Until We Tremble Too

Unti We Tremble Too

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)  So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Have you ever prayed and it seemed like nothing is happening? Have you believed with all your heart yet still things did not go well? Walking by faith and not by sight is a challenge. It takes a full body, mind and spirit change to meet such a demand. The five senses of the body are acutely aware of its surroundings and work together to make it through each day. It’s called survival. To give in to the current conditions or circumstances of our natural life is not God’s Will for us. Yet, we do it for lack of understanding or full application of faith in our daily endeavors. We save the “big things” for God and attempt to tackle the mundane tasks and small things ourselves. This is not exactly what the Word of God tells us to do, but it is the culture of church today. Lives made a little better just by knowing the Name of Jesus. Well, need I remind you today as I am also reminded – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. (Good for you paraphrased). Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

The demons believe and tremble. The problem is not in the belief system of the enemy. It is in the mind and heart of God’s People. Do we know the Name of Jesus? Do we believe? Do we tremble at the Power and Authority given to us in the Name of Jesus Christ? Jesus spoke and demons fled, dead people came to life, and even the wind and rain obeyed Him. His Power and Authority was evident yet still some did not believe. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gave the same power and authority to His Disciples. Power over all demons and to cure diseases. They still couldn’t do it. The Lord reiterated in Luke 10 that He gives us the power to “trample serpents and scorpions, and all the power over the enemy and nothing shall by all means hurt you.” Do we believe? Do we tremble at the awesomeness of such a gift? To have all power and authority in this life delivered to us by the Christ in us for signs, miracles and wonders. Do we believe? Do we tremble at His Name?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

It is one thing to imply belief in our words and actions but it quite another to initialize and implement faith. Faith is active. It is alive. It grows when planted. It must be invested to reproduce or it is just an unused resource. The measure of faith given to us is to be used now. Today. Not for big things but everything. Faith is a tangible substance not a passing thought or idea. It is a full investment of this life into eternity that will produce Kingdom productivity supernaturally in the natural. It begins by believing. Believing not just in the existence of Christ, the Gift of God that is eternal life but becoming fully aware and accepting of His Power and Authority handed to us by way of the Cross and Resurrection. We cannot use a weapon we do not possess or refuse to take hold of. A gun in a gun safe behind a locked door is no good if the intruder sneaks in at night. We are unarmed and not ready. But to sleep with the weapon locked and loaded by your bed ensures that you will not be caught unaware. Where is your weapon today?

Obedience is essential. We must not only read God’s Word. Know God’s Word. We must become fully compliant and obedient to God’s Word to have His Authority and Power. Obedience (hupakoe) means to listen with a compliant submission and agreement. Doubt tells us that when happened in Biblical times cannot happen now. Miracles are for fairy tales and fiction not real life. Reading God’s Word will never be enough. The Word of God makes faith logical. It is the revelation of the seed of faith’s potential in our life and the encouragement needed to sow it daily. Real faith is defined by obedience. To strive daily to live God’s Word and fulfill His Purpose.

The Spirit-Filled Bible offers commentary on strongholds that I found to be quite powerful and revealing. A stronghold is first established in our mind. Behind every stronghold is a lie – a place of personal bondage where God’s Word has been held subject or enslaved to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief. I remember many years ago teaching a Youth Sunday School Class. In the course of the lesson, I mentioned that Jesus never married or had a family of his own while on the earth. I was quickly refuted by a 13-year-old who was adamant that the Lord married Mary Magdalene and had a family. I tried to explain through passages in the Word that this was simply not true. Her family had watched a movie that made this appear to be Truth to her. She could not be convinced otherwise. Eve was caught up in a lie of twisted truth. The enemy does it all the time. Appealing to our mind with a half-truth or skewed interpretation of God’s Word. Behind every lie is a fear and behind every fear that is an idol. Idols exist and are established wherever there exists a failure to trust the provisions of God that belong to us in Christ. Strongholds are broken by Truth that is turned to trust manifested in obedience even when completely contrary to the world and society norm. It is in such a place our heart and mind are changed and become one. Faith grows to confidence in this place. As strongholds come down and faith arises – our body, mind and spirit prosper in Truth as our soul prospers. Suddenly, our life becomes subject to the Kingdom of God and not this world and all its problems, temptations or trials.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

There are many who say that they believe there is a god. There are even those who believe in the one true God. There are some who believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the Cross for their sins. Churches are filled with believers. My greatest fear is that when I met Jesus face-to-face that He would say, “I never knew you…” I cannot even fathom that moment of separation. Faith is given to us to develop a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ which gives us access to the Father. The Father who fully embraces us as His Children again. We can now enter His Presence, talk to Him, listen to Him, and the potential of His Word is now our promise. All of this wonderful! God is good! If I do not realize that importance of obedience in claiming the Kingdom of God and my place as a Child of God through faith and belief in God’s Power and Authority over my life – I will miss out on the impossibilities becoming my possibility. More than that – I may miss out on the greatest love affair ever known. See casting out demons and healing diseases is pretty impressive but it is unconditional love that most people truly seek – the rest is just icing on the cake. Lord, may our belief be captivated by Your Word today, fortified by the Truth of Your Great Love for us. Father, help us to plant faith and sow confidence in Your Love that leads to obedience. Help us Holy Spirit to tear down every stronghold, expose every lie, destroy every fear and knock over every idol so Your Power and Authority will be manifested by Your Grace. Help us in our weakness. God give us insight, discernment, revelation, knowledge and understanding to become our wisdom. Father, help us to know you more. Jesus – we want you to know our name. Lord, may we press in until we tremble at Your Name too! Let everything we do and say rise from this purpose in our life. Amen!

Luke 10:19-20 (NKJV)  Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Hate is a learned behavior born of insecurity and fear. As believers, the only real and true enemy is satan. Children are born with hearts of acceptance. They do not understand the inherent dangers in life and so God gives them parents to love and protect them. Being of an imperfect nature, it is easy for us to teach our children the morals and ethics of our life molded by our experience rather an encounter with God’s Love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you”. As if that is not enough, we are to pray for those who spitefully or intentionally use us and even those who persecute us becoming a thorn in soft flesh. Why? So we may be Kingdom Kids who live in alignment with their Father and His Kingdom. Tough one. High calling for sure.

How do we love the people who abuse, betray, hurt, and use us? Where do we find the capacity to ward off offenses, ignore bad intentions, and keep the penetrating darts of gossip and slander penetrate a heart softening in the Hand of God? God doesn’t allow us to ignore them. We are to love them. Pray for them. Accept them with forgiveness no matter how many times they continually mistreat us. I know what you are thinking today. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or maybe, it’s God doesn’t want me to be anyone’s doormat. The all-time best is I can forgive them but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me again. Well…

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Evil is not a character trait of human beings. People are born with eternity in every heart. Each given a measure of faith like seeds to sow in life. Everyone. Even the person who is causing you pain and strife. God loves and desires them just as He does you. Evil is cultivated from sin and sinful desires that take over but are like a sickness or disease that can be removed by the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ. Which means every person has potential and God is constantly showering all of us with “fresh rain” in the hope that faith would grow and eternity would break through the hardest of hearts growing into a fruitful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Peter asked the pointed question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I wonder if we ask the Lord the same question. The answer is more than anyone can conceive in the natural. True forgiveness as God forgives us is born of grace. Grace is enough. God’s Grace given to us is the river from which our ability to accept apologies and restore relationships come from. When our expectation is in the Lord, it becomes our profound privilege to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. I didn’t say it was easy only that it is possible. The Kingdom of God is all about relationship. Not only a right relationship with God but all of His People even those still living in sin and darkness.

True love is unconditional. True love waits while others catch on or catch up. “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.” Is this truly the kind of love that is required of Children of God in every situation? Yes…it is. The model of prayer presented by Jesus to His Disciples does not suggest it but requires it in order to be forgiven and fully accepting God’s Grace. God will not give us anything that does not promote generosity in us. Seed reproduces. Good seed produces a harvest of good deeds that give honor and glory to God. Love is the greatest of the Fruit of His Spirit and the first step in achieving our purpose in the Lord and prospering in this life.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

We must sow good seed in our life. Seed produces of the Holy Spirit and not unmet expectation. The Kingdom is comprised of men and women who as daily disciples strive to sow and grow godliness in their life. Any seed not of God is produced from fear, insecurity and doubt that God’s Power is enough and His Authority somehow compromised. It is human nature to experience such emotions. It is the Power of God working in each one of us to remove them.

The enemy will constantly sow weeds in our field. He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that the Lord is producing in our life. He is methodical in his approach. Ruthless in every attack. There is no compassion for his victim. We are God’s People who live in His Love and Compassion for others. His Directive is clear. We are not to uproot the weeds. It is not our job to kill them. We grow right along with them. Why? It is God’s Eternal Hope that one day the rain will touch their heart and the seed of faith and promise of eternity will grow from within in them as it does in you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have recently been studying the differences between followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus. There is a marked difference. Followers are led by their feelings and disciples are led by their future. Public opinion can influence the objective of a follower and offense cause them to be distracted and detoured in life. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, love must be the premise of your life. Not just any kind of love, but the love received from the Father through the Son. Love that sacrifices its feelings for a future hope far greater them temporary circumstances. A fruitful life that continues to cultivate grace when surrounded by weeds. The kind of life that does not walk by sight but faith continually overcoming daily assaults and attacks by the enemy in an effort to kill our faith by producing fear, anxiety, worry and the worst of them insecurity. Love is relational. To love requires interaction. It is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ who tells us to there is no great love than to lay our life down for a friend. To be a friend to all who are around us unaffected by their inability to show love and kindness in return. The only root to be removed is bitterness. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.

I will be honest this is a challenge for me with a handful of people. I am not speaking from a place of innocence but a daily struggle to love others including those who don’t love me. Those who have hurt me. Those who talk about me. I do so with this promise from the Lord – perfect love casts out all fear. God’s Love for me is enough. His Grace is sufficient for me. I must accept His Love and Grace in full measure to extend it to those around me and be His Disciple.

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind

Matthew 8:23-26 (NKJV)  Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Faith. Heavily marketed in the church and weighty in the Word of God often tossed about flippantly in Christian conversation, but what is faith? I know…I know…”faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I’ve read it too. It is one thing to read and another altogether to comprehend, understand and put to good use the Word of God by applying it to our daily life. Muscles must be exercised to build a strong body. Faith is essential to a building God’s Kingdom. The concept of faith is widely publicized within most congregations around the world. Yet it remains hidden in the hearts of mankind trying to grow from the confines of human logic and beyond rationalization to radicalization of the Kingdom finding its way to earth.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Jesus did not rebuke the disciple but the tempest around him. The work of our Lord is not to change the condition, circumstances or situations around us but to create strong faith and confident hope within us. The world has a predetermined future that is quickly coming to pass. It will not survive the return of Christ. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. The Lord returns for His People – those who know Him, love Him and live in relationship with Him. He calls us His Bride implying an intimate soul tie between Jesus and His Beloved. His Love stronger than death, His Jealously as cruel as the grave, His Passion that of a fiery flame that many waters could not quench, no flood could drown it, and He gave His Life to secure it. Why is fear a continual threat to our faith? Why is worry and stress filling us with doubt? Where is confident hope? To say that I have faith and confident hope without peace of mind and rest in my soul is to live a dangerous lie. Faith and confident hope will fill our life with peace. I need peace of mind. Jesus wants to give you peace of mind.

I Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV) For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus gave us a piece of His Mind. It’s called faith. He provides us a measure of faith that has great potential. The faith comes in the form of seed. The more it is sown in our life the greater the harvest. Faith is a substance the size of a mustard seed. The Parable of the Farmer scattering seed tells of the variety of ways that it never gives way to its full potential. The enemy snatches the unprotected seed. There are those who receive God’s Word but because of a hard heart cannot receive it. There is no way for the roots of His Love to penetrate the callous exterior. Then there is seed sown in thorns that is choked out by distractions of life the points are marked with worry, stress and anxiety rising up from certain insecurities. The seed though full of great potential to prosper is unfruitful. But then there is the one who receives the Word of God with a fertile heart. Pressing it into the broken places, diligently sowing each day in anticipation of spiritual growth of faith that will become the substance of hope and source of life. We have the great potential of faith provided to us as a measure. What we do with it is up to us. That’s what freedom is all about. Faith is found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God who came in the flesh to show us how much God loves us by giving up His Life for us. We must believe to receive His Kingdom.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

“Little faith” is not the absence of faith or unbelief or distrust. It means underdeveloped faith. Faith will not meet its full potential unless it is cultivated in our life. When faith grows into confidence, it will sustain our life and fill us with peace no matter what the natural conditions are around us. It is the peace of heart and mind that Jesus is in full control. When the “tempest” or storm rose up, Jesus was sleeping but rather than following the example of their Master – the disciples viewed it as complete disregard. He was right there with them. They could see Him and still didn’t have enough faith to weather the storm. They knew Him but still did not believe in His Power and Authority. Even the demons know the Name of Jesus including His Power and Authority, so they tremble when they hear it. Do we who are called by His Name feel the same way? The Presence of Jesus in our life is the peace of mind needed to overcome all fear, doubt, worry and anxiety. Faith is the substance of such confidence. We must sow the Word of God and know the Word of God to grow faith and confidence trust that is fully matured and able to rest in the worst of natural conditions.

Matthew 6:30-33 (NKJV)  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

What are you worried about today? What has you so stressed out? This is the field to sow in. The place where fear reigns is the most in need of faith today. Jesus has all authority and power over natural conditions. By faith we give him permission to have His Way in that area of life. Maintaining control is never the answer. Grace becomes power in weakness. When I yield that field to the Lord, He begins to develop my faith into confidence in that area. Sow His Word in that field. Not once, but daily until it grows into confidence and peace. Continually. Wait for His Word to take root and grow there. God’s Promises are not dependent on anything we do other than to trust and believe. Prosperity is a soul condition. The overflow of a soul fully trusting and totally confident in Jesus will be an abundance and increase simply flowing from our belief.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Faith is the most valuable commodity of our spiritual life. It is the basis of all fruitfulness and productivity. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. There must be an investment. Seed must go in the ground to yield its full potential. God desires to give us His Kingdom. GIVE IT TO US. We cannot earn it, deserve it or in any way acquire it but by faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot access the Father but by the Son. We must pursue faith. We must make an effort to sow it in our life. It is a hidden treasure. We must dig deeper. It is the most valuable treasure we have therefore we must protect and preserve it above all things.

Matthew 14:28-31 (NKJV)  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Peter was the most impulsive, impetuous, spontaneous, compulsive and emotional disciple. He was all over the map. Jesus prophesied to him early on that “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This was long before Peter would deny Jesus three times. See the Lord sees the potential of our faith and uses the details of our life to produce it. Faith is not just for our church life it is for every facet of our life. Peter knew Jesus was the Son of God in his heart. The heart that would waver back and forth. The heart that would be broken at his betrayal of his best friend. The heart that would be revived by an empty tomb. The heart that would dive over the edge of the boat into the sea and swim to shore just to be with Him. Your potential is within you today. The enemy uses trials to tempt us to abort our mission of sowing faith and reaping confidence. He doesn’t want you to experience the Peace of God and enter His Rest because if you do – you will invest more and more of your life into it. I am challenged to find the areas of my life not prevailing in His Perfect Peace and break up the hard ground to plant seeds of faith. I want the peace of God in every area of my life.

Matthew 16:5-8 (NKJV) Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?”

One final thing to think about today. How many times do we worry and fret over things that never actually happen? I am typing this with my hand in the air. There was a situation recently when I received bad news and felt the downward spiral of emotions begin to drag me down. The more I prayed about the situation, I could sense the Lord essentially telling me to “hold tight”. Not to worry or stress or fear or be anxious but to simply wait on Him. It took a whole lot of prayer and studying the Word to get to that place but finally I decided to package the concern up and hand it to the Lord. FEAR is false evidence appearing real. Human reasoning grabs hold of it as the logical and obvious choice. The enemy wants us to think that God’s Love, Grace, Mercy and Favor have a limit which is true. The limit is our faith. If I extend faith and trust to that problem or concern it makes the impossible become possible. Well, as sure as I am sitting in this chair, I am seeing a plan far greater than I imagined begin to unfold. It far exceeds what I could think, ask or imagine. God is good. He is faithful. His Promises all true. I must simply sow my faith and trust into His Way, Will and Word to have every good thing that is provided, promised and potential in my life. Start small. My advice is to not forsake small beginnings. Begin to speak God’s Word over that situation. Work daily to release every burden associated and yoke that part of your life to Jesus. It’s going to be hard. The struggle is real. The more you try the greater the opposition from the adversary. Take it as a sign you are doing something right. Faith planted always grows. Confident trust opens the door to perfect peace…every single time. You may not have bread today but that seed of faith will leaven into the Bread of Life allowing us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Mark 9:24 (NKJV) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Have I Failed?

Have I Failed

Psalm 73:26 (NKJV) My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

My flesh and my heart fail…Have I failed God? What happens if I do not pass the test? When my flesh and heart feel like failures – what then? What’s next for the believer who doesn’t get it right? In the midst of spiritual droughts, it is not uncommon to feel like a failure. To wonder “what’s the point” of even trying because I have made a fine mess of things. Or even worse lug out the heavy bat marked regret in order to beat yourself up over and over until you live in shame. The enemy of our soul wants us to believe that failure is not an option but inevitable. Do you feel like a failure today?

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We can be our own worst critics. Examining our life and choices with a magnifying glass. Comparing our success to others. Trying to do it all and do it all well. A life of excellence is not defined by doing everything but doing what you do well. The accomplishment of excellence takes focus on raising the standard of our life with commitment and discipline that cannot be diverse. It must be consistent. It must remain constant. How does a human being accomplish such a daunting task? With fickle hearts and wandering minds, how is it even possible to achieve God’s Standard of Living. Truth is it is impossible. I cannot make my life any better. I can make better choices. I can change some of my behaviors. I can develop good habits. Yet still I cannot change my future and hope. It is already established. A plan carefully written for me, my good and God’s Glory before I was born. It contains a future and hope. Always good things in store for me. But the only way that I can have constant success in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly. Is it possible to fail God? We already did. Is it possible to fail? Yes. Our flesh and heart will fail us over and over again. The good news is that even when our flesh and heart fail that the Lord is our strength and portion forever. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

The definition of failure is a lack of success. It is absolutely possible and inevitable that there will be failure in certain areas of our natural existence. In fact, our body is born in a state of aging and deterioration. Our choices directly impact the advancement of the process. At some point in the future, everyone will die. It is unavoidable. However, as sons and daughters of God this does not impact our future negatively. Others will mourn our crossover into Heaven, but I do not think a single person welcomed by Jesus ever looks back. Disappointment is unmet expectation. Any expectation placed in people or the world will often result in disappointment or discouragement. This impacts our heart and mind. Unless we understand the greater picture of our new life in Christ it is easy to become persuaded that there are things that can separate us from the Love of God and His Plan for us. This is simply not true.

I John 3:1-3 (NKJV) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

I am a child of God. Are you? If you are a child of God – you have an inheritance. He becomes your portion. What does that mean exactly? Every promise and blessing that the Father has for you is unconditional. It is your inheritance. You receive it simply by becoming His Child. Let these words sink in for just a minute. Failure means nonperformance on something due, required or expected. God released His Word for your life. His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish what He pleases and it must prosper in the thing for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11) It doesn’t matter if you fail what matters is that God’s Word cannot fail. God is not like mankind. He does not lie or change His Mind. Once He commands a blessing in your life, it must happen. It will happen. Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance. (Psalm16:5-6)

Lamentations 3:21-25 (NKJV) This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

I have hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of the unseen reality in our life. God is our hope. Faith attaches us to the hope. We must believe it to receive it. If only men and women of “faith” could overcome fear of failure. Imagine the explosive impact on those who were not afraid to fail in their faith but flourished in hope. Confident hope becomes consistent faith. Faith that moves mountains is not the kind that whispers words of uncertainty or remains tangled in regret. Fearless faith is that which relies on God’s Mercy that comes to us each day. The Spirit-Filled Bible puts it like this – “Where grace emphasizes the freeness of God’s Love toward us, mercy stresses the freeing of our lives from the misery of disobedience.” The truth is that we obey God’s Word because we do not believe it. For if we believed in our inheritance, we would devour the Word of God finding ways to make it work in our life. When new mercy came this morning, did you receive it? Did you use it to cover the wounds of disappointment, the marks of regret, and the stains of shame? God’s Compassion for us does not fail. His Love for us provided a wave of grace much larger than any mistake or indiscretion. The current of His Love, Grace and Mercy gently drawing us closer to Him so that our inheritance is released to us as His Children.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion for us. It is His All Consuming Commitment to bring us into the good things that He has prepared for us. It is the invitation to live in everlasting communion with our Father. Mercy is the key to our success. It is the understanding that though we may fail, God never fails in His Love including His Compassion, Commitment and Communion with us. He is our portion. This is vital in our understanding of faith and hope and how it all works together. We need His Mercy every single day because we will fail. It allows us to see that He never fails. We will prosper by remaining in His Love.

Psalm1:2-3 (NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

I wonder if a barren tree sitting in a blanket of snow in the winter feels like a failure. Or maybe a flower whose blooms are wilted and withered on the ground, does it bow its head in regret at what it has lost. It knows what season it is and therefore waits in the soil for the conditions to change. You are God’s Child. He is molding and shaping your life into a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) Just because your life looks like a mess right now, does not in any way mean you have failed?

At the end the school year, my youngest partnered with a friend to do a class project. She asked if they could use some of our crafting supplies and work on it at our house. I agreed. When I came home from work from my kitchen to the porch all the way in the back yard including covering the girls – it looked like a paintball war had occurred. I was quite sure her oldest brother was involved but I cannot prove it. I was less the enthused by the condition of our home. They completed the project with a “B” – I think. I am still cleaning up the paint. Life is messy. There will be tests. Some you will pass with living colors, others only barely get by and there will be those that you fail altogether. God’s Grace is sufficient in every season. His Mercy is new every day. His Love for His Children unfailing. He is constantly working success and prosperity according to the measure of faith that He put in our hearts and the Spirit that He has given us. He knows we are weak. He knows we can’t do it all.

All that the Lord desires is that we seek Him. Make a commitment to love Him wholeheartedly and seek Him the same. He will make His Way known and empower us to follow and equip us for success. We must only know that though I may fail – it is impossible for God to fail. His Hope NEVER leads to disappointment – we must follow through. God is good! He loves you! He is our inheritance which is freely given to His Sons and Daughters without condition. He is prospering us from the inside out. God is for you – you cannot fail. His Grace is producing His Glory in us and through us. Where my life ends, and my new life in Christ begins is the day I leave failure and regret behind. He is working all things together for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Take hold of Jesus today. He will lead you from victory to victory. Let Him tell you who you are. Stop looking around and look up. Let the Lord be the strength of your heart and your portion forever. You will be satisfied.

Proverbs 3:21-24 (NKJV) My son, let them not depart from your eyes—Keep sound wisdom and discretion; So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Care Package

Mail package parcel on wooden table, top view

I Peter 5:7 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I wonder what life would be like if people were able to give God all the cares and worries of life. To give up anxiety and fear to live confident trust no matter what the situation. It is possible but not popular. So often it is the instruction from pulpits, teachings and other Biblical resources but when it comes to our own heart and life – it is personal and intimate. Some try to hide the fact they live in insecurity barricaded by constant thoughts of uncertainty. Pride tells them if anyone finds out it will make them a fraud or phony. This is a lie from the enemy meant to isolate God’s People so in time he will surely overtake them. Others openly live struggles constantly looking over their shoulder at the giants pursuing them reminding God there is a problem and it is closing in quick. Everyone has problems. There will be troubles in this life. Jesus told us that trials and temptations would be at every turn. How do we successfully give ALL of our worries and cares to the Lord?

All is a big word including everything and anything. To rewire our thinking and gain control of our thoughts such knowledge and understanding attributed to society must be replaced by faith. Faith is not logical. It just doesn’t make sense. We must allow our mind to be transformed by letting the Holy Spirit renew our mind day by day. “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2 – NLT) Yes, in our salvation experience there will be things that are easily left behind. Things that really don’t matter. Addictions and bad habits miraculously or even naturally released. But then there is the common mentality ingrained by society encoded in our nature from the beginning, some are worriers, some live in fear, others survive on control and then there are those who live with all of the above and more. These are mindsets. The only way to change our thinking is to “destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God” and to “capture (the) rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) How do I change my mind? How do I change who I am? What I believe? Easy. You don’t – Jesus does.

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

A couple of things to note in the successful transference of burdens, cares and worries to Christ. We cannot release them completely. They are come from our heart’s desire. There are things in our life that are contrary to God’s Plan and His Word that are subject to change by faith and confident hope over time. Until then, we label them by these names. Also of interest is the use of the word “yoke”. The Lord says, “Come to me…I will give you rest.” Rest is the Peace of God that passes all understanding…in the storm, during the trial and in the midst of hardship. He then tells us to “take His Yoke upon us.” We must partner with Christ in our life. Become one with Him. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Develop a loving and trusting relationship that produces confidence in His Ability and Willingness to care for us. It is the one who endures to the end that is saved so that must mean there will be struggles all through our natural life. Of course there will be as long as our flesh is alive. Pride has no interest in dying and will do everything in its power to survive. To live with Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life does not allow us to not change or be changed because He will never change. Good to know. It explains many of the times when it felt like God was not with us, the Spirit was not moving, and the Grace of God not enough. We refused to change or be changed so at an impasse there was no satisfaction.

Let me teach you. The Word of God is absolutely essential in the life of a believer. It is our guide and instructions for living a godly life. It tells us exactly what to do when we have no idea what is expected. It changes the way we think giving us new knowledge and important understanding that will grow into wisdom and truth. This feeds our confidence and gives faith a chance. “I am humble and gentle at heart…” Jesus will never make us follow Him. He invites us. He will never force us to love Him. Love is freedom. His Grace is enough without exception but must be accepted to become a powerful force in our life. It is perfected in weakness. Jesus is humble. We must be likewise humble. Humility releases burdens, carries and worries to Christ in exchange for rest, peace and even joy during the most harrowing of times. It is the moment that we understand that we have no control that His Power can be manifested in our life. Pride says hold on. Humility says let it go.

I Peter 5:6 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

“Consistency in godly living despite our circumstances is the true test of growth in godliness.” Studying these verses today in the Spirit-Filled Bible, I came across this reference. Consistency relays the evidence of confidence. To trust God when things are good is a natural response to human satisfaction. To praise God in the storm is evidence of faith and confident trust in the hope we have in Jesus. Is your heart heavy today? Mine has been lately. Is your mind racing with all the problems that you face? Seems lately that worries and cares are being handed to me at every turn as well. I am not telling you what to do but sharing instead what I have been doing simply to survive. I have been creating care packages. Each new day I take the biggest burden, worry, fear or anxious thought I have and mentally put it in a box. I put a note inside for the Lord with the promise or passage that He has given me through His Word. I wrap it up neatly in faith, trust and confident hope. I sent it to Him in prayer not asking for anything other than for Him to hold on to it for me today. He is welcome to work on it and do with it what He will, but I don’t have time to deal with it anymore. Instead, today I choose to fill that void with praise and honor. I accept His New Mercy as healing balm for my worn-out brain and weary emotions. I am confident that the Lord will take care of the desires of my heart so for today I will just give Him glory even if nothing changes in my life to allow Him to change my heart and mind.

Here are some verses that keep me company while I wait…

Psalm 8:3-5 (NLT) When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

God loves me. He created me. He takes pleasure in my existence and has big plans for my life. He is always thinking of new ways to bless me and to convince me of the same.

Psalm 55:22 (NLT) Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

God will. Most people believe God can – they question if “He will” based on their summation of their life, worth or choices. Grace took care of everything and anything that kept us from God and His Kingdom. I can live in the Presence of my Father not based on anything I do or do not do. He will take care of me. I just need to trust that My Father will not permit me to slip or fall so I keep walking even when I have no idea where we are going or how it will turn out.

Psalm 112:6-8 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.

We must fight for our faith. Walking by faith and not by sight is not easy. The pitfalls of pain are many but praise overpowers pain and fills in the potholes along the way. Investing my life in God’s Plan and Purpose insures fulfillment and completion that far exceeds my expectation. It empowers me to be fearlessly confident in the good fight of faith knowing no matter what the battle or how impossible things seem I have victory in Jesus Christ. I will be triumphant as long as I hold fast to the anchor of hope. It anchors my soul so that when the storm passes and the sun shines again all will see the faithfulness and goodness of God and give Him the glory.

Matthew 6:31-33 (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.

Psalm 104:16 tells us that the “trees of the Lord are well cared for.” In Psalm 1, it says those who delight in the Lord are like “trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.” I know Jesus tells us not to worry about the cares of life but human nature has a very strong influence. In the transformation process, there are seasons. Some are favorable and some not so much, but we are promised success in every one of them if we simply trust and depend on the Lord. God knows exactly what I need. He will give me the desires of my heart. I must only seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live confidently in the hope I have through Jesus Christ. To live in Christ assures me that He will give me everything I need. I have already been given every provision. He wants to prosper me now.

Do you have burdens weighing you down today? Cares crowding out every good thought. Overwhelming worries that keep you up all night. Pick one. The biggest one. The one that keeps your feet planted in fear and anxiety. Take it to the Lord. Just the one. Your pride will not allow you to relinquish full control. The secret to trusting the Lord is beginning with one thing and continuously giving Him one more worry, one more care and one more burden. Each new day when the enemy comes ready to give it back – simply refuse it while working on the next care package. I cannot have fulfillment of the fruit of the spirit including love, joy and peace until I rid my heart and mind of all the junk taking its place. Faith allows confident hope to prosper in the place of every fear released. Join me today as once again I yoke myself to Jesus Christ learning to love and trust my partner more and more. He is worthy. God is able. The Lord will to do just what He says. It’s all in the waiting not in the worrying. Give the Lord your problems and take on the task of praising His Great Name.

Psalm 27:14 (NLT) Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Calling All the Warriors

Calling All The Warriors

The Entrusted Sword by Ilse Kleyn

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) 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.

“Warriors are not the ones who always win…but the ones that always fight.”

The definition of warrior is one who is engaged in, experienced in, or devoted to war. There is an ongoing war for our faith every day. The declaration of Jesus Christ not only as Savior but also as Lord is a proclamation of allegiance to another Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. The fruitless attack of the enemy to overthrow the Power of God and His Son, Jesus is obvious. His kingdom is the world. It is filled with darkness and inevitable death overcome solely by Jesus Christ. Why attack God’s People who are weak and rebellious by nature? Because Jesus Christ lives in us.

Fight the good fight for true faith. Calling all the warriors today. Those men and women who have decided to give up this life to gain their soul and place in God’s Kingdom. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” is Latin translates “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Jesus Christ won the victory. He died on the Cross offering the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind – past, present and future. He released His Spirit to give us new life. Walking through hell, Jesus snatched back the keys to death and the grave. He triumphantly rose up out of the tomb and gave us the Keys to the Kingdom. Now we live under constant attack and in inner turmoil as our heart, mind, body and soul strive to take hold of the Kingdom while living in the world.

Faith may be small. It may seem wasted on so many things but the one who fights to get it in the ground, nurture and protect it while it grows, will one day harvest its reward. It is tiny yet of infinite value and worth. It is the very salvation of our souls with the potential to change every impossible outcome to possible for our good and God’s Glory. You are worth fighting for. The Lord fights for us. (Jeremiah 20:11) He is a warrior and Yahweh is His Name. (Exodus 15:3) It is up to us individually to decide that faith is worth fighting for. The battle ends once He is seen before us face-to-face and we exchange faith for forever. Until then…

Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT) So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. Every warrior gets tired. Their sword becomes too heavy or sometimes they get lost in the fight. We are no exception. Fighting the good fight for true faith might be a bit easier if not fighting internally, too. Life is hard enough fighting spiritual and physical battles not to add emotional and mental skirmishes, too. My pride gets in the way. Offense builds obstacles. Hurt causes hindrances. My flesh fights back. To let the Holy Spirit guide our life from victory to victory and grace to grace and glory to glory requires an absolute surrender and submission of self to the Cross of Jesus Christ proclaiming allegiance to the Kingdom of God. My sinful nature is evil. My mind will play tricks on me taking the lie and accusations of the enemy to tangle me in words and wrap me in his lies if I am not careful. Daily I hear a voice seething at me to give up, give in, and quit. Do you? Are you weary in well doing? Is your sword dragging the ground? Are you tired of fighting for faith and ready to just stop trying?

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” (Sun Tzu – The Art of War)

Jesus Christ is our Champion. (Hebrews 12:2) He is the one who initiates and perfects our faith. He disregarded the shame of surrender, and endured the pain of submission on the Cross to give us victory in life especially over death and the grave. No matter what you are facing, battling or striving against Jesus has already overcome it. To know, recognize, understand and fully comprehend the magnitude of His Win – the Word of God is essential. It looks like the enemy is winning but truly he is warring without cause. The end is written from the beginning just as every day of our life is prerecorded by God. He gives us a plan which includes future and hope which is ours for the taking. It only requires a wholehearted attempt at acquisition and it belongs to us. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) To believe that Jesus is the ultimate overcomer changes our strategy in life. To be a victorious warrior it means knowing from the onset that we win. Such knowledge will help us to pick and choose our battles carefully. This is not a life of survival but a place in which God’s People can thrive. Jesus secured our victory now we live to claim it. Such an understanding changes our perspective in life from the overwhelmed to the overcomer in Jesus Name. (John 16:33)

Ephesians 6:16-18 (NLT) In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

“The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intense and intuitive that it could only be called one for the heart.” (Pat Riley)

Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. It is important that as believers as we fight for our faith that it comes from our heart. The Sword of our Spirit is the Word of God. Jesus declared in Matthew 10:34 that He did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. We see the same image in Revelation 1, “and a sharp two-edged sword came from His Mouth.” It is definitely Jesus because the Words from His Mouth are “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

“Stay alert and persistent…” We do not battle against flesh and blood so stop looking for someone to blame for your current situation or position in life. As our shield of faith slips – it is human nature to lash out against those fiery darts at prime enemy number one other people. The enemy works overtime to divide the Body of Christ which is contradictory to the harmony that God desires. The iron sent to sharpen your iron may be the very person you completely disregard or seem to be constantly at odds with. (Proverbs 27:17) Children of God should be prepared to live the life of a warrior who walks courageously by faith through life unhindered by what they see or experience in the natural but completely influenced and motivated by the supernatural.

It is not a physical fight so exercise and train your spirit to war effectively and rely on the victory given to us by Christ. It is important. Our physical strength must give way to the Spirit. God’s Power works best in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) When the men came to take Jesus, one of his men used his sword and struck the high priest’s slave cutting off his ear. He was defending the Lord. But Jesus made it clear, this is not the way we do battle. Jesus could have called a thousand angels to come to His Rescue and God would have sent them instantly BUT if He did how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen? (Matthew26:51-54) Your life is a purpose to be fulfilled by God. Your natural strength must give way to the Spirit. If you are tired and weary of well-doing, ready to give up and about to give in – it can only mean one thing – you are about to see God’s Power manifested in your life.

Some final parting words of encouragement straight from God’s Word to the warriors…

Joel 3:9-10 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.

You have everything you need to be victorious. To fight the good fight of faith. Sometimes, it means hammering plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. Take some time today to hone your spiritual sword sharpening it with the Word of God and praying in the Spirit of the Living God. You eat, train and discipline our body and mind – physically and religiously but the Spirit man wins the war.

Nehemiah 4:14-16 (NLT) But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.

The good fight for true faith is fought daily. We are building the Kingdom of God. It means building a wall around our praise so it may never be silenced. Judah means praise. God always sent Judah first because praise before the battle relays confidence in our promised victory. You must work with one hand supporting the load AND the other hand holding the Sword of the Spirit entrusted to us so our labor is not in vain. You have a sword use it. Carry it with you every day. Speak the Word of God over your life and you will win every battle.

2 Kings 13:18-19 (NLT) Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Limited faith produces limited victory. Faith in God includes faith in His Process. It trusts in His Timing. When God tells us to do something, wholehearted obedience is required. Our victory is solely dependent on our trust in the Lord. It is secured by faith. If He pointed you in a certain direction, do not stop until you arrive at fulfillment. If He gave you His Word, hold it until it comes to pass. If you have a dream, do not give it away in the pit or prison but remember it so you will reach the palace. Serving the Lord by faith is truly a fight. Daily engagement. It requires a warrior spirit that refuses to quit. Giving up is not an option. Giving in is just not possible. The Glory of God awaits those who decide God is faithful and remain courageous when nothing is going right knowing His Righteousness is coming. I do not want to stop short of God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. I want the rich and satisfying life Jesus promised. He told us that those who endure to the end will be saved. I want to be that person. I am a warrior. I will not stop short of victory.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two – time and patience” (Lee Tolstoy)

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT) 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.

Tug-0-War – It’s Not A Game Anymore

Tug o war

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Since bringing home our new lab puppy, Scout – she bonded quickly to our Chihuahua, Izzy. From the moment, they get up until it is time to go to bed there is nothing but nonstop activity. Scout is very large yet quite passive while Izzy is tiny but ferocious. When they both take hold of a toy and pull, it is clear by Izzy’s hold and posture that she fully intends to win the game of tug-o-war clearly unimpressed by Scout’s size and power. Currently, Scout is five times the size of her fur sister. But Izzy has heart and tenacity – she does not ever back down. When she engages in tugging, she believes she can win. With one mindless jerk of Scout’s powerful head, the game is over. Izzy’s response – like any good sport – she attacks Scout with all the growling and snarling she can muster while our oversized fur baby just enjoys her conquest and rolls over on her back.

While both of the participants in the tug-o-war are impacted by the pulling and tugging, can you imagine the condition of the object of their grasp? With our dogs, it may be a rope or small squeaky toy but in the game of life too often it feels like it is us. Or maybe I am the only one who has days when despite my very best effort to hold tight to my faith, steady my heart, do the right thing and keep pressing on – I feel stretched and pulled in two opposite directions? I have put forth my best effort. Tried to keep the right attitude. Even forgiven along the way as hard as that may be sometimes, yet still feel as though I have come up short. A discarded heap of hopelessness who strived with all her might yet her flesh failed and her heart is weary. Come on. I cannot be the only one.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

To live IS Christ. To die is gain. The death process begins at birth. From the moment of taking in our first breath, a human being is one step closer to their death if you think about it. God has ordered the life span of each person according to His Will and His Way. It is not always possible to understand the number assigned to each living creature, but God knows. If only it were easy to live for Christ every moment of every day and serve Him faithfully apart from all sin and transgression as one might desire. It is not easy. It is not even possible. So why keep trying?

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

The struggle is real. For me to live is Christ but to die is gain. The more I grow to understand this – the more I understand terms like endurance. The stretching, molding and shaping of my heart and mind to hold fast to the confession of my faith and let other things go. It would be easy if I did not battle an unseen adversary every single day. No, it is not the enemy. Satan has no power or control in my life because I have given it to Jesus Christ. I am a Child of God. No the waging war with in us is our flesh. On those days when the pressure and problems of life leave us stretched and stressed lifeless forms crawling into His Presence exhausted and done, it is not always because the oppressor has been the foe that is faced but our flesh. We do not battle people. We must hold tight to the Word of God and respond to the Will of God even when our stubbornness and pride dig in. The good fight of faith is waging in our heart and mind not the world in which we live. I believe that it is important to identify the problem to find the solution. What if the problem is me?

Romans 7:21-25 (Message)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

No believer – saved and sanctified can ever say with any credibility that “the devil made me do it”. Satan cannot come near the Light that lives within us. God has given us His Spirit. The object of greatest oppression is flesh. Our own will who seeks to survive despite our desire to be crucified with Christ and live. I have been crucified with Christ by choice. I have chosen to give up sin and accept salvation. Now what? Fight. Fight for faith. Work toward obedience. Do my very best to hold on to what is good and avoid that which is not. To endure. To love. To forgive. To hope. Christ lives in me and is working His Way out of me into every part of my existence. The life I live now in the flesh is by faith in the Living God who is in me. The overwhelming factor that is my success is His Grace. (Galatians 2:20) Despite my full intent and heartfelt commitment, my flesh fails time and time again. This is the reason His Grace is my power. It is the very essence of power that lives in me overriding my inability to allow the fulfillment of Christ to be mine.

Can I just publicly thank the apostle Paul for his transparent honesty in Romans 7! If only every believer would allow others to see the reality of their plight, not by glorifying sin or immortalizing failure, but rather allowing others to witness the process. Our soul cries out for the Living God but our flesh fights to survive. It is a natural born tendency that is not exempt when it comes to dying to this life to obtain forever with the Lord. When I am overwhelmed and feel stretched like a dog toy that has been tugged and pulled on all day, I realize that maybe just maybe it isn’t the enemy pulling on me. In fact, the Lord has shown me clearly that it is not. I live in the Hand of God. The enemy cannot touch me. No, on those days, I have held hope with one hand not two and taken hold of something with my flesh that I need to let go of. This process is so intimate and personal. The good fight of faith is not in an arena but in the quiet recesses of our heart as His Word works its way through and hopeful confidence lays claim to it.

“Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.” His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough for those days when my flesh rises up and wages war to take over my heart and mind. I will not overcome this rivalry until Jesus takes me home and removes it from me forever. In the meantime, it is important that I work in close partnership with the Spirit of God so it is two against one.

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus lived in the flesh. Yes, He was God during that time, too but chose to be subject to flesh and blood just like the ones who He loved and chose to die for. He experienced every bit of warring of the flesh just as anybody else does on any given day. He overcame sin. He endured every test and trial all the way to the Cross. He died a sinless man. Who better to help us then the One who knows and understands our flesh and feelings? Jesus overcame the world. He did it by overcoming flesh. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross. His Death was would have been required if only a single sin existed. The necessity of grace is not proportioned to the quantity of sin but rather to overcome death produced by a single sin. Wrap your brain around that one and the playing field of life becomes quite level. There is no pride in obedience just surrender to God because there is no prize or promise outside of the Grace and Love of Jesus Christ. If there is no hierarchy of sin, that means that God has no favorites. There you have it the full potential of our life is in the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ…alone. I can do nothing to earn it, obtain it or pay it back. I can only accept it.

Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV) Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What if we have been interpreting these verses all wrong? We are to do all things without grumbling or disputing…good luck with that right? To remain sinless (without blemish) in this crooked and twisted generation…it is not possible. Do you work with other people? Commute home in five o’clock traffic. Let’s be real – do you own any teenagers? Life happens. Sin slips out. Our flesh rises up. What then? The Light that shines within us comes out through our brokenness. When our hard heart cracks open and our one-track mind gives way to the new life and new way of thinking that is not religious but relational. The Law of God did not save us just shows us how bad we messed up. It proves the sufficiency of His Grace when knowing all my faults and failures in a single day – I still fight to hold on to faith and cling to confident hope. “Holding fast to the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run or labor in vain.” The confident hope that I have is not in my own ability to live a sinless, good life but it is in the Grace of God given to me based on His Love and Faithfulness. The Word of Life says that nothing can ever separate me from the Love of God and in fact it is His Love that makes me more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37) Pride says otherwise but grace always proves it wrong.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Before this passage in I Thessalonians 5 comes a list of instructions. Things like love each other, help one another, and be an encourager. It also tells us to rejoice, pray and be thankful. It clearly outlines qualities and characteristics that are the Will of God for our life. (I Thessalonians 5:18) But the important part follows closely behind, the specific thing that I must cling to throughout each day as I try to run with purpose. The goal that I long for and strive for is this – that my whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless. His Grace is enough, I must cling to it every day. He is the one who is Faithful. Jesus will surely do it if I will just hold on the hope that He has given me.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…

My steadfastness will not ever be in me. I will continue to strive to live apart from anything that displeases the Lord but I know that it is only by His Grace that I find the power to overcome every shortcoming, fault and failure. Sin separated me from God and only His Righteousness will allow me to live in His Presence again. He does not lie or change His Mind so the Word of Life is the anchor of my soul and substance of my faith that keeps me from giving up and letting go when I feel the pressures of life, stress or restlessness. My flesh is always at war with the Spirit in me. It is a fight to the death. The Spirit of God overcame death and administers life to all who live in partnership with Him. It doesn’t mean there is not struggling or no suffering in this life but He give us the power and strength to hold on and endure to the end. I don’t know what might work as soul soothing for you but when I feel weary in well doing or pointless in my pursuit of Christ, I find that worship is my release. To lift my hands, open them wide, and show love and adoration on Jesus. Burdens fall off as He picks me up and holds me. When was the last time you stepped into the Presence of the Living God? There is nothing there but life. The struggle ends where surrender begins. The hopelessness gives way to hope in the Light of His Love. Grace works best in weakness. His Power is manifested in our life when we can’t but believe He will. There is a reward for those who choose to keep His Word, walk by faith, hold on to hope and endure until the end through every trial, hardship and struggle believing God is good, God loves me, and God will never let me down.

As Scout and Izzy wrestle at my feet, I am blissfully aware that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet. Izzy will learn one day to pick and choose her battles but I hope that she never loses her heart. Scout in her sweet nature will one day learn the same or give up every toy and treat to Izzy. I believe that this is life in our house with our pets. I believe this is the life lived in Christ as well. Picking and choosing battles, knowing when to take heart and surrendering to Christ always. It is only a tug-o-war if both sides pull. The game ends when one or the other let’s go. Lord, I give you my heart, mind, body and spirit all over again today. I let go of everything except the Word of Life. May hope keep me anchored. Have your way in me, amen! I surrender all!

Revelation 3:10-12 (ESV) Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Finding My Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 16:5-11 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Do you have joy today? Are you overcome by worry and stress? What is your state of mind as you begin this new day with great possibility? Is the reality you live in just the same old same old again? Psalm 16 tells us that “in Your Presence there is fullness of joy” so why aren’t Christians filled with overflowing joy and happiness each day? Why do churches sing songs of victory without any enthusiasm? How come believers don’t even smile? I have found my joy. Today, can I help you find yours?

Galatians 5:22 outlines the Fruit of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit commissioned to remain in you and I. The first fruit that is produced is love. God loves us. It doesn’t even matter if anyone loves Him back. His Divine Character is love. It defines God from any other god or idol of manmade creation. The second Fruit of the Spirit is joy. Struggling just to live in love, it seems it is hard to move on. Or maybe it is because people approach the Lord like the produce department at the grocery store carefully perusing, picking and choosing which fruits are desirable and passing on the rest. Fresh fruit is expensive. Canned fruit costs much less but doesn’t have the variety or taste of produce fresh from trees, vines or bushes without all the packaging preservatives. What if I told you that for one day only the farmer’s market was offering fresh fruit for free? Many would schedule their day around such an event to partake of costly goods paying nothing at all. Jesus died so that the Holy Spirit would live in us and produce every spiritual blessing that the Lord has already provided AND PAID FOR so why won’t we at least taste and see that He really is good?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” It begins by our belief. Do you believe that the “lines” in your life have fallen in “pleasant places”? Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe that God is good? He is faithful? Those who do will make Him their chosen portion and their cup. This puts the entirety of our life in God’s Hands. The giving and receiving. The sowing and the reaping. The planting and harvesting in our life becomes God’s Divine Plan. He promises to give us a future and hope. To work every detail of our life for His Glory and our good. He perfects all that concerns me. Christ offers to yoke with us and shoulder the burdens and cares of life while passing through to eternity. Where is our joy? It is in the decision to give every aspect of our life to Jesus Christ. The evidence of such a choice is joy. “I have a beautiful inheritance” that is only accessible if I believe enough to choose the Lord as my portion and offer my cup to Him.

Psalm 43:2-4 (ESV) For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

When our daughter got married, she did a change of address and forwarded her mail. She took her birth certificate, social security card, driver license, and marriage license to change her name on everything. Four months later, she moved to a new state and was tasked with the process all over again. I still get her mail from time to time. Even though she changed residency twice and was diligent in her attempts to notify everyone who may need to contact her, her mail still doesn’t make it to her until I forward it myself. Moving through life, it is possible to lose sight of our residency in Heaven and begin to rely on natural outcomes and human strength. We must make an effort to establish our residency in the Kingdom and remain faithful in our allegiance to Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:15)

We are temporary residents of this place. I have a place in heaven with the Lord. As I make my way from here to eternity, it is a challenge and test not to become accustomed to this life but continually seek the character and qualities of those with future hope beyond death and the grave. It’s tough because everything in this place is geared toward living the fullness of life now and avoiding death at all costs. If this is life and there is nothing beyond it, I would completely understand the desperation and devastation of unmet expectation. Disappointment would be defeat in my eyes. A wise person once told me – “do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.” I believe that there is hidden joy in our life that is missed because of distractions that are meaningless to the believer. Perfect love casts out all fear leaving plenty of room for joy and peace. Total trust gives up the right to worry and stress knowing with God all things are possible and He is our Provider.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God. (Psalm 21:6) Take our eyes off the enemy. (Psalm 27:6) Silence his lies with the truth by making a joyful noise to the Lord rather than grumbling and complaining. (Psalm 98:4; 100:1) Transfer the potential in our life from an earthly position to a heavenly inheritance. Rather than sowing seeds in the ground – sow them in the Kingdom. Decide to make finding joy your plight rather than superficial happiness in people, things, and earthly success. It took a terrible tragedy for me to find my joy. Joy is a constant state for the believer if they choose the Lord to be their portion and cup relying on His Inheritance rather than earthly treasure. God’s Favor is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5) This time and place called the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Those who look believe enough to look for God’s Goodness in each day will find it. God’s Steadfast Love never ceases. His Mercies never end and arrive each morning. (Lamentations 3:22) With it comes the opportunity to have joy with it. (Psalm 30:5)

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV) “…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Joy is not a naturally occurring commodity of the world. It is not human nature which is selfish and greedy always crying out for more. Soul satisfaction is the key to a rich and satisfying life living in the prosperity of God’s Promises. Joy and peace partner together to produce other fruits of God’s Spirit such as patience. It accompanies us in our waiting when our refuge is the Lord. “I have set the Lord always before me.” We must learn to live with Jesus in every aspect of our natural life. To filter every thought, idea and motivation through our love and commitment to Him will allow joy to rise up in the most unlikely of places. The threat of losing something often will heighten awareness and appreciation of what we have versus what we want. Suddenly all those other things are not as important as the Christ in us and moving through us to be expressed out as life giving light to a dark and dying world. Without Jesus, there is no hope only a life that will lead to disappointment and defeat. But when I decide to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and “fully pleasing Him”, I will begin to bear every fruit in every good work AND with my increasing knowledge of God. Finding joy is not a life venture but a heart vindication. I am justified in Jesus. I am approved for every blessing and promise God has for me because He has given me the Gifts of Grace and Righteousness. When I begin to believe this, I will find joy. When I choose to live as a Child of God trusting and believing He is a Good Father enough to release burden, cares, worries and stress – the Spirit will begin to produce inexpressible joy in my life.

I Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Sitting in a hospital room for the umpteenth time, I was discouraged. In the bed was our son who was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Three years of trusting, praying and believing – I would put in headphones and join churches on YouTube in the midst of worship. I needed to leave the room if only in spirit. The reality of his health weighing heavily upon me – I came across Kari Jobe singing “Forever” with the Bethel Worship Team. The reality of Heaven finally became clear to me. If he didn’t survive this treatment, it wasn’t over. Jesus was right here and right there. The bridge of the song is “we sing hallelujah – the Lamb has overcome.” I finally got it as the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place. Something changed in me that night. Joy began to flow in my heart and through my tears to realize that in this hopeless and devastating wasteland void of love and covered in darkness that Jesus is my joy. Forever. Nothing the enemy can do to me or my family will ever be able to take victory, love, joy and peace from me because I have found my joy. His Name is Jesus. Have you?

Life is hard. We still have hope. Bad things happen to good people but it is not over yet. Jesus is our victory. Each day brings the mercy we need to sow in tears…we have the opportunity in doing so to come home with shouts of joy and the abundance of God. (Psalm 126:6) We must fully invest our life and love in Jesus Christ to have inexpressible joy that will overcome every trial and trouble ever faced. Faith is the opportunity to live for this new Kingdom and life that is coming. To reap its benefits now as the windows of Heaven open and overflow in our life. Those without hope have no joy but those with hope in Him have fullness of joy. Lord, I ask you to restore the joy of my salvation in any area of my life that I may have allowed fear or doubt to rise up. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit with its sights set on Heaven today. Cast me not from your Presence, Lord but fill me to overflowing with it. I yield to the productivity of the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to every area of my life. Give me joy today Lord Jesus. Overwhelming and inexpressible Jesus Joy just as You have promised. Lord, I am willing and where I am not uphold me with Your Grace and Tender Mercies. Thank you Jesus for joy!

Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Through It All

Keep Walking

Exodus 14:13-16 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

Most churches have used the anthem “No Longer Slaves” in the worship set as it has grown in popularity. The bridge of the song belted out “You split the sea so I could walk right through it… My fears were drowned in perfect love…You rescued me, so I can stand and sing…I am a Child of God. Such an empowering message, which makes the one praising and worshiping God in that corporate moment feel strong and immovable. Right? At least I do. It reminds me of all the times God has brought me through tough even tragic situations. The times that I thought I couldn’t find my next breath much less my next step. Church ends and life begins again.

How do I carry that mentality from church into real life? The feeling of strength and power when all hell is breaking loose in my life. How do I maintain confident trust in the Lord when the walls of water around me grow tumultuous? How do I hold an anchor that I cannot see or feel the weight of? I don’t know about you but I think walking on water seems preferable to “drowning” in perfect love. You know having the faith to walk with Jesus above the wind and waves. Need I remind you, Peter jumped out of the boat by faith but found that his heart was not ready for the journey so he immediately sank…let’s read about it.

Matthew 14:27-31 (ESV) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Different scenario same God. While the Egyptians pursed the Israelites, there didn’t seem to be a real choice in the faith matter. Either walk through the Red Sea or die on the beach, not favorable but definitely with great reward. The boat was being beaten by the winds and waves. The disciples were afraid. Jesus came to them walking on the water. He did not split the sea or calm the storm yet but when Peter asked to come to him. Ever hear the song, “Oceans”…ever sang it out loud. We ask the Lord to challenge us, take us deeper, move us closer to Him, allow us to live in His Presence but when the opportunity comes – our flesh fails. Faith is clearly too small to keep us buoyant. The Lord faithfully, loving and always reaches down to catch us. It took a whole lot of faith to walk between two walls of suspended water but the people had no choice it was move or die. Peter had a choice. Intrigued by Jesus, he thought he was ready to walk with the Lord. When his feet hit the water, I believe that Peter thought Jesus would impart some super power to him and he would magically stay on top of the water. Not the case then and not the case now.

Our super power is faith. But just like every other super hero, it takes time to cultivate our power into something tangible, useful and, yes, even powerful. For a new driver, putting the right foot on the accelerator and pushing it down hard the first time seems exhilarating and easy at first. The powerful force of the engine engaging as sweaty hands clutch the steering wheel while our entire body is catapulted forward makes us think maybe there is more to this than I thought. At least, I hope so. Faith is powerful but it comes in raw form. It is dispensed in our heart as a small measure and left up to us if it will remain a seed or be harvested into a mighty force. However, my power is not in myself. It is not part of my being. It is the Christ in me. In order to find the power invested in me by my Creator and see it manifest in my life – there will be pressure applied to my life to force it out.

Whether external (as the Israelites experienced) or internal (as Peter experienced) – faith is the power that God desires to express from our life. What if that thing that is pressing, pushing or bearing down upon you is not to overtake you but rather to move you to something better? What if He is moving you from a mundane life to supernatural existence? Could it be that you have somehow settled for less than enough when the Lord has more than enough instore for you? Or maybe just maybe there is more than you can think, ask or imagine that stinking thinking has stopped you from dreaming and doing? The Lord will never leave you in Egypt. He won’t let you drown in fear and doubt. He has already given you every spiritual blessing now you just have to go after it, reach out to take hold of it or move to where the promise is!

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned means that you already have been apportioned the faith you need to be triumphant and victorious in every situation. It is in you. It came with Christ. Now what are you going to do with it? What did the Lord say to Moses when he came to them relaying the fear of the people in the midst of their complaining? He said, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” God has given you faith and power. Jesus has given you the grace to make it through. All that is left to do is what He tells us to. We must go through it. Peter asked. Jesus answered. Sure, come to me. The disciple who followed Jesus, heard Him teach the Word, saw Him perform mighty miracles, and was overwhelmed by all the followers. He definitely knew the Lord but his faith was still too small to make it a few feet on top of the water. The cry of the living sacrifice is give me faith to give more of me. I believe the Lord is telling us that He already gave it to us now it is time to do something with it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

For we (are to) walk by faith and not by sight. I have added that “are to” because if it were that easy our churches would like fearlessly in a state of ongoing revival. Flesh would not weigh us down but faith create a light so bright it would illuminate the world with God’s Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The only way to know what measure of faith evident in our life is through testing. When I make a cake, I measure the ingredients to ensure it will be delicious. Any good recipe has a process, it takes time, and one must go through all the steps using the proper ingredients. Our life in Christ is the same.

We are free to choose the amount of faith cultivated in our life but the measure is the same. It starts small but has the potential to turn into something big. The Lord is our courage. He is our strength. He promises victory to those who trust Him, follow Him, and stay with Him. I cannot do that where I am now but must keep walking no matter how relentless the enemy or overwhelming the storm. Eyes on Jesus not my circumstances. Faith entrusted and invested in Him not the evidence of my life. He is faithful. He knows it’s going to take some time – that’s why the Lord blesses endurance with salvation and life. He knows that I will mess up, my flesh will fail but Jesus promises that His Grace is enough for me and will work even better in my humble weakness.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I only know my own struggles and battles but I know this. God is good. He is faithful. He will help me if I trust Him. He will give me courage. He will be my strength. He is constant and unfailing. The Lord always responds to my cries. He has never left me or forsaken me even when I have given up myself. See the Lord gave you and I faith because He has something bigger and better for us. If only, we will keep moving, breathing and existing in Him until we have it. This is what we hope must for and truly believe. Do you feel pressure? Do you feel pushed to make a move? Seek the Lord today. Call on His Name. Ask Him for direction. Offer your heart and mind to Him for careful inspection. Let Him weed out those thoughts that have you all tangled up. Sometimes just seeing things from God’s Perspective or tying His Promise to your problem will lift your head up to see that help has arrive. His Name is Jesus. He overcame the world…let Him overtake your heart. He will walk through it with you!

Psalm 3:3-4 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

Plot Twist

Plot Twist

Matthew 1:20-23 (ESV) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Talk about a plot twist. Joseph surely didn’t see it coming. I imagine that Joseph and Mary were the couple everyone knew would one day be betrothed and then married. Good Jewish kids from faithful families, there would be a celebration when they finally were joined to be one. A house full of love, laughter and many children. It was all predicted and carefully planned between their families. God came and messed it all up. Like a made for television movie by Hallmark, who would have thought that Mary would be found pregnant before the union. Who would have ever believed that God would design such an introduction and arrival for His Only Son? God is the master of plot twists, my friend. Life with Him will never be found to boring or mundane. It is thrill ride for those who grab hold of hope refusing to let go. It will take you to the depths and raise you up to the highest hill. Never a dull moment, but always worth it.

One might only imagine the turmoil in Joseph’s heart that night, he wanted desperately to believe the story of his one true love. How can she even whisper that God did this? The Holy Spirit producing a child. Is it even possible? The Word of God predicted it. Yet, how could he believe such an audacious claim? He gave this young lady his heart, and now considered taking whatever part of it he could reclaim prayed to the Lord for help. I do not think Joseph was asking God in that moment if Mary was being truthful but how to get out of this mess alive. He loved her. He had given his heart, life and future to her. But now, he felt embarrassed, betrayed, hurt and confused. The Lord came to his sweet son that night. He told him the truth, his beloved had been true to him. She was carrying the Jesus the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. The baby was Immanuel. He would be God with us. All Joseph had to do was believe.

In the plot twists of life, it is human nature to reevaluate what one believes. When God doesn’t do things as expected, doubt rises up and disbelief tries to erode our trust. “But as he considered these things…” What’s on your mind today? What is the plot twist currently unfolding before you? Take it to the Lord. I say that without hesitation or moving one more step in the Word today. He did not leave us alone or forsaken. Christ lives in us. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

As our worship team sang “Spirit Break Out” in the morning service, I heard the voices of those around me which is unusual. Worship is my escape. Praise is the platform that rises my head above my circumstances to see God is in control. Yet, as they sang, I wondered if they really comprehended the words of the song. “Spirit break out. Break our walls down. Spirit break out. Heaven come down.” To look to the roof, sky or beyond the clouds for His Spirit is not looking for Him at all. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is with us always. From the moment, one invites Jesus to be their Savior and become the Lord of their life – His Spirit unites with us like a marriage. He is with us always. He guarantees every promise God has made us. When God sees the Spirit – He knows that I am His Child. The Holy Spirit is not coming down from Heaven to be with us and then recede back to the sky. He lives in us and is always trying to find a way out of us. God’s Goodness and His Glory wants to permeate our life from the inside out. The walls that need to come down are of our own making. Heaven joins with earth when our spirit connects with the heavenly realm. It doesn’t happen all around us if nothing is going on inside of us.

Isaiah 7:10-14 (ESV) Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel is introduced in the Book of Isaiah. The Lord offers King Ahaz an amazing offer. “Ask a sign of the Lord your God” not just any sign, but God goes one step further…”let it be as deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” The response of Ahaz may sound shocking to read, but it is very common. “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Drop the mic. The Lord invited Ahaz to ask anything of Him. The All-Powerful, All-Mighty, and All-Knowing God gave this man the opportunity to test Him. He declined the offer. Who would do such a stupid thing? Before you begin to judge Ahaz too harshly, consider the fact that God lives in us. Jesus Christ offers to yoke with us and help us through this life including providing everything we need, carrying every burden and doing more than one might think, ask or imagine, yet we still try to do it ourselves. Until that moment, the plot twist comes and everything seems to be falling apart.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Ahaz refused to trust the Lord. The sum total of his response was an absolute refusal to allow God to be God, have His Way or do His Will. God was shaking things up and the king’s comfort zone was being unsettled. But rather than trust the Lord, Ahaz was going to try to work out the details in his own power as king. Doubt and fear were his counsel. Lack of faith evident in his words. His heart feeble and shaking at the thought of such a plot twist. No thanks, God. I have everything under control. How many times do we say it? We pray one way with words and do something entirely different.

God’s character is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. The plan that the Lord designed for your life is for your absolute good with a future and hope. The only requirement is faith. Not words, but trust that responds to His Voice and His Word. His Spirit is your guarantee that everything God promised will be yours if you decide to believe. The Spirit of God is in you today. The only limitation on your life is the one placed there when you choose not to believe. God is okay with us testing Him and trying out His Word. He answers our questions. He calms our fears. Immanuel is God with us. Jesus deposited His Spirit in us. It is still full of every bit of power and resurrection life that it contained the moment He released it. If God’s Power is limited in my life, it is me.

Romans 8:5-11 (ESV)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

To further divulge the imagery in my thoughts during worship that day, I saw the Holy Spirit standing with a person looking at a giant wall. They walked around the wall. They shouted at the wall. Together doing everything one might have heard to do in church or a song. Now the man is scratching his head looking up at the wall with one hand on his hip, when the Spirit whispers in his ear with a huge sledgehammer in the other hand. It is clear to me that the Spirit is offering to take the wall out. The man shakes his head putting one hand up as if to say, “Wait a minute, I am thinking this through…” How many times is the Lord ready to take down walls, boundaries and barriers between us and His Blessing that we respectfully decline until we figure it out? What is the chance that God has been pushing on walls that we are holding up?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God has given us His Word. Jesus came as the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He died and released His Spirit to live in us. To give us His Power and Authority on the earth and mark us as residents of Heaven. It is finished. The deal is sealed. Faith is the assurance of the hope we are given. It is evidence of the unseen. Ahaz could not see God’s Plan so he chose his own instead. Gideon did not see the man in the mirror who the Lord did so he asked for a fleece. (Judges 6:37) Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) Impossibilities in our life is the opportunity to expand our faith and trust in the Lord. As a spirit-filled believer any impossibility in our life is the chance to let the Spirit out. We cannot please God without faith so what if the plot twists in our life are really God given us another chance by His Grace to grow in faith and confident hope rather the enemy’s device to take us out. Impossibilities are only impossible for those without the Living God. The moment He came to live in us nothing is impossible anymore…if you believe.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (ESV) By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Set your heart and mind on the Spirit life. Plot twists will happen in every great love story even the one that is written for us in Christ. Without change, it is human nature to become comfortable and complacent right where we are. God has offered us a limitless life with endless possibilities. It is accessible to those who by faith and trust choose to believe Him at His Word and follow live as one with His Spirit. Immanuel. God with us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross allows the same Spirit in Him that overcame death and the grave to give us overwhelming victory in life. Enoch was a man of faith. He walked so close to God that he just was gone one day. I want that kind of relationship with the Lord where I disappear in His Presence. Enoch pleased God. Enoch put all his faith and trust in the Lord. In order for my faith to be valid, it must grow into trust and confidence. God uses every plot twist in our life as an opportunity. Impossibility is just another reason to test Him at His Word and follow the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. God is in us. God is with us. We cannot fail. God doesn’t fail or fall short. Neither will I if I put my faith and trust in Him today and every day especially those days with a plot twist or two.

I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.