Lord, Help Me

Lord Help Me 2

Psalm 121 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Did you know that broccoli can cure cancer? No seriously there is a study that there are properties in this amazing veggie that can end these rogue cells attack. Lord, help me. Help me to see that people are trying to help when offering advice and articles such as this one to my son or even me. Our son has been in remission for almost four years now. People still send us information about diets that help aid in the fight against this horrible disease. I value their concern. I appreciate their good intentions. Really, I do…at least I try to.

There was a point in time about five years ago that every avenue of treatment was being explored. Our son was living in the realm of hope. Doctors were desperate for something…anything to save our son’s life. Not only were physical doors slammed in his face but financial wells of insurance dried up completely. We were living in a season of extreme drought and famine. Sitting in the hospital praying for God to help us – I would open emails or get texts about dietary changes that would heal our son. I would get so angry and frustrated in my desperation for a “real” solution. Our prayers were answered by none other than the Lord. There is no other explanation. He is alive when there was a 98% chance that he would die. He is well despite the fact that “if” he survived they only expected it to be for a couple of years at the most. God is my helper. The Lord helped our son. He is ready to help you, too.

People generally have good intentions. So it is only natural that when trouble comes or tragedy strikes – our eyes wander looking for a helper. Someone who will listen or give a hand. What happens when no one comes? What does one do when forgotten? How do we handle loads too much to be borne alone? Where is our help? What does it look like? The Lord has promised not to leave us or forsake us so why do we feel all alone sometimes? Maybe a more fitting word might be…helpless.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Perspective and perception determine our position in life. We must decide where our help will come from by where we look for it. I can turn to people and they will help as much as they are able. I remember in the beginning of our son’s battle and our journey of faith – people brought food to our family every single day for months while I was away taking care of him. Not just take-out – no friends – they cooked spreads of delicious meals for them. Our son’s friends who were attending college in the same town as his treatment would come by to visit and maybe play some cards or video games. In the beginning, we were literally surrounded. Facing a disease such as cancer can be a long arduous journey. It is hard to watch a friend endure the treatments or loved one with anxiety. It’s hard to watch another face what we fear the most. The enemy wants us to feel isolated, alone, and abandoned. It makes us easy pickings for his lies.

From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord. You will never gain such insight until every leaves you. I wish it were different but our eyes lead us most of the time. It is only when we cannot see any other assistance or exit from our current situation that we tend to cry out to the Lord. Yet, He is always ready, willing and able to help us. In fact, it is His Prime Objective and Innermost Intention to save, heal, deliver, and prosper our life. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. The faithfulness of the Lord keeps Him on high alert and always attentive. He doesn’t fall sleep on the job. He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So if it’s not the Trinity’s fault we feel helpless and alone…who is it then?

Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

When our son was diagnosed, I sought the Lord concerning this turn of events. Recounting my allegiance to Him and then reciting His Word to Him as if He somehow forgot, I stormed the gates of Heaven and marched right up to His Throne. He told me, “Your son will live and not die.” I took that word and tucked in my heart and mind for safekeeping. I began to build my faith around it. There came a point in time that those words given to me by the Lord were all I had left to hang on to. Nothing…NOTHING pointed to a future only a funeral. Yet sitting in the darkness, I dared whisper them just one more time. God is our helper. If He says it – it will come to pass. His Word never ever returns to Him void. It is us. We are the problematic variable in this life of faith and believing. We do not wait on God. God is not into temporary fixes but triumphant recoveries. Jesus did not come for ties – He promised you the WIN! The Holy Spirit was placed in us to remind us of His Word and accompany us in our wait time. What has the Lord promised? Are you still waiting? Waiting and wandering are very different things. God is not diversified. He calls it double-mindedness. God is faithful to His Word…are you? Am I?

Mark 9:22-24 (ESV) And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

But if you can do anything…

How many times is this our prayer to the Lord? Rather than coming to Him with boldness and confidence in His Word as the Truth that governs our life and guides us to destiny – we come to him like a homeless and helpless beggar? God if you can do this one thing. Jesus if you can heal me. Lord if you can help me. Well, it is obvious in his response, Jesus was a bit irritated with the man’s lack of belief. All things are possible for one who believes. Do you believe today? Before you answer think about it. It is disheartening to think how many Christians do not believe and have no idea. Vacillating between yes He can to maybe He will to can He – as believers it is important to stand on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ knowing that He will do exactly as He promised to those who believe. He is faithful even when our faith is flailing about.

Psalm 118:6-7 (ESV) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Please do not misinterpret these words today. People are important. Everyone who is in our life is there for a reason. God orders our steps and encounters along the way. He puts certain personalities in our path. There is purpose and meaning in every human connection in our life. We must come to know and understand that the Lord is on our side. He is always with us. No matter where we go, what we do, and even how badly we mess us. He is right there – on the inside of us. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit who is our HELPER. He lives in us now. It is up to us to develop a partnership with His Spirit inside of us. We must become friends of God through faith and believing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Just one impossibility turned into a miracle will change your perspective forever. Just one instance when God’s Word comes to pass will change your heart and mind. Faith begins to grow in the fertility of a broken heart. Jesus knows and understands our feelings, emotions and pain because He experienced them all. He knows our weaknesses. He carried our burden. Let Him be your helper today. Lord, help me.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 54:4 (ESV) Behold God is my helper. The Lord is the upholder of my life.

Advertisements

Power of Praise

Power of Praise

Psalm 108:1-5 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Our grandson is just four months old. He is beginning to engage with us. When he does something new and exciting, everyone smiles and praises him. When he simply sits in his seat looking around in wonder, you guessed it – we do the same thing. He is constantly being praised and affirmed even though his behavior is simple milestones in human growth and development. His mama tells him all the time that he is a good boy and he is a “cool dude”. She is constantly positively affirming her little boy. He smiles at her words. He looks to those around him for their reaction to his new endeavors. It is important to speak life over our children. To affirm them when they are good and redirect not so good behaviors. Punishment is not the goal of parenting but rather discipline. Building strong character in our youth begins with affirmation and praise at an early age. Praising tiny humans raises up confident adults.

There is power in praise. It elevates our spirit and strengthens our resolve eliminating insecurity and lack of confidence. However, it is not human nature to praise. It is all too common to be critical, to tear down, and this is usually from a place of comparison. People are created in the image of the Living God. He is the standard set that sin has stolen from us. It is our mission in life to discover the eternity hidden inside of our heart and take the measure of faith entrusted to us to pursue it as our destiny. As sons and daughters of the King, there is no need for strife or division because we are all joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

My heart, O God, is steadfast…

My heart is steadfast, loyal, faithful, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid and trusting. Are these the words that describe your heart connection to the Father? Do you remain steadfast in love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of His Spirit? Praising God comes not from our current circumstances or conditions. These generally will produce complaints. Praise for the Living God must come from a confident heart. A heart that fully knows and understands that its connection to God is through His Son – Jesus therefore our boast is in nothing this world has to offer but fully consummated within a steadfast heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our heart must remain constant in this truth to offer praise in every situation. Praise builds the stairway that faith will tread upon. Though one might think our praise elevates the Lord – it really is our pathway to His Presence.

I will sing and make music with all my soul…

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Praise makes us prosper. We must make our praise project from the depth of our soul. To prosper is to make successful. The prayer to prosper and become successful is not answered unless it comes from our soul. There are many who have created shortcuts to God’s Favor that simply are not true. God honors every seed planted by faith in good ground when our soul is healthy and our heart is fertile. What is a fertile heart? A heart that is broken and remade by the Hand of God into the wonderful masterpiece that He has promised before our birth. What is a healthy soul? A soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. A soul that is satisfied with the Bread of Life and Living Water. A soul that pursues God’s Presence. A soul that is hopelessly and completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Our soul is eternal. It must be trained and guided to look past today and all the cares and worries of life to become confident in Jesus Christ alone.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Praise propels us past our problems to the promises of God for our life. It is the opportunity to remind ourselves what the Lord has promised and what He will do for us. We really have nothing to offer the Lord except our praise and adoration. There is no possible way to earn or deserve the goodness and love that He pursues us with each day. Our pride would like to somehow find a way to repay the Lord to keep itself alive, but the truth is that there is no possible way to out give God so we praise Him for His Faithfulness and Generosity to us. Praise is a valuable tool when the giant seems too big or obstacle too large. It elevates our perspective from the ground to the Heavenlies. It reveals angels unaware who are positioned for our deliverance. It excites the Spirit of God within us so that as He expands our momentary trials and troubles don’t seem that big any longer. Praise keeps us company while we wait on the Lord for proper timing brings about completion.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Praise changes the atmosphere from hopeless to hopeful. Paul and Silas were in prison. They were arrested and severely beaten after delivering a slave girl from a demonic presence. Surely God should have protected them. Why such savage treatment? Where was God? Chained to the wall like animals, they were surely discouraged and afraid. Things were looking rather hopeless for the men of God. They were in danger. In the midnight hour… Before moving on – I think it pertinent to point out that praise is not always our first thought. Midnight is the time when one day turns into another. The Word of God says that mourning lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. I wonder if they were crying and complaining but heard the bell toll twelve and decided to make a change. It says that they were praying and singing hymns to God with an audience of prisoners when suddenly… Do you need a suddenly today? Are you discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? On the verge of hopelessness – it is important to evaluate our vocabulary. Praise has the power to change the atmosphere. The breath of God in us released causes a change around us. Not only did the doors fly open and chains fall off of Paul and Silas but every prisoner was set free. The jailer was saved and took the men home to wash their wounds and feed them good food. The next morning the magistrates came to free them. This all happened because they choose to praise in the prison. Whatever has you captive is subject to your praise. Jesus lives in you!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV) Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God affirms His Children. He has great affection for you. He has no intention of punishing you but rather good discipline gives footsteps direction and makes destiny divine. He put eternity in our heart for a reason. There is power and purpose awaiting those who pursue His Love with all their heart, soul, body and mind. It is important to position ourselves in His Presence to live in His Promises. Praise is our constant reminder to exalt the Lord giving Him proper placement in our life. No allegiance is a sign of rebellion. Praise communicates our allegiance to Jesus Christ and puts the enemy on notice that we have relinquished our life to Him as Savior and Lord. Praise does not exalt Christ in the sense of moving Him but rather praise moves us. We must be intentional in our praise. Praise is a powerhouse for those who choose to use it.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Forecast for Rain

Forecast for Rain

Isaiah 55:8-10 (NKJV) “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

The forecast is for rain. My plan to head the beach is nixed. A little rain is one thing but the weather app is forecasting thunderstorms. No thank you! My husband who had planned some yardwork today is watching the sky closely. The ground is still soaked from last night’s showers. The air is hot and humid with the front that is moving in. What an inconvenience after working all week, the messiness of natural interrupting my plans. Rain is important. It is vital to production in the earth. The grass would not be green without water. The replenishment of the earth that keeps us all well-hydrated yet in its abundance is loathed and often disregarded as a problem. I wonder what would happen if we decided to welcome the rain. To thank God for its arrival, productivity and potential. What if we didn’t identify it as an interruption but part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan? To declare, “Lord, we receive your rain today!”

The separation of natural and supernatural revelation is not appropriate. The God of Heaven is indeed God of the earth. He set this place in order and pre-recorded a plan including the wind, rain and storms of life. From a full force hurricane to a light sprinkling – God is the one who sends us the rain. Each droplet holds purpose and potential to water our seed and grow its promise every single time. The grass is drenched and mowing unlikely today. The hydrangeas in the flowerbed love it when the soil is wet. They are flourishing in the showers that seem to pop up every day. Right outside the dining room window – where just on the other side are rows of succulents that are bending toward the sun. They do not care for rain and rely on my careful watering every once and a while. They would surely die outside in the torrential downpours that we have been experiencing so they live in tiny pots.

What does your life resemble today? Is thick, green, leafy and covered with blooms growing and producing in abundance under the open heavens of God’s Outpouring? Or like the little succulents in small restricted containers dependent on mankind to stay alive growing only slightly in the same amount of time? It is all about position and perspective – I guess. God’s Word cannot and will not return to Him void. It will do exactly as He intended it to do. It must accomplish its purpose before coming back to Him.

Job 36:26-28 (NKJV) “Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy that Job could describe the process of rain production by God without modern technology? He knew that God draws up drops of water stores it in the clouds to be moved released again. Think about it. God supplied the water – springs, rivers, streams and then eventually rain. Rain was not an afterthought. It had a time and place. The imagery of God’s Word is demonstrated to us every time it rains. God’s Word is released and it must achieve its work. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate. It is then taken back up to the heavens and poured out again and again. God’s Word is likened to the rain. It is described as water. The washing of the Word is what replenishes, renews, restores and rejuvenates us.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it was devastating. Through the long process and journey to a miracle, it was God’s Word that kept me standing from beginning to end. Entering the realm of hope when modern medicine could not save him and insurance would not even try – it was the most devastating and divine moment of my life. The storm destroyed me in many ways and God restored me in more ways than the pieces of my broken heart and life resembled. I am not thankful for what cancer did to our child, but I am absolutely thankful for what the storm did for me. Only those who have endured a hurricane or tsunami within can understand these words that I am sharing.

Matthew 5:43-47 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are quick to blame the enemy when the seasonal rain does not seem favorable. Too much, too little, not the right time or too inconvenient. What if the rain has nothing to do with our life externally but internally? Jesus was talking about forgiveness and loving the unlovable when He interjects this tiny tidbit…”for He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and unjust.” What if God is allowing the sprinkles to wash over you or downpour to move you to release the potential inside of you? The Lord has already told us not to worry or get stressed about provision going as far to remind us that we have every spiritual blessing already. Where is it? What if it is locked inside of you as seed that needs some good rain to get the process underway? Prosperity is always precipitated by an abundance of rain.

Genesis 9:12-17 (NKJV)  And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

When it was time to start chemotherapy and radiation for our son, while driving to the hospital (about two hours away) it was raining. Not a downpour, but rather a light shower with the sun still shining, though a bit hard to see through my tears. With worship music playing softly, I saw a rainbow. A few tears turned into immediate sobbing, God was reminding me that He was here. He was telling me that cancer had no power over the healer. We would win the battle just remember who I am and that I am with you. He was showing me His Love all over again. Now that would be cool enough, right? But in the course of the next two hours of travel, I saw more rainbows along the interstate than I have experienced in my lifetime. I stopped counting every time I turned around there was another one. God is faithful to His Word. He keeps His Promises. His rainbow just another reminder that though the storms of life may come even big ones that His Love is unfailing and goodness for sure.

Psalm 84:5-11 (NKJV) Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of  Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Yesterday it felt like there was a little black raincloud over my head. You know just one of those days. I have not a single thing to worry or stress about yet I was doing it anyway. I have no reason to be ruled by chaos because I have perfect peace yet I was a bit frazzled. My blessings are too many to count – believe me I tried to enumerate them to silence the complaining in my head. Just a day covered in a bit of melancholy, everyone has them. I was in a funk. We all face storms in life. There will always be rain coming. It falls on the just and unjust because God loves and desires us all. He wants to renew, restore, and revive us. He wants us to thrive in His Courts rather than being locked in self-imposed cells offered by wayward thoughts and inner rebellion. There is a place to thrive for those who are merely surviving. When rain comes, it is human nature to run for shelter. This should be our spiritual inclination as well. His Ways are higher than our ways along with His Thoughts. His Word and His Way is better than anything we can think, ask or imagine. We want what God has for us whether we realize it or not. There must be rain. We must learn to welcome the rain while hiding in the shelter of His Presence.

Psalm 147:5-8 (NKJV) Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpse

Jeremiah 32:38-40 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing? Why was I made? How can I be used by God? I have a purpose. God designed humanity to have one heart and one purpose. To be His People and that He would be our God. Sin shattered our relationship with God. He was not satisfied with judgement and predestined to give us mercy that would lead us to His Grace. In a way that only an omnipotent and omniscient Creator could, the Lord intentionally takes all those broken pieces determined to make a masterpiece once again. He desires us to become the Body of Christ. There very thing for which His Son died put rebuilt from a new foundation. Salvation provides an everlasting covenant. He will never stop doing good for us. He desires a heart of worship and will give those who seek Him that very thing.

Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves individually within a corporate people. To know and understand the importance of our purpose in the expansive and comprehensive plan of the Living God. I have a purpose. He created me fearfully considering each step that would lead me to righteousness. He did so wonderfully giving me value and worth that only He can bring forth. I am a marvelous work though still in process. In pursuit of purpose, it is of the utmost importance to know God’s Primary Plan. Above all other things – the Lord desires to have a relationship with you and me. To live in love for the rest of our lives until one day it is only eternity that we see.

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have it all together, the next minute reveals that is not the case? I am finding my purpose in this place called life all over again. I know that I am called. I know that I am anointed simply because Christ lives in me. I have no idea what is next. In a state of transition in more ways than one, I have my feet planted in Christ my firm foundation of faith yet my head is in the clouds. My children are reaching adulthood. Our full nest down to just one. In the busyness of raising our children, it is often easy to forget that this too shall pass and one day there will no longer be the weight of responsibility that governs us now. The mounds of laundry are gone and with it our children venture off into life. This is God’s Plan. It is a good one. My job is to raise tiny disciples into fisher of people then set them off to fulfill the Lord’s Plans for them, but I don’t have to like it. What transition are you in today? New job. Unexpected life change. The ending of an old season often gives way to new faith and new trust on the faithfulness of God. We become comfortable and complacent in the current condition. God is faithful in pursuing us with unfailing love and kindness. He is always working good in us and through us even when we do not want to change.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT) And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The finality of God is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome. We all like options. When God shows us a glimpse of His Plan and Purpose, it is human nature to run off and complete the picture like Harold with the purple crayon. He only gives us a peek but we make it our plan or maybe I am the only one with the propensity to run ahead and work it out myself before God makes His Way clear. What if I don’t like God’s Plan? What if I am not happy with His Purpose? What if it is not as I expected or conducive to my plans?

The power of purpose in my life is not based on my abilities but God’s Faithfulness. These verses do not portray a power hungry being who needs to assert dictatorship over us. The Lord already has all the power. God is Sovereign and confident in it. When we someone can make our heart sure that God’s Purpose is good and way better than we could think, ask or imagine – faith grows from that place that connects with God’s Faithfulness giving Him permission to give us His Best.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

The Lord says to us today, “I am the First and the Last there is no other God.” This is vitally important to understanding the power of purpose in our life. The Plan of God is comprehensive taking in every detail of our life and turning it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Only an Alpha and Omega God could transverse time to take into account everything and work it all together for our good. He gives us the grace needed for His Power to overtake us and produce purpose while prospering our heart to spill over into our life.

Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. God did not give us the spirit of fear, anxiety, worry, stress or any other byproduct of doubt. The Lord has given us a measure of faith. Faith is cultivated in the goodness given to us called power, love and self-discipline. Use them well. The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect that is demonstrated in devotion and a covenant of love like marriage. Such fear becomes trust and total dependence as we learn to lean on the Lord and live in His Love.

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? The knowledge of God’s Pervasive Presence and Persistent Pursuit of me – a sinner saved by grace – is my complete undoing. I have lived more than 50 years and I am still discovering the depths of God’s Grace, Love and Faithfulness to me. The hopes and dreams that I put in the grave because of my own weaknesses are not dead to God just deferred until their appointed time. The vault marked faults and failures do not hold His Riches or Glory designated for my life, I do when I hold my heart hostage with guilt, shame or regret. The faithfulness of God has followed me through life ushering me toward the things that He already prepared for me before I drew my first breath. It will be complete when I breathe my last. I must rely on His Faithfulness to produce the fruitfulness of purpose in me and not pluck unripe fruit from the vine. It is only when I abide in Christ that the growth I desire is produced. I must abide in His Love even though I have no idea what’s next, where I am going, how I will get there or when I will arrive. God knows and that’s gotta be enough for me.

I have a purpose. It belongs to me. No one can fulfill it. Only I can do it. Prosperity is a heart condition. God has promised to give me a new heart in place of the stony one within. As my soul prospers so will my life in the purpose already designated for me by the Living God. I must only trust Him to find my purpose.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!

In the Shadow

in the shadow

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

To live in the shadow of can mean to live close to or in a position of being unnoticed because all the attention is given to someone else. It is human nature to live by comparison. The shadow of choice is the standard set for our life. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. It is important that the standard of our life is from the Word of God and not living in the shadow of other people. God made you with an individual plan and purpose that no one can fulfill but you. It is filled with blessings and benefits that are your inheritance set aside for your good pleasure. There is no competition with God. The Father has no favorites. Each one of His Children unique and complex in His Creation. Or have you someone found yourself living in the shadow of others? Maybe you live in the shadow of the impossible mountain that won’t seem to move? The Lord offers us a place in His Presence. A close proximity to Him. To dwell in the shelter of His Refuge and the Fortress marked “Peace”. He invites us to abide in the shadow of the Almighty! Yes, please.

“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Oh and there is the secret. Trust. To eliminate all fear, doubt, and insecurity by moving from the obscurity of the crowd into the courts of the Almighty. The transition will defy all human logic as it is solely reliant on faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith must have a new foundation. The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ. We must compare our standard of living to Him to align our life with the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What is right for me may not be right for you. Our convictions may be different. The habits that are healthy and choices that are right are not the same for everyone – it is important to understand that while we all have fallen short of God’s Glory not every produces the same light. Each light is needed to drive out darkness of every kind. The brightness of our life is produced by living in the Shadow of the Light of the world.

Psalm 91:9-10 (ESV) Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

The story of Elijah is one of my favorites to study. In 1 Kings 18, he is killing all the false prophets but then in I Kings 19 – he is hiding from simple threat. I was listening to a snippet of a sermon from one of my favorite preachers yesterday. He was retelling the story from a different perspective. Elijah was in the midst of transition. He was being repositioned by the Lord in his ministry. He was a teacher, prophet and minister. He was becoming a mentor. Sure enough at the end of I Kings 19, Elisha arrives on the scene. I wonder if in the midst of transition or perhaps transformation the undoing is too much for our humanity. If in those times – we forget that we live in the shadow of the Almighty and reposition ourselves in the shadow of others. Shadow of fear. Shadow of doubt. Shadow of insecurity. Shadow of isolation. We forget that we live in the shadow of the Almighty God who never grows weak and weary. When we are tired of the process, He continues to work on us just the same. His Word does not return to Him void even when we give up on it. Two different mountaintop experiences – one man. Great faith and confidence on one. Fear and doubt on the other. Same God. Sometimes the Lord has to get us away by ourselves to reassure us. He wants to speak to us but must silence all the other voices so that we listen to the still small voice. No weapon formed against us will prosper in this place.

No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. Faith will always release God’s Favor in our life. It is no different than turning on the faucet and water running out. As long as you are connected to a source, the source is available to you. The source of water to my home is the county water line. The source of Living Water is Jesus Christ. When I align my life to Him and live in His Shadow, things begin to change. My closeness to the Lord allows me to experience such a life.

Psalm 91:14-16 (ESV) “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Because he holds fast to me in love… We are God’s Beloved. He bestows His Unfailing Love on us each and every day. He gives us new mercies every morning. His Grace is always enough to restore any breach. He gave His Only Son to die for our sins. This gift of God to us cannot be earned or deserved only returned. God doesn’t need us. He desires us. He wants us. He is desperate for us. The only thing that you and I can “do” for God is to love Him. To live in close proximity and intimacy with the Lord. To dwell in His Presence. Those who find the way into the shadow of the Almighty and choose to love Him forever will experience long and satisfied living as the Lord shows Him salvation at its finest. There are many who call on the Name of the Lord without the express desire to actually find Him or make their way to Him in this lifetime. It is like having money in the bank but living a bankrupt existence. The fulfillment of God given to us is found in His Love. There is nothing more to do than connect with His Love and never let go. Those who fall in love with God through His Son Jesus Christ will experience a holy inhabitation that consummates the relationship – it is the Holy Spirit. He becomes our teacher, mentor and guide through life so when things don’t make sense or storms rage or situations arise or the impossible comes – we have nothing to fear living in the shadow of the Almighty.

James 1:16-18 (ESV) Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Oh how He loves us! He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affection for me. And, oh, how He loves us… (How He Loves – John Mark McMillan) The capacity of God’s Love for us is not limited by inability to receive it. He just keeps pursuing us and inviting us to enter into His Presence. Every good thing in our life is a product of God’s wooing us. He sends good gifts to His Children even those who do not live in an intimate relationship with Him. The prodigal’s father had two sons. A good son who was faithful to the family and another wild rebellious child who took his inheritance and squandered it prematurely. The father didn’t forget his “lost” son. He didn’t give up on him. In fact, when the broken shell of a man returned, the father welcomed him and celebrated his return fully restoring his place in the family.

God feels the same about you and me. He keeps our place in His Presence. There is no competition. There is no comparison. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. His radical and ridiculous love for us cannot be deterred or displaced it just keep pouring out in our life. Do not be deceived, my beloved. He invites you to come boldly before His Throne today and claim your place in His Presence. There is only one you. He made you to be a masterpiece. You are fearfully and wonderfully made because God did a marvelous work in your creation. (Psalm 139) Jesus Christ has given us boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him to approach God and live in His Presence. (Ephesians 3:11-12) The Lord invites you to live in His Shadow today.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Unlikely Opportunities

unlikely-opportunities-e1523614889725.jpg

Psalm 76:23-26 (NIV) Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

“Deny your weakness and you will never realize God’s Strength in you.” (Joni Eareckson Tada)

The unlikely opportunity of empowerment comes at the high price of the realization of weakness. The moment that mind over matter doesn’t work anymore and human inadequacy will fail the test of time and trial – this is the pivotal placement of dependency on God. Human nature demands a breaking point to lay aside pride and lean on the Lord. The mountain has to be too big. The valley too low. The season too hard. Or the darkness impenetrable for our pride to finally die. We are created in the Image of God. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

My flesh and heart may fail… is a huge understatement. My flesh will fail. My heart does fail. Those seasons of life that are just too much for our humanness so our heart turns to God. Though it is not a time called affectionately to our remembrance, those who wait upon the Lord or find Him there will never give up the strength and power of His Presence. It changes you. You are still made of flesh. Everyone has a wavering heart, but it is in the Presence and Power of our Creator that we find a new kind of strength called trust that will fill us with peace even in the midst of tremendous pressure.

God is the strength of my heart and portion forever. Is He enough? Is your faith and confidence in God enough? The Lord cannot heal unless something is broken. He cannot fill a place that is already full. Miracles happen in the midst of the impossible. You cannot find your place in Jesus until you stand down from self. Such unlikely opportunities, all the things that the world tells us to avoid. These are the primary places of true empowerment. When weariness gives way to an upset, when our strength completely fails and all that is left is to surrender to the Power and Presence of God.

When life falls apart and the world crashing down around us – chaos ensues. Our mind cannot wrap itself around the incomprehensible tragedy or loss surrounding the time and place when our normal is no longer. It happens all the time. The unexplainable time when human understanding is lost and all that is left is to look to our Lord and Savior. What will that moment look life for you? For Joni Eareckson Tada, it was the moment a freak accident forced her into a wheelchair and a life of quadriplegia. For me, the moment our son was diagnosed with cancer. The same cancer that would come back aggressively time and time again. The days of fighting for treatment in a world that puts a price on human life. The aftermath of a warrior with a body covered with battle scars. Maybe for you it was in the loss of a loved one to death or even in life. Perhaps it was a career that abruptly ended or financial disaster. Could it have been when you just couldn’t do it anymore?

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Such a glorious hope that we have in Jesus, a bright and shining light that sometimes requires shrouds of darkness to truly discover. The Lord is always with us. He is right there with you. It doesn’t matter if you wandering off or ran from Him. He pursues you every day with unfailing love and goodness. His Glory is ready to overtake you. He deposits new mercy on your doorstep each morning and His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for you in every situation. I will always be the place where His Strength and Power overtake us. It is the unlikeliest of places but has the most potential of all.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.

Every weakness is the opportunity for God to show us His Glory and Strength. Empowerment is a benefit of grace and reward of surrender. God has given us His Spirit. The Spirit is hard at work producing good fruit in our life according to His Word. He is our helper in all things. The Holy Spirit is also our guarantee. The One deposited in us when every promise became “yes” and “amen”. He will not force us into submission. He will not demand our surrender. He waits in us for the moment it is our choice. It is in that time and space that the Presence of God overtakes us and a new strength of heart called faith emerges. The crevices of a broken heart give way to fertile soil that allows His Spirit to sustain us even in seasons of famine and drought. When nothing seems to be going right but rather coming apart. It is right then and there that something changes. We give up our way to fully embrace His Way. Thank you Lord for the days when everything falls apart that You are forever faithful in making every detail and taking every piece of my broken heart to fill with power and use for Your Glory! God is good! He is always good! His Goodness is ready to overtake you today! Max Lucado said, “I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is.” I agree.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

“The human experience of weakness is God’s Blueprint for calling attention to the supremacy of His Son. When miserably failing people continue to belong to, believe in, and worship Jesus, God is happy.” (Michael Spencer) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He provides unlikely opportunities for ordinary life to become an extraordinary existence. He turns natural consequences into supernatural experiences for those who choose to surrender every weakness to Him. The Lord did not come to condemn us. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He is the Resurrection and Life. He is where dead things breathe again. He is where the terminal is no longer fatal. He is the Alpha and Omega or the Beginning and the End. It’s not over until the Lord says so. The Lord is an everlasting God. He will not give up when you do. He will not give in because you decide its time. No, the Lord will finish the good work that He began in your life. All you have to do is hope in Him. Trust Him. Believe Him.

“A sacrifice to be real must cos, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than your weakness.” (Mother Teresa)

I Corinthians 1:26-30 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Finding Purpose

finding-purpose-e1523271299708.jpg

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

A throne is God’s purpose for you; a cross is God’s path for you; faith is God’s plan for you. (Alan Redpath)

Did you know that you were created on purpose? It doesn’t matter the details of conception or conditions of birth – no baby arrives void of purpose. Your situation may not have been ideal. Your childhood a terrible tragedy. Teenage years a journey of guilt and shame. Adulthood filled with broken relationships and dead dreams yet still deep inside your heart is purpose. God placed eternity in our heart. He gave us a measure of faith to insure our success. He sent His Son – Jesus to take our life back paying the penalty of all sins so a full dispensation of grace might be available. Our life handed back to us labeled “free” and now it is up to us to decide how to use it. The purpose of God within us is far greater than just making it to Heaven. It is the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth.

The woman at the well had no idea that a divine appointment awaited her. She arrived around noon at the peak of the sun. She was shunned by other women and used by many men. Her current master not her husband just one willing to take the broken pieces of a shattered life and capitalize on it. She had no idea that the broken path she followed was leading her straight to redemption. She didn’t think this was a new day of new opportunity – I believe like many women just like her – she was just trying to get by. When she met Jesus, he asked for some water to satisfy a thirst. It would become an invitation for this dry and devastated life to be renewed.

John 4:13-16 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The purpose in our heart is deep water. We must search for understanding to draw it out. This woman began her conversation in the natural and then encountered the supernatural. She forgot who everyone said she was and ran back to tell them about the Messiah. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” I wonder today if the well of our hearts get so filled with worthless conversation and other garbage keeping the living water within us from making its way out of us. The opinions, insults and offenses stuck in our heart. The woman found her purpose. His Name – Jesus Christ. The guilt, shame and regret of our past is no match for the unfailing love and unfathomable grace given to us in just one encounter with the Lord. Purpose is a deep water that will only be found by those who are willing to dig a little deeper than the superficial overtures of life to reach the abundance found in new life.

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

For you will certainly carry out God’s Purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. (C.S. Lewis)

Purpose is God-given. It resides in us. God placed eternity in each heart. He also provided us all with a measure of faith to successfully secure us in the Kingdom. He even sacrificed His Son to give us the freedom to choose between good and evil again with new mercy each day and more than enough grace for those days we miss the mark. God has us covered completely. Jesus gives us overwhelming victory as a byproduct of His Love for us. We can overcome in every situation. Why are so many Christians and so-called believers struggling then? Are you serving Jesus like Judas or John? Everyone would be quick to say, “John” but on closer evaluation of a wayward heart may be an indication that Judas is hiding in the darkest part.

Job 42:1-6 (ESV) “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The story of Job is all about pride. Job’s life was prosperous. He was known as a religious man. He lived a righteous life. Yet, in all his goodness, the messengers came one by one as his kingdom fell. His family and finances were devastated. Disease soon infected his body. His own wife told him to give up on God. Yet in all his misery, Job did not give up on the Lord. His friends didn’t understand. They tried to offer comfort but only inflamed his heart and mind. In his complete and utter misery as his flesh was dying, Job came to the Lord and this was his cry. Job still believed. In the midst of all the tragedy, God still lived on the throne of his heart. Job knew that God is sovereign. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Such a profound statement. We hear a lot about the Lord and even adopt a certain language laced with hints of faith and believing. Yet it never reaches their heart or penetrates their thoughts forming a new belief which becomes a new life. As the Truth of God’s Identity and Character began to seep into the brokenness of his heart, something changed. Job was ready for a turnaround. Job repented.

Our purpose in the Lord will never be more than a promise if repentance is not a lifestyle. The Kingdom is not a place to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Hearing the Word of God it is easy to make a list of excuses why it’s not for us. But one encounter with the fullness of God in His Son – Jesus changes everything. The Lord dealt with Job’s accusers disguised as friends. He did not just restore Job but gave him double for his trouble. The renewal of faith in God will fill the gaps left by every tragedy in life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. God already gave us everything we need including the promises so greatly desired. It must be our purpose to discover God’s Purpose and invest our life in Him.

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if God’s Purpose is for you to give your life away for others? It is. What if you must lose your life to truly find it? You do. What if the eternity in our heart will not escape without brokenness? It won’t. God has placed a purpose in you far greater than your human life can produce or sustain. It will require every bit of faith to achieve. Your heart will be devastated to be redesigned – molded and shaped into the Masterpiece promised by the Lord in Ephesians 2. My heart was forever changed during our son’s battle with cancer. Normal will never be normal again. Once you know the truth, you cannot believe the lie anymore. For years, I prayed for the Lord to increase my faith and He did. It was not in some glorious service when Heaven opened and poured out His Glory. It was in a hospital room when I finally gave up all of me. Pride must die in His Presence for purpose to be properly birthed. It is painful. It can be messy. It is always worth it.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The Lord will fulfill His Purpose for you and me regardless of our participation. God will do exactly as He planned and promised to do because of His Steadfast Love for us. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us even when we think we are pursuing Him. The Truth about us is that God created us with a plan containing a future and hope far greater than the life created by randomness. Every step has the potential to be purposeful when committed to the Lord. He is leading us to something far greater and exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. Do you trust Him today? Do you believe in God’s Steadfast Love? If you do, you will go with Him. Following Him to the ends of the earth just to continue in His Unconditional Love. He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord invites us to invest our freedom in His Purpose and to prosper in this life. It is up to us whether or not repentance turns us from a worthless life to a radical resurrection of a power-infused supernatural existence filled with God’s Favor.

Is there more to life than this? Yes, there is. His Name is Jesus. He is our Purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Here and Now

Here and Now

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

I am confident. I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. It is certainly easier to serve the Lord of our future salvation than to live as if that promise is for today. Faith is the completely illogical yet credible truth that God will do exactly as He promised here and now. So why aren’t we living in the realm of hope where anything is possible? We lack confidence that God truly is here with us in the land of the living ready to act now. Without confidence, the heart is like a ship without an anchor tossed to and fro. The rudder broken so there is nothing to propel or steer it. Destined for shipwreck, it is quickly abandoned for a much less dangerous route. One that is controllable, convenient and way more comfortable. A wide path that keep our feet from falling. The certainty of arrival much less painstaking as the narrow road of the unknown – we live in a repetitious cycle of defeat while all along victory was at hand.

What will it take to find the kind of hope that is the anchor for our soul? The steadfast confidence that God is who He says that He is and will do exactly as He promised in this life. If only it could be discovered, our heart would become confident in God’s Unconditional Love and His Goodness that daily pursues us. It would give us cause to wait on the Lord rather than forcing the issue and making things happen just to appease our flesh. We would walk by faith and not by sight in complete understanding that this life is temporary. God can do the impossible. He can change everything in a single breath. We must become confident in the God of the here and now. Completely aware of the Christ who lives in us so that His Glory will become our confidence and constant pursuit of the great and precious promises that He has given us along with a valuable inheritance.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

How strong is your anchor today? Give a tug. Is it holding you securely in hope? Hope is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. It is to believe and trust. How often do we become hopeless drifters when the wait seems too long, the process to hard, or the lie of the enemy to real? God has given you many promises. He has given you every spiritual blessing. He does not lie. It is not possible for Him to change His Mind…no matter what you do or don’t do. He prerecorded our life from beginning to end before a single breath breathed including the sufficiency of grace necessary to turn change our weakness into the absorption of His Power. Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ alone. He did it all. When He said, “It is finished!” our Savior and Lord meant exactly what He said and released His Spirit to become our life helper and partner every step of the way. The limits on our life are self-imposed. Greater is He who lives in me than he who is in this world.

Romans 4:16-20 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

Back when I lived a normal life, my husband and I went on a cruise. We have a few days of wonderfully calm waters but on the last night a storm stirring in the Gulf of Mexico made the waters very rough. The ship was literally tossed to and fro. Walking down the corridors, everyone staggering like drunks, we made it to our room. I crawled in the big comfy bed with mounds of covers and pillows sinking deep into its folds. I fell asleep almost instantly to be awakened by my husband obviously a sea sick. “Can’t you feel that?” We were on the same ship and in the same room but the effects of the rocking and lurching did not have the same impact on me as it was on him. How do you respond to the storms of life? When faced with the impossible do you hang your head and turn back? The promise of God is received by faith. Faith that is here. Faith in the now. Faith that keeps us in the waiting. Faith that becomes our peace. Faith that doesn’t give in to pressure or give up when processed. Faith beyond human perception that grabs hold of heavenly possibilities as the reality for today.

Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping…this is the secret of faith that becomes our reality. How do we get there from here? How do we see miracles, signs and wonders now? Faith and confident hope will bring courage to our heart. A courageous heart that is not tossed to and fro but remains steadfast and secure in the Father’s Love until He comes all the while completely confident that He will do just as He said that He would do. Abraham believed in the God who creates new things out of nothing. He hoped when his body was as good as dead as was his wife’s womb. The same Abraham who tried the shortcut and failed. He waited 100 years for his promise to reach his hands. How long are you willing to wait for the promise?

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to God. I prefaced my story with “back when I lived a normal life” for a reason. My “normal” was shipwrecked several years ago when our son was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. We lived a good life. We had good kids, good jobs and a good life. When cancer came it seemed to invade every part of our good life. It seemed like a tragedy in the making. The night our son was diagnosed I challenged the Lord. This cannot be possible. This does not line up with your Word. I know the Promises that you have made me and the death of my son is not one of them. The Lord came back with a simple question, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I confirmed that I did. But did I? Over the next three years, my faith and trust in the Lord would be challenged numerous times. But God didn’t just ask me a question, He gave me a promise that night – “Your son will live and not die to declare My Works.” God did exactly as He promised.

Normal life is nonexistent in supernatural living. To live in God’s Promises here and now create a disruption in the atmosphere called life. It is not normal. You cannot have a normal life and live in the abundance of God. These are contradictory concepts. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” If you can see it, do it, achieve it or make it happen – faith is unnecessary. Faith is for the impossible to become possible. With God all things are possible when someone believes. God is ready to do the impossible in us, through us and for us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. To do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. We must make room for heaven’s overflow in us and around us so that God can release it to us. The starting point is faith. Our faith must become fully invested and completely confident in God’s Promises for today and live for them in the here and now.

A word of caution – faith is illogical to those around us who do not believe. They will think you are crazy. Trust me – I heard it over and over again. When I get a bad report or bad news, I immediately refute it with God’s Word. To those who do not know the Light of His Love, I sound like a lunatic. To those who have forgotten what faith is or wandered off to live life, it becomes the beacon of hope that leads them back again. I cannot be concerned with the world and what they think but must put my full confidence in God’s Faithfulness in the land of the living. To live in His Presence right here and now. This came at the high price of helplessness and utter weakness on the verge of losing it all.

God has given us precious promises. They are for the here and now. Excuses take the place of expectation when our flesh is ready to end the process. I challenge you today to expect the Lord’s Goodness in the here and now. Your life is meant to be glorious. Are you just getting by? Give up the substitutions and settlements for the more than enough promises that are meant to prosper your soul and overflow into everyday life. Make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and not react to the lie of the enemy in an attempt to steal your blessing meant for today. Need I remind you that the power of life and death are in your tongue – call those things that are not as though they are and watch His Resurrection power take over. God is with you. He will build confidence in the heart that trusts Him. Moment by moment, step by step from glory to glory with abounding grace when we fail or fall short so we can quickly engage in faith once again. Jesus said, “He would never leave us or forsake us.” Christ lives in us. I must decrease so He can increase. I will look for Him in the here and now. I must be confident in the here and now. I must believe in the here and now.

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT)  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

This Is Only a Test

This is only a test

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Have you ever heard this announcement? “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and federal, state, and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. This is only a test.” Followed by a deafening tone and then, “if this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and information.” Thankfully, I have not experienced an actual emergency – it hasn’t happened in all the years that I have heard this message. In fact, it is easy to tune it out or turn the radio down until the message is over. If there were a state of emergency, the system was developed to allow the President of the United States an expeditious method of communicating with the public in the event of a national emergency such as war or crisis. Wouldn’t it be nice in the chaos and craziness of life if the Lord would break open the clouds, shine down the sun on us, and say, “This is only a test, participation is voluntary and everything will come out for your good and My Glory…this is only a test”?

Do you have faith? Do you believe? Do you have absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ? Maybe the more important question is do you have fears, doubts, worries, and insecurities in life? Are you satisfied? Are you prospering in abundance? Do you have perfect peace? There are many benefits and blessings to this new life in Christ yet to be experienced. A prospering soul overflows into our mind, will and emotions taking captive the lie of the enemy and releasing God’s People to live in liberty. Do you feel free today?

So be truly glad…there is wonderful joy ahead even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

Our youngest is preparing to take her driving test to obtain her learner’s permit. She turned fifteen months ago, she has been studying and worrying about the test ever since. I have encouraged her many times constantly reminding her that she cannot drive for a year after she passes the first test. Yet still she not taken the test. The word “test” is four-letter word that strikes fear in the heart of many students. A test is not terminal but temporary. The weight put upon it by worry, care and anxiety far greater than the outcome. The Emergency Broadcast System was established for preparation and information during a trial or turmoil in our country. The Lord has provided us with similar information so that when our faith is tested it will be proven genuine. Have we tuned Him out? Turned the volume of His Voice down? The best way to pass the test is preparation.

Job 23:10-14 (NLT) “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Tests and trials are a part of every believer’s life. It has nothing to do with our ability to be faithful or not. It is a product of God’s Love for us and His Goodness that is always pursuing us. He made a plan for your life that is better than anything you can think, ask or imagine. Your just enough is supposed to be more than enough. Your near misses were really hidden victories. Job lost everything in a day. Job lived a godly life. The Book of Job is hard to fathom that one man could do seemingly everything right and still have such tragedy befall him. But in the end, Job received a double portion from God. His pride fully crucified left dying in the past – the rest of life would be fulfilled just as the Lord promised.

What is your trial today? Are you in the midst of a test? The test of true faith is not in our success and failure but in our steadfastness and endurance. God is giving you an opportunity to trust Him a little more. Follow Him a bit farther. To experience the abundant and satisfying life that He designed and predestined you to have. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the test or trial that is preparing us for it.

I Thessalonians 5:15-22 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

How is it possible to keep our joy in the midst of tragedy? How do we continue to pray when it seems to be falling on deaf ears? How does one maintain thankfulness in poverty or lack? This is God’s Will for you in Jesus Christ. To have joy and peace in every trial and test requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave you His Spirit when you decided to ask Him to be your Savior and make Him Lord of your life. This is a process. Don’t let anyone lie to you. Faith grows daily not overnight. Trust produces confidence in the hope given to us. His Grace is enough for the challenging tests that take more than one try. The promise that He make good of every detail of our life includes the failures of faith.

I Peter 1:8 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

“This is a test. It is only a test. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Forgive me for the paraphrasing liberty taken with the Word of God. If we could only learn to trust that Jesus truly did overcome the world – we would live in constant victory as the Glory of God overtakes us. To believe that nothing is impossible with God changes everything. Our reaction to ordinary problems becomes extraordinary outcomes when the test is not as impressive as our God. When our response to the impossible is expectation of a miracle – it changes everything from the inside out of us. To know that no matter what comes our way – anything is possible makes life worth living because it gives us hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment no longer how long it takes. Faith is not based on what we see but WHO we know. When we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of faith it changes if every tragedy into a “lived happily ever after” story. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength today. Take what little bit of energy you have left and give Him praise. He is worthy of our worship even on the darkest day. Those who do will pass the test of genuine faith that opens the door to the everlasting.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His Promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

James 1:16-18 (NIV) Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

Who doesn’t love to receive a gift? Especially that unexpected random bit of thoughtfulness on an ordinary day out of the blue for no reason at all. Such simple gestures grow relationships including marriages and friendships. But in that moment of receiving – it can become a burden if you have nothing to offer in return. Even from a friend rather than accepting with humble gratitude, our pride wants to immediately give something back. To reciprocate that goodness offered in order to remove any expectation or indebtedness. I love to give. I am a giver by nature. I have a tough time receiving. I am not sure why or even the point of this scripture passage that I have been led to. What gift is the Father offering me today? Am I willing to receive it? Though I have nothing to give Him, He is always doing good things for me.

The Lord lavishes His Unfailing Love and Grace on us each day. He pursues us with His Faithfulness. He gifts us with new mercy each day. He promises to provide all of our needs. He offers to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask, think or even imagine. The gift of life in exchange for the death sentence that once convicted us. God is good. He is a Good Father. His Son, Jesus, is good. He is ALWAYS good even when we are not. His Love transcends our faults, failures and weaknesses. We cannot reciprocate it. There is nothing worthy to return to Him even as an offering. He just keeps making good of the details in my life just as His Word says. Grace maintains that no matter what the Lord never changes His Mind about me and His Love will always be enough to change my life radically. To turn darkness in to Light. To transform the natural into supernatural. To take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. All I must do is believe.

To believe. Such a simple word with magnificent and marvelous ramifications if applied in our life. Yet why the struggle…could it be that the offer sounds too good? The depth of God’s Love too overwhelming to go further than wading. The vastness of it producing so much freedom that fear tells us we will be lost. Do you believe that God is good? Have you experienced His Goodness? Would you like to?

Matthew 7:7-12 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

There are heartbreaking stories of silent orphanages all over the world. Filled with babies and small children yet void of any sound. Why don’t the babies cry? They know that no one will come. How sad is that to even consider a crying child that has never experienced the warmth of a tight embrace or soothing whispers of a loved one. Last year our office adopted a family for the holidays, a grandfather caring for a handful of grandchildren abandoned by parents caught up in bad choices. When all the gifts were gathered and presented to them, I was humbled by comparison. My own children take for granted the gifts that these children cherished. Ordinary things that one might think every childhood entails including a warm jacket for an unseasonably cold winter. We are no longer orphans.

We have a Heavenly Father. Whether we are prodigal or presiding with Him, it doesn’t matter His Love and Lavishing Goodness are for us. Grace makes a way for us to enter His Presence and come to Him bolding with confidence that He will answer. So why are we not asking, seeking and knocking on Heaven’s Door? It all goes back to one word. The same word that keeps those little babies from crying. Fear. The fear of unmet expectation is stifling in the life of a believer. Past experiences tell us to trust no one.

Our Father invites us and longs for us to come to Him. “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts those who ask Him.” The rain falls on the just and unjust. The Lord is always providing what we need to experience fruitfulness and abundance in our life. It is our receivership that struggles. Pride verses humility. I remember when our oldest ventured out on his own. He was full of confidence and even a little arrogance. He went overseas to serve our country for almost a year. When he came back, he moved into an apartment and began “adulting”. He balked at returning home to get his feet on the ground. Six months later, home looked really good. The “King of Rock and Roll” – the one and only Elvis Presley – had the misfortune of an untimely death as he decided to do things “My Way.” I wonder what would happen if we humbled ourselves as little children at the feet of Jesus and crawled in Father God’s lap to ask forgiveness for our failures, unload our fears and finally confide in Him our wants, needs and desires. Good things, that’s what we would experience as the Goodness of the Father overtakes His Children who come to Him.

John 14:15-18 (NIV) “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the Glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Every promise that can be found in God’s Word (written and spoken) are a resounding “yes” thanks to the precious gift of salvation through the Blood of Jesus. The Spirit of Adoption, the Holy Spirit, identifies us as God’s Children. He is a Good Father who blesses His Children with good things day in and day out. Where is God’s Goodness in your life? All around you. Why can’t you see it? Do you believe?

Do not let past unmet expectation or lifetime disappointment keep you from believing in the Goodness of God. His Grace is enough to overcome every sin, fault and failure and He promises that His Power is for the weak. We must believe enough to ask. To approach the Father in faith that He will do just as He said that He would do with the willingness to wait until He responds. Doubt will keep you from destiny if allowed to flourish in the place of faith. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans.” We are not orphans but dearly loved children of the Most High God. It’s time to live like it.

When the prodigal son returned home, he was met by the love and grace of his father with fully restored sonship. Even Elijah experienced the loving kindness of the Father when hiding on the mountain. The still small voice did not condemn him for fearing Jezebel and hiding from her threats. No, He simply asked him – “What are you doing here?” What is the still small voice saying to you today? The Lord wants to shower His Love and Affection on us every day. He is always sending us good gifts. He is a Good Father. He calls us His Children.

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.