Be My Vision

Be My Vision

Habakkuk 2:2-4 (ESV) And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

I ventured out with my daughters and grands for lunch and a shopping trip to their favorite – you know the place with the big red bullseye. My oldest daughter needed an eye exam so while I entertained our newest addition she popped in to make an appointment. Of course, who can resist looking at eyeglass frames when presented with so many options? I have been considering new eyeglasses. I have contacts and love the convenience of them. However, my eyes require bifocals. In order to wear contacts, I must give up some of my distance vision in order to see up close. Because I proofread and edit for a living, seeing the computer monitor clearly is a priority. Eyeglasses would allow me to have the best of both worlds – but it requires wearing them. I must choose between 20/20 vision and vanity. The struggle is real.

There is a message here. A valid point that requires our attention. Do you struggle with discontentment? Disappointment? Discouragement? Do you lack vision in your life? Do you see the temporary but not the eternal? Are you stuck in your past or struggling with today but oblivious of the future? See it is human nature to get distracted. The enemy uses it to keep us from moving past the lie that is set before us. He uses the impossible to thwart our thinking and cause us to forget that our future is set. What is your vision today? How do you perceive your life and existence? Can you see the Father or the Son or His Spirit at work around you or in you? The Light of His Love will illuminate the way but Jesus must be our vision.

My littlest grandson is a newborn who cannot clearly see the fully formed images around him but he loves to look at lights. As we walked through the store, his little head bobbled to see the illumination above him. We are attracted to light. However, if you look at the sun it is blinding and impossible to make out the fully formed image of its flaming shape. Little man is growing and developing each day. As he matures, names will be given to those images and he will form thoughts and ideas about life all around him. My prayer is that my little grandson will only have eyes for the Lord and all that He has for him. These are the words I speak and pray over him as I have his mother and her siblings their whole lives.

The Vision

A complaint has been registered and the Lord is responding. I know this seems obvious yet still a question worth asking. Have you let the Lord know your complaints? Dissatisfactions? The things that you share readily with family, friends, coworkers and anyone else who will listen. Have you gone to the Throne of God, your father, boldly and with confidence that He will answer? So many times we take everyday problems to ordinary people and expect that to offer guidance and wisdom. We put our expectation in others rather than leaving them at the feet of Jesus in exchange for perfect peace and victory that only He can give us.

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie…”

How seriously do you take God’s Word for your life? Do you read it? Study it. Pray it. Do you have daily conversations with the Living God who loves you? Do you discuss the things that concern you or details left undone? Do you take this relationship serious enough to trust Him with your innermost thoughts, longings, weaknesses, desires, and yes, your complaints? See if your life is reaching its full potential – the Lord is the only One who can change that. He prerecorded our entire life from creation to completion. (Psalm 139) He promises to make every detail turn out for our good for those who love Him. (Romans 8) Do you love the Lord? Is He your Savior? Is He your Lord? The Lord will be our vision when we look to Him evaluating life through Him, His Word and His Spirit. It changes how we see things. We must take Him at His Word.

Write the vision. Make it plain. I am the world’s worst about hearing the Lord concerning a matter then grabbing the paintbrush from His Hand to make my own masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) In other words, the Lord gives me a vision and I try to make it happen. Why? I like control, comfort and convenience just as much as the next person. I hate to wait and am naturally impatient. The vision of God for your life and mine is specific including the timing. We must learn to write down these thoughts, aspirations and impossible images. Study them by exploring them in God’s Word. Praying about them allowing His Spirit inside of us to instruct us and guide us to completion and full realization. Do you believe that God can do the impossible? Most of the time the vision for our life seems to be just that impossible but please note Habakkuk 2:4 for the secret of fulfillment – “but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Faith gives life to godly vision. It is the factor that overcomes fear and makes the impossible absolutely possible in our life.

“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; thou my best Thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” (Eleanor H. Hull – 1912)

Acts 2:16-18 (ESV)  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

God predestined us with a purpose. He filled us with great potential to live a prosperous life. This life is realized by faith. Joel prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit and there would be visions and dreams that would accompany that outpouring. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us which is what happened in Acts 2 and continues today. The Spirit of God identifies us as His Children thereby granting us our Kingdom residence and heavenly inheritance. God speaks to people through His Word, His Spirit, audibly, prayerfully, in dreams and visions. This is not debatable – it’s His Word. If I choose to discredit or disregard any part of God’s Word as ineffective or impractical – the whole thing is worthless to me. God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. We must recognize God’s Voice in our life in order to make room for His Vision.

“I will dare to believe, anything is possible. I throw caution to the wind, it’s time to risk again! I will dare to believe anything is possible in Jesus…my Jesus!” (Lindy Conant – Bethel Worship)

Luke 1:37 (ESV) For nothing will be impossible with God.

Do you believe that today? Do you believe that NOTHING is impossible with God? In Ezekiel 37, there is a valley of dry bones. It is full of drought and death. God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” The Lord instructs him to speak life into those dry bones and they indeed come to life. What is dead in your life? What is left in the valley of dead dreams, disappointments, and discouragements? Did the Lord give you a vision but it took too long so you left it behind? Maybe you made some mistakes and feel like that thing God had for you is lost forever. I have wonderful news for you today. God doesn’t honor death and always has new life for us. Just because things didn’t turn out the way “we” wanted them to or He didn’t do it the way “we” thought that He would doesn’t mean that we have missed God’s Purpose for us. Remember, Psalm 139, every day of our life is handwritten. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. Nothing is lost or wasted. God even collects our tears. His Love for us is far greater than our love and commitment for Him. We must simply gain a clear perspective of His Word, His Purpose and His Plan. Grabbing it, writing it down, studying it, claiming it, speaking it and waiting for it until it comes. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

God is faithful. Even when our faithfulness and commitment to Him wanes, He still pursues us with unfailing love and faithfulness. Our job in all of this is to simply believe that God loves us unconditionally and live in His Love. When we decide to believe that God’s Love has no boundaries, obstacles begin to topple over as our rebellious thoughts are taken captive and His Word given a place to grow. It will require endurance and perseverance. The enemy doesn’t want you to believe God or His Truth concerning you because at that very moment you will become unstoppable and fully satisfied. Lord, I ask you today to be our vision. May we only have eyes for you Jesus and what you have for us! In your precious and holy name – we ask and receive. Amen and amen.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (ESV) For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

 

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Love Always

CV-LA-LOGO

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV) May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

The word “love” is cast about so flippantly. “Love you” ends our texts and talks but do we really love the person who we just claimed to? Do we love them with the same definition of love set forth in God’s Word? Do we love others patiently, kindly, without envy or boasting, and never with arrogance, pride or rudely? Love gives up its own way with disregard for our own plans and personal agendas. It is not irritable and does not hold resentment in the basement of its heart. It doesn’t rejoice in anyone’s failure and always rejoices in the truth which displaces vengeance and malice from us. The Truth is that God is love and to be one with Christ means to embrace His Steadfast Love and extend it to everyone who is in our sphere of influence. The hula hoop around us that touches the edge of others within arm’s length are the ones I am called to love. Love like God and Jesus. Lord, help me most days to find it within me to do so. Finally the steadfastness of love is that it bears all things, believes all things, hoes all things and endures all things. Love is hard. Love is God. It is our position in Christ to love always.

I Corinthians 13:8 (ESV) Love never ends.

Love never ends. If you really love someone, there is not end to it. Ugh! So many times love is an emotion not a commitment. The staggering divorce rate is proof that the overture of feelings never got through to the center of our heart. Love is commitment. It is messy. It is hard. It takes advantage of our pride. It hurts our feelings. It is not always easy to really love other people but it is only from a heart set on the Father following the steadfastness of the Son that can carry on the family tradition of true love. To love like God and Jesus is a difficult process but worth it to be one with the Lord and His Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Love is produced by the Holy Spirit. I have wonderful news for believers today. Even though agape love doesn’t come naturally, the Lord has given us His Spirit to produce it supernaturally. The more invested our faith becomes in pursing the Kingdom the greater the production of love in our life. We learn to love from the Holy Spirit who takes seeds of faith placed in us at creation and cultivates love in us that is from the Father. It doesn’t come naturally. Love is not an emotion. Love is a commitment. By committing our life including our heart, mind and soul to Jesus Christ, it allows love – His Love – to grow in us. If anyone has every planted a garden, then you know it may take a season or two or ten for good fruit to grow but if we are patient it will come.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV)  But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Love is a pursuit. To fight the good fight of faith often means fighting our feelings and emotions to believe. The starting point of believing for a Christian is to believe that God is love. To believe that He loves us no matter what. To believe that Christ is the Way, Truth and Life of love in us and through us. To put all of our expectation in God’s Love allows us to love others without the need for reciprocation because we are fully invested in the Kingdom and producing enough love to sustain us. Taking hold of eternal life means accepting that His Love is unconditional which means I am indebted to the Lord always and forever. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow added. He says the only thing we owe anything is love.

Philemon 4-6 (ESV) I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

Paul wrote to Philemon, his sister, Archippus (our fellow soldier) and the church in your house. Paul commended them on their love and faith toward Jesus and for all the saints. How do you share your faith in Christ? There is no more effective gospel than the one that is written. The one that tells of a God who loved us so much that He gave His Only Son, to live in love with us. What is the love letter of your life? The Gospel spoken will never have the impact of good news lived. A life of unconditional love is not our natural. But as I learn to lay down my life and let Christ make a new creation it includes a capacity to love that I did not have before. To release human expectation to fulfillment and satisfaction that only can be established in faith and confident hope. It is worth it. It takes time. I must ask myself is the “church in my house” like a city on the hill that beacons others to Christ when I am not “in” church or around other Christians. There is not greater love than to lay one’s life down for a friend. In Christ, we have only one enemy. The one who tries to destroy every relationship in our life. Love always. It is the ultimate example of God’s Love in us and the steadfastness of Christ working in us to change us from the inside out. A prospering soul learns to love always.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I John 4:9-11 (ESV)  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

What If…

what if

Romans 5: 5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

What if it’s true? What if the Bible is the absolute and unequivocal Truth about God? What if it really is inspired by the Holy Spirit? What if it is more than a story but a covenant written for us? What if there really is a Living God who loves us? What if He really did give His Son to have a relationship with us? Is it even possible to fully fathom such crazy love? Unconditional love is not possible when love is based on emotions and feelings. God is greater than our feelings but must be given precedent over them for us to change our mind about Who He is and How He love us. He is not a man who lies or changes His Mind. His Character is Love. His Nature – Love. Everything about God is love. We must simply choose to accept the unfailing love that pursues us in each moment of every single day.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you disappointed today? Suffering from depression, anxiety, fear or even unmet expectation that has left you doubting? Our feelings and emotions wreak havoc on our brain as it tries to make faith logical and a legitimate driving force in our life. Miracles require the impossible. Supernatural outcomes defy nature. Yet, in that moment of trials and testing, it is hard to see past what is right in front of us. Our instructions are clear. Walk by faith and not by sight. We must exchange the “what ifs” that keep us from stepping out in faith and make it the very reason that we do! How do I get there from here?

People like options. Opportunities are built on options. However, when presented with a choice one must make a decision. The decisions made in life are usually based on education, experience or emotions. These are the things that govern our thoughts when making rationalizations leading to what our action becomes. The dilemma comes in the heart of a person who wants to take a spiritual stand on a natural foundation. It’s tough to overcome intellect to rely on the inhabitation of God’s Spirit living in us. We must change the way we think and decide that God has a plan and purpose that is real and relevant for us.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NLT) We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The battle in our mind wars against us. Human reasoning is a tough barrier to God’s Thoughts which are so much different than our own. We make estimations and approximations based on the rules of relativity but do not trust the Word of God enough to make radical choices of simple obedience. Without God’s Word to guide us as a light in the darkness, it is impossible to find Him and remove every obstacle between us. Why? Why would we want to give up our way to follow the Way? Oh friend, what if the Word of God really is true. What if everything it says about us is possible? What if…

Psalm 139:13-15 (NLT) 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.

What if you are really marvelously complex made of God’s wonderful workmanship. What if He really did fashion and form you so you are not a random science experiment that accidentally created a human? What if He saw you before you were born? What if every day of your life is prerecorded? Every single minute already laid out. What if?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What if your prerecorded life is filled with purpose? What if it is a good plan of success and not disaster? What if it is filled with hope…yes that hope that never leads to disappointment? What if God is listening? What if He can be found? What if it’s true and His Unfailing Love has been chasing after you? (Psalm 23)

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

What if God through Jesus really has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms? Psalm 103 reminds us of some of those blessings – forgives my sins, heals ALL my diseases, redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. What if God really isn’t mad at me? What if He isn’t trying to punish me but bless me indeed? Where am I in all this? God made all decision to adopt me. He wanted me. He chose me. He made the Way (Jesus) for me. And what about His Glorious Grace?

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) 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.

Perhaps the craziest part of this to comprehend is God’s Grace. How can He love me when He knows me so well? When He can see right through me to every motive and emotion that drives me to disobedience, yet still freely bestows His Grace to me. I know me. I know what I’ve done and those I have hurt. I know my faults, failures and many weaknesses. What if God’s Power works best in all of them just like He says?

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

What if the Lord really does cause EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love Him? It doesn’t say the one who does everything He says or the one who lives a perfect life…it says those who love Him. Loving God is enough. It has always been enough. His Grace is the sufficiency of our restored relationship no matter what religion says. God put a purpose in you. It is firmly established. He even gave you faith to make it grow from tiny potential to a massive promise. He gave you His Spirit to teach you and cultivate good fruit to feed your soul and nourish your heart and mind. He promises to perfect all that concerns you and even encourages us not to waste a single moment worrying about anything but just bring it to Him with bold confidence. But you know what the greatest “what if” is to me?

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What if there really is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God given to us through Christ Jesus? What if to live in Christ filled with His Spirit really makes us a Child of the Living and Loving God? What if it’s all true? What if our life of disappointment is not the result of God’s Incompetence but our disobedience? Could it be possible that the only reason our life is not prospering from our soul outward is that we do not believe that God’s Love for us is constant? Every condition, limitation and restriction set on our life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

Have you ever read the story of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? I have read it hundreds of times. The moral of the story is to try new things. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am.” Finally by the end of the book, he tries them and likes them. How many pages of excuses before finally just tasting them. Oh what a wonderful truth in childlike fashion…

What if God really is good? What if His Love unconditional? What if His Grace enough? What if His Plan for you is prerecorded so you haven’t missed a thing? What are your benefits and blessings? What are you possibly missing out on? Why not try Him? Why not give it a chance? The what ifs of obedience are words Christians might be familiar with including supernatural breakthrough, signs, wonders, miracles and even revival. God is for you. He loves you. He gave His All for you. It’s all true. I believe it. Do you? The greatness of God is His Love for you and it releases every bit of potential locked inside of you by simply decided to trust Him, take Him at His Word, and seek Him day by day.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Easy Love

Easy Love

I John 4:18-19 (ESV) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

Love is never easy. The word “love” may flow effortless from our lips but the moment of testing comes when it is not appreciated or returned. Love is not an exchange although that is what our mind perceives it to be. Love is a choice. It is a release of our heart into a realm of uncertainty hoping for its safe return. How many times has your heart been broken? How many times did someone run away with your love never to return it? Each time leaves a mark covered by a scar. For many love begins to take on a whole new meaning caused by unmet expectation. Our response is to build walls, erect facades, and feebly try to protect the barely beating and broken parts that once resembled our beating heart.

The preacher spoke of “easy love”. Loving others should be easy. Have you met the same people I know? He has probably those who society marks as “the worst of the worst.” His profession – prison chaplain. I wonder if we could see just for a moment the impact of a single sin on our heart and the malignancy it created if then we could see the magnificence of grace. The impossibility of God’s Love realized in the precious gift of His Only Son. Could we see that each of us fall in the same category as those who have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard? I am the least of these. I am abased and broken by sin. I need God’s Love more than anyone.

I John 4:7 (ESV) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

God is love. His Character is always to love. He decided to love me as He created me and at no point in time has His Love for me ever been compromised. His Unfailing Love is always pursuing me even when I decide to love someone or something else. Nothing can separate me from His Love. (Romans 8) I wonder what would happen if the church realized the true relevance of God’s Love rather than promoting the other things God does. See the Goodness of God is full obtained in the Presence of His Love. The only thing that keeps me from moving into His Love and fully allowing it to overtake me is when I choose something else.

Beloved is a term of great affection. It means greatly loved and dear to heart. Love is from God and whoever loves God will overflow in it due to its sheer abundance. As it fills our heart – it will spill over into the world touching those who are around us. How do we get to the place of “easy love”? To have love one another without prejudice or expectation. How do we get past comparison to the place of commitment to love simply because we are so loved by the Lord?

I have come to the conclusion that when I judge others it is because I feel judged. Judgement demands a verdict. To put others on trial places me on trial, too. I failed the test of perfection long ago. When I was a child, my parents divorced. In the course of settlement, I was brought to a courtroom. I remember hiding in a bathroom stall faced with the dilemma that I was expected to “judge” my parents. I was supposed to choose a side. I love both my parents. The thought has occurred to me that perfect love doesn’t pick sides. Perfect love is fearless. In fact, perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is a product of punishment. It is because there is something to gain or lose. Whoever fears has not been perfected by His Love.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

There is no doubt that God loves us. It is absolutely solidified in the Sacrifice of His Son. The promise states “whoever believes in Him (His Love) should not perish but have eternal life.” Penalty paid in full. Grace is sufficient for the rest of our life including every fault and failure. To choose Jesus is to step from death to everlasting life. Many in the church would like others to think that now there is a new set of rules and regulations to follow to maintain God’s Love. Not true. The only thing I must do is love and trust the Lord to save me from my sins and turn my life over to Him. A gift is only a gift when given freely and completely with no strings attached. The Word of God repeats over and over that salvation is a gift. “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)

Where fear is present – love is limited. What are you afraid of? What keeps you from giving your heart away to others? The Holy Spirit bears fruit in us according to Galatians 5 and the first fruit is love. Without love, everything we do is worthless even good deeds. To be completely honest, when our good deeds are based on anything other than love – it comes from a place of benefit or reciprocation. We expect something in return even if that something is a harvest or the world’s favorite “karma”. To love like Jesus is unconditional. We love simply because we have to give. The limit placed on love is fear. So I ask again, what are you afraid of?

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I keep coming back to this place. My ability to love comes from full knowledge and understanding of the steadfastness of His Love. To truly grasp an unconditional love that chooses to love me in spite of me every single moment of my existence whether my life is pleasing to Him or not. A perfect love given to an imperfect person. The Lord sacrificed everything so I could live in His Kingdom and be His Child again. I could do nothing. I had nothing to offer so He gave His Son for me. My debt is paid in full and there is nothing I can do to earn God’s Love or repay Him for the price He paid for me. This is a humble position of indebtedness that causes problems for my pride.

When I place a limit on love, it is usually because I have tapped into a fear. A place of doubt creates insecurity. Misplaced expectation is fully revealed. Rather than praying for God to change those around me into lovable people, I must ask the Lord to break my heart for them to allow the abundance of His Love to flow from me. What if the problem is not other people but my own lack of confidence in the fullness and completeness of this precious gift that I have been given. The love that fully satisfies from a cup that never runs dry. What if love really can be easy when I fully accept His Love for me?

I Corinthians 13:8-13 (ESV) Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Crossing

The Crossing

Joshua 3:5 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a person without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God. (Brooke Westcott)

For forty years the Children of Israel walked in the wilderness surrounding the Promised Land. A straight-line distance of 240 miles that would take the average person about 20 minutes to walk a mile. If you do the math using an 8-hour day which is a standard workday, it should have only taken the Israelites about ten days, or maybe two weeks if you consider the Sabbath, to cross the Jordan. What happened? They wanted the Hand of God without pursuing His Heart.

Moses and Aaron could not lead where they did not go. The promise is a result of obedience to God that begins with consecration. Now Joshua is commissioned by God to finish the journey and cross the Jordan but first there must be a consecration. Consecration means to set apart. To make something sacred. Dedicate to service. To be devoted. To be sanctified. It means to be changed. We are to be holy. Holiness can only be accomplished by the wholeness of Christ. He sanctifies us and it is through His Holy Ordination that a life of consecration can produce completion.

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

I was listening to a worship service on my way to work. The songs selected were all about the holiness of God. The most powerful form of praise is to worship God for who He is. To simply say, “Jesus – You are holy!” To be lost in the Presence of God without worry or care and simply rest in Who He is before heading off into the darkness to be the light. A pastor began to exhort the people and quoted Joshua 3:5. As he shared his heart clearly uttering on behalf of the Holy Spirit – he began to talk about consecration but in a whole new way. He didn’t talk about the rules and regulation of religion but rather to set ourselves apart from the feelings and emotions that challenge our faith each day.

We must step out of our past to embrace the future. The Promise of God is non-negotiable as the Father has given us every spiritual blessing in His Son, Jesus. It is just as real and tangible as the land on the other side of the Jordan. However, there were people over there that would not take kindly to these newcomers trying to inhabit what they believe to be their place and property. There would be battles. There would be opposition. The people would need absolute and total confidence in God’s Promise and Purpose to inhabit the position or place that He was leading them. So will I. So will you.

The guidelines and mandates of consecration is not the doctrinal outline set forth by our church affiliation. Holiness has nothing to do with my ability to live a faultless or flawless life but to daily live in true repentance. To acknowledge and respect my need for Jesus Christ to inhabit my heart, mind, body and soul and influence every attitude and action in my life. It means I must relinquish control of me and trust the Lord to do what He promises in me and through me. Consecration is not a religious act but a sacrificial relationship with the Living God through His Son – Jesus Christ who lives in you. I am His Beloved. I must live like He is mine.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV) Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

“Consecration is only possible when we give up our will about EVERYTHING.” (F.B. Meyer) My life must become a vessel. An empty vessel to allow the fullness of Christ to make it holy and acceptable for God’s Use. Consecration is a call to holiness that is the wholeness of Jesus Christ who leads us to His Fullness including full satisfaction and complete abundance by the surrender of self. Total trust and confidence in Jesus does not allow us to hang on to things like fear, doubt, disappointment, unforgiveness, anxiety, worry, control and every other emotion, feeling and stronghold held on to. Our promise is inevitable. Consecration opens the pathway to purpose.

Fulfillment comes when by surrendering our right to hold on to such things in order to be filled with the fullness of Jesus Christ. It is the place where the circumcision of our heart takes place cutting away the hard stony exterior to expose the new life within us.

Philippians 4:7-9 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Peace with God is established in Jesus Christ. To consecrate our life to Him as Lord is not an act of service but rather complete sacrifice of our will to be in His Will. It is not that complicated. But rather a daily giving of ourselves to the Lord piece by piece which He will receive wholeheartedly. The Lord knows us and hence has given us His Spirit to help us along the way. The Peace of God comes with peace with Him. To walk the narrow road (Matthew 7) is a lonely venture without His Partnership and Holy Inhabitation. Today – you are on the edge of the Jordan ready to enter your promise. What will you do? Wait another day to enter in or fully consecrate your life – mind, will and emotions – heart, soul and spirit – every ounce of your flesh and cell in your body to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Gate. He is the Door. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for you. What is breakthrough? It is when we decide to go after God’s Heart and cross over to the Promise. He is not withholding His Hand but offering us His Heart today.

“Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!” (Neal A. Maxwell)

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Leviticus 20:7-8 (ESV) Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

Are you Impressed?

What Impresses You

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

There were many nights that I was called from my bed by a little voice in the night. Carefully assessing the ailment, sometimes it would be a complaint of unexplainable leg discomfort. With the expert knowledge gained from my grandmother and mother far superior to modern science, I would diagnose them with growing pains. With lots of hugs and cuddles and the occasional dose of chamomile to calm or ibuprofen to alleviate persistent aches, they would drift off to sleep again. I miss those days of growing pains. Simple discomforts and inconveniences that give way to far greater growth. Why is it that for our heart to grow it must break? Why must our convenience and comfort be disrupted to fully engage in this new way of life as a new creation? Why does the temporary seem to be so influential? Keeping all this in mind, I am reminded today by the Lord and His Word, we must never give up.

We are born dying. My youngest hates when I say that. People want to live and forget that death is inevitable. Yet the greatest growth of spirit comes when the truth of natural demise is considered. What will be the day after my last breath is taken? The beginning of forever is very important yet falls at the bottom of my priority list buried by the worries and cares of a day already decided, prerecorded in God’s Perfect Plan for me complete with every provision and promise needed for complete success. This is not about dying but living for more than the temporary. Our present troubles are only temporary. Small and not eternal they demand our immediate attention. God uses these moments to break our hearts and reveal the faith hidden inside if He is allowed to do so. The things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. How’s your soul today? It really is the only part of our life that will enter forever. It has the greatest growth potential in our life for as our soul prospers so will we.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

We have a light shining in our fragile heart. It is a great treasure of valuable potential. The Light of His Love must be permitted to shine through us. His Glory inside of us is the Light to be placed on a hill for all to see. The great power of God that is given to us has the possibility of changing an ordinary life to an extraordinary existence in the Presence of God. It will require brokenness because a hard heart cannot beat to God’s Rhythm. It makes things inconvenient. Our comfort will be disrupted. Change must occur. Why? God is Sovereign. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Ways are not like ours and His Thoughts consider every possibility and detail of our life for complete renewal, revival and restoration as a product of His Love, Grace and Mercy given to us by His Son, Jesus.

I Peter 2:10-11 (NLT) Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy. Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

I am a Child of the Living God. I have only one enemy. His only weapon in his arsenal is a lie. I am fully armored by God equipped to be overwhelming victorious in every battle suited in His Love. On the days that I am overburdened by worries, cares and anxieties – I must remember whose I am. I must focus on the potential of my faith and stand on the confident hope that I have. This too shall pass because life according to this world is temporary and it is not my home or permanent residence. Have you forgotten whose you are today? Have you lost sight of eternity and become fixated on today? The faith within you does not lose its potential just because you lost focus. God takes every detail of our life and makes good on every promise according to His Word and not our strength or ability. It is all because of the sufficiency of His Grace at work in us.

Matthew 6:25-33 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When my children had growing pains in the middle of the night, they would call out to me. They would sometimes even cry in their distress. I immediately would go to them. I love my children. How much more does the Father love us? The only thing that is not temporary in our life is the Love of God. He loves us. He always loved us. He will love us forever. God loves everyone even those who choose not to acknowledge or love Him back. He is a good God who has given each of His Children a valuable inheritance. We claim our inheritance including every blessing and promise by faith. Do you have faith today? All those worries cannot add a single moment to your life but instead steal precious time that can be used cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ that releases our full potential.

The very thing that dominates our thoughts is that which rules over our heart. Fear and doubt are products of disbelief creating a disconnect that keeps Heaven from reaching us here on earth. We do not seek the Kingdom of God above all else simply because of uncertainty and insecurity that God will not come. Or maybe it will be uncomfortable? We make rash temporary compromises to gain daily security yet give up our eternal position which always leads to prosperity. The Favor of God is for His Children. Those who He created and have returned to Him. Everyone has a measure of faith to sow into the Kingdom and harvest its potential. Faith is the opportunity to realize our purpose and live in full satisfaction. Our heart must change to allow faith to grow and prosper in us. This change produces brokenness. New wine cannot fill old wine skins.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Are you worried about something today? Worry is an opportunity to worship. Are you plagued with a problem? Problems bring forth the possibility of praise. Are you experiencing impossibilities? Awesome, you are being set up for the miraculous. The only way our growing pains give way to spiritual cultivation is by the renewing of our mind. To allow the Lord to transform us beginning with the way we think and how we operate under pressure. The enemy wants you to think you are going under, things will never change and a win is impossible. God says, “Walk by faith not by sight.” Don’t allow worry to silence your worship. Don’t allow problems to interrupt your praise.

“Your victory beings the day you stop being impressed by the size of your problem.” (Bill Johnson)

David saw the giant but he knew the Living God. His faith in God killed the giant that day not his stature, strength or ability. He was totally confident in the Word of God acting upon it. Our words tell the story written in our heart. The power of life or death are in our tongue. What impresses you more today? The size of the problem. The weight of your worry. The solidity of your situation. The size of the obstacle. We must become so impressed with the Love of God for us and His Promises that the temporary is no longer a distraction. “The enemy lies to make the problems we face appear larger than the solutions we carry.” (Bill Johnson)

The pressure produced by pain is often faith looking for a place to grow. Let your faith move mountains today. The potential in us must find a way out of us in order to be productive. Change is inevitable. Inconveniences a must. Discomfort always part of growth. Transformation from the natural to supernatural – priceless. Do you need to change your perspective today? If you call the Lord, He will come. The brokenhearted are the ones He rushes to. God is a Good Father. He knows you and still loves you. He sees you and still wants to lavish His Goodness on you. He is impressive. Be impressed with the Love of God for you until the temporary problems become your point of praise. When worries melt off and worship emerges you will experience the breakthrough you longed for.

Acts 16:24-26 (NLT) So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

Water on a Rock

Water on a rock

John 7:37-38 (NLT) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

“I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark and I leave my mark in many people’s hearts.” These are the words of Guatemalan Human Rights Activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. It is a declaration of persistence. A canyon is not formed by the hands of man but by persistence water flowing through it. What mark am I leaving on the hearts around me? Do I speak life to them consistently? Do I use word to confirm God’s Love and Affirmation of them in order to show them the Light? What is my impact on others?

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and about a mile deep. It is the result of the Colorado River running through it. Man did not design it or carve it from the rock masses but a constant flow of water slowly and persistently eroding the hard surface. It is majestic. It is flocked to by many visitors each year attracting tourists to Arizona just to behold its breathtaking beauty. A national attraction of unintentional creation by the Hand of God carved from rocks with a simple flow of water.

Do you feel like the Word you share with others is like water on a rock? You try to share the Love of God through His Word and according to His Spirit, but you are just not seeing any results. Jesus told those celebrating that day, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! And, “Rivers of Living Water will flow from their heart!” The power of God’s Word is not by force but by persistence. God does not force us to accept His Love and Grace but offers it daily. In the morning, there is new mercies not according to our faithfulness but the Lord’s Faithfulness. Every promise is “yes” and “amen” for us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us no matter where our feet may wander. His Grace is enough. Always sufficient. Christ gives me overwhelming victory just because He loves me so. Calling me “more than a conqueror” as He completes the good work started in me. He manages to use every detail of my life for good and His Glory. It just doesn’t make sense and it is very simple. Maybe that is why people have a hard time accepting it.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT) I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

“Dripping water hollows out a stone, not by force but persistence. (Ovid) Some translations of this passage say, “Be ready in season and out of season” to speak the Word of God. It seems that in times of drought and famine in our life that the highest platform is given. What will flow from me when my feelings take over? When pressed? When angry, sad, hurt, betrayed or offended? What will be the words that flow from the depths of my heart? It is from the abundance of the heart our mouth forms thoughts, ideas and words.

We must carefully consider the contents of our conversation. The Word of God is the water and the Spirit gives it life. In John 7, the rivers of living water are a mixture of Word and Spirit that will flow from the heart through the mouth making our witness productive in promoting the Kingdom. We must find truth in the Word and allow the Spirit to teach us God’s Wisdom to share His Love effectively and communicate it to the world. Jesus told the woman at the well about living water. He encouraged her to worship in Spirit and in Truth. In that moment, she forget those she was avoiding and the people who shunned her with boldness she went to them and shared her encounter with the Messiah.

Our message to the world will never be effective if put on reserve. Waiting for the right moment to sow seeds is not advantageous. We sow seeds in every season so there will be a harvest for the next. Withholding God’s Word and His Love from others promotes seasons of drought and famine. God will prosper those who continuously sow in season and out of season including the seeds of His Word into others. Husbands are encouraged to love their wives as Christ loved the church even “having cleansed her (His Bride) with the washing of water with the word.” I wonder what would happen if rather than forcing our convictions on others and withholding the grace given to us by Christ – we chose to carefully bathe and dress the wounds of the broken and lost what might happen? If our vocabulary was a constant drip of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy for us to others who need it as much as we do. Sin becomes less palatable when love is properly seasoned.

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT) The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

There is life and death in our words. The depth of our soul is revealed in our daily conversation. The Fruit of God’s Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness AND self-control. Our words should bear heavy fruit of the Spirit’s cultivation in our heart and mind. Such words end famine in human hearts and begin spiritual reproduction in others. The first fruit is love. The Word defines love as patient and kind. It says that love is not jealous or boastful never rude or demanding its own way. Love is not irritable and always forgiving while not keeping record of any wrongs. Love rejoices in the Truth. The Truth concerning us is the Word. The Word is Jesus. Love does not desire vengeance but thrives on mercy. Love never ever gives up. It never loses faith. Always hopeful, it endures through every circumstance. Without love, I have nothing to offer and nothing to gain.

Luke 6:45 (NLT) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Jesus didn’t change the world standing on a platform. He did not do it through a megaphone. He did it by walking, talking, living and breathing God’s Love. Jesus did not come to do His Will. He came to express the Father’s Love to us and make a way for us to come back into the family. It worked. Our heart is the treasury that contains His Word and His Spirit. A hard heart cannot flow living water. A stony exterior will stop its overflow. Our words hold the secret of what the contents of our heart may be. To express Christ’s Love effectively our heart must not only contain the Word and His Spirit but be soft enough to let it flow from our lips. We cannot give what has not been received. What are the words of my mouth today? Do they express God’s Love? Are they full of His Fruit? Do they satisfy those who hunger, thirst and desire a better way? Are they light that draw others from darkness? Are they salty enough to add flavor but not ruin the whole meal?

There is an urgency in our collection of water from the Word. Amos 8 warns that the Word of God will not be found in the future. Men will look for it and it will not be found. We must hide God’s Word in our heart so He is with us always. Moses experienced heartbreak when God told him to speak to the rock so water might flow from it, but he decided to strike the rock twice instead. The Word of God is to make a way from death to life and darkness to light. I must always use the Word of God and His Spirit according to His Purpose – not my own agenda. God’s Word is the water that washes away sin and heals broken hearts. His Spirit is the Living Flow that finishes the Good Work God has begun in us. Persistence is my pleasure. Not that I would see immediate results but that the constant drip of obedience to the Lord will make it through my stony exterior to the depths of my heart.

John 4:10 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Conquered By Love

Conquered By Love

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Everyone wants to be a winner but not everyone believes they are a winner. Desire must become dedication. It begins with a thought. A dream of a destination exciting and elusive all at the same time. It will take a level of commitment that exceeds our own strength reaching down to the depths of our soul afraid to give up and never achieve the desire and dream that set our life in motion. The runner must go the extra step. The boxer must lift his weary arm for the knock out. The players must rally for the final minute. How far are you willing to go to be “more than conquerors”?

Reading all the trials and tribulations listed in Romans 8, “what then shall we say about these things? If God be for us who can be against us? Do you believe that there is victory in Jesus? We say it and sing about it but without believing it there is no real investment. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall tribulation (we have a few), or distress (hello, worriers and anxiety ridden friends), or persecution (feeling isolated today), or famine (anyone experiencing lack), or nakedness (insecurity) or danger (sickness, disease or bad choices), or sword (what is your best defense)…we must decide that the Love of God is greater than any problem or perplexity in life. The Love of God for us is always with us carrying us from glory to glory and victory to victory if it is our vehicle of choice.

Living in America, Christians do not face the same problems of early Christians. The struggle to fully embrace the unconditional love and overwhelming victory making us more than conquerors in Christ is still problematic. To become confident in God’s Love is the very thing that makes us more than conquerors. To desire Christ is not enough, but true dedication in pursuing Him is the pathway to victory many desire but few will reach.

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

God loves you. He loves me. From the moment of creation until today throughout forever, God’s Love for us is constant. Unending. Unyielding. Unconditional. It is love in the truest and purest form which causes us to stumble in consideration of all our faults and failures. The enemy doesn’t have to beat you. In fact, it is impossible for him to do so. He just has to convince you that you will not win so that you give up and quit. He can only claim victory by forfeiture. With this in mind, how many times have you quit? Given up? Given in to the thought – this will never happen? Why even try? Even in all our wanderings and wonderings about the validity of God’s Love including the insecurity that fuels doubt…God still and always will love us.

Jesus Christ is all about relationship. A loving and productive reconciliation of God and His Children. It is not contingent on anything I do, but completely on Jesus Christ. He is the Only Way to the Father. I have to go through Him by establishing intimacy with Him. Christ lives in me. His Spirit fills my heart with the Love of God for me so that the faith invested in me can grow in confident hope of His Love. The only justification of God’s Love that I have is absolute and concrete faith that Jesus Christ is enough. The Grace of God fully sufficient to cover my sins. Religion puts mandates on God’s Love and provisions of conviction that do not apply. God’s Love for me has nothing to do with what I do or how I do it. It has everything to do with His Son’s Life given for me. The payment was made in full. I am now given the opportunity to live a victorious and prosperous life in Jesus Christ. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The hope given to us in Christ never ever leads to disappointment but from victory to victory.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

How can I be sure that I haven’t missed it? The church I grew up in taught that God’s Will was perfect. It was detailed as a straight line and there would be blessings and promises left behind if one wandered off course. It was very rigid. It was quite strict because after all God is Sovereign. How can imperfect people have God’s Perfect Will? How many times can I miss the mark and still reach my destiny? My heart believed that because I wandered that I could no longer have God’s “Perfect” Will so overwrought by discouragement – I decided there was no point in trying. God’s Love taught without the sufficiency of God’s Grace is pure religion apart from relationship. It’s not true.

You can have God’s Perfect Will. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how far you have wandered. God’s Will for you is perfect because His Love is constant and His Grace is complete. Let’s go back to Psalm 139. Verses 1-6 tell us that God knows us inside out. He knows everything about us. The Lord has gone before you and hems you in from behind. His Hand is upon you. Verses 7 – 12 remind us that there is no place too far or too abased that will separate us from Him. Verse 13 – 18 now this is the text that helps us understand God’s Perfect Will. Every single day of my life was prerecorded by the Lord. He laid out a plan so that I would attain a future and hope in Him. He knew every mistake I would make, every place I would wander and every sin that I would commit BEFORE I was born. Makes sense when coupled with the verse His Grace is sufficient. The plan containing a future and hope is not some impersonal guideline for our life but a very intricate and detailed purpose for each individual specifically. It also says that His Thoughts about me are precious. God’s Love for me is tender and kind. He sees me for me. Thanks to Jesus – He sees me perfectly. Now jump over to Romans 8:28 – what does it say?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” The complexity of God’s Love is its simplicity. God is love. He loves us. He set His Heart on us and made the Way for us to come back to Him. Our life is a detailed plan of prosperity, promises, dreams, visions, and every good thing possible. It is not found in our abilities, but in our affection and affinity for Him. Quite simply to know Him is to love Him and to love Him is enough. If we could just become confident in the Love of God that leads us to victory, we would all be winners. When you love God, He brings all those broken pieces of our life together making a beautiful masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If only believers could truly know and understand the Love of God. It’s purity, validity and completeness. There is freedom in the Truth. The Spirit of the Living God in us is that of liberty. It is by grace through faith that salvation is established. I can do nothing to save myself or turn my life around. It is true repentance when religion becomes a relationship. When works turn into worship knowing full well that my value and victory is found in Christ alone. Apart from Him I am nothing. Outside of His Love I have nothing. I am God’s Workmanship. He made me. He knows me. And yes, He still loves me in spite of me. I am created for good works in Christ Jesus. God prepared this life for me. Just me. His Plan – to do justice (I am justified in Christ) – to love kindness (I am a new creation born of love and made to love), and to walk humbly with God. He leads me to victory. (Micah 6:8) My confidence today is that God loves me. Through Christ, His Love now can make me a winner in all things victorious. I am more than a conqueror just because He loves me! I am conquered by His Love to be more than a conqueror walking in victory every step of the way.

I Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

His Love Never Quits

His Love Never Quits

Psalm 139:1-3 (MSG) Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits. Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits. Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.

His Love never quits. The equivalent to “His Love endures forever” in other translations is mentioned 43 times in the Old Testament. From Genesis to Revelation, it is all about an enduring love that never fails. God is love. He loves us. The Father decided to love us when He created us. He was careful and specific in making us calling us “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and preparing us to become “masterpieces” (Ephesians 2). The plan is complete from inception. No modifications. No do overs. No second thoughts. The Love of God given to us never quits.

Lack of faith and fear from realizing our full potential. We try to “do” all the right things. Live the right way. Make better choices. To be honest, I fail the Lord every single day. Doubt and disbelief live on the doorstep of my heart trying to gain access. Pride doesn’t want to die. My flesh has proven to be a formidable foe. When I am ready to give up rather than enduring, I wonder what might happen if rather than focusing on me, my inabilities, my failures, my feelings, and everything else that comprises my ego, I chose to focus on the fact that His Love NEVER quits.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

It’s not about me. It’s all about the Love of God for me. Me, myself and I were destined for death. When Jesus came to offer me a better way, I chose it. But did I really choose His Way, or did I want the new life without the new way? Do I want new life my way? How is that even possible? It’s not. The Sovereignty of God that works for us in that His Love endures forever means that He cannot change His Mind including His Complete Opposition to sin. It’s what makes Him who He is. His Word is the power and authority in our life because it is infallible. God doesn’t make mistakes and is completely confident in His Love for me. To become less is to accept His More.

Psalm 117 (MSG) Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!

As God’s Love takes over our life, faith and confident hope are established. Not in my ability to do the right thing and never sin again, but full acceptance and acknowledgement of God’s Amazing Grace. The relationship that I am growing with Jesus makes sin less appealing because union with Him is more appealing. The things of this world fade to black while the Light of His Love attracts us to move in closer and keep surrendering more of our heart to engage in more of His Love.

Galatians 6:9-10 (MSG) So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

The more I know about the Lord, the less I understand the vast potential of His Great and Constant Love for us. Unconditional love is not possible in this world. Expectation creates certain conditions on love and relationships that must be met for the partnership to continue. But imagine this, no matter what you do God’s Love for you never ever fails. It is unending. It is not contingent on our love in return. It was in the beginning and remains until the end. I have seen Christians walk by faith and drift into darkness. I have found myself in the wilderness many times. But when I began to grasp the concept that no matter how far I wander, how deep in the darkness I sink or how crazy my rebellious thoughts may be…God still loves me. Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with me. His Spirit never leaves me even when I don’t want to be with me. It is the moment of realization that His Love never quits that I find new strength. The greatest lie the enemy tries to hand you every day is that there is something too great for grace or a problem too impressive for God, it is simply not true. God is love. His Love for you endures forever.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

Ridiculous, radical and reckless love belongs to us. Love stronger than death and the grave that executes the power of sin and drives away even the darkest shadow. Could the problem with church be a lack of confidence today? We can produce services, performances and doctrine, but can we live in love with Jesus. The body of Christ would function properly with one beating heart and one mind set on loving God no matter what. Believing that His Love never gives up so we won’t either. Before charging out to save the world today, let the Love of God surround you. Bring your broken, tired and beat-up heart to the Lord and let His Love put all the pieces back together. You don’t have to be anything you’re not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. God will complete the good work that He began in us – we just not to give Him our life to work with. Fall in love with Jesus today – He is already head over heels in love with you!

Psalm 18:26-229 (MSG) Blessed are you who enter in God’s name—from God’s house we bless you! God is God, he has bathed us in light. Festoon the shrine with garlands, hang colored banners above the altar! You’re my God, and I thank you. O my God, I lift high your praise. Thank God—he’s so good. His love never quits!

The Best Defense

Best Defense

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

“The best defense is a good offense.” This adage has been carefully applied from military fields to sporting arenas. It is a strategic offensive principle of war. The general concept is it will preoccupy the opposition and hinder them from an opposing counterattack. It takes the enemy off guard. Busy defending their position there is no room for advancement. We have the best offense in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word is the Truth that knocks down strongholds of human reasoning and destroys the false arguments including all the accusations of the enemy of heart and soul. He will stop at nothing to convince us that God is not good and that the grace given to us is not enough; therefore, Christ is not victorious. All lies and not true yet humanity struggles with a perfect God who loves and cares for imperfect people.

The lack of confidence in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ fuels religious arguments as people try to find a way to the Father some other way. Rationalizing sin and complicating grace creating obstacles of human pride that keeps people from knowing the Living Breathing God. We must capture our “rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. To take the Lord at His Word. To decide that He is enough to live a victorious life and repeat daily.

With the arguments and divisions due to preference and pride, the Body of Christ appears as a dysfunction family rather than a thriving unit of believers adding to their numbers daily. (Acts 2) We cannot assess the damage or change church culture until we settle the argument of self. Is God real? Is His Love unconditional? Is grace enough? Will He meet my expectation? What do I have to lose? Christians must have a strategy to become successful.

Our offense was sin. Jesus covered our offense and turning us into faith-fighting force for the world and darkness to contend with. Now our offense is to fight temptation, overcome in trials and defeat the enemy. We have our marching orders. Now we attack every lie set forth by the enemy and overcome the stronghold of self with the Truth of God’s Word concerning us and absolute confidence and trust in Jesus Christ. Easier said than done when one must battle flesh just as much if not more than the enemy. Offense is not to be confused with offense regarding that which offends or causes displeasure. The right to be offended or take offense is to give into emotionalism, feelings and pride when our God is greater than all that.

Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 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.

What is my defense? Righteousness. I live in right standing with the Father because He gave His Son for me. I have absolutely nothing to do with the payment of my penalty other than to lay claim to all that God has given me. Let’s level the playing field making it fair across the board for all believers. Every single one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. No one is immune from the disease of sin or necessity of grace. Not once, but daily. To walk in righteousness requires repentance which leaves no place for pride because let’s face it – we don’t have skin in the game. Pride wants to think it has something to do with salvation or one’s ability to maintain righteousness with God apart from the Son. Religiosity is built on works outside of relationship. The Word of God is clear and the Truth straightforward – Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Isaiah 1:16-19 (NLT) Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.

“Come now, let’s settle this.” The Lord is inviting us today to have a made up mind. To decide the Word of God is the Truth that governs our life and live in it. The Word is Jesus. He completes us and gives us victory. Arguments arise from self. Division is a product of unrelinquished pride that is killing the modern day church. Cancer is considered a cell that does not conform to natural reproduction. The disease is caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. It is evil and destructive though it is a product of simple reproduction out of control. Is there cancer in the church? If we aggressively pursued the teaching of 2 Corinthians 10, I believe it could be eradicated. To put an end to all division, teardown strongholds and take captive every rebellious thought is not a corporate endeavor but a personal mission. To have a made up mind full of faith and complete confidence in Jesus Christ changes our life from always being defensive to opposing evil and driving out darkness with the Light of His Love with the embers of Truth burning ever so brightly within us.

Freedom is found when we know the Truth and it sets us free through obedience. I have every reason to completely trust the Lord with my life far beyond my own understanding. His Ways and Thoughts are much higher than my own abased thinking. God is always God. He is love. He pursues me with unfailing love and amazing grace. I can have all that He has ordained for my life and accomplish every call apart from any other person or problem. See I have purpose established in my faith – my skin in the game is believing wholeheartedly in the Word of God and following His Way. My relationship with Jesus Christ established my righteousness. All I have to do is show up and I win.

To have a healthy and thriving church means that every believer must have confidence in the Love of God and His Way. To be full of faith without doubt that no matter what our condition or situation – victory is coming. So many times in the Bible, when the children of God were opposed, the Lord caused the enemy to turn on themselves. This is not an every man (or woman) for himself lifestyle that we are called to but harmonious living as a thriving body. I must decide today if I am the rogue cell causing division or will I let life flow through me. It is not about me but becoming a blameless bride and beautiful body for our soon coming Bridegroom. Our family, friends, church and people are not the enemy. We have only one enemy. He is already defeated. It’s time to oppose every rebellious thought telling us otherwise. Settle things within our own heart and mind. The best defense is established in my righteousness through Jesus Christ. I am free to lead the offense in love and generosity to form one body – one mind and with one heart whose purpose is to know and love Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:38-40 (NLT) If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

John 8:32 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.