To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons From a Giraffe

Lessons From a Giraffe

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

I will admit that I have become captivated by April the giraffe. A small animal farm in New York got the brilliant idea to put a 24-hour camera to record the impending birth of her calf. They have received national attention and news agencies across the country are tracking her progress. I have always loved giraffes. On a mission trip to Kenya many moons ago, I was able to go on a camera safari through a preserve where they could be seen walking in the distance. Even many yards away, they were majestic and towering over the small trees. One of the only souvenirs that I brought back was a hand-carved giraffe with her calf. Though I do not sit and watch her progress, I do leave the “giraffe cam” open on my desk at work, in the kitchen while I cook and as I sit here now she is off to the side of me. Giraffes are not particularly intelligent animals. Basic creatures driven by their desire for food and their inner drive of curiosity – I cannot help but wonder if she is aware of her popularity. Does she know what is happening in her body or the impending arrival of her newborn? How aware is she that the end of her 15-month process is near?

This morning while I wait for the computer to load, the sleeping giraffe is suddenly awakened and rises awkwardly to her feet. The movement catching my attention, I glance at the screen just in time to see a series of resounding kicks from the 150-lb, six-foot tall baby inside her belly who apparently wants out. There has been little movement noted by keepers over the last few days. Most babies in the animal kingdom and the natural world settle down right before the greatest journey of their life. It is almost time. I know that feeling. Having been blessed with five beautiful babies, I understand the end of the process. The overwhelming need for the stress on our body to end. To release the promise inside because it is ready to live and breathe on its own. There are so many feelings and emotions mixed up and overflowing in a mother just before the birth of her baby. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, each one a process of perseverance all its own. Today as I watch the mama walk in circles, her steps are slow and unsteady. She lowers her head to endure the pressure of a contraction as the little one gets ready to make its highly anticipated appearance into the world. I am feeling pressure these days. No, thank goodness, my childbearing years are done but my promise bearing years continue. The process is similar. Both require perseverance. The result of the process of pregnancy is culminated in a successful birthing process of a healthy baby. If a human body were to experience the changes to it without a purpose – no one would endure it. The reality of our promise determines our willingness and ability to persevere.

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” I have lived long enough to have experienced many processes in life. I have learned to persevere and yet I am still in the midst of its process. Perseverance is a test of strength. It reveals our depth of purpose according to our commitment to the process. As a Christian, faith is measured by our willingness and ability to preserve through hard times, difficult situations and those things that seem to break us completely. But the words I keep coming back to today in this passage are “you have obeyed my command to preserve.” Set free by Jesus Christ, I am free indeed. As far as I can tell there is but one commandment predicated by a new provision that I must live by according to the New Testament words of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. I cannot find a direct command to preserve or persist in anything but this one thing that He commands. It is my purpose despite every difficulty in life or even the times I become discouraged. Are you wondering what it is? Do you already know?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Thankfully and by the Grace of God, the five pregnancies became five people who bless my life and give me purpose each day. My love for them gives me infinite grace and determination to care for them all of my life. Jesus demonstrated God’s Love for us by coming in the form of a man, living a completely innocent life, and then dying for our sin on the Cross. I know it sounds so brutal and messy. It was. The story did not end there. If Jesus did not complete the process, hold on to the promise, and preserve through death and the grave to emerge in Resurrection Power – there would be no salvation for us. There would be no pathway to God the Father to righteousness. Every promise has a process. Every process will require perseverance. If it is worth anything at all, there will be a struggle to find new strength even when the promise is faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God much less reach Him. Less I digress…

In Revelation 3, the Word encourages those who “have obeyed my command to preserve” that the Lord will protect them in great times of testing. It also tells us to hold on to what you have so that no one can take away the crown. You are a Kingdom Kid. You are a daughter or son of the King. However, you are on a journey home to a place that you cannot see driven by faith that is bound by confident hope and not evident by sight. In Revelation 3:8, the Lord indicates the opening of a door that no one can close – the promise. I love this part, I can identify with it completely. “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” The commandment of Jesus for my life is to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second one that Jesus has indicated as “equally” important is to love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the commandment attached to perseverance.

The love for self is natural. It is part of human survival. The love born of the Christ in us is different. It is not a natural emotion but supernatural takeover of our flesh that is crucified with Him to become the new creation that the Lord has promised. The process by which faith moves from our mind to our soul requires perseverance because it takes what is natural and overtakes it spiritually. It is the Christ in us that teaches us to love. Love is clearly defined in I Corinthians 13 and my love must bear all the qualities of Christ’s Love for obedience to be evident in my life. Even the most simple offering will not be accepted by God until I forgive those who I may grudge against to exemplify the grace I am given. Nothing I give to the Lord or attempt to do in His Honor is worthy of Him until I love Him wholeheartedly and express it to others effectively. Love is the commandment that is the subject of perseverance. It is the most difficult one of all. It requires putting aside my feelings and emotions. It is absolute and total crucifixion of pride and stubbornness. I have to lay down my life to claim my place in Heaven. Jesus came to fulfill the Law. (Matthew 5) He did it. There is not a letter of the Law that I am bound to except the one commandment which is to love the Lord and love people. Love changes everything. It sounds cliché.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus Christ lives inside of every believer. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of His Promise to us. It is by falling in love with the Lord that He is able to consummate His Love for us as His Grace empowers us. To do what? To live and love radically. To persevere and power through those tough days in the Name of Love. Isn’t that what pregnant woman do in the midst of vomiting, exhaustion, swelling, bedrest or complications? They will do anything to get the promise inside to become a reality. What about the Promise of God in each of us? Is it not worth having more than anything this world has to offer including comfort? Of course, it is.

“It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15) Jesus Christ came to initiate a relationship not institute a new religion. Unlocking every chain and opening every door so that the Body of Christ might become one in anticipation of His Eminent Return. I can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a thousand people but if I cannot express His Love it will fall on deaf ears. Real Love. Authentic Love. Selfless Love. True Love. The church must learn to love to become the new creation it has the potential to be. Unconditional love is to love without condition. Without rules or regulations, the Lord did not require you to change a thing and still considered you to die for. Why do we insist on changing people? We must love them like Jesus loves us.

What is a righteous and godly life anyway? “Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” This verse makes me think of Micah 6:8, “this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The Lord is whispering to us today and encouraging us to get it right. To pursue a righteous life. To live a godly life. To do so the way that He tells us to, a life defined by “faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” I think the word “perseverance” is tucked in there to remind us that there will be hard days, trials and tests, and those when our strength gives out making us ready to throw in the towel. You are pregnant with promises today that are worth having. So much so that the enemy is pressuring you to give up, give in, and just quit. I cannot imagine being pregnant more than 42 weeks as that is the longest pregnancies that I endured. A giraffe carries her promise for 15 months and some animals even longer. Whatever God’s Promise is for your life, it comes with a process and prescribed time. You must only endure and preserve for the reality of God’s Promise to be revealed. Faith must be our confident when waiting for that which we hope for to come. To abandon the process of pregnancy is abortion. To abandon the process of love is to end our future with the Lord. It is His Commandment to us. It is His Mandate on our life. Every other attempt to serve Him absent of love is pointless. Love is the most difficult thing to maintain. Jesus warned us that love would grow colder. It does each day. It is the love within us that makes us a new creation and our life offering incense to God. My faith is in the Love of God and His Faithfulness to me. My confidence is that His Love never fails and nothing can separate me from Him. It is from this faith and confidence that the Lord makes us new creations who can love unselfishly just because He loves us.

Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

 

Grab a Shovel

grab a shovel

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT)  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

A visiting minister was sharing his heart on faith and prosperity to our congregation. He spoke of the intangible and tangible blessings of God that is the inheritance of God’s Children. He said, “People pray for God to move mountains but refuse to ever pick up a shovel.” His words made me chuckle audibly quickly looking around to see if anyone heard me. I have been at this whole faith thing a while. Just when I think I have it all together, I realize that I have only just begun. It is an adventure now. Deep cries out to deep so I swim a little farther until my feet can no longer touch and I call out to my Savior to come and get me. He calls me a little higher and as I quickly step up – I realize in my flesh that I really am not a fan of heights and my fear of falling reaches for God to catch me. Hebrews 12 reminds us that the raceway is crowded with many witnesses. In the midst of the great cloud of witnesses is an enemy who wants to get me tangled in worthless words and caught up in bold-faced lies. His response to my faith is to remind me of every insecurity that is hidden in my thoughts. To tell me that I am not good enough, missed the mark, or will fail like before. But I have been in this race for a while now, and what I have discovered is just about the time that I am grow weak or weary yet decide to take just one more step – that tiny seed of faith in my heart grows just a little bit bigger.

The Lord has planted a seed in our heart from the very beginning. Ecclesiastes 3 – it tells us that God put eternity in our heart. If it were complete it would not be hidden, but before the Lord tells us this secret – His Word holds true – God has made everything beautiful in its own time. Time. The most precious commodity given to humanity but so often wasted on useless and ordinary things. I find it a bit ironic that in all the places this could have been put in the Word of God that He chose to scribe it in Ecclesiastes. Written by the one who asked for wisdom to whom it was granted and who wasted in on many futile endeavors in this life. God has planted eternity in our heart. We will journey through life to eternity. We have been given absolute freedom in our relationship with Jesus Christ to do with it what we will. But what I am discovering as time goes by is that if I am not carefully many seeds will never be given the opportunity to grow not because I do not have them or they are being watered but I do not have any faith in the process.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

Growth is a process. It takes an investment or sacrifice if you will. The seed must die to its presence forth to release the hidden potential inside. For the believer, death gives way to life. Resurrection power is demonstrated in each seed that is planted with the promise of harvest. God did not limit seed time and harvest to the earth but through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers us to experience rapid and expansive growth in every area of our life that is committed to sowing and reaping including the hidden growth process called faith. As faith becomes confident, it increases our life. All areas of our natural, physical, emotional and spiritual life are open to God’s Reproductive Process called Prosperity – with no limitation to increase and growth.

Though so simple, people cannot seem to grasp the concept of seedtime and harvest in every area of life. We claim to have faith but our actions tell on us. We profess to belief yet our lives do not emit the Glory of God or Goodness of the Father. It is no wonder that the church buildings are empty. Congregations closing down. Who wants a disempowered god or disloyal parent? Life is full of disappointment. Hope never leads to disappointment but is it the harvest of our life? Those who sow will reap. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who sow generously will reap generously. Every area of my life should prosper because the seed of God’s Word has been planted in my heart. It is watered as I seek the Lord and choose to follow Christ. Where is the increase that He has promised? Why are there areas of lack in my life? The Body of Christ will never be attract to lost and dying people if there is nothing to offer them. If following Christ leads only to more disappointment, why bother? Intentional faith plants seeds in every area of life. Faith waits for the seed to die and begin to grow. Faith oversees the field and waits for the harvest.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

God provides seed for the farmer and bread to eat. The difference between disappointment and satisfaction is defined by expectation. Every day is filled with expectation. Hope never leads to disappointment based on the fact that God dearly loves us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Are you rich? Wealth comes in many forms from wisdom down to finances. Are you satisfied? God has placed eternity in our heart. To settle for anything less than complete fulfillment is to leave that seed unsown in our life. Ordinary and natural outcomes are for those who sow sparingly. Extraordinary and supernatural who make it a point to put every seed in the fertile furrows of our heart expecting God to make it grow rather than abandoning the field to eat the scraps under another man’s table.

Why would the Lord command us to be generous and then withhold the resources to fulfill that command? It just doesn’t sound like the God I know. Yet, there are areas in my life that I have not been sowing into. When our son was battling cancer, my faith was completely focused on sowing seeds of healing. I was continually studying, praying and exercising my faith in that area of God’s Plan. So much so, that I now have total trust and confident hope in the Lord when it comes to healing – medically, miraculously and mercifully. However, at the end of his fight and entrance to remission, I realized I had put it all out there. Like an athlete who won the Super Bowl or World Series, the morning after was a little rough. Celebrating victory and realizing that I had just left it all on the field. God gave me time to recover but then immediately started pressing my heart. Faith is not just for healing. It is not just for one thing in our life but God has given us faith to prosper our life and lead us to confident hope that completes us so we will lack nothing. I have been able to share our son’s story including his victory and our experience related to faith in Christ freely and openly because it is worth sharing and I believe it to be true. Faith and confident hope can never be given to others until you have a supply from which to give.

Matthew 13:3 (NLT) “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.”

Going back to Genesis 1:28 where God blessed humanity to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and govern it.” It was no small order. God blessed us. He gave us the ability to be fruitful and multiply. The gift of increase was given to us in our DNA. From the very beginning, the reproductive gene is in our body, mind and soul. It is not just in physical reproduction but when Jesus gave us His Spirit – it was with the promise of spiritual reproduction as well. We pray “may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom. Grace empowers us in our weakness. Like a seed planted in the ground, the more of our life invested in Christ the higher the dividends across the board.

Matthew 13 is all about planting and harvesting. Reading it today, I discovered four seeds that it eludes to. These are the seeds that grow into harvests worth having in life. Matthew 13:18-23 is the harvest of the heart. God’s Word is planted in our heart but the condition of our heart determines its ability to reproduce. A soft, fertile heart is conducive to successful harvests. ”Good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Before any other area of my life will produce a harvest, it must begin in my heart. I must believe that God is able and will do everything that He promised. I have been guilty of being the one who lets thorns get in the way. Worries and cares of life that overtake my heart and mind. Well, not anymore. I have experienced the productivity of faith and decided to dig up those things that are not worth of faith and trust to replace them with good seed that promotes constant growth.

The seed of Heaven is covered in Matthew 13:24-29. God has given us a plan. A good plan that leads to prosperity as our soul prospers. We must only seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If my treasure is heaven, there the desires of my heart will be as well. (Matthew 6:21) Once my heart is set on heaven every other increase in my life is blessed. Prosperity is not the problem. Riches, power and influence do not have the ability to change a person’s heart. They magnify what is in that heart. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow. If having more leads only to disappointment, then the heart was not set on heaven in the first place. God will grow good things from good seeds in our life naturally and supernaturally. Hope is the only thing that does not lead to disappointment.

The seed of hope is found in the Parable of the Mustard Seed. When a person comes to Jesus, the measure of faith hidden in our heart is discovered. To take this teeny, tiny seed and plant it is to release our life from human expectation and seek something greater. I believe this is the turning point of harvesting and increase in a person’s life. The realization that I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me and the grace that Jesus has given me. It is at that moment, heaven and earth connect as the Keys to the Kingdom are used to unlock God’s Hidden Treasure kept safe for us. The handle to the shovel that breaks the ground to bury our faith is marked with “obedience”. The head on the end of that handle is embossed with the word “trust”. God is faithful. What you sow you will reap. When we allow our heart to become fertile and accept God’s Word then begin to seek the Kingdom of Heaven something begins to grow in us as our roots grow into God’s Love. Suddenly, we begin to prosper as our soul prospers. Life is good. Things are getting better. But we must not and cannot stop here…we must keep digging, planting, and harvesting.

The seed of harvest is one that is probably the most difficult to press for so God allows testing, trials, and troubles to apply a certain pressure to our life. The faith discovered in the trial of cancer for our family meant applying all that we had learned about it and putting it all on the line for our son’s life. To say, I trust you God no matter what. At the end, I wasn’t sure I could venture out on faith much farther and stepped back for a moment. Seeds in the ground must die to self to grow. However, if we do not abandon the field, quit or give up – there will be a harvest far greater than we can think about, pray for or even imagine. After a period of rest, the Lord has challenged me. He has put the shovel back in my hand and challenged me to dig some fresh holes and plant more seed. In fact, our life is filled with all kinds of wonderful and valuable seeds that are overlooked because of all the cares and worries that fill our busy lives.

The mentality of just enough seems noble but God says He is the God of more than enough. The last thing the enemy wants us to do is plant seeds and cover them with faith. As the Body of Christ become consistent and confident farmers of God’s Word, the Glory of God will begin to shine from a church full of believers who lend and not borrow, become the head and no longer the tail, are independent of the world’s fluxes in economy or do not trend with society. They are confident in their God who supplies all of their needs as evidenced in the harvest of their life. Complaints are silenced by completeness. Flaws are filled by fulfillment. Who could resist a God who does not lie or change His Mind, but blessed His People as evidenced in their prosperous lives? We cannot offer revival until we experience it. As our soul prospers so will the church.

Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

As I am challenged today, I am asking you to pick up the shovel and begin planting seed in your life again. What area is lacking? It is the perfect place to plant. Where is dissatisfaction or disappointment? Dig into God’s Word and find His Solution – plant it in that barren field and watch what the Lord will do. It is God’s Will for us to prosper and experience increase in every single area of our life. We are His Children. He is a Good Father. His Kingdom is filled with a priceless inheritance with your name on it. It cannot be stolen or taken unjustly but those who faithfully plant God’s Word in their life will have a harvest. The Lord is bound by His Word. It cannot and will not return void. It will do exactly what He said it will do if we trust Him enough to plant it in our life and wait for it to grow. Survey your life. Take inventory of your heart. Grab a shovel and begin to dig up the hard areas that have been overgrown by doubt and disbelief. Water it with His Word. Plant that promise and wait for it to grow. Sow some seed. Real seed. Tangible seed in that area. God is faithful. It will always grow!

2 Corinthians 9:6 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 

The Next Step

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Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Since my mom had open heart surgery, I have made a several trips back and forth to check on her. A few years ago, my parents bought a new house in a community just outside of the city limits of their former city. Thankfully my phone has a map application that gives me step by step directs how to get from my driveway to their front door. When I plug in their address, it gives me options to choose regarding my route. There are many ways to get to their home. I can choose the fastest route which means at some point I will take the busy interstate. There is the option of the completely rural route with winding back roads which takes a while longer. I can choose a combination of both if I would like. Once I choose a route, the nifty little helper will let me know if there is an accident or traffic jam up ahead and an alternative route to avoid the congestion. If I choose it, the device will reroute me so I can keep moving. When I complete a turn, it gives me the next step in the instructions. As I proceed, it will give me indications of the remaining distance at certain increments. As I approach the next turn, it will begin to countdown even measuring it in feet until the kind voice tells me to turn here.

I remember when the original Global Positioning Systems first arrived on the market. They were a bit hit or miss and not nearly as accurate as they are now. As of February 2016, there are 32 orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. In order to obtain accurate information, at least three of those must be able to measure a single user’s position accurately. The advance of such technology is incredibly fascinating and a bit disturbing to think that this is constantly monitoring each person’s human activity according to the device that is a dependency in this day and age. What would we do without the directions of our GPS traveling through life? I have forgotten what it is like to pull out a map and try to discern my direction. I am completely dependent on map application in my phone.

Today I am praying about my some important steps in my life. Oh how nice it would be if the Holy Spirit worked like my navigation system in my phone. If an audible voice would come across the car radio telling me when to turn, go straight or reroute because of danger up ahead. The Lord is a still small voice. He directs our steps but just like the tracking system allows us to choose the direction to take. If the voice grows silent, it is human nature to wonder if somehow we are lost. Have I missed you God? Did I make a wrong turn? Have I miss-stepped missing your plan and now fully engaged in my own? These are questions that I am asking myself today to be fully transparent. I do not want to take another step if it is not by His Design.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall. He holds them by the hand. Looking back at Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the water by faith, it is clear that his faith was not yet big enough for the journey. Yet later in the midst of his booming ministry, he offers these words, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21) I think when Peter stepped out of the boat that he expected the Lord to carry him safely across the water. But what he learned is that each step to Jesus requires faith, not in the current conditions of our life but total trust that even when we fall, face hardship or don’t know where to step next – the Lord is holding our hand. Faith will not allow us to necessarily “see” the next step but allows us to walk on water for those who believe. Believe that Jesus is in each step of life – He is the Way Maker.

Exodus 20:24-26 (NLT) “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

Plugging the desired destination into my time with the Lord today, I came across the passage tucked right after the Ten Commandments. The section was labeled, “Proper Use of Altars”. Our purpose in life is always to find our way to worship the Lord with all of our heart. To follow Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13) and seek His Kingdom above all other things. (Matthew 6:33) How we get there is mandated by the Lord, but we are free to choose our path. God is in each step. To reach the Promise and obtain the Kingdom, my feet must always be pointed toward the altar of God, pursuing His Presence and taking steps toward total surrender and submission. Surrender is to our Savior and submission is for our Lord.

“Build for me an altar of earth…” As I journey with the Lord, God has provided everything I need for proper worship in my present life. We do not have to make it up as we go along or try to do anything ourselves. Jesus Christ did it all on the Cross. “Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered…” God promises to come and bless those who live a life of identification with the Presence of God in each footfall. God is always pursing us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness. (Psalm 23:6) As long as my want and desire is His Kingdom and I am committed to Christ – God will bless me each time I stop and worship Him. To stop what I am doing and build an altar (worship) is to develop a consistent life of worship as the Holy Spirit cultivates faith in us helping it to grow. “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones.” Religion can allow us to think that we can rework the pattern of worship predetermined by God which is just not the case. My ability to worship is innate. The right to worship fruitfully is a product of grace alone. I cannot make my worship anything of worth. Worshipping the Lord is an absolute surrender of my Will, Way and Works to the Cross to be covered in His Blood and made acceptable to God. It does not in any way influence God’s Love and Acceptance of me. This is completed start to finish by the Work of Christ on the Cross. This is simply how I choose to serve Him the Master of my life. Finally, “do not approach my altar by going up the steps. If you do, someone might look under your clothing and see your nakedness.” Humility allows me to walk God. Nothing more or less. If I ever come to the place that I feel somewhat entitled or think I have reached a higher level of saving grace, I have lost my way.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Many steps have added up to where I am today in this moment. Yet the sum total does not equal my expectation. As I sit and think upon God’s Word concerning the next step in my life, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to be where He is. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to do what is good. To do what He requires. To do what is right. I don’t want to move a single inch if it is away from Jesus. Today I am building an altar in this place, I am waiting for Him to come. To cleanse my heart and clear my mind. I don’t need to see the next step as long as I can hold His Hand all the way to the other side. There is pain in this process. Fighting hurt and discouragement every moment of the day. Yet standing here looking forward, I know that God is in every single step that I take and delights when I choose godliness.

Proverbs 2:20-21 (NLT) So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

Reading today, I revisited Joshua in the moments before crossing the Jordan. All those years and miles of journeying to the Promise Land culminated in these final moments. (Joshua 3) The exodus was over and now it was time to enter in. The only thing between the Israelites and their promise was the surging Jordan River. God had a plan. The waters did not recede before they arrived or because they prayed. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” They had to get their feet wet. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but the Lord will not show you the next step until you take the first step of obedience and trust in His Word. Psalm119:133 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome with evil.” It is not enough to just read God’s Word but it must become the guide for each step. We can plan our next fifteen steps from here to what we want and desire, but the moment I cry out to the Lord to have His Way all that changes because He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6) I cannot get to God expect through Jesus. My steps must line up with His Steps and follow His Way.

Proverbs 14:12-16 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward. Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Finally, there are some pitfalls to avoid as we walk in step with Jesus today. We must not be caught up in being right but being righteous. Rightness is driven by pride. Righteousness is the fulfillment of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. My heart must be in it. All of my heart must be invested in this journey. My heart cannot remain heavy laden with all the burdens and cares that Christ has requested yet still think I have the strength to move one step closer to Him. Backsliders get what they deserve. I cannot entertain sin. To do so is to rebel against God. The thought that I am doing all these things right so I am better than anyone else is false. To go about God’s Work my own way is wrong. The only way to keep from falling is to hold His Hand firmly. We must be prudent in pursing the Truth. The Word of God is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I will not get through to the Promise without God’s Word and His Spirit to guide me. Finally, we must carefully consider each step in life. Commit the one’s not clear to prayer. Don’t move until God lights up the way. Be patient and enduring when we just want to escape and run away. As I sit and think about all these things, I have peace that God has considered my next step and is clearing the way. I just have to surrender my way to have His Way.

Psalm 43:3-4(NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

My prayer today is for the Lord to send out His Light and His Truth to guide my next step. To lead me to the place where He is and to where He lives because that is where I long to be. This is the place of worship that I need to be and the place He has reserved just for me. This earth and the things in it are temporary so I must focus on the eternal. Forever. When I read about David today in 2 Samuel 6:12-16, he was in the process bringing the Ark of God – His Presence back to the city. The priests and David stopped every six steps to offer a sacrifice to God and David danced before the Lord. The life of worship is in each step. What might happen if I stopped looking for the whole staircase and took a single step wearing it out with my worship and treading it with praise. I may not be certain but my God is for sure. Life is to be lived in each step. Each one is important. It is worthy of an altar. It is worthy of my Lord. Lord, lead me.

Psalm 73:23-25 (NLT) Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.  Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

Days Like This

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Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

There have been many crossroads in my spiritual life when the edge of Heaven and reality of life come so close it causes goosebumps to rise on my arm and neck hair to stand at attention but today is one of those days. In a month given to the slightly spooky, sometimes the spiritual realm can be a bit scary though it shouldn’t be. In all fairness, sometimes it can be made into something that it is not. Overly emotional and exaggerated stories make people avoid it altogether. The truth is that God wants to communicate with us. The Lord lives in us to commune and communicate with us. He will speak to others to confirm what He is doing in our life. This has happened many times in the course of my spiritual life. Sometimes it is for the immediate situation, but most often it is for a future time and makes little sense.

A well-respected and dedicated Christian man had a dream about my husband and I not too long ago. It was of a spiritual nature and his heart would not relent until he shared it with us. I wrote it down and prayed that the Lord would have His Way. Well, the dream has come to pass. Not exactly as detailed but specifically as recorded. The dream was about the narrow road. Although we were on it, my husband and I would be “bitten” along the way by the enemy. It has happened. The good news is that in the end – we win and make a full recovery. I wish that I could say this is comforting but who welcomes trials or pain for that matter? No one really. The better news that fills me with hope is that it indicated us to be on the “narrow road” going in the right direction.

Sometimes in our Christian life, though we are trying to “do” all the right things, it is sometimes unclear if we are going through the right gate and on the narrow road. Wrapped up in church, religion, doctrine and spiritual social acceptability, it is difficult to see the forest for the trees, the gate for the fences, and the road in the midst of pavement. The Word of God is clearly defined. The Holy Spirit will lead us in all truth. We must become dedicated to the narrow road and finding the gate – Jesus Christ. Religion must give way to relationship because this path to the Kingdom of God is not the popular way but a very particular lifestyle.

Psalm 100:3-5 (NIV) Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Today I know that the Lord is God. Do I believe it? If so, I must trust Him enough that when I am not sure where He is leading that I will still go. When the road gets so small and not so clearly defined that I am willing to stand on faith. I must enter His Gates with thanksgiving and His Courts with praise even when the next step seems overwhelming. The farther I go in my Christian walk the less I understand and the more trust is required. I know that God is good. I know that His Love endures. I believe that His Faithfulness continues even when mine is a bit weak.

Psalm 107:15-16 (NIV) Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.

Reading this today, I am reminded that when I enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise not dependent on my condition or circumstances that the Lord will break down the natural barriers, gates and bars of life. He will fight for me if I fight to maintain my faith in Him. It is all about faith. It will always be about faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Gate. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him.

John 10:7-10 (NIV) Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The road is narrow. The gate is small. There are not a variety of ways to the Kingdom or even into the Presence of God. Jesus Christ is the Only Way. He is our Righteousness. It is His Faithfulness that allows us to have faith. Everything in our life must be channeled through Him. Especially our wait times, chaotic episodes and those days when nothing makes sense.

It’s funny that I believe this may be for a lot of people today because I have been stopped from continuing about thirty times. So I hope if you are where I am today, on the narrow road at a definite standstill and trying to pass through the gate that just seems too small to pass that you will be encouraged to keep trying. Keep pressing. Keep pushing. You cannot give up because what is on the other side of the gate and the end of this road is worth it. Jesus is totally worth every pain, hardship, trial and trouble endured to be with Him.

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV) Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Mama said that there would be days like this…okay maybe it is our Father who said it too! On those days when you have done all to stand and are standing, it is our belief that God is good and He is faithful that will keep us on the right track until the gate swings open allowing us to pass to the next pasture or the next step in the road rises up to meet our feet. The Lord is fighting for us. He is with us. He will never let the righteous fall. Those who choose the narrow path will not be forsaken even when they fall. The ones who decide the Highway of Holiness is for them will never lose their way. Be strong, friend. Do not fear. We win. Our victory has a name – Jesus. It is for an appointed time which means that it will come. Sometimes dreams seem like nightmares until the hero comes. We have a hero. His Name is Jesus.

Isaiah 35: 8-10 (NIV) And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Beating a Dead Horse

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Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

“Beating a dead horse” is to bring up an issue that has already been concluded, something that has been considered to be pointless. If an argument erupts and it is the one previously settled, often people will say that “you are beating a dead horse”. This phrase is thought to have originated in horse racing. The animals are often “beaten” during a race to push them harder and make them move faster. The jockey will use a riding crop to slap the horse on the thigh in an effort to get the horse to respond to get to the finish line securing the victory. So you can see the irony in “beating a dead horse” it is not going anywhere therefore it is futile to keep hitting it.

You are probably thinking to yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with the narrow road and small gate that leads to life”? I will be the first to admit God speaks to me in mysterious ways sometimes. I guess the truth is if I knew the direction our conversation was going and didn’t like what it meant, I would probably change the subject or just lie down all together. I have a stubborn nature that takes God’s Will and Way often trying twist and turn it a little to be more comfortable and convenient. There is but one way. I know, I know I struggle in that too many times wanting God to consider my way that usually requires a little less of me and a whole more of Him. God will not relent in His Persistent Love for us. His Plan is perfect and needs no tweaks by us. What the Lord desires of us is faithful obedience to get from where we are to the wonderful things He has for us. We need only follow His Direction.

Well, that seems to be a consistent problem for God’s People dating back to the Garden of Eden. When given only one rule and a plethora of rights – humanity chose to disobey the only rule. It is that “one thing” or “what if” that often drives us from the narrow path of faithfulness and small gate called obedience to settle for lesser things and compromise in life. Something in us rises up when told “no” or “don’t” or “go this way” – why is it that it is that very thing we desire? As the road gets narrow, our options are fewer. Our flesh hates that so we tend to deviate just a little. Nudging the lines of obedience and fudging a little on faithfulness sure that the Lord will let us slide this one time on the grease called grace.

Numbers 22:23-28 (NIV) When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam was a prophet who heard from the Lord but had not given his heart to God. The Children of Israel had moved into Canaan and the King of Moab, Balak, summoned Balaam to curse them and drive them out. But God objected as it was His Plan to bless them. When he declined, Balak summoned Balaam again this time with an even greater reward. God told Balaam, “You must not put a curse on those people because they are blessed.” This time the Lord told him, “Go with them, but do only what I tell you.” Hello flesh! Seriously this is like a red flag in front of an angry bull. Anytime that we feel restricted or restrained, it is human nature to rebel.

Although we find out later that Balaam never had a change of heart, we can still learn from his example along the “narrow” way. On his way with the Moabites, Balaam cannot see the angel of the Lord ready to kill him but his donkey can. The angel stands at the narrow point of the pathway. When the animal stops to save his master, Balaam becomes angry and beats the donkey. The donkey responds by continuing the journey. The angel moves down to the “narrow” place.” The donkey sees him and stops again to save his master who in return beats him again. This will happen one more time before the donkey says enough is enough and begins to speak to Balaam whose eyes are opened to see the death angel in the “narrow” place.

What does this story have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 7:13-14 or the story of Balaam? Everything. It is all about the narrow path, road or gate. We want to get to Heaven… our way. We want to please God… our way. We want to serve the Lord… our way. When all along the only way to get to God the Father is through His Son who is called the WAY. (John 14:6) We cannot have the blessings of God without doing it His Way. His Way is not broad and general but narrow and specific. Everyone thinks that serving the Lord will lead to greater acquisitions in our natural life but I believe it is in the complete yielding of our life that we can be saved, healed, delivered and set free to enter the Gate that is narrow.

The donkey resisted three times and got the daylights beat out of him as we say in the south. He finally was given the ability to speak reminding his owner of his faithful service and inquiring about such harsh punishment. When Balaam’s eyes were opened and he could see the angel – he knew that the irritating, stubborn and belligerent animal was really sacrificing his life for his master. The angel of the Lord would have killed Balaam had the donkey not stopped or turned away. As a believer who is serving the Lord with your life, there will be times when our life does not add up to God’s Plan. When experiencing some difficulties or irritations, we must evaluate the direction and ways of our life.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Way of God is narrow because the Will of God is perfect. There is no need for deviation because it id divine and distinct leaving no margin for error or omission. Human beings are not perfect. We need grace and lots of it. The more narrow the road the more evident our need for God’s Grace to maneuver. Three times seems to be consistent in our passages today. The irritations, difficulties, setbacks and curveballs in life may just be God’s Grace making its way to us as we attempt to live our way and do our own thing with the delusion that it will produce prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Balaam was looking for a tangible reward. He would find it in the end as he gave in to his evil heart. God intervened by ultimately Balaam chose a broader path and wide open gate to fulfill his heart’s desire.

When we experience hardship and weakness in life, it is simply because the Lord is doing His Part to keep us on the proper path and headed in the right direction. The narrower the road becomes the more we need His Grace. The more of His Grace we get the stronger we become in our faith and trust in God the Father through Jesus His Son. The path is narrow because God is perfect. It is built to lead us to righteousness and fulfillment in God that is perfect! Just because you are experiencing weakness, insults, hardship, persecution, difficulty doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong path but it could just mean you are closer to breakthrough than ever before.

Balaam kept lashing out at his donkey when he could not see the danger in his way. We do the same thing when faced with irritation sometimes reacting to our condition rather than responding with faith. To trust the Lord is to walk by faith and not by sight. Balaam knew of God and was used by God but He did not love the Lord withholding his heart. We must daily examine our heart and life for signs and symptoms of rebellion, stubbornness and spiritual blindness. Instead of beating dead horses, we must check for signs of life. Life in our words, deeds and actions that keep us on the right path.

Psalm 16:11 (NIV) You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

If you want your way today, the Lord will let you take it. He will continue in each step to attempt to reveal Himself to you. The Lord will make the path of life known to you. It will be the road less traveled. It will require letting some things (okay maybe a lot of things) go in our life to take hold of His Hand and walk humbly with the Lord. He is leading us to better things if we will let go of the past including our will, our way and our wants to fully embrace His Will for our life. It may not be easy. It will always be worth it. You cannot rush God. He does everything in His Timing. This life is worthless and meaningless outside of knowing our Lord and Savior and walking in His Ways. Are you tired and weary today? Frustrated and worn? Give it all to Jesus and He will show you the better way. The way of rest is only found when we give Him our burdens allowing faith to produce peace and rest. When we give up our way to fully embrace His Way, we will find what we are looking for and pleasures evermore.

Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Rain is Coming

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Hebrews 11:6-7 (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. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Living in Florida, one becomes accustomed to the humidity. When my sister moved to Nebraska many years ago, her body acclimated to the weather up there that is much drier than the tropical conditions of the south. On her visits, the intensity of the humidity was much worse because she isn’t used to it anymore. It doesn’t take very long. Our daughter moved to New Hampshire just over a year ago and feels the same way. The environment has changed and their bodies have adapted to the conditions around them. It is human nature to conform to the world in which we live as a means of survival. God didn’t create humanity to survive but made us to thrive.

Life is full of the unexpected. It has many twists and turns along the way, not to mention all of the distractions. Storms come and go. The road of life is filled with peaks and valleys – highs and lows. Yet in all the change there is one constant. God is constant. He is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word for my life is relevant, true and enduring – no matter how many times I mess up. His Grace is always enough for me. It is sufficient in my failures. He is all that I need to successfully navigate this life and reach Eternity. Yet there are days when the rain drowns out the sound of His Voice because I am afraid to get wet. There are times when the conditions call my attention to my physical state rather than relying on the New Creation that I am becoming.

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. (Romans 12:2) My life is not a call of conformity but a promise of transformation into a new person. I must change the way that I think and learn God’s Will for my life. His Will is pleasing and perfect. It is my belief and full expectation of God’s Faithfulness that allows me to endure the rain to see His Harvest in my life. It is my destiny. It is the covenant that I live in. Lord, I know the rain is coming. I can feel it in the air of my spirit. I can smell it all around me. Make me faithful like Noah. Lord, transform me.

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. It is impossible to please God without faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Our faith in God allows us to be transformed by Him giving way for the substance of our life to be changed and reformed by His Love, Grace and Mercy. Faith makes my life pliant and compliant. It transfers my belief from what I can see to what I know is true. This is important. Why? Into each life some rain must fall. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Genesis 6:9 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

The account of Noah begins in Genesis 6. Noah was righteous. He was the only blameless person living on the earth. Note: it refers directly to Noah and not his whole family. Your righteousness and faithfulness can be the salvation of your entire family. He walked in close fellowship with God. God was sorry that He ever created mankind and decided to flood the earth and rid it of people altogether. All except for Noah and his family. (vs 11-13) The Lord had already made the way for Noah and his family to be saved and recreate the world for their future. God told Noah what to do and Noah did it. The task was overwhelming. The Lord did not bring anyone alongside of Noah to assist and partner with him. It was all up to one man, God’s man to get the job done. Funny in the tests of faith – that we find ourselves all alone even when surrounded by many people. Noah had a relationship with the Lord long before the flood. His faith already evident so that when the Lord told him to build the ark in the sunshine of day – Noah did it.

Genesis 6:22 (NLT) So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Genesis 7:5 (NLT) So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 8:15-20 (NLT) Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.” So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.

Noah was a faithful man. He did everything as the Lord God commanded him exactly as God indicated. His faith would be the vessel (or boat if you will) that saved his family. Noah’s faithfulness was not based on his current condition or the surrounding circumstances but consistent through every season and change in his life. He was 600 years old when he entered the ark and 601 when he exited. He did not complain of a year wasted but came prepared to worship God when he arrived.

Those who walk in close fellowship with the Lord cannot help but worship Him. Noah was that man. I want to be that woman. God’s Response is noted in verses 21 and 22. “And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Did you know that in every season, change, trial, hardship and pain that we endure faithfully that God will always release His Blessing? He cannot help Himself. Our faith opens the windows of Heaven. His Outpouring is the rain that washes us clean and prepares the way for us to not just survive but thrive on the earth. What is the blessing of the flood? Prosperity. God blessed the earth and commanded seedtime and harvest so that whatsoever we plant we will reap.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT) “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Could you really blame God if He went back on His Word and destroyed the earth today? The sick depravity of our culture and abased state of society even the tainted form called church could be easily destroyed in its utter demise. Sin is rampant and love is cold. We are living in the end days. The rain is coming. Are we building a life that will be a worthy vessel to crossover to the future found in Him? Thank you Jesus for the fact that you are constant, do not lie and never change your mind about us. I would. Your Faithful Love is forever. My faith in you must live as such.

Paul described the struggle best in Romans 7 when he wrote – “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” The struggle is real. My faith must be intact and worthy of sailing through the violent storms and torrential rain to carry me from everlasting to everlasting. But it is not about me, I cannot build anything worthwhile in my life because sin is always attacking it. I must rely on Jesus to become the vessel of my life that carries me through every trial and hardship. I must strive to do what He says when He says it in spite of me. The Word of God tells us that those who put their hand to the plow and look back are not fit for the Kingdom. I wonder if it is the same for those of us that hear the command to build a firm foundation of faith but choose to put our hand out to feel for rain first.

Luke 17:26-27 (NLT) “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

The isolation of obedience driven by a life of faith means ignoring what we see to act on what we know about God. It can sometimes make you feel a little crazy. Everyone else is doing their own thing, enjoying life but you are in a field alone hammering away at a boat to sail in a storm that is not yet seen. You feel conviction that compels you to press on obeying God’s Word and doing exactly as He commands yet the enemy taunts you from the sidelines. Faith seems so illogical sometimes and probably will right up until we meet Jesus face-to-face. It is still the only way to please God. What is the Lord telling you to do today? Is He telling you to do something crazy like build an ark for an imaginary flood? Faith is telling you to do but human nature is calling you a fool. Build the ark, my friend. The rain is coming. Keep pounding away at the foundation of your life until it is completely reliant on the Word, Will and Way of Jesus Christ. It not for you, do it for your family. God is faithful. Jesus is coming. The rest is up to you and me.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Almost Home

Almost Home

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

At this very moment, everything that we own is packed in one very big U-Haul truck, an equally large covered trailer, scattered among a number of automobiles, and our family housed with friends. It is a very distinct and odd perception to see everything that you own consolidated like that. It is humbling as well. It seems small for the investment of our life the contents and possessions that we accumulate. Furniture, once bought brand new, reveals its imperfections when emptied and moved more than a decade later. Clothes you haven’t worn in years are carried to another place in mounds. All those things that seemed so important unceremoniously stacked all around in an effort to move it to the next destination. Last night my husband reminded me for the evening that essentially we were homeless.

Transition is never. In the natural or spiritual sense, it is hard and uncomfortable. Today, an old chapter ends and a new one begins. Yet still I will not be home in every sense of the word because this place that I live is not my permanent home. I have a better more fulfilling place to look forward to. It is important in life to gain this perspective from time to time. To see our life not by where we are now, but where we are going. To see the treasures of this earth and their deteriorating state, to remember that this is only temporary so that the Lord can remind us that He has given us freedom to live for so much more.

Though moving less than an hour from our previous home, it seems like it is taking an eternity to complete this journey that began about a year ago. The day that I walked in a church and the Lord set my heart ablaze again. I cannot explain how God works all the time. I just know that when we choose to love Him that He never stops working on our behalf even when we give up, give out, or just can’t take another step. In the challenges of life, it is not always easy to offer a continual sacrifice of praise verbally but our willingness to continue this journey home even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and just plain hard is praise in and of itself. We are on a pilgrimage not to a new earthly destination but we live our life in full pursuit of God and His Kingdom. Our allegiance is to King Jesus so therefore everything that I have, will have, want or discover is homage to Him as Lord of my life or at least it should be.

I am trying not to complain in my discomfort. I really do not want to balk at the inconvenience. I know that God is moving us to better things and for His Purpose. The enemy has made it clear that he wants to stop our movement and hinder all progress. To God be the Glory this is not my permanent home, therefore the temporary trials cannot stop me. Life in perspective is a good thing when we look down from where the Lord is seating and take it for what it is worth which is far more than the contents of our life that fills trucks, homes and businesses. It is the One who fills our heart.

John 1:14 (NLT) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

God’s People just couldn’t get it. Pilgrimages and journeys could not change their perspective on God and His Faithfulness. Unable to see the forest for the trees, God sent His Son Jesus to us so we could see His Word come to life. Jesus came to make His Home among us. To find a way from outside of us to live in our hearts. People proved to be a tough crowd. Jesus loved us and died for us just the same because God our Father and Jesus the Son could not image life without us eternally. God loves you. Do you believe that today? The perception of your life and circumstances would change dramatically if only we could somehow grasp the sheer magnitude of the Father’s Love. To live too far gone to turn back now…kind of like we are today.

The Word of God in our heart should promote our heavenward progression. In our daily determination to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ, it should always be evident that our purpose in life is God’s Word that has made His Home not just with us but in us! In this state of being unsettled that I am currently in, I am acutely aware that God is working doing more than I can think or ask. I sense His Spirit urging me gently on as the task ahead seems so overwhelming. Life is full of transitions, however; if our relationship with Jesus does not progress as His Word grows into a prospering soul – what have we gained.

John 14:23-26 (NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Yesterday afternoon, there were more than a few challenges associated with our move and closing on the new house. Details that could have derailed us completely. Frustrations that could have ended in defeat. Constant opportunities to throw in the towel and just give up except for one small fact – I believe that God told us to make this move. Driving to our friend’s house last night, I could feel the pity party starting and was determined to fight the urge to begin the chorus of complaints. I just did not think that after all the Lord has done for me behaving like Hezekiah would be appropriate either by reminding the Lord of all that “I” have done for Him. How could I? So instead, I just reminded the Lord of His Word both written and spoken to me. My circumstances did not change. My attitude did.

I love Jesus. I try to do what He says. I face opposition on a daily basis. The Lord has made His Home in my heart and given me the Holy Spirit as a helper. I have everything I need in this life to live like I am at home with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that things always go the way that I think they should or how I would like them, too. Just because God said it does not mean that He will immediately do it. It is in this nomadic journey called life that I discover the true potential and fulfillment of Christ in me rather than what I have around me.

2 Corinthians 5:5-8 (NLT) God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Just like every other step closer to the Lord and His Will for me, each one is just as challenging as the one before. My life is filled with purpose and potential written by the Hand of God. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in my heart. His Spirit fills me and surrounds my life with His Fruit. In every patch of my existence surrendered to the Lord, there is prosperity. It is times like this I can dig a little deeper in my heart to find a fertile place for the Word of God to grow some more. It is in my displacement and discomfort that I see even here in the midst of chaos that He is with me, in me and working for me not against me. We must live as temporary residents faithful to a timeless and limitless God. How do we do that? By being pushed beyond our comfort to find rest in the Lord. To be moved past complacency as not to die in this place but life in His Presence for His Glory. Not a single that I have will give me greater joy and peace than Christ who lives in me but how will I know that unless I see things as they are – the reality of this life is that what we have is worthless compared to knowing Jesus and asking Him to make Himself at home in our heart.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

When our kids were smaller and we would go on trips, they would begin the chorus of “are we there yet” sometimes minutes on our way. One would ask and then another might join for good measure. I would begin my response of “almost” which continued into reaching our destination. I know that there are days I cry out to the Lord the very same thing. Challenged to trust His Timing and determined to end disbelief, I want to welcome His Way, His Word and His Will in my life. My flesh likes comfort but commitment is born of sacrifice. I am stubborn by nature but God is looking for a soft and pliant heart to welcome His Seed and let it grow in my life. I must continue to trust that the Lord is working out my salvation, making every detail for my good and perfecting my way when things are to the contrary – I choose not to be contrary but strive for commitment.

My life is all about faith. It is learning to lean on the Lord and trust Him just a little bit more each day. Days like today are challenging. Not many people can actually comprehend that our family is completely transitioning because we are taking God at His Word…but that really is the only reason. It has to be enough. It can only be enough when I allow Jesus to make His Home in my very unstable and weak heart. It is the moment I decide that the One who lives in me is greater than he who is in the world. It is in that moment you tell God you cannot go any further, yet somehow find a way to take one step more called faith. God lives in us. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in our heart. This means no matter where we are, what we are doing, what state we are in or the current conditions of my life – I am still almost home because Christ lives in me.

I Peter 2:9-12 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “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. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

 

 

Clean House

Clean House

Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT) How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Our family will be moving in a day or so after months of anticipation. For weeks, I have been purging this house going through every nook and cranny deciding what will stay and what will go. We have so much stuff. We are blessed. Now in the final countdown before closing, we are preparing for the walkthrough. As our belongings are packed in a trailer and furniture prepared for the moving truck, I am appalled at the dust and dirt that I have found hidden beneath things that have not moved in years. I clean my house faithfully once a week on Thursdays and require each person to pick up after themselves so how in the world did it get so gross. Dust in the closets. Debris under counters and in cabinets. And could someone please tell me what dripped down the wall of the pantry before I touch it. Crawling along the floor wiping down baseboards, I notice that though they looked pristine and white from a distance on closer inspection not so much. When the new owner walks through, I want this house to shine. I want her to fall in love with it like she did when she first laid eyes on it and decided quickly to have it. I do not want her to regret her purchase or be ashamed it is her home.

We are God’s House. His Holy Spirit lives in us. He is our Helper and Constant Companion. The Spirit of God in mean has the ability and desire to do more in me than I can ask or think but many times I do not allow the Spirit freedom to do these things restricted by sin in my life. I read the Word of God every day. I pray every day, too. I faithfully attend church and serve there as well. I try to live according to the Word of God and His Spirit, but sin still finds its way in my life despite my best attempt at godliness and holy living. I just cannot help it. It is my nature. When the Holy Spirit inspects our heart and mind, what does He find? See I don’t think we consider our holy inhabitation enough to realize that God sees everything. He knows every thought before we think it, every action before we do it and every word before we seek it. He sees our intentions. He knows our follow through. So as I continue to clean my house and prepare for our move, I am looking inside my heart today, too.

God hates sin. He cannot come anywhere near a sin-filled person or His Goodness would consume them so it is with great compassion and persistent patience that He waits for us. What is waiting for? The Lord God is waiting for His People to be overcome with love for Him that causes them to daily examine their body, mind and spirit for sin and remove it simply because they want to be close to Him for the sake of love. Love empowers us to overcome sin because it creates a greater desire in us to please our beloved. To live for God in obedience without love leads to devastation because to walk with God requires grace. Lots of it. Obedience is self-motivated. Obedience in love is different. It causes us to desire the One we love more than those things we do, want or see. Obedience to God in life will produce His Blessings. But falling in love with the Lord will satisfy the soul.

Psalm 51:9-11 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Create in me a clean heart, Lord. Renew a right spirit. The removal of sin allows us to move closer to God. It is the only that stands between us and His Glory. Our churches are not in revival because of sin. Our community is not redeemed because of sin. We cannot come to the Lord and seek Him wholeheartedly entertaining sin in our life. I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot decide for you the parameters of right and wrong for you. God’s Word tells us what we ought to do. Freedom allows us to do it without the guilt and shame of sin keeping us from God’s Best. His Spirit leads us from everlasting to everlasting by faith. But if we refuse to get rid of, to the bottom of and deal with all the sin in our life – revival will not come. It is with a steadfast and loyal heart that is determined not to let anything come between it and God that we begin to see Heaven come to earth and revival sweep our churches to save, deliver and heal the land.

How can I know the sin lurking in my heart? As not to compound or complicate the issue – I will be straightforward. Read the Bible and pray. Meditate on the Word of God – chew it up and digest it fully. Pray. Pray. Pray some more. Prayer is communication with God. Partner with the Holy Spirit so that you are familiar with the nudge or red flag that signals danger ahead. This will become a mirror for your soul that allows you to see beyond acceptable to godliness.

Cleanse me from hidden faults. In Hosea, it tells us that God’s People die from a lack of knowledge. There are things in your life right now that seem fine to you but soon will be considered unworthy of God’s Beloved. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from hidden faults today. Those things you do but do not know they are sin.

Keep your servant from deliberate sins! You and I both know that there are things in our life that would be considered deliberate sin. Attitudes and actions contrary to the Word of God allowed to remain in our life. We like to think of it as human weakness which would work but greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Yes, His Grace is enough. It will cover every deliberate sin carried to the cross. Deliberate sin will keep you from God’s Best every time. It will ruin relationships. It will detour divine destiny. It will never be okay in God’s Eyes. Consider this – what if each time we sin it meant one more blow of the hammer into the nail’s that pierced His Hands and Feet? What if it was one more bloody stripe across His Back? Or maybe it meant another handful of hair ripped from His Beard? What if that one deliberate seemingly harmless sin produced another agonizing torment to our Savior? Truth is…it did. Those little white lies don’t seem so small. The hot tempered explosion more than just a blowup. The things done in secret now have been brought into the Light.

Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. With that in mind, please know and understand that every hidden and deliberate sin allowed to remain unchecked will lead to our downfall. It will soon plummet us into great sin. Sin will control your life if not dealt with severely. We must decide each day to crucify our flesh to make way for His Spirit to show us the Way into the Presence of God and live there. Sin will always be a part of our life. However, I can reduce the impact of sin on my life but refusing to allow it to remain once discovered.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Peace with God is created by agreement with God, His Word and His Spirit through His Son, Jesus. My mouth and my heart must agree. This forms my attitude and actions. My heart wants to please the one it loves. Proverbs 20:10 says that God hates double standards. You cannot live for self and Jesus. You cannot love evil and do that which is good. You cannot live in the Light of His Love while dabbling in darkness for long. We must be at peace with God, sealed in His Spirit and covered by the Blood of Jesus to move from death to life. If Jesus were to do a walkthrough of your heart today, what would He find? I am asking myself that today as I want only what He wants for me. I want His Kingdom to come to earth and do not want to be the one who stops it for those who are around me. Sin stops the Move of God. I don’t want to stop the next great Move of God, do you?

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

God has filled our life with promises. “If you will, I will” over and over again. Why do we get so mad when we don’t so He doesn’t then? To have the Will of God including every benefit and blessing promised to me in the Word of God – I can only achieve such a life by living God’s Way. Sin forces us to compromise for less than God’s Best every single time. Sin restricts our prosperity. It limits our ability to love. As I prepare for the final walkthrough, I hope the new buyer sees a home rather than a house. I wonder what might happen if we prepared our heart for the Holy Spirit to walk through each day? What if I purposed to make the Lord feel welcome in my heart and make it His Home? What are the possibilities? Limitless! Let us cleanse ourselves of everything that might keep God’s Spirit living, breathing and moving through us today. It’s time to clean house.

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT) If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Breathless

Breathless

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

I love praise and worship. To begin with a simple song, and get lost in His Presence erases the burdens of the day filling the heart and mind with freedom all over again. A room full of people evaporate into a moment of just us – the Lord and I. If you haven’t experienced such a time in the Presence of God – I highly recommend it. With my eyes closed lost in His Love, the worship leader made a statement something like, “When you woke up this morning, the Lord was there with you, but what if He wasn’t?” My heart stopped. I couldn’t find another breath. It was unthinkable to comprehend a morning without Him let alone a whole day. I am too far gone in this thing called faith. Somewhere in the last few years, my life has become unmanageable without the Holy Spirit in me, filling me, holding me and keeping me. It was a defining moment. Just an ordinary midweek service in a little church in the woods, but nevertheless no less motivating than that which thrust Peter from a boat in the midst of the storm. Maybe this is what it means the deep cries out to deep.

If you want to be my follower…Jesus didn’t force us to go after Him. He invites us into His Presence but does not push or shove us to go. He just tells how to do it, and makes the way clear with unconditional love, overwhelming grace and new mercy each day to accompany us on our journey. We must decide to start. The steps are clear and uncomplicated. You must give up your own way. Take up your cross. Follow me. We are the ones who make it more difficult than it really is. With fancy religion, outdated tradition, and overrated opinions creating methods that do not lead us into the Presence of God or create a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. In the end, there is nothing. A fathomless void of empty promises sealed with regret.

To save our life, we must lose it. What does it benefit me if I gain the whole world, but lose my soul? Is anything worth more than my soul? Not to Jesus. He died to rescue our soul, the essence of our being that makes it to eternity. My body will die. Everything I own turn to rubble. It is my soul that must prosper. As He breathes new life in me day by day, I find that I am no longer breathing on my own.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 

I have a friend who grew up in the Greek Orthodox. She knew of God. Heavily immersed in the teachings of her church, it was something she did not about someone she knew. It was when the Lord heard her cries and answered, “No one can come to the Father except through me” that she finally accepted the grace that is sufficient to allow us access into God’s Presence again. The doorway opened by faith and maintained by hope can never be closed again by anyone but those who possess it. Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth (Word of God). He is the life (His Spirit). All these qualities wrapped in a love so great and inconceivable even those who receive it seldom know what to do with it.

Repentance is truly the giving up of our way to walk through life the Lord’s Way. I cannot step into right standing with God or come to Him boldly outside the covering of grace given to me by Jesus. I cannot follow another without surrendering my way. People are not given to surrender or submission. It is a sign of weakness in society but God uses such things to confuse the enemy. Jesus is the only way. I was talking to a very nice gentleman who belongs to a certain fellowship that believes that life is a journey to God. It doesn’t matter what path you choose – you will get there. Believing only that one must be a good person and give their life to others it leads to Heaven. That is not what God’s Word says, and you cannot change it without nullifying the whole thing as tainted to truth which becomes a fallacy. He missed it. They all missed it. Studying the Bible yet not surrendering one’s way leads to darkness. Compromise is of this world, a new life in Christ is bound by commitment. It is the only way that our faith become the key that unlocks His Kingdom for us.

John MacArthur defined the first step of discipleship as self-denial. He said, “Discipleship is on God’s Terms, just as coming to Him is on His Terms. The Lord here reminds us that the key discipleship principle of wining by losing involves self-denial, cross-bearing, and loyal obedience.” The word “deny” is from aparneomai which means to completely disown, to utterly separate oneself from someone. This is the kind of denial a believer is to make regarding self. To utterly disown and refuse to acknowledge one’s old self. Arthur Pink wrote, “Growth in grace is growth downward; it is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves; it is a deepening realization of our nothingness; it is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.” It is in the midst of such revelation that one can move on to take up our cross.

Galatians 2:20-21(NLT)My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

How do I take up my cross? John MacArthur relate that this “is simply to be willing to pay any price for Christ’s sake. It is the willingness to endure shame, embarrassment, reproach, rejection, persecution, and even martyrdom for His Sake.” Early followers understood the concept of the cross because they watched people carry the load of it all the way to their death naturally, physically and visually daily. During the lifetime of Christ alone, it is estimated that there were about 30,000 crucifixions that took place. MacArthur goes on to share to take up our cross for the Lord as His Disciple is to begin a death march through this world. In fact he sums it up quite nicely as “To come to Jesus Christ for salvation is not to raise a hand or sign a card, although such things may sometimes play a part. To come to Jesus Christ is to come to the end of self and sin and to become so desirous of Christ and His righteousness that one will make any sacrifice for Him.”

My old self is crucified with Christ. The process is complete but my transformation is not. Each day the Lord reveals more and more to be sacrificed and surrendered to His Love, Grace and Mercy. To complete this journey of genuine faith and confident hope means that I must continue to follow Christ with my cross by my side to nail every passion, desire and intent outside of His Way and keep moving as instructed. The cross represents the suffering I will face in my pursuit of Christ. Christ does not call us to His Side to make life easy and prosperous but to make us holy and productive. This will result in complete peace and satisfaction in our acquisition of the life that He planned for us.

Matthew 10:37-38 (NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.

In the children’s movie, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, the character known as Winter Warlock wants to leave his evil ways behind but cannot seem to find his way. Kris Kringle attempts to help him with the song, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” It goes like this – Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” One step turns into another and another. Change of direction is formed one footstep at a time. I hope you are not offended by this analogy. But rather than making following Christ so difficult, why not keep it simple? It truly is basic. Deciding with a single footstep and continuing with each footfall to follow Jesus. That’s really all there is to it. Change is always overwhelming. Comfort is compromised when our Call is Christ. I didn’t say it wasn’t hard. In fact, it challenges me every single day in each choice I make to choose Christ, His Way and His Word. But it is worth it…oh so worth it.

To follow Christ may mean leaving others behind. It is a radical transition from death to life that some people will not embrace. Love them. Lead them. Pray for them. You have to keep moving closer in obedience each and every day to reach the full potential God placed in your life and achieve the purpose for which He has called you. So what does this have to do with anything from the worship experience? It means everything and here’s why.

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

About halfway through our son’s battle with cancer, I think around the third and most heavily involved relapse, I reached the end of me. The distance between God and man became too wide to live on both sides any longer. Each conversation laced in pity. The treatment plan now involved the word “death”. In our faith and medically, just about the time it looked like we had won only to discover it was fighting back harder and stronger almost smarter each time. Just about the time, a glimmer of hope began to shine it was threatened by insurance. I don’t know what happened or exactly how it did or the precise moment of transition but somewhere in the mix of chaotic details, I detached from reality and grabbed faith with both hands. I couldn’t straddle the fence, I was forced to choose who to believe and to follow. I think we all come to that inevitable moment when we can no longer serve God and this world. In that moment a choice is made that will change our life forever…at least it did mine.

The moment of truth comes when we must answer the call to deeper things of God. Not the occasion run for the altar or shedding of some tears, but the moment that we finally disconnect from faith in anything or anyone other than Jesus. It is a traumatic event to completely surrender one’s faith and life to the Lord. However, what I found in that moment when I could not bear the details of my life any longer that His Response was unfathomable and endless love for me. He filled all the empty spaces and cavernous voids left in the process of refinement when all the worthless things in my life were burned away to reveal fresh ground for new faith.

How did it begin? Not the moment my heart was shattered along with every sense of security I had when they told me that he had cancer. It was not in the complete undoing of my perception of life to accept the reality of Christ found in our crisis. It began when I made the commitment to give up my life, take up my cross and follow Him. It was not spectacular in production just the simple choice to put one foot in front of the other again and again. When I came to the end of myself, Jesus was waiting. Diving into the depths of His Love, I still struggle to fully understand this encounter. When Christ completes us, it leaves us breathless to try imagine life without Him immersed in His Love. He wants you to experience the width, length, height, and depth of His Love for you. You must come to Jesus. Do things His Way. Take up your cross laying down your life and decide to follow Him no matter what the cost. Nothing more or less will do. In exchange for your life, He gives us His Glory. Through His Mighty Power at work in us, the Lord will accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. This is His Promise to me. This is His Promise for you. Yes, it leaves me breathless.

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

This is the air I breathe, this is the air I breathe, Your Holy Presence living in me. This is my daily bread. This is my daily bread. Your very Word spoken to me. And I’m desperate for you, and I’m lost without you! – Breathe by Michael W. Smith