Can You Feel It?

Can You Feel It

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

It happened in the middle of the local superstore. Holiday shoppers scurrying all around. A cart full of supplies for the ladies Christmas party. The checklist of details in my head somehow got tangled up in my brain. Completely turned upside down with every other to-do list it began sucking me into the vortex of too much to do and too little time. My heart began racing . My head pounding. Stress, anxiety and pressure met together and staged their attack and it worked. I left the cart and walked out the door.

Can you feel it? The pressure, stress and anxiety waged against the human heart and mind during this busy season. The Light shining in our heart somehow grows dim under the shadow of human expectation and high demands. It doesn’t have to be the world. It can even be the church often found to be a shelter of peace and place of rest. I have openly shared my own struggles with the holiday season in an attempt to help others overcome the enemy’s plight to steal the love, joy and peace out of Christmas. To somehow overshadow the hope that arrived when Jesus made His Arrival.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles…” The first step to overcoming the burden of our heart is to find the source of the pressure. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. It is no respecter of persons. The uninvited guest overstaying their welcome – it begins to take over our thoughts and feelings. Like a thief in the night, it comes unexpectedly and takes others belongings. There is a promise in the pressure. We will not be crushed. When we are perplexed, there is a limit before reaching despair. Though hunted down by a ruthless enemy, we are never abandoned or forsaken by God. No matter how many times knocked down, we cannot be destroyed. It is through suffering, our life begins to resemble that of Jesus. What is your response to pressure? Walk away? Tap out? Shut down? Melt down?

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

Reading this today, I can’t help but thing “no kidding”. What if this is not a slight or cut down but a simple observation? God’s Word is instruction. It is not uncommon for Christians to think that every bit of opposition and adversity that creates pressure in our life is from the enemy of our soul. I believe God uses the very thing the enemy has tried to break us for His Glory. What if the pressure is not from the external force but the internal God who lives in us? What if it is the Holy Spirit pressing out the doubt, uncertainty and insecurity found in hidden unbelief in the deepest darkest recesses of our heart? To fail under pressure often reveals parts of our being reliant on an insufficient source.

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

The father brought his son to Jesus. Filled with an evil spirit, he was constantly tortured. Convulsions that through him violently to the ground. Foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. It even tried to kill the boy by throwing him in water and fire. The father was desperate so he came to Jesus. The disciples tried to cast out the demon but could not. So the father came to the Lord sharing his plight. He said to the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us…if you can.”

“If you can…” Words fatal to our faith and evidence of unbelief. Driven to the edge of despair, the contents of the father’s heart poured out before the Lord. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Do you believe today? The father was honest in his response to Jesus. “I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief?” This is the product of pressure. Pressure forces what is in our heart out of it. It allows us to carefully inspect the contents. Careful examination often reveals the fears, doubts and insecurities hidden within so that we can give them to Jesus so He WILL DO what He has already promised to do!

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

Pressure is applied by expectation. Expectation in any other source than Jesus Christ has the possibility of being unmet. God’s Word tells us exactly what is given to us by the Lord and what is not. It is a light for our path and compass for our soul. It reveals the traps and pitfalls set for us by the enemy. Jesus gives us examples time and time again of ways to overcome fear with faith and triumph over trouble by simply believing. We need the Word of God for faith to become logical and for practical application in our life. The Word was made flesh. Jesus is the Word of God. There is no way to know Him without knowing the Word. There is no way to reach the Father without Jesus. Faith is seeded by the Word and then watered by it as it grows, develops and matures in our life. A seed undergoes tremendous pressure to be transformed into its true potential as do God’s People.

Matthew 9:17 (NLT) “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

Are you pressed today? What if the pressure is coming from the inside and not the outside? What if the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you so that God’s Goodness and Glory will be manifested in your life? Pressure requires change. Our old life, old ways, and old habits must be revealed to be removed. As God begins to change us from the inside out and do that new work inside of us – it produces pressure. Those who choose to stay the same will burst under pressure – give up, go back and quit the process of redemption, restoration and renewal that the Lord has begun. Those who allow the Lord to transform them from the inside out will see new life, new hope, and all things become new because they believed.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (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. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Can you feel it? God is pressing us today. He wants to give us new life. To make us into a new creation. There are some things that must go and seeds to be planted in its place. Generosity in our life begins within our heart. We must not give in response to pressure but rather willingly. God will do exactly what His Word says for those who believe. He is doing for those who do not believe but because their faith is in other things – they do not see results. Pressure, stress, worry and burdens are part of life. What we do when trouble comes dictates the outcome. I can choose to retain them in fear and doubt caused by unbelief or I can surrender them all to Jesus Christ.

Faith is an action not just a word. It means taking my life and sowing it as seed into the Kingdom. When pressure comes don’t blame the enemy but seek the Lord. Failing under pressure means our strength is not coming from God but either self or some other unworthy source. You are a Child of the King. Live like it. Let Him show you who you are and what He has for you in His Word. Talk to Him and listen for His Whispers to you. Your life has purpose and it is glorious. Lord, let us be vessels that do not give into pressure but give way to Your Spirit – In Jesus Name!

John 16:33 (NLT) “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.”

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What’s Your Superpower?

whats-your-superpower.jpg

Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

What’s the Rush?


What's The Rush

Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

Well, it’s that time of year again. The holiday rush is upon us. My goal has been not to be overtaken by the wave and to enjoy the most wonderful time of year. To control the overtures of urgency as crazy schedules, long to do lists and heavy demands burden my mind and try to influence my heart. The expectations placed upon us during this time of year are tremendous. It is important as believers to rely on the Lord and His Offer to partner with us. He will share the load of life with those who allow Him to. However, that means pride must take a seat to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Busyness is a product of pride. To take full responsibility for the happiness of others is not what God intended for us. If our motto is “if I don’t do it who else will” is a prime indicator that pride has crept into our heart and mind. God is ultimately in control, in charge and the confidence of our life. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and have the privilege of choosing how to use it. It is the freedom given to us by the Lord. We can rush out or rush in. Rushing is the result of urgency. Urgency is driven by importance that creates persistence and earnest drive that insists on our immediate attention. Insecurity and fear play roles in the development of urgency. To try to survive on anything other than the Love and Grace of God given to us in ample portions is to live a life of urgency for lesser things that will not satisfy us but fuels our flesh.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God for my hope is in Him.

All that I am must learn to wait quietly before the Lord. He is my confident hope. The only hope that I have a rich and satisfying life. I can make people happy for a moment or even a season but as surely as the sun rises and sets each day – that is always subject to change. Those who applaud you one day will revile you the next – it is human nature driven by fickle hearts. God has given me a wonderful husband. He is my best friend and soul mate. I am blessed to have him. However, there are times when our imperfections cause us to be at odds and it is our commitment to each other that keeps us together. If my hope is in anyone other than the Lord, the relationship is subject to failure because it is God who fills the voids left by sin and imperfection.

To wait quietly before the Lord requires my spirit to rule over my flesh. We see in Romans 7 that this is not an uncommon plight among people who want to do all the right things and live a life pleasing to God but fail miserably on any given day. To transfer my life and all my expectations to Jesus Christ takes time. It demands my full attention. It takes a whole lot of energy…just like any good marriage does. It takes all of me – not some of me.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” The Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What are you doing here?

When Elijah rushed away to hide from Jezebel, it seems so ironic. After the miracle of God on Mount Carmel, one would think that he would be full of confidence. Yet, the threat of one person landed him on another mountain hiding in a cave. Life happens. If faith were easy or came in large quantities, it would not be compared to a tiny mustard seed. If confidence were a cloak easily worn on a daily basis, we would not experience fear, doubt and unbelief on a daily basis. Faith and confident hope in the Lord is a day by day and moment to moment decision. If you are overwhelmed with fear, anxiety or stress today, the Lord is ready to meet you right where you are. He asks only one thing, “What are you doing here?” What has caused your insecurity? What is the root of your bitterness? Why are you so down?

The Lord does not force us into His Presence. He invites us. God doesn’t beat us into submission. He offers a better way. The Holy Spirit doesn’t barge into our heart demanding space. He waits for us to open the door and let Him in. The area of your life that has created this urgency and need to rush about is the very place the Jesus stands at the door waiting. You have the mind of Christ. You have been given the opportunity to rest in perfect peace. He gives understanding to those who ask and seek Him. Rather than being influenced and driven by this life, we must become Kingdom minded and Spirit led into the peace that passes all understanding. To the place of refuge. To the strong tower given to us to lean on and live in. His Name is Jesus. His Love is unquestionable and undeniable. His Grace unfathomable. His Glory incomprehensible. His Presence is our peace. His Place is in our heart and mind. As we begin to allow Him to take over, so will the love, peace and joy that brings full satisfaction to our soul.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NLT) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

Psalm 46:10-11 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Be still, and know that I am God!

Stillness in the Lord is a decision to take our life and place it fully into the Presence of God. It means that rather than taking full responsibility for our life into our hands, we place it into the capable nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ. He is our life partner. The one who can take all our worries, cares and burdens in exchange for full satisfaction. We must trust in His Goodness and Faithfulness with full confidence that His Grace is always enough especially when we are not. Confident hope relies on trust beyond the capacity of our understanding.

We must discipline our life today with stillness. Stillness not subject to the urgency placed in us by the rush hours of life. Our persistence must be in patience not immediate gratification as we allow the Lord to do exactly what He promised according to His Timeline even when it differs significantly from our own. The Blessing of the Lord comes but without sorrow, regret, remorse or indebtedness. We are to owe no man anything but love. It is not your job to fulfill the expectations and desires of other people – it is God’s Job. Let go and let God is an effort far beyond human ability, reasoning or inclination but absolutely essential to live the abundant life that the Lord has promised us. Even when God begins to move our mountains, it will create uncertainty and instability to our flesh. Those who have learned to look to the Lord rather than man will be able to stand steadfast during the shaking until faith gives way to His Glory.

Be still today oh beating heart given to so many other things. Listen for the Lord’s whisper in the stampede of the holiday rush. Pursue the Presence of Prince of Peace and let Him overtake you! He will keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him!

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Be the Light

Be the Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The calendar page and it is finally December. Christmas music is now socially acceptable on every radio station. The Christmas trees at the local department store all already on sale after breezing past Thanksgiving. The days are full and nights even more so adding even more busyness to already overloaded lives. My email box is full of enticing advertisements. One particularly caught my eye today. It is a candle sale at a local specialty shop. I clicked the link and began to view their selection. The fragrances of the holiday pine, vanilla, cinnamon, apple and even desserts gave a hint of the deliciousness in each aroma. Then there were the ones for stress, relaxation, happiness, and energy. The mixture of the holiday senses all together in candles. These candles are special. Instead of one wick to burn, there are three. I stopped adding to my cart, and decided to take some time to study the Light.

The Light of the World is celebrated this season. He is evident in the atmosphere of churches but how effective are His People in taking His Light into the world. It is so easy to get caught up in our doing, cooking, wrapping, giving and celebrating that our focus shifts and distractions take from the simplicity of Christmas and the One who is honored during this busy time. Jesus did not stand alone to be the only light but went on to tell us that “you (and I) are the Light of the world. The ones to drive out darkness with radiant light that reflects our Savior and Born on that holy night. Only two people attended the party that cold and lonely night with a single star to illuminate the sky and let the world know the Messiah was born. It was a simple night in a manager filled with animals and hay. But the impact of the One born is still shedding light on the Truth that God loves us. He desires us. He sent a gift never to be given by a parent again. I know of no one who would allow their child to die for another if life is an option. Yet God did this for us so that the Light of His Amazing and Unconditional Love could fill cold dead hearts bringing new life again.

Let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise the Heavenly Father. The true meaning of Christmas is best expressed by the Love of God given to all mankind freely. It is not in the best party, stellar performance or even the ugliest sweater. It is to be so captivated by a baby born in a humble setting who would be the Savior of the world. The best gift to bring are the fruits produced by His Spirit. Love, joy and peace are found no other place than from Christ in us. There is no greater generosity than giving from the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and forgiveness that Jesus has given us. When our gifts begin in our heart, they are born of the Light within us.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Fan into flames the spiritual gift that God has given you. His Spirit identifies us light-filled children of the Living God. It is the inner beam with in us with the power to chase away darkness by entering a room. I have a shirt I wear this time of year that says, “Stay present.” I need the reminder with all the runaway lists, overloaded schedule, and holiday demands. The reminder that it is “presence” that is important more than anything else. I must continually enter the Presence of God to refuel the Light that lives inside me. He continually renews my passion and purpose day by day so that I do not forget who I am. The Presence of His Spirit is in me. He goes with me. I am never alone or forsaken even during those times I fall for the deception that I am isolated. I am always full of Christ. Finally, presence among people is of utmost importance. Relationship shares the Light of God’s Love with others as they get to know you they will see the Christ in you. They cannot see it if we are too busy to slow down or overburdened by details not meant for us to carry.

God did not give you the spirits of fear, timidity, anxiety or stress. You must decide that they are not for you and therefore, will not entertain them. Do not buy them either. Holiday giving should come from our heart with generosity from what we are able to give not according to the unmet or unrealistic expectations of others enhanced by a supply and demand world filthy from greed. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow added to it. We must master our emotions and not allow them to carry us away. It is not our job to give our children better than we had. It is not our job to meet all earthly expectation. We can burn ourselves out trying to do so, then where is the light to share with others.

Last night, my daughters and I took a late night run to the store for some extra touches for our tree. I realized walking through the store that I was actually enjoying decorating the tree this year. This is the first time I can remember in forever. Going through boxes of ornaments, my thoughts turned to our grandson not yet born. Next year, he will be here and our son will be married with a new bonus grandchild as well. Our family is growing. It is expanding with new life and new love. My heart is full. I am satisfied. God is slowly removing those feelings of insecurity, doubt, worry and stress from me. It has taken many years. His Word is forcing out the lies that overshadowed this miraculous season. His Spirit in me has been slowing adding those lies to a burn pile that is changing the darkness to light. Jesus is a life giver. He will make new whatever old things you entrust to Him. He doesn’t give us like for like but gives us so much more.

I John 2:10 (NLT) Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.

This Christmas will not be successful unless there is love. Love came down from a Heavenly Throne to a dirty stable so that you and I could be part of His Family. Rightness with God was made possible because Jesus came to us. The Light of His Love was given to us when He died on the Cross and sent His Spirit to live in us. The Christmas Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Light of God’s Love flows from us when we decide to give others the gift of love and life. We do that not by expensive gifts, fancy menus or perfect parties. No, we do it when we offer someone our place in line. Give up our right of way in traffic with a smile. To help someone carry their packages to the care. Hold the door. Thank the cashier. Invite someone to church and offer to come pick them up. Pay it forward. Buy an unsuspecting friend lunch when the bill comes. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you. Sometimes we try to share Jesus without sharing His Love and find it to be frustrating and ineffective. God is love. The character and nature of God is graceful, faithful, gentle, and giving. We must love those around us with the Light of His Love to lead them to the manager and celebrate our newborn king.

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Is your light burning out? Do you feel dim? Do you have a cloud of darkness on the horizon? Maybe the holiday blues have taken a hold of you? Are you feeling overloaded this first week of a very long month? I have wonderful news for you! The Light of God’s Love lives in you. He is ready to reignite the flame of passion to pursue Him this busy season. Jesus will break every stronghold of insecurity, fear, stress, worry and the like from you – you only need to ask for His Help. Light always chases away darkness. Let the Light of His Word brighten the path before you. Let the Light of His Wisdom show you what is important and what is not. Let your Savior and Lord – save and deliver you from unrealistic expectations and the demands of society to step into the Light of His Love all over again.

Father, Son and Spirit are the three-wick candle of His Love today given to us as a precious gift. He is the Gift that keeps on giving. His Love will never let us down. His Passion in pursuing us is resilient. Take charge of your heart and let His Light fill every dark corner. Be transparent with the Lord and His Light will reveal any darkness looming within. The struggle against our flesh including our will, desires and emotions is a constant battle. Feed your Spirit – starve the flesh. Fuel the Spirit and burn away the darkness. Make it a point before you light up the tree, wrap a single gift, prepare a holiday menu or attend a performance to fan the flame of His Spirit within you. It will change the Spirit of Christmas every time.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Overwhelmed to Overcomer

A close-up shot of a broken chain

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Overwhelmingly victorious – that’s us in Christ. Do you feel victorious today? Are you overwhelmed? Or are you an overcomer? Are you convinced? Convinced you are sinking fast? Or convinced the Lord will lift you up? Tis the season for the overwhelmed to experience the greatest of difficulties. Carefully laid traps along the way to snare our emotions, feelings and even suffocate us with exhaustion. It is time to stop defending our depression and disappointment and take a step over to the offense. We have the power to be overcomers in life. Not just in the big things, but in every detail. The Lord gives victory over our worries and cares to those who believe.

Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s Love. The scripture seems like such a wide curve. We go from death to life straight to worries, cares, and feelings. We must overcome fear to circumvent doubt. Doubt can only exist where faith ceases to exist. If you have fears, cares, worries, burdens and stress today – you are not alone. The winter months are considered the most depressing time of the whole year. Add the holiday lists and enormous expectations put on each other and people are easily overwhelmed during a season of great celebration. The birth of Jesus changed everything. If we could only convince ourselves of that, maybe this season would be filled with overcomers not the overwhelmed.

Expectation adds weight. I expect that chair I am sitting in this morning to bear my weight. I have put my faith and trust in the cheap desk chair to hold me and not fold to the floor under the burden. During the holidays, expectations run high. Human expectation is put on one another. Impossible demands on our time. Suddenly our faith in God is displaced and put on the shoulders of ordinary men and women to make everyone’s dreams come true. Demands turn to debt in all shapes and sizes. What do you expect this holiday season? Who do you have you give your full expectation? If our full expectation is not on Jesus Christ, then the substance of our faith has been compromised. Given to a lesser thing that is not able to render full satisfaction and the abundant life promised by the Lord. What is the substance of your faith today? Or should I say, “Who?”

John 16:33 (NLT) “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.”

Many times, people decide only to take “big” things to a Big God. Yet, He is interested in every facet of our life. Every day, moment, second and breath – the Lord is with us turning the details into good things for us. (Romans 8:28) Our inability to give every burden, care and worry to the Lord is a detriment to us. He will perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8) – our only responsibility is to trust Him more. The Lord was quite transparent – here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. I think sometimes we forget that part and jump over the “but” to “I have overcome the world.” You are an overcomer and there will be many opportunities to exercise our faith in the realm of impossibilities called trials and sorrows. You cannot find peace until you understand uncertainty. You cannot have faith until you overcome doubt. Trusting God requires believing Him at His Word.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Who? Those who fear (respect) the Lord and delight in obeying His Commands. “Such people will not be overcome by evil…) Yes, to be overcome by evil can be sin. What if it also means the lie of the enemy that leads to anxiety and fear, too? What if the Lord is warning us here of the carefully laid trap of feelings and emotions. The Word says that God is greater than our feelings. Please God take hold of my emotions, wrap them in Your Word today so that I may do Your Will at all times. The rules and regulations of the Bible are for the religious. The instructions in God’s Word are for His Children and those who live in a loving relationship with Him.

Psalm 119:133 says, “Guide my steps with your word so I will not be overcome by evil.” Feed your soul today. Give the Spirit of God something to nourish your spirit man. Fill your mouth with praise. Empty your hands long enough to lift your hands in worship. The relationship you have with Jesus Christ is not a religion it is the role of beloved. He wants to help you carry the load called life. He will take your burdens and turn them into blessings. We must only believe. Funny, that we plaster this word all over the place during the holidays but seldom take the time to truly live it accordingly.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24) Before getting overwhelmed in the days and demands ahead, take a moment to ask the Lord to help overcome unbelief. Jesus Christ overcame the world. (Period) There is nothing you will face today that can defeat you. There is nothing you do today that is not marked by success. God already promised to supply your need and released every spiritual blessing in your life so be generous. Confidence is born of trust. You will never be confident in someone or something left untried. Test the Lord. Try Him at His Word. Believe. He can handle it.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The Will of God for you is to overcome fear, stress, worry and doubt today. The Lord desires nothing more than to move you from overwhelmed to be an overcomer. To overcome means to overpower and overwhelm that which is trying to do the same to you. It means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty. It means to be immovable. We must fortify our faith by investing trust as seeds of success in our everyday life. The roots of a tree do not stop growing until faced with a limitation. I have trees in pots that hardly grow because they have reached the limit set by the container. My yard is filled with trees of all kinds. The roots have been growing for years without limit as the treetops tower high in the sky. How big is your God today? Have you placed a limit on His Power by limiting the space of your heart? He wants to make you strong and immovable ready to thrive and prosper in this life. We have victory over sin, death and the grave so what is there to lose. We have been given His Promise that He has overcome the world for us so we do not ever have to be overwhelmed again! God even goes so far as to promise that we can enthusiastically work for Him and nothing we do will ever be in vain. We will always be successful.

Success in Jesus is prosperity of our soul that works its way into our life. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take a deep cleansing breath. Breathe out every worry, care and fear you have been holding on to. Breathe in His Spirit. Whisper His Promises. Let the Lord love on you today. He will never ever let you down. The Lord is with you always even to the ends of the earth. We just have to get to the end of self and trust Him more.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

My Holiday List

My Holiday List

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s funny how things work. I was visiting a local discount store the other day entering through the Lawn and Garden Department through the automatic doors into a winter wonderland. How did that happen so quickly? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Surveying the Christmas trees and contemplating going back to a fake tree, it hit me. The holidays were here and I was fighting the blues or on the verge of depression. My poor children will attest that I am not very festive during such times. I have had to fight my entire life to find peace during this time. It begins as a mad rush to meet the expectations of so many and time which already seems short so exhausted. As I walked through the Christmas décor as if to challenge my emotions to rise up but nothing. I celebrated my small victory. It would be short-lived. Talking with another ministry leader in our church and our pastor, she began detailing my responsibilities during the holidays. Decorate the church, provide food for a fellowship, host a women’s meeting, and my mind checked out somewhere after that. Suddenly all those emotions came flooding back, I no longer wanted to decorate even our tree, celebrate the season or engage in the holiday rush. I just wanted to disappear and see everyone in January.

Now I could dig into the vast depths of such an emotional shutdown and bore you with details, I love to celebrate the Lord’s Birth. I love to worship Him during this miraculous and wonderful season of hope. But truly we all have our ghosts of Christmas past, just as Ebenezer has heralded. I don’t really care to share these things but rather offer a light given to me from the Word of God today. The Word is the weapon of our Spirit to kill the lie of the enemy, to subdue and take captive rebellious thoughts, and to overcome the bondage of expectations other than those God has for us. His Spirit takes them and uses them to combat our troublesome flesh that longs for control but uses it against us.

I read I Thessalonians 5:18 yesterday and then again today. The overture of emotions and fight for my peace is keeping me locked in this selection of scriptures. I sense that maybe they might be useful for you as well. Setting out to sermonize my symptoms, I found that many people actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression largely from unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments. Add in to the mix – that there is less sunlight which is known to change human behavior. With less sunlight, people are prone to eat more and sleep more. With such insight – I give you my new holiday list.

This year my holiday goals are simple. I will rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. I will know and do the Will of God for me which are these three things. End of list. I am challenging myself not to make a list this year and give up control of all the details. I release myself from unrealistic expectations because the Greater is He who lives in me does not make me a super human. He is the Greatest Thing about Christmas. I must keep my focus clearly set on Him. It is His Birthday that we celebrate. He brought hope to a dying people of new life, rebirth, renewal and full restoration. This is God’s Will for me. I am challenged to do His Will this holiday season as I strive to the rest of the year with greater success.

I Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV) Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

The Holy Spirit is our helper. The Lord gave Him to us because of our weakness. To plant seeds of faith deep into the crevices of even the most broken of hearts to grow and prosper our soul according to His Will. God’s Plan for our life does not change or stop because one chooses to disengage. The Lord is always working in us to fulfill His Work in us. I am quite sure it grieves His Spirit when the enemy is able to convince us otherwise.

In a season meant for fellowship and celebration, he pulls out an arsenal of lies, confusion and discord to wreak havoc on God’s People as we celebrate our Savior the annihilator of sin. When Jesus arrived, the enemy was put on notice. When He made it through this life as a sinless man to sacrifice His Life on the Cross, death and the grave were rendered ineffective. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have nothing to lose and everything to gain. During a time when many people go to church for the first, one and only time of the year, what better way to hinder God’s Work than to plague his people with fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and dim the Light of God’s Love that is love, joy, peace and absolute freedom.

We must strive to hold what is good and reject every kind of evil especially that which plays on our mind, will and emotions. It is a personal choice to rejoice always. It is personal commitment to pray continually. It is an absolute necessity to be thankful in all circumstances for that is the Will of God for us.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

In Luke 2:14 the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His Favor rests.” God’s Favor belongs to us. He gave it to us. He also has given us peace. Peace that can silence the demands of the world and give us absolute rest during the busiest most overwhelming season of the year. The secret is found these verses today. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless in the coming of Christ. Sometimes “blame” comes hidden in the expectations of others that we try to carry rather than fully entrusting our spirit, soul and body to Christ. It is the lie that if we do not meet the expectations of those around us to “their” full satisfaction that we somehow have “failed the Lord. God’s Will for my life is listed clearly to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. I do not read anywhere that it is to make everyone else happy and content but to receive and live in the full satisfaction and contentment of Christ. The Lord is faithful. Our faithfulness in Jesus Christ gives us good fruit to satisfy others much more than a “perfect” holiday that is simply not possible.

John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I offer you the same gift that I am challenging myself to hold tight to this holiday season. The Peace of God has been given to us. It is His Gift upon his departure so that we can live completely resting on the faithfulness of God and His Promises through Jesus Christ – His Gift to us. Do not let the enemy have your joy. Do not give up your prayer time which is communication with the One who loves us the most and expects the least. Be thankful even when challenged with discontentment, dissatisfaction and unmet expectations that this world will readily offer throughout the next month. Gratitude will always change your attitude. The enemy wants to steal away this season of celebration of our Savior’s Birth. He wants to make you doubt the Hope found in His Arrival. Don’t let him. Use the Spirit of the Lord within you to rally against such thoughts and unfruitful considerations. Greater is He that is in you! You are an overcomer even when it is self that is the adversary. My prayer for us today is this:

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you (me) completely with joy and peace because you (I) trust in him. Then you (I) will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mud Slinging

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Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I was a little girl, my family spent a great deal of time at the beach. My grandmother and I would sit on the edge of the surf where the water’s edge would almost reach us and the sand was wet to build sandcastles. It was there she taught me to create “drip” castles. Taking a handful of saturated sand, holding it up and letting it drip – you create a sandcastle by moving your hand around to create a monument. It almost resembles a mountain with tall peaks resembling turrets. I have been thinking lately if our words may be the very essence of some of the mountains in our life. Words thoughtlessly released or aimed directly at another that hardened into doubt or even offense. I wonder if the dripping sarcasm or biting dissatisfaction is weighting down the very thing that we are requesting the Lord to remove.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing” is a tall order. Our life is built around convenience, comfort and control. When one of these three are threatened, our pride and selfishness quickly work to construct the foundation as to not interrupt these “vital” necessities of life. Crying out to the Lord to move a mountain, but then firmly packing it in place with words thought to be idle and careless maybe just a release only to stand in frustration before the insurmountable thing which we cannot seem to overcome. What does your mountain look like? Is it made of grumbling, complaining and constant whining?

Pure and blameless” faith comes from a heart that is confident in God’s Salvation and Sovereignty. His Ability to now only save you but sustain you in life. Faith, even in the smallest measure, will move any mountain. I wonder if our faith is being choked out or suffocated by a barrage of worthless banter. If I am complaining about my life as a Child of God, I am telling the world that He is simply not enough. I am confirming their doubt that He is not a saving God full of unconditional love and amazing grace. I am actually feeding the darkness rather than creating new light.

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light of the world now lives in us. Is He shining brightly today? Are you confident that He lives in you and works through you? Do you believe that the Lord is working every detail of your life for good as the Word of God tells us in Romans 8:28? Reading just a little further, are you confident that nothing can ever separate you from the Love of God and that you have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ? See if we believed, our conversation would change. Our way of conversation would shine brightly with confidence that His Love is enough to overcome the mountain of doubt rather than constantly fortifying doubt with mud-slinging words and negative connotation. We give our God and His Son a bad reputation when our words and heart are out of alignment.

Luke 6:45 (NIV) A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will give account on the day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” What is your daily conversation? Do you listen to the words coming out of your mouth each day? God does. He judges us for the abundance of idle and worthless words that are empty. God has filled us with good fruit. His Spirit gives us the ability and abundance to pour out for others. Love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Did you think it was for you? The generosity of God is poured into us to be released into the darkness of this world and fill it with the Light of His Love. To feed the hungry physically, emotionally and spiritually with the Word of our testimony. Seed left in the silo will not grow it must be put in fertile ground to grow, develop, mature and reproduce. What is your testimony today? In Revelation, it tells us that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb AND the Word of our testimony? What are you saying about the Lord? Grumbling, complaining, and negativity are born of a hard heart that has not discovered the satisfaction born of faith and hope. Has fear, doubt and anxiety filled your heart with negativity and doubt?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

“Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” It is my responsibility to monitor the words flowing from my lips. Fresh water cannot come from a salty or even stagnant pond. My words should build and not destroy. Build others up. Build my faith in God. Build a solid foundation of faith rather than adding weight the mountain I am trying to overcome. Faith-full words speak things not yet seen into existence welcoming God’s Spirit to do His Work, not grieving Him, but rather moving “me” out of the way. Bitterness is the root choking out the goodness God is doing in us and through us when we decide that His Word, Will or Way is not for us. It is absolutely for you. Faith makes the unseen hope we have a reality. It moves mountains of doubt out of the way so that we can become one with Christ enjoying all of His Benefits, Promises and Prosperity.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Today I must consider the conversations I will have and monitor closely my communication with others. Every word I speak is important as it tells of the contents of my heart. I have some mountains still to be removed. I have some doubt that must be washed away with the Word. When building drip castles on the beach, I did not see the significance of the lesson the Lord would teach me in that moment. “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (woman), I put the ways of childhood behind me.” (I Corinthians 13:11)

My grandmother is in Heaven with Jesus now. I miss her every day. Soon it will be my turn to build drip castles on the beach with my grandson, I want my conversation be filled with faith that will build him into a mighty man of God – full of life and favor. I must first build that kind of heart in me. I cannot share a faith I do not own for it is not mine to give. My Gram introduced me to Jesus and I hope to have the same privilege with him one day building sandcastles on the beach. Until then, it is up to me to take captive every thought contrary to faith before it leaves my mouth and cast it back where it came from. To allow the Water of the Word to wash away fear and doubt just as high tide melts sandcastles along the beach. It is important in overcoming the fears, doubts and insecurities that compromise my faith and hinder my hope to take make sure my heart and mouth agree on a daily basis. It is no easy task but always well worth the effort. Mud-slinging words filled with complaining and grumbling feel way better leaving me but then harden into yet another weight keeping my mountain from budging an inch much less melting in the sea. We must put away childish conversation and speak the words of our Father each day.

Lord, let every word I speak be pleasing to you. Pull out every root of bitterness and plant a new seed of faith in the void left behind. Strengthen my heart and remind my soul that you are my confident hope. I have new life in you, Jesus and Your Promises are for me. I give You my heart, mind, soul and body to you again. Lord, use me and my words to bring You glory today. You are worthy of it all.

Revelation 12:10-12 (NIV) Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

James 2:20-22 (NIV) You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Moving through the brush excited and full of expectation. At the base of the mountain full of energy and exuberance – beginning the ascent to the top while taking in the natural beauty all around. Body, mind and spirit fully engaged. As the steps continue it gets a little steeper, naturally so, you are moving higher therefore it will require climbing to reach the highest peak. Maybe at this point, your body aches but your mind is determined to reach your destination. Minutes turn to hours and yes, you’re still steadily moving up but at this point losing sight of the surrounding beauty our mind gives way to focus on breathing and continuing to put one foot in front of the other. You are tired. You begin to contemplate giving up. This was a stupid idea. A complete waste of time. You have better things to do. Maybe I should just turn around and go back. I am not getting anywhere. This journey will never end. Pushing through the trees, they finally give way to the peak of the mountain and the limitless is right before your eyes. Breathing in deeply you cannot fully contemplate the vast beauty surrounding you. You didn’t give up. You pressed in. You made it to the top and now you can see from a new perspective.

Have you ever climbed a spiritual mountain? The feelings and emotions are really the same. You start out full of excitement and expectation at the promise of God set before you. You believe it is for you. Beginning the daunting task of walking it out seems so easy until the first obstacle rises up. This may be harder than first considered. Pressing on – more obstacles and even some opposition and now your own body works against you. The place of decision and crossroads of thought to consider rather to give up or continue to preserve. Relief sounds wonderful. Rest is appealing. An escape from the challenge seems like the most viable option. What will you do? Will you continue the climb or run back down the mountain to live a comfortable, complacent, and convenient life?

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

The last couple of days, I have studied the mountain looking closely at its structure and evaluated it by design. We can all draw a triangle and fill it with what comprises our latest challenge and become the mountain in our life. But as discovered yesterday, the mountain is not what it seems. The mountain is nothing more than doubt ready to be overcome by faith. You have to climb the mountain to overtake it. A daily commitment to overcome doubt is the only way to have the Promise of God for those who live in His Righteousness. But how do I get there from here?

Faith and our actions must work together. Faith is made complete by the two becoming one. How is that possible? Faith in the Promise of God must become our motivation. Doubt is the obstacle. The mountain in our life may be comprised of a number of challenges, difficulties and even impossibilities. We overcome them all by believing God over our situation, circumstances, trials and trouble. God’s Word refutes the enemies lie and is the truth concerning us. Those who believe the Word of God claiming each promise personally must engage in overcoming doubt including fear, stress, anxiety and worry which keep the mountain in place. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” (Matthew 21:21 – Jesus)

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. This is the God we serve. He is a miracle working God who can take an ordinary life and make it extraordinary. He has a plan and purpose that will lead you directly to fulfillment but you have to work His Plan not make up your own variation. There is an amusement park about an hour and a half from our home. It is not as far away as Orlando or the Magic Kingdom. Living on a tight budget with a large family, it would be a weekend getaway. Even though many great memories were made there, it did not compare to the wonder and excitement when we took the kids to Walt Disney World. I remember our youngest watching the parade and whispering, “A real princess, mommy” in breathless awe of the fairytale unfolding before her eyes. Compromise is evidence of doubt complicating our life and deteriorating faith.

Abraham had nothing to lose. When the messengers came to deliver the news that his promise was about to arrive, he continued in his expectation just as he did the day before. For years, he and Sarah struggled with heartbreaking infertility. Abraham did not sit idly by. He did do try to compromise. He did try to do it himself. Advanced in age, it was now impossible humanly and then God showed up. The promise of God comes by faith. The ultimate promise is eternal life. It is only achieved by faith. Faith is evident in our everyday life…or at least should be to be effective.

Romans 4:18-20 (NIV) Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…”

Here are some important truths to remember to overcome doubt today:

The promise comes by faith. If you can do it, see it, or make it happen – it is your plan – not God’s Perfect Plan. If you decide to change course, and stop pushing, pressing and planting seeds of faith in the mountain called doubt it will stay right where it is.

Against all hope – you must believe. Believing God at His Word and deciding it belongs to you is the beginning of fruitful expectation. A broken heart is a fertile heart. Humility softens our heart and it receives seeds of faith more readily. Sometimes it takes the impossible for us to finally give God all the pieces of our broken heart and allow Him to make the beautiful masterpiece that He promised in Ephesians 2:10.

Without weakening in faith – you must continue to believe. Faith is not logical because it is not based on anything we can see. Thomas encountered Jesus after the resurrection. He had followed Jesus throughout His Ministry. He was there when Jesus performed miracles. He was witness to signs and wonders. He heard the Word right from the Living Word. He saw Jesus crucified. He was at the empty tomb. Minutes before the Risen Lord walked through the walls and filled the room with His Presence. What more would anyone need to believe? Thomas had to see and touch the Lord to finally believe. What will it take for you to finally believe that Jesus is Who He said He is and will do exactly what He has promised to do? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29 – Jesus)

Do not waver in unbelief. When did you stop trying to overtake doubt and give in to it? We all find ourselves at the crossroads of decision – continue in faith or abandon the effort. How do I know when I waver in unbelief? Fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and retreat are all characteristic of doubt. Doubt cannot coexist with belief. It is the polar opposite. If you believe, you will continue. If you believe, you will wait. If you believe, you will not go back. If you believe, you will accept no substitution. If you believe, you will obtain God’s Promise in the land of the living and forevermore.

Genesis 22:9-14 (NIV) When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Abraham finally had a son. Years and years resulting a single precious boy that would make him the “father of many nations” per the promise of God to him. Now Abraham did not see the real meaning of his promise for his eyes were on the natural. God instructed Abraham to take his “promise” to the mountain. I just want to stop here and interject – would any parent reading this do anything to intentionally harm their own child. I didn’t think so. Me either. Well, God instructed his servant to take his son to the mountain and offer Isaac as a sacrifice. How important is your promise to you? Does it have a face? Is it a person? Can you see, hear or touch it? It may be required of you. It is all too easy to decide what is best for us or to lay hold to the identity of what we need, want or desire and lose sight of the Source. The Source of Hope beyond today, tomorrow and stepping into eternity. Abraham went to the mountain but now the face of it had changed. He offered his son, his only son, Isaac to the Lord. The Lord provided the sacrifice so now we can live with the promise. Abraham called that place, “The Lord Will Provide” and to this very day it is said, “on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” What will be provided? Faith.

Your mountain must be overtaken. We overtake doubt with the Truth of His Love and faith in His Word. Jesus overcame the enemy in the wilderness and even on the mountain simply repeating the Word of God. We must remind ourselves that God love us. He is Good to us. He fights for us. He desires us. He has a promise for us. It is all received by faith that does not doubt. The mountain cannot be cast into the sea unless we believe. Faith and confident hope begin to break down pride, fear, anxiety, worry and stress. As faith grows, it breaks up any foundation of doubt so when the time is right the mountain will be cast in the sea. What is on the other side of the mountain? Well, why don’t you just go and see!

James 2:23-24 (NIV) And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

The Mountain

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Mark 11:22-23a (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.

David faced the Philistine giant and won. How many times do we feel as though we too face giants in life? The people who come against our beliefs. Those who cast insults and hurl slurs at the God we serve or His Son, Jesus. The ones who are mean, cruel, betrayers, abusers and/or spiteful users. Are they really the enemy? No, they are people who the Lord loves just the same. We mark them as the “giants” because the adversarial force that comes against believers is unseen. We need a mark or target to sling the smooth stone and exact a mark for certain death. The opposition in our life is not people but the Father of Lies who shrouds lost and unsuspecting souls in darkness. Are you facing the giants today? They are most easily taken down by love and forgiveness which are foreign bodies to them. They do not deserve the wealth of expectation placed in their unworthy hands which they are unable to meet. Love covers a multitude of sins. Forgiveness allows grace to mend relationships and shines the light of His Love on others.

There is a far greater obstacle in the distance. Just beyond the fields of giants that no longer pose a risk – it is the mountain. It is huge and foreboding. Maybe you have been casting curses, insults and threats to the mountain in your life and like its namesake in the form of Everest it hasn’t budged at all. Jesus told his disciples to have faith in God and by doing so you can say to the mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown in to the sea” and it will happen just like that. Well…have you moved any mountains lately? Why not? Have you given up? After trying to go around it, get over it or somehow make it through, do you now reside on it? What we tolerate in our life quickly becomes the place of comfort. If you entertain it, you will begin to accommodate it in your life. Today – let’s talk about the mountain. The thing you just can’t seem to get past. It has a name.

Mark 11:22-23b (NLT) But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.

There is a name inscribed on the bottom of the mountain – it’s called “Doubt”. The foundation is nothing more than insecurity. It begins as a molehill but quickly can be built into a sizeable obstacle in our life. The Lord was quite clear. In order to have mountain-moving faith, there must be no doubt in our heart. If you believe like that you can pray for anything and it will be yours. Do you doubt the Lord today? Before you hastily answer with a Christianese type response, let’s talk a little more about doubt so that we are clear in God’s Expectation of the believer.

What is doubt? Doubt is uncertainty. It is to consider questionable or unlikely. It is hesitation in our belief of God – His Love, His Power, His Faithfulness, His Grace and His Goodness. The root word means “hesitate or waver”. Are you wavering in belief today? Do you doubt God will do what He says? Has it taken too long? Is the journey too hard? Are you too hurt or broken to continue? See the enemy wants us to doubt the Lord.

Matthew 4:8-10 (NLT) Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

During the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the enemy took him to the mountain. It is comforting to know that our Lord and Savior went through the same trials and temptations that we experience and leads us by example. The enemy showed Jesus the earth as far as the eye could see. “I will give it all to you, if you will kneel down and worship me.” He countered the lie with truth. “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.” Obedience is essential in overcoming doubt because it produces the outcome of faith. Now Jesus could see the earth but in His Heart – He was after the Kingdom. What about you? What are you after in this life? Do you want a better life or do you desire eternal life?

”For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) If only our spiritual eyes could see the future and plan of God for us rather than the situations and circumstances of life. The miraculous begins in the impossible. The mountain is the birthplace of ministry or obedience to the Living God who is invisible to the living world. Immediately after his experience on the mountain, Jesus began his earthly ministry. If you read the accounts of his teaching, preaching, healing and more – most encounters took place at the mountain.

Mark 3:13-15 (NLT) Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons.

Jesus chose us on the mountain. The mountain called doubt that believed this was it. This was how it would always be. The sin within us bound us from anything more than getting by. Grace came and gives us more than enough in spite of us. The Lord knows the innermost workings of each human heart. His Spirit is given to us to weed out doubt and sow seeds of faith that grow into His Fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and even self-control. We came with the seeds to produce such but sin inhibited our ability to do so. The Blood of Jesus and the Word of our testimony – His Word – gives way for His Spirit to promote, teach and increase godly obedience from within. The more we allow the Spirit of God to work in us – the greater our experience will be.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT) Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The same disciples who Jesus called into close fellowship and ministry from the beginning are now back on the mountain. They spent every day with the Lord hearing His Teachings, engaged in His Ministry, witnessing miracle after miracle, followed Him to the Cross, watched Him die, and discovered an empty tomb. Now eleven remained standing in the Presence of the Resurrected Lord, plot twist – “but some of them doubted.” You’re kidding, right? Exposed to all of these things naturally not spiritually but right in front of their eyes – how is doubt even possible at this point? Should we ask ourselves the same thing?

I am born again. I have received the Holy Spirit. I know that Christ lives in me. I have witnessed miracles firsthand. I have seen the impossible happen. The unexplainable a reality yet I still struggle with doubt. How do I know? I experience fear, anxiety, worry and stress which are all indications of doubt. They are the anchors that keep the mountain called doubt from moving in our life. The only thing that can move the mountain of doubt is faith. Faith moves mountains. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain…

1 Kings 19:8-13 (NLT) So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“What are you doing here, ______? Sometimes we become so fascinated with moving the mountain, we miss the encounter waiting on it. Elijah had witnessed amazing miracles. He was a well-known prophet with great influence. The threat of a woman sent him running in fear. The source of fear doesn’t have to be real to be effective. It exposes the doubt in our heart so that we can see it and deal with it. The productivity of the mountain marked “Doubt” is fear, insecurity, worry, stress and anxiety. It gives away the power and authority given to us by Christ to something or someone other than the Lord. Your mountain is not moving because God is holding it in place. It is human doubt and lack of expectation in the Living God that keeps it firmly in place. Maybe we must climb the mountain and seek the Face of God to find our answer and experience a release today.

What is holding you back? What is keeping the mountain from moving in your life today? The mountain of doubt is the only hindrance in our life and it must come down in the Name of Jesus.  Disbelief fuels doubt. Doubt is a formidable foe to faith. It is deteriorates and erodes it until there is nothing left to sow and little to harvest. If you want the mountain to move, it is time to get to the root of the foundation and destroy it. Doubt will be destroyed by Truth. The Word of God is the Truth of our life. God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His Love. His Grace is enough. Christ lives in me therefore I am enough. There is no giant greater than My God and no mountain too big to be cast in the sea if only I could believe without reservation, wavering or hesitation. All would fall in the Name of Jesus.

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

 

Never Alone

Never Alone

Matthew 28:20 (NIV) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our youngest daughter was not feeling well when I arrived home from work. She was obviously tired and uncomfortable so we stayed home from the midweek service so I could tend to her. She is a teenager and maturing each day gradually before my eyes. Earlier in the day, I attended a routine prenatal appointment with her older sister in the same physician’s office that provided care for my baby girl all those years ago. All I could think was where had the time gone. How is it even possible that all my babies are growing up and now my grandson will soon be here? Anyway now this blossoming confident young woman just wanted her mama to take care of her again. As a mother, I cannot deny the joy it brings to my heart when my children want me or need me. It gives me no greater pleasure other than to take care of them or do things for them. As the night waned away, she asked if I would sleep with her in case she became ill in the night. Of course, I absolutely said, “Yes!”

I wonder how much joy it brings the Father when we request His Presence. Acknowledge the caregiver, provider, deliverer, healer and comforter that He is. Accept His Power in our life through His Grace that is always enough. I wonder if it makes His Heart explode as it does any other parent who greatly loves their children. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” It came at the most unlikely time. Jesus had just commissioned the disciples. Telling them to go make other disciples, share the Good News, and release His Power on the earth. Do you know what the greatest power that Jesus has to offer really is? He has all power and authority but the greatest of all is His Unconditional Love for us. It is the driving force of every other attitude and action given to us. It is the foundation of His Faithfulness. It is the governing force behind His Grace. Hebrews 13:8 tell us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Just a couple verses above that the Lord again affirms the Words of the Father for us – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Verse 5)

Deuteronomy 31:6-8 (NIV) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Strength and courage as a believer and Child of the Living God are born of confident faith and hope. It is the product of trusting God and recognizing His Fruitfulness in our life. It was time to go into the Promised Land. There were “giants” in the place God had led His People. They would be required to overcome fear, doubt and anxiety about their ability to secure victory and overtake those dwelling in the place God had made for them. The Lord promised that He was with them. He also swore that He had gone before them to make the way. How confident are you that the Lord is with you? Do you believe that He goes before you and falls in behind you? Do you understand that Jesus Christ released His Spirit to inhabit us taking seeds of faith and turning them into beautiful harvests of satisfying fruit? The kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and producing prosperity first in us and then through us. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. There is no need to be afraid. You must not be discouraged.

The Lord has promised that He will never leave us. How many other people have promised the same and not followed through? It is sometimes difficult to trust God with our whole heart because so many broken pieces have been given to other people and lesser things. This does not change the Promise God made us just impacts our ability to receive it with confident trust. He is with us. Do we acknowledge Him in our daily activities? Do we affirm Him with reciprocal love? Do we continue in obedience and faithfulness on those days when we cannot feel Him, see Him or touch Him with our heart? The greatest part of all is that even on those days overshadowed by fear, doubt, anxiety, discouragement, and any other fearful separation – God remains faithfully with us. He goes before us, lives in us and hems us in from behind. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. The promise in Deuteronomy 31 still stands today.

The Lord has promised never to forsake us. This is His Covenant of Grace revealed before Jesus ever came to save us. I will never forsake, quit, leave, abandon, desert, give up on or renounce you. He doesn’t make any of this contingent on our behavior but simply states the Truth that He will not forsake us. (Period) This crucifies religion completely because God will stop at nothing to maintain a relationship with us no matter how far we wander, delay or mistrust.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 

In order to continue to live our life in Christ, we must be confident of who He is, what He came to do, and that He actually accomplished it on the Cross as indicated in God’s Word. We cannot rely on our five senses to perceive God or the human heart to accept Him without condition. We must become rooted and grounded in His Love. We must strengthen our faith by sowing it in our life and reaping the benefits called confident hope. We must be thankful for the Presence of God that goes before us, remains with us, and falls in behind us whether we “feel” Him or not. He promised to never leave us or forsake – it is up to us whether or not we believe His Word to be true.

I have been asked many times in my life – “Why would God do this (insert bad thing or illness)? Or “why would He allow this to happen?” I wonder if it is God allowing it or us accepting such things in our life. Do we rally in our infirmities through prayer and seeking the Great Physician with as much fervency as we do doctors? Do we open the medicine cabinet first or the Word of God? Is it our practice to Google our symptoms or declare healing in our life? It may not be in God’s Approach but our own. In Christ lives all of God’s Fullness in bodily form, Jesus was as human as the rest of us but God lived in Him. What is our excuse? When He imparted His Spirit to us, now God lives in us, too. When we allow fear, doubt, anxiety and discouragement to overtake us, we choose something less than confident trust which is important to living a victorious life. Maybe it is our own choice that keeps us in the place of not enough, physical infirmities and constant defeat, when all we need to do is trust God and live in His Presence.

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.

Last night as I crawled into bed with my ailing child, she immediately lightened in her demeanor. The thought that I was with her made all the difference in the world. Her fear of being ill in the night waned and she went to sleep in happy relief. She slept all night long knowing her mama was right here with her trusting that I would never leave or forsake her. What is our response to the nearness of God? He lives in close proximity to our heart but do we allow Him access to it? I am not a doctor nor do I have any other power of worth in me other than Jesus Christ, yet as I lay down beside her it changed her for the better just because I was there. How much more does the Father’s Presence do for us? He brings us peace. He heals our body. Restores our broken heart. He gives us confidence when facing the giants or simply trying to overcome a bad day. His Presence is the closest thing we have to Heaven and an opportunity to experience His Kingdom on the earth. I wonder if sometimes we forget that He will never leave us and certainly not forsake us. In troubled times our faith gives out and our confidence crumbles yet God is right where we are though our thought is that He was left behind or left us altogether. He does not ever leave us. God is a good Father who loves His Children. He is right there with us. Responds to our call. Keeps us in perfect peace when we trust, rely on and depend on Him. He will never let us down. His Love is unfailing. His Word will not return void. Acknowledge the Lord today. Affirm your love and affection for Him and His Nearness will be known to you. Teach your heart to trust Him more. Sow seeds of faith in all situations and wait for them to grow. He will never leave you. The Lord will not forsake you. You are never alone. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 14:26-27 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.