Grace To Pray

Grace To Pray

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Do you believe that God answers prayer? Let’s be real for a moment. Do you pray with expectancy? Do you come boldly and confidently before the Throne of God each day? Jesus was speaking plainly. He was not using parables or descriptive terms. He was direct. “And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do.” Salvation is only the beginning of the complete work of Jesus Christ in our natural life. He has “greater” things in store for those who decide to plant faith and sow confidence in their life. To believe in Jesus Christ and His Willingness to do what He says that He will do. We say that we believe but our prayers are prime indicators of the reality of faith in us.

To pray big prayers is to expect God’s Word to come to pass. Hope is not for the things we can do, can see or can accomplish in life. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen but totally possible in our life. The impossible is the pathway to the things hoped for. God is glorified when the natural is impacted by the supernatural. When extraordinary things happen in the lives of ordinary people. How do we find the faith to pray those prayers? To embrace the impossible situations according to full expectation in God’s Ability and not our own? Can I really trust the Lord to keep His Word and do greater things in me and through me? Absolutely.

Daniel 9:20-23 (NKJV) Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…

The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23 NLT) I believe our prayers would change if people understood how much God really loves us. His Intent is take every detail of our life and work it out for our good and for His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Every prayer offered to the Lord in faith and hope releases a command in Heaven. It calls all the heavenly beings into action. Daniel came to the Lord fasting and praying. God responded. I believe that when I pray God responds in the heavenly realm first. This is important. God’s Ways are higher than our ways. His Thoughts are too. The promise that offers us solace is that every word released over our life cannot return to Him void – it has to do what He set if forth to accomplish. But why?

God loves us. We are precious to God. Looking at my life from my perspective, I see all my sins, faults, failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. The Holy Spirit identifies me as His Child. His Heart is moved by love. When I come to the Lord with child-like faith, it is as the petition of a child to a parent. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him as serpent?” (Matthew 7:8-10) God is good. He is a loving and attentive Father. He loves us no matter what our present condition may be. His Love is defined by mercy that makes it available even when rejected or refused. He still sends it new each morning.

Mark 11:23-24 (NKJV)  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8) Salvation is available by grace through faith – it is a Gift from God. Do you believe that our greatest power is manifested in weakness? Humility is the realization that apart from Jesus Christ that I am nothing and can produce nothing of worth in my life. It is by this approach of faith in the Grace of God that we are able to pray with great expectation believing that He who has promised is not only able but willing to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. It has nothing to do with me other than my ability and willingness to believe by faith in the Grace and Love of God.

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” I do not deserve the life that God has given me through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I must accept the Gift of New Life by His Grace. I cannot earn it. I cannot fully rationalize unconditional love so I must believe it by faith alone. When I pray, it must be with full expectation not that God can do it but that He will do it because He loves me. I must gain greater confidence in the Love of God to experience fulfillment that comes from Him. God gives us grace to pray. He helps us in our weakness. Even when we do not know what to pray for or how to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in to do it for us through us. We must humble ourselves each day and pray. Pride tells you it’s dumb to continue to pray when God doesn’t move immediately. The flesh is offended that one might engage in such futility as it lay slowly dying to the new creation you are becoming. The enemy wants to give you a long list of to-do’s that somehow are supposed to motivate the Lord on your behalf, but the Truth is that the moment you began praying, a command was given…because you are precious to God.

James 5:13-16 (NKJV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

How many people walk in to church services suffering and sick only to leave the very same way? Why as believers are we okay with this tragedy? The altar call begins and no one comes. The prayer of faith will save the sick. I have seen some with cancer come to church and not ask for a single prayer. I have seen those suffering come, sit in the back, and never have a single hand touch them. There is a bottle of oil on the altar that is still half full. Why is not emptied on the hurting each service? This is not in any way an accusation but an internal examination of my own prayer life and expectation. If I know God is willing to answer my prayers, why do I not pray more? Where are the signs, miracles and wonders, all those greater works that Jesus promised? Why aren’t they here? Why not now? Have we lost our expectation? Is it somehow misplaced? Are we more concerned with the program rather than our purpose? We are building a Kingdom, a fully-functioning Body of Believers who live in unison with one heart, one mind and one purpose. We must get it together. We must begin to pray with expectation again to receive all that is promised those who do. It begins with me. It begins with you. God, give us the grace to pray. Not just any prayer, but the effective fervent prayers of those in right-standing with You.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Cloudy Days

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

Just before the alarm began to vibrate on the nightstand, my eyes opened as if shaken awake. Laying in the quiet, a flash lit up our bedroom. In the distance a soft low rumble, I thought it sounds like rain. Trying to shake myself from slumber, the room was bright again. I stumbled out of bed gathering my senses and calling my mind and body to work together and start this brand new day. The thunder again could be heard far off. A bit of urgency got me moving. I have two little dogs that need to go outside. If I hurry, I will beat the rain. Outside the air was heavy with anticipation of the low pressure that would soon burst forth the clouds and produce a downpour. Thankfully our fur babies cooperated and we made it in just as small droplets turned into the promised overflow.

The anticipation of rain led to immediate action today. Hearing the thunder and seeing the lightning – all signs pointed the coming storm. I had to choose to act on the signs around me or ignore them and sleep just a little bit longer. Those five or ten minutes would have changed the outcome of my morning as I trudged through the rain with the dogs. But instead, the action of anticipation changed the outcome and everything worked out just fine. Now the rain can water the grass and flowers around our house, wash away all the dirt and pollen and the earth is replenished by the Mighty Hand of God. Who knows I might find rainbow on the way to work?

Anticipation is influenced by expectation and hope. It is the sense of what is coming, intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience. It is the realization in advance. It is the very thing our faith in God works from. If our faith is in the Lord, He sets forth our expectation and promotes anticipation. Faith is to expect, look forward to and be sure of … before anything happens. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is important to allow the Holy Spirit through God’s Word to change our expectation so anticipation calls us to action in advance of the desired outcome. To become aware of the Spirit of God moving and changing the atmosphere around us. If our faith in God does not change our expectation – it cannot influence the action of anticipation.

I Kings 18:42-46 (ESV) So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah had declared three years of drought according to God’s Instruction. Now in the third year, God was ready to send rain to the people again. Elijah was on his way to tell Ahab when he met Obadiah along the way. He asked his fellow prophet to announce his arrival to Ahab. Obadiah considered this a death sentence as the last message delivered by Elijah had brought a terrible drought and severe famine. Surely, Ahab would “shoot the messenger.” Ahab was definitely not amused or overjoyed at Elijah’s arrival. The next scene would be at Mount Carmel. Elijah would put his faith in God up against the prophets of Baal. Of course, all prophets were no match for God’s Power that day and none would live to tell of it. It was after that the prophet told Ahab to “Go up, eat and drink for there is the sound of rushing rain.” Ahab followed his advice. Elijah did not join him. Instead, “he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” Elijah began to pray. Do you think it is odd that though Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and was the overcomer that it was Ahab who went to eat and drink while he went to pray? Why pray after the events of the day? Because though God showed up in a miraculous way, Elijah did not come for a show of signs and wonders. He came so that it would rain and replenish the earth. He came to bring the Word of the Lord to restore the land. He did not lose sight of his mission in the midst of great success. Have we lost sight of our mission?

Elijah didn’t go to Ahab to show off God’s Power but to give Him God’s Promise to deliver God’s Word. The Lord was ending the drought. He was going to rain on the land and end the famine. His message of hope for Ahab was that the Living God was coming to restore the land. Nothing was expected of Ahab. There was nothing that he could do. He was the king but could not control the atmosphere or environment. God manifested His Glory on Mount Carmel so the king went back to doing what king’s and ordinary people do. Elijah was not ordinary but extraordinary. God was with Him. His Word in the prophet. Elijah expected rain. He anticipated the rain. Yet, the Man of God still went to pray. To seek the Face of God again, not for His Hand but His Heart. God had already promised rain. In fact, Elijah sent his servant not once, not twice but seven times until the first sign of rain was evident.

We are called to walk by faith not by sight. Walking implies movement or action. Our action is driven by anticipation and expectation. Elijah expected it to rain even though at first there was no sign of rain. If our daily motivations are driven by the atmospheric pressures of life, our outcomes will remain ordinary. We are dependent on the natural resources and not supernatural abundance produced in an abiding relationship with God. The kind of relationship not influenced by people or the problems of the day but completely driven by God’s Word and His Spirit within us.

2 Chronicles 7:13-16 (ESV) When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Life is a series of seasons. Some pleasant while others are long and harsh. Winter with its bitter cold. Spring as the earth is replenished and replanted. Summer with high temperatures and little rain. Fall brings the harvest. The manifestation of every seed put in the ground. Our spiritual life is perpetuated by seasons, too. Ecclesiastes 3 delineates most of them. God’s Promise for each season is that all things are made beautiful in His Timing.

I have been in a very dry season. My soul has experienced almost drought-like conditions. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for my life in full motion. I know that if I walk by faith – I will have all that God has promised and willed for my life. I believe God’s Word. I am filled with His Spirit. Yet, there are still days, weeks and even months that turn into years of waiting are tough. During those times, it is important to continually seek His Face, look for the clouds of His Presence all around us and more importantly humble ourselves and pray.

The pressures of life push out the God in us and produce the fruit that is planted in the deepest recesses of our heart. Whether we remain engaged in the process and continue to expect God’s Best or settle for what is currently available is truly up to us. This morning I awoke to the sound of rain. The thunder seemed distant. The lightning lit up the sky but it was not loud at that point. The air was heavy. A choice had to be made. I could move with expectancy finishing the task at hand in anticipation of the rain or I could slough it off and sleep another 15 minutes or so. This is our life in Christ. A series of opportunities each day to seek and serve the Lord or put it off one more day. We want revival. It comes like the rain. There is a small cloud in the distance rising up. It is not from the church house but the prayer rooms of God’s People who desire Him to come like the rain. Their eyes fixed on the clouds in full anticipation of His Arrival that brings them to their knees and faces to the ground. If my people who are called by my name. Are you a Christian? Are you a believer? Do you expect Jesus to join you each day in each new adventure? I know that Elijah did. On Mount Carmel, the prophet expected God to come and consume the sacrifice offered not because it was a fancy show but because He is a Faithful God ready to rain down on those who anticipate and expect Him to by faith that seeks Him and desires Him before He comes.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

God chose you. He loves you. He desires you and your heart above all things. He is desperate to reach you. He sent His Son to save you. The Spirit of God fills us as we have become His Temple. He has given us a new name and relationship – we are the sons and daughters of God. His Eyes are on us and His Heart is with us. Do you love God today? Do you desire Him wholeheartedly? Do you expect Him to come? Do you look for His Presence in your everyday life? His Word says clearly and boldly that “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land…” God is ready to send revival like rain to restore our dry and weary land. To end the drought-like conditions in our churches and fellowships. The cloud is on the horizon. Will you be like the servant that continues to seek after Him? Once, twice, seven or more will you look and listen for the Lord. Or will you be like Elijah praying, facedown before the Lord inviting Him in and welcoming the Lord in full anticipation and expectation of His Arrival. Or will you be like Ahab and just go about your day business as usual? It is really up to us. Those who humble themselves and seek His Face will experience the God of the Breakthrough who opens the windows of Heaven releasing the Abundance of His Kingdom to those waiting and watching on the earth. Lord, let me walk by faith and not by sight today. I will humble myself and pray before you. Please Jesus rain down revival on our dry and thirsty land. Send healing to our land. Let my actions show anticipation of Your Arrival. May every expectation be fully invested in You!

I Corinthians 13:12-13 (ESV)  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Choose Well

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Proverbs 2:10-11(NLT) For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Life is full of choices. From the moment, our eyes open each morning until our head hits the pillow at night it is one thing after another. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming when the decisions are tough or painful. Knowledge means nothing until it is useful. Understanding takes knowledge and makes it somewhat beneficial if we use the understanding to develop wisdom. Wisdom is the difference between good choices and not so good choices. Our physical and emotional life is filled with opportunities each day to make critical determinations that impact today, tomorrow and forever. Our spiritual life is filled with the very same choices. God gave us the right to choose how to live our life and whether or not to receive His Son and pursue His Kingdom. Why would He leave it up to us when He knows how fickle our heart can be? Love is a choice. It is the first choice. It is the last choice too.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

God loves us. He gave us His son so that His People would have a way of return to righteousness and live with Him forever. However, He did not send Jesus to judge the world. Jesus came to save the world. These words of encouragement often leave out the choice that is made in our life daily.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

God gave us a choice when Jesus came and died for our sins. The choice is darkness or light. Death or life. God will never force a decision on us but rather offers us daily opportunities to choose well. He empowers us with grace that is our strength in weakness. The Lord orders our steps so if we follow Him wholeheartedly every road leads back to Him. Wise choices watch over us. Wisdom comes from understanding. Understanding needs knowledge. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is our access point, roadway, and destination. It is our choice to seek Him first and foremost that offers us hope to see past today and all its troubles overlooking tomorrow and its impending trial to see Jesus. The Light. His Love.

Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Worry, stress, anxiety, fear and doubt are characteristic of disbelief. To entertain such qualities in our life without persistent effort to remove them or replace them with faith, hope, and confidence is to choose our way and His Way. “What will we eat?” Not to make light, but this is a stressful question when asked in our car on a Friday night when mom doesn’t want to cook. I long for restaurants called “I Don’t Care” and “It Doesn’t Matter to Me, Baby”. What will we wear? Don’t get me started on this one. This begins on Sunday night and leaks into Sunday morning all the way across the house. Our youngest usually undergoes no less than three wardrobe changes on any given Sunday. Thankfully live five minutes from church. We worry about many details in life beginning at an early age. This is driven by earthly expectation. Our need to fit in and be accepted. Our goals drive us to a successful future. No one grows up wanting to be homeless or a failure in life. However, life is full of choices. Things happen. Life also comes with this promise…

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” What if I cannot be righteous? Oh friend, yes you can. Righteousness comes from seeking the Kingdom of God which is God wholeheartedly. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ, His Son. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, make all the right choices or never wander off. The requirement of grace is repentance. The desire in our heart and intent to seek the Lord is all that He expects of us. But what if I know better? What if I know that thing that keeps tripping up is sin and cannot help myself? What if I keep holding on when the Lord is telling me to let go? What if I cannot do what I feel God wants? Are you sure it is from God?

People. Jobs. Co-workers. Family members. Friends. Churches. Congregations. There are many opinions governing our life day by day if allowed to. Everyone has an opinion on how to live. Who God is, where He lives, and if He is at all. There is only one way, one Truth and one who gives life. His Name is Jesus. He must be our daily choice. Every decision I make today should come from my love and commitment to Christ. Friends, there are days I ask the Lord to guide me in ALL things. Every single step even if I need something which store to go through – I ask Him directly to give me direction. The sad thing is that these days come after seemingly endless days of struggle trying to do it all, my way and with limited knowledge or experience. See if I choose to seek the Lord first everyday – my expectations would be met. If I take His Knowledge turn it into understanding and use it, it becomes the wisdom that makes me wise.

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.”

In Matthew 11, Jesus tell the people that “of all who lived none is greater than John the Baptist”, yet in the verses preceding this declaration John is asking “are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking”? Huh? How can John be the greatest and doubt Jesus at the same time? Everyone does it. When human expectation forms an assumption, it is easy to try to make Jesus into who or what we want Him to be rather than Who He really is. The Word is clear. There is only One Way. Our steps are ordered by the Lord, yet still distractions create detours in our life. See we can love Jesus, follow Him and still have days of doubt, fear, and anxiousness. Our knowledge has formed an assumption rather than full expectation.

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.” (Proverbs 10:28) When our expectation is not met, it is a direct hit to our faith and hope in God. Our expectation is not met because of assumption that God will do it our way, in our time according to our will rather than in accordance with His Will, His Way and His Word. I have hope in Him. My expectation must be fully formed by faith based on knowledge according to His Word not the world.

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.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews11:1) It is the invisibility of hope that causes us to lose faith so easily. We hope for an unseen reality that belongs to us. It is a precious inheritance but without the shine of gold or weight of it heavy in our hand, we do not hold on to the treasure of knowing Him. Faith in Christ means to choose Him on those days when our assumption did not meet our expectation. It is to choose joy when sorrow surrounds us and continues to close in. It is to believe the unbelievable. It is to hear the Truth over the lie. It is to make the conscious choice that even though my way is easier, I will choose His Way today. To hold this promise without wavering requires faith bigger than our fear. To laugh in the face of danger means that our hope expects the Lord and does not assume how or when He will come simply knowing that He will. Our choice to follow Jesus is because I know that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life even when the way is steep, the lie seems real and life is not going as I planned.

Ephesians 3:16-20 (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. 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.

Just because you and I are willing to compromise or settle in this life doesn’t mean that God will. In fact, the purpose of Christ in our life is completion and fulfillment. He does not change. The Lord does not lie and He will not change His Mind. We do. Every single day wavering back and forth between faith and fear, the Truth and the lie, and His Way versus our way. Time and time again people compromise, settle and substitute to remain comfortable and in control. Heaping human assumption on God rather than hopeful expectation. To choose “Your Will God not mine” and asking for “His Kingdom to come” rather than our world to be made better is all that He is after. Why? Because Jesus wants to use His Mighty Power at work in us to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Could it be me? Am I the reason I am dissatisfied or discontent? Am I the one making the wrong choices while the whole time the Lord is nudging me in the right direction? Are my hands pushing back the promise? Is my heart the stronghold from breakthrough? Life is full of choices today. I must choose well. When my choice is to follow God wholeheartedly – I have hope. I have a life of promise and opportunity well on its way to complete fulfillment! Amen! Amen! Amen!

Psalm 16:5 (Message) My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice!

 

The Perfect Holiday

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John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

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.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Grace Rules

grace-rules

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

It has become apparent on careful inspection that over the last couple of years, my face has wrinkles. Lines and creases have emerged that were not there before as my age becomes apparent on my face. The very origin of the word means “defect or problem” so no wonder society offers so many things to fix “wrinkles”. If wrinkles or creases are in clothing, the iron uses heat to smooth things out. Steam can also offer a quick fix when needed. Neither an iron nor steamer seem to be a safe alternative for the ones clearly taking over my appearance. Walking through the store, I have read a few bottles of the miracle creams and overnight lotions meant to help stop the signs of aging. Professionals say to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Believe me, I do each day. Yet still they occur despite my best intentions, nightly routine and antiaging rituals.

Collagen is the key to avoiding wrinkles. Collagen is the support structure that keeps our skin young in appearance according to medical studies. When levels are plentiful, our skin looks young and fresh. As we age, these levels decline and wrinkles begin to form on once supple faces. Researchers believe that the solution to wrinkles is more collagen to supplement our body’s inability to produce it. Some people resort to injections to fill in creases more quickly and eliminate crevices all together but these are only temporary and wear off over time.

Collagen is the answer to wrinkles in our face. Grace is God’s Solution for wrinkles in relationships. Ah…you didn’t see that coming did you. Me either. When I felt like I should study grace this morning, it was not about me…or was it. It was, of course. Grace is the most valuable asset that God has given us to share His Love with all people. Everyone needs grace. An abundance of grace to maintain our relationships. Are relationships necessary? Absolutely. God has called us to love one another. Grace gives us the capability to do so. Filling in the gaps left by hurt, harm, offense, and discouragement.

From the moment a person is born, human expectation is placed in another. An infant looks to their parent (or guardian) to meet their basic needs. Helpless to care for oneself – to survive means depending on other people. How those people respond to our needs and fulfill our longings develop our individual mindset of care and that which we offer to others. Since imperfect people beget imperfect people – there is a certainty that no matter how hard a parent tries they will let down their child and make mistakes in the nurturing process. When introduced to Father God and His Son, Jesus Christ, it is easy to apply our perception of people not realizing that we serve a perfect God. We love God. Serve Christ. BUT do not know how to transfer our life, wants, needs and total expectations to the Lord like we need to.

I Peter 1:2-4 (NLT) God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. 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.

Our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus gives us great expectation. As our life is transferred from this world into His Kingdom, it is no longer bound to the conditions and consequences of sin. We are given a second chance to live with a priceless inheritance. But if we do not take the time to discover what this new life is all about, we will not experience a difference. God is not a fairy god father in a white suit with a magic wand. He is God. He is Sovereign. Our Father created us with a perfect plan that was exchanged for sin. Now we have the opportunity by His Grace to have everything lost to death and depravity. Salvation is the act of repentance or turning our life over to Jesus Christ. His Death, Burial and Resurrection gave us this thing called Grace. It is truly amazing but seldom understood. Grace is not an excuse to sin. It doesn’t give us permission to ignore God’s Word and still experience a supernatural existence. May God give us more and more grace and peace.

Grace and peace are partners. Grace is found by those who choose to live as partners at peace with God, His Word through His Son. Grace is not given in small amounts but massive doses. It is not for us alone but for others around us. It fills in the gap that creates division in relationships which keep us from fulfilling the Great Commission and loving others as ourselves. We must apply grace to live in peace.

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT) God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Word of God identifies the “sin problem” that people inherently have from conception. It is unavoidable. God’s Word would bring condemnation if not for the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now when we read about our shortcomings, God provides an immediate solution. This is why the Word of God “as people sinned more and more, God’s Wonderful Grace rules instead”. Does the Grace of God rule our life? Good question…

I have right standing with God through Jesus Christ. There is no higher goal or attainable honor than oneness with Jesus Christ that gives me a renewed relationship with my Father in Heaven. However, if grace stops with me than it is not being applied correctly. Grace must abound in my life to be effective as a believer and to administer the Gospel of Jesus Christ efficiently. See without grace there is no good news. The Light of the Word put His Light inside of me and it should always be defined by faith, hope and love. All of these qualities come from the grace that I have been given and must therefore administer to others. Grace fills the gap of human imperfection allowing us to partner as the Body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:14-16 (NLT)  We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

“As people sinned more and more, God’s Wonderful Grace rules instead…” does God’s Grace rule our life? Before you answer, think about your daily interaction with others. Are they peaceful? Do you get worked up when someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you become offended when taken for granted? Do you get mad when others do not do their fair share? Do you judge people by their appearance or choices? Do you compare your life to others? Where sin abounds, grace must abound more. When faced with the challenges of life that cause division and strife between us and other people, grace is always the solution. It is always the answer. The yielding of our way to allow others to see Christ in us is more important than being right, having our fair share or even taking our place. We must learn to allow the Grace of God to be our everyday expectation and stop depending on people for fulfillment, happiness and joy.

Our spirits are to be renewed day by day. When I go to the local fast food restaurant and place my order, the clerk will hand me a cup. I can take that cup over to the drink station to fill it up. There are many choices. Carbonated sodas, fruit drinks, ice tea and water. I make the choice what I fill it up with. If I choose not to read God’s Word each day, I may forget that His Grace is enough for me in every trial, trouble, problem and hardship that comes my way. If I do not pray, I may miss the Voice of God telling me what is coming and how to overcome it. If I do not make it a point to seek His Presence day by day, I will not experience the supernatural because I have chosen to live in the natural. It is up to me if my cup overflows with the love and grace of God today or I choose to drink from this world’s offerings of unforgiveness, jealousy, strife, malice, division and brokenness. I have been given the glorious grace of God and permission to use it. It is up to me what I do with it.

2 Peter 1:2-4 (NLT) May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Living in full expectation of the Grace of God is not easy. It is a call to walk by faith and not by sight. We must take our natural needs, wants and desires pinning them to God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word completely letting go of expecting perfect things from imperfect people. Isn’t that why we restrict grace from others, because we are not completely sure it is enough to satisfy me? God will give us more and more grace and peace as we grow in our knowledge of Jesus. Without such knowledge, we cannot expect to trust the Lord or follow His Ways. Ignorance will lead to death. When we call on the Lord, do we know what we are asking for outside of His Word? Not really. To surrender my life to Christ means all my expectations, too.

Releasing other people from our expectation will allow us to show them the love and grace that God has commanded us to do. We can now love them and forgive them because we have an abundance of grace poured into us by the divine power of God living in us. He called us to live by means of his marvelous grace and excellence. When we choose to hold other people accountable for our happiness, joy and fulfillment – it is to reject that which is our inheritance to settle for lesser more immediate gratification. This is a forfeiture of fulfillment.

“These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” Faith in Jesus Christ means faith in His Ability to satisfy our life completely. It is according to this promise that we take back expectation from other people and liberally apply grace. Is there someone in your life today that you are withholding God’s Grace from? Release that person in Jesus Name and forgive them. It is not because they deserve it. They are just as guilty as you and me when it comes to sin. Grace is God’s Solution to sin always. When we give grace to another, it fills in those imperfect places in our life to allow God’s Spirit to continue the life-giving renewal process that meets and exceeds our expectation as grace abounds so does His Peace. Let grace rule your life today!

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

What Do You Expect?

What Do You Expect

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

 

It is finally Christmas Day! I can hear the sigh of relief and giant yawns of all the moms and dads after a night of some assembly required and endless cooking then cleaning. The elaborate productions are over and communion taken and the church is closed. Youngsters are up ripping and roaring with coffee pots providing the power to fuel the big day. Without any children only teens and grownups, I was afforded the luxury of getting up around 8:00 AM. I know it sounds crazy but I kind of miss the long nights of stuffing five stockings and endless hours of putting together their treasures. Life is changing in our house.

 

This morning when my eyes opened, I had one thing on my mind. It was Jesus. No I am not so holy that all I do is live and breathe the Lord every single second, oh how I hope one day I would. It has been a season of change in our family. God is doing something new. Even this season of giving has been different. Life is filled with expectation. Mine has significantly changed over the last five years or so. I am a new person. Through the trials and testing of life, I have come out someone who other than who I was and I am getting to know and understand her. I have definitely mellowed over time. I see life with a new perspective and I am still getting used to it.

 

What do you expect? For today. For tomorrow. Next week. Next month. For the coming year. What are your expectations? On Christmas day, people will open gifts given from family, friends and loved ones. Will their expectations be met? Will they be satisfied? Will they be content? Last night, we watched over video chat as our daughter and son-in-law opened their gifts. My heart was beating really fast. I usually just get whatever it is my kids say that they may want. Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at it. But now our daughter lives in another state and we do not have the casual conversations and leisurely shopping trips like before. Her wants and desires are changing. We blessed her with a designer watch. As her parents, we wanted her to be excited just like when she was a kid. We wanted her to love it and be satisfied. We bless our kids because we love them. We want only the best for them. We give out of that love and desire to satisfy them. Our Father in Heaven feels the same way. He loves us so much that He gives us His Best. Sometimes His Best does not line up with our immediate expectation. It may take time to know and understand fully what the Lord is doing. He is a Good Father. Always and Forever.

 

Today in this moment on this day of met and unmet expectations, I feel the Peace of God given by His Son, Jesus. There are many things that the Lord has done for us and our family rejoices. There are some other things that He is doing that we sense and feel but do not see how they will come to pass. Lord, gives us the peace and patience to wait on You. And then, there are those things that just don’t seem to be accomplishing anything more than frustrating us and causing us to fret. The authority and power of my life including all of my expectation are squarely on the shoulders of Jesus today. To surrender my expectations right down to what I have and do not have are to experience His Peace that passes all understanding. Jesus is the Son that was given. He absolutely can fill our every longing if we put our hope in Him.

 

Romans 10:1-4 (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

 

When Jesus came to the earth, everyone had a different expectation of what the Messiah would do, how he would do it, and what he might look like or be. They were excited about His Coming, but when He did not meet their personal expectation some would ultimately reject the Savior of the world. What about you? Today in the midst of giving and getting, I challenge you to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord again. I ask you to seek to know Him more so that your zeal will demonstrate the power to change your life. Every promise that we have been given in His Birth and Arrival are culminated in zeal based on the knowledge of Who Jesus is and what He came to do. When we decide to place all of our human expectation (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) in the Lord – He becomes who He came to be in our life. As our perspective changes and through a personal relationship with the Lord, so does our expectation. The Fruit of God’s Spirit will then grow and mature in us satisfying our soul which will manifest contentment in our life. Hope never leads to disappointment. There is no hope without Jesus. He is the culmination of completeness for those who seek to know Him more.

 

Merry Christmas from our house to yours! May the joy, peace and love of Jesus prevail in your home today. If you feel alone today, you are not. Saturate yourself in His Presence today. He will be all that you need if you come to Him. My prayer for you and yours is that each of one will come to know Jesus more and experience the Goodness of the Father all the more in the coming year. Above all, may you experience the Love of Jesus that will always be far greater than our expectation.

 

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV)

 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

To Love a Hedgehog

To Love a Hedgehog

John 15:12-13 (NIV)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For as long as I can remember our son has been fascinated with animals of all kinds. His childhood hero was Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter. He would do documentaries on our family as though we were some wild pack in the voice of Jacque Cousteau. When he became an adult, he could finally begin to collect his menagerie. One of these creatures was a hedgehog. I had no experience with the sweet timid little animals when he asked if we could keep him for the weekend. After much begging by our youngest strategically facilitated by her brother, I relented and he came to our house for the weekend. For those unfamiliar with hedgehogs, they are like tiny porcupines covered in sharp quills that are quite painful. When in fear, he simply rolled up in a tiny poky ball of needles. One can imagine this was not the snuggly pet that my daughter thought he would be. We learned how to handle him in a way that he did not resort to his only defense. It took a great deal of patience and overlooking all the jabs to get used to his demeanor and how to hand him safely. Alas, we were sad (okay maybe not that sad) to see him go home.

I woke up this morning with people on my heart who have struggling relationships. Good people, wonderful individuals, and otherwise lovable creatures who somehow have become offended by another now living in discord. An offense can be anything that causes us to be displeased or offended. There is a wide range on the spectrum. It all produces the same result. Division, discord, bitterness and separation. These are hardly the qualities and traits that Jesus demonstrated or commanded us to have but human nature calls the shots sometimes. Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. How can we lay down our very life for another if we are unwilling to put our feelings aside to love them anyway?

Isaiah 44:21-23 (NIV)

“Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”

There are two sides to every offense. The one who is offended. The perpetrator of the offense. It really doesn’t matter which side we are on and quite frankly, knowingly or unknowingly, we all fall short in relationships. I love my husband and children with all of my heart. My greatest desire is to be a good wife and mother. I fall short. Constantly, because I am plagued with being human. The success and failure of my relationships depends solely on Christ. He meets my expectation when others fall short. He forgives me and removes my shame when others are unwilling to do the same. The Lord has swept my offenses away like a cloud removing my sin like the morning midst when the sun comes out. He has redeemed me. Grace is mine. It is given in abundance to not only cover my sins and transgressions against God but to be afforded others with great generosity.

I read a wonderful article on Charisma.org yesterday and shared it on Facebook. It was all about offense and the impact it has on today’s church. Satan is a cunning one. He plays on the emotions of others to suck the life out the modern day church. Until we individually and corporately begin to identify this thing called offense and deal with it directly, it will suffocate the Spirit in us and kill the move of God that we so greatly desire. Revival begins when we lay down our life. We have every reason to rejoice. Acceptance into the Kingdom of God as His Sons and Daughters is really the only affirmation that a person should ever need and enough to draw from for the rest of our natural life.

Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NIV)

Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Back to our little hedgehog friend with the sharp exterior, the Lord created him as such so that he would have a defense mechanism and means of survival. There are many poky people out there with sharp exteriors and hard hearts where bitter roots have taken hold and as means of self-preservation walls have been built around their heart. On the other side of the coin are those who feel valid in their assault on others, as humility is a sign of weakness. There are many reasons why people develop such an exterior but inside of them is a soft beating heart which has been battered and bruised. Putting our hope and expectation in other people yields nothing but disappointment. Only hope never leads to disappointment and His Name is Jesus.

It doesn’t really matter today if you are the offended or the offender, God loves us just the same. Separation is just as lonely as isolation so it really doesn’t matter what drives us apart. To Jesus the only thing that really matters is getting us back together. He died for every offense and hurt caused by human inability and weakness. Repentance is the solution to offensiveness. It is the only answer to being offended. This is not about anyone else but you and I individually in a relationship with Christ. To allow anyone to hold power over our mind, will and emotions more so than Christ is to completely reject His Love, Grace and Power which is complete. I can choose to not be offended by putting all my expectation in Christ not others because such a stance allows constant forgiveness because I need nothing more. I will not offend others if I walk in love following the example of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. A prickly personality and tough exterior will never welcome people into this amazing love that we have discovered. The Lord is coming closer. He wants to give us a heart and new spirit that will allow us to move deeper in His Presence. To do so requires putting all our faith, hope, trust and expectation in Jesus again AND releasing every offense.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NIV)

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven or get up and walk?” It is definitely get up and walk which implies personal power over reliance on God’s Power. We get to participate in walking but the forgiveness of sins solely and completely is the Work of Jesus Christ. I can do nothing but accept it. To live freely and love completely in this life relies on our ability to accept the Love of Jesus as enough to love others without expectation. You cannot get offended if you have no requirement. It would have been absolutely ridiculous for me to get mad at that hedgehog every time he poked me. He was just trying to protect himself. He didn’t know better. How did he know my true intentions? So over the course of his visit, I learned how to handle him gently and lovingly so he knew that we meant no harm. If only we could learn to handle people the same way and with the same respect and compassion as the Lord loves and forgives us.

Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV)

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

When we make the choice to love others unconditionally and decide not to take offense at the actions and attitudes of others, our need for love, affirmation, acceptance and approval will be satisfied in Christ alone. Proverbs 19:11 says that it is to our glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 17:9 tells us that whoever fosters love covers offenses. Lord, help us to get a handle on our selfish need to be right, be first, and be embraced by others to so that we can seek you wholeheartedly and love you completely.

I Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Friends, it is time to suck it up buttercup as the saying goes and bury the hatchets. Not in each other, but throwing them far from us as far as the east is from the west. Bitterness is sin. It takes the place of faith because it is a seed of doubt that we accept when Jesus is not enough to complete our life. To be offended demonstrates a need for more love and acceptance than we have found at the Cross. Ephesians 4:31 encourages us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every other kind of malice. It does on to encourage God’s People to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just like Jesus forgave us. Nowhere does it say to stay mad and go our separate ways which means in doing so we are walking in disobedience. I don’t want to disobey the Lord but walk daily in His Ways. Hebrews 12:15 issues a staunch warning to the Body of Christ that we might do well to heed today. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” We must each examine our own heart today and tear out those bitter roots before they overtake us. We must ask the Lord to forgive us for offending others and if possible ask their forgiveness, too. Humility is not easy or fashionable but rewarded by God every time. To yield our life completely to Christ means putting all of our expectation firmly by faith in Him. This leaves no room for offense only an open door for love!

Proverbs 10:9-12 (NIV)

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. Whoever winks maliciously causes grief and a chattering fool comes to ruin. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

 

Power of Purpose

Power of Potential

Proverbs 20:5 (NIV)

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

Purpose is a powerful force in the life of human beings. I have been a mom for 25 years now to five fabulous, beautiful and wonderful children. Three are now adults moving on to live their own life. Our two remaining daughters are teenagers and so I am nearing the end of hands-on parenting. The girls need supervision but are daily achieving independence. Those days I thought would never end are both welcomed and loathed. I am thankful for the children the Lord has entrusted me with and the purpose called motherhood. I find that I was at a loss for a bit at the realization that the season of my life was changing. For many, many years, I have identified myself as a mother and as often is the case lost sight of the “Lori” in me. I am a wife. I am a mother. The Lord created me with these identities but His Purpose and Plan did not end when our last child moves out. Although for a season, I felt like it was fleeting.

From the earliest age, children begin to choose who they would like to be when they grow up. Pretending to be that person in play and setting their goals moving into adolescents. The people around us foster purpose. Surrounded by optimist, the sky is the limit. There is no such things as boundaries just obstacles easily overcome. The sun will always come out tomorrow no matter how dark today may be. For those who live in the mist of pessimism, dreams are crushed by reality without hope. Disappointment is inevitable so why try anyway. Don’t put yourself out there or you will be crushed. Live for today because tomorrow may never come. Purpose is the reason that we exist. It is what shapes determination and the driving force of motivation. Society will gladly set limits and boundaries on people called normal life. The corporate ladder promotes the dog-eat-dog mentality and all men for themselves. Purpose. What is your purpose? Do you know? I thought I did.

Psalm 33:10-12 (NIV)

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

When our son was officially in remission for one year, after fighting for four years to keep him alive. I was lost. Oh, of course, I still love the Lord without question. However, there was a void in my heart with the realization that over that time my children had grown up. My baby was now almost a teenager. Her sister a young lady. Our oldest three now grown and gone. What was I to do now? No grandbabies in the near future, what now Lord. After constantly caring for our son, that too was gone most thankfully as he returned to full-time studies and living the life of a college student. Nobody needed me anymore. What now Lord? Surely there is more to life than this?

Oh, I know that I am not the only one who as the seasons change must find their purpose once again. People usually are the ones who tell us who we are and what we can and cannot do. But in times of brokenness and loss, we seek the One who really does define us and call out our purpose. Our purpose is planted deep in our heart long before we made our presence known on the earth. The Lord placed it in our heart. It is called eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11) The Lord set the world in motion with the express design to fulfill every bit of purpose that He placed in us so we would spend forever with Him. Everything has a time just as properly placed as the seasons of each year. Each one is interwoven with His Plan and Potential for our life. He has given us a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-12) It is ours. All we must do is seek it wholeheartedly. The purpose in our heart is deep waters who better to draw it out than the one who placed it there.

Job 36:5-7 (NIV)
God is mighty, but despises no one; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights. He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever.

God is firm in His Purpose. He made you on purpose. He did not change His Mind when you sinned or fell short of His Glory. God made the way for us by giving His Son Jesus to die for our sin and pay the price for our freedom. Now, we have no excuse not to live on purpose. When God created us it was with a plan. (Psalm 139:13-18) I think we forget that God knew us when He created us therefore nothing we do including failures, mess ups and mistakes catch Him off guard or fall beyond His Endless Grace. All of our days are preordained meaning that there is purpose and meaning in each one. God didn’t change His Mind about you (or me) just because during certain seasons we may have changed our mind or become distracted.

God does not take His Eyes off the righteous. The Lord has searched us and He knows us. He is constantly with us even when we ran from Him trying to hide in the darkness. He was right there the whole time. He will never leave us or forsake us. God does not give up on us. His Son continuously resides in us as the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 139:1-12) Your purpose is well-protected and provided for. It all depends on you now. Purpose in God is achieved when we acknowledge these unwavering traits of God who does not lie or change His Mind. He made up His Mind to love you and me so He does even when we are unlovable. He does not punish us upon our return but lavishes amazing grace on us to fill the void of sin. The Lord helps us in our weakness breaking every self-imposed chain keeping our purpose locked away.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

How do I know what my purpose really is? Dead dreams are discarded daily due to our situations and circumstances. The Lord speaks to us and we discredit Him based on what we see and are currently experiencing. Ignorance in faith and hope leave us as bystanders who exit the race because we have no clue where we are going and what we are after. Jesus patiently and lovingly meets us in this place with the answer. People seldom cry out to the Lord until broken and helpless otherwise we would just keep doing it ourselves. When we need faith and feel hopeless, we invite the Lord to join us. What would happen if we lived on purpose? What is the potential of a life intent on unlocking the potential hidden in us before time? I intend to find out. To do so requires surrendering our whole life to the Lord. Every thought, motive, intent, and goal for His Careful Inspection and Instruction. Listening for His Voice while feeding our Spirit His Word so that when He speaks we will know our Father’s Voice. Praying. Repenting. Praying some more. What do you want in life? Seasons come and go. God’s Word never returns void. We are free to choose to live for today or for forever. This world will pass away. His Kingdom is forever.

Romans 8:26-30 (NIV)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. He tries to. He really does. Human begins can be stubborn and hard hearted people even Christian believers. We lack the love and trust in our relationship to Jesus approaching Him with the same wariness used in our natural relationships. The Spirit is constantly using whatever we give to mold and shape it for God’s Purpose and use in our life which may be contrary to our expectations and emotions. The Holy Spirit is working to line our life up with God’s Purpose.

The third time our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was the worse. We had just left the clinic the day before rejoicing as every other test including scans were good. Waiting only on the PET scan, the doctor declared a victory promising to follow up the next day to confirm this report. When the call came it was not as expected, the cancer had spread throughout his lymphatic system illuminated his entire torso. It was the worst report yet. I went straight to my knees asking God for encouragement and strength along with confirmation. The Lord gave me Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose.” I couldn’t believe it. I was a little miffed but began to mull over this verse until I finally understood.

Predestined. God knew that the enemy would attack our son with cancer long before he was born. He provided everything we needed to beat the dreadful disease and now he is in full remission just as the Lord promised us from the start. Four years is a long time to wait for your answer. Five bouts with cancer will drain every bit of your personal strength until all you can do is lean on Jesus. Bingo! We find our purpose when we exhaust all human efforts and learn to live by faith and confident hope in the One who promises nothing will ever separate us from His Love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our circumstances do not define our purpose in life. One’s mistakes do not limit the potential hidden in us from the beginning or Jesus’ death was not enough and His Blood insufficient. No, our potential is established by God before we breathe our first breath and remains until we breathe our last. It is wrapped in every moment according to His Time. Everything we go through in life has a purpose to expose and release the potential that will release our purpose. When Peter acknowledge that He believed Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God – he was immediately handed the Keys to the Kingdom. When we decide that God does love us, His Son died for us, and we step out of the chains of fear and doubt to accept that Love – we have found our purpose. (Period) The only thing we must do to achieve it is love the Lord with all our heart, mind and body. Some days this is an overwhelming battle especially when it is not clear the outcome. Jesus never said it would be easy. He promised it would be worth it! You are more than a conqueror in all things not just those things you know you can do and are good at it. We become limited in life when we see ourselves as the world does and believe more in who they say we are and what they say we can do than living in the Presence of God, communing with Jesus, guided by His Spirit determined to know His Great Love.

I found what I was looking for. He has set me free again. No more worries and doubts that my potential and purposed ended when the last little bird flies from the nest. No there is so much more. It is hidden in the deep waters of my heart. Lord, I am ready now. I release my expectations for my life to fulfill Your Purpose in me. Forgive me for allowing the world to define me and tell me who I am. You are the Messiah! The Son of the Living God! I want to know the power of my potential and fulfill my purpose found only by knowing You, Jesus!

Matthew 16:18-19 (NIV)

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[c] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Well-Watered Life

Well Watered Life

Psalm 42:1-2 (TLB)

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? 

 

Traveling out of town for a concert and shopping with my three girls was such a blessing! In the heat of South Florida  surrounded by palm trees and outlet malls, we exercised retail therapy amongst the plethora of shops, eating yummy food and jamming out to the one and only Taylor Swift. However, upon our return, I began feeling a dull ache in my back. My stomach didn’t feel so good. As I began to self-assess my body, I realized that I had unintentionally become dehydrated with all our fun in the sun. Throughout the course of a normal day, I drink probably six to eight glasses of flavored water. However, I had forsaken my routine and did not drink more than a glass or two a day. My body is used to constant hydration and how is voicing its displeasure in its thirst. Distracted by our travel and fun, I neglected taking care of my body. It is thirsty. I need to supply the hydration it needs to function properly.

As a deer pant for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the Living God. Our family is in the midst of a transition. We are in the process of praying for and seeking out a new church. I haven’t said this before publicly but after a month or more of no church, I feel it is obvious. Now as I our family makes this change, I am not only dehydrated from our trip but also the lack of church in our life. Thankfully, I have the Source of Life running through me. One thing that is commonplace between both my natural need for more water and spiritual need is that it took some symptoms to elicit the thirst that I now have. Our bodies and spirits can live on our reserves for a while. We can learn how to survive on less, but that is not God’s Plan for us.

Psalm 65:9-12 (TLB)

He waters the earth to make it fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry! He prepares the earth for his people and sends them rich harvests of grain. He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land. Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy.

For those who live in countries like the United States, clean drinking water is easy to find. We may choose bottled or fancy water but the truth is the public works department in each community works to keep clean drinking water flowing throughout. In the Spirit life, it is not different for those who seek the Kingdom of God. If you want His Spirit, all one must do is welcome Him as a part of salvation. The Spirit of God is given to everyone who calls Jesus Savior and Lord, but not as many drink Him in or use Him to satisfy their soul. There are many dehydrated Christians out there who barely survive rather than thriving in the Overflow of God pouring out of Heaven for all mankind.

He waters the earth to make it fertile. God is watering our life each day. His River never runs dry as it runs right through us. Will we drink from it daily is up to us? Or will we get busy, travel away or become too distracted to properly maintain our body and spirit? It can happen so easily in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. Just as I may forget to keep drinking water because it is not handy or I do not feel thirsty in that moment, I do the very same thing to my spirit man, too. The Lord sends His Rain to drench us, soften us, fill us, and prosper us every single day. His River never runs dry. The question is are we running to it.

John 3:4-7 (TLB)

“Born again!” exclaimed Nicodemus. “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again!

Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was smart. Still this whole concept of being born again did not make any sense so he had a conversation with Jesus. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, He cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Men can only reproduce human life. The Holy Spirt gives new life from Heaven. When you and I were growing inside our mother’s woman, her body fed us. Through the umbilical cord, the blood flow gave the nutrients needed to grow and develop hidden within. Submerged completely in the amniotic sac full of water, hydration occurred from the outside in as our bodies absorbed what was needed. From the moment of birth, a baby begins to suck and seek hydration. It is a natural innate response. If you gently brush your hand on a newborn’s cheek, they will immediately open their mouth and begin rooting in that direction. It is this reflex that enables a child to thrive. I wonder what our spiritual response is when the Lord comes close enough to brush up against us. Do we respond?

I am adult. I know have the knowledge and wisdom to keep my body properly hydrated. That doesn’t mean that I always do, but that God has empowered me with understanding so when I am thirsty or experiencing symptoms of dehydration, I know to drink more water. What about my spirit? When I am dry and thirsty do I know to tap in to the Living Water inside of me? This is just as if not more important than my physical health but directly related to my spiritual well-being. I have living water flowing in me. It is the Holy Spirit. Without a properly watered soul, I will not grow into the new life that God has given me through Jesus Christ.

John 7:38-39 (TLB)

For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me.” (He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him; but the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet returned to his glory in heaven.)

The Holy Spirit works within us as believers much like the natural God-Given responses that keep us alive. God gave us hunger so we know to eat. He gave us thirst so we will drink. Pain tells us to stop doing that which is causing it to avoid injury, etc. The Holy Spirit is the same to our spirit man or woman. He is the One who helps us to respond properly in the Spirit. He is the Overflow of God that waters our soul making our soft heart soft and preparing us to prosper. Without Living Water, the Fruit of God’s Spirit will not be cultivated in us and we will not grow spiritually beyond a newborn state.

Proverbs 21:1-3 (TLB)

Just as water is turned into irrigation ditches, so the Lord directs the king’s thoughts. He turns them wherever he wants to. We can justify our every deed, but God looks at our motives. God is more pleased when we are just and fair than when we give him gifts.

I can go to the gym, diet and drink lots of water to improve my physical health and appearance. But if I neglect my spiritual health, all is for naught. My body is dying. I may be able to delay the process but it is appointed to man once to die so it is inevitable. But if I work diligently to maintain the health and well-being of my spirit man as well, I do not have to worry about dying because I will live again. My spirit man operates on the same principle of hunger and thirst as the natural body. I must get in tune with the Holy Spirit feeding and watering my soul properly as I do my body in order to prosper my soul and have a well-watered life.

We have not been to the gym in months. Life got busy and it just became hard to fit in our schedule. When I go to the gym, not only do I work out my body, but I work out my mind. Often I pray through the 45 minutes on the elliptical machine. I started this when I would get back from chemo treatments with our son to clear my mind and renew my spirit. Our son is healed and delivered from cancer. We have not been going and I have discovered my spirit girl misses that time. Running, praying and praising God working my mind, soul and body out until everyone agrees so we are headed back. Our flesh never aligns with our spirit willingly. It is a day by day work out and diet that must be closely monitored and maintained in order to continue to prosper body, mind and spirit. It is worth it.

John 4:14-15 (TLB)

“But the water I give them,” he said, “becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me some of that water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to make this long trip out here every day.”

 

John 4:28-30 (TLB)

Then the woman left her water pot beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

 

Jesus daily offers us the same Living Water that He told the woman at the well about. The kind that allows us to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. When she finally realized who Jesus was and what He was offering her, she left her water pot. Are you carrying around a water pot today filled with all those dreams and visions not yet come to pass? Or maybe it is filled with all the cares and worries not yet surrendered to our Savior and Lord? Or perhaps its unclaimed blessings and the seeds of faith that you are afraid to plant as your life is in a season of drought? It’s time to leave that water pot behind. Your life does not belong to you anymore. You are filled with living water looking for a way out. If we will tap into the Living Water in us, it will flow out in our life to make us prosper again. Dreams and visions will come to pass as quickly as they come streaming in our heart and mind. Worries and cares will fall off of us into the Lord’s Waiting Hands. We will being to overflow and prosper in a well-watered life. What are you waiting for?

Revelation 21:5-7 (TLB)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true: It is finished! I am the A and the Z—the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty the springs of the Water of Life—as a gift! Everyone who conquers will inherit all these blessings, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Anchored

Anchored

Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT)

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.

 

Hebrews 6:18-19 is absolutely one of my favorite promises in the Word of God. I have tried it. It is true. That doesn’t always mean I understand it or why storms still must come to those who love the Lord. I see the outcome in growth and endurance but it is not pleasant to be battered in the midst of strong winds and high waves of testing. The ship is on top of the ocean while the anchor rests on the ocean floor. It is not moved. The tremendous weight of it still may not be as massive as the vessel it holds but in quiet confidence it does the job effectively. I know in my life that I would have never totally relied and depended on the Promise of God for my life until there was nothing left to hold on to. Sad, but true. We think we have faith by turning over bits and pieces of our life to God. Though it seems like a sacrifice, it’s not. We can survive and get by on the amount of control remaining so our flesh is satisfied even in its lessened state. We want more of God. The desire to live deeper in His Presence because of the goodness of His Love so we venture out a little farther crying out for more. Then it happens, all hell breaks loose in our life. Where is the Lord? Where is the One who called me out on the water? Oh friend, He is right where He has always been. Holding our life in His Nail-Scarred Hands, never moving, not concerned but working to make our life into that thing the Lord has promised.

I am not sure why the Lord led me to this verse again today. Are there clouds gathering in the distance? Should I be concerned? Or is it just to remind me of His Permanence in my life. The fact that when things seem chaotic and hectic that He has a firm grasp and strong hold. God has given us a His “Promise” and His “Oath”. For the first time, I realized that this seemed redundant. God gives us His Promises. I understand that. I have survived on them for last four years. But why would He have to give us His Oath, too? As if His Promise is not enough, why does the God of the Universe feel the need to give us an oath on top of that? A promise is a declaration of something that will or will not be done. It is an express assurance on which expectation can be based. Has anyone every promised you something and not followed through? Yeah, me too. Now an oath is a little bit different, it is a promise made with an appeal to a deity that it is valid and true. So when the Lord proclaims that He is giving us a promise with His Oath – it means that this assurance is based on His Character as the Great I Am. “I AM” is the one who Moses was told by God to tell the people had sent Him. Freedom would be found and secured by the Great I AM. I AM existed before anything else or anyone else. He is God. He cannot lie or change His Mind because His Name alone is Truth. Immovable, unshakeable, unwavering and solid are the Promises that God makes us because He intends to make them possible in our impossible life.

Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

We have been given the privilege of “boldly” entering the Presence of God because of the Blood of Jesus. God intends to make His Promises a reality in our life if for no other reason than to honor the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Think about that. God so desired us to live in His Presence that He was willing to sacrifice His Son to have us close to Him. Jesus was willing to come to this earth forsaking His Throne to become a human being and endure hardship and fight sin just like us so He would be able to understand us. He then surrendered His Life to the Cross to fully pay for every indiscretion, trespass and sin whether intentional or not, for each one of us. We are important to God. It is also important to honor Jesus, His Son. Jesus opened a new and life-giving way for us to enter into the Presence of God in right standing. Otherwise the sin in us would cause immediate death. Now we can come boldly, but do we?

The enemy takes pot shots at our promises day in and day out. He lies to us that we cannot have God’s Best. He reminds us of our past. He compares the Great I AM to other people. The enemy wants us to be afraid to trust God. It works. We settle for less than God’s Best and compromise all the time. Ignorantly, refusing God’s Best for substitutions because we believe a lie rather than digging into the Truth. The Truth of God’s Word means nothing unless we have been washed in the Blood. For those who are saved, it is the Truth on which life can now be based as we live boldly before the Throne of God. But this is a two-fold effort, we must first be saved but then we must desire the Lord and His Kingdom more than the things of the earth. Believe it or not, there are people who want Jesus to make this life better never looking past tomorrow to see forever. I guess we are all guilty of that sometimes.

Our hearts must sincerely desire Jesus above all other things and long to be in His Presence to have all of His Promises. To hold tightly without wavering requires both hands – we cannot keep a firm grip on this life and have all that is in forever waiting for us. Am I holding the anchor of hope I have been given? Or am I floating adrift in the sea today? God is keeping every promise that He made to you. Are you keeping your promise to the Lord?

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

 

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith in the Lord and dependence on Him are the foundation of a solid, immovable and unshakeable life. We must build our house on the Truth found in the Word of God by faith which means that we are confident enough that God will do what He says that we live there. It is too late to build your house in the middle of the storm. The structure must be in place before the winds and rain start beating on the roof. Faith is not a rescue remedy to bail us out when hard times hit. It must be the foundation of our life. When we go through tough times, we dig in the Word of God like rummaging through the kitchen drawer for a flashlight when the power goes out. We can’t find anything but all the junk crammed in there for months since the last time we needed something. How can we be upset when it is our lack of preparation that kept us from what we needed? We do it all the time. Loosely committed to God in the off-season, yet expecting to be fully engaged in crisis. We must check our anchors today. Testing the links and replacing the weak ones before the tugging and pulling begins again. Our spiritual life is important every single day. God is not a crisis deity. His Promises are true every single day of our life. Mercy is given daily – not weekly, monthly, yearly or when crises come. No one knows what tomorrow brings…except for the One who wrote out every moment of our life.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT)

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

 

My daughter was excited to tell me that she and her husband bought heavy jackets and snow boots. They are preparing for their first full winter in the great white north. It is not really cold right now except for occasional evening temperatures. Those who have lived there are preparing them with all the basics for life in the frigid winter that is coming. These Florida kids are excited about the prospect of blankets of white snow while those who have lived through several seasons know what they are in for so they are helping them get ready. God invites us to do the same each day as He waits for us to come and talk with Him. He wants us to walk with Him through life not just run to Him in the crisis. He wants us to live in His Presence where we can see things as He does. The Lord wants us to know His Promises and live in them. His Spirit is His Guarantee that they belong to us. Do we even know the Spirit of God living in us? Take a new grip today. Strengthen your weak knees but falling on them. Mark out a straight path as revealed in the Word of God. We have been given the undeserved privilege of living in the Presence of the Great I AM who does not just make empty promises but backs them will all the power and authority of His Sovereignty. Nothing can stop God from acting in our life but us. I intend to move everything out of the way, release all the useless garbage I have accumulated, and grab hold of the anchor of hope that Jesus offers. It’s up to me if I will hold on to hope. It is up to me if I will live in His Promises, and I intend to.

Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT)

Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.