Like an Arrow

Like an Arrow

Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight.  A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.

He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.

Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him    and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.

Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.

There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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His Faithful Love

His love endures forever. Psalm 136 Scripture art by StudioJRU.

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.

Today marks 19 years of wedding bliss to my precious husband. Sitting down to spend time with the Lord today, I am drawn to the words, “His faithful love endures forever.” No one enters a marriage contemplating a divorce date. It is a covenant of hopefulness for a future of passion and devotion. A life of constant affirmation and affection. The honeymoon is a celebration of love that is found and now secure. However, as anyone can tell you, a marriage requires all of you. It is hard work. It is not an easy road to navigate and requires our full attention. It doesn’t always meet our expectation. On my desk, I found a gift bag from a favorite store with a simple pink bow. Inside it, a dainty ring of twirling hearts with intermittent sparkle creating a band. It is perfect. The ideal representation of almost twenty years of a life invested in loving and growing together. Even in the imperfection of each heart, the design works together to create a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry. There are so many wonderful memories mixed with days of great trial and difficulty. Striving to come together and walk one path.

Marriage is a representation of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Bridegroom and we are called His Bride. In a world where sin is certainly rampant and love has grown cold, the promise is that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Clinging to Christ with complete desperation and dedication to continue as one until the end is equally as challenging most days. Not because the Lord is not faithful – His faithful love endures to the end. I must rely on the faithfulness of His Love for me to find my way to the end. The Good News is preached by a life of love and kindness. To live in love with Jesus fills us with a special love for others that allows us to experience trials and temptations yet still love Him and others the same. Love is a commitment. Christ made that covenant with us when He gave His Life to have us. No relationship is one-sided both must agree. He has already approved and affirmed me with His Grace the day that He decided to love me. Now I must learn to do the same…

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 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.

I am not perfect. I did not marry a perfect man. We have weaknesses, faults and insecurities just like everyone else. Over the years, there have been disagreements and full blown arguments as two people fight to come together. The temptations in life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. We expect too much from fragile and flawed humans. The level of faithfulness that exceeds our expectation is found in Christ alone. When we got married, my husband and I invited Christ to join us. He is the One who held it all together over the years.

Are you tempted to leave your first love today? Are you at odds with people? Are you struggling in relationships? Are you headed for divorce? There is powerful potential for those who choose to endure. To give our expectations fully to Christ and stop looking for love in all the wrong people. No one can fulfill you but Jesus. You have eternity in your heart which requires full satisfaction. Nothing and no one can fill that space but the Lord. His Faithful Love for us endures forever and is the very thing that carries us to the end. We must release people from any expectation to experience the full satisfaction that is promised by God.

The enemy will always tempt us to leave love behind. He will threaten us with disappointment, dissatisfaction and discouragement. He will direct our attention to people and problems to lure our focus off Christ. Doubt and insecurity will always create strongholds trapping us in the present rather than projecting us to the promise. People are part of the plan that God prepared for our life. Relationship is the Kingdom economy as the Lord values souls more than anything else. He has everything else. When we live and love together fighting for agreement and harmony, God calls it precious. Successful relationships are messy. They are hard. They are worth it in the end. To reach the end requires love. Love for the one whose love faithfully endures forever will fill every void left by human love in all its messy imperfection.

Revelation 2:3-4 (NLT) “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. 

The personification of Christ in our life is love. To be loving, to give love, to accept love. This is the interworking of relationships. The complaint against the church was “you don’t love me or each other as you did at first.” It is human nature to grow bored with monotony. The mediocrity of life loses our interest. We must find passion for our first love again in order to learn to love others like perhaps we once did. Experience is a hard teacher and must be filtered through the Word of God for clarification. There must be full repentance at all times to constantly turn us back to love. All relationships requires grace, forbearance and forgiveness. Christ has given us that time and time again as each morning there is mercy waiting for us. Who are we to withhold that which is so freely given? We come to Jesus full of hopeful expectation and then heap it on people when His Timing doesn’t suit us or His Way seems too hard or long. Love must endure to the end to bring salvation. I must learn to love like Jesus to make this a reality in my life.

I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT) Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love becomes a masterpiece through endurance. Love never gives up. Love never loses faith. Love is always hopeful. If the emotion of affection you are feeling does not have these characteristics, it may not be love but a secondary emotion. We cannot rely on our feelings. Life is hard. Sin is rampant. Love has grown cold. Most Christians live in a lukewarm state. We must decide in our own heart to love. Love must be patient and kind as Christ is with us. It must not be jealous, boastful or filled with pride and self-seeking. It cannot be irritable. Stop recording all wrongs. It cannot rejoice in others failures or shortcomings but rejoice in truth and the good of others. If I live my whole life calling myself a Christian, yet never strive to endure in love – I am nothing. I will not make it to the destination that I am seeking. To live in love with Christ is to live in love with others.

The tiny twisted hearts that make up the band on my right hand are a true representation of how love works in our life. It does not always start out as we expected or turn out as we would like, but the promise is that God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. It is worth sticking it out when it comes to love – all kinds of love. It is worth forgiving one more time. Trying even when you don’t feel like it or maybe they don’t deserve it. The best kind of love is the hardest fought for because the enemy sees it’s potential. Don’t’ give up on love. Never give up on people. Always remember His Faithful Love endures forever so there is always a fresh supply!

Psalm 136:23-26 (NLT) He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.  He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.  He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.

No More But…

No More But...

James 1:12 (AMP) Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

I am blessed. I am happy. I am spiritually prosperous. I am favored by God. But… The word “but” nullifies everything in the previous statement. It is the very word that renders an apology useless in its own justification. I’m sorry but… It is the place saver for the condition that will limit the commitment. I would go to church but… Three letters can change everything in a single breath. I am blessed, but… I am happy, but… I am prosperous, but… I am favored by God, but… What is the limitation on your life today? What comes after the but…?

Steadfastness in the troubles, trials and temptations of life is only possible when Children of God remove the hindrances often breathed into life giving declarations. The little word “but” seems so small but it holds greater conviction than the statement just before. It is the obstacle of faith that must be overcome. The human heart will reveal places of doubt and disbelief and the enemy picks it up using it as a weapon. There is no weapon formed against us that will prosper, but… We are our own weapons of mass destruction as rebellious thoughts become firm beliefs keeping us locked in what-could-have-been rather than living in the realm of hope marked what has already been done.

The word “but” in the middle of a sentence is called a coordinating conjunction. Ever heard the Schoolhouse Rock song that goes “Conjunction Junction” – “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” The function of “but” is to create the opposite. When “but” is placed as a conjunction, it represents a change of direction. It is a contradiction. When our attitude and actions are contradictory to the Lord, suddenly we have a crossroad. We have been crowned with victory by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Goodness is for the Land of the Living…but…

What is the contradiction that is confining God’s Best from flowing in you and through you today? What is keeping you from remaining steadfast in the Lord? It is the thing on the other side of your but… There was a man who was lame for more than 30 years. He would sit by the pool and wait for its stirring. Healing would have missed him altogether had Jesus had enough love and compassionate persistence for both of them. Jesus offered the man expectation. The man only made excuses. Jesus said to him, “Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.” The man was healed and fully recovered. (John 5) The man was reacting to his condition and years of disappointment. When he encountered Jesus, these weights would have kept them there except for the faithfulness of Jesus.

James 1:16-18 (AMP)  Do not be misled, my beloved brothers and sisters. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes].

Thank you Jesus for Your Persistence and Perseverance in pursuing us with Your Goodness each day. New mercies are bestowed on us each day. His Love and Goodness always pursuing us. He offers us victory. His Power works best in my weakness. How crazy is that? Because I am weak. I fail every single day. Simple obedience is often an overwhelming task. I am not talking about religious rules and regulations. I love God. I love Jesus. I love His Spirit at work in me. I am to love everyone else as well. To lay down my life (pride, bitterness, offense) and love unsparingly. It is easier to do the right things. Wear the right clothes. Avoid the so-called vices. To live a religious life than to strive for a righteous one. Why? I must surrender all my “buts” to replace them with periods. I am loved. I am convinced. I am steadfast. I am blessed. I am victorious. I am prosperous. I am successful. I belong to Jesus. I am an overcomer.

I was made with divine purpose that supersedes human ability. He set me apart for Himself. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ who gave birth to me by His Word. When I receive Christ, I receive His Word. He is the Word. Now I can have confidence and conviction in every circumstance of life that I am saved, healed, delivered and perfectly blessed. God does lie or change His Mind. He set the sun to rises in the east every single day because He ordained it to be so and as it rounds the earth it will set in the west every single day. If creation is obedient to God, I must be also without reservation or excuses. Simple acts of obedience change the course of our life completely.

James 1:22-25 (AMP) But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].

Who do you see when you look in the mirror each day? When God looks at us, He sees His Precious Son. To live my life in accordance with His Word, Will and Way is not a form of restriction or limitation but to live in the liberty of His Love. No longer bound by the penalty of sin or imprisoned by darkness. I can live in the Light of His Love and showers of blessing each day. Confidence in Christ is the beginning of a supernatural life leaving behind the excuses that once kept us from Him. When I look in the mirror, who do I see? Do I see a beloved Child of the Living God? Or do the wrinkles stand out along with every other imperfection? To be steadfast begins with a conviction. To believe means the eradication of doubt. To prove that God is real and trust valid requires a life of faith in action. It is not an outward display but inward belief that no matter what God is good. His Love for me authentic. His Strength for me enough. His Grace always sufficient. His Promise coming. His Blessing given. Prosperity growing from the inside out. This must become our vocabulary to be a firm foundation. To walk confidently in His Love must be more than a confession, it must become our confidence.

I Corinthians 15:58 (AMP) Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Be steadfast. Immovable. Always excelling in the work of the Lord. Hmm… I have always read this and believed it to mean the “work” I do for the Lord, but what if it really means the work that He is doing in me? God is faithful. He is good. He is going to accomplish everything in me that He decided from the beginning. There is nothing I can do to move the heart and hand of the Lord because He is already totally in love and completely committed to every promise and blessing ordained in my life. He wrote it all out before I was born. (Psalm 139) The commitment of steadfast perseverance is not about me performing. It is about the Lord perfecting me and making me the masterpiece that He designed and declared I would be. If I do my best – the Lord does the rest. If I continually press in to the Presence of God simply obeying his every leading – I will have the life that He promised because He is faithful, persevering, and steadfast.

Are you frustrated today? Do you desire a prosperous life? Do you want to be blessed? Who doesn’t? Everyone wants a good life. We all desire good things. I have come to the place in my life where the suffering of self is really the death of our flesh. When we decide that God is going to do exactly what He said that He would – our faith makes us unstoppable. The impossible becomes an ongoing lifestyle simply because we decided to remove all the “buts” and become confident in the Lord. The God of ALL GRACE is the one who imparts blessing and favor on our life. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve or earn the life that I have been given. He is the One who will complete me, confirm me, strengthen me and establish me. All I must do is believe. Believe enough to stop living in lies and excuses. To be steadfast in believing and stepping out in simple obedience day by glorious day!

I Peter 5:10 (AMP) After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].

New Discipline

New Discipline

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

New Year’s Resolutions. Making better choices. Forming new habits. After the first of the year, I am going to (fill in the blank). Some are preparing to do the annual Daniel Fast that many churches participate in each year. Considering my life and the coming year, there are some things that I would like to do better and become more disciplined in. Personal choices that will benefit my life in positive ways. However, as I consider the spiritual aspect of my life, it is here that I am led. Hebrews 12 doesn’t talk about God doing a new thing in my life or even in me. It is about endurance. To continue the course already laid before us and finish the race of faith. Oh, but new beginnings are much more exciting. New people. New places. Fresh starts.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. This reminds me of marathon races where there are people along the way watching at checkpoints. They do not hear the pistol shot at the start or see the finish line, but still wait and watch for the runners to pass by. These are the witnesses of the struggle as flesh rivals faith. When runners consider giving up, and must dig deep to carry on. The place where sweat is overcome by tears as muscles scream and chests heave. What do these witnesses see in God’s People?

As 2018 approaches, I feel the need for change. There are some cycles that need to be broken so new seasons will emerge. However, the Lord is not instructing us to leave the present course. Give up on this race and enter another. He is not telling us to move on but keep going. We must set aside the heavy burdens and weights to yoke our life to Christ. (Matthew 11:28-30) It is time to examine our heart for those sins that cling to us. (Psalm 26:2; 51:10) We must run with endurance the race that is set before us. I believe this could be a game changer for many people in the coming year… most of all me!

Endurance is the ability or strength to continue especially despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions. It is the power of enduring. To endure means to hold out against, sustain without yielding, to bear without resistance, to bear with patience, to continue, and to last. What if the problem is not in our willingness to begin but our ability to endure to the end? Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) Endurance is a product of discipline. (Hebrews 12:7) There is no greater temptation than the one to quit. Our flesh identifies with it because it is a pardon for our sinful nature. It takes our flesh off the cross and allows it to live another day. There is no temptation that has overtaken me that is not common to man. Jesus endure temptation. Paul confides the inner struggle between our Spirit and flesh each day in Romans 7. A lack of discipline with no endurance doesn’t produce finishers but quitters.

Hebrews 12:3 (ESV) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…

Are you weary? Growing faint at heart? Discouraged by the lack of harvest? Are you considering something new? Me, too. The areas that lack productivity have gained my full attention. The source of discouragement, discontentment or maybe for some devastation are the areas of life where discipline is most important. These are emotional minefields. Our flesh argues with our faith. There are some important qualities about the Lord that may lend some encouragement and support the concept called endurance.

Psalm 100:5 (ESV) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. God is good. He is always good. His Steadfast love endures forever. His New Mercies given to us each day are evidence of His Love. It is not dependent on our acceptance for relevance. His Faithfulness never quits. He is always faithful even when we give up. He never stops working His Plan and Purpose in our life because His Absolute and Total Faithfulness will not allow Him to no matter what we do or do not do.

Psalm 119:160 (ESV) The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. The Word of God is truth for my life. You can never be excluded from the Perfect Will of God. God had to consider the cost of our sin to pay the price necessary on the Cross to provide us with sufficient grace. God’s Word cannot return to Him void. In fact, He promises in Romans 8:28 that He works every detail of our life for His Good. The rules of righteousness always produce the reward – it doesn’t matter what it took to get you to the place of repentance and acceptance. God’s Word and His Will for you are still just as glorious.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. God’s Purpose for my life will be fulfilled. He prerecorded my life according to Psalm 139 and He will do exactly as He promised. It is not based on me at all but rather conditional according to unconditional love. Steadfast love. Love that endures forever. Never gives up on me. Never forsakes or forgets me. His Love and Goodness are always pursuing me. He will do exactly as He said.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (ESV) I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. God’s Plan and Purpose for my life is perfect. He will not change it. Nothing is to be added or taken from it. Christ completes me if I am willing to endure to the end. The divine character and nature of God is perfection. Christ is the founder and perfecter of faith. Faith must focus on the unseen reality of what is hope for rather than on all the temporary distractions along the way. God is an enduring God. Endurance is a quality that He is determined to give His Children so that we may have all that His Goodness and Grace provides.

2 Timothy 2:8-10 (ESV) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Most of us will never undergo the persecution of the early church. The men and women who dared share the Gospel after the death and resurrection of Christ. They were hated. Imprisoned. Tortured and even put to death. The modern church struggles with comfort, convenience and control. As I consider this thing called endurance, I believe it is God’s Word for the coming year. I must endure. I should endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain salvation.

Have you ever been traveling with a GPS and lost the signal? Or maybe along the way began to doubt the integrity of the pleasant voice giving you instructions? Or perhaps found yourself caught up in road construction and detours that the satellite did not catch? Suddenly, you feel lost. Did I take a wrong turn? None of this looks or feels right? Am I going in the right direction? I believe that these are the exact feelings we get when God is teaching us endurance. Do we stay the course? Do we try our own way? Tough call. I have found that generally the GPS is right. I have also discovered that God’s Word will never return void. If God told you to do something or go somewhere, that is exactly what He meant for you to do. It is not my experience that He changes His Mind (even when I beg and plead) or that He lies (not once). What I have discovered is that when I have made it to the end of a thing it is exceedingly abundantly more than I thought it would be or imagined it could be. The key and essential quality was not enthusiasm or zeal but endurance to the end. No matter if I had to crawl to the finish – Christ, who is my victory, always met me there.

Considering the coming New Year, I encourage you to try something new. Better choices are always a good idea. Healthy habits preserve the Temple of the Living God. But also, pray and seek the Lord on those things you are considering giving up. Ask the Lord for guidance? Is this a place of new discipline? Are you really supposed to endure? You may be on the verge of breakthrough. Discouragement only leads to defeat if you quit or give up. I will probably never know the suffering of Paul or Timothy for Jesus Christ. I do know this. I have a plan and purpose that will bring the Lord honor and glory. To allow Him to complete the good work that He has begun in me will break through in glorious light through all my cracks and broken pieces that will show others His Unfailing Love. He endured the Cross for me. It is my turn to endure.

Psalm 145:13-16 (ESV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Enduring Love

Enduring Love

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.

It probably safe to say that sin is definitely rampant everywhere. Love is lukewarm if not tepid perhaps even cold. BUT…the one who endures to the end will be saved. “But” nullifies that which is stated before. When we see “but God” in a passage, it is the resolve of God’s Sovereignty that changes everything. If a “but” is placed within an apology, it voids the true meaning of forgiveness. Within the epidemic of sin and death of love, there is a “but”. The one who endures to the end will be saved. I am challenged today by this “but” – the one that changes sin and hate to enduring and everlasting love.

What does love have to do with it? Everything. It is our mandate in life to love the Lord God and love others. It sums up our mission as Light and Salt. To illuminate the darkness and flavor the earth so that others will taste and see that He is good. What is the light of our life? What is the flavor of our interactions? Does it make a right relationship and true repentance desirable or palatable? Truly love is the difference maker that binds a Kingdom of diverse people who reconcile their life to Jesus. His Spirit works to produce His First Fruit which is love. Are we cultivating love in our life? In our homes? Churches? Community? Workplace? Everywhere we go there should be a foretaste of the love that saved us, delivered us, healed us, grows us, develops us and prospers in our life.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

What have I gained? I want to know God’s Secrets. I want to hear the voice of His Angels as they sing around His Throne in His Presence. I desire all gifts of His Spirit as promised but if I do not possess His Love – it is all pointless. Love is not just in the receiving but absolutely in the giving. It is reciprocated by the release of it. We give our lives to religion freely. It is something I can do. It is the method of giving over which I have control. But is it enough to be among those who endure to the end. Is it enough to finish the race and be found faithful to Christ? I am not sure doing anything for Christ is worthwhile if it is not packaged with unconditional love and grace as it is given.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

“His Love Endures Forever” is given as a reminder 41 times in the Word of God. God defines love as patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude meaning it doesn’t contain any pride or self. Love doesn’t demand its own way but gives up its way to pursue unity. It is not irritable or unforgiving never keeping count of wrongs. It does not rejoice in injustice or the faults and failures of another but rejoices when truth wins out. What truth? God’s Love endures forever and His Grace is enough. Love never gives up. Endures. It never loses faith and so it is always faithful even to the faithless. It is always hopeful never ever giving up on itself or the pursuit of it. It endures through every circumstance.

God’s Love for us is defined by these characteristics. To be imitators of God is to reflect this kind of love to all people. It is noted that there is no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends. We are instructed to lavish it on our enemies as well. Love is important to God because it is who He is. Love defines Him. It must define us to identify with God as His Children. However, love must endure. What does it mean to “endure”? According to Strong’s Concordance, it is to hold one’s ground in conflict, to bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevering under pressure, waiting calmly and courageously. It is not a passive resignation to fate with mere patience, but the active energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance. Why would love require endurance? Because loving everybody all the time is not easy and nearly impossible outside of the Love of God given to us and His Grace that covers us. We must fight for love because the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy it. He is doing a pretty good job at it.

I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Continue to show deep love for each other. The kind of love described is the same kind of love in Romans 5:5. Agape love is a word given new meaning by Christianity. Agape love is an undefeatable well-meaning kindness and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of other people. No matter what the response of the other person to our giving – agape love gives anyway without reservation. It is self-giving love that gives freely asking nothing in return. It does not consider its own object worth but is liberal in its giving. Agape is a love by choice, not love by chance. It is an act of willingness not emotionalism. Agape is the kind of unconditional love God has for all of His Children even those still far away. It is the love that His Spirit tries to produce within us. Agape love is grown from faith in God and as He becomes our confident hope carrying our full expectation it is the overflow of our life to others. Love without condition. Forgiveness without reciprocation. Giving without the expectation of receiving. We must continue to show deep and abiding love in the midst of a world where love has grown quite cold.

Love covers a multitude of sin. Love covers. Love does not expect retribution or recompense but gives up the right to be offended and hurt by the misgivings of another. It is the kind of covering that will lead others to the Light of His Amazing Love. We cannot love others properly until we accept the completely that He first loved us.

I John 4:16-21 (NLT) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

There will always be people around us who seem undeserving of our love, time and attention. People will always let us down, hurt us and not meet our expectation. It is not their job to do so. It is our job to love. My personal responsibility as a Christian fully saved, sanctified and filled with His Spirit is to love. To love first. To love most. To love always. To love without regard. To love without expectation from anyone other than God. His Love is my fulfillment from which I am free to love without need or necessity for reciprocation. Here is where endurance comes in – I don’t always want to love people who hurt me, use me or offend me. I am not always quick to forgive, forget or forge a relationship with those who I do not deem worthy of such things. I don’t always want to give up my way to embrace the journey of another. See I am just as human as you are. I have had my fair share of letdowns. I have been attacked and maligned plenty. But I want to endure to the end. I want to be saved. I cannot spend my time trying to glean a little bit of love from unproductive vessels. The fulfillment of love is to accept fully the Love of God through His Son Jesus Christ and live in that love completely. From this place – there is freedom from fear and insecurity of hurt and betrayal. His Healing Balm of Love covers the misuse and abuse of others with a sufficiency of grace that fulfills us. It is from the Source of Love that never leads to disappointment that I can love others freely with enduring love that makes me known as a Child of God. I must love like the Lord. I must love unconditionally. Lord, help me to develop enduring love in all my relationships past, present and future. Teach me to love others solely on the basis that You, Father have first loved us.

Psalm 136:1 (NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Keep Striking the Arrows

Keep Striking the Arrows

2 Kings 13:17-19 (NLT) Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Have you ever tried to tackle closet that is too full? The spare room or office that has become a catch-all? When I was visiting my daughter a week before her move, there was not a box packed or closet emptied. She was overwhelmed. Pregnant. Relocating for the second time in just a few months. A 21-hour plus drive from the north to the south. The journey from promise to reality is no joke. Anything worth having requires an investment. It is not uncommon or unusual to get dismayed when our process seems delayed, detoured or distant. The Lord often has to undo us to redo everything for our best and according to His Glory. We become uncomfortable as our life is inconvenient. Things seem chaotic and out of control as God remakes our life, shapes us and molds our character. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts so much higher.

I guess I am at the place some call middle age. It doesn’t bother me too much other than there are some things that God has promised that haven’t come to pass. In fact, there are some things that seem downright impossible. I am the person who loves spring and fall cleaning. I love to take things apart, put them back together, organize and reorganize. Chaos is not my favorite. I prefer control and insight rather than those times when the Lord keeps us in the stillness of waiting without the ability to see what lies ahead. Yesterday, I did a gut check. I sought the Lord on my current position. Am I where you want me, Lord? Am I doing what you want me to do? I need to know what to do, Lord. “Keep striking the arrows…” Hmm…

Romans 4:20-24 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

I have heard this message taught about the king who sought instruction from Elisha. The potency and power in his words may just be that it was the final ones of the prophet’s natural life. The first arrow shot from the window was the “Lord’s arrow” and I believe it marked the promise. The promise that was in the distance. The promise of victory not yet attained. Do you have a promise? Does it seem like it is taking forever? David was anointed to be king 22 years before it happened. Joseph had a dream but did not know that it included a pit, slavery, false accusations, and famine. Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations but it took 90 years to have his first child. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. The promise and plan for our life is secure. His Call is irrevocable. His Word cannot return to Him lacking fulfillment. This does not mean that the Lord will hurry it up, change it up or in any way lessen its perfection or completion to accommodate our confidence, control, comfort and/or convenience.

With this in mind, my attention is drawn to the other arrows. I know the Promises of God spoken to me and outlined in His Word. Some have manifested and others just out of reach. In order to reach fulfillment, I must “keep striking the arrows.” What does that even mean? If you are like me, too invested to go back now and looking in the distance as if it is too far – I believe this is for us today. Tired of running the race, but too stubborn to give up now.  Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. Elisha grew angry with the king. Why did you stop at just three times? Why stop short? What if these arrows had inscriptions on each shaft? Instructions written by the Hand of God to encourage us today.

Faith

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

As believers, we must strike out in faith every single day. Faith is the very thing that pleases God. Without faith, there is no righteousness. We cannot come to the Father except by having faith in His Son, Jesus. The first arrow is clearly marked faith. Faith in Jesus. Faith in God. Faith in the promise. Faith that cannot give up on the reality of confident hope in our life.

Endurance

Hebrews 12:1 (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.

Endurance produces character in Christians. (Romans 5:3-4) Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. We must work consciously every day to strip off the weight of sin and even laziness to purse God. It is important. The second arrow is marked endurance. This arrow is haggard and a bit ragged but will be the one that goes the farthest in achieving godly purpose and wins the pursuit of righteousness but it ref uses to fall short.

Patience

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) 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.

The ugliest arrow is marked patience. No one likes to wait. Everyone is always in a hurry. Patience is not optional but integral when it comes to the things of God. Everything has a season and time in our life. It doesn’t mean that it makes sense to us but is sequential to the fulfillment ordered by the Lord for your life. Patience is our response to God’s Promises. It is the supplement of faith that keeps us yoked to the Lord. It quiets our busyness. It softens our timeline. It allows us to step back and see things from another perspective. We must learn patient endurance to make it to completion. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Patience is better than pride that insists on its way in its own time. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Humility

James 4:18 (NLT) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Humility is the broken arrow. The arrow that finally gives way to God’s Will. This arrow has been through some battles. It has won some and lost many in its own vain attempts at glory. Now full accepting the grace of God it gives up its own way to follow Him. The Bible says that we must clothe ourselves in humility. God creates humbling opportunities but ultimately it is a personal decision to surrender our will and way to Jesus Christ.

Obedience

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

God’s Word is our instruction book for life. Like any list of instructions, if you skip one, your expectation should change as well. To expect the same results with only partial obedience is silly. If you skip a step in a recipe, you risk ruining the meal. We must read the Handbook of Life which is our directions. The arrow marked obedience is essential. It is a quiet arrow that listens more than it talks. The Word sharpens its tip so that it will not fly off course. Jesus is our example of complete obedience. (Philippians 2:7-10)

Perseverance

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Perseverance is steady persistence. It is continuance in a state of grace to the end. It is to continue to fight the good fight of faith even when you don’t feel it, see it or know if you really want it. It is the arrow that is the heaviest because there are times you cannot even lift it… but somehow by His Grace you do. These are the arrows to strike the ground with. They are not aimed at the enemy or other people. Jesus Christ has made you victorious. He has overcome the world. He has handed His Victory to you. Live like it.

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

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

May the Lord give you a new grip today. To grab hold of these arrows and continue striking the ground until your victory comes. Do not give up. Discipline is essential. It is not always pleasant but will always be worth it. The satisfaction of finishing far outweighs the trouble it took to get there. You can do this. You have all everything you need at your disposal. Run with purpose in each step. Don’t shadowbox. Your time is worth more than that. Take a rest. Don’t give up or give in but press in to the Father today. He is for you. Jesus has handed you the victory – pursue it. Keep striking those arrows and surely it will come to pass!

 

 

Walk By Faith

Walk by faith,

2 Corinthians 5:5-7 (Amplified)  Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise]. So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]

I will be the first to admit that I forget who I am and whose I am sometimes. I get caught up in ordinary life and forget God’s Extraordinary Promises that are for me. I become busy with temporary things and forget I am an external creature in Christ. I forget that impossible is not the end but only the beginning of the miraculous. When life gets a little chaotic it is easy to become overwhelmed by certain circumstances and lose sight of the fact that we are victorious overcomers in Jesus with ordered steps to be triumphant marathon believers who make it to the end.

We walk by faith, not by sight…

Life is good. No really, life is really great right now. Yet deep inside I have a yearning for more. More faith. More hope. More love. More… Jesus has promised us abundant life. He is offering rich, deep and complete satisfaction to those who dare to believe and trust Him at His Word. He has given us His Spirit to boldly pursue a higher calling that transcends small and trivial earthly maneuvers into the heavenly realm of more than enough and greater things. The trouble is that life no matter how good is filled with distractions and detours along the way. There are rest stops called comfort, compromise, convenience and the worst of all control. Pride loves the last one and lives on our eventual sojourns into the place of trying to earn or deserve what is absolutely free.

Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise].

The irritant inside the pearl is the conduit of change. The thing that keeps us from settling is the very thing that will produce substance in our life. We are called to walk by faith. According to the Amplified Bible, faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” Faith requires rewiring our thinking when uncertainly arrives or the unthinkable happens to recognize God is at work in us and through us. The Holy Spirit begins working in us immediately. To know and understand that God is too good to every leave us as He found us means that as grace abounds and Christ expands in our life it leaves little room for our mind, will and emotions to have their way. God made us. He prepared us for “this very purpose”. He is an intentional God who created you and me with a handwritten, specific plan. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He works in us and through us for our good and His Glory. He is always good. This is hard to understand when living in a world that everything glittery is not gold. We do not have to be suspect of the Christ in us but the enemy around us who wants to steal and stop the Glory of God from pouring out of His People illuminating a dark and devastated world.

Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. Faith is assurance. Are you sure today? Are you certain God is for you? He is with you? He is good? He will never let you down? These beliefs are essential when nothing is going right, when everything is falling apart and you are at the end of self. It produces the hope that is the knot at the end of all ropes when faith overtakes fear and one dares to believe that God really is doing all that He promised enough to be still and steadfast – it is the platform of the watchtower of waiting.

To extract a pearl the shell must be broken open so the expensive product is revealed. The purpose and plan of God will be exposed in brokenness. It is bigger than you. It is greater than your present form. It is worth having. You must believe enough to let God finish the good work that He has begun. A seed must die to its present form to release its full potential. (I Corinthians 15:37) While trying to hold it all together, perhaps we miss the point that the Lord is waiting for everything to fall apart so that He can take all the pieces and make it a new creation. A masterpiece just as He planned. Grace is complete in our weakness. It is the moment of letting go of all that we are to become all that He has promised.

Matthew 13:45-46 (Amplified) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Like the pearl of great price, God’s Purpose, Plan and Promises will cost something. It will cost you everything to follow Christ and experience all that He has for you. It means giving up the substitutions to have full satisfaction. Forgoing the mediocre to have the miraculous. His Love for us is extravagant. It is overwhelming. It is reckless. Fully consuming. The merchant who searched for fine pearls found the one of great value. He went and sold all that he had to buy it. What will you give up of your ordinary life to become one with Christ today?

So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope…

Romans 5:1-5 (Amplified) Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power]. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Grace truly is a remarkable state. It is not a “get out of hell” free card or just getting by but rather positions us fully into rightstanding with God and in full-fledged favor. It means that whatever is found and documented in the Word of God applies to us. Unconditional love, unfailing grace, and every over-the-top promise that He has given us belongs to us. We have the title deed to it by faith in God through Jesus Christ. However, our faith must give way to hopeful confidence. Confidence that overcomes a lack of persistence in the Body of Christ. We have not because we asked not. We have not because we didn’t wait. We have not because we do not believe it belongs to us. We have not because we gave up. We have not because when the going got rough – we stopped going. We access every promise by faith. Faith that endures. Faith that perseveres. Faith that does not give up. Faith that is our foundation of everything we do in life.

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. 

The divine extraction called purpose comes with some hardship, distress, pressure and trouble. It produces patience in us that leads to endurance which is a salvation requirement. God will not produce a single promise or blessing in our life if it compromises our salvation. Think about that for a moment. It is by proven character that leads to spiritual maturity that can handle our blessings that allows them to manifest in our life. Proven character is marked by a lifelong commitment of faith and confident hope that transcends the good days and ordinary life to fully embrace every single promise and hope tightly to the end of it without wavering. God’s Favor flows from the inside out. Until our soul prospers and our character is evident of spiritual maturity every day will be a battle with our flesh until it dies and faith is born.

Friend, God is good. He is good to us. Every good and perfect gift is from Him. He loves you. He is for you. Every promises is for you. The Lord has a plan for your life that contains a future and hope way better than you can think, imagine or ask for. It is exceedingly abundant. You just have to be ready to handle it when it gets here. There is a reason that the majority of lottery winners lose everything in the first three years. They do not know how to handle or manage finances properly. They win enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their life but squander it in a few short years.

The Lord came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Life from the natural to supernatural meeting all our needs and providing a superabundance to His People. Living beneath His Standard is our choice. I choose today to walk by faith and not by sight. In fact, when my life is turned upside down and out of control, I find peace in knowing it is the exact moment that I will relinquish my life to Jesus because I cannot do anything else. I wonder what my life might be like if in every day and with every decision I chose to make this my first choice and not the last resort. To believe and seek His Face. To live for His Glory even though I must be broken to release it. To walk by faith and not by sight right into the Presence of God, His Goodness, and His Glory today and forever. AMEN!

John 10:10 (Amplified) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Ephesians 3:20-21 (Amplified) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

 

Until He Comes

Until He comes

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

What are you waiting for? Is there a prayer or two or three or many that are yet to be answered? Are there problems still in need of solutions? Questions unanswered? Dreams unfilled? Expectations not met? What do you do when the process is not yielding results? Waiting on the Lord today? For what? As I prayed, this verse came to mind. I read it. I read it again. Sow righteousness. God, I think I am pursuing righteousness through Christ. Reap the fruit of unfailing love. I know His Spirit is working on me from the inside out. Lord, my heart is broken into so many pieces – I am amazed that you are able to do anything with it most days. Yet you do, day after day taking each one and fitting into proper placement. It just seems to be taking a really long time. I cannot see the picture on the puzzle box. I do not understand your plan. Am I missing something? I read the verse again. Three words change my perspective completely.

Until He Comes…

Matthew 10:22 (NIV) …But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Would waiting be easier if put into perspective? Impatience is human nature. Our flesh prefers immediate gratification over long-term fulfillment. We do not fight for the Kingdom. We fight our flesh to prefer the Kingdom. What if the problem with the process is not the process at all but finding the patience to stand firm to the end? We try to work for our righteousness. Work to maintain our freedom. Fight for faith. Try to triumph. What if all of that is given? What if all I am required to do is wait? Sometimes doing all the right things does not produce a quick outcome because it is not about doing the right things. It is about knowing, trusting and believing the Right One. Comfort longs to be maintained, convenience cries out for release, and control is based on insecurity and fear. All of these qualities are coveted by our flesh. However, covenant requires a commitment to abandon such things and endure to the end…those who do will be saved.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The righteous will never be shaken…

Sow righteousness. Plant it in your heart. The seeds of righteousness come only from the Father through the Son. I do not want to dissuade you from attempting to make better choices or live a holy life. However, the only way to the Father is through His Son. You cannot be right without God except through the bright red Blood of Christ. Abram believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) The righteous live by faith in God through the Grace provided by Jesus, His Son. (Romans 1:17) It only comes through Christ. (Romans 3:22) And we all need it. (Romans 3:23) Sowing seeds of righteousness has nothing to do with what we do. It solely based on what we believe. To continually sow God’s Word in our heart until it takes root and grows into total trust, complete confidence, absolute obedience, and a solid relationship with God. This is the kind of believing the Lord is looking for in us. The devil and all of his demons believe in God. They know Jesus. They are subject to His Authority and Power. We must do the same for righteousness and salvation sake.

Their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.

Reap the fruit of unfailing love. Jesus released His Spirit upon His Death on the Cross. Immediately the curtain was torn from top to bottom giving people access to God again. The Spirit immediately started giving life. He opened graves right then and there. (Matthew 27) The same exact Spirit released then and imparted at Pentecost lives in us. He is the identity of Christ in us and identifies us as Children of God. He produces fruit in us that is representative of our Father. (Galatians 5:22-23) He changes our character into that of Christ so we may become Christ Imitators. Just as righteousness cannot be obtained any other way than the full assumption of God’s Grace, no good thing comes out us that His Spirit is not producing in us.

Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.

With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that although we submit to God’s Process by faith that there is very little contribution on our part. We must simply believe. Those who do will reap the benefits. Believing by faith is our righteousness. It makes us, like Abraham, friends of God not estranged family or prodigal children but born again believers become Kingdom Kids. Children of God confident that their Father is good. His love faithful. His Purpose fulfilling enough to seek Him all the days of their life…until He comes.

My heart must be broken before the Lord to receive all that He has promised. My heart is already broken by trials and tragedies of life, but this is a different kind of broken. The kind of broken that gives way to humble submission before the Lord so He can take His Word and plant it in us. The seeds grow into every good and perfect thing that He promised. Faith gives God our heart and mind. It says no matter what I will remain broken before the Lord. We begin a list of things to give Him and as that lists grows day by day so does our dependence upon Him. Faith grows into a righteous oak from even the smallest investment. A tiny seed of trust well-placed in the fertile soil of our heart will yield miraculous and supernatural results… if we wait until He comes. It is time to seek the Lord. He promises that those who seek His Kingdom first AND His Righteousness and all these “things” will be given to you as well. Make the Lord your priority today. You may give up on everything else you try but don’t give up on the process that He has placed you in. Wait until He comes.

Revelation 3:10-11 (NIV) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

 

Pathway to Purpose

Pathway to Purpose

Ephesians 1:7-10 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

There is more to our purpose in Jesus Christ than just to be saved. The fulfillment of Christ is to make us complete lacking nothing. It is a process of sowing seeds of His Word in us, allowing His Spirit to cultivate them, and God will grow them into full satisfaction. Can I ask you a question today? Are you satisfied? Before you answer, think of your needs, wants and desires. If there is a single one, then the answer is “no” I am not satisfied with my life. Settling is not a characteristic of satisfaction and complaining is not born of contentment. Just enough is not good enough when it comes to God’s Standard of Living which is defined by more than enough. Beginning with our soul, the Fruit born of the Spirit is the first fruit of fulfillment. When there is enough love, joy, and peace in our life to be characteristic of our nature overflowing in all conditions and circumstances, it is then that we are finally on track to fulfillment. Until then, fulfillment is only a figment of our imagination. God is able to exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. How do I find my way to fulfillment? What will it take to achieve purpose in my life?

Romans 11:22-24 (NIV) Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

The desirability of salvation is without question. Of course, we desire for Jesus to be our Savior. It is a win for us without any investment. I can do nothing to save myself. The kindness of God in the Gift of His Son is ours for the asking. There is another component to Christ called Lordship. To make Jesus the Lord of my life is cause for my flesh to offer up resistance. Why? My flesh must die for Christ to assume His Place as Lord of my life. This is a huge chunk of meat right out of the Word of God that many struggle to understand as they strive to achieve purpose beyond just being saved. It’s not easy.

Consider therefore the kindness (salvation) and sternness (sovereignty) of God. Do you ever think that there has to be more to life than this? Not eternity or forever, but right here, right now. I do. I believe that there are three qualities that must become part of our character in order to achieve God’s Purpose in our life. To reach fulfillment there must be perseverance, persistence and patience. Not exactly the fuzzy, feel-good fodder peddled in the modern day church. If your purpose in life is to endure to the end and enter the Kingdom than it is important to know and understand God’s Word and His Way in order to fulfill His Will which is that none should die but find eternal life.

Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Perseverance is continued steady belief and efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty with persistence. It will take effort on our part to continually sow God’s Word in our heart and protect it and nurture it while it grows into fulfillment, purpose and full productivity in our life. We must become acutely aware of sin in our life because it is the very thing that trips us along the way, entangling us in lies, and binding us in things that will keep us from the finish line if allowed to remain. God is Sovereign. Grace didn’t change His Character but is a product of His Steadfast and Unconditional Love which does not change either. God has provided all of the grace needed to step out of sin and live on purpose that leads to completion in Christ. It is up to us to decide to put effort into the process or settle for something less or accept a substitution. The race of faith is a clearly marked pathway which requires perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) The testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that we will be complete, mature and fulfilled lacking nothing. We want the end result therefore we cannot forgo the process of completion. When facing trials, it is important to stop focusing on the temporary and keep our eyes fixed on the promise. The Word of God for our life does not change. Your situation will throughout your entire life as God molds you, moves you and motivates you to fulfillment.

Persistence

Romans 2:6-7 (NIV) God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Persistence is to continue steadfastly and firmly in purpose with a course of action especially in spite of opposition and discouragement. You still keep pressing and pushing on the boundaries and barriers between you and God’s Purpose which leads to fulfillment. Believing in God’s Word for your life in the process of persistence. You must know what God says about you, who He tells you that you are, what He has commissioned you to do, and what He is doing in you. You must be full of faith and confidence in the Word of God and the person of Jesus Christ. You must rely on His Spirit to take God’s Word which is the logic of faith and make it the wisdom of your life.

Bless her heart! I love the persistent widow in Luke 18. She knew what belonged to her and would not be stopped until she received it. She came to him time and time again, “Grant me justice against my adversary!” Over and over again until she finally wore the poor man down. He didn’t fear God and was not moved by any other motivation than to stop this woman from bothering him day after day. In fact, it eludes to the fact that he thought she might be a little crazy. God grants us justice against our adversary. Jesus is our champion who gives us the victory. If we believed that God would be our justice, and Jesus really was our champion, we would be more persistent for the prize rather than settling for sloppy seconds or immediate gratification of settlement. If we believed, we would persist. Lord, help me to stop settling for anything less and teach me to persist in all areas of my life!

Patience

Colossians 1:8-12 (NIV) For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

“You must be patient.” I loved my grandmother. She was a godly woman who led me to the Lord. If she said these words to me once, she spoke them a thousand times. I was born impatient. Perhaps, if honest, we all are not born with a propensity to wait graciously for anything. We want it quick and in a hurry. Some say, “Don’t pray for patience” while others encourage it. Can I let you in on a little secret? The Holy Spirit is already working on producing the fruit of longsuffering in us. It doesn’t matter if you pray for it or not, it is already a work in process inside of you. Great endurance and patience are absolutely essential to fulfillment. God makes everything beautiful in His Time… not ours. The Gospel is a story of great patience demonstrated by Jesus Christ. In I Timothy 1, Paul attributes his salvation to the immense patience of Jesus Christ as he calls himself the worst sinner. We all could make the same confession. We must endure to the end to be saved according to Jesus – that is going to take some time. In fact, it is going to take your whole life. Diligence will require tremendous patience as God works every detail of our life to fulfillment and completion. (Romans 8:28) (Hebrews 6:11-12)

“A person’s wisdom yields patience.” (Proverbs 19:11) The Word of God is seed for our life. It must be planted. It must be given time to take root and grow. No farmer gets an immediate harvest from a seed the very next day. He must wait. He must be patient. God’s Word is harvested into wisdom when applied to our life. It increases our ability and willingness to wait on the Lord once we have tasted His Goodness and experienced His Glory.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NIV) And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Perseverance, persistence, and patience do not produce new things in our life. They produce the Promise, Purpose and Prosperity of God already given to us according to His Plan including our future and hope in Him. Let that sink in for a moment. If it already exists, we cannot produce it. Therefore, these three qualities are not a requirement but a privilege. It is up to us if we are willing to engage in the Plan of God called purpose or if we are good with the life currently lived. Why settle for less than full satisfaction? Because it is easy, fast and affordable – I guess. God is not going to force anyone into the process but offers us potential to encourage us to try. God already has given us an inheritance now we must take the initiative to be His Sons and Daughters. We are free to choose the life to live. Will I live with eager willingness that leads to fulfillment? Or am I okay for today? The choice is mine. I choose my level of commitment. I decide if I will persevere, persist and be patient until the end. It’s my life. I choose to live on purpose today. How about you?

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NIV) Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

Walking into church, he stopped me to greet me along the way. “Hey, I have been reading your stuff and you should write a book!” Awkwardly, I laughed and thanked him for the kind words of encouragement making my way to a seat. Immediately, flushed I couldn’t help but think of how many books started and stopped in the files on my computer all the way back to the first time I thought about it. Just out of high school and the beginning of college, I worked in the preschool ministry of a large church. Putting together packets for the upcoming Sunday, the thought occurred to me that it would be neat to write curriculum for the teachers and volunteers to use with the children. It wouldn’t be long after that I would wander off in the wilderness for quite some time.

I assumed after living apart from the Lord for many years that the possibility of purpose in my life was over. To live for Jesus is a privilege considering my misuse and abuse of His Love and Grace all those years ago, why would God still want to use me? How could there be an ounce of purpose left and not drained by impatience and impulsivity over the years? I am thankful that Lord still loves me, hears me, speaks to me, and blesses me like He does. Religion bases God’s Promise, Purpose and Prosperity on our own ability which is not how it works at all. Relationship gives me full access to God’s Plan for my life. The same plan written beforehand. “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Being confident of this very thing… Are you confident today? Confidence is a quality born of absolute trust. The enemy works every day to keep us from building trust and confidence in the Word of God for our life. He wants us to believe that our inability to perform will somehow change or eliminate God’s Power, Purpose and Potential in our life. That is a lie. There is simply no truth to it. If God knew our end from the beginning, then He had to know exactly how many times that I would fail, fall short, walk away and give up before finding my way back home.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it… The good thing in me working its way out is all God and not me. He doesn’t take bits and pieces of my life for His Good. No, the Word of God explicitly states that “and we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” The only prerequisite to God’s Power fully working in our life is to love Him. Do you love God today? I do, too!

Until the day of Jesus Christ… This is probably the hardest part to figure out. The Good Work in us that God is working out through us is a complete work meaning it begins at birth and ends in Eternity. Salvation is always God’s Primary Objective in our life. The first work is the finished work that leads to God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory in our life. All the other details fall into place accordingly. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Therefore…

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Do not despise small beginnings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work God’s Plan for our life. The real work is submission. To humble our life before Jesus Christ, surrendering our way for Him to do what He will in us and through us. We do not really “do” anything other than submit and surrender our life for His Work. God does the rest using His Word, His Spirit and His Love to mold us and shape us into new creations and masterpieces just like He promised. The Lord rejoices at the beginning of this work. The moment that we give our whole heart to His Plan and embrace the future and hope set before us. But be forewarned…

Isaiah 55:9-12 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God doesn’t do things like we do things. His Thoughts and Ways are much higher than ours. His Perspective far greater than our current comfort and convenience or even discomfort and inconvenience. God’s Plan is not influenced in any way, shape or form by us. It is always working in us and through us for complete reconciliation and restoration whether we decide to receive it or not. His Word is seed. God’s Word is not barren – it is full of uncompromised potential for our life. Once planted deep in the folds of our heart, it will grow. His Power is in that seed and it is the very thing that leads to fulfillment. The only part I play in the whole plan is to humbly accept God’s Word (Jesus) in my heart and allow His Spirit to sow His Word in my heart to produce God Fruit in my life. It is all Him – I must decrease allowing Christ to increase in my life. It will happen. I must be patient and wait for it trusting the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We must not give in to impatience. Patience is a product of the Holy Spirit who produces longsuffering in us. (Galatians 5:22) We must learn to give God time to do what He has promised. What do I do in the meantime? Walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Walk worthy of your calling with which you were called. Walk humbly. Walk in gentleness and with longsuffering (patience). Love one another. (Ephesians 4:1-2) God is completing His Work in you. He promised not to quit, give up, give in or walk away no matter what you choose to do along the way. He is still working His Plan, Purpose, Future and Hope all around you. Like the father of the prodigal, the Lord waits and watches for our return. He celebrates our arrival. He embraces us. Fully restores us. Nothing changed at home – it changes in us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will write a book one day. I am confident not in my ability but the fact that the Lord has called me to do so. I will wait for Him to give me the words to complete it. I will carefully transcribe whatever He says. In the meantime, I must put aside every weight and sin that easily ensnares me such as the lie of the enemy that requires immediate gratification and insists on shortcuts marked by impatience. As I continue to sow my life into Christ and accept new seed of His Word in a soft heart, every good thing that He has ordained for my life will come to pass in His Timing which makes everything beautiful. I have no performance pressure other than to daily surrender and submit my life to Jesus and His Spirit working in me. Jesus is not only the Author of my faith but He is the Finisher. He will complete in me the good work that He began. Amen and Selah.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.