Ice Cream Dream

Ice Cream Dream

Psalm 126:1-3 (ESV) When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

Oh the power of the mind! After a less than glorious annual visit to my doctor, it was made clear that I should make some better choices to be healthy and well. After much deliberation between my heart, mind and body, I have embarked on the low carb craze. I hate the word “diet” because it implies brevity that does not lead to long term results but rather choose the term “healthy lifestyle” to sum it all up. As soon as my body recovers from the initial insult, I will incorporate a new gym membership that will hopefully result in some kind of fitness routine. After three days of imposing strict sugar limitations, I found myself in the local yogurt shop. Before me, two large scoops of yogurt – one vanilla and the other chocolate. The clerk was very helpful in selecting topping after topping as she diligently rang up each one with a soft chime of the cash register. She was going to get the whip cream can when suddenly my alarm went off and I realized it was only a dream. Ugh! The struggle is real!

“We were like those who dream.” Do you have a dream? Dreams begin as images, ideas, emotions and sensations in our sleep. But for those who know Jesus, our dream life does not stop in the corridors of our mind but have great potential in our life. I will be the first to admit that my “ice cream dream” did not represent some hidden meaning but an inner longing for sugar. The Lord pours out His Spirit so that His Sons and Daughters giving each one the potential to dream about new possibilities that will become the prosperity of our soul if one grabs hold of it, applies faith and waits for it to come. Such a mindset is the essence of believing. People don’t like dreamers especially those who do not dream any more.

Genesis 37:18-20 (ESV) They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.”

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) The enemy wants to kill your dream. He wants to rob you of destiny that begins in our dream life and visions. Children live in make-believe as they act out the dreams and desires in their little hearts. Life is hard and experiences break the dreamer’s heart and they cease to dream choosing to live according to the reality of today without hopeful expectation of tomorrow. Joseph was a dreamer. He was very out-spoken about the dreams and visions that the Lord had given him. His brothers said, “Here comes the dreamer. Come now, let us kill him…” And then, “and we will see what will become of his dreams.” When was the last time, your dream was so big that it scared you into discarding it as impossible? See that is what the enemy wants to do Child of the Living God! He wants you to give up on the potential of your dream and purpose that it holds because the devil knows that God is faithful and true. The enemy believes that the purpose in your dream will yield the promise that it holds more than you do.

Psalm 126:4-6 (ESV) Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Every dream has a price even my ice cream dream. As she scooped each one, she would hit a key that made a sound representing cost. Each topping would produce the same sound which raised the price I would have to pay for the delicacy. Your dream has a price. You must decide if it is worth the cost to have it and energy it will take to pursue it. You don’t have to decide all at once. I woke up before I ate the ice cream and continued on my healthy journey. People – I am not going to lie. I have ice cream in the refrigerator in the house and deep freeze in the garage. It is available even at this ridiculously early time of morning. No one would know if I ate some before starting the day. I had to make a choice. Do I maintain my condition or do I continue to my destiny? Every dream has a price. Your vision has a cost. We must decide today if we want to settle for this life or step out into Kingdom reality secured only by faith and trust in Jesus. The dreams that God gives us are according to His Purpose and Plan for us which are always exceedingly abundantly more than we could think, ask, imagine, and dream.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Everyone has food induced dreams. Too much pizza and chocolate before bed can produce some pretty crazy ones. Sometimes emotional events will also make us dream. For instance, sometimes I dream of walking through my grandparents’ house even though they are long gone to be with Jesus. I don’t want to live but linger in their presence because I still mourn the loss. And then there are the God Dreams – the ones that I know His Spirit gives me and that have great potential. You know the ones because you have them too! Fear tells us to disregard. Doubt says that it is simply not possible inserting an excuse. Faith says, “Nothing is impossible for God.” Believing says, “Every chain is breakable.” The purpose and plan that the Lord has prerecorded for us has no expiration date. We simple walk by faith and believe Him at His Word embracing our dreams that will become the prosperity of our soul that leads to success in this life and safety in the everlasting. Don’t stop dreaming. I speak resurrection power and life to every dream that is dormant with in you. May they sleep no more but flood you with new hope. Just start believing…in Jesus Name!

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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Plenty

Plenty

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

The word “plenty” means a full or abundant supply. It is the open invitation when unexpected guests arrive at dinner time. Here in the South, the surprised host might say, “Please stay…there is plenty” knowing full well it will be a scramble in the kitchen. Somehow it always works out though. I wonder if the food in our pantry mysteriously doubles in the invitation to others. Could it be the meat in our freezer magically grows and expands to meet our hospitality? Who knows…but all I know is that there always seems to be more than enough.

God has promised us an abundant life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Word of God tells us that He has already supplied all that we need. There are many stories of plenty in the Bible. The key to plenty in the Kingdom of God is obedience. To give with the full expectation that God is enough and Christ in us is sufficient as our Source and Supplier. When Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness, somehow the Children of God left Egypt with a rich supply for their pain and suffering. So much so that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. In the Book of Exodus, an opulent design is set forth for the Tabernacle’s construction and design including the wardrobe for the priesthood. Rich and luxurious lacking nothing completely extravagant. When the time came to build it, the people began bringing in the offerings. In Exodus 36, Moses commands the people to stop bringing gifts because “their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” They fled Egypt with only what they could carry yet still make it out alive. They had enough. In fact, they had more than enough. How is it even possible?

What about the widow woman in 2 Kings 4? Her husband, a man of God, has passed away and the debt collectors are threatening to come take her sons. She seeks out the prophet, Elisha who inquires, “Tell me, what do you in the house? The woman replies, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil often represents anointing. We are anointed. Christ, the Anointed One, resides inside of us. It is in her obedience to the prophet’s instructions that the flask of oil becomes barrels of oil. Watch this – the woman does as instructed. The oil stops when the vessels are full. She had enough to pay her debts AND to live on the leftovers. God is ready to pour out plenty in our lives. In fact, the Great Multiplier is already inside of you and me as believers. It is in obedience that plenty becomes the abundance that we are looking for and satisfaction is discovered.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. The secret to satisfaction is contentment. Not that God would ever prescribe us to settle for less than enough or living in lack but to learn to be content. This requires setting our full expectation on God the Father and depending on Christ in us for everything. Our needs, wants and desires are important to the Lord. His Spirit cultivates good fruit in us to feed our hungry soul the kinds of things that lead to satisfaction. As our soul prospers, our life will prosper in the expansion. God loves a cheerful giver. How much of your life are you willing to give to God’s Cultivation called prosperity? It begins in our heart. We must learn to trust in God’s Perfection and Planning. He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Matthew 14:15-21 (NLT) That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Church folks love fellowship! You cannot get into the local restaurants on a Sunday around one o’clock where we live in the Bible belt. Everyone is ready to eat and commune together in the local diners and buffets. The crowds came to see Jesus. To hear what He had to say, and now it was dinnertime. The disciples weren’t about to make a fast food run, but rather send the folks away. Jesus told them to feed them. Say what? The men had a borrowed lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus took the meager meal and blessed it. He thanked God for it. Then He broke it into pieces and gave it away. In the end, everyone was full and there was more left over than what they started with.

Do you feel pressure today? Are you dissatisfied? Are you wondering why you do not have plenty but barely enough to survive? You want to give your life away but I dare say that until it is blessed and broken on the inside – there is nothing in our hands or homes worth giving. What is meager in your hand becomes mighty in God’s Hand! What seems mediocre in life becomes magnificent in the Kingdom! What seems impossible to you right now is miraculous when Jesus takes over! Maybe the pressure is your ordinary life about to give way to something extraordinary. All these stories seemed like not enough but became more than enough through obedience. Godly obedience will always include giving because that is how He supplies us.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Lord, I have all that I need today to live in the land of plenty and to experience the abundant, rich and satisfying life that you promised. It is here in the now. Bless it, God. Break it. Use it for your good and glory in my life and to those around me. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

 

What Is Your Passion?

Passion

Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG) Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

What is your passion? Passion is any powerful feeling or compelling emotion in us. It produces a drive for that desire that is the kindling that creates tinder. When such a feeling or emotion is nurtured, it becomes inflamed. What is your drive in life? Is it to love the Lord your God with all your heart? The most important passion in our life is the one that consumes our time and energy. What are you after? What takes over your thoughts? What is that demands your time and is given its worth? Human beings are filled with many emotions, feelings and overtures both of God and not of God. The flesh has a passion all its own. Our heart also has passion that it longs to pursue. We decide what passion is fueled and allowed to exist in our life. So what about you? What is your passion today?

Love. To love God with all our heart. The other translations use the word “heart” instead of passion. The thought provoking Message Bible describes our love for God as passionate. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you pursue Him? Do you long to be filled by Him? Is He truly your beloved? To be passionate means having or compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling. It produces an urgency and fervency within us to overtake that which is desired. It also means to express it. To let it out in some sort of demonstration or portrayal. Purpose without passion is just a plan – it will not produce anything at all because there is no investment. Purpose fueled by passion will create prosperity in our life. The very thing given our time and energy will yield its gain if not abandoned but pursued. It is the law of sowing and reaping. Those with passion do not give up because there as inner drive that overtakes us. Hence, it is important to examine our heart and evaluate our feelings and emotions on a regular basis.

Revelation 2:2-5 (MSG) “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.”

Have you walked away from your first love? Maybe, wandered away unknowingly? It can happen. The church of Ephesus was doing all the “right” things but forgot about fueling their relationship with Christ. Everything we do, say and give our life to must be through our love and passion for Jesus Christ. The pursuit of His Heart must be our drive and desire each day in all things. If we are not careful, our partnership with the Lord becomes a business contract rather than marriage covenant. God will do exactly as He promised apart from love. His Love for us is constant. He passionately pursues us. Making the Way for us to live in right standing as sons and daughters of God. He will not lie. He cannot change His Mind and be God. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He is good even when we are not. God’s Passion and Commitment to us is never in question it is always consistent. It is our love and devotion to the Lord that hangs in the balance.

Recover your dear early love. The start of a love affair is generally a passionate overture of raw emotion. The buildup tremendous but letdown coming. The emotions, feelings and desires of love must become a commitment to be long lasting. The imperfection of people make it impossible to fully live up to the expectation of love without a tremendous amount of grace and submission. Where’s the fun in that? A life of love may not always be fanciful and fun, but godly love will always be fruitful and produce in us a satisfied and fulfilled life. When our first love is Jesus – our expectation of full satisfaction and absolute abundance are secure. If we hold steadfast to the hope given to us in every situation – contentment will be complete. Humanity is all about the “feels”. I wonder what might happen if our passion was turned to the Lord and pursued Him first. What would the possibilities be? I cannot lead others to a place I have never been. I cannot describe an experience that I have never encountered. I cannot share a love that I have not found.

I John 4:1719 (MSG) God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

What is your passion? I asked before and I ask you again. What is the greatest drive and desire in your life today? What if we were completely honest even if only with ourselves? Examining the contents of our heart with transparency, considering our desires and drive, evaluating our time and how it is spent. What if we truly laid out our life and took an account of where it is being spent? Would our greatest pursuit be the Heart of God with a passionate love for Jesus Christ? I can only look into my own life. We are to love others as we love ourselves. Do you love you today? I have found that only through my relationship with Jesus Christ have I established any self-worth. In Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle of life with the selfish and prideful nature of his flesh constantly combatting the goodness and grace of God at work in him. Such is the struggle of every believer to fully invest their heart in pursuing God with passion.

Our heart must fall in love with Jesus Christ. Our passion must become pursuing Him at all cost if His Promise and Prosperity is our deepest longing. Our soul must prosper before anything in our natural life will. Our soul prospers when our heart, mind and body are fully committed to loving Jesus Christ. It will require our careful attention and honest evaluation of the contents and contracts in our life. Jesus came to become our beloved…He calls us beloved. It is from this loving covenant relationship with Christ filled with passion that we can pursue others with perfect love. Desiring nothing from them because our needs and desires are fulfilled by Christ. It is in the sowing of love that we receive it.

Is it time to rekindle passion? Is it time to pursue something new? If your life is fully satisfied or overflowing in abundance, it may be time to return to your first love. To bless the work of our hands without having our heart could result in the death of many who call themselves Christians but do not know Christ or love Him. It is easy to take those we love for granted and Jesus is not exempt. His Grace and Goodness are not doormats but doorways to a rich and satisfying life. We must be passionate in our pursuit of His Love.

Psalm 23:6 (MSG) Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Song of Solomon 5:6-7 (MSG) Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing—it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—it’s not to be found in the marketplace.

It’s A Good Friday

It's A Good Friday

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

After a long and stressful day at work full of deadlines, I was driving home so thankful that it was finally the weekend. I thought about the day filled with too much to do and not enough time to do it thanking the Lord that I made it when it occurred to me that it was only Thursday. I still had to get through Friday. Ugh! Have you ever done that before? What a letdown! As I could feel exhaustion overtake me and complaints begin to rise up in my throat, I remembered it was Good Friday. Why do they call it “Good”? Jesus was about to face the most horrible day of his natural life. He cried out to the Father to take the awful cup of suffering from Him. If there was any other way but to endure the Cross, it had to happen quickly. Well, as Christians we know that Jesus went to the Cross and died for our sins. He would rest in the tomb for three long days. Can you imagine what His Disciples and Followers must have been thinking? None of this met their expectation. When the women arrived to attend the body of the “dead” teacher, master, and Messiah, the angels would meet them and said, “Remember what He said…” It is in the days preceding the victorious emergence of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that probably the best lesson for His People is taught. What do you do in the waiting? What happens when nothing turns out as planned? What happens when our expectancy wavers on the brink of devastation? How can we call such days “good”?

I am not comparing my busy and exhausting week to the suffering of Jesus Christ simply using it as an illustration. When we think the journey is almost over, only to discover a few forgotten steps. When it looks like the walls are coming down, but the Lord says, “Keep walking.” On the edge of breakthrough, when you cannot fathom moving another inch, pressing any harder, or enduring another minute. But you do… That my friend is the Grace of God working in you! Jesus set an example for us. He was focused. His heart set on you and me – those He calls, “Beloved”. He couldn’t go back, yet in the flesh – how could he continue? But He did…

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

What has eternity blossomed in your heart today? What is your most hopeful aspiration? Do you have a dream, goal or vision? Of course, you do! You are a Child of the Living God who is creative in His Ways. He didn’t call you to a mundane or mediocre life. Just as Jesus exemplifies sometimes we must fix our focus on the “joy” that is just on the other side of that which is so difficult. We must keep our heart and mind on guard in perfect peace that God will do exactly as He promised. After all, isn’t Jesus a prime example of the faithfulness of our Father?

Hebrews 12:3 (AMP) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On this Good Friday, we must consider and meditation on Jesus. He endured betrayal, hostility, abandonment and abuse all in a single day and still decided that we were worth dying a brutal and tragic death for. To consider and compare our discomfort and inconveniences to the suffering of Christ should help us gain perspective. He went to the grave and walked in to hell to take back your life from the hand of the enemy. Three long days later, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious in His Efforts. He didn’t only give you the gift of eternal life but every promise that once was withheld due to rejection and rebellion against God are now available in righteousness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came that we might have a rich and satisfying life. He came to give us His Abundance from the coffers of the Kingdom. Surely if Christ could do all that – we can make it another day striving to live apart from sin, walk with Jesus and endure a hard day or rough season. We must set our heart, mind and soul on the joy set before us and secured by our Savior. It is indeed a good Friday!

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

It’s going to be a busy weekend for Christians. It is the biggest weekend with high attendance for churches. There will be many festivities. Shopping for just the right outfit. Running all around. Can we stop for just a moment and fix our eyes on Jesus! When you think about complaining, remember that you have victory in every situation today! If you do not quit or give up but just believe – breakthrough is coming! We serve a risen Lord. Even His Disciples struggled with doubt and disbelief. Can you imagine what was running through their heads waiting for the stone to roll away? What happened? This is not what they expected. Jesus says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” He doesn’t give us the kind of rest the world does. A quick respite from running to and fro. God gives us peace of mind and heart that even on our worst day it is a good day thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 21:25-28 (AMP)  “There will be signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars; and on the earth [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with [transcendent, overwhelming] power [subduing the nations] and with great glory. Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”

Assumption

Assumption

Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The journey of faith is long and arduous. It requires endurance as that exerted in a marathon. Many will begin but few will finish – the broken road is laden with many who heard the Word of God and wanted all of its benefits but succumbed to one of the many distractions along the way. Some of the seeds falling on a path easily devoured by the lie of the enemy which is his only weapon formed against. It will not prosper when seeds planted deep in the human heart become confident hope. Other seeds were considered and even pondered for a short time but then the busyness of life and need for immediate gratification hindered the roots of trust from grabbing hold of every fear, doubt and insecurity and crushing them in the peace of God through Jesus Christ. Without being rooted and grounded in God’s Love and Goodness through Jesus Christ there is no Living Water to sustain us during times of drought. Other seeds were suffocated by distractions and the thorns of life keep us in the ordinary when all along the new life waits in the extraordinary. You were born in the natural and through Jesus Christ have access to the supernatural. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives? They have the wrong assumptions.

There are two kinds of assumption – 1) there is the assumption that takes for granted, and 2) there is the assumption that takes possession. Let’s talk about assuming. The word jumped off the screen reading Ephesians 4 today. God never lies or changes His Mind. He is Sovereign and Perfect in every way. He loves us. He is good to us. He desires us. His Unconditional Love for us evident in the selfless giving of His Son to obtain our life in its most wretched state. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, He never changes. Our life has a plan and purpose containing a future and hope prerecorded and predestined before our natural birth only awaiting spiritual rebirth. My heart has a measure of faith to begin the growth process. It has a promise – eternity. Jesus came to be the Way, the Truth and Life. To give me access to the Father and become His Child again. All of this belongs to me including every spiritual blessing and the supplies to meet every need. I am promised victory in Jesus Christ. He is the overcomer who will never leave me or forsake me. He has given me His Spirit as a helper. The Spirit provides guidance in applying God’s Word (seed) to my life and making it grow into good fruit that will satisfy me with a prospering soul. If my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is not His Fault but by my own assumption.

Do I assume natural occurrences or supernatural outcomes in Jesus Name? My strongest conviction must be that the Lord is exactly who He says He is and does exactly what He promises to do. Before Christ I took all these benefits and blessings for granted because honestly they were unattainable. Coming to Christ, I must change my assumption by faith fulling believing and adopting the promises of God in every area of my life. It is human nature to doubt. To have fear and anxiety is evidence of insecurity in my heart that Jesus can and will do exactly as promised in His Word. To lack joy, peace and every other fruit born of the Spirit is to accept these things as a way of life rather than giving this life away by faith to trust God at His Word.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

“We all make basic assumptions about things in life, but sometimes those assumptions are WRONG. We must never trust in what we assume, only in what we KNOW.” Darren Shan

Our new life in Christ requires us to make new assumptions. We are prewired by experienced to never assume but always try, test, ask and know. As I have said many times, I do not believe in blind faith. Faith is what we know about God and choose to believe. The assumption of our life as believers is through adoption. To know, trust and believe so that faith becomes logical and hope our confidence. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless before Him. He decided to adopt us to become His Sons and Daughters. It is according to His Will and by His Grace that such a life is even possible. The rest is up to us. The acceptance of Jesus Christ and the new life that is offered is to know His Love and live in it.

We must fully assume our new identity in Jesus Christ in order to obtain every spiritual blessing. The Spirit of God within us is proof of our identity. Faith is His Investment so that when sown in our heart and life that it blossoms into new life. Jack’s mom didn’t believe the beans he received in trade were worth anything and threw them out the window. But the next morning those seeds became a beanstalk connecting earth to the sky. Now we both know this is just a children’s story, but what if the seeds given to us in the form of God’s Word really do have the potential to connect Heaven and earth. To change our normal existence into a supernatural lifestyle. What if our ordinary really is purposed to become extraordinary? What are you waiting for? It’s time to put some seed in the ground by faith and watch it grow in Jesus Name.

Romans 8:14-16 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

“Faith grows when we assume the position of one who can’t do it all by himself. That means we go to God, follow Him, and ask Him for help.” – John Townsend

I am caught up in this thought of assumption today. Are there areas of my life that I have not yielded to Christ and assumption of my new life? Am I living as an adopted daughter of the Living God or do I still lack full assumption of my identity in Christ? How do I know? What do I expect? Do I expect God’s Love and Goodness? Do I live a confident life fully trusting the Lord to meet my need and exceed all expectations? The answer lies in my own heart. I must examine the contents carefully lest I assume without knowing. I must know the Word – not assume it doesn’t apply to me. I must know Jesus Christ through an abiding relationship – not just assume an introduction one day. I must live in a life of power by fully accepting grace that is only magnified in my weakness. Less of me and more of Him allows me to connect with Heaven by faith now rather than wondering when I die if I will enter its gates. There is no greater confidence than faith flourishing in every spiritual blessing given to those who live by faith as an assumption of all God has planned and purposed. To do so, I must assume that I am a Child of God because I know the Word and He lives in me.

I John 4:4 (ESV)  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

What Did You Expect?

What Do You Expect

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

It’s Sunday. Many Christians are preparing for weekly worship at their church of choice. Observing the tradition of many Americans to get a weekly dose of Word and worship. They will enter the hallowed halls and choose a comfortable seat. Probably the same seat for every other service. Talking, laughing, and engaging with a tight social circle and maybe an occasional wave to a new face and word of “welcome”.  The music will begin to play and perhaps someone will engage in praising God exuberantly or at least a united hand clap. The people will pray perhaps for the first time all week. The pastor will poke and prod the people – some even yelling, sweating and spitting to get the point across. The ushers will take up the offering. Everyone will file back out to the local buffet. Where is the new life? Where is the transforming power of Christ? Why didn’t anyone answer the call to come to Jesus? Where are the signs, wonders, miracles and power that Jesus promised His Body – the Church? What did you expect?

There is a far greater glory in the New Way given to us in Jesus Christ. We have a hope that will never lead to disappointment so why are we so afraid to choose that way. Given to our routines and habits, comfortable in complacency, and in control of our life – I wonder what would happen in the unexpected or impossible came to crush our normal. What is this new way? The Way, the Truth and the Life – the full embodiment of Jesus Christ. Why don’t we take full advantage of our benefits in the Son of God rather sitting shackled by sin and shame, ridiculed by regret, and detoured by disappointment? Could it be that we don’t expect anything more out of our Savior and Lord?

John 11:20-22 (NLT) When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

The greatest opposition in our life is not the enemy of our soul. It is our flesh. The inner man that takes on the Spirit that is the Lord in us. The flesh rivals faith on every occasion. Martha was in the midst of such inner turmoil. She knew that if Jesus had been there her brother, Lazarus, would not have died. She believed that if He would have laid hands on him that Lazarus would have recovered. But Jesus was “too late” in her opinion. Yet the conflict is revealed in the verses to come. “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Really Martha, do you believe this to be true?

Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha immediate affirmed what she believed that Lazarus would indeed rise with every other believer at the Lord’s Return during the Great Resurrection. Jesus didn’t plan to wait that long. Martha did live in full expectation so she made an excuse. I believe you are the Messiah, she tell Jesus. Her doubt clearly indicated that His Power was not for today. Later in the same chapter, Jesus is ready to call Lazarus back from the dead and asks them to roll away the stone. Martha immediately protests. He has been dead for four days. The body will surely stink. No Martha, it is time for Jesus to deal with your stinkin’ thinking. Are there any Martha’s out there today willing to admit – it is easier to believe in eternal life than everyday miracles?

2 Kings 5:10-12 (NLT)  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.

The power of pride to wreak havoc on faith cannot be overlooked. It must be firmly apprehended and kept under complete control of the Holy Spirit. Naaman went to Elisha. He was covered in leprosy. He expected the Man of God to come lay hands on him or at the very least wave his hand over him and that he would be healed. Instead, how dare Elisha even suggest that Naaman go wash in the Jordan River? Not once but seven times in the filthy waters of Israel. “So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.” How many times the Lord is at work in our life but because our expectation is unmet because it threatens our pride?

Finally, Naaman succumbs to the pleading of his servants. He humbles himself and washes in the Jordan just as Elisha prescribed. He was healed. Your faith is not going to take you to a place where you flesh can survive. Pride will always limit the life-giving power of Jesus Christ in our life. I cannot have a new life without my present form giving way. Transformation requires change. I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in this world. Therefore, I must decrease so that Christ will increase in me.

Luke 7:19-22 (NLT)  And he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.

Who would think that the voice crying out in the wilderness who prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah, would experience doubt? Sitting in the cold walls of a damp prison, John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask. “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking for someone else?” All the miracles, signs and wonders yet in his isolation – John still had to ask. Jesus was who he expected but he did not come the way that everyone expected. The struggle was in his humility. Rather than coming to take over the world and ruling over the existing kingdoms – He offered people access to the Father and His Kingdom. The struggle is real.

The struggle to believe is a regular occurrence. To live fearlessly in complete confidence in God’s Way and His Will requires an inward crucifixion day by day. To tell our mind to stop worrying, doubting and fearing. To rid our heart of sin. To remind our soul to prosper in His Word, His Will and His Way when nothing goes as humanly expected. I have a dear friend. We met in the Hope Lodge while staying with loved ones undergoing cancer treatment. Her husband is one of the few who survived. Now it is coming close to his time to meet the Lord. Reading her posts on social media, it is clear that her faith is in the Lord. Her words a constant encouragement in the midst of losing her partner of more than 50 years. How do you respond to life unexpected? To tragedy? Heartbreak?

We have the Bread of Life and Living Water available to nourish and strengthen our soul each day. The opportunity to build a relationship with Jesus Christ that will turn the impossible into miracles, natural into supernatural so that we can have inexpressible joy day by day. We must integrate our church life and become the Church. The Body of Christ has many members. I must allow the Holy Spirit to produce the kind of fruit in me that makes me a viable member. The only way that my inner progress can be evaluated is through the tests and trials of life. Faith left untested can always be contested by our flesh. We must be strong in our faith and trust in Jesus Christ for when the unexpected comes – we will do exactly what He says to do and how He says to do it.

Acts 3:4-6 (NLT) Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

A pastor once said, “To experience healing means giving up your disability check. To experience prosperity means giving up the government cheese.” I wonder what would happen if we put our full expectation in the Lord rather than in temporary things. The tangible blessings of God are given to the just and unjust. Every good thing comes from the Father even in the lives of those who turn from Him. If you decide it is enough to live in less than enough – Jesus will still be more than enough. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. You can exist rather than prosper. It is completely up to you. The lame man was looking for a handout but the Lord was ready to heal him.

You will never have to beg the Father for the crumbs beneath His Table. If you choose to dine there rather than feast in His Company – it is completely up to you. I wonder how many times in a day we settle for less than God’s Best rather than striving for full satisfaction? We become comfortable in our complacency and decide not to believe for anything more. Why? Transformation requires change. A change of heart, a change of mind, a change of will, a change of way, and a change of scenery. It disrupts the known with the unknown. We want all of God’s Best but do not want to risk our comfort, convenience or control to have it. Our pride wages war in our heart, mind and soul winning by means of forfeit. What if God really does want to bless you? Heal you? Deliver you? Prosper you? What if the only thing standing in the way is you?

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.”

What do you expect? Preparing to enter the House of God today and worship as a congregation, what do you expect? Do you expect the Glory of God to come change lives, bring healing, and exhibit all of God’s Power? If not, why not? It all comes down to a single person and one beating heart. Yours. Mine. Our capacity to believe removes all limitation from our midst. When I decide that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save me, heal me and deliver me – it solidifies my soul. The cutting away of stubborn flesh from my hard heart allows me to join my faith with others and where two or more are gathered in His Name – He is in our midst. My expectation is absolutely essential to a successful outpouring and mighty move of the Living God in my life, home, church, workplace and community. I have to expect His Glory and believe that it will come to change the atmosphere of my life from ordinary to extraordinary in Jesus Name.

Matthew 18:20 (NLT) For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

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

Who doesn’t love to receive a gift? Especially that unexpected random bit of thoughtfulness on an ordinary day out of the blue for no reason at all. Such simple gestures grow relationships including marriages and friendships. But in that moment of receiving – it can become a burden if you have nothing to offer in return. Even from a friend rather than accepting with humble gratitude, our pride wants to immediately give something back. To reciprocate that goodness offered in order to remove any expectation or indebtedness. I love to give. I am a giver by nature. I have a tough time receiving. I am not sure why or even the point of this scripture passage that I have been led to. What gift is the Father offering me today? Am I willing to receive it? Though I have nothing to give Him, He is always doing good things for me.

The Lord lavishes His Unfailing Love and Grace on us each day. He pursues us with His Faithfulness. He gifts us with new mercy each day. He promises to provide all of our needs. He offers to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask, think or even imagine. The gift of life in exchange for the death sentence that once convicted us. God is good. He is a Good Father. His Son, Jesus, is good. He is ALWAYS good even when we are not. His Love transcends our faults, failures and weaknesses. We cannot reciprocate it. There is nothing worthy to return to Him even as an offering. He just keeps making good of the details in my life just as His Word says. Grace maintains that no matter what the Lord never changes His Mind about me and His Love will always be enough to change my life radically. To turn darkness in to Light. To transform the natural into supernatural. To take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. All I must do is believe.

To believe. Such a simple word with magnificent and marvelous ramifications if applied in our life. Yet why the struggle…could it be that the offer sounds too good? The depth of God’s Love too overwhelming to go further than wading. The vastness of it producing so much freedom that fear tells us we will be lost. Do you believe that God is good? Have you experienced His Goodness? Would you like to?

Matthew 7:7-12 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

There are heartbreaking stories of silent orphanages all over the world. Filled with babies and small children yet void of any sound. Why don’t the babies cry? They know that no one will come. How sad is that to even consider a crying child that has never experienced the warmth of a tight embrace or soothing whispers of a loved one. Last year our office adopted a family for the holidays, a grandfather caring for a handful of grandchildren abandoned by parents caught up in bad choices. When all the gifts were gathered and presented to them, I was humbled by comparison. My own children take for granted the gifts that these children cherished. Ordinary things that one might think every childhood entails including a warm jacket for an unseasonably cold winter. We are no longer orphans.

We have a Heavenly Father. Whether we are prodigal or presiding with Him, it doesn’t matter His Love and Lavishing Goodness are for us. Grace makes a way for us to enter His Presence and come to Him bolding with confidence that He will answer. So why are we not asking, seeking and knocking on Heaven’s Door? It all goes back to one word. The same word that keeps those little babies from crying. Fear. The fear of unmet expectation is stifling in the life of a believer. Past experiences tell us to trust no one.

Our Father invites us and longs for us to come to Him. “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts those who ask Him.” The rain falls on the just and unjust. The Lord is always providing what we need to experience fruitfulness and abundance in our life. It is our receivership that struggles. Pride verses humility. I remember when our oldest ventured out on his own. He was full of confidence and even a little arrogance. He went overseas to serve our country for almost a year. When he came back, he moved into an apartment and began “adulting”. He balked at returning home to get his feet on the ground. Six months later, home looked really good. The “King of Rock and Roll” – the one and only Elvis Presley – had the misfortune of an untimely death as he decided to do things “My Way.” I wonder what would happen if we humbled ourselves as little children at the feet of Jesus and crawled in Father God’s lap to ask forgiveness for our failures, unload our fears and finally confide in Him our wants, needs and desires. Good things, that’s what we would experience as the Goodness of the Father overtakes His Children who come to Him.

John 14:15-18 (NIV) “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the Glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Every promise that can be found in God’s Word (written and spoken) are a resounding “yes” thanks to the precious gift of salvation through the Blood of Jesus. The Spirit of Adoption, the Holy Spirit, identifies us as God’s Children. He is a Good Father who blesses His Children with good things day in and day out. Where is God’s Goodness in your life? All around you. Why can’t you see it? Do you believe?

Do not let past unmet expectation or lifetime disappointment keep you from believing in the Goodness of God. His Grace is enough to overcome every sin, fault and failure and He promises that His Power is for the weak. We must believe enough to ask. To approach the Father in faith that He will do just as He said that He would do with the willingness to wait until He responds. Doubt will keep you from destiny if allowed to flourish in the place of faith. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans.” We are not orphans but dearly loved children of the Most High God. It’s time to live like it.

When the prodigal son returned home, he was met by the love and grace of his father with fully restored sonship. Even Elijah experienced the loving kindness of the Father when hiding on the mountain. The still small voice did not condemn him for fearing Jezebel and hiding from her threats. No, He simply asked him – “What are you doing here?” What is the still small voice saying to you today? The Lord wants to shower His Love and Affection on us every day. He is always sending us good gifts. He is a Good Father. He calls us His Children.

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches

Colossians 3:14-16 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

I am one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of my life is changed. Filled with disappointment, bitterness, and completely devastated by bad choices I was lost in my own regret and shame. All that changed when I met a man. A man who knew all about my life and yet still chose to give me a brand new one. He took all those details and continues to make good on His Promise to change this mess into a message. Like an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor yet private and intimate, I cannot begin to tell you how love made the difference in my life. His Love that clothes me allows me to love freely and forgivingly. His Grace that has kept me this far has produced a need to give it away just to have more. His Goodness has benefited my life in more ways than I could ever count or confer to another without forgetting some of the miraculous and wonderful gifts I have been given. His Name – Jesus.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” One of the greatest gifts given to us by the Lord is His Peace. The kind of peace that passes understanding. Derived from unconditional love and uncompromised acceptance of all imperfections by a perfectly sovereign God provided by his perfectly sinless Son, how is it possible to accept such an extravagant gift without somehow reciprocating it? It would be wonderful if there was something of any worth that I could give Him, but there really is nothing other than to accept His Gift of Love, Grace and Mercy and apply it to my broken life. Oh how our pride hates the thought of something that is unearned and undeserved. Our need for supremacy and control puts rules, regulations and mandates on the freeness of God’s Grace in order to fulfill its obligation. Such in intrusion sows seeds of insecurity and doubt that will begin to uproot faith and choke out the hope rising from within.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love…” In Isaiah 61:10, it says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” The Lord gave us salvation and wrapped a white robe around us to cover us. It is this robe that gives us confidence that our relationship is secure again. Nothing can now come between us and the Love of God. Sin is covered sufficiently by the Blood of Jesus. Game over. However, if we do not clothe ourselves in His Love daily – it is easy to put back on the filthy rags of a beggar. Imagine. Why do such a thing? Would you do that now? Would you choose clothes out of the hamper rather than grabbing a fresh clean garment from the drawer?

Today, before you leave for church, you will choose an outfit, check your appearance in the mirror, and make sure everything is just right before heading off to worship the Lord. The people in the congregation will appreciate your diligence but when you arrive will the Lord see the robe of righteousness that He has given you. The love that identifies you as His Own. Will God recognize you as His Own? It is easy to get caught up in life and social standards but today if only for today – can we get so wrapped up in Jesus that no one recognizes us?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Studying the Word this morning, my intent was to focus on thankfulness. I am determined to carry over the thanksgiving season all the way through the Christmas holiday. Thankfulness produces contentment in our life. Taking our eyes off what we do not have to appreciate and acknowledge the things given to us by the Hand of God. Every good thing in our life is a product of God with us – Immanuel. It doesn’t matter if we acknowledge the Lord or not – He blesses us according to His Will. The rain falls on the just and unjust because God ordained it not man ordering it. There is nothing I can do to earn or deserve the Grace of God in my life. What I can do is to let the Prince of Peace rule my heart.

You must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow done into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. The instructions are simple. Why do we make it so hard? Faith is not impractical. It may seem a bit illogical until the Word of God becomes a daily consumption and His Spirit uses it cultivate your faith into a practical lifestyle. God’s Word is the fertilizer of faith in our life. The roots of faith connect us with God’s Heart and His Desires. As we build our lives on Christ who is the foundation of our faith, there is a wonderful transformation from dissatisfaction and discontentment to full satisfaction and completion. It is not based on feelings, emotions or worldly standards but thankfulness. How can I be thankful when my needs are not met, my emotions are all over the map, and my expectations seem wasted on an unseen God with invisible hands?

We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is followed by simply doing what the Word of God says even when the outcome is not clear. A farmer plants a field with great expectation but no guarantee. Doing his best to prepare the field, sowing good seed, watering and caring for what looks to be barren, while beneath the soil – the seed is growing, changing, developing and maturing. What if the very thing you prayed for is just below the surface of your life, but unwillingness to wait causes you to leave the field? The seed will still produce in your absence.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Disqualification is ineligibility when breaking the terms of an agreement. The enemy will continually offer compromises in order to attempt to disqualify you. Empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that appeal to human reasoning but are not divine wisdom. It is written that God’s People will perish from ignorance or a lack of knowledge. God’s Word is absolutely essential to tearing down the strongholds of the mind those things that appeal to our flesh but wreak havoc on our heart. The fullness of God lives in Christ. Christ lives in us. His Authority and Power belong to us as a product of grace and grace alone. We are overcomers in all things. We have been handed the victory. Disqualification is only possible apart from Christ. His Grace fills the void of broken rules and agreements so now we are right with God the Father again. We must make the decision to capture every thought that is in rebellion to God, His Plan and Purpose for our life in order to remain qualified for the calling. Otherwise, we will choose less than God’s Best and wander off to wildernesses in search of substitutions, shortcuts and subtle settlings.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

You are one of the greatest rags to riches stories ever written. A wretched, deplorable person filled with faults and failures swept up in a wave of grace so powerful that every detail of your life is subject to change. Though you may be experiencing disappointment, bitterness, and complete devastation by bad choices or unfortunate situations, the Fullness of Christ in you is looking to make its way out into the open. Has shame shattered your confidence in Christ or maybe regret is reasoning that you are not worthy of God’s Investment of His Son and Spirit so you simply live in your suffering?  God has written an epic love story with all of the cinematic splendor just for you, it begins only by accepting the fullness of His Grace and then following Him. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, fail or flail, God is doing the good work inside you and His Grace is always enough.

Devote yourself today. The word “devote” means to give all or a large part of one’s time and/or resources to an activity or person. I wonder what would happen if we devoted more of our time and resources to discovering the Fullness of God given to us in Christ. If we strived to clothe ourselves in the righteousness that is grace given rather than continually donning the old filthy rags of our past indiscretions or present insecurities. Devote our life to God, Jesus and His Spirit by pursuing intimacy that is not dependent on anyone else. To live with an alert mind that is fixed on the Kingdom, heavenly outpourings and miraculous outcomes. God has placed potential in us that will lead to daily fulfillment and abundance. We must be consciously aware that this moment does not dictate our future, but should be lived with forever in mind. Least but not last, a thankful heart. This is for me today.

My identity in Christ is enough to live in complete fulfillment with hopeful expectation. I must build my confidence by increasing faith. I must devote my life to Jesus Christ in all things. (Ephesians 5:10) I must be confident of the Kingdom to which I belong and its sustainability for my life today. (Hebrews 12:28) On those days when I got lost in emotional overtures or overwhelming feelings, I must still manage to sacrifice thankfulness because He never changes and is bigger than my feelings. (Psalm 50:14; I John 3:20) God knows exactly what He is doing in me, through me and for me. I must maintain my belief that He is good and will never let me down. I must remind my soul by worshiping God for who He is and not what He does.

With this in mind today, let us devote ourselves to the Lord once again. I find that I do this on a daily basis these days. About five years ago, I came to the place of understanding that I have no control over my life and what happens in it. God has complete control now. He always did but when I gave up my need to control it and came to the realization I can do nothing apart from Christ – everything changed. I am changing. The more I change the more I find that is needed to be given to His Transformation process. Giving up control is hard, but the realization I have no control is life changing. It is the moment when His Grace becomes enough…all sufficient.  I am nothing apart from Christ. I can do nothing of worth outside of the God living in me. Everything I am ever will be or have is from the Hand of God who is loving, gracious and good even when I’m not. Thank you for taking my filthy rags and giving me the riches of Heaven. Lord, let me live like it today and every day.

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Adrenaline for the Soul

Adrenaline for the Soul

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Strip down, start running and never quit! I needed the encouragement this morning. A bit of adrenaline for the soul…if you will. Already ready for the holidays to end, I wonder if this year I can shirk the weight that has kept me from enjoying celebrating Christmas for most of my life. The heaviness that longs to overtake me, pull me back into the past, stop the excitement of tinsel, lights, and treats, steals joy in giving and overall leaves me totally broken and spent. I challenge the lie of the enemy who hangs lies and untruth attempting to attack. Like a lion laying in weight, latching claws into unsuspecting prey and waiting until exhaustion overtakes it and the lion can go for the kill. The enemy works very much the same. If he can just get you to give in or give up – he can take from you what you are willing to surrender. I will not submit.

Strip down…what is burdening you today? Is something weighing heavy on your heart? Examining our heart and mind today for truth is essential in releasing every weight and burden not of the Lord. Some important things to remember especially during the holiday rush will help us overcome the lie of the enemy. First, it is not your personal calling to meet everyone’s expectations. The long list of gift giving should not become a burdensome load like Santa’s sack. The menus and planning should be more about fellowship and less about perfection. Stay present. Remember our dear friend, Martha. She was lost in the preparation and missed the celebration of the Presence of Christ. She became bitter and offended by her sister’s lack of consideration as labored and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Are you tired? Worn out? You are called to a life of endurance and perseverance for much greater promises than a perfect tree, abounding gifts, and superb celebration. Unrealistic expectations are the enemy’s offering to keep us tired and worn out trying to make everyone happy and losing our joy in the process. Come to me. Do not let busyness keep you from the feet of Jesus this holiday season. It is His Birthday and Arrival that is to be celebrated not loathed by overwhelming burdens. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch me. What an awesome reminder! We must live in the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is enough to overcome the fact I cannot meet the worldly demands placed upon me but I am enough in Christ. Lord, teach me to live freely and lightly during the most strenuous season of the year.

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG) You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

Start running. Maybe you have been running for a very long time, yet still victory seems elusive. You are still bogged down by fear, worry, stress and anxiety. God did not give you these feelings or emotions – He gave you faith. Faith to fearlessly overcome every burden once thought to be your responsibility but now set free in Christ. Don’t just start running! Everyone runs. You must run to win. It will require discipline, obedience, perseverance and endurance. This means it will be a struggle sometime to continually shed the extra weight along the way. You must be focused. The perspective of your life should be from your higher calling not the constant demands of this world and other people…even your family. The enemy uses guilt and regret to keep people locked into the vicious cycle of unmet expectation. Christ is our fulfillment. To continually pour into a bucket with a whole in it, is fruitless. Without repairing the hole, you are wasting resources. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Without Christ there is no fulfillment, contentment or satisfaction. To show others the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ that gives way to contentment – we must possess it ourselves.

Galatians 5:7-10 (MSG) You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

From the cradle to the cross, Jesus endured everything humanly possible and overcame it all. He hands us His Victory when we choose to follow Him. Are you living victoriously? Are you running the race of faith superbly? Obedience to God including releasing unnecessary burden, unmet expectations, and unrealistic demands. This does not make you a quitter. It makes you a good runner. It makes overcoming and overwhelming victory possible. The one who cut in on you wants you to believe that these burdens, cares and worries belong to you and that if you don’t own up to them – you will let God and others down. The Truth is true repentance and radical obedience turns us from lesser things to attain greater faith, confident hope and full satisfaction.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG) For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over    the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

The gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ has far more potential than any other gift given or received. He has called so many wonderful and powerful things but the one to remember in the midst of the holiday rush is Prince of Peace or Prince of Wholeness. You are complete in Jesus Christ. The need for human acceptance and affirmation creates a drive to meet human expectation. You cannot bring fulfillment to another human being other than to offer them the fullness of Jesus Christ. If you light is dim due to busyness and untended flames of His Spirit, then you really have given them nothing. If you salt loses its flavor or is wasted on preparing fancy meals, then you have not given them a taste of His Splendor. If your words have turned from blessing to cursing due to discontentment, discord, dissatisfaction or just plain exhaustion – they hold no life or hope. We must place limits and boundaries to keep us aligned with Christ during what could prove to be the best Christmas yet – the year heavy burdens of worry and stress are released and blessed peace is accepted.

The Greatest Gift every given was our Savior and Lord, it is easy to let the demands of the holidays take our eyes off of Him and pick up responsibilities that He never gave us. This year make your list simple. Strip down, start running and never quit! The Lord offers to carry those burdens. He will take everything you decide to release. He is faithful. Run the race of faith with complete confidence that victory belongs to you. Above all things, never quit. His Grace is sufficient for those times we fall short, fall down, or just feel like failures. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are always pursuing us. We just have to stop long enough to let Him overtake us, fill us and right our way! Thank you God for your Son Jesus who is the Gift who keeps on giving! Let the Lord refuel you today. Spend some time with the Lord. Let Him help you go through your to-do lists. The Holy Spirit will be your helper this holiday season. Celebrate Jesus! The greatest gift ever given. You cannot top perfection. He is the Perfect Gift.

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

Greater Expectation

Greater Expectation

I Peter 1:3-4 (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.

Now we live with great expectation…does this statement reflect your life? Are you in survival mode or thriving today? Jesus Christ has saved us and come to live inside of us. Now greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. We are overcomes. Handed victory over death and the grave to live in the generosity of God’s Grace bringing Heaven to earth. We have a priceless inheritance. Do we live like sons and daughters of a king? Steadfast in faith and confident in hope in our identity – we live fearlessly because of our relationship with the Sovereign God. Or do we?

Rolling out of bed this morning, I head to the kitchen to prepare our Thanksgiving turkey. It is overcast and raining outside. Our son begins his shift today as a police officer so I pray for his safety. Across the bar are all the sale papers, the emphasis “Black Friday” is coming. Sharpies in all different colors representative of each kid scattered about. The ads circled and highlighted with expectation. It seems ironic to have all these wants and “needs” on a day set aside to be thankful. They have great expectation. Maybe this year, I will break the news that Santa isn’t real.

Thankfulness is the key to contentment. It is the gateway to satisfaction. If we cannot be thankful for what we have, there is no possibility that any “thing” else will bring it about. I am thankful. I am content. I am satisfied… most of the time. However, as time goes by, it may fade especially when the things I am thankful for are just things. Even graduating to people, they will not meet my expectation and require grace in order to maintain the relationship. We live in the midst of complete imperfection. Expectation placed in the world or the things of this world will always be subject to moth and decay. Our great expectation in the priceless inheritance is to somehow take our eyes off this world and stop reaching for the lesser things to obtain the life Christ died for us to have. Things are not bad. People are not the problem. Misplaced expectation will always be left unfulfilled. God is good. He will never let us down. Our expectation must be placed in the Lord to have life more abundantly as promised.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Where is your treasure today? Most of mine are sleeping soundly. My family is a treasure. They are the desire of my heart to see them healthy, happy and blessed. However, I cannot put my expectation in my family. Material things are always a threat to our joy and peace as well. The vicious cycle of supply and demand create strongholds to the unsuspecting. During the holidays, this is the most difficult time of the year. Our desire to meet the expectations of others in our giving and hosting can rob us of the love, joy and peace that the Savior of the world came to give us. He is the Prince of Peace. Is the Prince of Peace ruling our life? Or is it a list of expectations full of demands on our time, talent and treasure that is quickly consuming us? Be careful. The enemy would like nothing more to hinder your thanksgiving and crash your celebration of the birth of Christ. He uses tools marked busyness and consumerism. He wields weapons of human expectation that creates burdens, worry and stress not produced by God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)  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.

Today, I want to be thankful. Not for what I have or who I love, but I want to be thankful for Jesus Christ alone. I know it sounds a little strange to some who don’t know Him or trust Him. My life verse this year has been Ephesians 3:20. I believe that God is able to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask or think… I do. The difficult part is that God is doing “His Mighty Work” in me. The productivity of prosperity can only reach the limits of my heart. God prospers our soul and it then manifests in our body working its way into our natural life. I must give God all of my heart today. Taking captive every rebellious thought that is desperate to meet the needs, wants and desires of others by simply trusting Him with all of my needs, wants and desires. Shoving my life across the table, giving it all back to Him again…and again if that’s what it takes until my soul is overflowing with love, joy, peace and every other good fruit the Spirit is cultivating in me. It is so easy to forget.

My life invested in Jesus Christ by faith and confident hope will prosper into absolute fulfillment and abundant life. It takes time. It requires discipline. You must endure because most of the time you must go against the flow of natural progression. It is our calling to persevere because the enemy hates contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment. His only weapon is a lie so why don’t you hurl the Truth of who you are and who lives in you right back at him. Aren’t you thankful for God’s amazing grace and infinite patience? Our Good Father guards and protects the priceless inheritance designated for us, until we follow His Lead right to it. It begins with a heart full of thanksgiving. It continues as daily we sacrifice thanksgiving to Him. Walking by faith and not by sight are a requirement which means stop grumbling, griping and complaining about your life and find the abundance hidden within it.

2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.

We must expect greater glory under the new way. The Holy Spirit lives in us and is renewing us day by day with God’s Word and wisdom producing good fruit. Could it be that our expectation in Christ Jesus has set a standard too low for the living God? Are we waiting and watching for lesser things when He is ready to pour out His Glory in our life? What if the Lord really can do something glorious in our ordinary life and the only thing lacking is expectancy?

Lord, help me to have greater expectation. Eyes to see past temporary things and momentary problems. To surrender to you all my wants, needs and desires for fulfillment. Give me ears to hear you speak and lead me to Truth to overcome the lie of the enemy. Give me hands to give even when I don’t think I have anything to offer. Lord give me wisdom this season to keep focused on you and stop carrying every weight and burden offered by the enemy. He wants to steal my joy and peace but I refuse to give it away. You are my salvation. You have given me a priceless inheritance that will make its way to me in due time. Fill my heart with thanksgiving in all things and every circumstance. Let my mouth be filled with praise. Amen!

Philippians 1:20 (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.