The Light

Flashlight shining light

Luke 11:36 (NLT)  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

A well-known columnist for the local paper passed away from a sudden stroke. There was no warning just here today gone the next. At an undisclosed time, he wrote his own obituary to be published after his death. A portion read, “And if anyone claims at the end of my life that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, know that they are lying. I’ve spend my life as an atheist. That’s the way I’ll die. And hope that hell has been way undersold.” Wow…my heart breaks at his words for now he knows the terrible truth.

Glancing through the outline of his self-constructed obituary, it is clear that this man wanted the world to know him as he decided they should. The need for obvious control details his life from start to finish including a carefully orchestrated funeral. He even delineates what people are to say posthumously about him. Again, a life built on deception lived in darkness. He believed that his life was good and successfully but did not achieve even the seventy years promised in God’s Word. I am sad for him. Truly, my heart is grieved that he chose to be his own light rather than to let God’s Love, His Light, live in him. He made the choice to refute Jesus Christ openly and publicly. He died without faith or hope in a living Lord to save him and rescue him. Hell is not oversold. It is as real as the Heaven I hope for.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The Word

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. It was God. “He” existed in the beginning. Everything was created by God’s Word. Nothing apart from Him. The Word gave life to everything. All of created is fueled by the breath of the Living God – His Word. His Life brought life to everyone. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overtake the Light.

Jesus is the Word of God. If you continue through John 1, you will see that the Word came into the world as a human to make His Home in us. He came to the world that He created in order to reclaim His Created Ones from the sin and darkness of their own selfish choices. To all who believe the Word is life but those who choose darkness will not live apart from the Word. Jesus, the Word, is all about unfailing love and faithfulness. He came to fill us with His Glory so that we could live radiant lives as His Children.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the Word tells us that God made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in each heart of each person who He created. The Purpose of God in us is to find eternity and live with Him forever. Faith is the seed of potential that must be released to become confident hope in us. However, there are many who will never realize their full potential or achieve great purpose because rather than being eternal beings by faith that will remain in a human condition that leads to nothing but darkness.

Genesis 1:1-3 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:31 (NLT)  Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

There are important factors to the Creation account that must not be overlooked. God was, of course, present. This is generally the common thread of all religions – a supreme being. God’s Spirit hovered in the darkness of the unformed earth. Oh, now things start to split and splinter apart with doctrines. God said, “Let there be light.” There was light. Could this be the first birth ever recorded? God spoke and light came pouring out. Life was projected in that moment.

We read the Word of God in increments or portions of preference. We need the Word to be the Bread of Life and Living Water inside of us. The difference between scientists and servants is that those who are committed to science take all the information and form an intellectual hypothesis that is then tested for relativity. Servants of the Living God often live in ignorance. Too many do not know the Word, study it or apply it to their natural life but keep it as a supernatural fantasy. The Word is the substance of our faith and foundation of confident hope yet an untried structure of flimsy ideas and novelties not tried in our life. We must take God’s Word inspected the truth and applying intellectual thought to it. In plain terms, you have to think about it. Meditate on it. Find truth in it. Become confident of it. Faith becomes logical in the Word but no one is willing to take it for a test drive. The vehicle of acquisition in our life is the Word and where it takes us – from darkness into light.

The Light

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

If you follow me…living in the Light of God’s Love and following His Word is a choice. You don’t “have” to do it. You have the opportunity to choose eternal life. The Pharisees were appalled at this claim by Jesus. It did not jive with their religious beliefs. Yet, Jesus tells them what we believe does not change who HE is. Our choice to live in light or darkness is a life or death choice that in no one strengthens or weakens God’s Power or Authority that is given to Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fight, argue or bicker to convince others of His Validity because Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever. Our belief in Christ changes us.

Matthew 5:14 tells us that we are “the light of the world.” Christ in us illuminates the darkness giving off the Light of His Glory for others to see. The Word of God produces light in us. It projects the characteristics and qualities of Christ when applied to our heart and mind. As our soul prospers, so will we – In all things pertaining to life and godliness. We have been given every spiritual blessing and it is by allowing His Light to shine in us and through us that these are things are found. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded each day written before our birth. Everything I need for today is already given. I am well-supplied. I am fruit-bearing already. I can be all that the Lord has promised. I can meet my full potential. I cannot get lost because I am already found. I may wonder but am constantly pursued by the unfailing love, faithfulness and goodness of the Living God.

Luke 15:8-9 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’”

What is the Kingdom worth to you today? Is it an option? An opportunity to believe the day after your death yet you live for this moment or today? What profits a person who gains the world and loses his soul? To read the obituary of this man, he was very successful. His prideful account details every accomplishment in detail. Maybe the most honest words of the whole thing are in his final statement, “I really loved life.” God wants us to love our life. To love and be loved are all part of our primary purpose. The real accomplishment is to do so full of His Love. His Light.

The woman who misplaced on of her silver coins felt the pain of her lost. She wanted it back. It says, “Won’t she light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it.” Today while it is today is another opportunity to discover purpose and potential in our life. His Plan is for us to realize the promises set forth in His Plan including a future and hope that extends beyond this life into eternity. It is all worth having but if there is no value in forever for us without Jesus – we should make the most of today. I must value the One who lives in me far more than any other endeavor in order to prosper and succeed in every endeavor and one day reach eternity.

 I still remember the words offered by those at my grandmother’s funeral. She was the one who introduced me to Jesus Christ. They all continued to go on and on about her love and compassion for other people. Her kindness and love for Jesus Christ. This is the same kind of legacy that I would like. For those who one day attend the life celebration service to tell others that my life was a Light in a dark world. To know that I loved them. To know I loved Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the Light that illuminates the darkness within us exposing the true potential of our life making us life bearers in this world. I can give all my money to the pour and live a life of constant selfless service but if I don’t have the Word, the Light and Love of God in me – I have nothing. Give me Jesus. When I leave this world rest assured that it is my profound hope and daily aspiration to be with the Lover of my Soul – Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. He is my Lord.

Lord, I ask you to fill me with more of Your Word today and stir the fire within me to an even brighter light! Let your Word come to pass in me that my “whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling (me) with light.” In Jesus Name!

Song of Solomon 8:6 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame.

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Due Season

Due Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I was talking to a friend of my not too long ago. Experiencing a bit of discouragement, the Lord pressed upon me to share that “He never leads us to barren fields.” The Word I thought was for someone else began to resonate in me. I love how the Lord does that. A word in due season. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) What is due season anyway? It simply means at the appropriate time, in due course, in due time, in good time or when the time comes. Due means rightful, proper or fitting. A season is a period of time when something is best or available.

Ecclesiastes 3 sets forth the boundaries and conditions of each season. Not every season seems pleasant at the time but each one holds its own fruit. Purpose and potential are not always evident in what we seen. The process by which God grows and develops are character is often difficult. The struggle is not in the outward conditions but our inward character. It is the death of our flesh that produces new life in every season. Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real and ongoing no matter how hard we try to overcome it. What season are you in? Everyone loves the harvest season but our willingness to endure the planting, persevere the drought, and wait for God’s Timing is essential in the abundant prosperity that is promised. God will not allow outward prosperity without soul prosperity. Our reliance on the Lord in every season is important to have His Plan with the future and hope it promises. It really doesn’t matter if we are successful in life if it does not allow the faith in our heart to connect us with eternity.

Leviticus 26:4-6 (NLT) “I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.”

What season are you in today? Does it seem like it will never end? Are you discouraged? Do you feel abandoned? God’s Promise in Leviticus remains the same today. He promised seasonal rains. When you think the drought will never end? He sends a downpour. The land you are in has potential and is marked with purpose that will prosper and yield good fruit. Here is the important truth to quiet the need to leave or mindset to escape – “your threshing season will overlap and harvest will overlap WITH the season of planting. Learning to continually sow seed will inevitably result in overlapping harvests in our life. We just have to learn to continue to sow and plant when conditions are unfavorable or the wait seems too long. The problem is not in the land but in our heart.

God promises that we will be fulfilled and protected in “your own land”. Too often the greener grass on the other side causes us to wander rather than staying put to fulfill the plan of God that will lead to abundance and prosperity. He gives us peace in that place marked my own. He protect us giving us rest even when the enemies are pressing in and people seem like problems. God has already ordained blessing in our life – the problem is that we do not believe Him enough to stay put and keep beating the seemingly dry and dead place until breakthrough comes.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) What if God’s Seasons are not set by the same time and space as our perception of seasons? What if the markers He uses are different than the ones that humanity is accustomed to? Not only probably but highly likely. The seasons of the earth are to produce natural occurrences not supernatural outcomes. God defies human logic all the time by doing miraculous things – sometimes in a second or even in lifetimes. The problem is human nature demands natural results when God’s Plan and Promise is a supernatural outcome. He doesn’t bargain with just enough but promises overflowing abundance. He promises that we will produce fruit in season AND out of season. Are we limiting our life by observing natural seasons but not sowing in supernatural outcomes?

What do people really get for all their hard work? Each person who opened their eyes and took in another breath this morning has the same 24 hours to use as they see fit. Many years ago, a friend asked how I found time to write each day. I think she was looking for some epiphany and was quite disappointed with my response. I shared that I set my alarm to get up at 4:30 each morning in order to make time to spend with the Lord and write. She said, “Well, forget that and laughed walking away.” The next time busyness becomes an excuse I challenge you to examine your time. Your schedule and routine will tell you where you are sowing in life. It will tell you where to expect a harvest or increase. When we give a significant portion of our time to the world, we will reap earthly results. Hard work will pay off in our natural life. To sow seed in God’s Kingdom and connect with Him means reprioritizing our time making room for Him. It is only as our soul prospers that all of our life will reap the benefits. We must work smarter not harder. Grace is sufficient to allow us to enjoy the blessings and benefits of God for His Children. It is investing in His Kingdom to be one with the Body of Christ that produces such a harvest.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. What is your investment in Kingdom Living today? If you made a pie chart, what portion of your life is devoted to loving, knowing and serving God? Do you spend time with Him each day? Does He go to work, school or run errands with you? Is He the primary resource in your life? Do you rely on Him or a paycheck or someone else? What are you expecting from Him that hard work and motivation cannot produce? Do you believe His Grace is enough? The place you are planted has a harvest just for you that cannot be produced by anyone else. It is part of your purpose. It is a product of your plan ordained by the Living God who is inside of you. Watch for it. Prepare for it. Sow it. Wait for it. Stand on that field until it produces exactly what God promised you.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Are you waiting for due season? Keep waiting. The harvest of blessing comes with no sorrow added to it. The time, talent and treasure invested in God’s Soil will always produce good fruit even when the land seems barren and dead. He is the Life Giver who has given us resurrection power to call dead things to life.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Your process must always produce the Fruit of the Spirit first. Your soul must prosper in order for the ordinary to become extraordinary and the natural to produce supernatural. The world says work for it. The Lord says, “Worship me and you will have it all!”

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

What’s Next?

What's Next

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

What’s next? The holiday season with all the hustling and bustling tends to produce an ongoing list. It is one I adhere to and attempt to follow closely. I must continue line by line or risk becoming completely overwhelmed and dysfunctional. Maintaining a peaceful mind and steady heart during such seasons can be difficult. Keeping ourselves righted in the ups and downs of activity and demands placed on our time and resources is challenging. It is with this in mind and the extra things life has added to the consumption of time that I find myself longing for the New Year. I am ready for what’s next. I am trying desperately to maintain presence and not give in to the whim to flee. Exhaustion is a tactic of the enemy to keep us from peace of mind, heart and body. If he can somehow persuade us to leave this season and time prematurely, it is at risk of leaving a harvest behind. He is bent on trying to steal, kill or destroy you. One or all three are just fine to him. To limit our life with anxiety, stress and fear (products of doubt) left to grow in our hearts and takeover our mind capturing us with our own disbelief.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time… God’s timing is important to His Promise. It is the maturation process that takes a tiny seed of faith, cultivates it in confident hope, and grows it into full satisfaction. To avoid waiting, our flesh gives into the need for relief and so we leave behind that which God is doing to do something that will produce immediate gratification. Sometimes the immediate gratification is not in a substitution but rather settlement. Settling for what we have rather than what the Lord has promised to do by abandoning faith and fruitfulness to just get by without all the pressure.

He has planted eternity in the human heart. Please understand thought you may vacate the possibilities of life the inevitability of God keeps pressing you to release what faith has for you because God is good and always pursues us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. We can never leave Him behind for the Lord is right there with us. It is the eternity in the human heart that creates the longing for more. To be satisfied. To live in fulfillment. The drive and desire to find purpose in our life. It is all God working behind the scenes to give you the future and hope that He planned for you when He created you.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

God’s Purpose is that people should fear and worship Him (with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God). God does not give us the spirit of fear but like the Great I Am that He is gives a life worth having that we would seek Him, find Him and know Him – His Grace, Goodness and Glory is always working its way into our life. The recognition of God’s awesome Presence, Power, and Purpose may not change a single situation or cure a condition but it will overwhelm us with persistent peace allowing us to stay in our current season until it yields good fruit. There is nothing more tragic than an abandoned harvest. When the seed in the ground becomes the fruit of our labor and devoured by the enemy in our absence. God will do exactly as He promised in our life. We must be determined to wait for it.

Genesis 18:13-15 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”

Why did Sarah laugh? I’ll tell you why! At almost 100 years of age, the Lord told her that she would get pregnant, carry and give birth to a son. She had tried to conceive a child her entire life. Now well past the years of natural ability – it was humanly impossible for such a thing to happen. Yet the messenger of the Lord said, “I will return about this time next year and Sarah will have a son.” She waited her whole life. She experienced overwhelming disappointment time and time again. She even tried to help God out with the whole Hagar and Ishmael fiasco. Now, in her old age and barrenness, such a revelation seemed like a cruel joke. Maybe her laughter was nothing more than stagnant bitterness mixed with sarcastic disappointment.

How long have you waited for the promise? The Lord has given us precious promises along with every spiritual blessing. We must strive to respond to God’s Promises and not life’s problems. Abraham and Sarah lived a life of transparency before the Lord. The Lord made them a promise. When it was totally impossible, the miracle happened. Whatever seems impossible in our life is the birthplace of miracles. Are you about to give up? Leave the place of waiting? Accept a compromise? Settle for a substitution? The Word of God including every promise that He has made you cannot and will not return to Him void. It must do exactly what it set out to do. Will you be waiting when it does?

Isaiah 38:19-20 (NLT) Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Only the living can praise you. This made me think. Remember Martha when Lazarus had died. She told Jesus that if He had only been there then her brother would be alive. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and Life.” Martha shrugged it off for eternity and kept going in her funeral preparation. What miracle are you intent on giving a funeral? What dead dream are you mourning as a lost cause? Have we put off for eternity what if for us in the next day or maybe even next hour? Jesus called forth Lazarus from the grave. He is calling to those things you have marked impossible and never. He is trying to breathe new life into your dead dreams today. Are you holding the tomb closed in doubt and disbelief?

The Lord is ready to heal me! He is ready to heal you today? Every broken thing is on the verge of restoration. Every dead thing about to experience new life. Every loss cause is about to unfold into purpose. Where will you be when it’s done? Will you be found waiting and watching for the Lord ready to respond to His Promises? The enemy is always looking for opportunities to tempt us. (Luke 4:13-14) It doesn’t matter how saved or Spirit-filled you may think you are. When he comes – he uses everything not secured by faith and confident hope against you. What will he find in your heart today?

Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT) But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

A prospering heart produces fruit in all seasons. The Lord has promised good things to me. Yet I am tempted just like everyone else to abandon intensively hard or exhaustibly long seasons for something more comfortable, convenient and controllable. I am ready for the next season in my impatience. However, I may not be ready in my heart, mind and soul. There are things I need to sow in this season to prepare the harvest of the next one. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what I need to prosper in every season and produces that fruit in me when I am willing to stay right where I am until He says otherwise.

My to-do list is long. I have learned that if I go line by line – it all gets done somehow. Maybe if we went line by line and built precept upon precept of God’s Word while constantly meditating on what He says about our life and purpose the worthwhileness of our waiting might give us the strength to continue or at least pass the time. Faith planted wisely with confident hope will make the field worthy of waiting until the fruit of our labor comes up. Maybe rather than running off to the next thing, God’s People would realize that He is doing a good thing in us and through us now that is worth waiting for. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. It should incite praise and worship at its arrival because now God can do for us what no man could do. Lord, help me to embrace this season. To sow faithfully and wait patiently on what You will produce in me and through me. Keep your Light burning in my heart. Let me seek you wholeheartedly so I will recognize your arrival. I cannot have what is next until now comes to pass. Help me Lord to be faithful in the waiting and watching for You!

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

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Warrior

knight wearing armor and holding two-handed sword

Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) 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. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

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 Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

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

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

Joy of Obedience

joy-of-obedience

Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

Our oldest son was a challenging kid. High energy and very impulsive, he was a handful to say the least. He loved to find the line and cross it. He struggled with obedience and the household rules always intent on overstepping boundaries. When he entered high school, he joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) which was offered as a course. I really didn’t think too much of it as he had always been interested in history and military. His reading collection demonstrated his interest and his choice of programs made it clear that such things were fascinating to him. My father is a Vietnam veteran so he also engaged him as well in things of that nature. I did not link his interest to his purpose until he came to us his junior year to express interest in enlistment. Thank God for the grace given to us as parents. It seems that wisdom comes with age so the first kids produce it while the younger children benefit from it. I honestly laughed.

When our boy took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, he scored off the charts. On his first time, cold, his score was impressive enough to earn the attention of recruiters. Even though I knew he had done exceptional on the test, enlistment was a total commitment. He felt like this was his purpose in life to defend his country and the people in it while upholding the constitution. Please understand it was never my intention to dash his dream, but at this point, he was barely making it through his school. Not only that, our buddy had a problem with authority. He struggled with basic obedience such as making his bed. He ignored house rules and curfew, but how expressed a deep heartfelt desire to become a soldier who must respect authority and become radically obedient. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He did go on to join the military and still serves in the National Guard today. He has also joined the brotherhood of law enforcement. I am proud of him. Truthfully, I was proud of him before but now I understand more fully the quality that promotes obedience in life – it is called purpose.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His Laws AND search for Him with all their hearts. Jeremiah 29:11-13 eludes to the very same. God has a plan for our life that includes a future (here) and hope (eternity). The catch is that those who desire such an existence and promise must seek Him wholeheartedly. Just as our son had purpose in his heart at a very young age, we all are born with purpose in our heart. God placed it there along with eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is in the pursuit of one’s purpose that satisfaction is produced. Here is the catch: “they do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

So our son decided that he would enlist and did so his junior year in high school. The Army at that time offered a split option enlistment. He would go to basic training during the summer before his senior year, come home to graduate, and then finish training before immediately being deployed. I was skeptical. I have to admit, but something changed in our kid that summer as his potential started to become his passion. Upon his return, he carried out each task with his heart set on the future. His grades somewhat improved. His character was changing. During a counseling appointment, it was discovered that to graduate he would have to have almost a perfect GPA that semester. School had been a challenge for years. He graduated with just one B on his report card. Purpose releases potential in our life. When we discover our purpose and begin to walk in it our life begins to yield the potential locked away. It is our motivation. It becomes our passion and we pursue it. What is your purpose? What is the promise of God not yet evident in your life? Partial obedience will never allow us to walk with purpose.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

God’s Purpose and Plan for my life is different than yours. It is the calling on my life. You have one too. The Body of Christ has many members each one diverse and individual. The human body is evidence of that design. Each part has its own function that keeps our organs working, limbs moving and maintains overall health. If one part of my body becomes diseased or dysfunctional the entire design is handicapped. The purpose God has placed inside of you benefits the Body of Christ and you.

The blessings of obedience are listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 112 as well as many other places in God’s Word. The most obvious is joy. How is it possible to “delight” in obeying his commands when they challenge us each day? There are benefits to obedience such as provision, protection, prosperity, promotion and many other things detailed in God’s Word. In order to enlist in the Kingdom of God, one must believe that God is good. His Love is unfailing. His Grace enough. His Plan perfect. Hope secured. Faith is required to achieve one’s purpose. Many claim to have it but few will make the conscious choice to walk in it. Those who do will find joy in the face of danger, obstacles, trials and even pain. Purpose gives way to passion that yields our person to Jesus Christ. When I am convinced that God is good and His Way perfect, I will find my purpose in Him along with every promise.

Romans 4:16 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

The promise of God is received by faith. The idea of obedience is overshadowed by ignorance. Obedience is not required. However, those who believe will obey. Why? They believe in the God of Abraham who “brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” If you have faith in God the evidence is obedience. Grace is sufficient in our weakness to release the power of God in us. This occurs not because we choose to willfully sin due to human weakness but because we have strived to obey God’s Word and fallen short due to human weakness. His Grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between my inability and God’s Perfect Plan for my life.

Our faith allows us to hope when there is no reason to hope. To believe based on God’s Word backed by all His Power and Authority so that no matter how things look now I can press on passionately and persistently until purpose and promise come to pass. It makes life worth living. It changes who I am into God created me to be. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. It took his whole life pursing God to find His Purpose, Isaac. God then required Abraham to make a choice. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises…are you?

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT) Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

No matter what one’s potential in life – if we obey the Lord it will produce His Promise and Prosperity in our life. He gave you that purpose and it is directly linked to our willingness to obey. Hence the psalmist prayer, “Restore to me the joy of salvation and make me willing to obey.” In I Samuel 15:22-23, God had appointed Saul as King of Israel and things were going good. That is until Saul chose partial obedience over willing obedience. What happened? God removed His Ordination and David would become the new king. Why? God views partial disobedience as rebellion. The gray area or middle of the road called compromise is a manmade creation made to make us feel better despite our shortcomings and inability to always do the right thing. Grace is made for those who desire God and yet still fall short. Saul did not obey the Word of the Lord and the Lord told the prophet to tell him, “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 worshipping idols.”

The act of willing obedience to God is connected with one’s ability to have enough faith to trust the Lord. Not when I can make a way, but when there is no way and I still choose to trust and obey God. I Kings 17 tells of a woman and her family in the midst of famine. The prophet comes requesting a meal. Luck would have it she was about to prepare their last meal. There was no more food. She had decided to give up. Elijah did not thwart her plan but told her to go ahead but first…”make a little bread for me…” Obedience. She obeyed. God promised her that if she fed His Servant honoring the Lord with her obedience that there would “always be flour and olive oil left in your containers” to last until rain produced new crops again. She didn’t give much. She gave what she had to the Lord first. Obedience. The Bible says that God was true to His Word and she was well supplied. This was not the end of her story but only the beginning, when her son became sick. He finally died. Elijah came to her. She was obviously hurt and grieving. The prophet took the boy and God returned Him to life. She had faith in God. She trusted the Lord. She obeyed Him fully in the smallest measure so when it came time to trust Him for her son. She had the faith to bring resurrection life to her family. Our obedience to God leads us to everlasting.

1 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.

God created you with purpose. You have far greater potential within you than you will ever express according to your own ability and strength. It is our connection with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ that makes sacrifices unnecessary. Our position as Children of God secure in order to have all God promised – we must simply obey. Willing obedience that understands any other way is rebellion and stubbornness stagnates our purpose within us. There is purpose in every single step taken no matter if it results in good things or bad times because God promises to turn every detail into something for His Glory and our good. Obedience is evidence of burgeoning faith that dares to trust God in each step. To try His Way. Decide to have His Will. To live according to His Word. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love will always add passion to obedience. When God’s Love consumes every fear, doubt and worry so boldly each day is an exercise of discipline to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. To know that sin separates us from Him so we will work to avoid it. To know that my full potential becomes purpose when connected with the Kingdom is all I need to press, push and pursue Him in each step in each day. Lord, give me a willing heart. I want to be obedient in all things. I don’t want to be disqualified but my promise, potential and purpose fully realized according to Your Will, Your Way and Your Word. In Jesus Name – this is my humble prayer today!

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Brevity of Life

brevity-of-life

Psalm 90:12 (NLT) Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

Looking up at the morning stars contemplating the day, the word “brevity” comes to mind. The brevity of life to be more specific. I have never been one to worry too much about my age or the passing years. Today, on the eve of my mother’s open heart surgery, I am taken back to the day my grandfather underwent triple bypass surgery many years ago. Suddenly, I am caught up in the passage of time. Both of my precious grandparents are now in Heaven, and thankfully so. Sparing them the heartache of their great-grandson’s plight with cancer which would have devastated them completely. This world has changed so much and would have caused them great distress when considering their children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren left behind. Many joys have happened, too. Weddings and additions to the family giving their heart much joy. Their great-great grandson becoming a famous athlete. Life happens so quickly. However, it takes times like this to make one stop, even if only for a moment, to come together and recognize the brevity of life. Life is short.

Life is a series of breathes ordered by God to the fulfillment of purpose and then we leave this world sometimes way too soon. During the three years our son battled cancer, our life stood still other than pursing treatment or did it? Not really, our kids kept growing. Our oldest daughter graduated and fell in love. The two younger girls grew and there were moments that I missed caring for their sibling that pains me can never be regained. When it was all over, I realized that my priorities in life had changed. Time became very important. When facing the possibility that it may not be as limitless as once considered, we are forced to see our life in terms of time. The reality is that our next breath is not certain. Life cannot last beyond today without carefully considering that first moment our natural breath leaves us. Will we have the Breath of Life – God’s Spirit – to carry us on to eternity?

Psalm 33:6-11 (NLT) The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command. The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

I have been mustering faith in God for a long time. When I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ completely, faith intrigued me. The kind of faith that provoked Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water. Who would even consider such a thing in a storm no less? I was completely enthralled by the centurion soldier who believed the Lord at His Word alone. I wanted to be like that, too. Be careful what you pray for!

Faith is a process. It means coming to the end of ourselves in order to trust Jesus. It means our natural circumstance or condition must completely use up all our confidence in anything else so the only one left is the Lord. You think that sounds easy. I will admit it is a rush. It brings you to the edge of your life and everything believed in your heart and asks the question, “Do you trust me” enough to take one more step, to live one more day in this situation, to stand when you just want to quit? It is a thrill ride alright.

Imagine standing on the edge of a massive cliff looking down into darkness, not sure where it leads or its depth, and the Lord whispers, “Do you trust me?” Depending on your desperation in life will determine one’s response. Now consider the same imagine, but you are holding your child in your arms. Whoa! Just whoa! Whatever is most precious to us will be challenged at one time or another. It could be our spouse, child, family, church, job, comforts or any other thing in this life that may somehow mean just a little more to me than God. We hang on to those things tightly. God says, “Life is too short to hang on to this life. We must work for forever.” How do we attain eternal life? Through Jesus Christ, the Way, Truth and Life. What do we need to do? Put our faith and trust in Him. When? Today. Right now. In this moment. Lord, teach us the brevity of life SO THAT we may grow in wisdom.

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

God created you with a plan and purpose. He gave you a future and hope. He says that when you pray – He will listen. In seeking Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him. In Psalm 33, the Lord’s Plans stand firm forever. His Intentions can never be shaken. In Psalm 139, the psalmist writes “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered.” In Psalm 144, it is asked, “What are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them? For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow?” We must understand the brevity of life to achieve our purpose and live in the fulfillment of God.

Psalm 39:4-7 (NLT) “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”

“My only hope is in you.” There are many things that can drive us to this point in life, but what I have found to be true is that it was factual my whole life. We think faith is something we grow and hope newly discovered. It is not a new thing but revelation of the one thing. This breath that keeps us alive started with Adam. It continues as humanity reproduces. It God withdrew His Breath everything that breathes would die. (Job 34:14-15) The Spirit of God made me and the Breath of God keeps me alive. (Job 33:4) My mom noticed that during certain activities she became a little short of breath. As it became a bit more uncomfortable, she sought medical attention. The cardiologist discovered that there was a problem with her heart. During a heart catheterization, they realized there was a huge problem with her heart. Her aorta was completely blocked and the aortic value not functioning. She should not be here. BUT God made it clear that was not His Plan and a tiny vessel made its way around her blockage keeping her alive and her heart undamaged. What does this have to do with anything? Well, if we would take notice of our “shortness of breath” in life, it may give us the opportunity to detect any heart problems that keep us from eternal life. When faced with the end of our life, we look for the beginning of eternal life.

John 20:21-22 (NLT) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He released the Holy Spirit to come live in us. Denominationally this has caused much division in the modern church. So before you get your hackles up, just hear me out. Listen to what the Word says about the moment Christ died and released His Spirit. ”Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.  At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 27:50-53) Now where did the Holy Spirit go after causing an earthquake, tearing the barrier between us and God apart, and resurrecting the dead? Umm… He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Life is brief. Tomorrow is not promised. As believers, the Lord has filled us with resurrection power. He has given us the Good News which is the Gospel that He commanded us to share in the Great Commission. Too often, we become consumed with life. The problems and temporary troubles of a limited existence take precious time that could be used advancing the Kingdom and setting the captive free. Harboring unforgiveness or being offended builds walls rather than using the time we have left to come together united as one body becoming a worthy bride. So maybe just maybe God allows moments like this to make us aware of the brevity of life. To shake off all the unimportant burdens collected over time to yoke our life to Jesus Christ once again. As we give Him all our cares and concerns – the Lord teaches us to rest and rely on His Love. Rather than stepping on or over all the dry bones, just trying to make it or get by. If we realized that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain, we might decide to speak to them bringing new life. (Ezekiel 37)

This is not a word of despair or discouragement but rather a declaration of hope for our life today. You woke up this morning to new mercy which means God still has purpose and prosperity for your life. Death is not the end for the soul set free. My mom is going into her surgery tomorrow with complete peace. She will openly admit that no matter the outcome – her total trust is in the Lord. While I am sure that we will all be a little (or a lot) nervous tomorrow, I am so thankful for a family who understands the brevity of life no matter what it took to get us here. Lord, thank you for the realization of Your Love and confident hope we have in You!

Psalm 104:30-33 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made! The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!

Apparently Not

Apparently Not

I Corinthians 2:9-12 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

There are so many days that would be so much easier if the Lord would allow us to see what He is doing. What’s the big secret anyway? Do you wonder why the Lord will not clue us in so that we can help facilitate certain processes in our life? Just when I think I have a glimpse of the direction things are going, how things might turn out, or what my expectation should be, something happens to show me that I have no idea what the Lord is working out on my behalf. It is a helpless and vulnerable position especially for those who waver from faith to fear. No eye has seen. No ear has heard. No mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. This statement is everlasting. It does not begin when we are born and it does not end with death. It is far reaching beyond the barriers and perimeters of this sequence of events called life.

God’s Word are His Written Instructions for life. His Spirit is our tutor, mentor and guide. We cannot see what the Lord is doing, or hear Him moving, and our mind certainly cannot make out the rough image of His Companionship though He is closer than a brother. The Spirit takes the Word of God and writes it on our heart weaving it in our life until we are seamless with the Lord or at least that is His Aspiration. It is only by God’s Spirit can we know what God is doing. Yet still it is not apparent in our life in terms of the natural so we must cling to the unseen, unheard and unperceivable thing called hope.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

John 14:26-27 (NLT)  But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

The Holy Spirit does not give us supernatural sight allowing us to see God’s Plan unfolding with vivid clarity like the sun rising in the east or setting in the west. There are some who would like us to think that the Holy Spirit manifests in such a way but that is just not Biblical. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He is seeking the Word hidden in our heart and equipping us with discernment to know right from wrong. He empowers us by taking that Word and strengthening our body, mind and spirit so when temptation comes (and it will come) it becomes a weapon of defense.

The Holy Spirit works with the Word in our life. Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the manifestation of His Spirit in us. We are now linked to God through Jesus Christ, His Written Word and His Spirit living inside of us and even still we cannot completely perceive all that God is doing in us and through us. Why not?

Ephesians 6:12-13 (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.

Every person ever created has eternity in their heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) to begin the growth process of a new relationship in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. We have everything we need to cultivate a godly life and live it. (2 Peter 1:3) The Word of God is seed scattered around our heart. (Matthew 13) Our hope is that at least one, if not more, will take root and grow into a promise. All of these things occur inside of us. We are here on this earth for such a time as this so the process of seedtime and harvest can be completed in us. We are not alone.

The ruler of this place called earth is not God or Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has full power and authority over the earth including everything and everyone in it. He chooses to wait and not exercise His Full Authority…yet. We live in the world but we are not of this world. Because the rulers and authorities are of an unseen nature, so is the battle fought day by day. The war waged against the human soul is an inward assault. We live in the natural, but our battle is of a spiritual nature. Everything we can see, hear, feel and understand is of a substandard nature compared to the supernatural Mind of Christ that we are offered to navigate life. How do I fight the unseen battles inside of me so that God’s Light can make its way out of me? Good question.

Colossians 1:15-17 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Jesus is Supreme. His Rule and Reign secure. His Power and Authority above all others. He is everything. He puts it all together. He is the One who holds it all in place. In order to win the unseen war, we must depend on the invisible God through His Son, Jesus completely. We must trust what we cannot see and believe what is incomprehensible. This is called faith.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith grabs hold of those things that are not apparent or readily seen hanging tightly to them. Faith is the substance, it is the glue that takes all the amazing pieces that seem undone putting it all back in place. But it is a work much like trying to build a giant puzzle without seeing the picture on the box. You have to go with what you know. I know that there will be a group of pieces with one straight edge to form the border. I know that each piece has a proper place that it needs to be connected to. I can do the puzzle. The more pieces the longer it takes. I must endure the process of sorting and moving until everything is in place and it is complete. Faith is doing this in our life today. The fact that you even think about this process is wonderful to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

God’s Ways are higher than our own and so are His Thoughts…with good reason. (Isaiah 55:9) The enemy operates in the here and now. His dominion is on the earth and nowhere else. The enemy cannot stomp into Heaven and take what belongs to you. He must work in the confines of this planet to entice you to give it up and follow him. God has given us His Word. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We are provided a destiny called eternity and a measure of faith that glues it all together until we are complete lacking no good thing. What’s the problem? It’s all good. We walk in victory. Yay. Apparently not but spiritually for sure.

The enemy wants to lure you into the present and out of the Presence of God. We have eternity, forever and more hidden inside of our fragile heart. The more of God’s Word that we pack around it, the more of His Spirit released inside of us, and the more we press against adversity to iron out the wrinkles and anoint our life, the more victory we will have both now and forevermore.

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

When my oldest son was very young, probably about 3 or 4 years old, he used to stick tiny creatures in his pocket that he came across in the yard. He believed it to be safe keeping. However, when he would pull the insect or baby frog from his pocket there would be only a lifeless form. Either crushed from his constant activity or suffocated in his clothing, the animal didn’t make it. My little boy was destroyed at the thought. One day, I went to the store and bought him a little cage made just for such little explorers. He could take his tiny captives now and put them out in the open where they could live, move and more importantly breathe.

We must find a way to take an unseen God and push Him out into the openness of life. To move Him from our heart and manifest Him in the world for all to see. We have His Word to stand on. We have His Spirit to guide us. What will we contribute? Jesus told Thomas that those who believe without seeing will be blessed. You cannot see the Holy Spirit only manifestations of Him. You cannot see God or Jesus yet you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for you. Everything we base our faith and hope in is unseen. We must have confident hope in someone whom we have never laid our eyes on. If not, we will not make it. We will be crushed by our trials. Perplexed by problems. Persecuted and abandoned left for dead by an unloving and uncaring world. The roaring lion hunts his prey relentlessly. We just want to get home.

To live by faith makes believing without seeing inevitable or we have absolutely no hope. Hope is the anchor of my soul and I must cling to it dragging it into today whenever possible. The trials, trouble and obstacles that you are facing today are temporary. They only seem like they will last forever. Grab your faith and wrap your life in hope once again. It will change everything because it allows Christ to be Lord of all. Doubt is the human response to disappointment. It makes us jaded. However, when we reach apparently not moments of life and choose to rely on faith hanging on to hope, we will overcome because Jesus overcame the world. Complaining is celebrating the enemy’s victory over our life, but praise releases us to have all Jesus promised, do all that His Word says, and become a true Child of the Living God. Just because you cannot see how all the pieces fit together does not make the picture any less beautiful. All those seemingly insignificant details have a monumental moment within them. The best is yet to come for those who walk by faith and not by sight!

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

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.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

Priceless Pearls

Priceless Pearls

Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

 

There are those days when irritation seems inevitable. Our patience are tried by people and every other process and production of life. Even in our Christian walk, there are those moments when the pressure seems too great a price and the pain too much to bear to take another step. Just before breakthrough is the time when the enemy offers the most opportunities to quit, give in or walk away just to have some relief. The idea of throwing up our hands turning and walking away seems so inviting yet deep within us there is that still small voice telling us to watch, wait and pray. There was a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. He was not just looking to turn a quick profit. His intent was to find the most expensive and exquisite pearl. The pearl of great price. He was looking for the most priceless pearl to be his treasure. When he found it, he didn’t balk at the price but committed everything to have it. He went and sold ALL THAT HE HAD and bought it.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant, not the pearl. It is the passionate pursuit of Christ as our treasure not just to gain entrance into Heaven that we are after…sometimes we forget. We desire the things of Heaven rather than the Kingdom itself. God’s Glory fills the Kingdom. It is illuminated by Jesus. He is the treasure of Heaven. Eternity is hidden deep in our heart so that we may pursue Him with passion and purpose. The Lord desires us. We are God’s Treasure. He seeks us with every bit of passion if not more implied in this parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Jesus paid it all to have us. Will we do the same for Him?

 

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.

 

The process of pearl production is not elaborate in nature. In fact, I can absolutely relate to the process. It is much like the process of patience born within us during times of perseverance and persistence beyond the pressure, pain and problems of life. An oyster is not a complex creature by any means yet produces a valuable treasure. As an oyster grows, its shell must grow also. The “mantle” within the shell secrets the substance that enlarges the shell to accommodate the growing and changing mollusk inside. If a foreign substance becomes lodged between the mantle and shell, the oyster will begin to produce nacre to cover the offensive intrusion. It is like a thorn or splinter that becomes lodged in it causing irritation and as the oyster works to stop the irritation a pearl begins to form. The average pearl takes about two years. A pearl of great price takes about five to seven years to mature. It is through a process of irritation that a masterpiece and treasure is formed inside an otherwise basic organism.

 

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. What is irritating you today? No, seriously what is the thorn in your flesh or splinter in your finger that is not killing you but nagging at you day and night. The Lord allows us to be irritated on purpose. I knew it – you say. Not because He is mad at us or punishing us in any way. God created us with purpose. He has a plan with a future and hope that we cannot produce naturally but must be instigated in us. God allows discomfort to produce the purpose hidden under comfort, complacency and compromise. Ever say, “Why me?” Because God loves you too much to allow you to be anything less than the masterpiece that He designed you to be. He will produce pressure in our life to motivate us to move from our current situation into His Glory. The testing of our faith produces patience. The Lord does not gauge our process by our cries and complaints, it is all based on the purpose hidden in our heart trying to get out. The perfect work of patience is completion. Jesus will not leave you lacking or incomplete. He designed us to be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Is that you today? Are you completely satisfied with your life? Are you lacking nothing? If not, press in, be patient, and by all means do not give up due to the minor irritation.

 

Matthew 7:6-8 (NKJV)

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

 

Are you casting your pearls before swine today? There is only one source of complete validation and purpose in our life. It is Jesus Christ. The Word of God planted in our heart must have time to couple with purpose and grow into God’s Plan. The world demands immediate gratification but Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” Do I want it right now or do I want forever? It is our choice if we live for today or if pursue forever. God does not force His Plan and Purpose on us but simply gives it to us along with enough grace to see it come to pass despite our human weakness and natural inability to finish what “we” start.

 

Ask and it will be given. When our son needed a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer, the insurance company denied us more than Peter did Jesus. Door after door slammed in our face. Rejection letter after rejection letter crumpled in the trash. I heard “I’m sorry” more than grieving widow or Catholic priest. But that didn’t cut it for me. My son was dying. Jesus told me that he would live and not die. The world was not lining up with God’s Word. I had to choose who I believed. Was there ever really a choice? I knocked until knocking turned to pounding over and over again. When I had exhausted every effort, I went to the Throne Room of God boldly yet broken. I remember it like it was yesterday. My strength was gone. I had done everything I could possibly do. I had exhausted all effort. All I had was this teeny, tiny promise given to me on my knees in a filthy bathroom. It started like a banner announcing the Grand Marshall of a parade. Now it was as small as a tiny fortune from a Chinese cookie held in desperation. I said, “You said that he would live and not die. Jesus, I am still holding on the promise. The rest is up to you.” End of prayer. End of me. Everything on the line for Jesus.

 

Have you stopped reaching? Are you no longer knocking? Have you forgotten His Promise? Have you walked away from purpose? Are you irritated? A bit agitated? Downright done? Do you have a thorn in your flesh today? If so, I have awesome news.

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

The world abhors weakness as it represents dying flesh. The Spirit flourishes in our weakness. Paul says in verse 7 right before this famous passage, “A thorn was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me…” Can the “thorn” in our flesh really be God’s Way of producing “priceless pearls” in us? Absolutely. If a pearl is purpose, it will require some irritation in order to produce patience in us. The mantle over us is our spiritual covering in Christ available by His Grace which is freely given to us. As it begins to cover those irritants and by choosing to wait for God’s Process to be complete, we allow something priceless to emerge. The masterpiece eluded to in Ephesians 2:8-10 that is created by His Grace when He saved us and grows by faith and confidence in His Plan and Purpose for us. It is not something we can do or build but is the working of God in us by His Spirit and the Truth. It is this mantle of grace that takes every grainy irritant in life and allows the Lord to makes something marvelous and beautiful out of it. This solidifies the truth that all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Our mantle came from the Father and was handed down to the Son just like Elijah gave Elisha his mantle with the warning that Elisha had asked a hard thing in requesting a double portion of God’s Power. The more of the Kingdom that you desire the greater the irritation and pressure it will cause in our life. Those who press in, press through and are patient under pressure will produce something of great worth with a life that was ordinary making it extraordinary.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

You are God’s Workmanship, His Handiwork and His Masterpiece. He created you with purpose, a future and a hope that sin tried to strip from you. He gave us grace in His Son, Jesus Christ who saved us when we put all our faith, hope and love into pursuing Him. I can do nothing to make my life any better than what it is outside of Jesus. I am capable of making better choices but have no idea how to be complete lacking no good thing. Anything good or even great that I can do or be is because of Christ in me. It means there will be pain, pressure and problems in order to create the irritation that I need to motivate change. Otherwise, I would gladly remain in the comfortable place of compromise and complacency because I am human. God loves me too much to leave me like that…

 

The largest naturally formed pearl ever found is the Pearl of Lao Tzu. It measures 9.45 inches and weighs a whopping 14 pounds. Put that on your necklace and wear it. It is worth $3.5 million. If you look at it, it is not round or perfectly shaped and suited for jewelry. Yet it is the pearl of greatest price in the world today. I wonder if sometimes we look at ourselves according to the world’s superficial standards rather than understanding it is the work within us that makes our life successful. I am a bit irritated today as I watch and wait for the next phase of God’s Promise to unfold. He gave me His Word yet again, and I am gripping it in my hand refusing to let go. I cannot judge my process by the world’s projections. It is not up to anyone else or even me to complete me – it is the work of grace becoming the mantle of my life. If I refuse to give up, press in and persevere, every promise will be mine. I will have the pearl of great price. I will find my treasure. He will fulfill my purpose and make me His Masterpiece. His Name is Jesus.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NKJV)

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.