When I Fail

When I Fail

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I entered the role of motherhood just shy of my 24th birthday. Sitting in the empty hospital room, it was the first time I was alone and awake with my tiny son. He was perfect. Though small, he was chubby with a head of thick dark hair. As he lay sleeping, sunlight peeked through the room, beams falling on him and in that moment he looked so angelic. Overcome with emotions, tears began to fall from my face unto his little feet. My imperfection abundantly clear to me in that moment in the fact that I would make mistakes and could not promise him a “perfect” life. I was overwhelmed at the thought of failure. I would fail him. I knew it. I couldn’t stop it or control it. My weaknesses would cause me to mess up time and time again. I felt insecure in that fact that God had entrusted me with him because I wasn’t good enough for the job that lay before me.

Well, my son is now 27 years old. He is engaged and about to become a bonus dad to a precocious six-year-old. How time flies by when you are having fun? An update…I did fail. I failed in parenting time and time again. In fact, I apologized to my son a few years ago. He was the guinea pig. I learned to parent using him to mold and shape my skills for the four that would come later. I believe in discipline and this boy got his fair share. When I told him that I was sorry, he hugged me close and replied, “That’s okay, mama. I know everything I did and you probably didn’t spank me enough.” Plot twist – the perfect baby given to me wasn’t perfect either yet I still felt ultimately responsible. But now I felt my heart at ease for my boy gave me the grace needed to live free from guilt as a mom.

I am a failure. I was born a failure. I will always be a complete and utter failure. From the moment, I arrived due to my innate nature to sin – I fell short of God’s Glorious Standard. This type of failure is fatal. It can only be overcome by God’s Grace in all of its sufficiency. Have you accepted God’s Grace? Have you invited Jesus to save you? To be your Savior and Lord? If the answer is “yes”, then despite the fact you are a failure – you cannot fail God ever again.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Our success in life as a believer becomes completely dependent on faith in Christ alone. Your prosperity is from Christ in you. The complete takeover of His Spirit filling our life with good fruit that produces good things in us and allows us to take full advantage of God’s Promises. We are made right with God in this one simple gesture. If our rightness ever becomes based on anything that we do, it has become convoluted with religion rather than fully reliant on a relationship with Jesus. A believer is defined as one who believes. What do you believe today? It is important as it is the validity of faith.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.

You cannot fall farther than you already did with a single sin. Someone needs to hear this today because somewhere along the way you gave up on God’s Glorious Standard when the enemy told you that you failed God. You cannot fail God. Failing God would mean He needed us for something. It would compromise the Sovereignty of a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If this were the case, it would make God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ insufficient. Sin was our failure. It is our daily struggle. But it doesn’t make us a failure. Though we fall, it is not fatal unless choosing to stay there. His Grace is enough for me…and you…and every other person ever created.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Have you imposed a penalty that God has already removed? Yet (already done) God in His Grace (not my ability) freely (without a condition or cost) makes us right in His Sight. He did it through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. He freed (past tense) us from the penalty of sin. What you called “lost” has only been “left” behind and can be reclaimed when you stop trying to pay for something already covered completely! The enemy of our soul cannot lay claim to us anymore. Sin had a penalty of death. God’s Grace paid it in full and released us from punishment for our sin. To think that we must somehow pay God back is to cheapen the priceless gift that was given.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. Oh how I wish someone would believe today with me. Condemnation produces a punishment or penalty. God paid our penalty in full. To impose a penalty or decide that God is punishing us is to live a lie. Self-imposed penalty is a product of pride. Sin’s penalty is paid in full and no longer condemning. When I fail, I fail myself by living beneath God’s Glorious Standard returned to me with redemption. It is to refuse resurrection power and live in the discarded death shroud of guilt, shame and remorse. It restricts and limits us in insecurity and fear that the Blood has lost its power and grace is not enough due to our inability.

According to Romans 5, God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The grace given when accepting Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Not just the ones already committed, but every sin past, present and future. It is only the weight of relinquished that applies weight and heaviness to our life. It is easily removed by repentance. To say, “I’m sorry, Lord” with true repentance and remorse. Our relationship with God is secure in Jesus Christ. Every promise is valid. Our purpose remains intact even when I fall or fail. It is what I believe that changes everything. Do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Grace to remove the penalty and punishment of sin? Do you believe that you are given life abundantly? Or do you live in condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ therefore even when I fail – my relationship with God through His Son means nothing is lost. “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.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I failed God. He forgave me and wiped out the penalty of sin that I once carried. The power at work in me is a direct result of His Son, Jesus Christ who died for me and then put His Life Spirit in me. I cannot take credit for anything good that has come of it. To think that I can fail God now that I am saved and filled with His Son renders grace incapable of full satisfaction. In other words, it is me saying, “God – Your Grace is not enough!” Who would ever dare? We do. By accepting the bat of guilt, shame, remorse and insecurity that the enemy has us when we fall short and beating the life out of ourselves with compromise and substitutions for the Gloriousness of His Grace. Pride tells us that we have to do something. Humility accepts that it is in our constant and utter weakness that His Power is fully executed.

Grace is enough. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. His Grace is enough to cover every single sin ever committed and therefore you can never fail God again. When we fall, it is an opportunity to reach up and take our Savior’s Hand again. He continually pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. Each morning mercy is given to us regardless of acceptance or not. His grace is all I need. His power works best in my failure and weaknesses. For it is then that the Glory of God reaches me and is reflected in my life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NLT) Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

There is obviously a difference in willful sin and wandering. Who am I to judge? The wonderful grace that God has given us cannot work in a hard and inflexible heart. To love sin is to reject the Lord. Those who hate sin will still fall into it. It is inevitable. Paul talks about the struggle with sin in Romans 7. Despite our best intentions not to sin, we still do it daily. We are united with Christ and His Spirit lives in us showing us a better and more glorious lifestyle. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that in my weakness – His Power changes me from the inside out. He prospers my soul in my willingness not ability. When I fail, I must not let pride give me the responsibility but hand it right back to the Lord. We have a right relationship even when I sin based on grace alone. God doesn’t turn his back on me but sees His Son and pulls me closer. We can live a new life. A free existence in choosing what is beneficial to our life in Christ for it is where success and full satisfaction are found. It is a choice. To accept God’s Grace or refuse it.

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Grace made us right with God from the beginning. One sin was our failure. There is no further falling in the life of a believer. Sin put you at rock bottom. When I fail, it is a personal setback not a supernatural event. God already knew I would fall short of His Glorious Standard and Jesus paid the price already. Do you feel like you failed God? Do you think He is punishing you for something you have done? Are you punishing yourself by believing you cannot have what God promised because you failed? The enemy will give you ever burden that you are willing to accept. We can easily fill are heart and mind with all the reasons why we are not worthy of God’s Grace and they would all be valid except for the simple fact that His Grace is always sufficient. In every setback, fault, failure and wandering, when we thought we were lost – God will show you where you left off. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. We just have to hand Him all the broken pieces. You will fall. You will fail. Your still have a future and hope because His Grace is always enough!

Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of your people today with a new revelation of your amazing grace. We do not deserve it and certainly couldn’t earn it even though many times we try to. Please God take captive every rebellious thought that I must do something more to receive it other than accept it. Lord help my unbelief until I have full confidence that your grace is sufficient for me. It is always enough…even when I fail! Amen and Amen!

Acts 20:32 (NLT) “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

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Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart fail…Have I failed God? What happens if I do not pass the test? When my flesh and heart feel like failures – what then? What’s next for the believer who doesn’t get it right? In the midst of spiritual droughts, it is not uncommon to feel like a failure. To wonder “what’s the point” of even trying because I have made a fine mess of things. Or even worse lug out the heavy bat marked regret in order to beat yourself up over and over until you live in shame. The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that failure is not an option but inevitable. Do you feel like a failure today?

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We can be our own worst critics. Examining our life and choices with a magnifying glass. Comparing our success to others. Trying to do it all and do it all well. A life of excellence is not defined by doing everything but doing what you do well. The accomplishment of excellence takes focus on raising the standard of our life with commitment and discipline that cannot be diverse. It must be consistent. It must remain constant. How does a human being accomplish such a daunting task? With fickle hearts and wandering minds, how is it even possible to achieve God’s Standard of Living. Truth is it is impossible. I cannot make my life any better. I can make better choices. I can change some of my behaviors. I can develop good habits. Yet still I cannot change my future and hope. It is already established. A plan carefully written for me, my good and God’s Glory before I was born. It contains a future and hope. Always good things in store for me. But the only way that I can have constant success in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Is it possible to fail God? We already did. Is it possible to fail? Yes. Our flesh and heart will fail us over and over again. The good news is that even when our flesh and heart fail that the Lord is our strength and portion forever. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

The definition of failure is a lack of success. It is absolutely possible and inevitable that there will be failure in certain areas of our natural existence. In fact, our body is born in a state of aging and deterioration. Our choices directly impact the advancement of the process. At some point in the future, everyone will die. It is unavoidable. However, as sons and daughters of God this does not impact our future negatively. Others will mourn our crossover into Heaven, but I do not think a single person welcomed by Jesus ever looks back. Disappointment is unmet expectation. Any expectation placed in people or the world will often result in disappointment or discouragement. This impacts our heart and mind. Unless we understand the greater picture of our new life in Christ it is easy to become persuaded that there are things that can separate us from the Love of God and His Plan for us. This is simply not true.

I John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I am a child of God. Are you? If you are a child of God – you have an inheritance. He becomes your portion. What does that mean exactly? Every promise and blessing that the Father has for you is unconditional. It is your inheritance. You receive it simply by becoming His Child. Let these words sink in for just a minute. Failure means nonperformance on something due, required or expected. God released His Word for your life. His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what He pleases and it must prosper in the thing for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) It doesn’t matter if you fail what matters is that God’s Word cannot fail. God is not like mankind. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He commands a blessing in your life, it must happen. It will happen. Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance. (Psalm16:5-6)

Lamentations 3:21-25 (NKJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

I have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of the unseen reality in our life. God is our hope. Faith attaches us to the hope. We must believe it to receive it. If only men and women of “faith” could overcome fear of failure. Imagine the explosive impact on those who were not afraid to fail in their faith but flourished in hope. Confident hope becomes consistent faith. Faith that moves mountains is not the kind that whispers words of uncertainty or remains tangled in regret. Fearless faith is that which relies on God’s Mercy that comes to us each day. The Spirit-Filled Bible puts it like this – “Where grace emphasizes the freeness of God’s Love toward us, mercy stresses the freeing of our lives from the misery of disobedience.” The truth is that we obey God’s Word because we do not believe it. For if we believed in our inheritance, we would devour the Word of God finding ways to make it work in our life. When new mercy came this morning, did you receive it? Did you use it to cover the wounds of disappointment, the marks of regret, and the stains of shame? God’s Compassion for us does not fail. His Love for us provided a wave of grace much larger than any mistake or indiscretion. The current of His Love, Grace and Mercy gently drawing us closer to Him so that our inheritance is released to us as His Children.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion for us. It is His All Consuming Commitment to bring us into the good things that He has prepared for us. It is the invitation to live in everlasting communion with our Father. Mercy is the key to our success. It is the understanding that though we may fail, God never fails in His Love including His Compassion, Commitment and Communion with us. He is our portion. This is vital in our understanding of faith and hope and how it all works together. We need His Mercy every single day because we will fail. It allows us to see that He never fails. We will prosper by remaining in His Love.

Psalm1:2-3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I wonder if a barren tree sitting in a blanket of snow in the winter feels like a failure. Or maybe a flower whose blooms are wilted and withered on the ground, does it bow its head in regret at what it has lost. It knows what season it is and therefore waits in the soil for the conditions to change. You are God’s Child. He is molding and shaping your life into a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Just because your life looks like a mess right now, does not in any way mean you have failed?

At the end the school year, my youngest partnered with a friend to do a class project. She asked if they could use some of our crafting supplies and work on it at our house. I agreed. When I came home from work from my kitchen to the porch all the way in the back yard including covering the girls – it looked like a paintball war had occurred. I was quite sure her oldest brother was involved but I cannot prove it. I was less the enthused by the condition of our home. They completed the project with a “B” – I think. I am still cleaning up the paint. Life is messy. There will be tests. Some you will pass with living colors, others only barely get by and there will be those that you fail altogether. God’s Grace is sufficient in every season. His Mercy is new every day. His Love for His Children unfailing. He is constantly working success and prosperity according to the measure of faith that He put in our hearts and the Spirit that He has given us. He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do it all.

All that the Lord desires is that we seek Him. Make a commitment to love Him wholeheartedly and seek Him the same. He will make His Way known and empower us to follow and equip us for success. We must only know that though I may fail – it is impossible for God to fail. His Hope NEVER leads to disappointment – we must follow through. God is good! He loves you! He is our inheritance which is freely given to His Sons and Daughters without condition. He is prospering us from the inside out. God is for you – you cannot fail. His Grace is producing His Glory in us and through us. Where my life ends, and my new life in Christ begins is the day I leave failure and regret behind. He is working all things together for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Take hold of Jesus today. He will lead you from victory to victory. Let Him tell you who you are. Stop looking around and look up. Let the Lord be the strength of your heart and your portion forever. You will be satisfied.

Proverbs 3:21-24 (NKJV) My son, let them not depart from your eyes—Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Tug-0-War – It’s Not A Game Anymore

Tug o war

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Since bringing home our new lab puppy, Scout – she bonded quickly to our Chihuahua, Izzy. From the moment, they get up until it is time to go to bed there is nothing but nonstop activity. Scout is very large yet quite passive while Izzy is tiny but ferocious. When they both take hold of a toy and pull, it is clear by Izzy’s hold and posture that she fully intends to win the game of tug-o-war clearly unimpressed by Scout’s size and power. Currently, Scout is five times the size of her fur sister. But Izzy has heart and tenacity – she does not ever back down. When she engages in tugging, she believes she can win. With one mindless jerk of Scout’s powerful head, the game is over. Izzy’s response – like any good sport – she attacks Scout with all the growling and snarling she can muster while our oversized fur baby just enjoys her conquest and rolls over on her back.

While both of the participants in the tug-o-war are impacted by the pulling and tugging, can you imagine the condition of the object of their grasp? With our dogs, it may be a rope or small squeaky toy but in the game of life too often it feels like it is us. Or maybe I am the only one who has days when despite my very best effort to hold tight to my faith, steady my heart, do the right thing and keep pressing on – I feel stretched and pulled in two opposite directions? I have put forth my best effort. Tried to keep the right attitude. Even forgiven along the way as hard as that may be sometimes, yet still feel as though I have come up short. A discarded heap of hopelessness who strived with all her might yet her flesh failed and her heart is weary. Come on. I cannot be the only one.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

To live IS Christ. To die is gain. The death process begins at birth. From the moment of taking in our first breath, a human being is one step closer to their death if you think about it. God has ordered the life span of each person according to His Will and His Way. It is not always possible to understand the number assigned to each living creature, but God knows. If only it were easy to live for Christ every moment of every day and serve Him faithfully apart from all sin and transgression as one might desire. It is not easy. It is not even possible. So why keep trying?

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

The struggle is real. For me to live is Christ but to die is gain. The more I grow to understand this – the more I understand terms like endurance. The stretching, molding and shaping of my heart and mind to hold fast to the confession of my faith and let other things go. It would be easy if I did not battle an unseen adversary every single day. No, it is not the enemy. Satan has no power or control in my life because I have given it to Jesus Christ. I am a Child of God. No the waging war with in us is our flesh. On those days when the pressure and problems of life leave us stretched and stressed lifeless forms crawling into His Presence exhausted and done, it is not always because the oppressor has been the foe that is faced but our flesh. We do not battle people. We must hold tight to the Word of God and respond to the Will of God even when our stubbornness and pride dig in. The good fight of faith is waging in our heart and mind not the world in which we live. I believe that it is important to identify the problem to find the solution. What if the problem is me?

Romans 7:21-25 (Message)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

No believer – saved and sanctified can ever say with any credibility that “the devil made me do it”. Satan cannot come near the Light that lives within us. God has given us His Spirit. The object of greatest oppression is flesh. Our own will who seeks to survive despite our desire to be crucified with Christ and live. I have been crucified with Christ by choice. I have chosen to give up sin and accept salvation. Now what? Fight. Fight for faith. Work toward obedience. Do my very best to hold on to what is good and avoid that which is not. To endure. To love. To forgive. To hope. Christ lives in me and is working His Way out of me into every part of my existence. The life I live now in the flesh is by faith in the Living God who is in me. The overwhelming factor that is my success is His Grace. (Galatians 2:20) Despite my full intent and heartfelt commitment, my flesh fails time and time again. This is the reason His Grace is my power. It is the very essence of power that lives in me overriding my inability to allow the fulfillment of Christ to be mine.

Can I just publicly thank the apostle Paul for his transparent honesty in Romans 7! If only every believer would allow others to see the reality of their plight, not by glorifying sin or immortalizing failure, but rather allowing others to witness the process. Our soul cries out for the Living God but our flesh fights to survive. It is a natural born tendency that is not exempt when it comes to dying to this life to obtain forever with the Lord. When I am overwhelmed and feel stretched like a dog toy that has been tugged and pulled on all day, I realize that maybe just maybe it isn’t the enemy pulling on me. In fact, the Lord has shown me clearly that it is not. I live in the Hand of God. The enemy cannot touch me. No, on those days, I have held hope with one hand not two and taken hold of something with my flesh that I need to let go of. This process is so intimate and personal. The good fight of faith is not in an arena but in the quiet recesses of our heart as His Word works its way through and hopeful confidence lays claim to it.

“Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough for those days when my flesh rises up and wages war to take over my heart and mind. I will not overcome this rivalry until Jesus takes me home and removes it from me forever. In the meantime, it is important that I work in close partnership with the Spirit of God so it is two against one.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus lived in the flesh. Yes, He was God during that time, too but chose to be subject to flesh and blood just like the ones who He loved and chose to die for. He experienced every bit of warring of the flesh just as anybody else does on any given day. He overcame sin. He endured every test and trial all the way to the Cross. He died a sinless man. Who better to help us then the One who knows and understands our flesh and feelings? Jesus overcame the world. He did it by overcoming flesh. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross. His Death was would have been required if only a single sin existed. The necessity of grace is not proportioned to the quantity of sin but rather to overcome death produced by a single sin. Wrap your brain around that one and the playing field of life becomes quite level. There is no pride in obedience just surrender to God because there is no prize or promise outside of the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. If there is no hierarchy of sin, that means that God has no favorites. There you have it the full potential of our life is in the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ…alone. I can do nothing to earn it, obtain it or pay it back. I can only accept it.

Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What if we have been interpreting these verses all wrong? We are to do all things without grumbling or disputing…good luck with that right? To remain sinless (without blemish) in this crooked and twisted generation…it is not possible. Do you work with other people? Commute home in five o’clock traffic. Let’s be real – do you own any teenagers? Life happens. Sin slips out. Our flesh rises up. What then? The Light that shines within us comes out through our brokenness. When our hard heart cracks open and our one-track mind gives way to the new life and new way of thinking that is not religious but relational. The Law of God did not save us just shows us how bad we messed up. It proves the sufficiency of His Grace when knowing all my faults and failures in a single day – I still fight to hold on to faith and cling to confident hope. “Holding fast to the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain.” The confident hope that I have is not in my own ability to live a sinless, good life but it is in the Grace of God given to me based on His Love and Faithfulness. The Word of Life says that nothing can ever separate me from the Love of God and in fact it is His Love that makes me more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37) Pride says otherwise but grace always proves it wrong.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Before this passage in I Thessalonians 5 comes a list of instructions. Things like love each other, help one another, and be an encourager. It also tells us to rejoice, pray and be thankful. It clearly outlines qualities and characteristics that are the Will of God for our life. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But the important part follows closely behind, the specific thing that I must cling to throughout each day as I try to run with purpose. The goal that I long for and strive for is this – that my whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless. His Grace is enough, I must cling to it every day. He is the one who is Faithful. Jesus will surely do it if I will just hold on the hope that He has given me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…

My steadfastness will not ever be in me. I will continue to strive to live apart from anything that displeases the Lord but I know that it is only by His Grace that I find the power to overcome every shortcoming, fault and failure. Sin separated me from God and only His Righteousness will allow me to live in His Presence again. He does not lie or change His Mind so the Word of Life is the anchor of my soul and substance of my faith that keeps me from giving up and letting go when I feel the pressures of life, stress or restlessness. My flesh is always at war with the Spirit in me. It is a fight to the death. The Spirit of God overcame death and administers life to all who live in partnership with Him. It doesn’t mean there is not struggling or no suffering in this life but He give us the power and strength to hold on and endure to the end. I don’t know what might work as soul soothing for you but when I feel weary in well doing or pointless in my pursuit of Christ, I find that worship is my release. To lift my hands, open them wide, and show love and adoration on Jesus. Burdens fall off as He picks me up and holds me. When was the last time you stepped into the Presence of the Living God? There is nothing there but life. The struggle ends where surrender begins. The hopelessness gives way to hope in the Light of His Love. Grace works best in weakness. His Power is manifested in our life when we can’t but believe He will. There is a reward for those who choose to keep His Word, walk by faith, hold on to hope and endure until the end through every trial, hardship and struggle believing God is good, God loves me, and God will never let me down.

As Scout and Izzy wrestle at my feet, I am blissfully aware that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Izzy will learn one day to pick and choose her battles but I hope that she never loses her heart. Scout in her sweet nature will one day learn the same or give up every toy and treat to Izzy. I believe that this is life in our house with our pets. I believe this is the life lived in Christ as well. Picking and choosing battles, knowing when to take heart and surrendering to Christ always. It is only a tug-o-war if both sides pull. The game ends when one or the other let’s go. Lord, I give you my heart, mind, body and spirit all over again today. I let go of everything except the Word of Life. May hope keep me anchored. Have your way in me, amen! I surrender all!

Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Through It All

Keep Walking

Exodus 14:13-16 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

Most churches have used the anthem “No Longer Slaves” in the worship set as it has grown in popularity. The bridge of the song belted out “You split the sea so I could walk right through it… My fears were drowned in perfect love…You rescued me, so I can stand and sing…I am a Child of God. Such an empowering message, which makes the one praising and worshiping God in that corporate moment feel strong and immovable. Right? At least I do. It reminds me of all the times God has brought me through tough even tragic situations. The times that I thought I couldn’t find my next breath much less my next step. Church ends and life begins again.

How do I carry that mentality from church into real life? The feeling of strength and power when all hell is breaking loose in my life. How do I maintain confident trust in the Lord when the walls of water around me grow tumultuous? How do I hold an anchor that I cannot see or feel the weight of? I don’t know about you but I think walking on water seems preferable to “drowning” in perfect love. You know having the faith to walk with Jesus above the wind and waves. Need I remind you, Peter jumped out of the boat by faith but found that his heart was not ready for the journey so he immediately sank…let’s read about it.

Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Different scenario same God. While the Egyptians pursed the Israelites, there didn’t seem to be a real choice in the faith matter. Either walk through the Red Sea or die on the beach, not favorable but definitely with great reward. The boat was being beaten by the winds and waves. The disciples were afraid. Jesus came to them walking on the water. He did not split the sea or calm the storm yet but when Peter asked to come to him. Ever hear the song, “Oceans”…ever sang it out loud. We ask the Lord to challenge us, take us deeper, move us closer to Him, allow us to live in His Presence but when the opportunity comes – our flesh fails. Faith is clearly too small to keep us buoyant. The Lord faithfully, loving and always reaches down to catch us. It took a whole lot of faith to walk between two walls of suspended water but the people had no choice it was move or die. Peter had a choice. Intrigued by Jesus, he thought he was ready to walk with the Lord. When his feet hit the water, I believe that Peter thought Jesus would impart some super power to him and he would magically stay on top of the water. Not the case then and not the case now.

Our super power is faith. But just like every other super hero, it takes time to cultivate our power into something tangible, useful and, yes, even powerful. For a new driver, putting the right foot on the accelerator and pushing it down hard the first time seems exhilarating and easy at first. The powerful force of the engine engaging as sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel while our entire body is catapulted forward makes us think maybe there is more to this than I thought. At least, I hope so. Faith is powerful but it comes in raw form. It is dispensed in our heart as a small measure and left up to us if it will remain a seed or be harvested into a mighty force. However, my power is not in myself. It is not part of my being. It is the Christ in me. In order to find the power invested in me by my Creator and see it manifest in my life – there will be pressure applied to my life to force it out.

Whether external (as the Israelites experienced) or internal (as Peter experienced) – faith is the power that God desires to express from our life. What if that thing that is pressing, pushing or bearing down upon you is not to overtake you but rather to move you to something better? What if He is moving you from a mundane life to supernatural existence? Could it be that you have somehow settled for less than enough when the Lord has more than enough instore for you? Or maybe just maybe there is more than you can think, ask or imagine that stinking thinking has stopped you from dreaming and doing? The Lord will never leave you in Egypt. He won’t let you drown in fear and doubt. He has already given you every spiritual blessing now you just have to go after it, reach out to take hold of it or move to where the promise is!

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned means that you already have been apportioned the faith you need to be triumphant and victorious in every situation. It is in you. It came with Christ. Now what are you going to do with it? What did the Lord say to Moses when he came to them relaying the fear of the people in the midst of their complaining? He said, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” God has given you faith and power. Jesus has given you the grace to make it through. All that is left to do is what He tells us to. We must go through it. Peter asked. Jesus answered. Sure, come to me. The disciple who followed Jesus, heard Him teach the Word, saw Him perform mighty miracles, and was overwhelmed by all the followers. He definitely knew the Lord but his faith was still too small to make it a few feet on top of the water. The cry of the living sacrifice is give me faith to give more of me. I believe the Lord is telling us that He already gave it to us now it is time to do something with it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

For we (are to) walk by faith and not by sight. I have added that “are to” because if it were that easy our churches would like fearlessly in a state of ongoing revival. Flesh would not weigh us down but faith create a light so bright it would illuminate the world with God’s Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The only way to know what measure of faith evident in our life is through testing. When I make a cake, I measure the ingredients to ensure it will be delicious. Any good recipe has a process, it takes time, and one must go through all the steps using the proper ingredients. Our life in Christ is the same.

We are free to choose the amount of faith cultivated in our life but the measure is the same. It starts small but has the potential to turn into something big. The Lord is our courage. He is our strength. He promises victory to those who trust Him, follow Him, and stay with Him. I cannot do that where I am now but must keep walking no matter how relentless the enemy or overwhelming the storm. Eyes on Jesus not my circumstances. Faith entrusted and invested in Him not the evidence of my life. He is faithful. He knows it’s going to take some time – that’s why the Lord blesses endurance with salvation and life. He knows that I will mess up, my flesh will fail but Jesus promises that His Grace is enough for me and will work even better in my humble weakness.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I only know my own struggles and battles but I know this. God is good. He is faithful. He will help me if I trust Him. He will give me courage. He will be my strength. He is constant and unfailing. The Lord always responds to my cries. He has never left me or forsaken me even when I have given up myself. See the Lord gave you and I faith because He has something bigger and better for us. If only, we will keep moving, breathing and existing in Him until we have it. This is what we hope must for and truly believe. Do you feel pressure? Do you feel pushed to make a move? Seek the Lord today. Call on His Name. Ask Him for direction. Offer your heart and mind to Him for careful inspection. Let Him weed out those thoughts that have you all tangled up. Sometimes just seeing things from God’s Perspective or tying His Promise to your problem will lift your head up to see that help has arrive. His Name is Jesus. He overcame the world…let Him overtake your heart. He will walk through it with you!

Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

To All the Strong Ones

Silhouette of a Boy Showing Arm Muscles Strength

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Well I did it! I made it over a major obstacle yesterday. One I have not cleared in years. It was not the current squat challenge I embarked on in February. I can finally walk and not resemble a toddler on new legs. Yes, I downed the gallon of water. I am absolutely floating. Missing caffeine a little (a lot) but the 9:00 PM bedtime does wonders for that if only my kids would keep it down. It has been a date circled on the calendar in ominous red for about three months. I finally made it to the dentist. (Insert applause.) I am not scared of many things. In fact, the only two things that come to mind are snakes and the dreaded dentist. If I were the first woman created, there would not have been incident in the garden because when the snake came slithering up to me – I would have been long gone. When the dentist called back in December to yet again schedule an appointment after five long years and my youngest calling me a hypocrite (I make them go religiously) – I agreed to a date and time.

Call it my kryptonite if you will but when it comes to the dentist, my heart races. My mouth goes dry. I literally break into a sweat driving over. I have to force myself to take a seat and wait. The dentist has a little sticker on my chart that indicates I have “white coat” syndrome. I share all this to set the scene yesterday in vivid detail. I walked into the Presence of God and prayed for peace and calm over my restless emotions and reactive body. Created a prayer circle of family and friends. I want to overcome this debilitating feeling that is straight from the enemy. It started years ago. We did not go to the dentist regularly as kids. After multiple pregnancies back to back my teeth needed some desperate attention. I scheduled an appointment. The cleaning and consultation went fine. The fillings were another story. Ever since then, I have avoided the dentists at all costs. However, I hate fear. It reminds me that I lack faith and trust in that area even something as simple as the dentist hence this long-winded story to get to my point.

When I arrived yesterday, the office was backed up. Because of my “little problem” they usually whisk me back before I change my mind. They apologized greatly. I canceled my last appointment because it was our son’s first week of treatment after his cancer diagnosis. They all wanted to ask so I quickly shared his miraculous story. My heart slowed down a bit as I could tell of my Father’s Love and Care for our kid. It opened the door of conversation with my new hygienist. She is a Christian, too. So while she worked in my mouth, she shared bits and pieces of her family and faith. She told me the story of her husband’s adoption, and as she shared it came to her mother-in-law’s faith. In the middle of the story, I heard the words that have changed everything time and time again in my walk with Jesus. “Do you trust Me?” I immediately relaxed in the chair. I do trust Jesus. Sometimes, I forget that fear doesn’t mean I lack faith. Weakness is only a lack of human strength but in no way nullifies the Power of God at work in me but rather facilitates a full-takeover. When I doubt, God always offers me a change to believe again. It usually comes in the form of the question – “do you trust Me?”

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood?” Opportunities to trust the Lord come wrapped in packages labeled fear, weakness, and ignorance. Fear allows us to experience faith when turning to the Father for refuge and security. Weakness gives us the place for God’s Power to work fully in our life. Ignorance demands knowledge to be resolved creating a hunger for the Word of God. Each one of these challenges show us that the Lord is the everlasting God. Ready, willing and able to turn doubt and insecurity into instant belief. He never grows weak or weary ready to tackle these things that compromise righteousness. No one can measure the depths of His Great Understanding that creates pathways to appointments that give us the chance to trust Him. Your footsteps are ordered by the Lord, therefore He knows exactly where you are headed. He has already gone before you. He comes in behind you, too. Psalm 23 is the perfect example of the reality of our walk with God. It is not the absence of opposition but the promise that while walking with Him there is nothing to fear and everything to gain according to His Word.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

It is human pride that tells us to be strong. The truth is grace only is operational in our inability. It is weakness that allows the Lord to infuse our life with His Power – otherwise they work in direct opposition. Trust is the catalyst for God’s Power to be in full effect. Do you trust the Lord today? It is impossible to tell until it is no longer possible for you to produce the desired outcome. Challenges, tests and trials are absolutely necessary to allow us the opportunity to trust the Lord and receive all His Power offers in our life. His Promises arise from the ashes of pride when His Power fully consumes my doubt and fear. Do you believe God’s Grace is enough? Is it sufficient? Paul begged God to take the “thorn from his flesh” three times. However, in the end, he determined that God’s Grace was made perfect in his complete weakness so Paul gave God the opportunity to be His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12)

This is evident in Paul’s many letters of encouragement to the church. This once powerful, strong arm of religion was reduced to a prisoner for the Love of Jesus Christ. All his human strength drained and refilled with the Goodness and Grace of God’s Unfailing Love. This became Paul’s provision and source of strength independent of his current condition or circumstances. Christ was enough. He is enough. We must step down or fall down in order to see that God’s Power in us is greater than anything mustered in my personal strength or ability. This comes at the end of me. This is the point when I am on my knees crawling to the finish line of faith.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

I don’t understand all the details of my life. I have a list created for the moment I meet the Lord of all the things in my life that just don’t add up. I am quite certain that when that day comes most will be resolved as I continue to see each one turn for my good and His Glory. It just takes some time. To trust in the Lord with all my heart includes those unresolved matters. Do not depend on your own understanding. Can I expound on this a bit? My understanding is based on my five senses and wrapped up in my emotions. It is a self-based, pride-driven operation. My perspective is based on what I can see around me not what is in the future. I was created by God to be a masterpiece. I cannot judge the finished product by what my life looks like today. His Plan is perfect with a future and hope that is impossible to comprehend in my current state. I cannot see the forest for the trees some days, but the Lord has a drone’s eye view taking in the whole picture all of the time. If I make choices based on the here and now, I compromise my future with delays and distractions. I must learn to put my trust in the Lord solely by faith. I must learn to live and walk by faith and not my current perception of life as I see it, know it or think it is.

Psalm 18:28-36 (NLT) In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“In Your Strength Lord” is the secret to our success as believers. God is giving us daily opportunities to trust Him that challenge the weak areas of our faith. It may not feel like an opportunity but rather just another test, trial or temptation. If you seek the Lord in this thing, His Question is always the same – “Do you trust Me?” I have seen great and mighty miracles as a result of my weak attempts to trust the Lord. At the end of such challenges, I discover that the mustard seed of faith hidden in my heart grows a tiny bit more only to reveal more and more of my life yet surrendered to the Power of God. I am not the strong one in my life. I may appear strong person to the watching world and dependency put in that quality. However, the truth is that I am weak and He is strong. The very thing that allows me to walk with others shoulder to shoulder and share their burdens is not me. It is the Christ in me. I have yoked my life to Jesus Christ. So when I am given the opportunity to do life with other people even the messy parts, He is able to be demonstrate His Strength in my weakness so I can be a light to them. The only good thing about me is the Lord. The only hope I have to offer you is Jesus Christ. I can introduce you to the One who knew me and still thought I was to die for. But do not think for a moment, I am the strong one. I gave that up to have His Power work in me.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

These simple words of truth will set someone free today. Brokenness makes us usable to God. Outside of failure and fear, it is impossible to know the depths of God’s Unfailing Love and Unfathomable Grace. To accept these two precious promises, one must come to the end of self completely. Otherwise, we get in the way. Every time. Our pride will never accept weakness as an option. Therefore, we must humble ourselves before the Lord which is totally contradictory to human nature or modern culture. If you fail under pressure, then you know your strength is too small. You are not supposed to be the strong one. You are supposed to experience weakness in order to full take on the Power of God. It will consume you. It will not force you. But the moment you are on your knees unable to take another step with your arm outstretched to Jesus, He will ask you just one question, “Do you trust Me?” When you have tried everything and are at a complete loss at the end of all understanding, and cry out to Him with your last whisper – the Lord will respond the same way – “Do you trust Me?” It is the moment you say, “Yes” even if it takes all the strength you have left and beyond your understanding but wholehearted that He makes all things possible simply because you believe.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” What if the very thing keeping us from experiencing the Power of God is our natural strength? Could it be our inability to surrender control and let go that is keeping us from experiencing the Promises of God? What if the thing keeping you do is your hands gripping the ground rather than raised in praise to the Lover of Your Soul in surrender? The stronger you are the longer it takes to experience the Power of God because you can outlast most. However, you will one day come to a place when you cannot withstand the pressure. You will not be able to make it through. You will run out of options. Things will be deemed impossible. It is in that moment of opportunity that the Lord will whisper to you – “Do you trust me?” What will be your response?

Faith will dictate your answer. Hope will determine your decision. Why not begin the process of release today with some of the burdens you have been carrying? What about those cares and concerns you are juggling? How about just taking your whole life and all its contents before the Lord and asking Him to examine it? To show you the areas that need more faith. Here’s a hint – they are labeled fears. Doubt must be drowned in belief. Ignorance filled with knowledge becomes wisdom. Lies are undone by the Truth. It is in the complete surrender of control and power over our own life that allows His Strength to work perfectly through us. When I am weak, I become strong.

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

 

Sink or Swim

sink-or-swim

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Greg Louganis climbed the high dive in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Korea with his eye on the prize. He had worked all his life to prepare for this one moment. As he took the jump that would make history catapulting into a reverse somersault dive something went terribly wrong. He did not clear the 3-meter springboard but instead hit his head during the rotation. I can still feel the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. People watching around the world gasped with a huge intake of breath waiting to see if the young man was injured. He did sustain a laceration to his head requiring stitches. It is a mark which is still there today. The greatest triumph of all time would soon occur but it was all up to him. In the moments following his failed execution, Greg Louganis had to decide if he would try it again. Less than 30 minutes after the accident, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day leading to a gold medal that would gain Louganis the title of best diver of all time. It provided a new definition of human strength and resilience. The agony of defeat loomed over the young diver’s head. He had to decide whether the defining moment would end his career in fear or become history-making courage that overcomes fear by faith. It’s moments like this that separate the greats from the fakes in life.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The story of the famed diver would not have been historical if Greg Louganis had given up. In fact, if he had not hit his head on the board just before securing the gold medal, he would be like every other diver in the history of the sport. His name on a list somewhere or heralded poolside for his achievements but never heard around the world. He was considered a champion in a sport often not recognized in the big arenas. The moment, he triumphed over fear to do it one more time – everything changed for him. Now the world will forever recognize him as the athlete who triumphed over fear and failure to claim victory.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away.” Peter was doing it for an eternal prize. The storm threatened the disciples. So afraid that they even believed the figure coming toward them on the water to be a ghost rather than the Lord. Peter had purpose in his heart that he was not aware of so he called out to Jesus from the boat. ““Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told the man to come. Peter was in training. His purpose and calling was not to survive the storm or become the first man next to Jesus to walk on water. The Lord was preparing him. Jesus saw the purpose God had instilled in him and knew it would take failure to discover faith. To be the man called him to be. Peter would have to sink not once but many times to get through the thick layers of flesh to the heart of the man. It is there that eternity and purpose would produce his victory.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Every step of our natural life leads us to the purpose that God has for us. From the moment our first breath is drawn until the last one is taken, the Lord provides opportunity after opportunity to take hold of the confident hope that anchors our soul. It’s called faith. Faith produces confidence in God. It is not a one-time endeavor but a series of faith failures that produce the certainty needed to make hope secure. It is in such moments of doubt that gives us insight to the areas of disbelief in our life. If we do not see each step as destiny and consider the purpose within them, our life gospel to others might be compromised. The agony of defeat looms over us. Yet Christ died so that I might overcome disbelief, doubt, fear and failure to claim victory in my life and become a history-maker.

What about you? On the verge of giving up? God called you to this place so why are you failing? The Lord told you to come so why are you sinking? The weight of the heart that takes us under is doubt. It is disbelief. It is the very thing that hinders faith. It is the Goliath people face every day that seems too big to overcome. David didn’t meet Goliath first. He established a relationship with God during all those lonely nights in the fields caring for sheep. He overcame a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. Each step ordained by God to prepare the King of Israel. You have a purpose far greater than the potential of natural strength. It is found in the eternity in our heart that collides with passion and persistence in our relentless pursuit of God. It cannot be denied and our flesh remains dissatisfied until it is firmly established in the natural as it is in the supernatural. How do we get there from here?

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

When Jesus began preaching, Simon Peter was the first disciple to answer the call – “Follow me.” One might discern immediately that he was a leader with an impetuous nature. He simply walked away from his business and family to follow this man called Jesus. (Matthew 4) Peter immediately responded to the call. Many of us do. We find our way into a church building or maybe born there and hear the gospel to which our heart responds. The Love of God so profound it sparks a desire to know Him and be known by Him. However, it is not in our initial calling that purpose is found. Jesus Christ our Savior says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” It is a just as you are message for those who are lost in the darkness of this world and dying in sin. He instantly applies grace. Many people, despite the religious banter, will live in this position of servant of God for the rest of their life. Struggling with sin and trying to keep their head above water. Salvation is all about grace. It is having just enough faith to believe that He is our Savior. The victory is secured for our life and purpose fulfilled when a person exchanges fear for faith and decides that He is Lord.

Jesus called Peter from his former life to embark on a new journey. He immediately got up and followed the Lord. When Jesus asked him, “But who do you say I am?” He was asking Peter despite the opinion of everyone else, who do YOU say that I am? “You are the Son of the Living God.” It was in this moment that God’s Purpose in this man was revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ. It was way bigger than his finite brain could perceive or his weak and wavering heart could accomplish in his current state. This revelation came after Peter sank. The fact that Peter had already failed once and fallen did not change God’s Call on his life.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. How important was Peter’s purpose? How significant this revelation? Peter would be a credible witness to thousands of people who at the sound of his voice would give their heart and life to Jesus Christ. They would be filled with His Spirit and triumph over sin. He was to be the first great preacher after Jesus leaves. He would establish the church and begin to knit together the body of believers that would become the Kingdom of God. However, if Peter did not overcome his fear to find faith – his preaching would most certainly be disqualified. To fall is human. To get up is faith. To stay down is ultimate failure.

Matthew 26:34-35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

The test on the water followed by the true revelation of who Jesus is was only the beginning of his training. Peter would go through many trials to discover the true meaning of faith. Faith is essential. The Book of Hebrews is very informative when it comes to revelations of faith especially chapter 11. It begins with the definition of faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” How many times do we try to apply faith to the natural when it is intended for the supernatural? If you can see it, perceive it, do it, or attain it outside of Jesus Christ, it does not require faith. Faith is the deposit in us that connects heaven to earth and establishes Kingdom principles in our life. It is essential in our ability to overcome the powers, rulers and principalities of darkness set on robbing us of purpose, killing our faith, and stealing our destiny. We must have faith.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Men and women line the “Halls of Faith” in Chapter 11. People who could not give up on what they hoped for and overcame by their ability to believe by faith in an unseen God and His Word. Our ability to discover faith is perceived when against all odds – we overcome. Faith is not discovered in success but in failure. All the times, we mess up and God still loves us. All the dead ends that give way to destiny. Faith is a necessity far greater than human strength of ability. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It makes us face every fear and overcome it. It challenges us to climb higher mountains and to go through the deepest valley until we reach such confidence in God that no matter what happens in the natural – the supernatural is the very thing that dictates our next step.

Matthew 15:15-16 (NLT) Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

Peter had some things to overcome to become the rock that was ready to form the first church. The first was religion. Peter was a religious man. Raised a Jew, the new covenant that was coming challenged everything he knew about God. He couldn’t just eat anything or do anything because he was a Jew. The new covenant would do away with Jew and Gentile to produce only Children of God. There would be no more illegitimate children such as Ishmael. Abraham asked if the blessing could go to Ishmael because his faith too small to see Isaac. Ishmael was compromised faith that sought God’s Will man’s way. God’s Plan has always been for His Children to be legitimate so Jesus came to offer His Blood for all. Faith in Jesus Christ does away with religious doctrine but there are many religious spirits in the modern church today. Guidelines, rules, restrictions and mandates not set forth in the New Covenant but outlined to appease man’s need for control and inability to fully accept grace. Grace is all that matters. The full acceptance of God’s Grace that makes us fall in love with Jesus and desire His Presence.

Matthew 16:22-24 (NLT) But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I have to chuckle when I read this verse again. Peter told Jesus to prove who He was and how to do it. Jesus has told us to “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.Are you willing to spend the next 30 days praying this prayer without adding your own list to it? Faith in God is faith in His Word, His Way and His Will. Like Peter, we ask God to move in us and then tell Him exactly how to do it.

Peter requested of Jesus, “tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I’m still laughing because this is the desired mode of transportation for all people. Remember Moses calling out to God on behalf of the Children of Israel, the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army bearing down from the rear. What did God say? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Maybe that is what the Lord is telling you today. Stop crying out to me and get moving. Peter wanted to get out of the boat but he didn’t want to get wet. He wanted to be dry and comfortable. The slaves of Egypt did not want to pay the price of freedom to become Servants of God. What if the thing keeping you in dissatisfaction, disappointment and disbelief is your inability to get your feet wet? Change is marked by the removal of comfort and confidence to embark on a new journey. If you desire change to move from failure to victory – you are going to be uncomfortable. It will be a challenge because human nature does not like change. It doesn’t care for the uncomfortable. It would rather remain in the known than take a chance on the unknown. Where are you today? Is it time to get moving?

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Peter was challenged by grace. Forgiveness is huge in this journey of faith. It is removing expectation from all humans and focusing it on Jesus Christ. It means no matter how many people knock you down, talk about you, offend you, hurt you, betray you, or do the most heinous thing to you – you must forgive them simply because Christ has forgiven us. This eliminates the cause of rightness to replace it with righteousness. If your faith is landlocked, the cement shoes might be unforgiveness. Is it really worth it?

John 13:6-9 (NLT) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Peter had a pride problem. Pride is the backbone of every religious spirit haunting the church today. The idea that there is something we can do or be outside of the Word of God hawked as the Word but only manmade rules and regulations. We must shatter every bone of pride and selfishness in us to fully accept God’s Grace and answer His Call.

Luke 18:24-29 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God…”

Peter desired a natural return on a spiritual investment. If our motive for entering His Presence is His Hand, faith is not necessary for such endeavors. Faith makes the impossible possible. I can have earthly wealth simply by applying sowing and reaping principles to my life. If my desire is full satisfaction and completion in Jesus Christ, I must give up my desire for this world and the things of this world to be filled with more of Him. My desire must be for Christ alone. He must be that which I pursue in each step. When an earthly element restricts my ability to step out on faith, it is evidence of doubt and disbelief that God is able to supply my needs so that I will be complete lacking no good thing. It reveals dependency and trust in this world and not the God of the Universe.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?

Peter was weak. It is in our weakness that His Power is made perfect. The moment that I realize I cannot be who God called me to be apart from Christ. Grace is for the weak not the strong. Peter was weak soon after his nap. He would do what he said he would never do. He would betray Jesus not once but three times to save his own skin. In one account, it says that on the third time his eyes met the Lord’s as he sat before his accusers being interrogated and tortured. I am pretty certain at that moment, Peter felt like a failure who was completely unworthy of God’s Grace and Salvation.

John 21:3-7 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

Peter had fallen. Peter had failed. Peter was certain his future was now dead and gone. Peter went back to the only thing that he knew how to do a broken man. When he heard the Lord call to him from the shore, he knew His Voice. He knew that it was time to sink or swim. He wasn’t going to fall again. He would not miss this moment. Live or die – nothing would separate him from the Presence of His Savior again. So he didn’t ask the Lord, is it you? No now Peter knew the Voice of God. He didn’t ask him to help him walk on the water. Peter didn’t care if he got wet so he jumped in over his head. He put all his energy and effort in swimming to shore. Forget the boat? Forget the huge net full of fish? Peter finally understood that everything he wanted, needed, desired and hoped for was in Jesus Christ and nothing no inconvenience or discomfort would keep him from reaching him. Like Greg Louganis, he was going to win. He would triumph over fear. Peter decided that he would not miss this moment. He made it to shore. He found Jesus. Peter’s faith was established.

What about you? Where are you today? On the boat or in the storm. In the water, but holding on to the dock. You know what is in your heart and hands weighting you down. What is keeping you from letting go to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly? He knows exactly what it is and is doing His Part to reveal it to you, but if you are not willing to let go of all the things Peter did to acquire faith – you will not ever experience the soul satisfaction of those who finally do. The inexpressible joy of faith in action. The triumphant victory for those who overcome ever fear and failure holding tightly to faith without wavering secured by the anchor called hope. Are you sinking or swimming today? It is really up to you. The champions are those who face their fears and overcome failures. Jesus is our Champion and in Him our victory secure. You cannot experience His Power outside of weakness that relies on His Grace. Humbly bowing our life and its contents to Him fully and completely. In fact, we only find faith and trust in Jesus at the end of self. Are you willing to go there? Will you be a history maker? A risk taker? Faith will never be comfortable, fashionable or logical on the earth. But when it comes to Eternity and fulling one’s purpose, our calling in Christ – it will be worth it every time. Come on in! The water is fine!

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

A Place for You

A Place for You

Proverbs 31:28-31 (NLT)

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the hardworking, mamas out there celebrating this day. I love being a mom. It is not high paying position. It requires long hours without proper compensation for the time except in the procurement of children that survive our mistakes, stumbles, flops and failures still thinking that we are as close to a superhero as they will ever know. Sacrificing self to graciously care for children who do not know the value of such love yet but will one day – moms give what they have and all they know for the wellbeing of their child. Even those kids that challenge the boundaries of patience and stomp on every nerve are protected by fierce women who will destroy anyone who threatens their precious one. I know that from the moment my first child was born I wanted to be a better person for him. I no longer needed or wanted things that did not benefit him. I wanted to make better choices. I realized early on that this is my purpose to love these people, raise them, teach them, love them no matter what and staunchly defend and protect them into adulthood. More recently, I have learned the heartache of the day that we must let them go to fulfill their purpose in life whatever that may be either loading a bus heading to the Middle East to defend their country, spending endless hours in an infusion room fighting cancer, or getting married and following God’s Call across the country. I am experiencing a bit of empty nest syndrome as I see the future and realize that while my purpose in life is to be a mother that God has other things in mind too.

Motherhood is a selfless act for most who dare to bare a human being. I have two mothers. The one who gave birth to me died last November. We had not seen each other in a number of years only occasionally speaking on the phone or cards/letters here and there. Addiction separated us but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she loved me the best she could every single day of her life. Even in her loss, I could feel the love that was now gone and sad that we could not have been closer. I have another mother who chose to step into that role and be the mom that I never had. She loves me even though she did not give birth to me and has assumed all those qualities and then so. God knew what I needed and provided her to me. Today as a mother thinking about all the other mothers – those we might think are good or even those that did not do such a good job – it is important to see them as people who God loves. Motherhood is not to exchange our identity for another. It is part of our fulfillment process.

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her. There are many capable and virtuous women in the world but you surpass them all!” Reading Proverbs 31, I see all the things that I want to be to my family. When I married my husband, this lady became my role model. (I set the bar pretty high.) Truthfully, this is most every mother’s aspiration even if she hasn’t read a word of it. But here is something maybe we have not thought about when getting the cute handprints, hand-drawn artwork and tiny flowerpots our children bestow on us. Did you forget about you? The “you” that existed before the Lord blessed you with children. The one who was not covered in spit-up, snot, and other bodily fluids. The one who used to sleep through the night. The one who has not become an accomplished science fair participant. The one who drives mom’s taxi. You know the lady who used to do stuff for “you”, too. We become lost in this whole wife and mother gig sometimes because it is definitely the most rewarding though we seldom see the return until it is too late to truly enjoy it along the way. After sending three from the nest, I understand how much this moment matters to them and now to me. I have to prepare a place for me outside of this role that I am absorbed in. Sorry guys – it appears that the Lord is speaking to the ladies today but maybe just maybe this will help you guide your mother, wife, sister or even daughter to find a place for herself in the world she is creating as the Proverbs 31 mom.

Psalm 139:13-17 (NLT)

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

Hey mom, that’s you! Right there! In the middle of Psalm 139, that incredible workmanship by God that is marvelous. He formed you with great precision. He created a handwritten and purposeful plan for your life and added motherhood to the mix. Every day of your life was prerecorded. It is a good plan with a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) His Thoughts concerning you are just as precious as those you have for your child – no matter what they have done or will do – He loves you. He wants His Very Best… for you… AND your family! The only requirement is that you seek Him wholeheartedly. (Deep breath cause here comes the kicker.) Mothers have a tendency to put their husband and children before the Lord sometimes. Hang on before you get all religious and mad…I do it, too! To lose yourself in God’s Purpose but forget about yourself is also a problem. God created you to be a masterpiece. There is great complexity to your existence that began before you had children and extends after they are grown and gone. He doesn’t want you to forget that because it is His Best for you! You did though in the cooking, cleaning, driving and providing. Many moms forget who they are and who they were created to be because motherhood (even when taken for granted) offers its own fulfillment. God is reminding you that He loves you today. There is more to life than being a mother. Some ladies give up that dream if being a mom did not turn out the way that they expected. Single moms or those who become single in broken marriages think its over because they somehow failed. Mothers who are overwhelmed by parenting will often forget to take care of themselves. Motherhood is selfless giving for most. God wants to fulfill us and be the source of all we need as we give to our families, but we must depend on Him. We must allow the Lord to love on us as we love others.

When my first marriage failed, my entire existence became my children. I now had to be mom and dad. I had to support them all by myself financially, emotionally and spiritually. The heavy burden fell squarely on my shoulders and “I” carried it…for a while. It was hard. Being a single mom is not for the weak at heart because it is heartbreaking and hard. I completely lost my sense of self. Every dream I thought had died in the moment of divorce that is clearly not God’s Will or Plan for us. I figured that if I raised halfway decent children that I had somehow succeeded. Though I did not go to church and clearly did not live for the Lord at the time, I prayed regularly, humbly and openly about where I was and what I wanted…for them. Everything concerning me died in that moment of failed motherhood. They would “never” know a loving home with godly parents and I ruined it for them or so I thought. But God’s Amazing Grace, Love and Mercy for me had another plan and much better option. When I met my husband, I knew he was the one. I knew it. There was no question. God fulfilled the desires of my heart concerning my children as he became the wonderful father who loved and supported them unconditionally even adding to the mix two more sweet precious people. I was satisfied. God had turned it around. Yay God! God is good! That is until the third child moved far away from home. No longer totally engrossed in managing and maintain five schedules but now down to two. With the imminent threat of cancer now fading into the past, I am left wondering what next. I am running out of kids God and feel like I am running out of purpose. This is bad since I am not even fifty yet. Now what? God reminded me this morning that He loves me too. He was not just helping me care for my husband and children but preparing me for those dreams and aspirations whispered long ago. I am humbled. I am amazed that though I accepted failure in my weaknesses of motherhood, God has been keeping the “masterpiece of me” safe all these years.

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.

 

This morning will be the first Mother’s Day without all my children at home. My daughter arrives for her first visit in three days. I cannot wait. I felt a twinge this morning in my heart knowing that she and my new son-in-law will not be here today. I began praying to God that I don’t want to be sad today. I want to have peace, joy and fulfillment in this moment. My two sons and two younger daughters are with me today. My oldest son is moving to Texas in a week. My younger son who is enjoying his remission will return to his apartment close to the hospital preparing to return to school full-time this fall. The two younger ones will continue to fight amongst themselves uniting to only gripe about their chores and take the occasional selfie. It won’t be long until it is their time to graduate and pursue their purpose independently. Thank God I married my best friend! In all of my reminiscing, thinking and praying as I walked around doing all the little things a mom does, I stepped over the edge into that place. Like walking in the ocean when you suddenly step off that sandbar you didn’t know you were on and plunge into the ocean. The water is cooler and it takes away your breath. God reminded me this morning that His Love for me is greater than my love for my children. He didn’t just plan on me being a mom but is rewarding my faithfulness in this task in ways that I cannot even comprehend right now. Motherhood produces many, many fruits of His Spirit in us such as love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, kindness and most certainly self-control. It happens without our awareness but plants seeds in our life for the future. We must only trust the Lord for it and believe that He will do it. Are you lost in your position today? Have you decided that you live for your children? No you aren’t and no you don’t. Mama, mother, mom, madre or whatever your precious ones call you – God loves YOU! He prepared a plan for your life that does not bear the name(s) of your children but contains them. Remember YOU today. God does! He never forgot even when became consumed in your task. He is doing more than you could think to ask for. He has been calling those dreams you called dead back to life that’s why you have been thinking about them. Answer His Call today. Let the Lord love on you today and remind you of those things that you thought you exchanged for motherhood, they are not so dead anymore. They are alive and well in the safekeeping of your Father who loves you and made you the wonderful masterpiece you are!

Ephesians 2:9-10 (NLT)

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.

Epic Fail – A Devotion

Epic Fail

Epic Fail

October 30, 2014

Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.

 

Oops I did it again! Sound familiar. Despite my best intentions as a parent, I have epically failed yet again. I knew when I planned the event with the administrator of the school that it would fall right before Halloween and the Fall Festival at our church. But I knew that I would just press through it (in my own strength) and it would be alright. Two major campus events in one day, knock it all out at once with my helpers it shouldn’t be a problem. Well, it was. I came home from the Career Day Expo exhausted beyond anything I could imagine. My aching feet arguing with every other aching bone in my body, my mind completely shutdown to avoid the dispute. Surely on Wednesday, I would feel better. I collapsed into bed sleeping soundly all night only to awake to the same tired muscles now still from sudden immobility after hours of abuse. Not to mention a mind that couldn’t think straight. By the end of the day, I knew I would miss the Fall Festival and a night with my precious children. There was nothing left to give and I was completely tanked out. So they loaded up in the “family” suburban and headed off to a night of fun, candy and fireworks without me. Well, I was not completely alone my husband stayed with me and our sweet little dog followed my wandering mess around the house. Not to mention, the enemy who sat dutifully on my shoulder telling me what a terrible mother I was and rotten parent who cared more about her job than her babies. He carried a large bat as if was needed against my worn-out mind and body delivering deliberate and well-placed blows directly to my heart and soul. Lord, I have failed them again. How do I escape failure in this lifetime? When will I finally get it right? I don’t love my job! I love them and that’s why I go to work each day. Help me to find balance. Lord, point me to the lesson to be learned here so that I can move on.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

 

Wow, thanks for the encouragement (written with an ounce or two of sarcasm). The Lord is not beating me up. I am allowing the enemy to do so and completely enabling him to make his target. The Lord is not critical in this statement but rather matter of fact. Look if you keep failing, your strength is too small. He is giving us the answer to our problem. We just have to look past our failure to find the Truth. God’s Word sets us up to fail in order to find His Strength and Power in our life. If I did not have something to compare my life to then how would I know my need for a Savior? I wouldn’t. Failure is not optional it is inevitable. It does not have to be fatal but will become fertile when we plant seeds of God’s Righteousness into the mix. Faith is found in our failure otherwise people would depend solely on themselves. Hope is discovered in our disappointment and need to succeed. Our human strength will always be too small. That’s the point of our failure to point us to the kind of power that never fails under pressure.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 (NLT)

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

 

Everyone has failed. That’s right even those who you think are perfect have experienced failures and setbacks along the way. They just refused to give up. How do I know that they have failed? For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) Everyone is born destined to die as a direct result of our sinful nature. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Our immediate failure demonstrates our need to discover God’s Grace. God gave us His Word as a mirror and sword. It reflects our need for the Lord and cuts us like a two-edged sword so His Love, Mercy and Grace can penetrate our hard heart and made up mind. We fail because our strength is too small. We begin to succeed when the Lord becomes our Strength. When we love and trust the Lord, it is then that He becomes the One who we depend on making Him the power that controls our life. Our failure is not for our demise or to our detriment. It benefits our life by evaluating our faith and trust to determine any weakness. This is vital to our salvation. It also prospers our soul as we discover not only God’s Grace but His Faithfulness. When we decide that God is our Strength and the Lord is our Salvation by committing our heart and life to Him, it is in that moment that failure is no longer a setback but becomes a catapult in our life.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail you.

 

When I have failed the Lord, my family, others or myself, I have learned to run to the Word of God for help. God wants my life to be better than anything that I could possibly imagine even more than I could think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) He is working out every detail for my good. (Romans 8:28) He is perfecting that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) His Word cuts my heart like a two-edged sword to reveal the credibility of my faith and what I believe. (Hebrews 4:12) My failure did not surprise God. Jesus already prescribed the Grace that I need to get back up again and step right back into right-standing with God. The Word of God will not return to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) He cannot and will not revoke His Blessing from my life. (Isaiah 54:10) As I take the Word of God filling the void left by my personal failure, it is then that I discover that He is all I really needed. God wrote every single moment of my life before I was ever born. (Psalm 139:16) Does this mean that He knew I would fail? Of course, He did. His Grace is sufficient because not only did the Lord know that we would fail but how many times, too. He knew how far we would fall and how long it would take us to get back up. He knew what it would take to make us call on His Name and receive His Spirit. Friend, you may have fallen but the Word of God says, “It’s time to get up!”

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NLT)

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

 

To think that we will never fail is delusional and unrealistic, but I know that there are people who do not want anyone to know their fears and weaknesses. Everyone fails in life. The key is not to “sell your birthright” because you do not have to. I was raised in a church that told me that God had a plan for my life that was perfect. He does. But it was implied that if I “missed” His “Perfect” plan that I would have to somehow settle for the rest of my life. Where’s God’s Grace is this statement? Without God’s Grace, what’s the point? I cannot overcome my greatest failure of all without His Grace. We need the Grace of God. We fail so we can discover the true potential of God’s Love for us which is His Grace and Mercy. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you missed His Plan, but when you discover His Love in the midst of your setback than everything is going according to His Plan. The only way that we trade or sell our birthright is when we give up on God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. The Truth is many will fail to receive God’s Grace today simply because they do not want to surrender to their weakness trying to use their own strength. (Luke 13:23-25) Who told you to be the strong one? Who said that you have to be perfect? What makes you think that you are above failure? The enemy may have told you that but the Truth does away with a lie when you believe it. God’s Plan for your life takes in to consideration all of our fault’s and failures as He makes them work out for our good!

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

As a believer, there is only one way that we can have an epic failure. If we fail the test of genuine faith, we will be missed forever. Maybe if it were about me, my failure would matter to the Lord. But since it is all about God’s Power and the Grace of God given to me through His Son, Jesus Christ, I have discovered it is not all about me but all about Him. In fact, less of me makes room for more of Him. He must increase, but I must decrease according to John 3:30. Suddenly, my personal failure gives way to God’s Grace and now I see the things that He wants to do in my life. I have been praying about spending more time with my family. I have asked the Lord to open the door to my return home to be with my girls who are still here. Could it be that my inability to make it to the Festival with them was just another way for Him to increase my desire to obtain that goal and lead me to His Blessing that is waiting there? Of course, it is. God uses every detail of our life to reveal Himself especially our failures when we become vulnerable and willing to accept His Grace, Mercy and Love as a means of fulfillment when we have radically failed. God wants me to be found faith-full in the end. He doesn’t want to lose me. He will stop at nothing to reveal Himself to me even allowing me to fall down, skin my knees or hurt my feelings when necessary. Nothing is wasted. It will all be used to release His Glory in my life. God wants the standard of my life to match the Glorious Standard that people abandoned. Christ knows human weakness but He is filled with the Power of God. We are filled with His Spirit so we also can experience His Power in our everyday life. You are not a failure. Even if it was your fault, it is not fatal. You are not called to be perfect. You are to have faith. That’s it. In a nutshell, God wants you to be faithful. You are allowed to fail. That’s what His Grace is for. You can experience setbacks. Don’t worry new mercy will be provided each morning. Let yourself off the hook. Focus on your faith today, because He is faithful. He will forgive you when you mess up. I know this is true because I have thoroughly tested Him. Examine your heart today. Do not judge yourself by your failure but the contents of your heart. God loves you. No failure is epic except the absence of faith. You are forgiven and free to experience the Grace of God. It is more than enough! Every failure in our life is an opportunity to know Him more.

I John 1:6-9 (NLT)

 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.