Commune with Me

Commune with Me

Revelation 3:19-21 (ESV) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Today is Sunday. The day of the week set aside for most churches and organized religions to meet and worship God together. Since before my eyes opened, I have felt a gentle summoning in my spirit. Not the one that requires me to hop out of bed and get the day going but the still small voice of invitation to linger. The Lord loves me. He desires me. He covets my attention. Not the afterthoughts given after I portion my mind out to my family, friends, and the world but the first fruits of this day. He doesn’t want to be my second thought but in this moment the only One on my mind. It is easy to turn it into a working relationship rather than living in a worship experience. Just like in marriages, friendships and partnerships to get caught up in the responsibility to the relationship rather than remembering how it all came together in the first place. The enemy has ordained busyness in our life to compromise time. He has ordered distractions and step traps that keep us tangled in lies rather than continuing in love. He knows exactly what he is doing. Yet, in this moment of alone time with the Lover of my soul, I am aware that He has already overcome the enemy and killed the giants that I face so I can continue in my ponderings and revelations of His Love if only for a few minutes longer before the day begins.

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

The Lord is my shepherd. The authority and direction of my life. Confidence in the Lord to lead me to complete satisfaction is essential in true repentance. The difficulty of the pursuit is not in His Presentation but our perception of His Love, Faithfulness and Intentions. To walk by faith into the unseen realities of hope that cannot be perceived but experienced. I can share my faith with someone else but until you encounter Jesus Christ for yourself there is no possible way to ever fully comprehend what I am talking about.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… Where is comfort in reprove or discipline? Well, for those who are seeking a better way they are the confidence needed to leave this world behind and enter Kingdom living instead. The rod and staff or reprove and discipline are not punishment. When our bodies begin to suffer or gain excessive weight, it is a personal decision to choose a better way so diet and exercise become the focus of change. Our workout may be “punishment” and the sweat a sign of dying fat, but at the end of the day it is our personal choice for a healthy life which causes us to make better choices. This is the essence of repentance. Not to punish us but lead us to the purpose, promise and prosperity that is our inheritance in Jesus Christ – it is a personal choice to turn from the darkness of this world and live in the Light of His Love. Yes, it is not always easy. Sometimes it even hurts, yet in all things it proves to be worth it.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus never intended to overload us with rules and regulations. Religion does that. His Desire and Purpose was to make a way for us to have a thriving relationship with God the Father through Him. Jesus offers to aid us in our labor and remove the heavy burdens. We are to be yoked to Jesus. But in yoking one must give up their way or risk never moving an inch toward purpose. We must give up our way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that Jesus offers those who come to Him. It means giving up the worries, cares, and fears that doubt constantly hands us wrapped in insecurity. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord desires an intimate relationship with His People. Each one of us have a place at His Table that cannot be filled by another. There are no favorites because each one of us is His Favorite. There is no partiality because our purpose is individual and characterized specifically for us. The concept of communion with the Lord is not that of a tiny cup of grape juice or wine followed by a thin wafer that tastes like paper. We do this as a religious representation. I believe in communion – corporately, privately and individually. However the relationship that Christ desires with each one of us is to commune together in intimacy. To sit together and talk. To come together and linger. To love each other in every way through each day. It is I Corinthians 13 love mixed with the Blood of Jesus that makes us inseparable even in our imperfection. He is knocking on our heart each day. Asking if we will let Him in. To trust Him just a little more. To let His Love go just a little deeper to stay a little longer. He pursues us with goodness, mercy and unfailing love every day in the hope that our heart will turn the knob of repentance and by faith swing the door wide so He can come closer than ever before.

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

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ through His Love. In all things, believers have the power, authority and dominion to overcome. It is in our acceptance of His Love that empowerment by grace makes this the reality of our life. When Jesus died, the veil that separated mankind from the Presence of God was torn from top to bottom so that no one could ever put it back together again. God was sending a message through His Son. His Love for you is unstoppable. He created you to pursue you with His Love and will not stop until He has found you. You are the one in the ninety-nine that He left His Throne in Heaven to apprehend. He has a place for you in His Kingdom that no one else can ever dwell in. I think if we understood for a single second the vastness and overwhelming nature of His Love with any kind of confidence things would change for the better in that second. The burdens would be lifted. Chains broken. Worries vaporized. Sin released. Freedom would reign in the Body of Christ because someone chose to open the door and let Jesus in.

Could it be that it is our own fear, doubt and uncertainty of God’s Love for us that keeps the door of Heaven closed from us? Is He knocking but we refuse to open the door? Repentance is not an immediate change but a commitment to keep turning our life over to Christ for more new life. It is the opportunity to let His Glory fill us and overtake us. There is no punishment for God’s Children. Just reprove and discipline, divine guidance to better things and new blessings in every single day. We do not see the Lord like this because we do not know Him intimately. We have not communed with Him outside of communion. He is inviting you today. You! To come and talk with Him. You can hear it in your heart, but have been too afraid to answer. What do you have to lose? Nothing that His Love will not renew, restore or revive. Let Jesus in today! He has secrets to tell you, new things to reveal to you, and a new life that He has prepared just for you!

I John 5:3-5 (ES) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Advertisements

Just Plain Wrong

Just Plain Wrong

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV) For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a temptation far greater than our weaknesses. It is unforgiveness. The do’s and don’ts in the Word of God are for our benefit. The greatest commandment is to love. Not just any kind of love, but to love others as God loves us. Jesus gave His Life for love. I encountered such an instance this week and even now three days later – I am still building my proverbial bridge to get over it. The details are unimportant. In this predicament – there is no question that the other party wronged us. Those who know of it will quickly attest yet as grace is applied – I am miffed. I am just being transparent because I know that others struggle with me. Old hurts, betrayals, and abuse that leave a void that bitterness quickly fills if forgiveness is not instilled. I must forgive others to be forgiven. If I choose unforgiveness, I cannot be forgiven. It is right there in black and white. I must forgive the person who hurt my family. I have no other choice and remain in fellowship with my Father.

There are very few sore spots left in my healing heart that are vulnerable to unforgiveness and bitterness. It has taken two decades and will probably require a couple more to allow the Lord to touch those places and make them whole as well. I have learned over the years that unforgiveness is an open wound constantly seeping poison into our thoughts, mind, will and emotions. It is a thorn in our flesh that requires all of God’s Grace to completely cure. It is clear without question that my Heavenly Father requires me to offer the grace I have been given to all mankind and it must be from my heart. (Matthew 18:35) I cannot pretend to forgiven but choose not to forget.

Matthew 5:44-45 (ESV) But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 

I have tried to pray for my “enemy” of late. My heart is struggling with sincerity as I do. I am reminded that I am to love my perceived enemies and those who persecute me. The person who made an error in judgment is loved and desired by Jesus just as much as me and yet in my rightness I am still offended and appalled so the Word is the water washing such emotional overtures in waves of overwhelming grace. God makes the sun to rise and rain to fall on the just and unjust because it is His Will that none should perish but have everlasting life. The struggle in my heart is real, but the evidence of God’s Spirit working and massaging at the hard and unrelenting place inside me is obvious. Lord, how do I forgive those who hurt me? How do I overcome the just plain wrong that has come against me? How do I move past the insult to pray for the one who did this to me? Well, maybe it’s not all about me…

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

Oh, how the Lord has a way of sticking it to the part of our heart that hinders us. I must love and learn to forgive fully and completely simply because He first loved me. I had no right to His Love yet He gave it. I had no claim to His Life yet, Jesus laid it down for me. There is nothing innocent in me except Christ lives in me now. He paid the price for my life so the life I give away is His to give not mine. I may be right but righteousness is my lifelong pursuit. I have every right to be offended, mad and seek justice. However, I am a product of selfless love and unending forgiveness therefore I cannot continue in the state of mind or risk losing what matters most to me.

When Jesus told Peter to forgive those who sin against him “seventy-seven times” maybe he wasn’t talking about that many offenses but that it might take our heart that many tries to forgive a single offense. Forgiveness is against human nature. Self-preservation and pride demand recourse and even revenge. I am challenged today to remind myself seventy-seven times seven plus one to forgive. Forgive this person. Bless this person. Pray for this person continually until I mean it from the innermost depths of my heart. Why? Simply, because Jesus chose to love me first. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He fought for me even when I was His Foe. I can love fearless when I do not let insecurity to produce unforgiveness in me. Perfect love expects nothing from others but gives it’s all just the same.

Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV) Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Voice of Victory

Voice of Victory

I Samuel 17:45-47 (ESV) Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

One of the greatest stories ever told, David and Goliath. The story of a shepherd boy overcoming a mighty giant with nothing but a slingshot and smooth stone driven with precision. Armies held at bay by him yet David small in stature and unarmed but mighty in heart and full of God’s Spirit dare to stand and face the giant. A true example of not by might or by power but by His Spirit as the Word relates in Zechariah 4:6. Victory is the favorable outcome in every battle ever faced by the believer. We fight from victory to victory. Christ has already given us the win. But then there is always a pesky giant to deal with now isn’t there.

The elephant in the room often ignored doubt that deteriorates our confidence in the hope-filled promise that as believers triumph is our destiny. We win. In every possible situation by faith, victory belongs to us. It is not an act of willpower, determination or even personal strength and discipline. The power to win comes simply in believing God’s Word to be the absolute truth of our life. The Bible is quick to point out that the weapon of our warfare is not carnal or of the flesh. It is our mindset. Our thought process decides whether we will walk in victory or cower in fear when the giants come calling. We have the divine power to destroy strongholds. What strongholds? Those of the mindset that there is any other power greater or stronger than God Almighty. Strongholds are carefully constructed lies that keep us in the mental prison of fear and anxiety. Thanks be to God that He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. King Jesus.

David faced quite a bit of opposition just trying to get to the battlefield that day. His father sent him to check on his brothers and take them some provisions. David wasn’t looking for a fight, but he sure found one. He didn’t expect to find the great and mighty Israelite army cowering from the Philistine army. For 40 days, the Goliath would come forward and take his stand morning and evening shouting threats and daring confrontation. All the men of Israel were afraid and fled at the sound of his voice. David’s brother questioned his sibling’s motives. Why have you come? To see the battle? He even belittled his brother by inquiring as to the whereabouts of his sheep. David asked the men around him as to the king’s reward for the one who defeated the giant. His brother was appalled. When David found himself before King Saul, he said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight this Philistine.”

The king was quick to point out all the reasons David could not defeat Goliath. Too young. Too inexperienced. David recited all the times the Lord had delivered him from the lion and bear. He believed that same God would deliver him from the giant standing in their midst. His confidence was clearly in the Lord and His Power. Saul finally succumbed to David’s request, then tried to put his armor on the boy. It didn’t fit and overpowered him. So David took off the armor and headed unarmed and unprotected by conventional battle array to face the enemy of Israel. As David approached him, Goliath began to affirm the former reasons of the king and add his own indignation for Israel sending a boy rather than a seasoned warrior to face him. Little did Goliath know that it was not in David’s appearance, but in his heart that would end this battle with his massive defeat. It is right here that our passage picks up.

For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.” What is your battle cry today? What giant are you facing? Have you retreated pressed back by fear and uncertainty? It is time to change your declaration. It is time to take hold of the divine. God has empowered us to win. Christ has given us the victory. The only weapon the enemy or giant has against you is a lie. You have the truth in you. Filled with the Word, it is time to release it. You don’t need to be like anyone else and you certainly do not need their affirmation or approval. God empowered you from the moment you said, “Yes” to His Son to win every battle through Him. David did not walk out but ran to face Goliath. But note, the enemy did not engage David. He did not even draw a sword. You are God’s Child. His Anointed is in you. The enemy casts lies and hurls threats but in the end you just have to tell him what God told you. It is in the moment when our confidence becomes our declaration that praise becomes a prophetic voice of victory.

Goliath held Israel for 40 days with a lie. The same God that carried David on the field to victory was for them but they had taken hold of the enemy’s threat rather than overcoming Him with truth. Praise is the weapon that arms our mind. It is the sword of truth waved by the Spirit to refute every lie trying to create a stronghold to keep us from living a victorious life. No matter what you are facing, nothing is impossible with God. The only way this becomes our destiny is to believe it. Do you believe that God is almighty today? Do you believe that King Jesus has all power and authority over your life? If so, then remind your heart, mind and soul. Tell the enemy what God says about you. Remind the giant that God is bigger than he is. Rebuke him not by fighting with faith that fights for you. Our mind must be ready for battle or it will fall in the field of lies, threats and taunts.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

You have victory today. You win every day. Not because of you, but because Christ lives in you. It doesn’t matter how things look, how big the giant, or how impossible the odds – we must only believe it to achieve it. The battle is the Lord’s. Whether it is a personal one or outward attack, He will never leave you or forsake you. We must only be steadfast and immovable. The giant couldn’t touch David. David did not lay a finger on the giant. God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our shield. The Sun that causes darkness to flee. You have everything you need to win. David didn’t even have a sword but lopped off the enemy’s head with his own sword. God has already provided everything you need to be victorious in every situation so we can abound in His Work knowing our labor is never in vain but always triumphant. I needed to hear that today! How about you? The lie may be big and it may seem like reality but the Truth always prevails. Jesus is the Word. He is in you. He will win for you. All you must do is believe and be the voice of victory by shouting His Praise.

Psalm 68:32-35 (ESV) O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah  to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

None Should Perish

None Should Perish

John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

It is probably the most well-known verse in the entire Bible – John 3:16. For God so love the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Sometimes familiarity breeds contentment satisfying our soul with salvation, but missing the life that comes with it. The life God has designed for us is complex and complete. It does not eliminate any details due to indiscretion but takes the imperfect form of humanity and filling its voids with Christ. The new creation promised for those who choose it is not a redesign but recreation and restoration of the original. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He created us recording every single moment before our arrival. God has a plan and no matter our involvement or acceptance, it is still continuing in our life. God loves us. Each one of us. His Goal in sending Jesus was not for a designated few but that whoever believes wouldn’t die but live forever with Him. A true and abiding relationship as a father to a child is what God desires of you. A loving and living together that steps over the grave into the Kingdom.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” To stop at John 3:16 would be enough to save us but not necessarily grasp the scope of God’s Massive Project. It was never His Intent to divide the people of this planet but to bring them back together in one Body centered on His Son. Condemnation is not a quality of God for mankind and should not be characteristic of His People. Mercy triumphed over judgment at the sacrifice of Jesus giving up His Life to secure ours forever with Him. How is it our place to crawl into the vacated seat when it comes to each other? It is God’s Plan and Purpose that none should perish. It is pointless. Salvation is a free gift. It did not cost me anything of worth. It is easy to give the grace and mercy given to me away because I didn’t earn it. I should be of the mindset of Christ. He is always thinking about compassion. His mindset is life and never death. He is a builder of the Body not a condemner of people.

The Bible says that His Grace is enough. It is sufficient which means that if the love, grace, mercy or compassion of Christ can be exhausted than it was never an ample supply. This is the basis of forgiving seventy times seven, turning the other cheek, loving our enemy and laying our life down for others. He is giving us an opportunity to participate in the Kingdom economy and reap its heavenly reward which is always relationship. God owns it all. Everything belongs to Christ. The Lord has complete authority and power in every situation. The freedom of others does not always produce the benefits of Heaven. It is our opportunity to be the traders of grace who bring the message of the Gospel to others not just in word and deed but in our dedication and commitment to the mission that none should perish.

Jonah 4:1-4 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

To bring everyone up to date in the story, God sent Jonah to Nineveh. He was to share God’s Message of repentance to the people. Jonah did not like God’s Plan so he tried to run away to Tarshish. On his way a great storm arose, Jonah was cast into the sea to satisfy the wrath of God and that the others on the ship might be saved. Once overboard, Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days until vomited on the local beach. He repents and goes to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh repent and cry out to God. The Lord acknowledges their repentance and relents. He did not bring disaster to the city or its people. In other words, God spared them and did not give them what they deserved. Jonah got mad. He was “exceedingly displeased”.

In Jonah 4, we find Jonah in the midst of a fit mixed with a good old-fashioned pity party. Sitting and stewing the sun arose and he was baking in it when the Lord appointed a plant to come up over Jonah to give him shade while he sorted things out. Jonah was glad when the plant covered him and protected him. The next morning, God appointed a worm to kill the plant and when the sun rose once again Jonah was subject to its heat and discomfort. Through the course of the day – he grew faint and decided it would be better to die. Why? He was disappointed that God had spared the people. He allowed his anger to separate him again from the Presence of God.

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

God owns it all. Every living breathing creature is a product of Him. You and I are His Most Beloved Creation. How many times do we forget His Mandate that none should perish? How often do we get mad when God saves, heals, delivers and blesses those sorry sinners? Comparison will always be a joy killer. No sinner is too far gone for the Lord’s Arm to reach them. We are the ones who decide the limit of sin or depravity when there is no such thing in the eyes of Jesus. His Grace is always enough. I wonder if the separation, isolation or frustration that we feel is often generated by our own jealously and insecurity in the Lord’s Unfailing Love and Acceptance for me. Working hard for him yet He showers sinners and evil doers with the blessings I thought were reserved for me. Who are they to step in front of me in order to get what He is offering? They must do their time like the rest of us. Serving, giving and striving for the promise. Right? Wrong. When we can do anything for Him or feel pressure to perform for the promise, we have missed the point altogether. I can do nothing for God. He is my fulfillment. He is my purpose. Everything I am and ever hope to be is in Him and offered through Him. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” God delights in mercy. He gives it to us each morning. When our eyes open, it is waiting for us and the basis of salvation. God’s Desire to show us mercy so that we can receive His Grace. We must be ever so careful that our heart for people remains soft and merciful. There is no competition for the Love of God. It is for everyone. Jesus came so that none should perish but have eternal life which means there is more than enough grace for everyone. Have you written someone off? Maybe you walked away because they were just too hard to love. I will let you in on a little secret. Limited love is a product of unaccepted grace. To restrict our love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness to others based on their attitudes and actions is the opposite of the kind given to us by Jesus. If we truly receive His Love, it satisfies our soul. It fills us with hopeful expectation that cannot and will not be met by other people therefore we can love freely and unconditionally because they have no impact on God’s Love for me, His Plan, or His Promise. All of this is individually designed for me but His Grace is for all the world. Lord examine my heart, mind, spirit and soul for compassion. Show me where I have allowed condemnation to take the place of mercy. Soften my heart Lord even if that means breaking it so that I will not miss my purpose in passive judgment. Lord, you are not slow to fulfill your promise to us. You are waiting that none should perish. Be that me or those around me subject to my influence. Lord, let me always choose mercy over judgment and live a triumphant life.

Micah 6:8 (ESV) He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Fully Equipped

Fully Equipped

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT) Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Did you know that you are fully equipped to win every battle you may be facing today? You have victory in Jesus Christ that overcomes every adversarial force and defeats all opposition in your life. Christ in us is always enough to walk in triumph. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me” is attributed to Alexander William Kinglake written in 1830. The enemy of our soul has only lies to lure us from the position of power into the entanglement of the untrue. To somehow convince us that Christ is not powerful enough to sustain us or doesn’t love us enough to care. He must convince us to step out from under the shield of God moving out of His Light to live in the dangers of darkness. Thankfully Jesus will always leave the ninety-nine to seek out the one.

The Lord has fully equipped us to do His Will. To live a life in love with Him and allow His Goodness to overtake us. It is a submissive and humble roll that does not jive with pride and self-motivation. It is a discipline discovered in His Word and through trusting the Lord day by day until our life is fully invested in His Will. It is an act of repentance that turns us from worthless things to live the Kingdom life. Every battle is won by the peace of God that keeps us firmly rooted and grounded in His Love and confident in the sustainability of His Truth. Our sword is the Word of God that tears down every lie which becomes the strongholds in our heart. To know the Truth sets us free from the lie that so easily trips us up.

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Endurance is required. Called to be a “good soldier” of Christ Jesus indicates there will be battles in this life. Need I remind you that Jesus won the war? It is easy to get “tied up in the affairs of civilian life”. However, those who cannot please the One who enlisted them due to divided allegiance. You cannot fight for both sides and be a traitor to both. The enemy doesn’t care if you play both sides of the fence. Compromise is the name of the game. If he can tempt you with substitutions or settlements – he has enough of your attention to keep you from victory. Athletes cannot win a prize unless they follow the instructions and rules of the game. Each sport has a different set of rules and rewards. Finally, hardworking farmers will enjoy good fruit for they labor not in vain. How do we go from fighting to farming in this illustration? The battle is the Lord’s.

I Samuel 17:46-48 (NLT) Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.

The shepherd boy, David, was not man enough to face the giant that day. The man after God’s own heart and soon-to-be King of Israel was not only read but willing. He didn’t don the armor of King Saul but rather with just five smooth stones and a slingshot a man who held the entire Israelite army at bay. The battle belonged to the Lord. The weapon that brought the enemy down was not the stone that fell the giant but faith found in the heart of a helpless young man who loved God with an undivided heart. David declared, “This is the Lord’s battle and He will give it to us!”

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 

If you are facing a battle or in the midst of a war today, I must remind you that God will not take you to it if He has not made a way through it. We walk in victory. We fight from the winner’s circle. The problem is not in the outcome but in our mindset from the beginning. Be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power.

Trust. Dependence. Discipline. Devotion. The strategy of the enemy is to somehow dissuade your from believing God at His Word. If he can make you doubt, then faith will be overcome and fear takes over. If you continue in Ephesians, the armor of God is belt of truth, body armor of righteousness, boots soled in peace, shield of faith helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit. The armor is not designed to protect you as you fight, but to help you stand when the enemy pursues you. Why are you fighting your own battles when Jesus won the war? Every piece of armor represents confidence in Christ and His Victory. You are fully equipped to walk in victory. This is fully accomplished by faith and trust that Christ is triumphant in all things. He has power and authority to do exactly as He promised and give you a rich and satisfying life full of His Abundance.

Psalm 33:15-18 (NLT) He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. The engagement between the giant and David that day was won with a single blow. David did not even come in contact with the giant but one stone took out the enemy of Israel. When the stone was rolled away, it crushed the enemy. He is powerless because Jesus is completely victorious. The power of God for us is found in His Grace. It is always enough to overcome our weakness but must be humbly accepted. Pride wants to fight its own battles and win its own wars but it has no access to Kingdom coffers. God has promised us good things. Jesus hands us victory and says, “Go get it!” We have nothing to fear and no reason to doubt only an opportunity to take the land beginning with each step along the way.

Isaiah 45:4-6 (NLT) “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

The Lord equipped you when He called you. When He created you and decided to love you, He prepared you beforehand for every single day of your life. (Psalm 139) You have everything you need through Jesus Christ to walk in victory even the faith needed to invest your body, mind, spirit and soul. To live fully invested in the Kingdom is to stop getting caught up in civilian affairs. As long as you are alive, there will be an enemy to tempt you. He can only use lies to persuade you but He cannot push you from the protection of God’s Will or His Way. You are free to decide this day who you will serve and what you will believe.

Romans 8:37-39 (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. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A couple years ago, I traded in my old SUV and purchased a new-to-me smaller SUV. For months I searched until I found the “one”, and finally upgraded. I chose the make of automobile based on consumer reports and crash testing. I wanted a safe and reliable vehicle that would run until the wheels fell off. I was looking through the manual the other day to find out if it had a certain option and how to use it. I found that my vehicle came equipped with many features I was not aware of simply because for two years I drove around with the owner’s manual in the glovebox. We have an owner’s manual. It is detailed and full of useful information for us. It is the strategy for our life that gives us overwhelming victory. No matter what and despite all things, we have been given victory in Jesus Christ. If we are not living a victorious life, it is time to read the manual and ask the Lord to show us.

You are fully equipped to overcome and walk triumphantly through life. It begins with the conviction that nothing is impossible for God who loves us with inseparability. Nothing can ever take us from that place in His Presence as People of His Kingdom if we choose to dwell there in the shadow of the Most High. It is our privilege to love and trust Him back and His Promise that in every situation there is overwhelming victory in His Son – Jesus Christ. It is not our position to fight the battle but to stand confidently knowing that we can overcome and win by the Blood of the Lam and the word of our testimony. David yelled at the giant as he ran on the field that day. He told Goliath exactly what the Lord had told him. The giant fell that day. Your giant will fall too and you will walk in victory not in your power but by His Spirit who has fully equipped you! Christ inside of you has made you unstoppable and nothing can stand in the way of His Plan or His Promise.

Zechariah 4:5-7 (NLT)  “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

I Am the One

I Am the One

Matthew 18:12-14 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

Human insecurity robs us of the realization of who we really are in Jesus Christ. It is the innate and inward battle of the mind to accept in our heart that someone truly loves us without condition. Even more so, that they would die for us knowing what we have done and the depths fallen. Oh how many times I have let the Lord down with my attitude and actions. All the wandering and worrying despite the precious promises clearly outlined in His Plan. I can say that I am a Child of God but until I know and understand that I am the one nothing will change in my life. I am the one. The one who Jesus would leave ninety-nine other “perfect” people to find and carry home. I am the least of these yet still the one who He will continually pursue without ever relenting. He knows me and still loves me. Even greater than that, Jesus desires to have a relationship with me so much that He will leave His Rightness to find me in the wrong. I am the one.

It might surprise you that Jesus does not exact consequences. There is no condemnation in Christ therefore judgment is not possible but belongs to Father God. It easy to think that there is punishment or some kind of discipline when we do not do things according to God’s Word or do not follow instructions. If the Lord were to begin punish people, it would diminish the value of grace so that it no longer was sufficient and clearly not enough. Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient in my weakness. I am the one. The one who He is always giving new mercies each morning. I am the one who He carries home. I am the one who He died for and proclaimed it is finished.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 

The Lord withholds nothing good from us. He patiently waits for us. His Kindness keeps Him ready, willing and always able to rejoice in our repentance and return. He pursues us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness every day. The trouble is receivership is bond by insecurity which tells us the opposite. God hasn’t forgotten us. He is not mad at us. He is not given to such emotional overtures. He is absolutely sure of His Love for us and waits for us to find certainty in His Love. The kind of confidence that will begin to believe in His Love and live in it. Do you believe God loves you? No, that He REALLY loves you! If you did, you would trust Him more, wait for Him longer, and strive to be with Him! Wracked with worry, anxiety, and fear – our isolation is a hiding place.  Shame and regret become our prison because surely He wouldn’t want a failure like us. Though His Love, Grace and Mercy seem impossible, they are exactly what He prescribed and predestined for us when He recorded every moment before our birth and arrival. Before drawing a single breath, the Lord knew and paid for the price of our sin. It is unfathomable and inconceivable but does not change the Truth. The constancy and permanence of God firmly establish in who He is – the Great I Am. He does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

I John 4:18-19 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

Our personal relationships will change completely with confidence in God’s Love. The realization that I am the one He chose to love and die for and the passion of His Ongoing Pursuit. I am be able to love others without expectation being completely filled with His Love. When our thoughts are backed by insecurity it embraces the lie of the enemy meant to rob us of purpose. Our purpose in life is ALWAYS connected to someone else. We are the BODY of Christ. Jealousy is hatred born of insecurity that diminishes our significance to God in our own eyes. The Kingdom is based on relationship. Our relationship to Jesus which allows us to access to the Father which overflows in love for all mankind. Not because everyone is lovable, but because He first loved us with completeness and wholeness that fulfills. Those who build confidence through faith and trust in the Lord will no longer view others as adversaries but allies. It begins in the complete understanding that I am the one Christ died for. Me, myself and I. His Love for me so complete and perfect that I lack nothing physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Are you struggling with insecurity today? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel alone and unloved? It is the enemy who sows seeds of doubt in the cracks and crevices of broken hearts and unmet expectation. The only weapon that he has is a lie. You can overcome every lie and half-truth with the Word of God. Faith is illogical outside of God’s Word. The Word brings our faith life in its credibility. The instruction is invaluable in overcoming attacks in our mind. When the enemy calls us insignificant and unworthy, we must remind him always that “I am the one”.

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

It’s A Celebration

SONY DSC

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It’s a month of celebrations in our house. My husband and I will celebrate just shy of two decades of marriage. It is also his birthday at the end of the month. Not to mention, our oldest son’s favorite holiday – the Fourth of July. Oh, we love to celebrate birthdays gathering our family to have a meal and enjoy one another. To celebrate our marriage that has endured longer than statistically estimated to be possible. I am so thankful for my family. As believers, we are given the opportunity to rejoice always. To live a life of constant and perpetual celebration. Where every day, time and season are worth recognizing simply because God is with us and Christ lives in us.

Rejoice in the Lord always…again I say, rejoice.

Human beings are wrought with feelings and emotions based on a physical existence. Our body and mind are subject to the sensory perception of the brain according to the conditions and circumstances. The things experienced and daily encounters are met with human logic to form our reaction or response to each one. One such response is “life is not fair.” When my children would argue that something was not fair, I was quite to remind them that they were not born with tickets in their hands. The rollercoasters in life are free. Our ability to endure them and overcome fear will decide the outcome of our experience. Yet in all of life’s ups and downs there is an opportunity offered to those who believe. The ones who have asked Jesus to save them and decide to make Him their Lord. We have been given the right to celebrate and rejoice in every situation.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

I looked up the word “reasonableness”. It means to agreeable to reason. Not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason and not excessive. Moderate. Human reason is the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgements, or inferences. It is the basis and cause of our belief which defines our actions. In other words, what is your reasoning? If its cause is faith, its effect must be rejoicing. God isn’t about faking it until you make it but faithing it as you go. You cannot fake faith. You cannot pretend to trust and have the same results. Faith is only logical according to the Word of God. We must believe the Word of God and do what it says to have a logical expectation of the hopeful outcome promised by God. It’s not about hype…but all about hope.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The Lord is at hand. He is with you. He is for you. Nothing can separate you from His Love. No weapon formed against you will prosper. He works every detail of our life for good. Nothing is impossible for God. If His Word says it, He meant it for you! THEREFORE, do not be anxious for anything. Easier said than done, right? It all sounds good on paper but when the rubber hits the road – now that’s another story. How can I live a worry-free, stress-less, and never anxious life? Is it even possible? We must be conscious of our connection with God in each day, moment and breath. It is the only way to overcome the lie of the enemy that produces fear and doubt. We must complete the connection with Christ in us by faith and live according to the prospering of our soul. The soul seeks joy and peace. The rest of searches for happiness and immediate gratification. Earthly happiness and immediate gratification can be taken from you. The treasure of the heart is untouchable.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace with God are the terms and conditions of our Covenant in Christ. To be at peace with God is to be one with His Kingdom. It is a prospering soul that flourishes in the fruit of His Spirit which allows peace to permeate our life. Peace that passes ALL understanding. It means when all hell breaks loose or the world around us falls apart – we are still standing held tightly by the Lord. We must learn to guard our heart and minds in Christ by choosing to rejoice in the Lord each and every day. To celebrate His Presence.

Leviticus 23:39-41 (ESV) “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month…

It is July. Now before any Biblical scholars or historians point it out, I realize that the Jewish calendar is different than our calendar, but don’t you find it just a little funny that this is in today’s devotion. I’m just saying – God’s got jokes. Anyway…God instituted many feasts and celebrations for His People. Many of these are outlined in the Book of Leviticus. This particular feast was called the Feast of Booths. It was designated to celebrate God delivering them from Egypt. A reminder to remember the Goodness of God and His Love for His People. It was a time set aside to rejoice before the Lord God for seven days. A week of complete rejoicing and nothing else. Hmmm…

God decreed this time of rejoicing as statutorily required. It was the Law. To rejoice means to express great joy and happiness. It is a celebration. The Lord didn’t make excuses for certain conditions. For example, it doesn’t tell them to refrain if struck by drought or famine. It doesn’t give leeway for times of busyness or just a good case of the feels. No, it says, “You shall celebrate it in the seventh month of the year.” Every year. No exceptions. No excuses.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Do I rejoice in the Lord every day? It is a question only I can answer and hold myself accountable for. Each person knows their heart. God loves me. He sent His Son, Jesus to save me. He desires me. His Thoughts for me immeasurable. His Attention to me – inexplicable. His Grace is constantly flowing to me. Every fault and failure with the promise of success and prosperity because He is Good and His Faithfulness endures forever. This is the reflection of a rejoicing heart. I must remind myself of these things. I must make the conscious choice, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” This must be my personal daily declaration to live seven days of rejoicing not just in July but every day, all year, and for the rest of my life. This is where I find peace with God complete. Not in my own faithfulness or ability to produce happiness but His Faithfulness and commitment to fill me with inexpressible joy!

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

God’s Will for my life in Christ Jesus is that I will rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. He has given me faith to invest in this endeavor. Lord, let it grow and prosper in me. May each day be a celebration of Your Love, Faithfulness and Goodness! Amen and amen!

Isaiah 61:10-11 (ESV)  will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Follow Your Heart

Follow Your Heart

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.

Always. To all. Do not be. In every. The absolute terms used in this passage are often ignored. Is it really possible to always rejoice? Is it logical to be gentle to all? Can one truly live anxiety free and answer the directive, “Do not be anxious about anything”? In every situation is peace truly an achievable goal and aspiration? We have the customary response of “yes” but if it is not evident in our life is it truth we speak or simply the acceptable vernacular of Christianity. Though called a peculiar people, radical Christians are not supposed to be odd in a crazy kind of way but rather decisive in the Love of God firmly and completely established in Jesus Christ. In other words, authentic faith is radical and illogical thinking to the world, but we can be credible Christians living in the peace of God that “transcends all understanding.” Jesus Christ is the guard for our heart and mind in a world set on rebellion and an enemy bent on destruction. You have within you the power to overcome in every situation. It begins by dealing with doubt.

Doubt is the culprit. The carefully laid trap of the enemy to take the promises of God and make them seem illogical and impossible. The suggestion by him that God does not have the capacity to love unconditionally and forgive completely that leads us to believe that maybe the Gospel is too good to be true…for me. If for just a moment the enemy of the human soul can muster a tiny bit of uncertainty – it becomes a fast growing weed choking out the Truth being rooted and grounded by God’s Word cultivated by His Spirit. Our hope seems unstable in a stormy sea of stirred up emotions and overwrought feelings when God is unchanged. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the ones who waver.

I John 4:17-18 (NIV) This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Let’s face it perfection is impossible for people. Perfect love is only possible in Jesus Christ. We must place our life in Him to experience a love so profound that it transforms our life from mediocrity to magnificence just because He is perfect. Love completed in us nullifies our doubts one by one quenching fear in the fire of passionate love. There is no fear in love. Therefore, the new creation of Christ makes way for a life of peace and calm. Each worry, care and anxious thought is the product of contention with God. It is a place that His Love has not overcome our doubt and disbelief. Peace is established in us by constantly reconciling every thought, feeling and emotion to the perfect love of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not punish us or it would suggest that His Grace is not enough. God is disciplining (or teaching) us to live a worry-free life of careless pursuit of His Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-26 (NIV) Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The title of this section in my Bible bears the heading, “Do Not Worry”. Do not worry about your life. It goes on to detail the very things that consume our thoughts on a regular basis. Our perspective is influenced by society. The key to our success as believers is our full perception to be based on God’s Word. How is God’s Word going to feed me? Cloth me? Take care of me? It already does. Look around right now. Not at what you do not have but what God has already provided you. Media heavily influences our wants, needs and desires. We keep our eyes on our neighbors rather than on Jesus and His Kingdom. To covet what someone else has keeps us from living the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord. We must learn to set our sights higher than eye level. Walking by faith is to see and adhere to principles of an unseen Kingdom that can change our existence on the earth.

Jesus asks a very pointed question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Good point. What comes next is even better! “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Worry robs us of precious time. It steals moments of joy from us. It wastes time better spent sowing faith and reaping promises. Doubt will use the same ground of heart that faith is supposed to grow from. We decide what is sown in our heart and given to its cultivation. I am not in control. You are not in control. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God has already ordered the steps of my life. He put eternity in my heart so I will never be satisfied with less than God’s Best. He gave me faith so that I can reach my full potential. I have already been provided with everything I need. Every spiritual blessing fully and firmly implanted in my life. Purpose is imbedded in me by God for a prosperous life. I have the keys to God’s Kingdom…I must simply learn to use them.

Luke 12:27-31 (NIV) “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

If you read Ecclesiastes 3, it makes some valid points in the logic of peace over worry. First, there is a time for everything. Second, there is a season for every activity under heaven. It goes on to list every detail of human existence. The process that comprises the little dash between our birthday and day of departure. Finally, it says, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” It is not a promise problem but a perception problem. We must change our perspective to change our pursuit. According to God’s Word, our life is predestined and predisposed to eternity. We have a destiny. It is ordered. It is timely. We must simply seek the Kingdom and these things are given as well.

Luke 12:32-34 (NIV) “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your treasure today? It is usually best determined by where you invest your life? Your time, talent and treasure are the deposits made into the earth and/or Kingdom. To give our all in earthly pursuits leaves the eternity in our heart unsatisfied. The world is subject to destruction. Fear is the natural accumulation when evaluating one’s existence according to the earth. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Wars and rumors of wars. It is not a very hopeful place. You and I carry the Light of the world inside of us. We have the Kingdom in us and the ability to share it without worry, fear, stress or anxiety. We have been given our freedom to choose how to portion our life including our heart, mind and body. In order for our life to prosper – our soul must prosper first. Our soul prospers in the Kingdom. But as in any endeavor, we must give the time and energy in pursuing it to become our reality.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) If you want the Kingdom, you must invest your life pursuing it. To have God’s Kingdom means to live in peaceful allegiance to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to the Father. Are you willing to give up your cares, worries and anxiety to have it? Will you forfeit fear? Will you bury every doubt in the Truth that it is Your Father’s Good Pleasure to give you His Kingdom? You must only give up this worthless, dead end life to have it!

God has placed eternity in our heart. We have the potential to prosper in this life by carefully placing all of it in the Kingdom of God. Jesus came to give you a rich and satisfying life. He did it. It is finished. To claim it is to change our perspective from earth to the Kingdom. To pursue the Kingdom relentlessly will allow perfect love to overcome fear by removing all doubt. We must believe that God is good. He loves us. He will always love us. He does not punish but prospers His Beloved. If only we would follow our heart and the eternity in it.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (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.”

Fullness

Empty Mason jars

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

I am struck by the thought of the fullness of God. A perfect God complete in every way cannot impart parts and pieces of Himself without defiling His Entirety. Forfeiting His Sovereignty. We are given His Fullness. All of Him. The Lord withholds nothing from us. Reading God’s Word requires careful consideration, mindful meditation and ongoing contemplation. The truths within it are so simple that it is incomprehensible to the complicated minds of convoluted thinking called the human mind. Experience tempts us to think less about His Word and more about the logical possibilities in life. The consequences ingrained by the teaching of life’s lessons leaving scars on our soul. Yet…it says…right here…”for from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace…”

For from His Fullness…

God cannot impart to us anything that is incomplete. His Divine nature as Creator, Master, and Father will not allow Him to give us less than all. God gives His Fullness to us. Why do believers remain dissatisfied, discontent, diseased and distant? When He sent His Son – Jesus, God knew that He was sending all of Him. Jesus would have to give His All to maintain the Word that He was and is. I know this is deep thinking but we do not serve a shallow God. He doesn’t do things halfway. When He does anything it is to the uttermost. Complete. Lacking nothing…yet we lack something…what are you lacking today? Where do you need the wholeness of God to touch you? Why are you discouraged? Such a feeling exposes the area of our life void of hope and given to fear and doubt. The Lord wants to fill it today with grace upon grace!

Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing when He chose us BEFORE the foundation of the world. He decided to make us holy and blameless before Him. He decided to love us and predestined us for adoption through His Son, Jesus Christ which means God already knew the cost of loving us and keeping us. The relationship desired uses the term “beloved” which does not imply a lack luster love or desire for us but a full on – all in covenant and term of endearment. God has lavished grace upon us to cover every sin and indiscretion. He knew beforehand exactly how much grace my life would demand for repayment of my sin and gladly gave it. He gave me wisdom and insight so that I may know the mystery of His Will by placing eternity and faith in my heart to consummate into righteousness one day. His Purpose from the beginning was and still is to be one with us.

God decided that He would unite all things (and people) in Him through Christ including things in heaven and things on the earth. We are Kingdom people now while we live on the earth which means access to the life and power of God right here and right now. God gives Himself to us fully and completely through His Son Jesus. There is no partiality in our Perfect God. He is full of grace and mercy – overflowing in unconditional love. It does change. It cannot run out. It is predestined and premeditated for us from the beginning of time.

Ephesians 1:15-22 (ESV) For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Why are believers still living in lack when God has given us His All? I am amazed at the heart of man to think that his thoughts and ways could be better than the Lord’s – myself included. The times that God sets His Plan in motion and I decided to only take Him up partially. God is not a partial God but we are partial people. God gives us His Fullness in every possible way. It is our inability to give Him all of us that keeps us from receiving the fullness of favor that He has already released to us in Christ Jesus. What about all the times I choose immediate gratification over fulfillment?

Lord, we need the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly place… There is an immeasurable greatness hidden inside of us. His Name is Jesus Christ. He is full of power and life that leads to fulfillment. He doesn’t stop until it is complete.

Fullness means containing all that can be held, filled to the utmost capacity, complete, entire and maximum. This is the life that God has created for us and made possible in His Son, Jesus. His Spirit seals us. We must decrease and allow Christ to increase beginning on the inside until He makes His Way to the outside. You were made for more. You must simply make room for it. The widow women was afraid the collectors would come and take her sons. Her husband, a man of God, departed from this world. All she had was a flask of oil. Oil represents anointing. You are filled with the anointed one. All she had to do was to find empty vessels to fill and the oil kept flowing. It did not stop until she ran out of jars. Let her life be our lesson today. Are we empty vessels? His Fullness needs a place to flow. Make room for more today. You have all the components of a rich, satisfying and abundant life inside of you. Live the life God has for you – there you will find His Fullness.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.