Fugitive Heart

Fugitive Heart

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I should have seen it coming. You have to practice what you preach. I have been touting forgiveness to my teenager for a week. So why be surprised when I am faced with a situation that requires forgiving someone who is not sorry. Of course, I would be presented with a large portion of crow. Shocked and dismayed…I know in that moment the enemy chuckled. I have to make a choice. One I do not want to make…will I choose to be angry with this person who has offended me so or will I quickly forgive and move on. As I stumble over my flesh realizing that I am not as far in the race of faith as I once thought, I begin to recite all the scripture I know about forgiveness. It is a command not a suggestion. It is beneficial and crucial yet critical to my pride and fatal to my flesh. How can I just let this go? It is wrong. It is hateful. It is mean spirited. It is judgmental. Tears of frustration fill my eyes as I am sitting on the outside while standing on the inside. I must forgive the person as though my life depends upon it or risk becoming who they are in this moment sitting in the same bitterness, caught up in the past, held captive in hatred, and imprisoned by the wrath so wrapped up in their heart. What do you do when you just can’t get over it?

I am “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love.” Oh my goodness, this is so hard sometimes. People are people. We are imperfect yet called by a perfect Savior and flawless God to walk in His Image and live by His Example which is love, mercy and grace in all things towards all people. I would love to fall back on the fact that I am not God or selfless like Jesus but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Jesus lives inside of me. He is my new nature. His Spirit works to nurture, develop, and cultivate good fruit in the barrenness that once possessed me. I want to bear His Fruit. To be a good steward. To be a vessel from which a good harvest overflows…but my heart is angry and emotions all stirred up. I find that the fertile and broken heart is not always void of rocks and hard spots that need my attention. I am called to longsuffering but would like nothing more than to make someone suffer by my harsh words, mad retort, or not so gentle rebuffing. The Spirit of God says, “Let it go!” My flesh says, “Not so fast…” The inner turmoil begins.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How low can you go? It’s not a limbo term anymore but a question for my inner person. The one who wants to be like Christ but struggles with human weakness. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Love them. I do love them or maybe I should say in this moment of anger that I did. Friends can become enemies quickly in the shadow of hurt, harsh words, betrayal or even a simple misunderstanding. I tell my kids to ignore the offenses of others as I trip over my own tongue today. “Don’t make none and there won’t be none” has been my mantra that now hangs like a heavy mantle around my neck as it tightens into a noose.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NKJV) For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Are you harboring unforgiveness in a fugitive heart today? Caught up in anger that is burning into hatred? Do you feel that an injustice has been done and you deserve retribution? Vengeance is mind says the Lord but is your flesh rallying to take the upper hand? Did you know that the enemy of our soul uses such a weapon to take advantage of us because we are ignorant of his devices? Satan wants to trick you into not forgiving so he can steal something from you today. He wants to get you caught up in words or tangled in lies so he can rob you of the love, joy and peace so heavily invested in you by Christ. Is it working?

“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.” It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person was or how right you are, you become an enemy of their soul by choosing unforgiveness over longsuffering. The Light that shines within us grows slightly dimmer until it is snuffed out by our unwillingness to let a trespass go in the same sea of forgetfulness that our sin drifted away on. The Salt of our spirit becomes tasteless and useless when our season brings about hardness in the mine called our heart. I must forgive others simply because I am forgiven. What I bind on the earth is bound in heaven and that which I loose is free to go. (Matthew 18:18) When I shackle someone in their trespass, I am no different than Saul who persecuted Christians and murdered them for their belief. Lord, I must forgive. Teach me to be longsuffering. Help me to remain free and loose others from the expectation I have placed on them.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

There may be a more significant meaning to seventy times seven which many commentaries can elaborate on but for this particular instance let’s say it means 490 times. Can you think of anyone you have forgiven that many times consistently without throwing the towel in or walking away? Truly forgiveness but become an infinite quality in our Christian character be reflect the grace of God given to us. But how do we continually forgive other people and not become a human doormat? That’s the fear isn’t it? The idea of losing our identity in the giving of our life to others. Maybe that is exactly what becoming like Christ is all about? Giving up our identity to be a true reflection of who He is and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus has forgiven me more than 490 times and the count is steadily rising. Forgiveness is a commitment to love others more than ourselves. Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. I don’t think that the Lord intended for us to have any enemies but one. The Kingdom is built of men and women bound together in unity and love. The enemy seeks to destroy the Kingdom beginning with the bitter root marked unforgiveness.

Luke 7:46-48 (NKJV) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As my heart softens in the Lord today, I am reminded of the woman who entered a room to face the judgmental glares of the Sanhedrin because she wanted to anoint Jesus with oil. Jesus forgave her of her sins and named her an example of one who has been forgiven much. To whom little is forgiven the same loves little. I have been forgiven much and sometimes I forget that when faced with an offense. I choose to be offended or hurt and throw up a wall around my heart. But that only limits me, I have been given unconditional and abounding love and grace by Jesus. I can live in it, walk in it and rejoice because of it even when others do not meet my expectation or hurt me because I have taken my expectation from others and placed it fully in Jesus Christ. Those times when unforgiveness rears its ugly head is only a reminder of how much more I need Him than the day before.

It has been established that it is easier to say, “Arise and walk” then “your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness crucifies pride and moves us to our rightful position behind Jesus and others. Isn’t that what they say true joy is all about Jesus, others and you? I have to be reminded sometimes that it is not all about me and maybe just maybe if I choose to love rather than convict – it may make a difference in others. I am called to be Light in this dark world. Of course, the enemy will try to put that light out at every given opportunity. I choose today to forgive. I will have to remind myself of this very thing throughout the day when offered bitterness and anger toward the person who hurt me. I must choose love and grace because that is where I live and breathe. I will walk in freedom and work to keep the other person free not by binding them in my judgment or condemnation but continually praying for their blessing and freedom in Christ. Ugh! It’s a hard one. It’s a choice. It is not about me but my commitment to Christ so I will forgive.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

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Feeling Full

Feeling Full

Colossians 1:19-20 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Are you fully satisfied today? Are you content with your life? Do you have unfulfilled hopes and dreams that are fading on the backburner of life? Are you ready to settle? Have you already? What do you expect? Do you expect anything at all? Expectation is fueled by hope. It is given substance by faith that lays a foundation of trust, waiting and expectation. It is the very thing that lends our faith and hope credibility as it molds and shapes our behavior.

“For God in all His Fullness was pleased to live in Christ” and now He lives in us. Are you feeling full today? Do you feel the fullness of Christ pressing the edges of ordinary about to overflow in extraordinary? Do you sense that your natural life is about to give way to a supernatural existence? Oh if we did, it would make a difference in how we lived. If for one moment, one day, one week, or even maybe one year that it was our goal to remain fully invested in our faithful expectation at the feet of Jesus – worshipping and waiting as if that which we hoped for had already arrived. What happened next would be remarkable? It would be worthwhile. It would be fulfillment. A completion uncompromised by the world’s settlements and substitutions. Is Christ enough for you today? Come on. It’s just us for now. Think about it. Is Jesus really and truly enough?

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Is this your declaration today? The Light that guides your life. From glory to glory and victory to victory, it is the foundation that Christ has made you more than a conqueror. Overwhelming victory belongs to us in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37) All of this fullness and completion comes as believers reconcile their life to God’s Plan. Of course, a catch. Yes, a beautiful offering of a consummated relationship with God the Father through Christ His Son being filled by His Spirit. It is not a trap but rather a transition from death to life, captivity to freedom, and living in lack to fulfillment.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I believe that nothing can ever separate me personally from God’s Love. Nothing. I have tested the boundaries and limits of His Love and found that just when I think I have reached the edge I fall over into fathomless depths of more love, compassion, goodness, and grace. It never ends. When I think I have gone too far, I turn and find Him waiting. It is this concept of endless and unconditional love that bridges the gap of human insufficiency fulling accepting the God-Given Grace that allows salvation and reconciliation with God the Father through His Son.

God doesn’t stop there but then begins to remove all rivals for our attention and affection by showering us in His Grace and Goodness over and over again. Faith engages us in the process. Endurance keeps us there. Confident hope rises from seeds of trust planted in a fertile and broken heart give time to grow, develop and mature in Christ. Any love affair takes time. Time is the test that proves its longevity. It is the only thing that can determine if it is long lasting and never ending. The bond of marriage is a commitment to invest all that I am into life with my spouse. It is hard work. It requires constant attention. It’s tough. Giving up my way in order to find our way together. Such is our relationship with Christ, it cannot be based on what I have to contribute when He offers completion. I must simply desire it and pursue Him to have it.

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

How incomprehensible is a God who is good? With all the “bad” things that happen, it can be really difficult to decide that God is better than that and always working the details of our life for good. We make decisions and expect God to alter the outcome rather than understanding that consequences are the very details that can produce the most good in us. Good times don’t produce trust opportunities to trust it is the difficulties of life. The times when there are no more options so believers take to their knees. God is our escape plan not our daily sustenance. Everything changes when our expectation is the Lord first. When we seek Him first. When we read His Word and take it to heart first. When He becomes our priority – His Spirit reforms our mind, reorganizes our priorities, changes our thoughts, and creates order in a once chaotic state. It is our complete union with Christ making Him the ruler and authority of our life that allows His Light to take over.

Colossians 1:4-6 (NLT) For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

I am not a huge fan of the statement “faith it until you make it”. It sounds a lot like the worldly adage “fake it until you make it.” I believe that there are a whole lot of church folk living this way. Faith is how I make it. Faith is the substance of what I hope for so how can I hold on to something I do not have. Faith must be the foundation my life is built upon. In Colossians 1, it says, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s People.” Is your faith in the Lord perceivable? To talk a good talk without the walk is to send mix messages. To act like you have faith without any real evidence will not shine a light in the darkness. Faith produces confident hope that becomes a beacon. It is the fruit that changes lives. Fulfillment in Jesus Christ gives us something worthwhile and palatable to offer the world. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is not bitter but tasty fruit for others to enjoy.

Good news produces hopeful expectation but only if you believe the message. The Truth concerning our life is fully explained and carefully detailed in God’s Word. Those who believe it will taste and see that the Lord is good. Is your life lacking today? Do you feel less than satisfied? What if I told you that you are what you eat? Maybe just maybe a sizable chunk of the bread of life might satisfy those hunger pains? Perhaps a great big gulp of living water might be just what you need to be fulfilled? I wonder if we are saying one thing but believing another and living on less than enough.

Colossians 1:11-14 (NLT) We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

There is no lack in the Kingdom. God operates in abundance. It all belongs to Him. Freedom from sin provided by His Grace gives us access to the Kingdom of God and all its resources. Lack does not exist in the Kingdom of God. It would contradict His Nature. He is more than enough. He supplies all our need. He has given us every spiritual blessing. Jesus can to give us a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He wants to complete us. We must believe this in order to benefit from it. The more confident I become in the expectation that God is good and that He will never let me down – the more His Love, Mercy and Grace are manifested in my life as Light Glorious Light. Confidence in Christ makes way for completion through a little thing called expectation.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  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.

Be encouraged today! God loves you! Christ will complete you! You just have to believe it to receive it. He will give you the power to understand just how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is if given the chance. To fully comprehend the Love of God offered through Jesus Christ means forfeiting logic and fully embracing faith. I cannot tell you exactly how it all works or why it all comes together in the end, but I can testify that it is true and give you many examples. Faith allows our heart, mind, body and soul to be fulfilled in Christ. He will only fill the voids offered to Him and would never violate your freedom. Hope never leads to disappointment so if you are currently experiencing this emotion than it is the opportunity to sow seeds of faith that will turn into that which is hoped for. The standard or benchmark for our life is Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13) You cannot be satisfied until full of Jesus Christ who promises to meet and exceed all human expectancy with absolute fulfillment. Have you given the Lord full authority and power over your life? Let go of the reins and allow God to take you new places. He will never ever let us down. This is the expectation of my life which will lead to complete fulfillment.

Ephesians 4:13 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

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

TX_Road_Into_Rain_HDR

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

the-perfect-holiday

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.”