EVERY Good Gift

Blue elegant gift box

James 1:16-18 (NIV) Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Don’t be deceived. The enemy can only lie. He cannot change the truth. God is truth. In the creation of you, a plan was recorded in the corridor of history that defined who you are and what the purpose of your life would be. The enemy is a liar and deceiver who cannot change the fact that God loves us and plans to prosper us. He can only deceive those seeking after and searching for the truth. So the passage begins “don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”

EVERY good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Truth bomb today for those who struggle with thankfulness. Everything in your life labeled good and perfect is from God given directly to you by His Grace. His Love for you causes Him to open Heaven and pour out blessings on you each and every day that are often taken for granted because you are living in deception. The enemy wants to tell us everything that is not good or not yet to mislead us and persuade us that God is not good. It is simply not true. God is good and He pursues us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness every single day. He gives us new mercy and even promises joy to those who relinquish sorrow and burdens to Him.

I received a text early morning the other day. Our son had been injured on duty and was on his way to the hospital. He promised all was well and would text more as soon as he was discharged. This same kid decided it was his life call to protect and serve so immediately upon graduation was on foreign soil protecting his country. It is his purpose. After speaking to him and confident that he was fine, I began to pray. Nothing but thankfulness. Not just for that night’s protection but every day and night since he went on duty from the military to law enforcement. I know of some instances but what about all the other times that the Hand of God protected our kid. The funny thing about thankfulness is that it will quickly spill over once stirred up. Like a boiling pot that comes to life and sizzles on the stovetop, thankfulness begins to reveal all the good things in our life.

Psalm 84:10-12 (NIV) Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

To live in the house of God is not a particular dwelling place that is made of brick and mortar. It is the Presence of God available to all of us. It is not for the perfect or proud but gracefully broken and profoundly imperfect who dare believe that His Grace is enough to walk blamelessly in right standing with the Most High God. The privilege of promise and prosperity to those completely tainted and already corrupt. To be washed in the Blood and cleansed by the Word but in the same wretched state until crossing over – those are the ones who the Lord bestows His Favor and Honor to and withholds no good thing. Repentance is not a religious act but an invitation to turn from all those other lovers and embrace our first love. The One who loved us first and clearly loves us the most. We love Him because He first loved us.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. In John 8, Jesus tells calls the enemy the father of lies. There is not truth in him. He is always lying. Why? He is a murderer. He seeks those who can be destroyed by the lies that create doubt, fear and insecurity causing people to turn from the Lord completely. The Truth will overcome every lie. We must learn to trust God at His Word. Believing His Truth is to pick of the Sword of His Spirit and knock down every fiery dart meant for our heart. Thankfulness comes through the realization that every good thing in our life really is from God and that the enemy cannot stop His Plan and Promise to prosper us if we put our trust in Him.

I Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NIV)  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

Give thanks in all circumstances. Sometimes it is very hard to see the Hand and Heart of God operating in our life because the Light of His Love is overshadowed by a lie. The enemy cannot change the plan, purpose or promise that God has already ordained for your life. You cannot change God’s Mind about you. He loves you and always desires to flood your life with His Goodness. It is not because of anything you or I can do or will do but simply because it is was what He wanted to do all along. It has always been God’s Plan to be a good father. To live in the reality of His Love is to believe Him at His Word enough to trust Him. Trust will always produce thankfulness as our spiritual eyes open to the Truth that every good and perfect thing in our life is from Him! Begin thanking God for what is good in your life today. Continue by thanking God for that which He has promised and is yet to come. Ask Him to reveal any part of your life covered in a lie right now to expose His Glorious Light! It will change your heart and mind in minutes. He is a good, good father.

Matthew 7:11 (NIV) If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

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Just Plain Wrong

Just Plain Wrong

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV) For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a temptation far greater than our weaknesses. It is unforgiveness. The do’s and don’ts in the Word of God are for our benefit. The greatest commandment is to love. Not just any kind of love, but to love others as God loves us. Jesus gave His Life for love. I encountered such an instance this week and even now three days later – I am still building my proverbial bridge to get over it. The details are unimportant. In this predicament – there is no question that the other party wronged us. Those who know of it will quickly attest yet as grace is applied – I am miffed. I am just being transparent because I know that others struggle with me. Old hurts, betrayals, and abuse that leave a void that bitterness quickly fills if forgiveness is not instilled. I must forgive others to be forgiven. If I choose unforgiveness, I cannot be forgiven. It is right there in black and white. I must forgive the person who hurt my family. I have no other choice and remain in fellowship with my Father.

There are very few sore spots left in my healing heart that are vulnerable to unforgiveness and bitterness. It has taken two decades and will probably require a couple more to allow the Lord to touch those places and make them whole as well. I have learned over the years that unforgiveness is an open wound constantly seeping poison into our thoughts, mind, will and emotions. It is a thorn in our flesh that requires all of God’s Grace to completely cure. It is clear without question that my Heavenly Father requires me to offer the grace I have been given to all mankind and it must be from my heart. (Matthew 18:35) I cannot pretend to forgiven but choose not to forget.

Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 

I have tried to pray for my “enemy” of late. My heart is struggling with sincerity as I do. I am reminded that I am to love my perceived enemies and those who persecute me. The person who made an error in judgment is loved and desired by Jesus just as much as me and yet in my rightness I am still offended and appalled so the Word is the water washing such emotional overtures in waves of overwhelming grace. God makes the sun to rise and rain to fall on the just and unjust because it is His Will that none should perish but have everlasting life. The struggle in my heart is real, but the evidence of God’s Spirit working and massaging at the hard and unrelenting place inside me is obvious. Lord, how do I forgive those who hurt me? How do I overcome the just plain wrong that has come against me? How do I move past the insult to pray for the one who did this to me? Well, maybe it’s not all about me…

I John 4:18-19 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Oh, how the Lord has a way of sticking it to the part of our heart that hinders us. I must love and learn to forgive fully and completely simply because He first loved me. I had no right to His Love yet He gave it. I had no claim to His Life yet, Jesus laid it down for me. There is nothing innocent in me except Christ lives in me now. He paid the price for my life so the life I give away is His to give not mine. I may be right but righteousness is my lifelong pursuit. I have every right to be offended, mad and seek justice. However, I am a product of selfless love and unending forgiveness therefore I cannot continue in the state of mind or risk losing what matters most to me.

When Jesus told Peter to forgive those who sin against him “seventy-seven times” maybe he wasn’t talking about that many offenses but that it might take our heart that many tries to forgive a single offense. Forgiveness is against human nature. Self-preservation and pride demand recourse and even revenge. I am challenged today to remind myself seventy-seven times seven plus one to forgive. Forgive this person. Bless this person. Pray for this person continually until I mean it from the innermost depths of my heart. Why? Simply, because Jesus chose to love me first. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He fought for me even when I was His Foe. I can love fearless when I do not let insecurity to produce unforgiveness in me. Perfect love expects nothing from others but gives it’s all just the same.

Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV) Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Voice of Victory

Voice of Victory

I Samuel 17:45-47 (ESV) Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

One of the greatest stories ever told, David and Goliath. The story of a shepherd boy overcoming a mighty giant with nothing but a slingshot and smooth stone driven with precision. Armies held at bay by him yet David small in stature and unarmed but mighty in heart and full of God’s Spirit dare to stand and face the giant. A true example of not by might or by power but by His Spirit as the Word relates in Zechariah 4:6. Victory is the favorable outcome in every battle ever faced by the believer. We fight from victory to victory. Christ has already given us the win. But then there is always a pesky giant to deal with now isn’t there.

The elephant in the room often ignored doubt that deteriorates our confidence in the hope-filled promise that as believers triumph is our destiny. We win. In every possible situation by faith, victory belongs to us. It is not an act of willpower, determination or even personal strength and discipline. The power to win comes simply in believing God’s Word to be the absolute truth of our life. The Bible is quick to point out that the weapon of our warfare is not carnal or of the flesh. It is our mindset. Our thought process decides whether we will walk in victory or cower in fear when the giants come calling. We have the divine power to destroy strongholds. What strongholds? Those of the mindset that there is any other power greater or stronger than God Almighty. Strongholds are carefully constructed lies that keep us in the mental prison of fear and anxiety. Thanks be to God that He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. King Jesus.

David faced quite a bit of opposition just trying to get to the battlefield that day. His father sent him to check on his brothers and take them some provisions. David wasn’t looking for a fight, but he sure found one. He didn’t expect to find the great and mighty Israelite army cowering from the Philistine army. For 40 days, the Goliath would come forward and take his stand morning and evening shouting threats and daring confrontation. All the men of Israel were afraid and fled at the sound of his voice. David’s brother questioned his sibling’s motives. Why have you come? To see the battle? He even belittled his brother by inquiring as to the whereabouts of his sheep. David asked the men around him as to the king’s reward for the one who defeated the giant. His brother was appalled. When David found himself before King Saul, he said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight this Philistine.”

The king was quick to point out all the reasons David could not defeat Goliath. Too young. Too inexperienced. David recited all the times the Lord had delivered him from the lion and bear. He believed that same God would deliver him from the giant standing in their midst. His confidence was clearly in the Lord and His Power. Saul finally succumbed to David’s request, then tried to put his armor on the boy. It didn’t fit and overpowered him. So David took off the armor and headed unarmed and unprotected by conventional battle array to face the enemy of Israel. As David approached him, Goliath began to affirm the former reasons of the king and add his own indignation for Israel sending a boy rather than a seasoned warrior to face him. Little did Goliath know that it was not in David’s appearance, but in his heart that would end this battle with his massive defeat. It is right here that our passage picks up.

For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.” What is your battle cry today? What giant are you facing? Have you retreated pressed back by fear and uncertainty? It is time to change your declaration. It is time to take hold of the divine. God has empowered us to win. Christ has given us the victory. The only weapon the enemy or giant has against you is a lie. You have the truth in you. Filled with the Word, it is time to release it. You don’t need to be like anyone else and you certainly do not need their affirmation or approval. God empowered you from the moment you said, “Yes” to His Son to win every battle through Him. David did not walk out but ran to face Goliath. But note, the enemy did not engage David. He did not even draw a sword. You are God’s Child. His Anointed is in you. The enemy casts lies and hurls threats but in the end you just have to tell him what God told you. It is in the moment when our confidence becomes our declaration that praise becomes a prophetic voice of victory.

Goliath held Israel for 40 days with a lie. The same God that carried David on the field to victory was for them but they had taken hold of the enemy’s threat rather than overcoming Him with truth. Praise is the weapon that arms our mind. It is the sword of truth waved by the Spirit to refute every lie trying to create a stronghold to keep us from living a victorious life. No matter what you are facing, nothing is impossible with God. The only way this becomes our destiny is to believe it. Do you believe that God is almighty today? Do you believe that King Jesus has all power and authority over your life? If so, then remind your heart, mind and soul. Tell the enemy what God says about you. Remind the giant that God is bigger than he is. Rebuke him not by fighting with faith that fights for you. Our mind must be ready for battle or it will fall in the field of lies, threats and taunts.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

You have victory today. You win every day. Not because of you, but because Christ lives in you. It doesn’t matter how things look, how big the giant, or how impossible the odds – we must only believe it to achieve it. The battle is the Lord’s. Whether it is a personal one or outward attack, He will never leave you or forsake you. We must only be steadfast and immovable. The giant couldn’t touch David. David did not lay a finger on the giant. God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our shield. The Sun that causes darkness to flee. You have everything you need to win. David didn’t even have a sword but lopped off the enemy’s head with his own sword. God has already provided everything you need to be victorious in every situation so we can abound in His Work knowing our labor is never in vain but always triumphant. I needed to hear that today! How about you? The lie may be big and it may seem like reality but the Truth always prevails. Jesus is the Word. He is in you. He will win for you. All you must do is believe and be the voice of victory by shouting His Praise.

Psalm 68:32-35 (ESV) O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah  to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT) Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Did you know that you are fully equipped to win every battle you may be facing today? You have victory in Jesus Christ that overcomes every adversarial force and defeats all opposition in your life. Christ in us is always enough to walk in triumph. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me” is attributed to Alexander William Kinglake written in 1830. The enemy of our soul has only lies to lure us from the position of power into the entanglement of the untrue. To somehow convince us that Christ is not powerful enough to sustain us or doesn’t love us enough to care. He must convince us to step out from under the shield of God moving out of His Light to live in the dangers of darkness. Thankfully Jesus will always leave the ninety-nine to seek out the one.

The Lord has fully equipped us to do His Will. To live a life in love with Him and allow His Goodness to overtake us. It is a submissive and humble roll that does not jive with pride and self-motivation. It is a discipline discovered in His Word and through trusting the Lord day by day until our life is fully invested in His Will. It is an act of repentance that turns us from worthless things to live the Kingdom life. Every battle is won by the peace of God that keeps us firmly rooted and grounded in His Love and confident in the sustainability of His Truth. Our sword is the Word of God that tears down every lie which becomes the strongholds in our heart. To know the Truth sets us free from the lie that so easily trips us up.

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Endurance is required. Called to be a “good soldier” of Christ Jesus indicates there will be battles in this life. Need I remind you that Jesus won the war? It is easy to get “tied up in the affairs of civilian life”. However, those who cannot please the One who enlisted them due to divided allegiance. You cannot fight for both sides and be a traitor to both. The enemy doesn’t care if you play both sides of the fence. Compromise is the name of the game. If he can tempt you with substitutions or settlements – he has enough of your attention to keep you from victory. Athletes cannot win a prize unless they follow the instructions and rules of the game. Each sport has a different set of rules and rewards. Finally, hardworking farmers will enjoy good fruit for they labor not in vain. How do we go from fighting to farming in this illustration? The battle is the Lord’s.

I Samuel 17:46-48 (NLT) Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.

The shepherd boy, David, was not man enough to face the giant that day. The man after God’s own heart and soon-to-be King of Israel was not only read but willing. He didn’t don the armor of King Saul but rather with just five smooth stones and a slingshot a man who held the entire Israelite army at bay. The battle belonged to the Lord. The weapon that brought the enemy down was not the stone that fell the giant but faith found in the heart of a helpless young man who loved God with an undivided heart. David declared, “This is the Lord’s battle and He will give it to us!”

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

If you are facing a battle or in the midst of a war today, I must remind you that God will not take you to it if He has not made a way through it. We walk in victory. We fight from the winner’s circle. The problem is not in the outcome but in our mindset from the beginning. Be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power.

Trust. Dependence. Discipline. Devotion. The strategy of the enemy is to somehow dissuade your from believing God at His Word. If he can make you doubt, then faith will be overcome and fear takes over. If you continue in Ephesians, the armor of God is belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, boots soled in peace, shield of faith helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit. The armor is not designed to protect you as you fight, but to help you stand when the enemy pursues you. Why are you fighting your own battles when Jesus won the war? Every piece of armor represents confidence in Christ and His Victory. You are fully equipped to walk in victory. This is fully accomplished by faith and trust that Christ is triumphant in all things. He has power and authority to do exactly as He promised and give you a rich and satisfying life full of His Abundance.

Psalm 33:15-18 (NLT) He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. The engagement between the giant and David that day was won with a single blow. David did not even come in contact with the giant but one stone took out the enemy of Israel. When the stone was rolled away, it crushed the enemy. He is powerless because Jesus is completely victorious. The power of God for us is found in His Grace. It is always enough to overcome our weakness but must be humbly accepted. Pride wants to fight its own battles and win its own wars but it has no access to Kingdom coffers. God has promised us good things. Jesus hands us victory and says, “Go get it!” We have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt only an opportunity to take the land beginning with each step along the way.

Isaiah 45:4-6 (NLT) “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

The Lord equipped you when He called you. When He created you and decided to love you, He prepared you beforehand for every single day of your life. (Psalm 139) You have everything you need through Jesus Christ to walk in victory even the faith needed to invest your body, mind, spirit and soul. To live fully invested in the Kingdom is to stop getting caught up in civilian affairs. As long as you are alive, there will be an enemy to tempt you. He can only use lies to persuade you but He cannot push you from the protection of God’s Will or His Way. You are free to decide this day who you will serve and what you will believe.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A couple years ago, I traded in my old SUV and purchased a new-to-me smaller SUV. For months I searched until I found the “one”, and finally upgraded. I chose the make of automobile based on consumer reports and crash testing. I wanted a safe and reliable vehicle that would run until the wheels fell off. I was looking through the manual the other day to find out if it had a certain option and how to use it. I found that my vehicle came equipped with many features I was not aware of simply because for two years I drove around with the owner’s manual in the glovebox. We have an owner’s manual. It is detailed and full of useful information for us. It is the strategy for our life that gives us overwhelming victory. No matter what and despite all things, we have been given victory in Jesus Christ. If we are not living a victorious life, it is time to read the manual and ask the Lord to show us.

You are fully equipped to overcome and walk triumphantly through life. It begins with the conviction that nothing is impossible for God who loves us with inseparability. Nothing can ever take us from that place in His Presence as People of His Kingdom if we choose to dwell there in the shadow of the Most High. It is our privilege to love and trust Him back and His Promise that in every situation there is overwhelming victory in His Son – Jesus Christ. It is not our position to fight the battle but to stand confidently knowing that we can overcome and win by the Blood of the Lam and the word of our testimony. David yelled at the giant as he ran on the field that day. He told Goliath exactly what the Lord had told him. The giant fell that day. Your giant will fall too and you will walk in victory not in your power but by His Spirit who has fully equipped you! Christ inside of you has made you unstoppable and nothing can stand in the way of His Plan or His Promise.

Zechariah 4:5-7 (NLT)  “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

Safe

safe.gif

John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

No guilt in life, no fear in death – this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath – Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can every pluck me from His Hand until He returns or calls me home – here in the power of Christ I stand. (In Christ Alone written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend) These powerful lyrics led me to seek out the promise and security of the thought that there is nothing that can pluck me from His Hand. The permanent security in a chaotic life that is substantial enough to “command my destiny” is what I am after. I no longer subscribe to a normal life. It is not possible. Consequences, circumstances and certain conditions wrecked the notion that there is such a novelty. I am absolutely okay with it. It repositioned me by default. I had to make a conscious decision. Would I live a random existence being tossed to and fro or would I choose to live in the reality of my faith?

In John 10, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. The kind of caretaker who lays down his life for his sheep. The Lord is dedicated to our preservation. He is the one who will leave the 99 to pursue the one who is lost or fallen. The shepherd who keeps track of each one signifying each one’s individuality and importance to Him. He came with a distinct purpose. Not only is the Good Shepherd devoted to our preservation, but He is intent on our prosperity. He warns of the thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus goes on to say that His Purpose is to give us live and that we would have it abundantly. Our life has potential far greater than may be seen but that has caught the attention of the adversary. The enemy viciously attacks the sheep especially those who wander astray. But the Good Shepherd will continue to pursue us so that He can revive, renew and restore us in righteousness. He saves, heals and delivers us. He is the Good Shepherd.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary offers this insight concerning these powerful promises for our life. “The safety of the saints inferred from these two. If this be so, then none (neither man nor devil) is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand, not able to deprive them of the grace they have, nor to hinder them from the glory that is designed them; not able to put them out of God’s protection, nor get them  into their own power. Christ had himself experienced the power of his Father upholding and strengthening him, and therefore puts all his followers into his hand too. He that secured the glory of the Redeemer will secure the glory of the redeemed. Further to corroborate the security, that the sheep of Christ may have strong consolation, he asserts the union of these two undertakers: ‘I and my Father are one, and have jointly and severally undertaken for the protection of the saints and their perfection.’” You are safe today. Safe and secure in the Hand of God placed there by Jesus Christ. We must maintain our confidence in the security of God to fight the insecurity sown in us by the enemy. Doubt produces fear that can flush us from God’s Hand due to the natural adrenaline response known as fight or flee. Innately ingrained in us to fight for survive because of our separation from God now must be reprogrammed to remain confidently positioned in righteousness even when the storm rages and the heat of battle ensues.

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

You are safe today. Our strength and stability are not what has secured us. Weakness does not take us from it. No, you are safe today because you are held by the Lord in the palm of His Mighty Hand. No one can take you from Him. No one will ever displace us from His Love. It is our confident hope that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is God’s Solemn Promise and Divine Character never to lie or change His Mind about us but rather He will hold us gently but tightly forever in palm of His Hand. Sometimes we must declare to our mind, soul and body that we are safe. To remind ourselves that the conditions around us do not indicate our outcomes in Christ. The Name of Jesus is power. There is none above or beside Him. He reigns. He wins. He is life. He is our Good Shepherd who makes us safe.

Psalm 119:114-117 (ESV) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!

Don’t Panic

Retro Red Industrial Panic Button

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

A month ago, the news reported that gas prices would take a hike. Warning travelers to expect higher expenses due to increased cost in oil. I remember reading it but really didn’t think much about it until the sign at the pump was nearing the $3.00 mark. We use a lot of gas in our family with three cars. My husband and I work in town so the commute is lengthy from our home in the county. Thankful I had downsized to half the SUV that I used to drive, I didn’t give it much thought just kept going on my merry way. Today, AAA is reporting that gas prices are falling again by about eight cents a gallon currently and so is the trend. Life is full of ups and downs. Good news one day and not-so-good news the next. According to Ecclesiastes 3, there is a proper time for every activity under the sun. There is no reason to be afraid or panic. We have Jesus Christ living in us and He wins. He always wins! Yet still in this thing called life it is sometimes to keep our life fully focused on Jesus and easy to be distracted by the news.

This is only one example of media hype. Exaggerated news that gets people all stirred up only to produce fear that often turns to panic. Panic is a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, which produces hysterical or irrational behavior and has the propensity to spread through a group rapidly. Fear is often defined as false evidence appearing real. The enemy is always dropped lies in our path inviting us to entertain and embrace fear. Fear is a much more logical choice then faith as it is based on our current reality rather than personal revelation. We must make an exchange each and every day to consciously release and abandon fear as to not subscribe to panic. The Lord invites us to be strong and courageous. He exhorts to not be afraid or given to panic before the enemy and his lies. God promises to personally go ahead of you and me. He promises not to fail us. He will not abandon us. The key to overcoming fear that leads to panic is to fully embrace faith in Christ and learn to trust Him more.

God is Sovereign. He is perfect, therefore, He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word must accomplish what it was sent to do. He is ever-present. He is in our past. He is present now. He is already in our future. Cannot grasp or comprehend the vast proximity of God? Me either. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever which means He knew you then, He knows you now, and He intends to be with you forever. When He died on the Cross, Jesus knew exactly what He was getting into when it comes to you. He bore the weight of every sin and provided sufficient grace so that you could maintain a right relationship with God the Father if so desired. Oh that we would comprehend and somehow understand that constancy of God and His Pursuit of His People to fully know that there is nothing to fear in life or death.

Psalm 112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need.  Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

How joy full are those who decide to fear the Lord, delight in obeying His Commands and pursue Him with passion…I have embellished the scripture a bit. We must get wrapped up in the Presence of God in order to silence every other influence in our life. The enemy is constantly sowing seeds of doubt in us. He is offering half-truths, substitutions, counterfeits, and false exits that only lead to exile. He cannot overtake us so the enemy of our soul tries to immobilize us. Creating chaos, fueling fear and pressing the panic buttons hidden in the inner most depths of our heart where faith has not found its way yet, we forget who we are in Christ and who we belong to.

Those who confidently trust in the Lord to care for them do not fear bad news. What happens when you hear bad news? A bad report? An unexpected bill? A terrifying diagnosis? What is your reaction? How do you respond? Faith in God is a discipline. It is not something that just happens but must be cultivated in the broken recesses of our heart until it grows larger than any fear that once existed. Trust is a decision. Like putting a hand to the plow and moving in the right direction, the farmer doesn’t know what will come from each seed but he believes enough to sow each one. As believers, we sow faith and trust God with the harvest He has promised. Panic will cause you to abandon the field and leave the crop for someone else. Fear robs us if not dealt with swiftly and removed completely. We are called to be strong and courageous. We must answer that call.

I John 4:15-18 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 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.

God has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. He has given us His Spirit. His Spirit is that of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) The power in us is greater than any force around us. The Spirit of God is inside of us. Christ lives in us. He has given us victory. Our needs are sufficiently provided and in fact we are given every spiritual blessing. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us is a lie. A lie destroys trust. Truth establishes trust. It is up to us to live in love with God and His Son – Jesus Christ. To become fully convinced that God is love and He loves me will uproot many fears and doubts sown by sour relationships and broken soul ties in life. As we live in God – our love grows more perfect through experiences and encounters with His Unfailing and Unconditional love. The more confident I become in God’s Love and Care for me the less dependent on what I see that I will become. We walk by faith and not by sight.

To live in fear of any kind means that area of life is not subject to God’s Perfect Love. It is drinking the Kool-Aid offered by the world and buying the hype. The enemy is the father of lies. He knows the areas of insecurities in our life most vulnerable to attack and capitalizes on them. We must live strategically disciplined lives sowing God’s Word in our heart, changing our words to blessing and life, wrangling in all rebellious thoughts contrary to the Lord, it is up to us to cultivate the life that God has promised by faith and trust that overcomes ever fear. We are to be strong and courageous. We are to trust in all things. We must listen for His Voice and respond accordingly. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be false prophets. There will be lies meant to entangle and trip us along the way. God is with you! You will not fail. God has not given you the spirit of fear. Do not take it. Refuse it and replace it with faith. Tell the enemy what God says about you and what He promised to do through you. Remind your soul. Take captive wayward thoughts and you will find perfect peace in the Presence of Perfect Love.

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Time Bandit

Time Bandit

I Peter 5:6-8 (ESV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

This week has been a busy one at work. The days stretching past the normally scheduled hours to get the project out the door. Hours seem like minutes as the emails and calls keep coming. In the midst of activity, my daughter sends me a text. She would like to go to the store and was wondering if I could watch our newborn grandson. I obviously accepted the opportunity to have the little guy all to myself. The new “me” values time way more than the old “me” did. There was a time in my life when work consumed the majority of my attention. Nothing left undone everything took a backseat. Leaving early and coming home late, I would give my family what was left of me if any. Exhausted and overwrought overtaken by the cares, worries and burdens of life. Caught up in the tasks losing sight of my treasure but not anymore.

Sitting in the quiet apartment and staring at the sweet cherubic face of my sleeping grandson, it seems surreal that I am a grandmother. Five decades of life gone – I am so thankful for this moment. The precious time of bonding with the newest member of our family. At the same time, I am sad for my friend whose husband has made his transition into eternity. We met at the Hope Lodge. A housing facility for patients and caregivers in the fight of their lives. Cancer taught me a valuable lesson. It reorganized my priorities by taking the “normal” and ruthlessly shattering it like a glass vase hitting the floor and breaking into a million pieces. Nothing in my life will ever be labeled “normal” again, I refuse to accept that life of hopelessness anymore. Every good gift is from the Father above. Lord, teach me to humble myself to receive it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

It is absolutely humbling to relinquish control of one’s life. To come to know and understand that despite my best efforts – I am not in control. I am okay with that… now. My flesh hated the idea at first. Many tears of painful frustration and overwhelming pain the moment I learned that I cannot always make happy endings. Yet in humility before the Lord – it is a sweet and gentle exchange. To transfer the burdens of my life in exchange for His Perfect Peace. Peace that passes all understanding cannot be derived from pride but in learning to trust that God is good. He is a good father with a good plan for us. He promises to work every detail of our life for good. In the midst of a world crashing down around you, it is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

The enemy is a time bandit. He is a thief. He wants to steal your joy and peace. He will crush our confidence in Jesus if allowed to have a place in our heart and mind. Any door or window left open is an access point. He is constantly telling us lies and half-truths. The devil has three namesakes that he uses – distractions, disappointment and doubt. All will produce disbelief if allowed to manifest in our life. I have a friend. I visit her often. Her name is Martha. She is found in God’s Word. She reminds me on those days when I attempt to return to my normal life to be sober-minded and watchful. The thief is coming!

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Let’s hear it for the Martha’s out there. The real go-getters and hard workers who get the job done. Pride tells us that “if we don’t do it who will.” In reality, our doing is what keeps pride alive. The thought that there is something to do to maintain the love of God or earn His Great Grace. Doing for people to meet their expectation in the hope that they will reciprocate. There is nothing wrong with hard work. Motivation is the heart of change within us. It becomes a problem is when our doing is a distraction. I am too busy is an excuse not an explanation. Our time belongs to us. We have the privilege of giving it to whoever or whatever is deemed worthy.

Martha was distracted with much serving. What are you distracted by today? We pursue the desires of our heart. Sometimes it becomes a cluttered place filled with worthless ambition and futile pursuits which are the product of a lie planted in us long ago. We must weed out our heart and reprioritize our time. God should always get the first fruit but note that He is not interested as much in our doing as our knowing. Mary sat in the Presence of Jesus first and the Lord clearly favored her decision. Faith and family should be our first priority. There is room for everything else.

John 11:21-26 (ESV) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Disappointment is consistent with failure of hope. To become depressed or discouraged when one believes that there is no reason to hope. The Word of God promises that our hope will never lead to disappointment. It doesn’t say anything about God doing it our way. So often the confusion comes when God doesn’t do things according to our expectation or timeline. We discard it or decide it just isn’t going to happen. When Martha met Jesus on the road that day without any kind of greeting, her grief spilled out of heart falling from her lips, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Martha was so devastated by her present condition that she was blinded to the hope standing before her. Jesus was there now. His Presence brought resurrection life and power. But her unmet expectation in her way and her plan overshadowed the hope that was before her. “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She tried to say the right thing in her darkest hour, but her faith was not in Jesus in the present but the One who held the future. How many dreams lay in the tomb of disappointment? Buried by depression and discouragement deemed lifeless and void. God’s Word does not return to Him void. He will do exactly as He promised to do – His Way and in His Time. Are you disappointed today? God is with you. His Presence is all around you. His Goodness is pursuing you. His Unfailing Love is for you and His Hand outstretched. We must lay aside disappointment in order to have victory in Jesus.

John 11:38-40 (ESV) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

Doubt is the mountain that needs to be moved in our life. Doubt is the firmament of the enemy like cement boots to keep you from walking in the Presence of God, experiencing His Peace, living in His Victory, and filled with inexpressible joy in every circumstance and situation. When our pride is in conflict with our faith something has to give. Only one will have its way. Jesus was ready to call Lazarus from the grave but Martha had her hand on the stone. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha protested. How many times do we do the same thing? We label it impossible forgetting that nothing is impossible for the Lord.

Stinking thinking keeps us from the miracles, blessings, promises and prosperity that God has apportioned just for us. Our words and ways hold the stone over the grave of dead dreams ordained and predestined to be a reality. We cannot wrap our head and heart around an impossible God ready to do extraordinary things in a supernatural fashion for those He loves and calls to Him by name. You are that person. Dead things are coming to life. His Spirit is ready to pour out visions for the new hope reserved just for you. All you have to do is have faith? Not verbiage but a new heart and mind set on the Father believing that all things are possible if you only believe.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

There is no place that I would rather be than rocking that little boy. The contentment of being a grandmother fills my heart with new joy. The Word of the Lord is coming to pass in my life. I don’t make things happen but the Word of God spoken over me in my mother’s womb is becoming my reality. (Psalm 139) It didn’t happen as a result of anything I have done or become. I cannot take any credit for the change of heart and mind. It came when a normal life became impossible. The Light of God’s Love was discovered in absolute darkness. The faith in my heart was not revealed until it was irreparably broken. All my worries and cares do not add a single moment to my life but stole precious time better spent living and loving God and enjoying all the good things that He has placed in my life. If we could learn to do everything to the Glory of God and not man – I wonder if a change of heart might happen accompanied with the signs, wonders and miracles that we pray for. Why is it that in the face of death – we finally appreciate the things that really matter? Do we really have to lose our life to gain it? Yes! We do!

There is a thief among us. He is a time bandit ready to fill your life with worries, cares, fears, doubts and insecurities. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfied life. A prospering existence that as our soul prospers so will every area of our life. Are you missing out? Do you feel cheated and robbed watching others live in joy and peace? Does it seem like others are thriving while you are barely surviving? Stop comparing your life to other people. The grass is not always greener on the other side. You have the same seed and potential called faith. Nurture it. Grow it. Pay attention to it. Weed out the distractions, disappointment and doubt. God will do for you exactly as He promised. You just have to believe. Shut the door to your heart and the windows of your mind to the enemy’s lies and fill them with the truth. Nothing is impossible with God. Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. His Grace is always enough. Nothing can separate you from God’s Love. Christ promised you victory so it’s coming. You just need to trust Him! Your hope will never ever lead you to disappointment when your faith and hope are in the Lord!

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

 

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening

Proverbs 8:32-35 (NIV) “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.

My husband and I were having a normal conversation on an ordinary day. He kept saying, “What?” I would repeat the previous statement. This continued until I insisted on a visit to the doctor and hearing test concerned that he may have hearing issue. He laughed and said, “Or at least they can tell me if it is selective hearing loss!” Oh my goodness! Always the jokester. I read on social media recently that a husband told his wife that scientists have found that men say about 10,000 words a day while women say about 20,000. His wife shouts back from the kitchen, “It’s because we have to repeat everything twice to you blockheads.” The husband responds, “What?” And there you have it, what science deems a response to “higher level of protein” is really just a need to be heard…

Psalm 50 tells us that “the Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.” Who is He speaking to? You. Me. All of us. God still speaks today. Whispering to those He calls beloved in an effort to illicit a response and release the instruction that leads to abundance in all things as God has ordained and predestined for us. Are you listening? Am I listening? When we hear His Voice is it easily recognized and discerned from all the other influences in our life? The Lord has called the listeners “blessed”. Those who watch and wait at His Doorway. Those who do will find life everlasting and overflowing with His Abundance.

Psalm 78:1-3 (NIV) My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.

God speaks to us. The truth is that He speaks to us every day from the rising of the sun until it sets. God is encouraging us, teaching us, leading us, and guiding us to better things by better ways. We choose the voice who guides us each day. However, His Thoughts are not my (natural) thoughts and inclinations. (Isaiah 55:8) His Ways are not my instinctual ways, attitude or actions but much higher altogether. God leads us to the narrow road less followed and the higher way not always perceived in our humanity. There are two keys things necessary to discern God’s Voice from the other influences.

John 14:26 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to discern the Voice of God. The Advocate who weighs earthly logic and Heavenly Knowledge to give us the upper hand. Faith is not logical in our present state of mind. It is only by continually allowing His Spirit to mold and shape us that we adopt the mindset of Christ that allows us to follow through with His Actions.

Matthew 4:4 (NIV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is essential. If I may paint a picture, the Holy Spirit lives in you and me. He is the advocate and our personal warrior who enables us to overcome the enemy. The only weapon the enemy can use against us is the lie. The Shield of Faith protects us from those fiery darts. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit that cuts to the Truth. When you know the Truth, you will not accept the lie. Matthew 4:4 is the response of Jesus to the lie of the enemy. What is yours?

I have been to many churches and found them all unique. There are churches that emphasis the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. However, the Word is often overlooked. I grew up in a Bible-based church that focused solely on studying scripture and silenced the Holy Spirit. The church I believe that will be the “remnant” church of the end times will worship in Spirit and Truth just as Jesus tells the woman at the well in the Book of John. We must be filled by the Spirit and the Word in order to rightly divide the Truth from the lie even in our churches and small groups.

Proverbs 1:20-23 (NIV) Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

The Lord is relentless in His Pursuit of us. Psalm 23 tells us that His Goodness and Unfailing Love follow us all the days of our lives. God desires us to dwell in His Presence. He wants to communicate with us. Commune with us. He lives inside of us as a holy consummation of the covenant of love that He has made with us. He wants to pour His Thoughts in us so we will overcome the lie of the enemy and stop living in lack. Lack comes in many forms. It is not a material or monetary term. The Fruit of God’s Spirit grows in the vacated spaces occupied by substitutions and compromise. As our soul prospers in Spirit and Truth, so will we. We must be listening for God’s Voice in every moment of every day to have all that He has promised and ordained to bless us with in this life leading to eternity.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah left Mount Carmel victorious over the prophets of Baal. God accepted his sacrifice proving their religion a farce and 450 were killed that day. Jezebel was infuriated and in her rage leveled a death threat against God’s Man, Elijah. He fled to a cave high atop a mountain. It’s funny how easy a lie can ensnare us. Just when everything seemed to be going so well, and then our feet get tangled in a half-truth or subtle suggestion. The enemy of our soul knows the Word of God personally. Jesus is the Word of God. He saw satan fall from Heaven. Who better to twist and taint the Truth but one who knows it intimately inside and out? With this in mind, the best defense is a good offense. You can prepare for the lie of the enemy by engaging in the Truth. Faith is credible and logical when rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

God did not yell at His Servant or berate him for falling for the oldest trick in the Book. No, he came to him in a gentle whisper and called him by name. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is intent on the one. He will leave the 99 just to find you in the midst of delays, detours or distractions. He understands our vulnerability when it comes to believing the lie. He has empowered us to overcome yet in our weakness – His Grace is always enough.

Have you fallen for the lie of the enemy? Have you stopped listening? There is a difference between ignoring God and ignorance. If you know the Word and are filled by the Spirit and choose to do what you want to do – there is a sin problem in your heart today. Repent and let Him lead to the better way. The problem is most likely fostered by a faith plagued by fear, doubt and insecurity creating disbelief. He is not mad at you but still insists on communicating His Love to you one-on-one.

If you have never heard the Voice of God, you are in for a real treat. There is nothing more relevant in your life than to hear the Words of the One who created you. Your Father in Heaven who loves you perfectly and completely. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Word of God hidden in our heart begins to cut through the lie to expose the Truth. The Holy Spirit holds firmly the Shield of Faith to protect the tender, broken heart that has repented and presented itself to the Lord. God is speaking to you today. He has secrets just for you. Thoughts that will blow your mind with possibility. He desires a personal relationship with you that will bring you together as one. God is speaking to you. Are you listening?

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

Throwing Shade

Throwing Shade

I Peter 5:7-10 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Is the enemy throwing shade today? Telling you lies like things are not going to get better, you are going under, nothing will change and you might as well get used to it. As if the lie was not enough to plant a seed of doubt, he comes behind the lie and waters it with all the reasons why you are not worthy of God’s Love and Goodness to further grow doubt and disbelief until prevailing darkness weighs heavy in our mind.

The Urban Dictionary describes the term “throwing shade” as trash talking about a friend or acquaintance or to publicly denounce or disrespect. I know the term because I am blessed with teenagers. Throwing shade is a subtle insult not necessarily a direct attack. It doesn’t always result in a direct hit but a slight notice or thought – “Hey, is that about me” or “directed at me”. It is in that moment the “what if” begins or even worse offense takes hold that the attacker hits the mark of its prey. The trouble is no one really knows the truth from a lie so inevitably relationships are destroyed by the notion that someone is “throwing shade” whether relevant or not.

These subtle attacks on relationships are working. Young people today are victims of the viral offense of the enemy to destroy relationships the way that God intended them to be. Jesus Christ is a direct result of God’s Desire to have a relationship with us. He sent His Only Son to die so that our right standing could be restored and our relationship with God, our Father, renewed. His Spirit living in us is evidence of the bond formed. Our perception of relationship has become skewed as people text rather than talk, assume rather than engage, and live life in a self-made bubble based on who people want them to be rather than who the Creator designed them to become. The enemy thrives on our insecurities and uncertainties. Even believers struggle within the social circle called church never fully becoming the family of God by developing strong bonds and relationships. Seeking perfection in people and placing our expectation in the imperfection of the same, it is no wonder that we have forgotten the power and authority given to us by Jesus Christ of overcoming the enemy and all of his schemes.

“He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.” There are lions who live in captivity. They engage with humans as house cats. While onlookers wonder if they will turn on their captor one day. The lion is the “king of the jungle.” Created to be a powerful predator. Held by a chain or even nothing at all – the will of the lion is broken. He remains subject to the one who cares for him. His natural instinct conditioned to a life of domestication rather than fierce nobility. Jesus has given us His Power and Authority for here and now, but I wonder how many of us live subject to the lie of the enemy? How often we live in the captivity of fear, doubt, insecurity and disbelief without even knowing it? The enemy is powerless unless we become the one he can devour.

Luke 10:19-20 (NLT) Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Do you believe that you have been given “authority over all the power of the enemy”? Do you believe that “nothing will injure you”? Do you believe…? If we truly believed, it would impact our way of life. It would be evident in how we live, how we react, how we respond, and what we do each day. Our relationship with Jesus Christ and the fact He lives in us gives us all power and authority over the enemy in our life. However, the enemy knows that if he can just convince you of a half-truth and create just a little uncertainty in you – he’s got you right where he wants you. He doesn’t have to beat you – you will give up. He doesn’t have to force you – you will give in. He doesn’t even have to convince you because without confidence you are easily shakable and movable. He just have to throw enough shade to put out the Light that was only a flicker or spark inside of you. See the enemy is not as strong as most give him credit for. He is just a really good liar.

Ephesians 6:12-18 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

God’s Armor is not external. It is the protection of God given for our heart, soul and mind. The enemy doesn’t want our body or physical part of our life. It is dying anyway. He wants to change our heart, mind and soul concerning our faith in God and reliance on the Trinity for life. He wants to throw shade to create obstacles and obscure the vision of God for us. If he can just get in your head, he has access to the control panel of feelings, emotions, and logic. Belt of truth and body armor of righteousness fortify the platform of our existence, though unperceivable with human eyes it is the very foundation of our faith. Peace of God keeps us steady and gives us traction when everything starts moving and shaking. A moving mountain makes quite an earthquake. The shield of faith wards off the barbs of the ingenious lies of the enemy that twist truth into palatable fodder that makes us drift in doubt and disbelief. The helmet of salvation is secured with the chinstrap of grace. The enemy wants you to believe that grace is not enough when the truth is grace is always sufficient and Christ is more than enough. The sword of the Spirit is important. It is the Word of God. Most Christians today have dull swords and do not know the Truth from a lie. Many completely disregard the Spirit of the Living God which means they have nothing of use to ward off the enemy when he comes calling.

Pray. Stay alert. Be persistent. How much time is given to your relationship with Jesus Christ each day? I am not talking about hours of service in organized religion. I am not asking how many generous offerings of time, talent or treasure given to others. I am asking how much time is spent in intimacy with the Lover of Your Soul. The One who died for you. The One who fights for you and hands you the victory. The One who is with you. Never leaves you. Never forsakes you. Never gives up on you. Always waits for you. No matter how you treat the Lord – He is always giving us unfailing love, amazing grace, unending mercy, and great goodness. Him. How much your life is given to cultivating a real and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? It is the strength of our relationship with Jesus Christ that keeps us from believing the lie of the enemy. If we know the Lord, then the lie or half-truth becomes obvious because we know the Word and have chose to believe Him.

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

Jesus overcame the world. He has been given by God all authority and power over the enemy of this world. In turn, the Lord decided to give us His Power. We have it. But like the lion in captivity, sometimes the enemy persuades to doubt our position in God through Christ. He tells us that freedom is a lie so we will give it back to him. He constantly questions the sufficiency of grace until we give up the fulfillment offered by the Lord to regain control and comfort. Every day as long as the sun rises and sets – the enemy will stop to get you to lay down your cross and pick up the burdens, cares and worries of life. You have the power to overcome. But will you?

The enemy will continue to “throw shade” as the young people say. He cannot put out a light that shines from the inside. He cannot put out a fire that burns from the inside. If we will place an emphasis on cultivating a forever bond and thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not continually fall for his lies and deceptions because we know the Truth. We believe it because we have firsthand intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ through His Word, prayer and intimacy of time spent in His Presence. We pursue the Lord. We desire Him. It is in this relationship that we begin to build lasting and loving relationships with people because now we do not look for their acceptance any longer. We do not expect them to be our fulfillment. Freedom in Christ is to live liberated from every lie the enemy tries to capture us with and throwing it back to the pit of hell. Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ today. Lord, spark a desire for more intimacy with you Jesus. Help us fan the tiny flicker of passion inside of us into a burning light or raging fire that the enemy cannot put out. Let your Spirit guide us from victory to victory leading us from self-dependency to sole reliance in You today! We are overcomes! We are victorious! We have all power and authority over the enemy! We believe, God! Lord, help our unbelief in Jesus Name!

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLT) We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Beware of the Thief

Beware of the Thief

Matthew 6:19-21(ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is finally Christmas Eve. To some it is a time of elation while preparing to gather with family and friends to begin a two-day celebration. To others it is a lonely time that will drag on for what seems like forever. If you are the mom and dad, it is show time. Things get a little crazy with all the cooking and preparations to pull off the biggest night of the year for children. Who am I kidding? My adult daughter still expects a full stocking. The demands high and expectations even higher it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed in the midst of it all. I would also like to warn you that there is a thief lurking in our midst.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) The thief wants to steal your joy. He wants to take your peace. Bent on destruction, he does not come through unsecured windows or unlocked doors. He invades our heart and makes his way to our mind. If our attitude can be accessed, it will change our actions. Allowing darkness to take the place of Light.

Matthew 24:43 (ESV)  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

It is written that Jesus will come as a thief in the night. I believe it. However, it also warns us as believers that the thief who is our enemy is prowling around as well. He is seeking the one who he can easily devour. We are to remain alert. Stand guard. Be ready. We do not overcome the enemy by fighting back but standing on faith and confident hope as our platform of trust. It means raising our level of above humanity to heavenly. We must be prepared before the thief comes. Locking the door to our heart. Shutting the windows to our mind. Allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and sustain us with the Fruit that affords us self-control. We have the Power of God in us to keep the thief from robbing us. Will we be ready when he comes?

I Peter 5:8-10 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

In all our busyness, rushing here, running there, and attempts to perfect the final details of Christmas, I am reminded this morning that it is important to be watchful. Your adversary is prowling around seeking someone or something to devour today. Resistance is to reject the lie that is being offered instead of the truth. Firmness in our faith is total reliance of Jesus Christ to meet our needs and exceed our expectations. God’s Grace is for us. It’s in us. It is the generosity of God’s Heart given to us for us to in turn give to others. The Lord will restore you. He will confirm you. He will strengthen and establish you. Do not let the enemy rob you of special moments and blessings over temporary things. Release the idea of perfection and embrace the fullness of His Grace. Let it be your portion. It is enough.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Where is your treasure today? Is it in a safe place untouched by temporary problems or immediate pressure? Is it locked up where the enemy cannot touch it much less take it? You are the keeper of your heart. You determine who resides there. You decide how much control is relinquished in your natural life to Kingdom principles. When Christ set you free, you were free indeed. That means you control your life and destiny. Salvation and true repentance afford us the opportunity to exchange ordinary for extraordinary and natural for supernatural. The enemy pulls out his arsenal of lies the moment someone decides to give their all to Jesus. We must work diligently to let go of worthless things and grab tightly Kingdom Blessings. Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit gifted to us for full satisfaction. We must continually work to maintain the Presence of God in our life so the enemy cannot try to come and take these from us. Are you full of love, peace and joy today? I hope that you are. Now before you get in the kitchen, go to the mall, start wrapping or have your first glass of eggnog, get into His Presence and make a Kingdom Deposit. What is in the Kingdom is inaccessible to the enemy.

Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV) I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

There is a thief diligently seeking to steal, kill, destroy and devour every good thing that the Lord has in store for His People. We must be alert. Sober-minded. Utilizing the Spirit’s Gift of self-control to overcome the enemy. He cannot take what is put securely in the Hand of God by faith. God is our refuge. He is our Strength. He is the Stronghold that keeps the enemy out. Have you called upon the Lord today? He wants to surround you and fill you with love, joy and peace this Christmas. We must only be available and willing to receive.

Romans 16:20 (ESV) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.