Four No More

Four No More

I Peter 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

I could blame it on a hectic and chaotic week or admit I am no spring chicken, either is fine. My usual Saturday routine is wrecked. Usually up before everyone else to spend time with the Lord and get a jump on the day, I dragged myself out of bed much later than most weekends. With my usual schedule disrupted, I tried to gather my thoughts and filter them into an organized list. Saturdays are the one opportunity to do everything that you cannot incorporate into the work and church flow that orders our everyday life. The disciplines in my life allow me to maintain some level of control. (Written with a chuckle or laugh.) I no longer fancy myself in control of this summation of time called life but rather have finally decided each day is simply a new opportunity filled with moments and increments of time to be invested. I know that God has a plan so I loosely hold on to my timeline and prepare for the inevitable interruptions along the way. But I digress…

For those who do not know me, during the week I begin my day around 4:30 AM. Shuffling out of bed stumbling through the darkness, I grab our fur baby – feed her and take her out while the microwave brews the detox tea. With power bar and banana juggling my tea, I then head to my study to enter my prayer closet and spend time with the Lord. On the weekend, the routine is the same just a couple hours later. But not today…today was different. I woke up two hours later. Put on the tea and took care of the fur baby. But before heading to that quiet place, I decided to start a load of laundry. The machines were enshrouded in hanging clothes so retrieving mine I went to the closet to put them away. Trying to find them a place in the midst of the plethora of clothing crammed, I made an impulsive decision to finally get rid of all the pants that don’t fit. I used to be a size four. I am a size four no more.

I will not bore you with the details of my plundering but I will admit that I have not been a size four for quite some time. I have only worn that size once in my life a few years ago. Now some may say – oh man she fell off the wagon. Yes, I fell alright but not off the wagon but an impressive elliptical at the local gym. My fall was not physical but mental instead. I began working out halfway through our son’s illness. Walking for the first year or so gave my clarity and time to talk to the Lord about our journey. It was during the downtime of the battle or in between treatments. Our son is an adult so I am quite certain he welcomed those times of independence and solace from doctor’s and mom’s poking and prodding. I was in the gym a lot during those times and would run on that poor machine until my head was clear, mind at peace and heart still again. It was a long journey. It felt like running up the steep side of the mountain. But this is not about that journey (okay maybe a little) but when I was exercising to benefit my mind, something crazy happened to my body. I melted to a size four. What is ironic is that for my whole life I have struggled with my body image, but during that time my heart and mind was set on healing and nothing else. For God’s Word to come to pass, I was just doing what I needed to benefit my heart and mind. I got healthy – go figure. Well, our son is healed and living his life as it should be. I no longer am fighting a battle within myself and my body is a four no more.

What I realized this morning is, though maintaining my health is important, I do not expect to be a size four anymore. I am quite fine with a solid six. I am so certain that I am gathering all the smaller clothing to post online. Somebody will get a new wardrobe for mere pennies…any takers? Well, God as usual was using this exercise to show me something important. To release limitation in my life comes at the price of human expectation. I must examine my life and ask some pointed questions. Do I want an ordinary life or an extraordinary existence? Do I desire the natural or am I set on the supernatural? Do I settle for face value or will I wait to obtain vested interest? There is a difference. Life is filled with opportunities. They look the same but have great potential according to the mindset of each person. The probability of earthly success is measured by hard work and motivation. Spiritual success is to move the asset called your life into the person named Jesus Christ. The details of the natural for all are the same. The conditions may be different but everyone has a mind, soul and body to do with as they will. You will find many successful and wealthy people who have terrible health habits and horrible mental capacity. Though they prosper in business they are failing at other things. There are many people who lack financial success who are amazing athletes with sharp mental aptitude. Their focus is on health and strive for longer life through making good choices for their body. Though their body is flawless, a few bad choices may lead to the end of the life that was otherwise fit enough to live a hundred years. I have been given the freedom as an American to live my life how I choose. I have been given freedom in Christ to pursue His Kingdom. My life is my opportunity.

Proverbs 8:27-31 (NLT) I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!

I am going to let you in on a little secret – in Proverbs 8 wisdom who is speaking is actually Jesus. He hints at His True Identity in these words and no I cannot back it up with a whole lot of resources but I know it is Him. I know Him. He was with God in the beginning. His Hand is part of all creation. Everything exists through Him the Spoken Word of God. Jesus came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love to us. He lives with God forever seated at the right-hand side of God with all power and authority in heaven and earth. This is important. Remember it. Jesus is God’s Constant Delight. Christ lives in us. God also delights in us. Oh wait, “how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!”

God created the world with limitation. He established the boundaries of heaven and earth. He marked the line of the horizon which divides night and day visibly. He put the clouds in the sky. He limited the depth of springs. He set limits for the sea so they could not spread beyond the boundary. He plumbed the earth’s foundations. Jesus was the architect at his side. But when God created mankind it was different. He set us up differently with the potential of an unlimited life. Genesis 1:28 – he gave us the ability to increase, be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth. It is our potential. He planned it and decreed it for His Human family. Sin came to call and humanity chose it. However, God wasn’t done with us. In Genesis 8, though God was angry with the world so He wiped it clean, He found goodness and grace for Noah. He was pleased with this man’s sacrifice so he said, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think is evil”…”As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” The place where you are standing right now is blessed. There is potential in the real estate of your life whether you realize it or not. The situation you are in may seem limited. The conditions adverse to growth and prosperity. But the Word, the Jesus in you is much greater than that. In creation, you were ordained for prosperity from the inside out. When sin took over the world, God blessed the very ground you walk on. You work the land and there will be growth and increase despite our inability to be perfect. The Grace of Jesus Christ and His Blood allows the growth potential of Heaven to live in us and so what is limited to the natural can give way to supernatural because Jesus has all power and authority over every boundary in our life. The ordinary can release extraordinary if we just take the time to work the place we are whether than envying the greener pasture next door. Everything I need to prosper is in me and around me – the only possible limitation is me.

Proverbs 10:28 (NLT) The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.

Hope is the expectation of the godly. Hope is not what we see but faith in the unseen reality of our life in Jesus Christ. I cannot see heaven but I have the keys to it. The first one is labeled faith and it has the powerful potential to unlock every promise of God beginning in Genesis 1:28 including every promise from Genesis to Revelation and ultimately that place called Eternity I am destined for and strive for every day. Faith in God makes all things possible but I must believe. During our journey with our son, I got a tattoo. I can hear some of you gasping. There are times when I must cover it as not to offend the religious and that’s okay, too. I did not get it for you. I got it for me. I needed to remember that this whole journey called life is about faith that produces hope. When I look at my wrist, I see the word “faith”. If I extend my arm, you will see the word “hope”. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome of this endeavor, whether God healed our son medically, miraculously or even mercifully taking him home – it was all about faith and confident hope. This would be the journey that changed my life forever. It was the battle that once overcome I experienced true fulfillment like Peter that day when Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” I know Jesus. Everything has changed. Human expectation has melted into the spiritual realization that things of this world really don’t matter. I have absolutely no control over the situations, conditions or circumstances that rise up in my life but I do have the power to overcome and experience His Glory in each outcome.

Hope is the inexpressible joy that many search for and never find because it is not an outward accumulation but an inward uprising. It is the prospering soul transitioning from earthlike expectation to holy inspiration breathing in Christ and expelling doubt and fear along with it. Just like my husband has always loved me no matter what size my body is – Jesus love is far greater than any limitation that I face or boundary built before me. It is in His Love that I overcome every obstacle of faith. It allows me to plant in tears and still sow joy. It is the kind of faith and hope that gives God time and freedom to work all things together for my good and His Glory so I keep myself in the race for faith and fight the things that come against it. I know God will do it. I have experienced it.

So today I am a four no more and truly I am okay with it. I am emptying my closet to make room for the size that fits. I am okay with that. I will still work to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a good steward of my physical health. I have stopped evaluating my image by a human standard. Is there a closet or two that need to be cleaned out in our hearts and minds today? Do I need to make more room for faith and hope to expand and take over new areas of my life? Human expectations create the limits and mark boundaries around us. They give increase in size to the obstacles that we face. God is greater than our feelings. Perfect love casts out all fear. We have nothing to lose but a Kingdom to gain in our personal life and in the realm of influence called our life. Is it time to stop shaking the keys to the Kingdom trying to scare the enemy off or use them to open the door to God’s Presence running boldly and confidently before His Throne?

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Deep in conversation with someone the other day, I shared with her the simplest truth about faith secured in the love of Christ. I have come to a place in my life where I don’t have to argue religion or the relevance of Jesus Christ. I know Jesus lives in me. I am confident enough not to need anyone else opinion to confirm or deny. I know Jesus loves me. I know His Way is the best way for my life. I know that even if I died to discover there was no truth to heaven or eternity that my life is significantly better just by believing anyway.

I “know” that I will not be a size four again. If I do somehow stumble my way back into it – God will supply all that I need to walk in it and wear it. Just as I am cleaning out my closet of unwanted clothing, I must examine the expectation in my life to determine if it is limited by my human condition or if it is spiritually secured in the Love of God. God calls us His Precious Treasure. He promises an inheritance that is secured in Heaven. This does not mean that I must wait for eternity. It means that I must connect my natural and spiritual life to be mutually conducive rather than ultimately exclusive. (Matthew 6:10; 16:19) We must live in constant faith and confident hope every day for entrance into eternity. Our life does not have to be limited to the natural. It does not have to be ordinary. It is not God’s Plan for us. It is not His Way. It is a choice. We must learn to stop limiting our life by human expectation and yield our life’s capacity to the Lord so He can complete our life by His Design giving us the fullness of life and power that He promised.

Can I just encourage you today? God really is working every detail of your life for your good and His Glory? He is offering daily opportunities to release your natural expectation and increase your expectancy in Him. Focus on faith today. Do you believe that the Lord can and will do more than you can think to ask for? Explore new regions of hope that extend beyond the boundaries and obstacles of your natural life. Consider the impossibilities in your life. God will make them possible according to His Will and Word. Faith and hope are the evidence of believing that must be a daily consideration. The limits placed on our life are natural. God gave us everything needed to prosper from the very beginning and to have a blessed life. Jesus came and handed us the Keys to His Kingdom so now not only do we have all of His Resources but He lives in us empowering us to overcome all barriers and obstacles to have a complete and full life. We can find overwhelming satisfaction in this life and forever. Release those natural expectations today and let the Lord fill you with new revelation that will increase your faith and fortify your hope. The best is yet to come!

I John 3:2-3 (NLT) Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

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Greater Expectation

greater-expectation

Philippians 1:20-22 (NLT) For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

What do you expect? Expectation is what we look forward to as likely to happen. It is the outlook of our life based on what we believe to be possible. Anticipation of the future and of what is to come. To expect is to consider the future according to reason or justification. Those who fully expect and hope in the Lord will never be ashamed. Yet I struggle on a daily basis to keep my full expectation secure by hope that is fully confident in Jesus Christ, my Lord. Maybe you do too…

Sunday evenings are filled with expectation. Monday is just a night’s sleep away. I have some expectations today. I am planning to get up early and spend time with the Lord. I will get ready for work. My intention is to pack up my youngest daughter and drop her off on the way. I will leave a little early to go to a doctor’s appointment. After that, I will head to the house to prepare dinner and do a load of laundry. I am anticipating the return of my husband from a hunting trip. I hope to spend the remainder of the evening curled up on the couch with my IPad and little fur baby sleeping on my lap. I know that these are all reasonable expectations based on my routine and scheduled events. But I believe God is calling me to greater expectation then that of an ordinary life. He invites me to consider an even bigger purpose then that of woman, wife, mother, employee and patient. To consider the impossibilities of tomorrow and think about a future of forever rather than in increments of a moment, day, week, month or year. To broaden my perspective of the here and now to eternity with Him.

Each day there is a basket of expectations on our arm when the sun rises and the day begins. Setting out on this journey called life, there are many obstacles, hindrances and trials to be faced which can certainly be overcome if one is willing to release the fruit of human expectation to receive the Spirit of Expectation that comes from the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus invites us to yoke our life with Him so that He can carry our burdens and empower us to live empowered existences. How many times do refuse to release our will, way and words contradictory to His Way, His Wil and His Word? Today the Lord invites us to let go of human ideas, notions and thoughts to take a step higher considering the view from the top. To see our life as God sees it, planned it and provided for it. To stop using our expectation for what is inevitable to take hold of hope in that is bold and confident – life changing and Kingdom building.

2 Kings 5:9-14 (NLT) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

Every time I read the story of Naaman, I am convicted to my core. Naaman was an army commander. God gave King Aram great victories through him. Naaman was a mighty warrior, but he suffered from leprosy. We all have something a condition, a mindset, a problem or even a sickness to overcome. There is a victory just out of reach that will require more than our personal ability and rely solely on our dependency on God through Jesus Christ. Pride may tell you otherwise but like the little women with an issue she could not overcome – something will drive us to our knees that brings us to the hem of His Beautiful Garment. Anyway…

One day a young girl given to Naaman’s wife as a servant said to her, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of leprosy.” So she shared this information with her husband who went to King Aram. The king sent a letter of introduction with a large gift to the King of Israel asking him to heal Naaman. The King of Israel read the letter and was distraught. Fear struck him that it was a trick and there could be a war. Elisha heard of his king’s dilemma and said, “Why are you upset? Send Naaman to me and he will learn that there is a true prophet in Israel.” So here we are now.

Of note, the young girl did not say go to kings and government but rather go to the prophet. How many detours did Naaman take to get there already? How many distractions lead me from the King of Kings? When I decide to seek from the world what only the Lord can do for me, my expectation will not be met? It will only lead to disappointment. Finally Naaman made it to the prophet who would not come out to see the esteemed commander but gave him simple instructions. “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” Naaman made a grand appearance on the doorstep of Elisha to be told to go wash in the dirtiest river in the town. Naaman did not expect such an event or occurrence. He expected the prophet to wave his hand over him and he would be healed. “So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.” Freeze frame…stop for just a minute and consider all that happened so far.

Human pride and logic are not beneficial when seeking anything from God. In fact, our emotions can often keep us from realizing godly expectation. Humility before the Lord is a requirement to exchange ordinary results for supernatural experiences. God is not satisfied with just healing our body, making our life a little better or short term results. He is planting seeds of righteousness to grow into true repentance, soul satisfaction and completion in you His Masterpiece. Naaman wanted God to meet his expectation – his way. God will never lower His Glorious Standard to meet my meager expectation.

2 Kings 5:13-15 (NLT) But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed! Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

Thank you Lord for the messengers. Those regular people placed in our everyday life to offer encouragement and direction when our spirit will not listen or obey. You know the saying, “the bigger they are the harder they fall.” Naaman was a man of authority. He gave orders to his men and they did what he said out of obedience. He was not comfortable with the role of servant. To listen and obey doing it God’s Way rather than his own. It almost cost him the one thing that he desired the most. Is pride keeping you from living a life of expectation? Are there opportunities for faith to become confident hope overlooked by the Lord’s method called humility? I am going to tiptoe and limp away from this passage as I know some of you might too…

Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT) John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else? Who would have thought that John the Baptist would have questioned the very one who he proclaimed to be coming and now was here? John was in prison. He could smell the stench of death approaching and his hopes were fading in the dingy cell. Life didn’t turn out as he expected so he called out to the Lord. Is it really you? He is not alone in his wondering and wandering. Blessed are those who believe without seeing is tough to a creature driven by its five senses to survive. When life does not meet my expectation, it is not because Jesus is not who He said that is or has proven be but my failure to believe without seeing.

The Messiah was not as they expected so many never answered the call. The Lord already told us that His Ways are higher than our ways and His Thoughts up there, too. Yet human nature bases most of its anticipation on today, tomorrow, next week or next year. We plan for retirement but do not think about the day we die. If we do, it is in funeral planning and expenses not in resurrection life. “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)

I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Faith can only take me as far as I am willing to trust Jesus Christ. The momentum of faith is confident hope. It must be secured in the Lord to secure my soul forever. This is my great expectation. It is through trials and tests that my faith is refined and other lesser expectation is removed. This makes room for confident hope that through faith gives me entrance to the Presence of God and ability to experience Heaven on earth. God’s Will for my life is His Glory to be manifested in all things. I must hope for Him and trust the Lord for this to become a reality of faith.

Does hope really matter? Absolutely. Hope in the Lord will keep me from those deliberate and willful sins that keep me from Eternity. (Hebrews 10:26-29) Confident hope puts my faith and hope in Christ alone through a series of choices when I must decide at the crossroads of life who to trust. Divided loyalty is not Kingdom stability therefore worth nothing at all to me in the future. (James 1:6-8) I must learn to put all my faith, hope and trust in the Lord so I may be found “in” Christ when it matters most.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NLT)  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

What do you expect? What do you anticipate for your life today and in the future? Does your life reflect such trust and devotion? If you have decided to seek eternal life through Jesus Christ, are you fully invested in pursuing the Lord? Are you willing to give up your way? To push past pride? To do whatever it takes to come to Him boldly each day handing over your expectation to have His Way? See many of us are like Naaman, who when God didn’t do it his way, almost missed his blessing completely. Has God given you simple instructions that require a total sacrifice of pride? Are you willing to make it? Giving up our way is hard. Devoting our desires to the Lord and trusting Him to meet them is hard when our five senses cannot perceive the reality of our faith. Faith is not blind. Faith means pursuing the Lord including His Way, His Will and His Word in Spirit and Truth every day. Even those days when nothing goes right or maybe we think God is asking too much. To place all of our expectation in Jesus Christ is to discover full satisfaction. If you do not have perfect peace and inexpressible joy, there might be a hidden holdout in your heart that must be laid at His Feet again. It will be worth it. Expect the Lord today. Expect His Voice to speak to you. His Spirit to instruct and guide you. His Goodness to overtake you. His Unfailing Love to surround you. Let the Lord fill you with greater expectation today. After all, He will do more than you can even think to ask. This is the Source of Life called confident hope.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Basic

Slice of fresh white bread

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NLT) So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

American pop culture uses the term “basic” to describe anyone or anything lacking originality. It could mean the predictable nature of certain people. Those who are plain or normal lacking individuality who rely on trends to tell them who they are, what they like and dictating what they do. In many connotations, it is a derogatory term used as a slight against another person. It is a popular term used among high schoolers and I see it among posts of young people. Though it is usually not meant with malicious intent, I cannot help but wonder if we label ourselves with words that limit us in the end. I am not basic. I am a masterpiece created by God with a purpose that no one can accomplish but me. I am His Treasure and no one can replace me in His Coffer. I am His Child. As a mom, I can attest. I have five children. I could not bear the thought of losing one of them and just because I have more doesn’t make one of the replaceable. I believe that when the Lord looks at us – He does not see who we are in this life but what we can become immersed in His Presence and according to His Kingdom.

Let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Basic. There is that word again. Could today’s church be labeled “basic”? The “church” is the Body of Christ which we are a part so does that mean we are basic, too? Basic is fundamental. Are we stuck on fundamentals and missing out on future promises? I don’t want to remain basic, but I desire fulfillment in the Lord. We must evaluate our life and the simplicity in which we live it. People engage in that which is most important. Investing time and energy into our marriage, children, families and friends it is obvious the importance of those around us by the contribution made to them. The same may be said of further our influence and advancement in one’s career, earnings, and socioeconomic status. Great attention is given to the appearances in our life. It matters to us what other people see and how they perceive it. With all this in mind, do we give any portion of our life to become mature in our understanding when it comes to Jesus Christ or are we basic Christians?

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

Fundamentals. God gives us grace. He understands second chances. I believe when He evaluates our life it is according to the intent of the human heart and not necessarily the outcomes along the way. He is looking at the fruit of our life not the bush that surrounds it. Seeds must die to their original form once planted in the cold, dark ground. The tiny seedling must push back against the pressure of the earth holding it down to emerge in the sun and begin to change form. As it grows tiny buds form both leaves and blossoms. The leaves will cover the newly forming buds that will one day produce fruit. Many plants take many seasons to perfect the fruitful reproductive plan and purpose that God created them for. We are no different.

It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened. Some make this verse the premise of the doctrine once saved…always saved. However, it is not that easy. I was saved at eleven years old. I wanted Jesus Christ to come live in my heart and be my Savior and Lord. I did not fully understand what it meant or how to become who God created me to be, but my heart was in the right place. I would foray back and forth from wilderness to wonder until I “experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come.” Once it all came together, I can never go back. It doesn’t mean that I am perfect. I sin all the time reluctantly. I don’t want to hurt the Lord – honestly it just happens sometimes. We must move past basic Christianity and fundamentally functioning to walk in the Glory of God. It is His Desire for us to experience the “good things” of His Kingdom. He wants us to share intimacy with the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants us to taste His Word savoring its sweetness. In His Presence there is power of the age that is coming. How do we get there from here? Are you stuck in a rut? Is your life predictable? Is your praise, worship, prayer time and service the same? Is it basic?

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Are you living a rich and satisfying life? Right now. Today. Is there an abundance overflowing in your home, job and church? Is there a surplus for others? I didn’t think so. Most of the time this is not the case so we pour over the Word of God and return to the fundamentals over and over again looking to make this life better. Faith is for the unseen reality of God – it is not for today. The Lord has released us into “good pastures”. He has supplied all our needs. He has even given to us divinely what we need to serve Him wholeheartedly. God gives us a measure of faith to get started but what we do with that faith determines the harvest in our life. We must not give in to the temptation to continually turn the soil or till the ground but wait until it grows into God’s Plan for us.

Religiosity, tradition and overbearing doctrine are comfort zones that breed complacency as we become basic Christians rather than world changers and history makers. We do not plant seeds of faith that grow into righteous oaks but are artificial plants with pretty but inedible fruit. Who wants to bite into a fake apple or consume a plastic banana made in China? The Lord is looking at our hearts today. He is looking for those who are tired of the fundamentals and are ready for His Kingdom to come. God’s Kingdom is anything but basic. It is complex and complete. If we could just step over the boundaries of basic Christianity to enter the “good pastures” through Jesus Christ and keep walking – things would change. The enemy would stop messing up your life because He cannot enter what is dominated by Christ. You will begin to prosper in such a place. Your life will become rich and satisfying right where you are because Jesus Christ is in you.

Ephesians 3:19-21 (NLT) May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

I don’t want to be basic in life especially in my walk with Jesus Christ. I want every promise that He ever made me even if it means being tried and tested repeatedly. I want to be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from knowing God and becoming a part of His Kingdom forever. It is going to require some pushing and pressing until I feel the Son shining on my face. I must stop looking at life, love and happiness through the eyes of people and see with the Eyes of Christ. The Love of Jesus Christ is too great to fully understand, but I must at least try. The Lord is working in me and through me to accomplish through His Mighty Power INFINITELY MORE than (I) might ask or think. Meditate on that for a moment. Is the Power of God moving in your life today? I am not asking if all your problems are solved, ailments healed, or attitudes changed, but do you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that His Promises are “yes” and “amen” for you here and now? What we do will never motivate God to open His Hand and release His Blessings. It is and has always been all about Jesus Christ. He must be the Center of my Life. He must be the place I dwell each day to receive His Fulfillment. Life with Jesus is not basic. It is beautiful. Our life is a process. It should show progress. Today may not be the day of completion but it still holds the very thing we need to be successful. Let God be God. Be you. Love Him wholeheartedly. Seek Him with all your might. Wait until He comes. God has made everything beautiful in its own time. Timing is everything. Use that eternity (faith) in your heart today to connect with the Source of Life again. No season is wasted. It takes them all to produce fruit.

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.

Have You Asked?

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John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

My girls are known for strategically asking and making requests from us. They know what is more than likely a yes and then the odds of no for certain things. When it comes to the things that they want, they will be quick to tell you ask dad. He is much easier then mom who is often referred to as the “hammer”. I am commonly referred to as the “hammer” because I am able to say, “No”. My husband has such a soft heart for these kids. Despite the burly guy with the full beard, behind the façade of strength and toughness, there is a giant soft, squishy teddy bear. There are times when they will come straight to me and ask for what they want but when the stakes are high, they try to bypass me making it dad first. He is more likely to say, “Yes!”

Our Father in Heaven wants to bless us. He wants His Goodness to overflow as abundance in our daily life. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the one who allows us access to the Father’s Love and all its benefits. God has always loved us. He is constantly trying to make His Way closer to us bringing heaven to earth to connect with His Children. Do you believe that today? What we believe about God as a Father is often formed by our experience with our natural caregivers. Those who have experienced disappointment in natural parental relationships will extend these traits and characteristics to the Lord. There is a reason why we need the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts day by day. We need Him to change our mind so that we will approach the Throne of God with confidence and boldness as He has invited us to through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

I am overcome almost daily by a Savior and Lord who knows my weaknesses yet invites me to continually come boldly into His Presence asking for those I want, need and desire with full confidence that He will open His Hand and grant these pleasures evermore. (Psalm 16:11) The Holy Spirit points us in the right direction so we can walk in the Goodness of God. But sometimes we shrink back from God’s Hand fearful of the consequences of our failure and inability to live the perfect life. Afraid of disappointment – we avoid the Father and His Presence altogether.

Our youngest daughter is not limited by doors or partitions. When she was very young, she learned that she could unlock the door to almost any room in our house with a butter knife. So if someone locked her out, she would go to the kitchen and grab a “key”. She assumed she was welcome and the locked door did not apply to her. One morning while getting ready for church, my husband locked our bedroom door and our bathroom door to avoid interruption during while getting ready. He was just getting out of the shower when the door flew open. I caught it mid swing to close it quickly as our daughter shrieked. Thankfully my husband’s dignity was preserved and our youngest was only startled by my abruptness. As I comforted her in the other room, she asked me why I didn’t tell her that dad was in the shower. I informed her that we had closed and locked not one but two doors which she had opened uninvited and unannounced to which she replied, “I didn’t know you were trying to keep me out.” She is a persistent one. She doesn’t like being separated from us. She doesn’t believe a locked door applies to her even today.

What if we as God’s Precious Children began to believe the same way? What if we decided that God really is a Good Father? What if we believed that He really does want good things for us? Would we ask more? Would we see more? Would we begin to knock? Ephesians 3:12 reminds us today that “because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s Presence.”

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I wonder how many things in life that we have settled for out of fear of asking God to intervene. Maybe afraid that He will not come? Perhaps we do not believe that His Power is available to us? Persistent prayer has given way to comfortable compromise. What if that which we are asking for takes a little too long? Do we stop waiting and move on? Yes, I am sliding my hand up. It is hard to wait on the Lord sometimes…okay a lot of the time. Our circumstances, conditions and crises are real. We feel the pain and frustration in each trial yet must walk by faith not by sight. This is our plight. It is the true test of our faith. Are we willing to hang on to the promise even the pain until Jesus comes? Keep asking. You will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will open. It sounds so simple. It is caught up in just two verses. It can take a lifetime to understand the true meaning of pursing God and His Promises.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Earning the prestigious title of “hammer” in this group of comedians did not come because my children are not blessed or spoiled to say the least. It came because I do not just give them anything on a whim. To whom much is given much is required. I am not just going to hand disobedient and unfaithful children anything, it would be like handing a loaded gun to a toddler. I must teach my kids how to live and responsibility along the way. I must teach them how to live in receiving just as giving.

There are two reasons that we do not ask the Lord for certain things. The first is disbelief. We doubt God will do what we ask Him to do for us. The disciples could not cast out a demon. They were perplexed. Jesus told them the problem, “You do not have faith.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Why? Because it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. Without faith, we cannot access the Father. We ask. We knock. We seek. But until we ask by faith. Knock by faith. Seek God by faith. We will continue to be frustrated.

There are also times we do not ask the Lord or even seek Him because we become distracted. We want natural relief when God wants to give us supernatural release. Trials and temptations are a part of our life. They are unavoidable. The Lord knows the plans that He has for you. He has made them good with a future and hope. We are ready to settle for lesser things when the journey takes a turn for the worse. In the depth of the darkness or bottom of the valley, we abandon our promise and run from the pain. We must know what we believe and keep our eyes on Jesus to obtain those things we want, need or desire in life.

Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT) The king proclaims the Lord’s decree: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.”

In Mark 6 is the story of Herodias, the daughter of King Herod Antipas. She danced for her father at his birthday party and he vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom.” Her mother hated John the Baptist who had been imprisoned by the king at her request. When she inquired of her mother what to ask for, she told her to request the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The girl petitioned the king for her mother’s request and it was granted that very day. I wonder if we do not know what to ask for sometimes. We limit our scope of vision to the present. Whatever it is that will give us relief rather than release? We cry out to God in the natural and overlook what He is doing supernaturally in our life.

As if the voices and opinions of others is not enough, the enemy questions God’s Word and His Faithfulness. This is the voice that caused sin to be introduced into the world in the first place. The enemy questioned the woman about the scripture. She fell for it. Will you? Will I? Temptation comes in the form of a question. If we can answer the question with truth, we will make an informed choice. However, since most people to not read, study or know the Word of God, they fall for it all. We can have everything the Word of God says we can have and obtain it exactly as the Lord instructs through His Word and His Spirit. By faith, it is received. We must decide who and what we believe or prayers will remain unanswered.

Matthew 18:18-20 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

To see Heaven come to earth and miracles to happen again requires agreement in the Church. We must decide to have faith in God together that overcomes ever relationship obstacle that has been built. If we can learn to agree, God’s Kingdom will come and touch the earth again. The Lord will live in the midst of our disagreement. He must wait for us to decide to come together and agree. Though we confess with our mouth that despite all our differences that we are united in purpose – we are not. Agreement will permeate relationships and solve those differences in order for the Lord to live among His Followers. My faith in God will impact my relationships. The more I know Him the more I trust Him. The more I trust Him the greater my expectation is in Him removing it from people.

The woman at the well came to satisfy her thirst in the natural and was offered the supernatural. She did not immediately understand exactly what Jesus was offering her because she was caught up in the natural. (John 4:9-14) Jesus broke her hard heart and living water came pouring out of her. How many prayers might be answered if we stopped worrying about what other people thought and decided to ask, seek and knock together wholeheartedly? What if we stopped looking around when offered the opportunity to come and pray at an altar and pressed into His Presence once again? Is your life perfect? Mine is not either. Are you still falling short? Me, too. Do you want the Lord with all your mind, soul and body? You are not going to find Him sitting on pride and self-righteousness but must go through the Son to get to the Father.

My kids will work hard to get to dad when it comes to “good gifts” and even “unreasonable requests”. They know that their daddy wants to bless them. He will do everything in his power to make their dream a reality. What if we have some of that confidence in God our Father? Would it make a difference? Yes, we would continue asking not stopping as long as we have breath. We would keep knocking until our hand or the door falls off one. We would keep seeking until we find Jesus never settling for the lesser things just to know Him more. Have you stopped asking today? Have you stopped knocking? Are you tired of seeking? Do not give up. The Father is waiting to bless you. Continue to walk by faith and not by sight. He will answer. He will open. He will be found. He will grant your requests if you do not give up. Ask one more time, knock again, and take one step deeper by faith. This just might be the day! If you don’t, then you will never know.

John 16:23-24 (NLT) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

Learn To Run

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Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Not really sure how it happened, I guess I was just one bowl of ice cream away from a binge. After working for a long time to establish a good diet and consistent exercise routine, I just stopped. The workout was the first to go. Three or four days at the gym turned to one here and there, which constituted good stewardship and ending our relationship. I quit the gym. But that’s okay, I still had a “good” diet right. I ate healthy for the most part. Well, I did anyway. It did not take long for old habits to come creeping in and late night snacking to take over. Now as I like to joke with others, I have noticed a waist line that resembles a “busted can of biscuits” so it is time to bet disciplined again. It is important to be a good steward in life and that includes our health. I will never be a 5’10” super model with abs of steel. In fact, as I shared with someone yesterday, I am not so sure this model came with abs. I believe that balance in life is mind, body and soul. We cannot be healthy in our soul and it not impact our mind and body. As my soul prospers, so will I in health and other things. (3 John 1:2)

It is with this thought that I am embarking on the journey once again to get my body back under control. I am not a runner. I aspire to be one day just because I believe it to be the ultimate endurance. If you see me running right now, should probably do the same because something is obviously chasing me. However, as I gain endurance, I have learned that running becomes a little bit easier. As my heart gets stronger and lungs learn to breathe under pressure, I am able to go longer and farther without stopping to catch my breath or ease a cramp. Hebrews 12:1 offers excellent advice to those who want to run a marathon or continue in the race of faith. I am interested in both.

“We are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to (our) life of faith…” If I profess with my mouth to be a Christian, the folks around me will immediately place new expectation on me as a person. They will indeed judge me. I know God is our judge, but if we use His Name I believe that to honor Him – we must be conscious of those around us just like Jesus. Jesus was always aware of those around Him. He took notice of the weak. He looked past infirmity to find their purpose. He did not discard those clothed in darkness and filled with hatred. He reached out to them – dismissing that which was hindering them to remind them who they really were. It is easy to build walls of righteousness around us. It is even easier to “work” ourselves in a frenzy in the Name of the Lord. But until we love others like crazy…we have missed the point. Yes, they are watching. Yes, they are evaluating. And yes, they are more than likely judging you. But does it really matter what they “think” as long as in the end they find that the love that never fails. We must be aware of the huge crowd of witnesses – it is every face that we encounter in life.

“Strip off every weight that slows us down…” Our life was very chaotic during the time it took to sell our old house and move into our new home. Our church life is very busy now too as we have become more involved than we were able to be in the past several years. Our kids are on the go. The transition period completely wrecked our schedule and routine. The ordered fell into disorder. When we finally began to establish a new routine, a hurricane came blowing through our community. Now as it all settles, it is time to examine our life and place new priorities on certain things.

I believe it is easy to become undisciplined in areas that once were under strict control. Discipline is not welcomed by our flesh so if we let our guard down it is easy to become distracted. We start eating bad again because fast food does not equal healthy diets. We stop exercising because there are too many other “things” we need to do. We stop reading the Bible because work is overloading us. The prayer closet door remains closed because there is not a moment for ourselves. Church is the last thing on our mind when home is the last place we go. If we do not check the weights in our life and seek the Lord to remain in good order, we will become overloaded, weary, and weak so we give up. People experience burnout not because the burden in their life is too heavy. They burnout because they do not balance their life according to God’s Word and His Way. You can have it all but are not called to do it all.

“Especially sin…” Sin is in everyone’s life no matter how hard one tries to avoid it. No one will ever be without sin. It is human nature. We escape sin only when fully redeemed. The perception of innocence is false. It is by grace we are saved by faith because we will never overcome our battle with sin without Jesus Christ. I find that if I focus on other people’s problems with sin that I somehow fall into it myself. If another person does wrong, and I choose to discuss it with other people – I am a gossip and I have sinned. If a new person comes to church who doesn’t look like a believer, act like a Christian, or dress like the rest of the religious folks, and I look down on them or think of ways to change them OTHER than introducing them to Jesus Christ, well then I sinned again…in church no less. Comparison with anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ will always open the door to sin and darkness. He is our example.

Finally, “run with endurance the race God has set before us…” I aspire to run the marathon at Disney one day called Disney Princess Half Marathon. It supports the Children’s Miracle Network. Participants don tutus and mouse ears running for an excellent charity. Why? I have no idea other than I feel like it is impossible for me to run that far. In order for me to successfully complete the event held in February each year, I must train and run for the other months in order to be prepared. When I (notice my optimism) arrive at the event, they will give me a map of the course and mark it out so that I can follow it. God has set a course for my life. It is in each step from the moment I am born until I leave this world behind and step into eternity. Nothing is wasted or forgotten. He makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) There are days when I fall or fail but that is not the end. It is in the rising again that I discover a little more character where my flesh used to be. It is when I push and press against adversity that I discover the overcomer who lives in me. This life is a marathon. It has a clearly marked course. We find it in the Word of God. We work to claim the Will of God. Jesus is the Way of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

“Keeping (my) eyes on Jesus…” I am good at getting distracted…the Good Lord only knows. I am surprised that He never put blinders on me. If He did, I would never develop faith. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. A word of warning needs to be interjected here. This is not just about fellow believers or those living in sin and darkness around us. We must be very, very careful not to look at preachers and teachers as our example either. I have heard people quote famous preachers from Billy Graham, Jentzen Franklin, Steven Furtick, and Joel Osteen. I have heard young people quote their leaders, teachers and the like. I challenge you to quote Jesus. To make His Word the authority in your life. To make His Spirit the guide for your life. To stop listening to what everyone else says about Jesus and experience Him one-on-one for yourself. Our encounter with Jesus Christ must be personal to be credible.

“The champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” We are in a process. This process is not a sprint but a marathon. It will always require patience and endurance whether you have them or not. Jesus is the Source of all faith. He is the only way to God the Father. (John 14:6) We cannot bypass faith and collect grace. It is by grace I am saved THROUGH faith. I must believe. I must believe that Jesus Christ has given my victory or how will I ever sell my soul on commitment. What’s the point if the end is uncertain? I can certainly find ways to entertain myself until I die if there is no relevance to Heaven.

“For the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross…” We are the joy that awaited Jesus Christ on the other side of the Cross. Do we joy enough in Jesus Christ to endure this life to reach Him on the other side? He gave up everything just to be with me. Yet, on some days, I struggle to give up small things just to be with Him. We will never be committed if find no joy in Jesus Christ. He is ready to satisfy our soul. We must believe that to engage and endure in the marathon of life called the race of faith.

I Corinthians 9:23-26 (NLT) I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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 must run with purpose in every step. My life has the potential for constant victory. I can live each day in full satisfaction without disappointment. It requires a discipline in faith that I have not yet achieved but have the potential to do if I give my life to Jesus in each step. My life is recorded by God moment by moment. (Psalm 139) Nothing escaped His Immediate and Divine Attention. It is my inability to remain disciplined and committed that keeps me from fullness and completion in Jesus Christ. He demands my full attention yet I constantly find myself looking to lesser than things and giving them what belongs to God including my energy and time. Thank you Jesus that your Grace is enough for me to get back on track again and again and again. You have a prize for me worth having if I will just discipline myself and devote this life to You.

Philippians 2:13-18 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.  But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Are you stuck in a rut? Is there a certain part of your life naturally or spiritually that has become a place of discontentment? Are you tired all the time? Do you feel weak and weary? Do you feel like God has moved away from you? Or that Jesus is no longer with you? That’s God. He is working in us giving us the desire and power to do what pleases Him. He will never force us to change but encourages us from deep within. How do I know? You came with a measure of faith that is purposed to grow. When we pray and seek the Lord, it nourishes that seed and it begins to press back against every oppressive thing in its way from full realization. We become discontent. We feel isolated. It seems like we just can’t get ahead. What happens? We begin to dig deeper in His Word, seek out His Face, call on His Name and He comes rushing in to lead us, guide us and direct us to better things. It is God’s Love moving inside of you telling you to get up, dust yourself off and start running again.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing.” Do not speak against the promise that is putting pressure on your life for change by griping all the time. Such conversation is a curse on that promise and alignment with the enemy’s declaration on your life. You are an overcomer. You are a winner. You are a runner. You are a mover. You’ve got things to do that require messing up your routine. You have a purpose that is not on the corporate ladder. You have people to reach so your arms must be emptied of all that extra weight and unnecessary burdens you picked up along the way. God is rearranging our lives to make room for the discipline and commitment that leads to revival and full redemption. “Hold firmly to the Word of Life.” You cannot give up! It is those who endure to the end who are saved. Most mamas want to give up in the process of labor just before the baby is born. It hurts. You are tired. You don’t think you can give any more to the process. It is with that last push something wonderful and perfect emerges in your life. The promise you have waited for all this time is here. God is doing the same in you, my friend. He is birthing a promise more wonderful than any child ever born. It is called faith. It is the one thing that can take you into Eternity to live in His Love forever. We must learn to run and not grow weary. Walk and not fall. We run this race of faith with purpose. Never giving up until we win!

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NLT) Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Fully Redeemed

Full Redeemed

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

I used to coupon quite a bit. Printing off discounts for the household items and food as I made a carefully detailed list to go grocery shopping each week. There are many websites now devoted to helping frugal moms like me make the most out of their weekly budget that I would also study each week to get more bang for my buck. At first, I practiced couponing out of necessity. As our household size decreased and resources increased, I stopped my faithful weekly ritual claiming this time for other endeavors. Instead, I have a shopping app that allows me to scan receipts into the system, it compares prices at the surrounding competitor’s locations, and then credits me the amount of discounts to use on my next shopping trip. I use it because it is convenient and easy. However, I do not save near the money that I did when pouring over ads, scanning the internet and printing coupons.

Couponing is great as long as you read the fine print on each one. What may seem to be a great deal at first quickly turns into an embarrassing situation when the cashier points out the details you missed due to a ridiculously tiny font. When redeeming a coupon, you must know what the restrictions are, is there an expiration date, and is there a limit on its use. All these factors save time and inconvenience when you are checking out. It is very disappointing to have your heart set on something only to discover it is out of reach on your way out.

God has made us a promise. He has made a covenant with us through His Son, Jesus Christ that we can one day exchange this life for eternal life. We call it hope. It is fully redeemable to those who hold on to it to the very end. God also made us an oath. At first, it is easy to assume that these two words, promise and oath, mean the same thing but they are slightly different. A promise is God’s expressed assurance on which our expectation is based. We expect Him to save us, heal us, deliver us and redeem us or maybe I should say, we can expect these things of Him. Whether we do or not is completely up to us. An oath is God’s fully affirmed promise that He has accepted these terms and is bound by Who He Is to make it happen. Why? There is no higher power to swear by than the Name of God. He is the Supreme Power in all the universe. God made us a promised and sealed it with His Name so that no other power can overturn it. We have been given confident hope that if we present ourselves to God with confident hope represented by a life of faith regarding this hope, He will keep his end of the bargain or contract.

A coupon is a contract with the vendor who sells the product to a store. We redeem our coupons at the store which equals a discount. In turn, the store sends the coupons to the distributor who reimburses them. What if we considered hope a binding contract? Would we be more willing to live by faith in the hope we have been assured of?

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Hope is referred to in Hebrews 6 as the “anchor” of our soul. When an anchor is thrown overboard into the sea, it falls to the bottom. You cannot see the anchor yet it is still doing its job. It is connected to the vessel by a chain of many links. Faith is like that chain. It connects us to our hope. When a storm comes, the boat depends on the anchor to keep it safe. Though no one can see it, they know it is there because though it may rise and fall with each wave – the vessel is secure. Now if the chain is weak, it can break off releasing the boat to the mercy of the wind and waves. Or if the anchor is too short, it will not allow the boat room to move with the current and it may sink as the waves continue to crash into its bow or stern. We must have confidence in the anchor for our souls. It is called hope. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for and is evident in the way we live our life.

Psalm 119:57-64 (NLT) Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands. Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. I rise at midnight to thank you for your just regulations. I am a friend to anyone who fears you—anyone who obeys your commandments. O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.

The definition of hope is to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence. It is to believe, desires and trust. Is our hope in Jesus Christ reasonable? Is faith logical? Is trusting the Lord in all things considered sound judgment? Not according to the worldly standards, faith in God is a sign of weakness and a lack of rationale. However, God did not leave us to be ignorant. He warns us in Hosea 4:6 that a lack of knowledge can lead to our destruction. I believe the only way to have confident hope is to make faith logical.

God’s Word makes faith logical. It is a full explanation of God’s Plan, His Promise, and the Oath that He has made to His People. If we take the time to read, study and connect with God’s Word, the links in our chain called faith grow stronger and longer so that we are able to maintain our hope even in the great tempests of life.

I love how the psalmist begins, “Lord, you are mine!” Do you love the Lord today? Do you have faith in His Promises? Do you know what He has promised? Do you want His Blessings…with all your heart? Those who “believe, desire and trust” the Lord to keep His Promises will be “firmly anchored to your instructions”. I wouldn’t take a coupon to the store without first reading the fine print yet we give our entire life – body, mind and spirit – to Jesus without knowing what He has promised or will do. This makes faith illogical. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh sent to share God’s Love with all mankind, (John 1:14) Think about it. How can we know Jesus and not know the Word? Not logical. Not reasonable. Not faith. No hope.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

I have a good friend who I used to work with that during our lunch break we would look at coupons and weekly ads on line during our lunch break. As we would share our discoveries back and forth, she would tell me about a coupon for something that I had never bought before or even tried. When I told her so, she would begin to convince me of all the reasons why I should try this certain item. If it was food, she would go on and on about how delicious it was. If it was a cleaning product, how useful and effectively it cleaned her stubborn messes. Whatever the case may be, she would convince me by her experience. How can I share faith and hope to anyone else if I am not convinced?

Hope will not lead to disappointment. This promise is pretty huge when one considers how many times disappointment appears in a single day. You order a pizza and it never shows up. Leaving for work, your tire is flat. Walk in the door, the kids are fighting and there is an unexpected bill in the mail. You lay down exhausted ready for sleep and suddenly you are wide awake. Life is full of problems, trials and troubles. If you read the news, watch television or surf the internet, the state of affairs is quite grim not just for America but all around the world. Christians are targeted for their faith in God and confident hope expressed in life. In some countries, even tortured and killed because they profess to love the Lord. Forget all the four-letter words thought to be profane, just try mentioning the five-letter word, J-E-S-U-S and see what outrage it sparks. We are living in the end times. The boat of life is definitely rocking. How is your anchor today? Is your faith keeping you secure? Can we really rejoice in the midst of such uncertainty? Yes, we can!

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I made a commitment in 2009 to get up thirty minutes earlier for 21 days to spend time with the Lord. To hold myself accountable, I would write down details of this time in a journal. The journal became a blog. Twenty-one days became seven years seemingly overnight. I thought this was just a commitment of my time to the Lord. But what I discovered is that five years ago when my faith was challenged and my anchor yanked by our son’s cancer diagnosis, it held secure. This was only possible, in my opinion, because the Lord began preparing me and pouring His Word in me two years earlier. There was definitely a connection. When trouble came, I knew what God had promised me. It was with confident hope in my hand that I charged into His Presence to demand His Immediate Intervention because this was not what He said in His Word. This was not the Promise that He made me. This was not the Oath sealed by His Good Name. Friend, we must make our faith logical to secure confident hope that is reasonable. Blind faith is useless. We must know who we have faith in. We must know the terms of the covenant or it is just another worthless piece of paper…junk mail if you will.

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NLT) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

We must understand the Promise and Oath of God for our life. We must find our purpose and live for fulfillment or our life is not fully redeemed. I can take a certain coupon to one store and save some money. With a little research and knowledge, I may find that another store has the same product on sale so my coupon is worth more. God has already provided everything that I need for this life. He has given me divine power to experience His Kingdom right here in my everyday life. I must connect my faith to the confident hope that is the anchor for my soul. I must dig a little deeper. Go a little bit farther. Spending time in God’s Word to extricate the Promises hidden there for me. There will be storms in life. God has already provided for my safety. There will be problems. The Lord has given me the solution. I have all I need as a result of faith and confident hope. I may need to spend a little more time discovering it. God’s Word makes my faith logical. Confident hope comes from continually evaluating and examining my life next to His Word for validity and proof that my anchor is secure. All things have been put under Christ’s Authority. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. This world has nothing for me. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. His Strength is made perfect in my weakness. I must decrease – He must increase. All these things fortify our faith and secure hope that anchors our soul so we can be fully redeemed and have every promise God has given us.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Revelation 21:5-7 (NIV) He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

It is time for a new beginning. The Lord has presented a new opportunity and I have accepted. Now as I stand on the verge of starting, I look over the edge of the water to perceive the depth of that which I am called. Suddenly, my feet are frozen to the shore. I asked to go deeper than I have ever gone before but when Jesus said, “Come!” I wonder is it too late to change my mind? As believers cry out for more, it is hard to comprehend the change that such a request may bring because all we know for sure is that we want more of Him. So when He answers, it can be startling. His Ways are not like our ways. His Thoughts so much higher and wide range than our simple need for immediate gratification. The Lord is full of grace giving me a year to ponder this calling. It did not come as a surprise. However, the vision projected in my mind calls into question my ability to fulfill that which I am called to. Yet, I must go.

I will not share this calling specifically because I want you to consider the thing that the Lord has challenged you with today. Comparison is a faith killer as it shifts our expectation from the Lord and dependency on His Strength to considering our ability against that of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The power to succeed is the Jesus Christ within us. It is never a “me” thing or a “you” thing but will I allow His Grace to be enough for me. It was…until I looked down. Now I keep approaching the edge berating myself for having such little faith. Trust me it’s a tough crowd surrounding me right now as the enemy taunts me with my weaknesses, past, failures and faults. He threatens me with every heartbreak and humiliation that I have experienced on such ventures. Yet, I stay right here trying to muster up the courage to begin. This is not my first rodeo. I have felt the hard, cold ground against my seat many times. Lord, help me step out on the water. I want the new beginning. I want to make you proud. The finish line seems far but you are oh so close.

Daniel 2:19-22 (NIV) During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.

Our pastor shared a story yesterday that is significant in our ventures after God in this lifetime. He shared a modern parable about a father who had four sons. He sent each one out to the same pear tree to observe its condition during each season. Obviously each son had a different perception of the tree according to the seasonal cycle it was in. He called them all together to remind them that life is full of seasons. One cannot judge the outcome by the season but must allow time to finish its work throughout each season. God instituted seedtime and harvest after the Great Flood and the rainbow signifies God’s Promise to never destroy the earth again and continue this cycle of reproduction. Your current condition or circumstances do not necessarily dictate the outcome and productivity of your life. If it is fall or winter your “tree” may appear barren as it waits for “spring” which will make way into summer bearing first fruits.

What challenges face you today? Has the Lord moved you into a new season planting seeds of change in your heart? What are you doing to cultivate the new beginning of growth in your life? God changes times and seasons because He will not leave you in your current state. Your Father is good and wants to bless your life with a hearty inheritance. We often do not want to be uncomfortable and reject change. Just because the Lord gave you a vision long ago, or some mystery as a child that has not yet come to pass doesn’t mean that He didn’t mean it, you missed it or it is forgotten. It is most likely a timing issue as the Lord grows, develops and matures you equipping you for the harvest that is to come from your life as you live to the glory of God that brings fulfillment.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

This life is temporary and it would be foolish to live for numbered days when just on the other side is eternity. By calling on the Name of Jesus Christ and turning to follow Him, you and I are headed for forever which makes this life the foundation of our future. We must walk in a way to enter the door that leads to the everlasting. It is not a life of perfection. In fact, I will be plagued with imperfection until I meet Jesus face to face. This does not need to be a source of discouragement but an open invitation to accept His Amazing Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) that is enough for me and to lay my burden of weakness at His Feet to be yoked with Jesus who makes our load light. (Matthew 11:28-29)

If I am awaiting an empowerment that makes me feel completely equipped to venture out on my own, it will not happen. I am challenged because my faith needs to be strengthened. I must endure to the end. God makes everything beautiful in its time. So this thing I am beginning is a mess. The closer I get the less enabled I feel to take on this task. Yet I feel this softening in my heart, and gentle whisper in my ear reminding me that God is with me. I will not fail if I will just take the first step of faith – the rest will rise to meet me.

I John 1:1-3 (NIV) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Seeking the Lord’s Encouragement today – I will share with you the things that He has shared with me. First and foremost in any endeavor in our life, it is all about Jesus. We are proclaiming the Word of Life who is Jesus. The Word came to us wrapped in flesh to demonstrate the Way back to God. Now we must follow His Example. As we strive to walk by faith and not by sight, it will always require just a little more trust and dependence on Christ. If what the Lord has shown you or challenged you to undertake does not completely overwhelm you, it may not be God at all. The Call of God on my life requires all of Christ in me to accomplish. If it doesn’t take my breath away, make my heart beat wildly and force me to fight doubt and fear every step of the way, it means I can do it in my natural ability. God does not get the Glory when I can overcome on my own. It is when “greater is He who is in me” is required that success can only be attributed to the Lord and His Power.

2 John 5-6 (NIV) And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

The command of Jesus Christ to us is that we “walk in love”. No matter what we do, if it is not done in love it is meaningless and worthless according to I Corinthians 13. Everything that the Lord leads us to will require more love than the last thing. Love must grow to meet all the requirements outlined in I Corinthians 13:4. It must be patient, kind, not envious or jealous. Love is not arrogant or proud. It honors others. It is not self-seeking. Love doesn’t lose its temper and get angry. It is forgiving keeping no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the Truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love is a commitment so it cannot fail. I can walk in obedience for the rest of my life and still miss it if my love does not bear the character defined in this passage. Whatever God leads me to must be walked through in love.

I John 2:14 (NIV) I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

It doesn’t matter how many obstacles you see between here and what the Lord is calling you to, you have overcome them all already. You may not have taken a single step of faith yet victory is already declared because Jesus lives inside of you. You have already overcome every hardship along the way. Faith allows you to open those closed doors and swing wide the locked windows that keep His Blessing from being poured out in your life. Jesus has already supplied all your needs not man’s way but according to His Riches in Glory. (Philippians 4:19) In a single word, that means abundance. You have access to abundance today. Not only that, His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life that includes doing exactly what He has called us to do – whatever that looks like – no matter how big it is or small we feel. (2 Peter 1:4)

I John 2:24-25 (NIV) As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3) I cannot impress this on you strongly enough. Write down your vision, revelation, or dream whatever it is that you know is from the Lord. This is vital to go back to when the enemy is pummeling you with lies. You must return to the Truth. God always attaches His Word to His Vision for your life. You must remind yourself sometimes to encourage yourself when threatened by isolation and despair – two of the enemy’s greatest tactics to make us give up. If everyone else thinks you are crazy, the Lord will confirm His Vision for your life in the very thing you wrote down and documented.

Jesus instructs us that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, I can do nothing. But when I strive to remain connected to Him than all things become possible even those things labeled impossible. God’s Word is essential to continue be rooted and grounded in His Love. His Spirit inside of me keeps us in relationship as He helps me, guides me, instructs me and facilitates close communication with the Lord each day. I need both of these valuable assets for my life to become a living sacrifice and live a life of worship.

I John 3:7-8 (NIV) Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

It is easy to look for excuses. The enemy seems like as good as any other. Except for the fact that nothing he does is new. It is all the same old taunts and tactics. Therefore, before you decide that what you are called to cannot be done because of the attacks and advances on your life and dream, know this. Jesus has already overcome them all. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Success and failure is not hinged on our ability or the enemy’s power but completely on our ability to have faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. To stick it out when all hell is breaking lose around us knowing what God has called us to and His Unstoppable Power at work in us and through us.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NIV) The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”(Isaiah 42:8-9) Congratulations! God is doing new things in your life. It really doesn’t matter if you charge boldly to meet the new challenge or hesitantly tiptoe in. What matters is that you put away former things to fully embrace the new thing the Lord is doing in you and through you today! He is looking closely at your heart for a seed of faith and watching for the first sign of obedience. God is a Good Father intent on blessing every effort of His Children. He does not have unrealistic expectations but offers His Strength and Power to us through His Grace. Everything we do should be for His Glory!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) The success or failure of yesterday does not impact today. God is doing a new thing in your life today. Every detail of our life is worked out for our good according to Romans 8:28 so nothing is wasted not even experience. With this in mind, what is that God has laid on your heart for His Glory today? Does it seem to big? Is it overwhelming? Good than it is most definitely of Your Father’s doing. He sees Your Potential. He knows the Plan. He is well aware of what you capable of doing or producing in with what you have. Trust the Lord. Step out of the boat. The water is just right for miracles, signs and wonders. No one can carry you or even push you into the water. You must go willingly, freely and obediently into its flow. He will carry you to the end for it is better than beginning. Patience is required. Perseverance will be worth it. Persistence will pay off when we step out into the new thing that the Lord offers us today.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Backseat Lessons

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Proverbs 22:4 (NIV) Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.

If you have more than one child in your family, you have probably heard them yell, “Shotgun!” while running to the car to go somewhere. I am not sure who made riding in the front seat such an exhilarating honor, but it has been the subject of many altercations in our family. It is customary that the oldest child would be the one allowed to ride in the coveted passenger seat unless, of course, both mom and dad are present. Oh the arguments that arise if this rule is ever overturned and a younger child was allowed to take the place of the eldest. What is the big deal about the front seat?

Several years back, I began riding in the backseat allowing one of our children to join dad up front. They love it. I have had many people ask me with perplexed looks, “Why would you sit in the backseat of your own car?” The truth is that I really don’t know when and how it began. It could be that our youngest simply asked me to ride with her so swapping seats with her sister is the beginning of it. But over time, I believe that giving up my seat has allowed me to share a very important message with my children. Humility. That’s right. The thing that gnaws at our flesh the most has somehow made its way into my heart and now is speaking to my children through one simply act. I promise it is not me. I didn’t do it to demonstrate some kind of life lesson but my precious Heavenly Father who loves me and my children so very much has used the simplest act of submission to share the example of His Son to us.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

“In humility, value others above yours, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.” People come equipped with selfishness. It is an innate trait born of the sin that is within us. Coming to Christ, we are given the opportunity to lay down the burden of selfishness in exchange for righteousness that allows us to experience fulfillment and complete satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This comes when we lay down our life before Him and become yoked to the Lord. (Matthew 11:29) This connection to Christ called yoking means that He takes our burden of sin so that we share His Burden to love others more than ourselves. Too many times, we (or I) forget that part. The comfort that I have in Christ should allow me to be an encouragement to other people. The commonality of His Spirit living inside of us should fill me with compassion and tenderness for other people. My joy becomes complete when I am completely likeminded with Jesus which can only happen when I submit my way to the Way (John 14:6) and walk humbly with my  God. (Micah 6:8)

There are unspoken lessons being taught to my children each time I humble myself and take the backseat. It teaches them humility. It teaches them submission. It shows them that it is okay to put others first. It makes them feel important and significant in our family. It allows them to connect with their natural father. It puts them right next to him which gives them an opportunity to comminute with him. Even though I have every right to sit in the passenger seat up front, I make the conscious choice to move back so they can be in the seat of “honor.” Though it is my car and my place, I gladly give it to them because they desire it. Isn’t that what Jesus did for me? He laid down His Life so I could live again. He took the backseat to allow me to come closer to the Father again. His Grace gave me the opportunity to reconnect with My Heavenly Father.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Can I be transparent with you? Sitting in the backseat is not that big of a deal. It really doesn’t matter to me where I sit as long as I am in the car and going with them. But to some people, it is a really big deal. I offered the front seat to a friend of our daughter’s so she could sit by her on the way to a fellowship. This young lady stopped abruptly and asked, “Why?” She went on to tell me that her mom would “never” give up the front seat to anyone especially not a kid. How many people do we encounter in a single day who we could take a backseat to? How many people might benefit from humility in God’s People? It is the example of Jesus Christ on the Cross demonstrated for us to live after He was gone. Jesus, who was in very nature God, made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. Why can’t we? Why won’t we?

Pride is a problem in the church born of religiosity. It is the exaltation of self. For the life of me, I cannot understand why some pastors, apostles and teachers cannot carry their own Bible or IPad to the platform to speak. I cannot fathom the unreachable preachers in our society today who are too important to wallow among the people and reach the common folk so they stand behind a wall of security. The message they carry is not their own. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we honor the vessel more than its contents?

Jesus stayed among the people. He was humble. When the disciples tried to build a wall of protection around Him or keep others out, Jesus removed the obstacle to reach out to the people. Jesus didn’t care what they wore, how they looked, or if they met the guidelines and measures of religion. He loved people – all people. He laid down His Life for everyone. Too many times, we will not give up our favorite seat for a visitor in the House of God yet claim we love Jesus with all our heart. Service to God begins with humility and submission to others as Jesus lived and died for us.

I Peter 3:7-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Taking a backseat to others in humility and submission IS the kind of service that honors the Lord. It is exactly what Jesus did. He was not begrudging but willingly laid down His Life for us to give us new life again. He didn’t complain and grumble up Calvary’s Hill but stay focused on His Purpose and Passion which is and always will be His People. Jesus was a blessing to ever person who He encountered. His Power, which is His Grace, constantly flowing out of Him to those who reached out to Him. Throughout the course of a single day, we come in contact with a variety of individuals. At the end of the day, if we polled those people, what would they say? Would our kindness, compassion, and love made an impact on their life. To be like-minded with Christ is to live in a posture of humility. He is the ultimate example of such an existence. Who am I to consider my life worth more than my Lord’s? To lay down my life and take up my cross to follow Jesus means that I must learn the meaning of humility and live it every day.

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Humility is not the loudest message we preach but definitely the most significant. Jesus Christ laid down His Life for us. He asks that we lay down our life for our brothers and sisters. Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth. What is the message of your life? If you did not say a single thing, would others experience the Love of God just knowing you? It begins with humility. I have never discussed this with my children before yet I see it evidenced in their journey with Christ. Our purpose is to serve the Lord and glorify Him in our attitudes and actions. Our willingness to humble ourselves ushers us closer and deeper in the Father’s Presence. “The first will be last in the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 20) The mother in this chapter only wanted the best for her boys, but God wanted more. He desired fulfillment and completion in them that would last forever. If I lay down my life now, I have forever to look forward to. What an awesome exchange? Now for eternity. Consider hopping in the backseat and letting someone else ride up front today. This doesn’t have to be literal, but I believe God is going to give each of you (and me) an opportunity to express humility and be a blessing! Take it!

James 4:10 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Good Advice for Friday

Good Advice for Friday

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

At the end of a race, the runner often will stop and lean over putting their hands on their waist or knees trying to catch their breath. I am not a runner but I know the feeling. It’s Friday! The glorious day that makes way for the weekend is finally here. It has been a long strenuous week. My husband returns from his final training trip which has only added to the pressure of the last five days. For months now, a week has been devoted to company training far from home while mama kept the home fires burning. I feel like that runner today who cannot stop their lungs from burning or hold in enough oxygen to gain back any strength. Even in our best effort to trust and lean on the Lord, we still get tired and overwhelmed sometimes. Marching for the Lord’s Army is a lot of responsibility on any given day. There is opposition. There is responsibility. There is temptation. For those who live in this world but are not of this world, there are two forces battling for our attention. Could it be that there is purpose in our inability to keep going sometimes? When our mind, soul and body begin to shut down to rest? Of course there is.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? I need to do so for myself so let’s do it together. We put way more responsibility on our shoulders than Jesus ever would. We try to run faster, harder, and farther than anyone else as if in some competition. When the Lord tells us to trust Him and lean on His Understanding. Is that enough for us? To be more specific, the Word of God says to trust the Lord with ALL your heart. Wow, that’s a lot. Do you trust the Lord today? I know this is always good advice but we will move forward to practical steps once we take in this simple truth which is good advice.

To trust the Lord with all our heart requires a true dependency on Him. Most of the time, we expect supernatural results in our life without applying any faith to the matter. Faith is how we trust the Lord. It is to take His Word and do exactly what it says without looking to the world to satisfy it but just doing it anyway. Seek Him in all you do! Do you look for Jesus in every single aspect of your life? I mean right down to making your grocery list – you can ask the Lord for discernment and He will honor that request. We serve a practical and logical God if we apply the right understanding and wisdom to our cause. I know that you are tired and it has been a long week – but stay with me just a little longer. Let’s walk out this Friday together. Like a walker pacing the other side of the finish line in order to normalize breathing. We must breathe in the understanding that we must seek His Will in all we do and He will show us His Path.

I Corinthians 9:24-26 (NLT) Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 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.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23) Think about this for a minute. I know you are running late. It’s your turn to bring donuts to the office. Your kid just remembered a project is due this morning resulting in pandemonium. The dog just threw up. Are you ready to give up? Call this day a bust. Why is life so hard? No matter how hard I try to do what is right – why do I always seem to end up right here – facedown and on my knees asking for just a little more mercy and grace to make it to the weekend. Oh wait, will that be better? It’s packed with commitments when I could not say “no”. Keep walking. Keep a steady pace. Why? There is purpose in every step you take. God takes pleasure in every detail of our life. He perfects that which concerns us. (Psalm138:8) He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. Do you love the Lord today? Well, He loves you more. Every step you take today whether walking in sunshine, strolling on the mountaintop, battling the storm or the valley of death – God is with you. He loves you. He is working on your behalf. Your job is just muster up enough faith to take one more step no matter how hard it seems because of the promise hidden in each one.

2 Timothy 2:4-6 (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.

As we consider ourselves part of the Lord’s Army, we must constantly evaluate our weaponry. David would not wear Saul’s Armor because it was too big and heavy for the boy. God had not ordained him to be king yet so the mantle was not for him. Is it possible that we get to big for our britches sometimes and try to take on things that we are not ready for or called to do? God’s Armor for our lives is specific – the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, sword of the spirit, gospel of peace, belt of truth. See God gave you enough protection to make it through the fight to step into victory today even though you are mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted, overwrought and overwhelmed. Actually, you have fallen into the place that He desire most for when I am weak – His Grace becomes sufficient for me.

Soldiers of God’s Army – have you gotten tied up in civilian affairs. His Ways are not our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Are you soaring with the eagles? Or are you roosting with the turkeys who never leave the ground? It really is up to you where you live. In the Presence of God or at the mercy of people, opinions and this life – soldiers desire peace and prepare for war. They do not get distracted by the common problems all around them but keep their eye on the horizon watching for the enemy’s advances. Sometimes we must get off by ourselves and get washed in the Word, covered by the Blood and back in line with our Commander and Chief to fulfill our commission which is not bickering and fighting among ourselves.

Athletes follow the rules. The Word of God is our directions for life. His Spirit takes the Word and gives us divine discernment and understanding so that it can be applied to life as a whole. When we forsake reading the Word of God – we fly blindly. You might as well close your eyes and start walking. We must be committed to the race of faith. We must fight to win by faith not function. Today are there areas of your life not fully surrendered. If a runner runs every single day and exercises faithfully but eats terribly – will they win? I mean the race is determined by how fast we run. Not always. If it is a marathon, it is based on distance not speed. Life is a marathon. How do I know? The one who endures to the end is saved.

Finally – the farmer bless his/her heart. Works from morning ‘til night caring for his seeds as they sprout and grow into a harvest. When the harvest comes, the farmer is encouraged by the Lord to “enjoy the fruit of their labor”. Me-time is not a bad thing. To enjoy life is part of the fullness of Christ. To live your life miserable and exhausted just getting by is not the standard of living that Jesus died to give us, but a rich satisfying life. Do you enjoy the fruits of your labor? If no, you should.

I Thessalonians 5:14-24 (NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

I find that many times when I look back at why I am overtired or have run out energy but still have some week left, that it is usually my own dumb fault. Today, for example, I stayed up too late finishing a painting project in our new house. Knowing that I would still get up at 4:30AM, I didn’t go to sleep until well after midnight. Seeking the Lord today, I need strength to make it through today. Lord give me direction on how to get through this weekend rested and refreshed when it is just as full as this week has been. When I read this passage today, I find that He is reminding me of how to live each day not just the one’s I am too tired to invest in but rather showing me solid steps to victory in each moment of every day. They are practical, applicable and will keep me on the right track. Good advice for Friday…well actually good advice period.

It is no surprise that the first step is to keep our eyes on others. It is amazing that as I learn to invest in others I get better at taking care of myself or maybe it is in my obedience and commitment to love others as Christ loves me that I am renewed and refreshed by God so I can pour out more of His Love on others. I am enjoying the fruits of his labor as I labor for Him. Sometimes we gain a better perspective of our life when we look at life through the eyes of others.

We must become grace full. Each day the Lord leaves us new mercies to scoop up and use freely. Do we share that grace with others? To do so is to trust in the Lord because we remove all expectation from other people, this world and this life placing it firmly and completely in the Father’s Hands. Everyone desires grace. I don’t know a person who is not pursing love, affirmation and acceptance from others. I find that what I give then I receive. Give love get love. Give grace get grace. Give Jesus get Jesus!

Always be joyful. Jesus is our joy. We must maintain our relationship with the Lord all day, every day. We do so by talking to Him. Communicating on His Level which is prayer. It is good to maintain an ongoing conversation with the Lord and keeps His Presence tangibly next to us which will result in making better choices along the way. We must be thankful in all circumstances which is a declaration of faith and trust in God alone. We must no stifle the Holy Spirit our guide, teacher, companion and advocate in life. He is not a silent partner, we just tend to stifle him sometimes by ignoring his conviction or convincing in our heart. Do not scoff prophecies. It is easy to study God’s Word and congregate with believers. If we truly believe the knowledge obtained and whispered to us in God’s Word and by His Spirit – it must change our life.

Jesus IS coming back. We must be prepared. Test everything. Do not walk randomly through life but label things good and evil. Choose well. Is what you are doing of the Lord or for Him? If not, walk away. Hold what is good with both hands. Stay away from EVERY KIND OF EVIL. We know the difference. Yet many still entertain dark things in life. It matters what we watch and listen to even in the name of “entertainment”. The very thing that we choose to entertain will dwell with us. God will make you holy if you commit to these things.

It is the surrender and submission of our life that allows Him to meet us in the place of overwhelming exhaustion and lift us up. Last but not least keep your eyes on the prize. This world has nothing for you. He has promised you eternity in heaven. It is worth chasing after and finding your way home even on days like today when you don’t feel as though you can take another step. Sure you can.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

One night over dinner, our teenage son challenged his not-teenage dad to a foot race. I looked at my husband and reminded him that he had nothing to prove to the boy. My husband insisted otherwise. So after a full meal, the two headed outside for a little competition. I tried to dissuade my husband from engaging in the sprint as he had not run in a while not to mention just eating dinner. He insisted he was fine and they were off. Well, father did beat his son…though barely. It is a heavily disputed finish and our son insists that his dad cheated. Nevertheless, walking back inside I found my husband sitting in our room with trying to catch his breath. His face was blood red. I really thought he was about to have a heart attack and I am pretty sure he did, too. He had no business running up and down the road full speed like that but his pride made him do it anyway. How many times do we spend our life, waste our time, and expend our energy on things that don’t really matter because our pride will not allow us to walk away? God has supplied everything we need to live a godly life. In fact, He supplies all our needs. The Lord directs our steps which are sufficiently supplied so we just walk them out. But we run ahead, jump around, get distracted or decide to do things ourselves removing the yoke of faith from Christ to embrace the words, “I will do it myself.” When we allow ourselves to become overwrought and exhausted it is a clear sign that we have engaged in activity that is not from God but of ourselves. When we adopt the philosophy as Children of God that “if I don’t do it no one will” then we have allowed pride to take the place of faith that says, “With God, all things are possible.” There must be balance in our life to run the race and fight the good fight of faith. We must live in this world but remember we are not of it. We must stop engaging in “civilian affairs” because greater is He who lives in me then he that is in the world. It is written that no weapon formed against me can prosper so my wounds must be self-inflicted by disobedience. All those times that I impatiently chose my way rather than allowing God to work it all out. We are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time we started living like it? Good advice for Friday. Good advice for life.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT) Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.

 

Make Me Happy

Make Me Happy

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

In our pursuit of happiness, I wonder if it is ever really a consideration of what makes God happy. I believe that the Lord finds joy in His Children. I love my children. I know that I feel complete when they are all together under our roof. I know that when they first come together it is all laughter and love. However, the longer they remain in one place it quickly can turn to bickering. Since there are now six of them counting our son-in-law, it can go from reunion to revolution with just one well-fired potshot at another. They are hard on one another but should you make the mistake of coming against one of their siblings be prepared for a fight. When our son was ill, the dynamics shifted as they circled their wagons around their ailing brother. No longer was their picking on or fighting one another but grave concern over his health. Our oldest son became very conscientious of the younger son and after 19 years of making his life as terrible as possible, he became the doting big brother. His younger counterpart did not know how to handle the newly acquired attention and became very weary. When he was in remission about a year, he voiced relief when his brother began picking on him again as before and the banter of communication began that he was used to. I wonder if the Lord looks at us the same way. He loves for us to be together. Sharing life. Worshipping His Name. Doing what we are called to do together. I wonder if it grieves His Heart as it does mine when His Children wander off, get lost, lose their way, argue, and bicker amongst one another. Of course it does, how could it not?

Psalm 133:1-3(NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s Head. Harmony is refreshing. I wonder if this is why church fellowship is so strained. We do not have harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. We must find a way to come together, not just within congregations but corporately as a body no longer divided by doctrine and religion to take hold of this thing called harmony. The Lord blesses the life of those who strive for harmony and unity among all mankind. Is that you? Do you want harmony? Do you live united? It requires self-sacrifice just like the priesthood of Aaron. They were the ones who lived in the Presence of God tending to the temple. Are we also sacrificing our wants, needs and desires to be One with the Body of Christ and dwell in the Kingdom of God? What makes God happy will inevitably make me happy if I will sacrifice my life to live in His Presence.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? I Thessalonians 4:17-18 levels up our thinking if we consider these words – “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” The encouragement of the church and bride is the return of Christ. To live for the Lord will make our life better. Our fellowship with one another should do the same thing. We are to encourage each other. Not religiously but relationally to be ready for Jesus’ return as we prepare to join Him in the Kingdom of God forever. There is more to life than this. Say it with me – there is more to life than this. We must think higher thoughts. We must assume higher ways in order to be more like Him every day. I cannot think of myself all the time and be a good partner in any relationship that I maintain.

Any comfort from His Love? Anything done outside of love is apart from Jesus Christ. The Lord does everything for us, in us and through us because of His Great Love for us. Therefore, as ministers of the Gospel not by profession but ordination through the Great Commission, it is our profession and privilege in life to love radically. It is to follow Christ’s Example and Mandate on our life. Love one another. If we do not learn to love and accept others unconditionally, expecting Christ to change their heart, mind and life rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will never see the unification of Christ. There is a God who loves us and created a plan for us. Therefore, He does not need me to point the way but rather for me to lead others to THE WAY. The only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus. I cannot do anything to make my way to Him outside of the grace given to me by Jesus. We are to comfort the lost leading them to the Light with love.

Any fellowship with the Spirit? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us. 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 14:16-18) This is NOT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But rather when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, He gives you His Spirit which identifies us as Children of God. With this in mind, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as we learn to put our expectation in Jesus Christ and NOT other people. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to relationships, ALL RELATIONSHIPS, my first comment will be that you need the Lord to maintain any relationship long term. Marriage without Jesus is impossible. Two imperfect people with unrealistic expectations and selfish hearts will always need an advocate. Relationships are giving opportunities. A successful relationship requires enough trust to give 100% of ourselves to it or it is not a true relationship.

Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (I Peter 4:8-9)We must love each other with the depth and magnitude of the love given to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Love is complete and unconditional full of grace, tenderness and compassion. It is not harsh and unyielding but completely merciful and forgiving. Have you examined your heart lately? When I feel anger towards another, or find myself pulling away – I find that if I examine my heart I will find things not like the Lord. I must deal with them quickly and efficiently as not to cause bitterness and strife. We must have tender hearts. No matter how many times we have been hurt in this world, by the people, if we cannot remain compassionate the fire inside us will soon go out. Passion will no longer rule us but pride quickly takes over.

“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” I believe if we focused on nothing else but this one concept that we could truly bring pleasure to God. I think that when His Children agree wholeheartedly putting all differences aside and love one another working together to share His Love with one mind and purpose that it puts a smile on His Face. When the King smiles on His People, His Favor comes pouring out along with His Glory. We want God’s Favor. We cry out to see His Glory. Where is the Lord? Is He happy with us? Or has our bickering driven Him away? Has the hardness in our hearts for one another kept us from His Presence? I want to make the Lord happy…don’t you? Lord, it makes me happy to make you happy. Show me the way.

Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Humility is absolutely essential in successfully uniting the Body of Christ. No one is 100% right in their pursuit of God – of that you cannot convince me. I know that I have visited several churches and been members of many congregations. Nobody is perfect in their fellowship because people are involved. I do know this. We are called to put aside our pride and selfishness to take up our cross and follow the example of Jesus Christ. What is that example? Even though He was God, He did not relish in equality with God but decided to give up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as slave and appear in human form. I do not think a single person who has entered Heaven would ever consider coming back. Jesus did.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Have you ever been accused on doing something that you did not do? Or maybe saying something that you never said? Do you remember how that made you feel inside? The wronged feeling of being completely innocent yet falsely accused. Imagine if you were the God of the Universe. Jesus died even for the ones who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He passionately loved those who spit in his face and tore chunks of hair and flesh from his bearded face. So you tell me, does it really matter if we are right or wrong? To be like Jesus means we must put away our own pride and take up our cross. The cross has many marks on it. The first is unconditional love. The second forgiveness and grace. There are others that must define our new life in Jesus. What matters is most is that we are to have the same attitude as Christ.

What did God do for Jesus? He elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all names. Hold that thought.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

But wait…there is more to this amazing offer…

John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Let me end the confusion if there is any. When we decide to sacrifice our life for harmony in our home, church, work and world – we activate the Keys to the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus in our life. When Jesus laid down His Life – God gave Him all power and authority in Heaven and earth. He obtained them through humility and sacrificing His Life for others. When we follow this example, Jesus hands us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Power of His Name to use to build the Kingdom of God. If our life does not have open doors, the keys are not being used such as faith, hope and most importantly love. If we are using His Name without much results – it is time to reevaluate our pursuit of happiness. Joy and peace that lead to full satisfaction come when we sacrifice our life to Jesus Christ to have the life that He died for us to have. We die to self when we choose to live for others just as He did. It is the moment that their salvation and freedom drives us to avoid be offensive or defensive but to wrap our arms around them in love, speak to them in love, and captivate them with His Love until they come. This is the greatest work we can do is to do and makes God happy. It will make us happy, too. As God’s Love unites us and our differences dissolve in the Sea of Forgetfulness. We can walk together on the Highway of Holiness which is paved in love and sacrifice.

If only for just one day, we could all put aside our differences to walk together into the Presence of God. To stop looking left and right judging those who we find there by appearances and conditions, but just grabbed them to come along to worship God with us. What if we kept our eyes on Jesus instead of other people? What if making the Lord happy with harmony became more important than being right or religious? What if? I believe that if we ever truly discover harmony in the Body of Christ that we will experience favor like never before and His Glory will fill His Temple again. It would produce the rich and satisfying life that seems elusive for now. Love each other today. Forgive one another. Pray fervently for each other. Work for harmony in the House of God and it will pour out into your life. Make God happy and you will be happy, too!

Psalm 89:14-16 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.