Life Without Limitation

Life without Limitation

Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When the New Year rolled around this year, it was not met with the same enthusiasm that it usually is for me. I love the calendar roll of fresh pages with new days filled with opportunity and potential. There would be no resolutions. I didn’t join the gym. This is not the norm for me. It immediately caused a gut check. We did not do the Daniel Fast. Oh my goodness, I can hear the huge intake of breath of those who engage it religiously since it became a “thing” in the church. The one thing I did do was put Ephesians 3:20 on the “wallpaper” of my phone so every time I pick it up – it illuminates before me. It must be the Holy Spirit who picked the verse because I have no idea why or how it became the verse for 2017 – but it is.

I will try to say this as gently as possible and it is a truth that many church folks have a really difficult time understanding or even agreeing with but when our relationship becomes traditional, routine driven, and a habit it is in danger of becoming religious versus relational. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not regulated or ruled by the things that I do or do not do but completely and 100% reliant on His Grace and my ability to accept His Love and Mercy each day. Nothing I do is worthy of all that He has done for me. However, what I have finally decided in this third month of the year is that my life has been limited. There are some areas of my existence that I have not fully committed and entrusted to Jesus Christ. Oh please, don’t judge me or decide that I have some big secret. We all have hidden areas and secret places of limitation in our heart and mind when it comes to the love and power of Jesus Christ for our life. Otherwise, every church including every member would be experiencing resurrection power, miracles, signs and wonders in every facet of their life. There is always more of Him for the part of me that is willing to bow down and give Jesus His Rightful Place.

Bear with me today, as I believe this Word is for me. I hope that as I share it transparently it will illuminate an area of limitation in your life so that the Love of God will bust through it and an outpouring of His Power will manifest in your new life in Christ. I think sometimes we expect our life in Christ to be like a bottle of carbonated soda. Sometimes it is, we get shaken up real good and explode for the moment but then the next day life is flat and tasteless. God has given us living water to flow through us. Have you ever shaken up a water bottle? Yep, nothing. It doesn’t get all worked up and shoot out of the bottle everywhere. It also doesn’t make a mess either. Water is consistently pure. It is always the same. You can only adjust the temperature but other than that it is committed to consistency. Maybe that is what this year is doing in me, removing some of the emotion and enthusiastic zeal to be replaced by a supernatural and miraculous life of confident hope that leads to consistent superabundance in my life. Lord, be it unto me.

To elaborate:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (AMP) For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

My daughters and I were discussing an upcoming youth challenge posed by their youth pastor. They will be instructed regarding sharing their testimony and then given the opportunity to do so at the local Wal-Mart. My girls do not know a life outside of church or belief in Jesus Christ. They were born in church, taken to church, drug to church and now go to church their whole life. One of them confided that she doesn’t remember a time of not knowing Jesus – praise God. My heart as a mother is full. However, when it comes to sharing her life with others. What will she tell them? She has little to no experience to compare her new life to her old life to. She has been saved and baptized. It is all that she knows. Jesus Christ is a reality not a revelation to her. Our youngest daughter concurred that she knows she asked Jesus to be her Savior and Lord on my birthday when she was very young. She knows what it means to be saved. She understands the Holy Spirit but giving such a message to someone who has experienced something completely different seems to be impossible to them. All three of our girls have been challenged when engaging with others who have lived a different life with very different experiences.

Let’s flip the script for a moment, I have experienced life from a different perspective. I know what lost looks like. I have traveled the wilderness. I have made countless mistakes that were once regrets until redeemed by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ was fully accepted. I have had the opportunity to share my experience with many people and it is easy. I have experienced Jesus Christ and His Power in my life so I know it is real and valid. The more that we experience the Love of God fully consummated in our life by faith and confident hope that produces supernatural and extraordinary details the easier it is to share this Gospel and be a light to the world. This is and always will be part of our purpose and calling in this world to share a real God and relevant Jesus to the lost and dying in darkness.

I must experience God at every level and Christ completely through me to be a relevant and accurate witness. To be the kind of Christian who is ready in season and out of season to share the Message of God’s Great Love. My relationship with Jesus Christ must be real. It cannot be a routine that I follow or rules that I adhere to. It must be a transparent open book that all can read and understand. It is a love story. It is a miraculous account of a limited life that became filled with unlimited power. My life must live it out to make it a best-seller sought after by others on display for all to see.

For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ],” The purpose for my existence and the reason I am alive is to be a Child of God. To come back to the Father by Way of Jesus Christ and take my place in God’s Family once again. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. How many times though have I ignored the Grace of God thinking that the Lord was calling me to be the strong one? Do be the good person? To be a God-Like Christian rather than a godly woman transmitting God’s Love, Grace and Mercy as it filters through me. See I can pretend like I have it all together, like there are no cares in my world. I can attempt to make it look like I make no mistakes and live a holier-than-thou life. The reality is I am a broken person who Jesus sparked a love affair with and the more I love and trust Him – the more I find that the Light of His Love is revealed through the cracked parts of my life rather than in any religious act I have participated in. God doesn’t need me but I must have Him. For this reason…grasping the greatness of His Plan. (Ephesians 3:14)

It is simple. Really simple. Jeremiah 29:1-13 is the description of this plan, however; the one that makes the difference is this – “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) The beginning of an unlimited life starts with three basic steps – “Repentance. Restoration. Revival.” How did I get that from this verse? I must repent and live in love with Jesus. My love for Him alone will produce the right results. Restoration is the family reunion that causes the Love that Jesus gives me, to be reciprocated in life with others who I do not judge but choose to embrace for mercy’s sake. Finally, revival for those who choose to walk with God is to become His Children and establish our birthright again. We have a new life. It is in us and flows from us. Everywhere we walk in step with the Father has the potential of resurrection life. I am only limited by unwillingness to humble my life and follow the Lord.

Where do you walk? Following Jesus is to allow the Greater that is in you to have priority over the less that tends to drive us. Our daughters don’t know a life outside of Jesus Christ because Christ has been in their life always. What if we made it a point to include Jesus in every facet of our life? If every step had purpose and every work of the hand committed to the Lord, I am not talking about selfless martyrdom but to say, “Jesus come with me to work. Lord, have your way in my commute.” Holy Spirit fill the walls of our home. God put your hand on our bank account.” It is in Him we live, move, breathe and exist according to the Word of God. (Acts 17:28) Or do we? Have you ever said, “It is what it is”? What about calling those things into existence that are in Heaven for now? How about “it’s just who I am”? Where is the new creation? The limitations on my life are self-imposed. I have resurrection life and power inside of me applicable to every single step that I take in this life all the way to eternity. I must learn to walk like Enoch who disappeared in the Presence of the Lord.

From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. Having earthly fathers who may or may not have participated in our life creates a false perception of fatherhood when it comes to our Heavenly Father. We place human expectations on a flawless Father based on the unmet expectations of flawed fathers. I have a great dad. He is a good father yet he still makes mistakes and is imperfect. I trust him yet I trust God more. I love and honor my earthly father but I relentlessly pursue right-standing with God my Father. It is absolutely imperative that we come to know, understand, believe and ultimately choose to trust the perfection of God our Father. He is awesomely wonderful. His Love is absolutely without condition. He is wonderful! He is awesome! God is everything our natural father’s wanted to be and even strive to become – God is all that and more. To access Him by Way of Jesus Christ and live in His Presence is absolute proof of belief. Faith must be evidenced by trust. Do you trust God today? Do you really trust Him? If you do, then your life will become supernatural. You will not experience fear, worry, care, anxiety or doubt when it comes to any and all lifetime situations. His Power will be manifested in you. If you do fear, worry, feel anxious or doubt, hang on…there is more.

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]…” Grace is defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. God is ready to grant you the riches of His Glory. It is not to His Glory that His Children eat from the scraps beneath the table but sit and share meals with Him. To commune with Him. Stop it. Don’t think about communion with a tiny juice cup and sliver of a horrible tasting wafer. No, God wants to prepare a table in the presence of your enemies and demonstrate the extravagance of His Great Love. We are too busy fighting defeated foes than celebrating His Victory. God wants to live your life with you. He wants His Power to manifest His Presence in EVERY SINGLE AREA, EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION. All caps. Yes, I am shouting at you. Every area of our life should be according to His Riches in Glory. From the inside out, as our soul prospers our health, finances, influence and favor will, too. Where we sow the Word in our life, we will reap every blessing, promise and benefit it contains. The problem is not in God’s Capacity to love and care for us but in our ability to comprehend His Love. It is unlimited. Unlimited means not limited, unrestricted, and unconfined. It is boundless, infinite and vast. God’s love is unlimited and without qualification, exception and unconditional. God loves you period. The only way to perceive the boundaries (or lack there of) of God’s Love is to attempt to find them. The more I engage in grounding and rooting my faith in the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ the less I will worry about the problems, situations, conditions and inconveniences of this life highly anticipating what God will do as He works good out of every detail. (Romans 8:28) God is perfecting all that concerns His Children. (Psalm 138:8) When I yoke my life to Christ and He goes where I go and I go where He goes, it will always challenge me to go deeper in God’s Presence and push the boundaries of His Love.

And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].” God’s Love increases the capacity of my life. If I choose to engage in this love affair with Jesus “practically” through personal experience suddenly the God of my ancestors becomes My Lord, My God. We have not because we ask not. We do not believe that God’s Love is for us. The miracles of old are relevant. God’s Word is not logical outside of faith. But with faith all things impossible are now probable. The God of after life must be the God of our natural life, too. The Goodness of God is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) His Unfailing Love, His Mercy when I mess up and Goodness pursues me when? All the days of my life… (Psalm 23:6) All these words found in the Word are empowered by faith in the Word wrapped in flesh – Jesus Christ. They leap to life off the pages when faith is applied. Confident hope releases resurrection power now rather than reserving it for later. Rather than the mentality of “Jesus if you had been here” – we live because Jesus is here with us and in us. I am challenged to release all limitation in my life today by applying God’s Word by faith and believing God at His Word for EVERY area of my life not just those defined by desperation or hinting of death. To make God’s Word the reality that I experience every single day in every single way. This will be the fuel that sets the Light of my life from a small candle flickering in the wind to an all-consuming fire that drives darkness away. I am called to be the Light of the World. It’s time to light this baby up.

The Fullness of God. What does it look like? Is your life extraordinary? Have you experienced moves and waves of God unexplainable naturally but supernaturally defined? If not, you will. If you decide that God’s Love is definitely for you. If you desire it enough to pursue it, yoking your life to Jesus Christ. You will find His Plan, His Purpose and yes, even His Prosperity in every single element of your life. He is a Good Father. Do not sell your birthright for a single meal like Esau. Esau had a vast inheritance. He gave it all up to satisfy a hunger that was temporary. Hear me today as God is speaking to me, I believe He is saying it to you, “Stop settling.” Just because you don’t deserve the current blessings and benefits of God already proven in your life. Just because it is hard to believe God would do more and more when you realize you cannot stop doing what you do – choose to believe anyway. God is ready to do more than you can think or ask, dream or desire – all you must do is choose to accept His Love. (Period.) When I married my husband, there were things that immediately changed. I desired no one else. I pursued no one else. I wanted only to be His Wife forever. Over the years, there are things that we both have changed and grown in to maintain our relationship, He has never forced me to but I choose to because I love him. I want to be his wife. I want a strong marriage that lasts until death do us part. It is by choice. Love is a choice. To choose Jesus as our Savior and make Him Lord is a love choice. It is not by force. With this in mind, Jesus is not going to force you to live in His Presence or take everything He offers you as a part of your partnership. You have to want it, accept it, apply it and desire it, too. We have hidden potential, purpose and promise that only God can bring to pass. My life is unlimited unless I impose limits marked by disbelief, doubt and other desires.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

So back to my verse for 2017, I believe for me that the Lord is pressing me to start believing practically for the superabundance in all areas of my life not just the impossible ones. I know that God is a healer. I know that He gives us the desires of our heart. I have experienced God in so many ways that my life is far more blessed than I ever thought possible. I cannot stop here and have the fullness of God intended for my life. I must continue to press the boundaries of my belief and label each step with purpose as I walk through life until I disappear and all people see is the Christ in me. The life of Enoch is the life for me. When God’s Glory surrounds us completely and all people see when they see us is Light. Light of Love too amazing to not engage in. To complete to not step into. To real to ever forget. Life without limitation. This is the life for me.

Acts 17:26-28 (AMP) And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

What Are You Afraid Of?

what-are-you-afraid-of

I John 4:18 (AMP) There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

What are you afraid of? What is the thing causes fear to well up inside of you? Are you anxious? Many people operate in fear without even knowing it. Some have grown so comfortable in its existence that they are held captive by it unknowingly. There is no fear in love. Maybe you have heard the Christian cliché – “FEAR – False evidence appearing real.” While there is truth in this statement, tell the person who is feeling afraid all you want that it is false but to them it is very real. God’s Will for our life is to become fearless. He did not give us the spirit of fear and works in us to deliver us from all fear. Can you say that today? God, I want to be fearless.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, God did not give us the spirit of fear. The spirit of fear is characterized as timid and cowardice. Instead, we have been given a spirit of power, love, sound judgment and personal discipline. This is the Truth that must be adopted and accepted as our way of life to drive out every fearful spirit that attempts to take the place of Christ in our life. That’s right. Fear takes up God-Space in us because we have been given the Mind of Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16) We are to be guided by His Thoughts and Purpose for us now that sin has no hold on us. However, it takes time to rewire our thinking and expose the lie that has held us in bondage so long.

“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 blowing. When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:12-13) Don’t beat yourself up, friend! Even strong Christians, steadfast believers and mighty men and women of God are tricked into the captivity of fear along the way. It is a carefully laid snare by the enemy to trap us. (Proverbs 29:25) When faced with fear or anxiety, the only weapon of use that we have is the Truth. The Word of God is the weapon that separates the Truth of God’s Love from the lie of the enemy called fear.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (AMP) For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.

Jesus called out satan for the liar that he is. In John 8:44, he says, “he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” Jesus is essentially saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. We must develop a weapon useful and effective in combating the fiery darts that come at us every single day. The enemy take not take you out of the game. He cannot snatch anyone who is solidly fixed in God’s Hand or Plan. Distractions, diversions, delays and detours are often created simply because we do not know the Truth and it has not set us free yet.

John 8:31-32 (AMP) So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word [continually obeying My teachings and living in accordance with them, then] you are truly My disciples. And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” 

Truth will set you free from believing the lie and living in fear. There is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s Love. God’s Love has a different definition than worldly lust called love. God wants you for you. He created you to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t matter how you see you or others see you – God’s sees His Purpose and Plan for your life and it’s a good one. If only for a moment the Light of His Love could make its way to every dark doubt and deception seeded in us by the enemy’s lies.

What is love? God gives a clear definition of genuine love looks like. Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].”(I Corinthians 13:4-8) What if God’s People chose to really know God’s Love? What might happen? You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot explain what you do not understand. You cannot live by faith if you do not know God’s Love. Faith is our assurance, title deed and confirmation that the things hoped for are divinely guaranteed. Faith sees the supernatural as factual and spiritual reality above worldly influence. Faith is our confidence in God’s Love that is relaying by a life of confidence and trust that allows us to expect God’s Goodness in all things.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I realized my greatest fear in that moment. I am not a fearful person. I tend to forget to lock the door or even shut the garage door at night. I don’t live carelessly either. I don’t think that I am necessarily courageous either. I just don’t struggle a whole with fear or anxiety. However, I faced fear head-on when our son was sick. It was not in the initial diagnosis. God said to trust Him so I did. It was a habit. I had experienced great results giving God my burdens. However, by the third diagnosis, when doctors became concerned that they were running out of treatment options and possibly time. I was introduced to the realm of hope. The reality of hope is that there is no physical foothold to stand on other than a firm foundation of faith which is great in theory. My son’s life was on the line. It was not a game any longer but a matter of life and death. I did not have any power or control over the situation. I did not have the ability to save his life or exchange mine for his. All I could do was pray, trust and believe that no matter what the outcome that God is good and His Love secure. Fear must give way to faith in our life to live in confident trust. We live in confident hope. Hope is not for today but our confidence in forever.

Psalm 23:1-5 (AMP) The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

God’s Will for your life is to be brave and courageous. Not in our natural ability, personal power, or strength of self – but in confident trust. God is good. No matter what you are going through in life, He is with us. Ready to guide us and lead us with His Rod and Staff. Wisdom and truth are His Offering. We accept by discipline and obedience. He guides, shields and protects those who follow Him. He prepares us for the dark valleys, famines and droughts ahead of time. Paths of righteousness are not easy. There will be sunless slopes. There will be battles or where else could he prepare tables before our enemies. The difference is faith and confident hope that trusts God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Goodness every day even on the days that are tough and scary. We rely on the reserve of God in our heart. His Word will dispel the lie of the enemy every single time. The best way to expose the lie holding you captive in fear today is to get in God’s Word and His Presence to find the Truth. The Light of His Love is in His Word. It is the very weapon available to fight for your faith and claim back your mind, will and emotions to be subject to faith and confident hope. You will be fearless when you face your fear and kill it with Truth.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (AMP)  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

Jesus does not condemn us for our fears but offers opportunities for us to come to Him and receive mercy, grace and help when we are struggling. We are fighting for faith. It is important to keep our eyes fixed on the prize and not focused on fear. Fear cannot produce failure unless we give into it. We must fight fear with faith in God every single day. We must root it out of the fertility of our heard and sow good seeds of God’s Word in its place. We must take captive EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT that is contrary to faith and confidence. Fear and anxiety cannot be welcome, entertained or accepted. It is important to face fear head on in our everyday life to be successful when the true test comes along. I want to be found faith-full not fear-full. We must aim and pursue righteousness in all things so that the lie of the enemy is revealed and truth begins to prevail in our life. We find Truth in His Word and His Presence. Worship is confidence in God. To live a life of worship lives in the Truth of Who God is and His Promises no matter what life looks like right now – it shows our Trust in Who Christ is and not reliant on what He is doing right now.

Psalm 27:1-4 (AMP) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—whom shall I dread? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, Even in this I am confident. One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

God’s Plan for my son was to go into remission. He is alive today. God rid his body of cancer and he will graduate from college this year. The reality is that all my children will die one day. It is the partial truth. The whole truth is that my kids love the Lord. They have asked Him to be their Savior. They will be with Jesus the moment after they take their last breath. Our faith is worthless if it cannot take us past this life. Fear is the enemies plot to destroy our faith by continually pressing thoughts, ideas and images in our head of tragedy and trauma. He wants us to believe that there is an end to life. I am alive in Jesus Christ. I have a future that extends past today, tomorrow and my funeral. It is to my advantage to be with the Lord forever. What am I afraid of? Exactly. Fear is absolutely false evidence appearing real but to many it is the reality that prevails in their heart. I rebuke fear, anxiety, worry and stress in the Mighty Name of Jesus. I ask the Holy Spirit to shed the bright Light of God’s Love in each heart today to expose that which God has not given us but has been allowed to live their too long. God give us courage and confidence as we surrender our fears to You today! Give us faith to overcome every obstacle to live fearlessly in Your Love!

Proverbs 1:33 (AMP) “But whoever listens to me (Wisdom) will live securely and in confident trust and will be at ease, without fear or dread of evil.”

To All the Strong Ones

Silhouette of a Boy Showing Arm Muscles Strength

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Well I did it! I made it over a major obstacle yesterday. One I have not cleared in years. It was not the current squat challenge I embarked on in February. I can finally walk and not resemble a toddler on new legs. Yes, I downed the gallon of water. I am absolutely floating. Missing caffeine a little (a lot) but the 9:00 PM bedtime does wonders for that if only my kids would keep it down. It has been a date circled on the calendar in ominous red for about three months. I finally made it to the dentist. (Insert applause.) I am not scared of many things. In fact, the only two things that come to mind are snakes and the dreaded dentist. If I were the first woman created, there would not have been incident in the garden because when the snake came slithering up to me – I would have been long gone. When the dentist called back in December to yet again schedule an appointment after five long years and my youngest calling me a hypocrite (I make them go religiously) – I agreed to a date and time.

Call it my kryptonite if you will but when it comes to the dentist, my heart races. My mouth goes dry. I literally break into a sweat driving over. I have to force myself to take a seat and wait. The dentist has a little sticker on my chart that indicates I have “white coat” syndrome. I share all this to set the scene yesterday in vivid detail. I walked into the Presence of God and prayed for peace and calm over my restless emotions and reactive body. Created a prayer circle of family and friends. I want to overcome this debilitating feeling that is straight from the enemy. It started years ago. We did not go to the dentist regularly as kids. After multiple pregnancies back to back my teeth needed some desperate attention. I scheduled an appointment. The cleaning and consultation went fine. The fillings were another story. Ever since then, I have avoided the dentists at all costs. However, I hate fear. It reminds me that I lack faith and trust in that area even something as simple as the dentist hence this long-winded story to get to my point.

When I arrived yesterday, the office was backed up. Because of my “little problem” they usually whisk me back before I change my mind. They apologized greatly. I canceled my last appointment because it was our son’s first week of treatment after his cancer diagnosis. They all wanted to ask so I quickly shared his miraculous story. My heart slowed down a bit as I could tell of my Father’s Love and Care for our kid. It opened the door of conversation with my new hygienist. She is a Christian, too. So while she worked in my mouth, she shared bits and pieces of her family and faith. She told me the story of her husband’s adoption, and as she shared it came to her mother-in-law’s faith. In the middle of the story, I heard the words that have changed everything time and time again in my walk with Jesus. “Do you trust Me?” I immediately relaxed in the chair. I do trust Jesus. Sometimes, I forget that fear doesn’t mean I lack faith. Weakness is only a lack of human strength but in no way nullifies the Power of God at work in me but rather facilitates a full-takeover. When I doubt, God always offers me a change to believe again. It usually comes in the form of the question – “do you trust Me?”

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood?” Opportunities to trust the Lord come wrapped in packages labeled fear, weakness, and ignorance. Fear allows us to experience faith when turning to the Father for refuge and security. Weakness gives us the place for God’s Power to work fully in our life. Ignorance demands knowledge to be resolved creating a hunger for the Word of God. Each one of these challenges show us that the Lord is the everlasting God. Ready, willing and able to turn doubt and insecurity into instant belief. He never grows weak or weary ready to tackle these things that compromise righteousness. No one can measure the depths of His Great Understanding that creates pathways to appointments that give us the chance to trust Him. Your footsteps are ordered by the Lord, therefore He knows exactly where you are headed. He has already gone before you. He comes in behind you, too. Psalm 23 is the perfect example of the reality of our walk with God. It is not the absence of opposition but the promise that while walking with Him there is nothing to fear and everything to gain according to His Word.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

It is human pride that tells us to be strong. The truth is grace only is operational in our inability. It is weakness that allows the Lord to infuse our life with His Power – otherwise they work in direct opposition. Trust is the catalyst for God’s Power to be in full effect. Do you trust the Lord today? It is impossible to tell until it is no longer possible for you to produce the desired outcome. Challenges, tests and trials are absolutely necessary to allow us the opportunity to trust the Lord and receive all His Power offers in our life. His Promises arise from the ashes of pride when His Power fully consumes my doubt and fear. Do you believe God’s Grace is enough? Is it sufficient? Paul begged God to take the “thorn from his flesh” three times. However, in the end, he determined that God’s Grace was made perfect in his complete weakness so Paul gave God the opportunity to be His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12)

This is evident in Paul’s many letters of encouragement to the church. This once powerful, strong arm of religion was reduced to a prisoner for the Love of Jesus Christ. All his human strength drained and refilled with the Goodness and Grace of God’s Unfailing Love. This became Paul’s provision and source of strength independent of his current condition or circumstances. Christ was enough. He is enough. We must step down or fall down in order to see that God’s Power in us is greater than anything mustered in my personal strength or ability. This comes at the end of me. This is the point when I am on my knees crawling to the finish line of faith.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

I don’t understand all the details of my life. I have a list created for the moment I meet the Lord of all the things in my life that just don’t add up. I am quite certain that when that day comes most will be resolved as I continue to see each one turn for my good and His Glory. It just takes some time. To trust in the Lord with all my heart includes those unresolved matters. Do not depend on your own understanding. Can I expound on this a bit? My understanding is based on my five senses and wrapped up in my emotions. It is a self-based, pride-driven operation. My perspective is based on what I can see around me not what is in the future. I was created by God to be a masterpiece. I cannot judge the finished product by what my life looks like today. His Plan is perfect with a future and hope that is impossible to comprehend in my current state. I cannot see the forest for the trees some days, but the Lord has a drone’s eye view taking in the whole picture all of the time. If I make choices based on the here and now, I compromise my future with delays and distractions. I must learn to put my trust in the Lord solely by faith. I must learn to live and walk by faith and not my current perception of life as I see it, know it or think it is.

Psalm 18:28-36 (NLT) In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“In Your Strength Lord” is the secret to our success as believers. God is giving us daily opportunities to trust Him that challenge the weak areas of our faith. It may not feel like an opportunity but rather just another test, trial or temptation. If you seek the Lord in this thing, His Question is always the same – “Do you trust Me?” I have seen great and mighty miracles as a result of my weak attempts to trust the Lord. At the end of such challenges, I discover that the mustard seed of faith hidden in my heart grows a tiny bit more only to reveal more and more of my life yet surrendered to the Power of God. I am not the strong one in my life. I may appear strong person to the watching world and dependency put in that quality. However, the truth is that I am weak and He is strong. The very thing that allows me to walk with others shoulder to shoulder and share their burdens is not me. It is the Christ in me. I have yoked my life to Jesus Christ. So when I am given the opportunity to do life with other people even the messy parts, He is able to be demonstrate His Strength in my weakness so I can be a light to them. The only good thing about me is the Lord. The only hope I have to offer you is Jesus Christ. I can introduce you to the One who knew me and still thought I was to die for. But do not think for a moment, I am the strong one. I gave that up to have His Power work in me.

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

These simple words of truth will set someone free today. Brokenness makes us usable to God. Outside of failure and fear, it is impossible to know the depths of God’s Unfailing Love and Unfathomable Grace. To accept these two precious promises, one must come to the end of self completely. Otherwise, we get in the way. Every time. Our pride will never accept weakness as an option. Therefore, we must humble ourselves before the Lord which is totally contradictory to human nature or modern culture. If you fail under pressure, then you know your strength is too small. You are not supposed to be the strong one. You are supposed to experience weakness in order to full take on the Power of God. It will consume you. It will not force you. But the moment you are on your knees unable to take another step with your arm outstretched to Jesus, He will ask you just one question, “Do you trust Me?” When you have tried everything and are at a complete loss at the end of all understanding, and cry out to Him with your last whisper – the Lord will respond the same way – “Do you trust Me?” It is the moment you say, “Yes” even if it takes all the strength you have left and beyond your understanding but wholehearted that He makes all things possible simply because you believe.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” What if the very thing keeping us from experiencing the Power of God is our natural strength? Could it be our inability to surrender control and let go that is keeping us from experiencing the Promises of God? What if the thing keeping you do is your hands gripping the ground rather than raised in praise to the Lover of Your Soul in surrender? The stronger you are the longer it takes to experience the Power of God because you can outlast most. However, you will one day come to a place when you cannot withstand the pressure. You will not be able to make it through. You will run out of options. Things will be deemed impossible. It is in that moment of opportunity that the Lord will whisper to you – “Do you trust me?” What will be your response?

Faith will dictate your answer. Hope will determine your decision. Why not begin the process of release today with some of the burdens you have been carrying? What about those cares and concerns you are juggling? How about just taking your whole life and all its contents before the Lord and asking Him to examine it? To show you the areas that need more faith. Here’s a hint – they are labeled fears. Doubt must be drowned in belief. Ignorance filled with knowledge becomes wisdom. Lies are undone by the Truth. It is in the complete surrender of control and power over our own life that allows His Strength to work perfectly through us. When I am weak, I become strong.

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

 

Worth the Fight

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Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Focus. I feel the need to refocus today. It happens. Life gets a little chaotic. Storms come rolling in. Bills pile up. Too many plates (responsibilities) spinning in the air. Kids are sick. Too many distractions create a smokescreen of busyness. Time in the Word runs out. Prayer closet is vacant. Presence is lost. Spirit is willing but oh how weak is our flesh. It’s time to refocus. What are we fighting for anyway? The priority list too long and running to the second page. Is it worth it? The things consuming my time, overwhelming my thoughts and causing such crises to steal my joy, rob my time and destroy my dreams. No, it’s not.

Satan must use deception, deceit, distractions and false representations to isolate us from the Lord. He works diligently to build a strong façade of lies, half-truths and traps out of the details of life. It is easy to fall for them sometimes because what we see is always bigger than the faith and hope which is unseen. To believe means trusting in the Lord while remaining focused on the only three things that remain over time. The only things worth fighting for are faith, hope and love.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Why invest our life in temporary things rather than eternal treasure? Simple. Life is hard. Faith is a struggle. The struggle is real. Hope seems elusive when it should bear the weight of an anchor holding our soul steady but our boat is really rocking. The details of making it through a single day successfully seems so important but God is looking for just three things to call this day a win – faith, hope and love. Did you believe in Jesus? Do you trust Him? Do you love Him? See in the end these are the qualities which God is looking for in us. These are the three things that define our purpose and potential in life. When it is all said and done – will we be found full of faith, held by hope and bound by love?

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT) As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Faith is described from the beginning as small. It is referred to as the size of a mustard seed but absolutely essential to having eternal life. It is definitely worth fighting for but the first thing given up when the wind and waves start rocking the boat of life. Peter came out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water, but soon became distracted by the storm and lost his focus on the Savior. Welcome to everyday life. This was a message for us that faith is a fight. It is not easily secured. It cannot be taken for granted. It makes us uncomfortable. It is marked by inconvenience. It challenges insecurity. It always produces change. The conditions and circumstances of our existence are defined by opportunities to learn to depend on the Lord. Otherwise, there would be no pressure to accept these undesirable situations to produce an inward resolve that the Lord is faithful. Who would take the chance? Who would seize the moment? No one would.

Faith is our purpose. It is the point of our life. To obtain a citizenship in the Kingdom of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ is overwhelming victory, not for the battles waged in the world, but the war over death and the grave. To use our faith for temporary things is not faith at all. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) We are tempted to relegate faith to earthy circumstances, conditions and challenges. Faith for healing, deliverance and provision. These are all part of the package. Faith is to believe in Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. It is the very seed that sprouts all these other wonderful benefits in our life. To put God in a box and let him out to make our natural life more comfortable, convenient and stable is not its potential. Faith’s potential is the salvation of our soul. It sets our sights on Heaven. This is the true potential of our life hidden deep in our heart since creation. God put eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is this inner belief that every other good thing or godly prosperity stems from. The enemy is out to take this from you. If he can convince us to forfeit faith for fear – He will steal, kill and destroy the purpose of God within us. Fight for your faith today.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (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. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Hope is the anchor for our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) It’s the very thing that holds our faith in place no matter what comes up in life. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we now have this place of undeserved privilege called hope to keep us standing on the firm foundation called faith. Without hope, what’s the point? Hope is our potential. It takes us beyond the natural to the supernatural. Moves us from possible to impossible. It takes us from the seventy or so years called life and gives us eternal life. It is every benefit and blessing that God has promised in His Word and according to His Way. Hope is the mark on the compass that faith sets its sight on. We must focus on securing our faith with confident hope.

Have you ever walked through a dark room making out the shadowy images? Familiarity allows us to navigate the sharp corners and obstacles in the room. However, when we turn on the overhead light – it causes immediate blindness. The radiating globe that was supposed to allow us to see more clearly suddenly makes it impossible to see anything. Our eyes need time to adjust. Darkness is turned to light in God’s Love. It takes time to discern the difference in things when His Love overtakes us and a new place called the Kingdom is obtained. Hope keeps us standing as we seek the Kingdom and clear away the darkness from our life. His Love is amazing. It illuminates our life and begins a process that is sometimes hard to discern because it is unlike the dark world that has been our home for so long. We expect things to turn out a certain way and when they do not most will abandon ship, run from the battle, or give up on the Lord.

We need God’s Armor to surround us. It protects the potential called hope. It reminds us. It fortifies our body, soul and mind in the midst of these trials that lead to perseverance, the tests that produce trust, and the waiting that becomes endurance. We don’t have to fight the enemy. He is already defeated. We must fight for faith and confident hope so that when he wages war against us – we can stand firm without wavering. It is important to fight for hope today it is the potential of our life.

Philippians 1:27 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Having three daughters who loved the Disney series, High School Musical, when I read this verse I hear the chorus of “We’re All in This Together” playing in my head. I have said it before and I must say it again. People are not the problem. The person who cussed you out, cut you off in traffic, hurt you, betrayed you, abused you, or just plain ticked you off is not the problem. They are not the thorn in our flesh unless we choose to allow them to be such. We are called to love another. We are commanded to love one another. Love defines disciples. Our ability to love even the most unlovable is the mandate of Christ for us. If you cannot love other people, you do not love God. You love people more. To love someone places expectation in them to love you back. The only true love potential is Jesus Christ. He is perfect. The unprecedented lover of people. If you or I decide to put our expectation in people, we should expect to be let down, disappointed, and discouraged time and time again. Grace would not be necessary if  perfection was possible for humanity. The human heart is fickle. We are not capable of perfect love outside the Lord.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-16) People are always part of our purpose and potential in the Lord. They do not impact one’s ability to achieve it. People are where we plant seeds of righteousness as the peacemakers who God has called us together to knit the Kingdom of God and Body of Christ. We must be willing to put all of our expectation in Jesus Christ who allows us to have a right relationship with God the Father. Our faith in Jesus allows us to live in right standing with God and become part of His Kingdom. Hope is what keeps us striving through this temporary life with all its momentary problems to live forever with Him. Love is worth fighting for. It builds the Kingdom. God sacrificed His Son for us. Jesus gave up everything to come for us. He gave up His Rights as King of Kings and Lord of Lords long enough to secure a place for us. People are the Kingdom. All people were created with Eternity in their heart. They are all worth fighting for. To love them as Jesus loves them.

To love God is to love others. To be godly is to love because God is love. The Word of God clearly states that no matter what I “do” for God including giving everything I have to the poor or sacrificing my body – if didn’t love others, I have gained nothing. No love. No faith. No love. No hope. Is love worth fighting for? Absolutely. What is love? Just a reminder – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is not only worth fighting for but the very thing that keeps the Kingdom intact.

I Timothy 6:11-14 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

But you, __________, are a man or woman of God. Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for true faith. Hold tightly to eternal life which God has called you to. Declare it to many witnesses today. It’s time to reprioritize and refocus. Tear up the long to do list of human expectation and ask the Lord what do you have for me to do today. It will all come down to just three things – faith which is our purpose, hope that is our potential and the people who we are called to love. Life is simplified in Jesus Christ. Don’t let the enemy complicate it with unnecessary things. He is constantly trying to sow weeds in the garden of righteousness being sown in our life. He wants to crack our foundation of faith with fear and doubt. He fights to chain us and put us in bondage to other things so we cannot remain securely anchored to hope. The enemy of our soul seeks to destroy love on every level and some people make that a bit easier. Love them anyway. Put all your expectation in Jesus Christ and fight to keep it there. These are definitely the things (faith, hope and love) that are worth fighting to maintain in our everyday life. They define our purpose, release our potential and build the Kingdom. Well worth it!

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

 

Sink or Swim

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Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Greg Louganis climbed the high dive in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul Korea with his eye on the prize. He had worked all his life to prepare for this one moment. As he took the jump that would make history catapulting into a reverse somersault dive something went terribly wrong. He did not clear the 3-meter springboard but instead hit his head during the rotation. I can still feel the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. People watching around the world gasped with a huge intake of breath waiting to see if the young man was injured. He did sustain a laceration to his head requiring stitches. It is a mark which is still there today. The greatest triumph of all time would soon occur but it was all up to him. In the moments following his failed execution, Greg Louganis had to decide if he would try it again. Less than 30 minutes after the accident, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day leading to a gold medal that would gain Louganis the title of best diver of all time. It provided a new definition of human strength and resilience. The agony of defeat loomed over the young diver’s head. He had to decide whether the defining moment would end his career in fear or become history-making courage that overcomes fear by faith. It’s moments like this that separate the greats from the fakes in life.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The story of the famed diver would not have been historical if Greg Louganis had given up. In fact, if he had not hit his head on the board just before securing the gold medal, he would be like every other diver in the history of the sport. His name on a list somewhere or heralded poolside for his achievements but never heard around the world. He was considered a champion in a sport often not recognized in the big arenas. The moment, he triumphed over fear to do it one more time – everything changed for him. Now the world will forever recognize him as the athlete who triumphed over fear and failure to claim victory.

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away.” Peter was doing it for an eternal prize. The storm threatened the disciples. So afraid that they even believed the figure coming toward them on the water to be a ghost rather than the Lord. Peter had purpose in his heart that he was not aware of so he called out to Jesus from the boat. ““Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Jesus told the man to come. Peter was in training. His purpose and calling was not to survive the storm or become the first man next to Jesus to walk on water. The Lord was preparing him. Jesus saw the purpose God had instilled in him and knew it would take failure to discover faith. To be the man called him to be. Peter would have to sink not once but many times to get through the thick layers of flesh to the heart of the man. It is there that eternity and purpose would produce his victory.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Every step of our natural life leads us to the purpose that God has for us. From the moment our first breath is drawn until the last one is taken, the Lord provides opportunity after opportunity to take hold of the confident hope that anchors our soul. It’s called faith. Faith produces confidence in God. It is not a one-time endeavor but a series of faith failures that produce the certainty needed to make hope secure. It is in such moments of doubt that gives us insight to the areas of disbelief in our life. If we do not see each step as destiny and consider the purpose within them, our life gospel to others might be compromised. The agony of defeat looms over us. Yet Christ died so that I might overcome disbelief, doubt, fear and failure to claim victory in my life and become a history-maker.

What about you? On the verge of giving up? God called you to this place so why are you failing? The Lord told you to come so why are you sinking? The weight of the heart that takes us under is doubt. It is disbelief. It is the very thing that hinders faith. It is the Goliath people face every day that seems too big to overcome. David didn’t meet Goliath first. He established a relationship with God during all those lonely nights in the fields caring for sheep. He overcame a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. Each step ordained by God to prepare the King of Israel. You have a purpose far greater than the potential of natural strength. It is found in the eternity in our heart that collides with passion and persistence in our relentless pursuit of God. It cannot be denied and our flesh remains dissatisfied until it is firmly established in the natural as it is in the supernatural. How do we get there from here?

Matthew 16:13-19 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

When Jesus began preaching, Simon Peter was the first disciple to answer the call – “Follow me.” One might discern immediately that he was a leader with an impetuous nature. He simply walked away from his business and family to follow this man called Jesus. (Matthew 4) Peter immediately responded to the call. Many of us do. We find our way into a church building or maybe born there and hear the gospel to which our heart responds. The Love of God so profound it sparks a desire to know Him and be known by Him. However, it is not in our initial calling that purpose is found. Jesus Christ our Savior says, “Whosoever will, let him come.” It is a just as you are message for those who are lost in the darkness of this world and dying in sin. He instantly applies grace. Many people, despite the religious banter, will live in this position of servant of God for the rest of their life. Struggling with sin and trying to keep their head above water. Salvation is all about grace. It is having just enough faith to believe that He is our Savior. The victory is secured for our life and purpose fulfilled when a person exchanges fear for faith and decides that He is Lord.

Jesus called Peter from his former life to embark on a new journey. He immediately got up and followed the Lord. When Jesus asked him, “But who do you say I am?” He was asking Peter despite the opinion of everyone else, who do YOU say that I am? “You are the Son of the Living God.” It was in this moment that God’s Purpose in this man was revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ. It was way bigger than his finite brain could perceive or his weak and wavering heart could accomplish in his current state. This revelation came after Peter sank. The fact that Peter had already failed once and fallen did not change God’s Call on his life.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. How important was Peter’s purpose? How significant this revelation? Peter would be a credible witness to thousands of people who at the sound of his voice would give their heart and life to Jesus Christ. They would be filled with His Spirit and triumph over sin. He was to be the first great preacher after Jesus leaves. He would establish the church and begin to knit together the body of believers that would become the Kingdom of God. However, if Peter did not overcome his fear to find faith – his preaching would most certainly be disqualified. To fall is human. To get up is faith. To stay down is ultimate failure.

Matthew 26:34-35 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

The test on the water followed by the true revelation of who Jesus is was only the beginning of his training. Peter would go through many trials to discover the true meaning of faith. Faith is essential. The Book of Hebrews is very informative when it comes to revelations of faith especially chapter 11. It begins with the definition of faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” How many times do we try to apply faith to the natural when it is intended for the supernatural? If you can see it, perceive it, do it, or attain it outside of Jesus Christ, it does not require faith. Faith is the deposit in us that connects heaven to earth and establishes Kingdom principles in our life. It is essential in our ability to overcome the powers, rulers and principalities of darkness set on robbing us of purpose, killing our faith, and stealing our destiny. We must have faith.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Men and women line the “Halls of Faith” in Chapter 11. People who could not give up on what they hoped for and overcame by their ability to believe by faith in an unseen God and His Word. Our ability to discover faith is perceived when against all odds – we overcome. Faith is not discovered in success but in failure. All the times, we mess up and God still loves us. All the dead ends that give way to destiny. Faith is a necessity far greater than human strength of ability. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It makes us face every fear and overcome it. It challenges us to climb higher mountains and to go through the deepest valley until we reach such confidence in God that no matter what happens in the natural – the supernatural is the very thing that dictates our next step.

Matthew 15:15-16 (NLT) Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.” “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked.

Peter had some things to overcome to become the rock that was ready to form the first church. The first was religion. Peter was a religious man. Raised a Jew, the new covenant that was coming challenged everything he knew about God. He couldn’t just eat anything or do anything because he was a Jew. The new covenant would do away with Jew and Gentile to produce only Children of God. There would be no more illegitimate children such as Ishmael. Abraham asked if the blessing could go to Ishmael because his faith too small to see Isaac. Ishmael was compromised faith that sought God’s Will man’s way. God’s Plan has always been for His Children to be legitimate so Jesus came to offer His Blood for all. Faith in Jesus Christ does away with religious doctrine but there are many religious spirits in the modern church today. Guidelines, rules, restrictions and mandates not set forth in the New Covenant but outlined to appease man’s need for control and inability to fully accept grace. Grace is all that matters. The full acceptance of God’s Grace that makes us fall in love with Jesus and desire His Presence.

Matthew 16:22-24 (NLT) But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I have to chuckle when I read this verse again. Peter told Jesus to prove who He was and how to do it. Jesus has told us to “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.Are you willing to spend the next 30 days praying this prayer without adding your own list to it? Faith in God is faith in His Word, His Way and His Will. Like Peter, we ask God to move in us and then tell Him exactly how to do it.

Peter requested of Jesus, “tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” I’m still laughing because this is the desired mode of transportation for all people. Remember Moses calling out to God on behalf of the Children of Israel, the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army bearing down from the rear. What did God say? “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” Maybe that is what the Lord is telling you today. Stop crying out to me and get moving. Peter wanted to get out of the boat but he didn’t want to get wet. He wanted to be dry and comfortable. The slaves of Egypt did not want to pay the price of freedom to become Servants of God. What if the thing keeping you in dissatisfaction, disappointment and disbelief is your inability to get your feet wet? Change is marked by the removal of comfort and confidence to embark on a new journey. If you desire change to move from failure to victory – you are going to be uncomfortable. It will be a challenge because human nature does not like change. It doesn’t care for the uncomfortable. It would rather remain in the known than take a chance on the unknown. Where are you today? Is it time to get moving?

Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Peter was challenged by grace. Forgiveness is huge in this journey of faith. It is removing expectation from all humans and focusing it on Jesus Christ. It means no matter how many people knock you down, talk about you, offend you, hurt you, betray you, or do the most heinous thing to you – you must forgive them simply because Christ has forgiven us. This eliminates the cause of rightness to replace it with righteousness. If your faith is landlocked, the cement shoes might be unforgiveness. Is it really worth it?

John 13:6-9 (NLT) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

Peter had a pride problem. Pride is the backbone of every religious spirit haunting the church today. The idea that there is something we can do or be outside of the Word of God hawked as the Word but only manmade rules and regulations. We must shatter every bone of pride and selfishness in us to fully accept God’s Grace and answer His Call.

Luke 18:24-29 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God…”

Peter desired a natural return on a spiritual investment. If our motive for entering His Presence is His Hand, faith is not necessary for such endeavors. Faith makes the impossible possible. I can have earthly wealth simply by applying sowing and reaping principles to my life. If my desire is full satisfaction and completion in Jesus Christ, I must give up my desire for this world and the things of this world to be filled with more of Him. My desire must be for Christ alone. He must be that which I pursue in each step. When an earthly element restricts my ability to step out on faith, it is evidence of doubt and disbelief that God is able to supply my needs so that I will be complete lacking no good thing. It reveals dependency and trust in this world and not the God of the Universe.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?

Peter was weak. It is in our weakness that His Power is made perfect. The moment that I realize I cannot be who God called me to be apart from Christ. Grace is for the weak not the strong. Peter was weak soon after his nap. He would do what he said he would never do. He would betray Jesus not once but three times to save his own skin. In one account, it says that on the third time his eyes met the Lord’s as he sat before his accusers being interrogated and tortured. I am pretty certain at that moment, Peter felt like a failure who was completely unworthy of God’s Grace and Salvation.

John 21:3-7 (NLT) Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

Peter had fallen. Peter had failed. Peter was certain his future was now dead and gone. Peter went back to the only thing that he knew how to do a broken man. When he heard the Lord call to him from the shore, he knew His Voice. He knew that it was time to sink or swim. He wasn’t going to fall again. He would not miss this moment. Live or die – nothing would separate him from the Presence of His Savior again. So he didn’t ask the Lord, is it you? No now Peter knew the Voice of God. He didn’t ask him to help him walk on the water. Peter didn’t care if he got wet so he jumped in over his head. He put all his energy and effort in swimming to shore. Forget the boat? Forget the huge net full of fish? Peter finally understood that everything he wanted, needed, desired and hoped for was in Jesus Christ and nothing no inconvenience or discomfort would keep him from reaching him. Like Greg Louganis, he was going to win. He would triumph over fear. Peter decided that he would not miss this moment. He made it to shore. He found Jesus. Peter’s faith was established.

What about you? Where are you today? On the boat or in the storm. In the water, but holding on to the dock. You know what is in your heart and hands weighting you down. What is keeping you from letting go to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly? He knows exactly what it is and is doing His Part to reveal it to you, but if you are not willing to let go of all the things Peter did to acquire faith – you will not ever experience the soul satisfaction of those who finally do. The inexpressible joy of faith in action. The triumphant victory for those who overcome ever fear and failure holding tightly to faith without wavering secured by the anchor called hope. Are you sinking or swimming today? It is really up to you. The champions are those who face their fears and overcome failures. Jesus is our Champion and in Him our victory secure. You cannot experience His Power outside of weakness that relies on His Grace. Humbly bowing our life and its contents to Him fully and completely. In fact, we only find faith and trust in Jesus at the end of self. Are you willing to go there? Will you be a history maker? A risk taker? Faith will never be comfortable, fashionable or logical on the earth. But when it comes to Eternity and fulling one’s purpose, our calling in Christ – it will be worth it every time. Come on in! The water is fine!

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.

Power of Stillness

power-of-stillness

Mark 4:38-40 (NLT) Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Today is Friday. Tomorrow begins a long weekend, I cannot wait. I do not have any solid plans or places that I must be. I am free to stay home and lounge around. Piddle with projects. Discover new ones. I do not have to wear “real” clothes rather delighting in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I love our home. It has become my refuge. Looking back to my younger days, I used to thrive on weekends on the go. Running about as many places and doing as many things as possible until time was up and back to the routine of life, but not anymore. Cramming as much life into every minute, I must have thought I was missing something only to find I have it all right here. Over the years, the more that God has given us and the more we have been able to do – I value the stillness of this sanctuary called home.

Where do you find sanctuary? Where is the place called rest? Do you have a quiet place or retreat? Do you have a refuge to find solace in? A breathing space not consumed by activity and time constraints. I don’t think it is a natural space at all but a place satisfied in our heart. The confidence in knowing that it is well with our soul that soothes the need to find more, do more and be more. Complete trust in who He is rather than what we must do allows us to be still in the Lord. One thing I have noted over the past five decades of life is when that stillness is required to hear the Voice of God, sense His Spirit and build our faith. Fear tells us to run but faith says stand right here. Doubt promotes disbelief that makes us indecisive causing a drift that carries us here and there. Anxiety creates anxiety that will not allow us to stop moving.

Jesus was asleep. One might think that the disciples would notice that He was absolutely undisturbed therefore not concerned about the storm that raged around them. The rocking of the boat did not unsettle His Confidence that He was in full power and had absolute authority the wind and the waves. They panicked. They didn’t tap Jesus on the shoulder and gently awaken Him to tell him about the storm. They shouted. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” I will be the first to admit that I do that sometimes. When all hell breaks loose, give the Lord a not so gentle reminder that I am in trouble, I am not going to make it, why me or don’t you care Jesus? So Jesus got up and commanded the storm to cease. Turning to them – “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

These men were not new converts. They had given up their life to follow Jesus, witnessed many miracles, heard the Word of God spoken by the Word, and lived in His Presence. Yet still struggled with faith that produced a confidence in hope so profound that not only could they keep their position in the storm but recognized the power and authority that Jesus had over the environment of their life. Faith without confidence is not faith at all but just an idea. It is a concept longing for understanding to solidify our stand that we hope is a reality. Stillness expresses full confidence in God even when our environment is unfavorable, disaster looms around every bend, people lose all senses, and the world comes crashing down around us. It is the strictest of confidence that is completely convinced that God is in control. I will not be moved.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

On our moving day, the house empty of its contents. Every possession crammed in trucks, cars, trailers and any other vehicle offered to us, I received a phone call from the bank. There had been a miscalculation and there were additional funds needed to close. Not a hundred but thousands. I am discussing this with the lender, when the new buyer comes to inspect their pending purchase. The realtor interrupts me to question a higher than usual utility bill discovered when they contacted the city about new service. It must be settled before closing early the next morning. Meanwhile, all of our helpers were beginning to panic that there might not be room for the remaining items and the rental company had closed for the day. Finally in my car, so loaded it barely moved , I dared to take a breath. I knew in my heart that God had ordained this move to the county for our family. As new chapter of life and new season was turning it felt like all the words were falling off the page. What seemed so certain suddenly chaos! The phone buzzed but my thoughts overwhelmed me. At that moment, I couldn’t even tell you where the kids were or if anyone had loaded up the dogs. I did what any sane, rational, human woman might do…I sobbed.

Well, it all worked out. Every single detail to the tiniest degree just like God had planned. I share all the details with you because doing the Will of God does not always mean a peaceful journey from here to there. “There” is forever. It is the future and hope we live for whether we know it or not. It takes tests and trials of trust to convince our hard, stubborn and wavering heart that God really is in complete control. This is only possible when I yield control to Him. I will never yield complete control of my life to Jesus Christ without storms to try my faith and reveal its insufficiency. God’s Power is only perfect in my weakness. He doesn’t need my help though I attempt to do so all the time. He doesn’t need my opinion, His Word will do exactly what it says it will do. He needs nothing from my but to trust Him wholeheartedly.

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!

My power flows through Presence. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world but stir things up. (Matthew 10:34-36) We live here so obviously this stirring occurs in the environment where we live. If you happened to come upon a house that was on fire, would you leisurely walk up to the front door and ring the doorbell. Wait for a few minutes, then knock. Wait a few more and call out to see if anyone was home. Of course, not. You would do everything in your power to alert anyone inside. Get the picture? However, Jesus did bring peace. He packaged it as a gift for those who belong to Him. (John 14:27) Peace is not found in conditions or circumstances but to be still in His Presence and maintain our position. Peace is discovered by faith in confident hope.

With this in mind, it is important to note that while transferring our existence from death to life and allowing God’s Renewal and Restoration to remodel our heart and mind, there may be uncertainty along the way. The transition of moving unsettles me. I don’t like the homeless feeling or nomadic state. I long for the security of my home, refuge, space. Yet there are times when God compromises my comfort to remove complacency from my life. He wants me to invest all of my life in His Kingdom. To live in His Peace. To take full advantage of His Power. My power flows from His Presence in my life.

Psalm 46:4-7 (NLT) A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Stillness is the strong confidence in God’s Full Power and Authority over every condition of our life. It is not in the environmental condition surrounding this life. Love is growing colder by the day. Sin is rampant and quickly multiplying. The world is shaking at the close proximity of Jesus Christ. Christians are finally believing the Book of Revelation just might be true. Believers desire revival again. Movement is not the answer. The power of His Presence is. To step out of this world’s ideology and stand on the Word of God refusing to move at any cost. If you read Matthew 24, it gets worse before it gets better. There is no need to panic. Just to move our life into His Presence fully. God is our Refuge and Strength. He fights for us. He will deliver us. We must only believe without seeing and endure to the end to be saved. He didn’t tell us to win but rather has already given us victory! Do you believe? Will you be still?

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Stillness is a position of trust. To be still and know that He is the Lord takes more than a casual relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a full on marriage to Him. To become one with Him. It is to know Him. To believe in Him. To be committed to Him. I love my husband. There are days when I am not so lovable and neither is he but it is our commitment to Christ and each other that bridge the gap of human imperfection, selfishness and pride. Jesus is perfect but I am not. On the days, I don’t understand, become overwrought, or believe the lie of the enemy even for a second, I must decide to remain still based on what I know not how I feel or how things look. His Presence is my position of power in all things and every situation. It is not an emotional reaction but a committed response to who He is not how I feel.

To trust the Lord requires letting go of certain feelings. There are emotions that keep us from fully trusting the Lord and the blessing of His Presence. Psalm 37 lists some of those emotions that must be replaced with faith. Things such as worry (1-2), anger (8-9), fear (12-13), greed (21-22), pride (27-28), ignorance (30-31) and more. There are certain things that comprise our position in His Presence because they destroy our faith. These are some of those things. Certainly the world would justify our feelings and need to react. However, trusting the Lord means to wait until His Word comes to pass in our life. Holding our position in His Presence even though our thoughts tell us to run or escape. To move from this impossibility and settle for less. What are you going to do today? We are free to choose. Lord, help me to choose faith and confident hope over anything I feel today.

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. 

Is your home your refuge? Do you find comfort in place where you live? I am blessed to have a peaceful home. Partly because our children are most grown but mostly because our family has invited the Holy Spirit to live here. Most every day, just like you I must go about my daily tasks and responsibilities outside of the four walls of this place. The same Holy Spirit (the Presence of God) goes with me. I can allow Him to be my peace, refuge and strength by faith and confident hope. This allows me to excel in the stillness of trust to allow Christ to have complete authority and power over my life. When we divide our interests between the Kingdom and the world, it makes for a shaky foundation. Our marriage to Christ compromised when we give our attention and love to other gods. The stillness of God including the overwhelming gift of perfect peace and inexpressible joy can be with me always when I choose to live in the Power of His Presence and be still. It allows me to respond to His Promises rather than reacting to worldly problems. My natural home is a refuge only because Jesus lives here, too. He lives in our heart. He goes where we go so we can always be still. Greater is He who lives in me – to believe it means to trust Him, have faith in Him, have confidence in the hope I have in Him and to be still in Him – all day…everyday! So let the wind blow, let the storms surge, let the whole earth shake…my heart is full of His Presence and I will not be moved. There is power in stillness to live in His Presence undeterred and unshaken you will not be moved.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

Time to Activate

time-to-activate

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NLT) For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

The email was tempting. The newest IPhone at a great price. It was so enticing that I opened it surely too good to be true. It all checked out. Up to this point, I had not been able to decide on a Christmas gift up to this point. I consulted my technology team (hence my daughters) who approved and encouraged me to act. I have an extremely difficult time doing things for myself. It is easy to gift good gifts to my family and friends. However, I do not like doing for me. I didn’t act right away but thought it best to sleep on it. The next morning, I got another email – “Hey, did you leave something in your cart?” After way too much deliberation and too much time thinking about a dumb cellphone made the decision and pushed the button.

A couple days later, I received the brand new shiny rose gold phone. Much larger than my old one, I carefully put it back in the box to await the protective case I had also ordered to arrive. Boxing it up carefully, I put it on my dresser. Another couple of days passed by and the case arrived, I put it in the box with my new gift. The box is still sitting on my dresser. I have not activated the new device even though everything I need to do so is right there. What’s wrong with me? I can psychoanalyze this all day long. I do not feel worthy of something so awesome. I do not want to take the time to go through the steps. I am afraid that I might be disappointed if I run into trouble.

God has given me many promises for my life. Promises that are not currently active in my life. Jesus Christ made every single gift and promise available to me through His Grace. When He died on the Cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” When I finished wrapping all the gifts, it is with great satisfaction that I look at the tree with all its treasures for our family. The blessings of God evident in our life in a snapshot. I wonder if Jesus from His Place next to God looks at us wondering why we do not open and activate all the gifts given to us directly when He finished His Work on the Cross. What if on Christmas morning our children did not rush out of bed to open their gifts? What if they didn’t like them or chose not to use them? How would you feel? I would feel like I was taken for granted and my hard work wasted. Wouldn’t you? Does the Lord?

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

I love Christmas but my favorite is New Years. The chance to start over with a brand new year, make new commitments, to start fresh and all the hope attached to change. I love it. About mid-December each year, I begin to look past the coming holiday to the New Year. It is with such a mindset I do not look to make resolutions but seek divine revelation from the Lord. I want more of Him this year. I want to see the Promises laid on my heart so long ago come to pass. With this in mind and spoken in my prayer time a lot right now, the Lord laid the word “activate” on my heart today.

To activate means to make active or cause to function. In physics, it means to excite. Chemistry uses the word to refer to the hastening of a process or to make it begin to work. For those in the military, it is to be stationed or placed in position. All these things speak to me today for the coming year. Are there gifts and promises in my life that are simply not activated? Yes and amen. Jesus is yelling, shouting and jumping up and down (in a dignified godly manner, of course). He is cheering me on! Saying – “just do it”, “go for it” and “what are you waiting for.” See so many times we don’t see the potential of God’s Promise around us because we are too busy looking at ourselves with every flaw and imperfection listing all the reasons why it cannot and will not come to pass. What if the only thing keep you from fully achieving God’s Purpose for your life is that you simply refuse to activate the Gift within you? It is not only possible, but highly probable.

Why? Why me? Why now? What makes me so special that God would give me such good and perfect gifts? We are His Prized Possession. It really doesn’t matter how one perceives self but how we respond to God’s evaluation of us. Our faith is not in our personal ability or attributes but the Living God who is in us making all things possible. We are our biggest critics. No one beats us with a bigger bat. No one can inspect us any closer than we examine ourselves. What does all of this do? Lower our expectation. Raising fear and doubt. My worth is not based on my physical, mental or natural ability but solely on Jesus Christ inside of me. The gift of salvation activates every other gift in us when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. There is no other reason than I am a Child of God.

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.

Activating this phone has opened a whole new revelation in my life. In preparation, I realized that my old phone with all its contacts and photos has not been backed up since April of this year. So I plugged it into the computer and downloaded all the new software. I just got a message in order to fully activate the new information that I must restart my computer. I pushed the “not now” button. The minute I did, I could feel the Holy Spirit tug on my heart. How many times do I put off time with God? Doing what He says? Seeking His Direction? How many gifts are left unopened in my life while I settle for lesser more comfortable things? Change is not comfortable or convenient but completely necessary to move the past into the future.

As I prepare for the New Year, my word for the coming year is “activate”. It is my goal to look within my heart for all the hidden things that I am holding on to which need to be surrendered by faith to have the hope that is reserved for me. God has blessed my life already so much that I feel unworthy and undeserving but that does not change the fact that He has blessings and promises yet to be filled. I must “fan into flames the spiritual gift God” has given me. All of them. Not just the ones that I am comfortably in control of but also those that take me out of my comfort zone with bold confidence that He who has promised is able. God did not give me a “spirit of fear and timidity” so if it exists in my life it is not of God but a ploy of the enemy in a vain attempt to keep me from assuming my position. Finally, Jesus gave me the Holy Spirit to be my helper. It is the Spirit of God within me that activates “power, love and self-discipline.” I must acknowledge His Spirit and depend on Him fully to step boldly into God’s Gifts and Promises all ready for me. It is up to me if 2017 will be just like 2016 or if I will activate all that God has for me. Will I function according to His Word and His Will? Will I be excited about the Lord? Will I hasten the process and allow the Lord to work in me through complete submission and full surrender? Finally will I take my position in the Kingdom of God and live like His Child? It is up to me. It is time to activate.

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. 

Trust Him More

Young woman reaching hand towards sun

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

Well, the itch is not satisfied therefore I must continue to scratch beneath the surface of this thing called revival and consider the source. I want revival to come to me, my family, my church and my community. It is my heartfelt desire that in the year 2017 that there is an undeniable move of God within me and the atmosphere around me that it draws people to Him while pulling me closer to Jesus than ever before. I want to know it is God in our midst. I want to experience Jesus face-to-face. I long for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that moves past what I am comfortable with completely overtaking my life. Otherwise, what is the point of praying for revival if we don’t really want it?

God is our source of hope. He will completely fill us with joy and peace. How? When? What is the prerequisite for such an experience? Trust. We must trust the Lord with all of our life and expectation. I do. I hear you…I always think I do until He shows me where I don’t. Cleopatra lived on the river called the Nile and many Christians live by one called Denial. Trusting God is not a church concept by a lifetime commitment. Everything in the asset column of God, every single promise, all the blessings, and every single Word that He has given you is contingent on one thing – will you trust Him? Will I? I have heard the audible voice of the Living God ask me this question. My first response to Him was “of course, I do” followed by “this is not about that.” It was the night I beat down the door of His Throne Room in the middle of the night. Death had approached our son and I wanted no demanded that God answer this threat. I am His Child. He is my Father. What would He say or do to stop this assault against my child? He asked, “Do you trust me”? What if your trust in God became a matter of life or death? It is.

Romans 8:23-25 (NLT) And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

For those who are willing to be completely honest today, do you “groan” for a “foretaste of future glory”? Do we long to be “released from sin and suffering”? Do we wait with “eager hope for the day when God gives us full rights as His Adopted Children”? God gave us hope when we were saved. Hope is not seen but desired. Do you desire hope today? Or is it the immediate gratification of better things and an easier life today that one longs for? See in many cases, like many children wait for Santa to come this week, we also wait for God to act the same way towards us. With complete disregard for how we live, it is the Gifts from His Hands rather than Glory pouring out of His Heart that is so greatly longed for and desired. We want a better life now and seldom consider forever.

Hope is validated by trust. Do you trust the Lord today? How do I know? Do you worry often, stress a lot, or feel anxious all the time? This is a manifestation of fear that grabs hold of our heart choking out any hope it can find there. The enemy is not after you as a person. He wants to rob your soul of salvation, dousing your faith with fear and causing doubt to douse any fulfillment once possible. Church becomes monotonous not because our pastor is boring, the music is weak or attendance is poor. No church becomes monotonous when I lost sight of my mission.

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

God’s Promise to pour out His Spirit again has not waned because our faith, hope and love may be compromised. God does not lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. Every day in every possible way He is looking for an opening for His Glory to fill the Temple (you and me) once again. So if it is not the Lord, it must be us…it is me. God has given me a promise and His Oath. What about me? I must have enough confidence in my source of hope that I am willing to trust Him beyond my comfort and convenience. Hope is the strong and trustworthy anchor that will keep me securely in His Presence and allow His Glory to fill my life again. Hope opens the curtain to the deepest sanctuary of Heaven into the Presence of God. I cannot venture there and remain the same. It demands a complete sacrifice of self, sin and suffering to get there. I must see myself through the eyes of Christ refusing to turn back but constantly pressing in until I am changed. Why? Because God does not change. His Love is relentless. It is perfect. It doesn’t settle for less than His Best…ever even when I want to save myself with compromise.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Some may say that Google is god of the internet. It offers just about every convenience and service imaginable to manage our life and files appropriately. Recently, a friend recommended the Google photo application. You can back up precious pictures and videos to manage the limited storage on your cellphone. I tried it. It is pretty awesome. Each night every photo I have taken that day is whisked into a file in the Cloud somewhere and easily retrieved if I want it. I delete the ones that are safe and secure in Google. All but one. The day of our son’s bone marrow transplant – the entire medical team sang “Happy Birthday” to him in honor of his rebirth. I will not delete it just in case the application fails.

I have a God who has promised to give me eternal life in exchange for my ultimate failure. Sin can give way to Glory if I will release it. I wonder if there may be certain things that I do not trust the Lord with. Things I hold on to because I am just not 100% sold that God has everything under control. This is not blasphemy. This is honesty. If we do not evaluation our spiritual condition beginning with our ability to trust God with our whole life, we run the risk of missing the Lord altogether. Jesus invited those who are weary and overburdened to come to Him – giving up all of our worries, cares and concerns in exchange for rest. We pray but let go of nothing. We ask for things that we are not willing to look for. We cry out with closed hearts and clenched hands.

Therefore…since we have been made right in God’s Sight by faith…what is faith? Faith demonstrates the reality and validity of what we hope for. It is evidence that I completely believe in the unseen enough to trust God with not only my spiritual life but also my natural life. Why don’t I trust God with everything? Why don’t you? Life is hard. Each day is filled with godly choices, good choices and bad choices – too many choices. One wrong choice does not condemn you but it may cause consequences. After all, sowing and reaping are foundational laws of our earthly existence as well as spiritual well-being.

Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We all agree. We love the fast pass. When Christ’s Undeserved Privilege and His Favor move us to the front of the line or arrives in the form of an unexpected blessing BUT what if it comes as a test or trial. Many tap out at this point. We don’t want to rejoice in problems or trials but want God to wave His Hand to make them disappear. We don’t want to develop endurance because it requires patience and is rather exhausting. Most of us can’t even commit to the gym and 30 minutes of cardio likewise unwilling to endure discomfort or inconvenience. Endurance develops strength of character. God knows me. If His Grace is enough for me, why do I need character? There is more to life than this. There is more to this than our emotional state and all our feelings combined. Salvation is our hope of stepping out of this life into forever. Trust is the conduit of not having to wait to experience the Glory of God but allowing it to fill our life now.

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

When we walk with the Lord in the Light of His Word, What Glory He sheds on our way; while we do His Good Will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. I love this old hymn. Sadly, most days, it is our heart’s motivation to obey God but not to trust Him. It is when I try to do all the right things to experience His Glory that I end up falling short. His Glory is mine because of His Grace. His Grace is not only sufficient but absolutely a must to experience the Glory of God in my life. Well, all I can do when it comes to God’s Grace is to trust Him. My obedience is only worthy of anything as a direct result of trust. I must examine my heart today for trust. I can do a lot of things for the Lord but it means nothing if I do not believe and trust that His Grace is enough for me.

I must be confident that I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am in the land of the living. If I live every day for forever, but do not believe that His Kingdom will come and His Will done on the earth – I have missed my calling altogether. Faith and trust in God is not for when I die but for today, tomorrow and every other day between here and eternity. God has ordered my steps to enter His Presence. Most of us will not, cannot and refuse to trust the Lord until He is the only way out of our present situation. When God is all there is left, He becomes our sufficiency. Restoration and revival cannot enter a restricted area of our life. Our free will does not allow it. It is only in our complete trust and surrender to Christ that anything I offer in the form of obedience is acceptable.

Waiting on the Lord demonstrates the longevity of our trust in Him. Have you given up on God’s Glory in your life? Like Christmas morning that never comes or gifts that don’t satisfy, are you resigned to the fact that this is life? Life is hard. There is no goodness here for me. God will not, cannot, or may not satisfy me so I am just going to have to do it myself. Those who put their trust in the Lord including the investment of their whole life will have a hope that will not lead to disappointment. That’s what we are afraid of…being disappointed. What if we are wrong? Well, to have confidence in Jesus means to trust Him. The Lord can only enter those areas of our heart, mind, body, soul and life yielded to Him. Careful inspection will probably reveal that the areas struggled most in are those held tightly to our chest. Are you praying for revival today? Me, too. Revival begins with trusting hearts willing to venture closer, deeper and farther into the Presence of God and releasing all those other things that have kept us from going there. You will not give up your life until you are convinced that there is more to life than this. Do not be surprised by disappointment or dissatisfaction but consider it a blessing as the Lord shows us the closed doors keeping His Glory from filling us and the church today. As we continually discipline ourselves to surrender these things and scoop up the new mercy each day to feed our developing hope soon confidence will fill every void of our life while we wait for Him. He is coming! We just have to be ready. Lord, teach me to trust you more and more until all of my life is yours. I want to be restored and renewed from the inside out. God, show me Your Glory in every possible way. We want revival, Jesus. Let it start with me.

Romans 12:12 (NLT) Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

 

 

 

Holiday Blues

holiday-blues

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

Today. It is a gift unwrapped when your eyes opened and you drew in the first breath of what has become a new day. It is clear that you have purpose otherwise your eyes would have beheld Jesus this morning, but instead it was the darkness, the spouse, the kids, the dog or maybe some coffee. Last night, a good old-fashioned case of the holiday blues overtook me. Not really sure why or how just like a light blanket tossed over my head. Do you ever get that way? The feeling of “so this is how life is going to be” kind of feeling. Not really satisfied or dissatisfied – you just feel like you are here. My routine has been disrupted for about a week. My schedule is not finely tuned as usual. My to-do list is finally almost caught up but my things I wanted to do list has been pared down significantly. Mama said that there would be days like this…or even if she didn’t I am going to say it and I am a mama myself. There will be days like this.

The most important step you take is the next one. Not the one that is coming two miles down the road, up the mountain or in the valley. Those are not certain. The only one that is completely possible is the next one. Think about it for a minute. Let it sink in. This holiday season is like all the rest that suck us into a vortex of doing and overdoing, scheduling and overscheduling, and producing expectations far beyond what is humanly possible. Our attempt to make memories waste moments that are precious. Traditions quickly overtake opportunity. Our spirits are to be renewed day by day but cannot be if we live in the past. Are you with me? Are you experiencing a bit of the holiday blues today? Maybe life in general is just too overwhelming and you want to give up?

To pick your mind at ease and your heart at rest, the perfect Christmas already happened. No matter how many events, pageants, services, parties, and festivities there may be what could match a sky full of angels heralding the birth of Jesus to the waiting and watching world while our Savior and King lay in a manager next to livestock in stalls on hoof-trodden hay wrapped in animal blankets. Jesus was perfect and He still is today. The first Christmas wasn’t ideal for the birthday of a King, but the King is perfect and still is today.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Why do Christians get the blues? Why do God’s People not always live by faith and confident hope? Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t say that I didn’t have faith or hope but that I was just a little down. Well, generally speaking, when my heart is not satisfied is usually stems from discontentment with the productivity in my life. If the things I see, do not meet my expectations. If the things I don’t see but long for somehow become impossible. When things don’t turn out the way I want them to, when I want them to or how I want them too – my faith is challenged. If not, I would never experience times like this because inexpressible joy would overflow from my life. I would do good to everyone all the time and no one would be impacted by my bad attitude, hurtful words or inability to deal with the stress of any given day. Oh, hang on, I may be the only one subject to my own agitations. If so, please bear with me today.

Nobody is perfect. It doesn’t matter if their house is perfect. Yard immaculate. Decorations on point. Presents exceptionally wrapped positioned uniformly under the tree. Outfits all matching. Menu delicious. Table set with metallic charges. Even if it smells like a fresh cut tree when you walk inside their door, it is probably an air freshener as most people have artificial trees and carefully constructed facades that they hide behind. The truth is that comparison has forced people into hiding. Hiding hurts, disappointments, pain, bitterness, dissatisfaction and the like. Surely I am the only one who gets the holiday blues or feels overwhelming so let’s tie on an apron and spread out some food invite everyone over and sing some Christmas tunes. No one will know and maybe I will feel better. Well…nice try…but it doesn’t work.

The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit released when Jesus died on the Cross. He sent His Spirit to live in us. His Spirit uses each new day to produce new faith and new hope in us. He renews us day by day and season by season. It is when our body, mind and spirit get caught up in the natural and forget about the supernatural that our mind is susceptible to depression, anxiety, and stress. We don’t mean to do it. Life can do it. Holiday pressure. Christmas lists. Menus to plan. Meals to make. Cookies to bake. Mix it all together with holiday traditions and life unexpected. This is the recipe the enemy uses to distract us and keep us from the Presence of our Savior and Lord. Jesus is the reason for the season. Of course, have I taken the time to search for Him and seek Him out in this season?

Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us a new way, we never give up. (2 Corinthians 4:1) Some of you reading this today may think I am crazy, after all it is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing on every radio station. Parties every night. Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Family coming together. Fun and frivolity. But for some, the holiday season only makes them feel worse. I have struggled with the holiday blues my entire life. I am not really sure why but they come uninvited no matter how hard I fight. Some will be celebrating Christmas minus a loved one or significant other this year. They will smile with tears just behind their eyes as they watch others experience the joy they have lost. Some will feel sadness because the budget too tight to fill the stockings and overload the tree just happy to have a home to live in and food to eat. Others have a dark place deep inside their hard, cold heart that has never experienced the Light of Love born in a manger that Christmas so long ago. See everyone is susceptible to having a bad day. Experiencing the blues. Fighting the darkness. Being overtaken with sorrow or a sense of great loss. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Family issues. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begins fresh every morning! Amen and amen!

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

As my mood began to plummet last night, I thought a hot shower might do the trick. A place of solitude to seek the Lord. When I don’t feel like myself or can sense the darkness closing in – I run to Jesus. He is my Hope. His Grace is enough for me. My weakness makes room for Him. His Mercy is new each day and it is the very thing that refreshes me. I have learned the hard way that I need the Lord every single day especially during the holidays. It’s funny that as long as I have read the Bible and studied God’s Word, I always somehow overlook the simplistic wisdom looking for some hidden knowledge or great secret tucked within. God’s Promises always come with instructions of exactly how to attain that which is desired.

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. How dependent am I on the Lord today? How much am I doing myself? What is beyond the limits of my control because that is where God is? What am I hanging on to? Is it worth anything at all until I release it to the Father? The Lord is good to those who search for Him. Have I abandoned my pursuit of my Savior in exchange for busyness? Have I given up seeking for Him to search for the perfect gift? Have I stopped pressing due to exhaustion? New mercy comes in the morning, I really need to maintain rest. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Am I waiting on the Lord? Meditating on His Word. Sitting in my prayer closet silently waiting for Him to answer. Have I stopped long enough to receive what the Lord has for me? Well, there you have it the cure to the holiday blues and Christmas funk that you may be in. Jesus is all that I need to overcome all that ails me. But I won’t find Him if I don’t seek Him every day.

Luke 2:8-15 (NLT) That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The Savior of the world. King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into this world and found no room for Him in the Inn. Though the world did not welcome Him, it did not stop Jesus from coming and completing His Mission. The town hustled and bustled just the same and darkness did not flee when the cries of the infant rippled through the universe shaking the gates of hell. Darkness could not silence the angel’s song as they announced God’s Glory had arrived. The shepherds tending flocks in the field heard the message and went to “see this thing that is happening”. They were not the only ones as the wise men followed the star seeking Jesus. Will we do the same?

In this season of giving, will Jesus receive some time and attention? While seeking out satisfaction, will I let Him satisfy my soul? In just a few short weeks, life returns to normal but will I remain the same. Are you just trying to survive the holidays or celebrating the season? Trust me. I know how hard it can be. As I prayed last night, I asked the Lord to open my heart to see His Light and feel His Love all over again. Have you done the same? Too many of our expectations this time of year are based on worldly precepts and traditions of man, but wise men and women still seek Him. Maybe all you need is the joy that comes in the morning and the mercy that refreshes given to us each new day. The Lord is waiting. He is watching. He came for you to have everlasting life. Jesus came to complete us not to compete. Comparison is a cancer that eats away at contentment. Find a few moments. Take a shower. Go in your closet and shut the door. Seek the Lord. Call on His Name. Let the Light of His Love break through the darkness and remove the heavy holiday burdens. He is the Prince of Peace. Not world peace but our personal peace! Jesus be my peace today! Let me feel the Light of Your Love. Chase away the darkness as I bask in Your Light and new life!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Choose Well

choose-well

 

Proverbs 2:10-11(NLT) For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.

Life is full of choices. From the moment, our eyes open each morning until our head hits the pillow at night it is one thing after another. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming when the decisions are tough or painful. Knowledge means nothing until it is useful. Understanding takes knowledge and makes it somewhat beneficial if we use the understanding to develop wisdom. Wisdom is the difference between good choices and not so good choices. Our physical and emotional life is filled with opportunities each day to make critical determinations that impact today, tomorrow and forever. Our spiritual life is filled with the very same choices. God gave us the right to choose how to live our life and whether or not to receive His Son and pursue His Kingdom. Why would He leave it up to us when He knows how fickle our heart can be? Love is a choice. It is the first choice. It is the last choice too.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

God loves us. He gave us His son so that His People would have a way of return to righteousness and live with Him forever. However, He did not send Jesus to judge the world. Jesus came to save the world. These words of encouragement often leave out the choice that is made in our life daily.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

God gave us a choice when Jesus came and died for our sins. The choice is darkness or light. Death or life. God will never force a decision on us but rather offers us daily opportunities to choose well. He empowers us with grace that is our strength in weakness. The Lord orders our steps so if we follow Him wholeheartedly every road leads back to Him. Wise choices watch over us. Wisdom comes from understanding. Understanding needs knowledge. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is our access point, roadway, and destination. It is our choice to seek Him first and foremost that offers us hope to see past today and all its troubles overlooking tomorrow and its impending trial to see Jesus. The Light. His Love.

Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Worry, stress, anxiety, fear and doubt are characteristic of disbelief. To entertain such qualities in our life without persistent effort to remove them or replace them with faith, hope, and confidence is to choose our way and His Way. “What will we eat?” Not to make light, but this is a stressful question when asked in our car on a Friday night when mom doesn’t want to cook. I long for restaurants called “I Don’t Care” and “It Doesn’t Matter to Me, Baby”. What will we wear? Don’t get me started on this one. This begins on Sunday night and leaks into Sunday morning all the way across the house. Our youngest usually undergoes no less than three wardrobe changes on any given Sunday. Thankfully live five minutes from church. We worry about many details in life beginning at an early age. This is driven by earthly expectation. Our need to fit in and be accepted. Our goals drive us to a successful future. No one grows up wanting to be homeless or a failure in life. However, life is full of choices. Things happen. Life also comes with this promise…

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” What if I cannot be righteous? Oh friend, yes you can. Righteousness comes from seeking the Kingdom of God which is God wholeheartedly. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ, His Son. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect, make all the right choices or never wander off. The requirement of grace is repentance. The desire in our heart and intent to seek the Lord is all that He expects of us. But what if I know better? What if I know that thing that keeps tripping up is sin and cannot help myself? What if I keep holding on when the Lord is telling me to let go? What if I cannot do what I feel God wants? Are you sure it is from God?

People. Jobs. Co-workers. Family members. Friends. Churches. Congregations. There are many opinions governing our life day by day if allowed to. Everyone has an opinion on how to live. Who God is, where He lives, and if He is at all. There is only one way, one Truth and one who gives life. His Name is Jesus. He must be our daily choice. Every decision I make today should come from my love and commitment to Christ. Friends, there are days I ask the Lord to guide me in ALL things. Every single step even if I need something which store to go through – I ask Him directly to give me direction. The sad thing is that these days come after seemingly endless days of struggle trying to do it all, my way and with limited knowledge or experience. See if I choose to seek the Lord first everyday – my expectations would be met. If I take His Knowledge turn it into understanding and use it, it becomes the wisdom that makes me wise.

Matthew 11:2-6 (NLT) John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

In Matthew 11, Jesus tell the people that “of all who lived none is greater than John the Baptist”, yet in the verses preceding this declaration John is asking “are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we keep looking”? Huh? How can John be the greatest and doubt Jesus at the same time? Everyone does it. When human expectation forms an assumption, it is easy to try to make Jesus into who or what we want Him to be rather than Who He really is. The Word is clear. There is only One Way. Our steps are ordered by the Lord, yet still distractions create detours in our life. See we can love Jesus, follow Him and still have days of doubt, fear, and anxiousness. Our knowledge has formed an assumption rather than full expectation.

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.” (Proverbs 10:28) When our expectation is not met, it is a direct hit to our faith and hope in God. Our expectation is not met because of assumption that God will do it our way, in our time according to our will rather than in accordance with His Will, His Way and His Word. I have hope in Him. My expectation must be fully formed by faith based on knowledge according to His Word not the world.

I John 3:2-3 (NLT) Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews11:1) It is the invisibility of hope that causes us to lose faith so easily. We hope for an unseen reality that belongs to us. It is a precious inheritance but without the shine of gold or weight of it heavy in our hand, we do not hold on to the treasure of knowing Him. Faith in Christ means to choose Him on those days when our assumption did not meet our expectation. It is to choose joy when sorrow surrounds us and continues to close in. It is to believe the unbelievable. It is to hear the Truth over the lie. It is to make the conscious choice that even though my way is easier, I will choose His Way today. To hold this promise without wavering requires faith bigger than our fear. To laugh in the face of danger means that our hope expects the Lord and does not assume how or when He will come simply knowing that He will. Our choice to follow Jesus is because I know that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life even when the way is steep, the lie seems real and life is not going as I planned.

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Just because you and I are willing to compromise or settle in this life doesn’t mean that God will. In fact, the purpose of Christ in our life is completion and fulfillment. He does not change. The Lord does not lie and He will not change His Mind. We do. Every single day wavering back and forth between faith and fear, the Truth and the lie, and His Way versus our way. Time and time again people compromise, settle and substitute to remain comfortable and in control. Heaping human assumption on God rather than hopeful expectation. To choose “Your Will God not mine” and asking for “His Kingdom to come” rather than our world to be made better is all that He is after. Why? Because Jesus wants to use His Mighty Power at work in us to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Could it be me? Am I the reason I am dissatisfied or discontent? Am I the one making the wrong choices while the whole time the Lord is nudging me in the right direction? Are my hands pushing back the promise? Is my heart the stronghold from breakthrough? Life is full of choices today. I must choose well. When my choice is to follow God wholeheartedly – I have hope. I have a life of promise and opportunity well on its way to complete fulfillment! Amen! Amen! Amen!

Psalm 16:5 (Message) My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice!