will present themselves. Obstacles will rise up. Oppression will threaten to take you captive. You are a precious to God. He treasures you. His Love for you stronger than death. His Jealousy more fierce than the deepest grave. It is all-consuming fiery passion that will not relent until He has won your whole heart. Rising waters cannot quench and there is not a flood that can drown it. The enemy will offer you opportunities to escape the potential of growing in understanding and full acceptance of His Love but those who choose to endure until the end and go through it all – will have their heart’s desire. His Name is Jesus. He offers a rich and satisfying life. An existence that lacks nothing and is fully confident in His Love. It is found on the other side of through it all.

Psalm 136:1 (ESV) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Greatest Temptation of All

Greatest Temptation of All

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

What is temptation? According to the dictionary, it means anything that entices or allures one to do something regarded as unwise, wrong or immoral. The Latin origin, temptare, means to test. Everyone is tempted in life according to wisdom, knowledge, morals and ethics. Each year around tax time many are tested when it comes to proper income reporting to the government. In church, there is the temptation to withhold the tithe from the Lord. In life, there are corners to cut, gray areas to live in, and little white lies to tell. There is no one who can honestly say that they are not tested on a daily basis with opportunities to live beneath their own values and beliefs.

What about you? What tempts you in the natural each day? Is it to give less than your obligation to your employer? Is it to tear down the person who tweaks your insecurities? Is it to give more time to work than God or your family? Do you struggle with addiction? What is it that tempts you the most on any given day? For some it is obvious and others may not really think too much about it, but the truth is that every person is tempted every day. Temptation comes in our choices. The Son has set us free. As Children of God, we are free indeed. Will I choose God’s Best or settle for the rest? Will I press on or punk out? Am I determined to prosper and succeed according to God’s Promises or is just enough fine with me? Do I love comfort more than confidence? All of these questions are valid in determining our goals and setting our standard for life. The enemy of our soul wants nothing more than for us to settle for something less than what God has for us. To limit the victory of the Cross in our own life by allowing disbelief and doubt to dissuade us from faith and destiny clearly given to us when Jesus said, “It is finished” and released His Spirit to live in us. I have Resurrection Life and Power hidden inside my broken and fragile heart waiting to burst out of me – heal and restore me and wrap its arms around a dark and dying world to revive it as well. What temptation is breaking the back of believers? We are all challenged but one overriding temptation each day – it is the temptation to give up.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful.

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.

Truth be told, most of focus on the celebration of victory filled with emotional adrenaline rather than what it takes to live in it. Victory is not by chance. Champions do not win one game. It is easy to become caught up in the “huge crowd of witnesses” what they think, what they say and what they do. It is only natural to continually try to “strip off the weight that slows us down especially sin that so easily trips us up.” Often our relationship is forsaken for religion in the need to “do” all the right things but never becomes righteous in Christ alone. We look to Jesus. He is our Champion. Then things get a little difficult to understand, initiates and perfects faith. We cannot see faith or even touch it. It is our daily struggle to believe whether willing to admit it or not. Our life would be nothing but love, joy and peace if Christ completely took it over.

Endurance is the critical key to salvation. Don’t take my word for it. Jesus said it – the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13) Sin will be rampant. Love will grow cold. Life is unfair. Those who endure in their faith beyond what they see, feel and touch will be saved. Now where in that is the happy, happy, joy, joy feeling that makes the hair stand up on our neck and goosebumps cover our body? Where is the adrenaline rush in that? While waiting for our son to go into full remission, I thought about what my reaction would be to the news. Would I run, jump, dance or dissolve in a ball of raw emotion? I often fantasized during our fight for insurance coverage what it might be like when they called and said that he was finally approved. It wasn’t at all like I thought it might be. There was no finish line tape to run through, or freshly painted line on the road to cross. We did not dissolve in a cheering crowd or met with a ticket tape parade. To me it felt like I crawled across the finish line of faith and collapsed on the other side – empty and broken.

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.

Jesus was clear. His Purpose when He came and died for us was to give us a rich and satisfying life. How are you doing with that so far? Is your life rich? Is it fulfilling? Are you content? Are you satisfied? Me either. The only way that the enemy can steal your blessing that God preordained and Christ precipitates in us and through us is to convince us to quit. If he can entice us to give up before the finish line, he can stop our victory. Otherwise, he is powerless in our life. The one thing that keeps Christians going is faith in God. Complete confidence in the fact that God is not only able but willing to do exactly what He said. To be completely convinced that when Jesus said, “It is finished!” that it was done. New life begun. New creation in process. It is not a lack of promise in our life, purpose or potential but a lack of faith in God that keeps lacking.

When tempted to quit, it should be a red flag in our heart and mind that something is coming. God is doing something more than we even could think of or ask for. The unimaginable is on the horizon of hope and the enemy is working overtime to stop you from enduring long enough to obtain it. Do you want to quit? Are you thinking about giving up? Dig in? Press on? Your promise is closer than you think.

What is endurance? I looked it up, of course, I am a word junkie. To endure means to hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding, undergo, to bear without resistance or with patience. To continue to tolerate. To bear. We must learn to endure. It is the secret to overcoming the temptation to quit or give up. Endurance is waiting on God until the very end. It means never letting go or letting up until fulfillment comes. To hold on to hope and all of God’s Promises until He does exactly what He said that He will do. To stay in the field until the harvest comes. To believe when it is impossible because that is when faith makes all things possible. God is faithful. He is always true to His Word. His Word will never return to Him void. It will always bear the fruit it promised. The purpose of endurance is maturity. Full development in our faith that gives us the rich and satisfying life promised to us by God.

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.

God isn’t looking for perfect people. He does not expect you to live a sinless life. One sin is enough sin to put Jesus on the Cross for you. His Grace is enough. God’s Grace is the only thing that can make you righteous so give up on religion and fully embrace your relationship to the person of Jesus Christ. Endurance offers us the opportunity to bring God’s Kingdom to the earth. To live from glory to glory like He promised. It is not anything in my natural ability other than my unwillingness to give up on God or stop following Christ but simply to endure. Endurance leads to salvation. Simply saying, “Where you go, I go Jesus”. Endurance never stops following Jesus. It is in the place of His Presence that our life is made complete. Nothing I can do in my natural ability will produce the fruit that the Holy Spirit is holding as seed for me. I must live through each season, tending the field of my heart, planting seeds of faith and waiting for them to grow without giving up or quitting. Endurance produces an exit door from ordinary to extraordinary, natural to supernatural and mediocre to the miraculous. There is no escape door that will offer the same. We must reach the end. Finish the race. Cross over into His Glorious Goodness by His Amazing Grace.

James 1:17-18 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift from God. I do not argue this point at all only the perspective for a moment. What if there is an abundance that we are missing by simply settling for God’s Provision in our life. There are many “good” things in my life that I am thankful for, but what about the “perfect” gifts. What if there is more and I am missing it on those days I choose to tap out, give in to the temptation to whine and complain or worse yet give up altogether. If we were honest, every one of us would admit to days like that. Grace is such a wonderful gift. It is the opportunity granted by God to let Him pick us up, dust us off, and put us right back on track again. The beauty of grace is none is wasted and we will never miss what God has for us if we live in it. You are God’s Prized Possession. You! Yes, YOU! He wants nothing more than to flood your life and person with good and perfect gifts each and every day.

Galatians 6:8-9 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

What if there is more to life than this? What if God really is willing and able to do EXACTLY what His Word says about Him? What if I just have to endure? What if? We all can think about what if in the form of doubt and regret but what if I look ahead instead? What if God’s Blessing in my life is real? What if He really is that good? What if the Lord really does want to bless me? Is life so great now that I am willing to forfeit the potential of prosperity? To settle for the known rather than investing my life in the glorious standard of living that only faith and trust in God offers. I can satisfy my sinful nature and preserve my pride. I am free in Jesus Christ to live the life of my own choosing. However, if I want the rich and satisfying life that Jesus has promised – I must endure. I cannot and will not give up. I want the harvest of blessing from each seed of faith planted in my past. I have been sowing in the Lord a long, long time. I know there are harvests coming even though I am tired, weary and struggling to hold tight to the promise. God is Good! He is Faithful! He has never let me down. He does not intend to start now. I know this full well. I must act on my belief investing faith that chooses to endure to the end. I want all that God has for me. Everything Jesus died for me to have. I will trust Him. The greatest temptation in the life of a believer is giving up. The greatest blessing comes for those who endure to the end. Salvation. A Crown marked Life. Not just any life but a rich and satisfied one.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 (NLT) For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

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.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

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

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

To Be Still

To Be Still

Psalm 46:10 (AMP) “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”

As I sit in His Presence today, I am waiting. Wondering about some details that just don’t add up. Asking for clarity and divine discernment. Introspection leads to listening. I want to hear His Voice. I want to do what He says to me. So different from my younger days, when dissatisfaction created distance between us, now it only leads to a greater desire to know, recognize and understand Him more. Completion is my purpose. Fulfillment is the potential of my life. To be fully invested in Christ body, mind and spirit until my soul prospers and runs over to every person I encounter in this dark and dying world. To light in every darkness and speak words that lead to life. To love so extravagantly that all they see is God’s Love poured out before them in spite of me.

Yet soon, I will have to close the Bible, turn off the computer and leave the prayer closet/study. The door will be open and life come pouring in like a wave unhindered. I will face challenges. I will have trials. All opportunities to grow a little closer and wade a little deeper into the fathomless grace that I have been given. As I go, my greatest longing is to just be still. To be still and know. To be still and recognize. To be still and understand that He is My God. It would be so much easier if I could stay right here in His Presence. To distance myself from the pressures of life persistently bearing down on my chest, stealing my breath, taking my attention, and just to be still. Oh for a moment of selah today, a moment to pause and reflect on the walls of the strong tower, my refuge, and my strength.

Psalm 46:1-6 (AMP) God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He raised His voice, the earth melted.

Reading these words today, I am encouraged. Feeling like Peter whose desire for the Lord took him out of the boat to walk on water, but the winds and the waves got in his way. Sometimes faith feels like swimming in an endless ocean, too far out to turn back but so far gone the shore is not in sight. It is then that our life hangs in the balance. It is in that moment that we become aware of grace that is like an ocean – you know the one where we are sinking. God is good. God is always good. He is love. Endless love. Fathomless love. His Purpose and Plan for my life is complete lacking no good thing unless maybe my full attention sometimes. In the past, the adrenaline might kick in right about now. I would have to make the decision to fight for my faith or flee with what is left of my left. Oh, I am too far gone now. Like Jacob in Genesis 32, his wives, children and livelihood crossed over on the other side. Jacob was alone. Nothing to go back to, just Jacob and God wrestling through the dark of night. Holding tightly to the Lord, who said, “Let me go for the day is breaking.” Jacob refused. He declared to the Lord, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” Jacob was given his heart’s desire. No longer would he be known for his struggles, but as the one who came face-to-face with God. Do you remember what happened when Moses came face-to-face with the Lord? God’s Glory shone so brightly on his face that he covered it as not to frighten them. Oh for Your Glory, Lord. I desire that new name. I want to be the one who despite her many struggles and insufficiencies experienced the Glory of Your Grace full immersed and overflowing.

God is our refuge and our strength. His Presence is a mighty and impenetrable fortress that allows us to be still and know – no matter what conditions or circumstances are circling our life. I am so thankful today for His Presence. The Lord does not only promise to keep us safe and secure in His Presence but offers freedom from fear so faith can grow, develop and mature into deep roots that keep us well-grounded so that we learn to thrive in life and not just merely survive. (Psalm 92:14) Jacob fled for his life which didn’t amount to much except the Lord was with him. He served Laban faithfully and flourished even in exile. He encountered the Lord in the stillness of the night upon his return. He was 97 years old. Oh for us to know, understand and recognize that our journey with the Lord is a lifelong endeavor seldom offering immediate gratification or instantaneous harvests. It is a life of sowing and reaping governed by the promise of God that what we plant is what we will reap. God has blessed Jacob in the natural but in his old age he wanted God’s Blessing to reach into the depths of his heart and change him.

Lord, help me to be still. To know, recognize and understand that my life is a process. Grace to faith to trust to confident hope. To complete the cycle again and again until my heart is secure in the stronghold of your love. I don’t want to end the process or escape the pressure. I want you Lord. I will not let go until You bless me with the desire of my heart. Lord teach me to fully rely on Your Sovereignty today. You go before me and fall in behind me. You pursue me passionately with Goodness and Unfailing Love. Teach me to pursue you with my whole heart.

Psalm 37:3-7 (AMP) Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, and your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun]. Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him…

Trust is to rely on and have confidence in the Lord. Our ability to trust is in direct correlation with what we believe to be true. Faithfulness is God’s Quality that I believe in along with His Goodness. He is faithful while I can only try to be. My only real chance at faith is created by the amazing grace that I have been given. Do good. Dwell in the land. Feed on His Faithfulness. Such a simple thing, yet a daily challenge with the pressures of life bearing down on us. Dare I believe that in the midst of adversity that God is giving me the desires of my heart? Yes, and a thousand times, yes! Such understanding doesn’t come without a price. It will require my complete undoing. It will take all of my heart, mind, soul and body fully invested in Jesus Christ. It will be in my weakness. It will be found when I fail. Those who commit their life to Christ must put all expectation in the Lord, His Word, His Will and His Way. It is a day by day – moment to moment process to build trust and confidence in the Lord. It is a daily pursuit and endless process that requires endurance. Endurance is marked by stillness. Those who endure must learn to be still.

James 4:6-8 (AMP) But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].” So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people].

Oh Jesus just a few more minutes together before I must leave this place of refuge. This quiet place in our home filled with Your Spirit and like-minded people. I am persuaded today that nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I know that all things work together for my good because I am called according to His Purpose and desire it above all things. Yet still, to be still is such a challenge sometimes especially when the ocean of grace is so vast that I cannot see from shore to shore. What lies beneath the surface frightens me. The length of this journey overwhelms me. The enemy taunts me. His lies raise the hairs on the back of my neck. God gives more and more grace to those who forgo pride and float in humility. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Resist. Withstand. Strive against. Oppose. If I simply resist, the temptation to give up or give in then he must go. The enemy cannot do anything to me other than lie to me. If I silence the lie with God’s Truth – He must go. Our closeness to the Lord allows us to endure such harsh conditions and one day realize that the thing that carried us through was His Grace. It is enough. It is more than enough. It is always sufficient. It leads me to faith. It is the one thing that I trust most because without it – I don’t stand a chance.

Psalm 84:1-4 (AMP) How lovely are Your dwelling places, Lord of hosts! My soul (my life, my inner self) longs for and greatly desires the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed and greatly favored are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah.

Have you ever encountered a spider web? You didn’t see it. Like a carefully laid net to capture you, it overtakes you or so it seems. You flail around as if consumed in invisible fire to get away from it. It is not the web that you are afraid of but the little spider that may be lurking in it who more than likely ran away when you destroyed its home. The world’s largest spider is ironically called the Goliath spider…no kidding. It is about 11 inches in diameter making shudder just to think about it. Though a deadly ambusher of small rodents and even a bird – to date it has not consumed a human. Thank God! However, even a small spider will cause a grown man to jump and scream. So many times – this is how those filled with the Power of Christ respond to the words of the enemy. When walking through the woods, I must look out for spiders. It is their dwelling place. Their home and not mind. But in my house, the spiders are quickly killed and disposed of. It is my home and they are not welcome. Where are you living today?

To live in the Presence of God is a place that goes with us. He lives in us. The world is not our home. However, God gave us dominion over it in Genesis. My authority is evident by the Christ in me but if I have no confidence in Christ – I will remain subject to my fear and insecurities because I have no idea of the strong tower and refuge available for those who take grace to access faith and live in it by trust. Just outside the door awaits all the pressure and pain along with cares and concerns that comprise this life we live. I will be tested and tried by the many challenges. The enemy has new lies and careful traps ready to trip me up and cause me to stumble. The Lord offers a strong tower and refuge for those who desire to enter in and to be still. These are His People who will experience blessing and favor in their life. As their soul prospers in the Peaceful Place of God so will their everyday life no matter how tough it gets. Lord, my soul, my life and my inner self long for you. I greatly desire to live in Your Presence today. Help me to do so. Show me the way deeper into the courts called beautiful, peaceful and strong. Teach me to be still today. Show me how to put all my life in you, Jesus!

Psalm 84:12 (AMP) O Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

Overcoming One of Those Days

overcoming one of those days

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.

Are you having one of those days? Maybe it’s been a week? For some, it may even seem like one of those years? I have one of those days. Actually, it has been a week. In the midst of change, uncertainty and chaos it is clear that the Lord is doing something beyond my comprehension. Faith in my heart holds on to hope that doesn’t seem as confident but I must not let go. God is working out the details of my life for good. I want everything I do to reflect His Glory. However, my little light has been flickering with the turbulent wind blowing all around me. I woke up this morning and in the quiet I knew that the Lord was right there. He was waking me up with a Word for me. As I opened the Word of God today, it was like a bright and shiny arrow pointing to this passage. No wandering around or wondering what the Lord had to say – it was abundantly clear. Keep going. Don’t stop moving. Just one step each day will lead you to the destination. The only action deemed failure is to fall and refuse to get up or to throw up my hands and say, “I give up!” Not today devil – I am in a race for a prize that will be the key to the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised me. It is called endurance. It is hard to obtain but worth overcoming each day that turns out to be “one of those days.”

I love days like this when in the quiet of the morning – the Holy Spirit is our encourager. He heard our prayers last night. I have a confession. This week has not been my week to get the gold star of perfection. In fact, it has been an ugly slugfest to keep my eyes on Jesus and keep moving in the right direction. Our leadership team was having prayer on Monday night. It seemed like I had been at church all weekend. Needing time to prepare for the Bible Study the very next night, longing for a family dinner followed by some snuggle time with Jesus and the study guide after a hectic day at work. I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t going to go. I went anyway. Tuesday night – the ladies of our church, the ones who I am supposed to lead, had their Bible Study. I left feeling like a complete and utter failure. I am no good at this whole organizing and executing thing. Ten times I almost text the pastor admitting defeat and telling him to find someone better for these sweet women. Instead, I went to bed. Wednesday morning, it was clear. I had nothing left. As I sat before my Savior with my head bowed, praying for the same people and situations, it seemed so redundant like water poured on a rock, I finally just admitted to the Father, “Lord, I need you today! I am stuck!” As the Lord, poured into me from His Word, I began to blog. His Words powerful and true cutting through my resolve to release a balm inside of me that I knew He was not only sharing with me but others, too. Yeah, so my computer shut down right then and there losing more than half of it. One of those days, now became one of those weeks… I could bore you with yesterday’s details but it ended with the same tired, worn-out believer dragging herself into church.

Today may be no different but my Father has prepared me in advance. He has given me these verses to hold on to and the Holy Spirit, the excellent life coach that He is, provided a detailed game plan for me that I am about to share with you. These are the things to remember not in the beginning of our race towards the prize called a satisfying life but in the midst of it. When you have come too far to turn back now, but struggle to find strength to take one more step. On those days when giving up seems more fruitful than pressing in, because your mind loudly whispers “what’s the point?” The Lord is making a point. We need to hear it and act on it today.

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

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” My life is a light. To walk by faith and not by sight causes that light to shine a little brighter as the Jesus in me begins to attract people. When those challenging and overwhelming days come, I believe is when we have the most people watching us. They are looking for a difference. Has Jesus made a real difference? Is the Savior you are talking about really capable of saving people? The key is learning to respond to God’s Word rather than reacting to our situation or circumstance in life. People are watching. Faith without works is dead. Faith is for the things unseen not those things I can do. Faith makes the impossible possible. If you believe it, your light shines because you will keep following Christ even when it’s tough and seems pointless. My life is not about me. It is about shining so bright that His Glory lights the way for others to see His Great Love. God is good on the bad days. His Goodness is not influenced by anything in my life. I connect to His Goodness by faith in His Love for me and confident hope that nothing can separate me from it. This must be the evidence of my life to be a light.

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

“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” Jesus did not say, “Dump all your worries and cares on me including your sin and then go find something else to do.”  No, He tells us to come…bring all our weariness and heavy burdens…and I will give you rest. Then the Lord says, “Take my yoke upon you.” Jesus is not a dump site. He is the ultimate recycler of everything but sin. My boss is an avid conservationist. He will literally retrieve recyclables from the garbage. The garbage cans in our office are small receptacles but the recycling bin is huge. We must come to know and understand the context of Matthew 11:28-30 in order to understand how the Lord works in us and through us. We chalk up bad days to experience and just move on. But Jesus full of life and resurrection power, digs through the refuse of our life, because He promises to make good of every detail even the rotten ones. (Romans 8:28) The key is to bring our burdens and sins considered the weight that slows us down and YOKE our life with Him. Jesus wants to be our life partner. He wants to be our constant source of instruction and motivation but He is not in the garbage business. The Lord promised to make us a new creation but it requires becoming connected to Him as our Source. Sin is the only thing that separates us from God. Grace allows us to overcome weakness, but Jesus is the Source of Grace that covers us so all the Father sees is a son or daughter. Having one of those days? Come to Jesus and give Him all of your worries and cares. Confess your sin even relinquishing any hidden sin that may be hidden the heart. Then, yoke or attach yourself to Jesus and say, “What can I do for you today, Lord?” It may be a simple (or not so simple) as just keeping your mouth shut which on bad days may take every ounce of effort I have left.

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.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” The one who endures to the end will be saved. Salvation and redemption are possible only if we finish the race of faith. Endurance is achieved in each step. Do not take for granted the path set before you. Your hope is identified as the Plan of God for your life which is marked by good things but often a product of struggle. The same principle applies to changing lifestyle habits. Incorporating a new heathier lifestyle exhibits the same kind of struggle. You want the fatty, fried foods filled with carbs and calories but in order to have a healthy body – we must defy our physical desires and replace our intake with better choices. I need to exercise as well. I loathe it. Yet as I do it and see the results in my life the pain in my body and constant overcoming the longing to be a coach potato wane. I make myself follow the plan despite my grumbling, complaining and rebelling flesh. Why? I want to live a long, healthy life and chase after grandchildren one day. Our life in Christ is the same. We must flight our flesh to have the life God promised is possible if one believes. I must crucify my flesh in order to endure. Endurance is a successful step that becomes an amazing life. Too many times we cannot see the forest for the trees or the staircase for the steps. We have a prize called Eternity. It is worth fighting for and that is exactly what we must do each day. Those who are successful will claim a prize far greater than anything on earth can achieve. Each successful step taken is one less needed to God’s Heavenly Prize.

John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” I love this passage so much. Peter, what a character, who had undeniable passion for the Lord took quite a bit of discipline to get to the man who jumped in the water and swam about a hundred yards to shore. The same Peter who couldn’t make it a few steps walking on the water by faith would not let anything keep him from reaching Jesus. These steps of our journey to secure faith and confident hope in the Lord are not pointless but purposeful. The Promise and Plan of God for our life fills us with great potential that is impossible without faith in the Lord. Not only was Peter confident that it was Jesus, but he must have been confident in his love. Peter knew Jesus heard his denials the night before the Lord died for him. He saw Jesus looking at him through a window. Peter also remembered the day that He first recognized Jesus answering His Inquiry correctly. “But who do you say that I am?” He also knew all the things that Jesus told him like he would be the rock on which the church was built. I am sure during the three days that he thought Jesus was dead, Peter evaluated his whole life just as we do in the midst of the marathon called endurance.

Did I waste my time? Am I giving up my life for nothing? Jesus where are you? BUT when Jesus came to the beach that day – Peter knew that his faith and confident hope was alive and well. Faith will never be logical according to the conditions in life. The world is completely consumed by sin and self. Faith puts our sin in the Blood of Jesus and our self in the Person of Christ. We must strive to remain there. Jesus is our champion. I cannot produce anything good let alone prosper from the inside out apart from Him. It is in Jesus that I live, move, and exist. (Acts 17:28) “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

“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.” You can live life looking ahead or with your eyes in the rearview mirror. Our future is either defined by our past or hope. Freedom allows us to decide. My past is over. Jesus was clear. Those who put a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Looking back will lead us back. Just as a batter must keep his eye on the ball, we must keep our eyes fixed on the future to maintain the right direction and stay on course. Jesus endured the Cross because of the joy waiting for Him. I will get to what His Definition of Joy is in a moment. God has given you dreams, desires and promises that requires faith to achieve in life. Total trust opens the windows of Heaven and the human heart. Once open to receive, inexpressible joy begins to bubble up and overflow not based on our circumstances but the potential of God’s Promises. If we endure one of those days, weeks or even years, by faith and nothing else, the full satisfaction called joy will well up in us so that we don’t need to depend on the world for happiness but the secret power of a prospering soul will satisfy us in the famine and cause us to grow through adversity to bear fruit in every season.

James 1:17-19 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.I am His Prized Possession. You are the joy that awaited Jesus on the other side of the Cross. He endured the Cross because He desired us above anything else. God is sending good and perfect promise packages to His Beloved Children every day. Opportunities and possibilities that are often overlooked by the hardships of life. Even when we are weary, tired, wandering or just wondering, God still loves us and sends His Blessings to us. The world that He died to save remained hostile toward the One who only showed it love, compassion, mercy and grace. Compared to my struggles and troubles in life, it seems so small. His Grace is enough to overcome every insufficiency in my life. His Mercy comes new every morning to refresh, renew and reassure me. Every step I take labeled endurance is a step in the right direction. I have everything I need to win the race even on those days that all I can do is stand on the faith and not move an inch. Even Jesus dealt with exhausting and frustrating people, yet still managed to love them enough to die for them. To die for us. To die for me. He endured the process to have the people. Am I willing to endure the process to have the promise?

2 Corinthians 5:15-18 (NLT)  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

This thing called life is not a sprint it is a marathon. The Lord has painted the perfect picture of encouragement for endurance in Hebrews 12. Endurance is the ability or strength to continue despite fatigue, stress, and other adverse conditions. It is marked by hardship and hostility that should be our expectation. When life gets hard, it is evidence that maybe just maybe we are getting somewhere. The enemy has no interest in a life that is unsuccessful in faith. It has not future. Those who endure will find that you may end up having more of “those days” than ever before. Instead of looking back, press forward. Society tells us to run across the finish line, but I think in our walk with Christ it is actually crawling across when we come to the end of self and rely fully on faith to get us there.

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” You are alive. It means that your full potential has not been reached and there is a promise waiting for you. In fact, our life is filled with promises and purpose that can only be reached when we choose to discipline our body, mind, will and emotions to hold fast to faith and confident hope rather than allowing the problems, people and persecution of life overtake us. We have the ability to overcome because greater is He who is in us. There is no power that can overtake the believer yoked to Christ. However, you will not get there apart from endurance. Endurance is the fuel that makes our light shines brighter. When all else fails, but faith in the Father prevails. I had a pastor tell me once, “Do not make permanent decisions in temporary circumstances.” Good advice.

Is it one of those days? Has it been one of those weeks? Is it shaping up to form one of those years? Be encourage today. God has not forgotten you – how could He? You are His Prized Possession. He is working a process in you that will lead to fulfillment and inexpressible joy! Stick with it. Struggles often release unknown burdens and hidden things unnecessary weight in our life. They cause us to press in deeper into the Presence of God striving for help to overcome. When I am overwhelmed, I look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith. God’s Discipline in our life proves His Great Love for us. He is a Good Father on bad days. He is always cheering us on and focused on the good in us. Whether success for you today is running the race, crawling along, or just standing refusing to go back – the Lord loves you and sees that you have chosen to endure. He is Your Champion and you are His Prize. Endurance is not fun – it takes a great deal of discipline – but for those who choose to finish the race – it is absolutely essential to victory!

Here are some verses to accompany you today:

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) 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.

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.

Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

James 1:2-3 (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.

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

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.