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.”

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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.

River Run through Me

River Run Through Me

John 7:38-39 (NIV)

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

What does it mean that there will be “rivers of living water” flowing from within? Do you ever take a nugget of truth from the Word of God and just mull over it? Joshua 1:8 tell us to “keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” What is the outcome of such a process? “Then you will be prosperous and successful.” It’s true. I have experienced such the outcome of the process by which knowledge becomes wisdom and its positive attributes in my life outside of the Kingdom. That’s right. I have applied knowledge obtained in the Word of God that has produced positive worldly outcomes. It is sound wisdom. It has the power to right our life into a pattern of continual success and beneficial outcomes. Godly knowledge gives us everything pertaining to life. (2 Peter 1:3) Even though faith seems illogical and hope elusive, the knowledge that is given to us has tangible benefits when applied properly to our life. This requires taking a practical look through the Word of God rather than always making it theological. In fact, I believe the more practical our approach to truth and godliness, the more complete is the river that runs through us.

 

Living water is produced by the Holy Spirit. What does He use? He uses our life and the Word of God to create a flowing source within us. To think that the Holy Spirit is going to inhabit our heart and change everything without anything from us is ridiculous. It is the process by which we take the knowledge of God that we are born with…yes born with…and turn it into wisdom. We were given godly knowledge in Eden. Eve chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  Upon doing so, she forced a choice to be made between good and evil that humanity just is not equipped to make. The tree of life was then barred from us to allow a sacrifice to be made, a perfect and sufficient offering, not only for the original sin but every other transgression born of human enlightenment. The Knowledge of God given to us from that moment on is in constant opposition with human nature infiltrated by sin and rebellion. Two radically different things offered in just one partaking. What will you choose today? I hope it is life.

 

Genesis 3:2-5 (NIV)

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

Take a deep breath. There is some heavy theology going on in this moment of time. When the Lord created us it was with a plan from beginning to end. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before you were born. (Psalm 139:16) He even hid Eternity in our heart to give His Children unfair advantage or at least that’s what I think. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Why didn’t Eve choose the Tree of Life? She had a portion of it in her already. She wanted what she did not have. The struggle is real. Godly knowledge turned to wisdom fueled by faith and confident hope makes us unstoppable. It also gives the ultimate choice between good and evil or life and death. The power is in our choice. Choice came from the Tree of Knowledge.

 

Before the incident in the Garden of Eden, we did not have to choose life because humanity already had it. Full power and dominion over the earth. All things under our complete and binding authority in control. We wanted a choice and boy oh boy did we get it. With the picture painted, let’s take it home to our heart. We ate from the Tree of Knowledge. His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us… Knowledge is power. It is the current of the living water ready to rush through us. The Living Water that Jesus spoke of begins in the Garden of Eden and carries us through life into Eternity to live in His Presence forever.

 

Revelation 22:1-5 (NIV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 

Genesis 2:8-10 (NIV)

 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

 

The river noted in Genesis which culminates in God’s Kingdom in Revelation is the living water that runs right through us. It is the Knowledge of God which is driven by His Spirit. We have the capacity to contain and become a conduit of living water if we pursue the Knowledge of God and turn it in to wisdom through application. We can experience the Glory of God described in Revelation when take hold of the Truth and become practical in its application. There is divine power and healing in the overflow of God’s Power in our life. Are you allowing the Living Water to flow through you today? Or is there something holding you up?

 

John 4:10-12 (NIV)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 

 

Where can you get this Living Water? Jesus goes on to tell the woman at the well, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) In the Name of Jesus, I break down every wall and dam in the Body of Christ so that the Spirit and Truth may flow freely through us. We have decided our doctrine and defined our religion. Some live by the Truth. Others strictly by the Spirit. Until we release the flow of Spirit and Truth in our own lives and allow it to run free and unrestricted through the Body of Christ knocking down every barrier, wall and obstruction to overtake us, our lives, families, homes, jobs and churches we will never experience the Divine Power that the Lord prepared for us and allows us to access through salvation.

 

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

 

Does the Truth have a place in our life? What is Truth? The Word of God is Truth. Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To accept Jesus Christ means fully accepting the Word of God. Any restriction we place on Truth in our life keeps Jesus from that area. Fear of the Lord is beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:6) Without a real and relevant perception of Who God really is, we will never understand the faith and hope that we have in Him nor will we ever be able to find our way back to Him. The Knowledge partaken of in the Garden was godly. The choice is whether or not to accept it as the Law of our life. We cannot just be readers but doers. We cannot be talkers and not walkers. It is Truth that defines who we are and what we are capable of as Children of the Living God.

 

I Corinthians 2:12-16 (NIV)

 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

 

The Holy Spirit is released to us through Jesus. We now have the Mind of Christ that takes God’s Word and allows us to apply it to our life effectively. I was saved at just eleven years old. I was taught that the Holy Spirit was essentially a “silent partner” in my life. The Book of Acts was not even opened but the Book of Hebrews worn thin. We were to have faith. Faith without truth is just as impossible as trying to apply Truth without the Spirit. I tried and failed for years. When I came back to the Lord and received the Holy Spirit, it all changed. Every nugget of Truth fell into a firm foundation of faith as Christ became real to me. His Spirit began to produce fruit that allowed me to survive and even thrive in trials and troubles rather than continuing to withdraw from my ever present help in time of need. To lack the Truth or the Holy Spirit does not allow us the knowledge to turn to wisdom or the power to change within.

 

Psalm 34:8-11 (NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Knowledge is power. It is life. His Spirit takes godly knowledge and applies it to the production of spiritual fruit in our life that feeds our soul. Our soul will never prosper and seek life until it is fed by both. It is the only way a true worshipper who fears the Lord arises from our broken and faulty human state.

 

We all know John 3:16 and some know John 3:17-18, too. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  If we want to make complete the knowledge that was only tasted of in the garden, it requires pursing knowledge. Not just any understanding, but the divine character of God. He sent His Son to us. His Son who was the Word wrapped in human flesh. When He died, it was Jesus’ flesh that was consumed leaving only His Spirit. He rose from the grave and handed us the Keys to His Kingdom. Those same keys taken when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden barring them from life. The Tree of Life is now available and accessible again. It is simply a choice to know God and walk in His Ways a choice effected by our choice to desire knowledge. When we seek godly knowledge through Jesus Christ and make it the wisdom that guides us, we are allowed to enter the Kingdom again. We also are able to bring the Kingdom to this world as Living Water from Eden to Eternity begins to flow through us and saturate the world.

 

It all comes down to our choice. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” We asked to have the freedom to choose, now it is up to us to make the choice. The thing about truth is that you can never go back to believing a lie because ignorance is gone and so is its bliss. You have been given godly knowledge from Eden which makes Eternity up to you.

 

Proverbs 2:1-5 (NIV)

My son, if you accept my words   and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

 

I am reminded today of the river running through me. It is my choice to feed it what I will. Will I infuse it with Truth, His Spirit and allow wisdom to decide its flow or will I pollute it with things of lesser power. Will I allow the worries and cares of life to restrict its flow? Will I allow sin to clog it up? Will I choose disobedience that will divert the flow? Will I choose comfort and complacency which will cause me to become stagnant? The River of Life running through me should flow from Eden to Eternity. I must get out of the way. When I do, I will prosper as my soul does. Not only that, but every other person I come in contact with has the potential to grow from its overflow. The River running through me is watered by the Word, and filtered by His Spirit. Let your Living Water flow through me today Lord!

 

Psalm 46:1-4 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

AMEN!

Amen

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV)

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

From everlasting to everlasting…forever. Man equates time between a birth and death certificate and the line positioned between two dates on a grave. Life is not equated as the time we live naturally but spiritually. This timeframe is called forever. Our soul was created before birth and remains long after the body dies. If we could take the image of our life, its potential and purpose, stretching it from the beginning of time into eternity, it might allow us to experience all the possibilities found in the Everlasting God who we serve. He created an everlasting covenant. The Lord offers it to each person. Everyone makes their own choice. Doing nothing to earn it or deserve it, we choose in each “amen”.

There is a sign on my wall that reads, “Think Outside The Box.” I wonder what might happen if people really did think outside the box, the pine box that will mark their demise, the limitation that life puts on time, and the perception that it really doesn’t matter how we live as all are trapped by fate. I don’t believe it. I choose to believe that my life was made to be from everlasting to everlasting. Reaching out to God, I desire to claim the promise of forever with a life of “amens”.

The Lord desires to make us complete in every good work to do His Will. He is working in us what is pleasing in His Sight as His Love, Grace and Mercy overtake us. Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life that allows us to step out of fate and into forever. We are born dying. Sin is a congenital. We are born in sin and therefore, sentenced to die. All have fallen short of the Glory of God and His Glorious Standard of Living. The wages of sin are death but the Gift of God is eternal, everlasting life in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) God’s Love gave us His Son. Our response to His Love determines the boundaries of our life. “Amen” means it is so or so be it. It is to agree as an expression of strong approval and support. There is nothing that we do with it other than that. We can do nothing to earn this tremendous and invaluable gift that we have been given other than accept it. Good thing, because we struggle with that. Amen in Hebrew translates to “firm and hence also faithful.” To accept the everlasting, our response is “amen”.

I Chronicles 16:34-36 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. And say, “Save us, O God of our salvation; Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your Holy Name, to triumph in Your Praise.” Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

Will you say “amen” today? No matter what is going on around you and what your circumstances may be, will you stand firm and hence also faithful to the Lord in all things. This is to accept the terms of covenant that are available in the Lord. The Lord established an everlasting covenant in the days of Noah. (Genesis 9:12-17) He promised never to destroy the earth and its people again. This covenant was perfected in Jesus Christ now everyone has the opportunity to escape death and live forever. Amen takes God up on His Offer and allows us to live in covenant each day. It is to continue in the promise made at the point of salvation and continue in righteousness.

We are not entering into a promise with a mere mortal but rather the Everlasting God. He is constant. (Psalm 90:1-2) Amen. God’s Authority and Power are everlasting. (Psalm 93:1-2) Amen. God’s Love and Mercy are never ending. (Psalm 100:4-5) Amen. God’s Word is forever true and unchanging. (Psalm 103:15-18) Amen. His Righteousness (Integrity) is eternal so that we can be confident that God does not lie or change His Mind. (Psalm 119:142) Amen. The Lord is always leading us to forever. (Psalm 139:23-24) Amen. His Kingdom is everlasting and not based on this world’s opinion or outcomes. (Psalm 145:13) Amen.

One’s ability to live in Christ is not based on an activity or action. Religion does not get you to God or allow access to Eternity. You are given the privilege of God’s Presence by accepting His Love completely allowing one’s heart, mind, body and soul to say, “Amen”. We live in Christ simply by acceptance. To take His Love and apply it to our entire life and learn to say every day in every situation, “Amen” to our Everlasting God, His Everlasting Covenant, and His Everlasting Love.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.  Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.

Can you say today with a willing heart, “Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”? Totally releasing every natural and human expectation to accept the Will of the Everlasting God completely and totally. There is freedom in this choice but it is a battle to get there. It strips us of all pretense as we see the Lord God for who He is Everlasting, All Mighty, Superpower, Sovereign, Relentless and Unchanging both now and forevermore. The prayer given to us by Jesus is simple in format but significant and complex in each word. Do we live in complete submission and total respect for the Name of God? Do we really want His Kingdom to come or do we love this life more? Do we want His Will or our own personal wants? Do we depend on the Lord to provide giving seed to the sower so we give our life away without regard? Do we forgive? Do we avoid temptation, sin and compromise? Do we live as though His Kingdom is forever? Do we desire His Kingdom Power and Glory forever beginning with today? Amen. This is the response that God is looking for which means “firm and hence also faithful.”

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV)

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”

God has desired an everlasting covenant with you from the very beginning. He placed Eternity in our heart. He recorded every moment of our life before our birth to ensure that we would have multiple opportunities to give our heart to Jesus and live in a state of “amen”. He offers us His Kingdom. Yet, we live paying for things that are given to us by God. We cannot simply accept what we are offered but find a way to make it harder than it really is. When I say “amen” and live for this world – it is an empty, fruitless response. It is to misuse the word and opportunity so graciously given on the Cross. Amen is a declaration of affirmation. It is the opportunity to live in an everlasting covenant by accepting the Everlasting God and His Everlasting Promises. Those who do will be given perfect peace and everlasting strength to hang on until eternity comes. (Isaiah 26:3-4) The Lord is drawing us into His Everlasting Love. (Jeremiah 31:3) What is our response today? Do we want His Kingdom? Do we want what God wants for us? Do we expect exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask? Jesus is called the Everlasting Father. (Isaiah 9:6) He is the everlasting foundation on which our life builds fulfillment and satisfaction rather than regret and disappointment. (Proverbs 10:25)

It takes one word. It is a simple response. We just need to say amen and mean it. In all things, amen. In the highs, amen. In the lows, amen. In the waiting, amen. In every situation along with every circumstance, we say, “Amen.” Those who do accept “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort for your hearts and establish every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) So today, Lord, I say let your Kingdom come. Let Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. You are my Provider who supplies all that I need so I can give those things tangible and intangible to those around me. I step out of my comfort zone called this world and step out by faith on the firm foundation of Christ and say, “Amen!”

Psalm 41:13 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

An Honorable Life

An Honorable Life

I Peter 2:15-17 (NLT)

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

When I read this verse this morning, it struck a chord inside of my heart. It is God’s Will for us to live an honorable life. It is His Will for us to live a life that should silence ignorant people. I think every believer wonders what God’s Will is for their life. It is elusive as it does not come in the form of clear cut instructions without wavering opinions. How can I truly know what His Will is for me and if I am doing it or not? If you are truly pursing Christ with your life, this has to come up from time to time. We are born with potential, promise and purpose filling us to capacity. The trick is learning to facilitate its growth, development and maturity until it makes a difference in our life. I blame those dang Sea Monkeys from my youth for making us think that life processes take 24 hours or less to produce tiny kingdoms of incredible creatures. It was a lie. They were actually brine shrimp. From that moment on, every process in our life was hastened. When it was learned that cows would produce milk faster if injected with bovine growth hormone to mature more quickly, dairies jumped on board. Great idea! Profits are up! Woo hoo! Oh and little girls now develop more quickly for some reason, too. That is another story for another day. We now have drive-thru windows for everything possible. No need to stop or slow down. Social media makes it possible to share life without ever seeing each other. Texting allows us to communicate without ever talking. I could go on but I think you get the point. God calls us to live honorable lives. The Word of God says that it is His Will. I need to get on it.

Honor is to hold in honor or high respect. To treat with honor. To confer honor and distinction upon. To worship .To be courteous. I really like this one… to accept as valid and conform to the request. To live an honorable life is to live honoring Jesus Christ. The one who we honor with our life because He gave it to us. There is only One who we worship and that is Him. We must evaluate our integrity in this area to know if we are doing God’s Will. If we give our life to honor the Lord and do His Will, it will not happen in a minute or overnight. He is quite clear in His Instruction that it is only those who endure to the end who are saved. Raise your hand if you want that to be you. Well, you better hang on tight because it will be a fight to live the honorable life.

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.

 

God has planted eternity in the human heart. He planted it which means it is a seed not grown or fully developed yet. What do you think that bit of eternity might be? It is our faith. Our potential, promise and purpose begins with the tiniest seed of faith that grows into confident hope and spiritual maturity that strengthens our relationship with Jesus and binds us in the Kingdom. God makes everything beautiful in its own time. Not our time, but the time prescribed for each thing. It was already established in verses 1-8 that everything has a season and time. Those who tap into this truth and believe it will successfully live honorable lives because timing is everything. No really it is. We are living according to a plan. God recorded every moment of our life in the process of creation. This is important because in doing so He provided everything we needed when we need it to do what He is preparing us to do. By doing the Will of God and following the Way of the Lord, we experience the provision and blessing that He prescribed for our life. He does not withhold any good thing from us but when we go our own way it is our own fault that we missed out on it. Somebody will tap into this and when they do, their life is going to change. Lord, let that person be me. Nothing new exists on the earth. Even our mistakes are provided for by the Blood of Jesus and our failure today is covered in the mercy that arrived this morning well-proportioned for my need. All we must do is work the plan by honoring God with our life.

Luke 6:45 (NLT)

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

The condition of our heart is the beginning of true honor. Our relationship with the Lord matters. Some only ask Jesus to be their Savior, so they call on Him for rescue purposes and special needs but do not make Him Lord. They have no honor. Others call Him Lord as a means to an end, so they can rob the Kingdom of God through selfish obedience. The Word of God is taught but not adhered to in their life. They live for God to increase themselves. It works. God blesses our obedience. He increases those who do what the Word says even when their heart is not right. It is those who decide to call on Jesus and “make Him” the Lord of their life in their heart for the express purpose of finding Him that truly honor the Lord. Those who love Him. The ones who recognize that this world has nothing for them and their live will be counted as garbage if His Name is not honored with their very existence. I honor my husband in love by being faithful to only him. I have taken his name to tell the world that my heart and life on earth belongs to him. It is up to me to honor him with my life. I do not have a marriage of convenience. He is not my sugar daddy (or savior). He is does not require me to do things in order to share his resources (so he does not lord over me). I have submitted my life to my husband because I love him. I have surrendered my life to Christ for the very same reason. Honoring Christ for any other reason than love may increase our natural life but it does nothing to produce a relationship.

Romans 12:9-18(NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Riddle me this, in a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the chicken and the pig? Well that’s easy, the cow was involved but the pig was committed. Romans 12 begins by encouraging believers to be living sacrifices. We decide whether we are involved or committed by the amount of our life that we give back to the Lord. Will we give some or will we give our all? What if we carefully considered God’s Will in every single choice we make in a single day? You know the proverbially question on millions of silicone bracelets given out all over the world asking, “What would Jesus do?” Well, see it seemed silly but really if true surrender of our life as a living sacrifice to the Lord is what we are after and if our goal is marriage to Christ rather than just a friendship or dating, it is time to step up our game from casual involvement to total commitment.

God requires us to love Him with all of our soul, mind and body. Jesus takes it one step further and asks that we love others the same way. To honor Christ with our life is to love others… all others even the unlovable and downright nasty. It is to be committed to building a Kingdom that cannot be seen with our eyes but experienced (for now) in our hearts.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Peace comes from living an honorable life. As we learn to do God’s Will and bring honor in our daily lives, it creates unity between our life and the Kingdom of God. Living to please God in our attitude and actions eliminates the need for other people’s approval and affirmation so we can love them without expectation of reciprocation. Their opinion no longer matters when we know who we are in Christ. Just ask Jabez. (I Chronicles 4:9-10) We cannot honor the Lord without honoring His Name in our everyday life with other people. We must walk in humility and love no matter what we encounter. Work as unto the Lord in all endeavors. This is the commitment that produces an honorable life making us a useful utensil in the Lord’s Hands. (2 Timothy 2:20-21) The one the Lord is using is always in His Hands. Be committed today to live an honorable life. Examine your heart as I do mine for anything that might not be conducive to the Kingdom of God. Look around at your life and determine if there are areas that need reprioritizing and surrendering the Lordship of Christ. Make Him your Savior. Call Him your Lord. Commit to live an honorable life!

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.