Make A Choice

Make A Choice

Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV) “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Come now, let us settle the matter. In the course of a single day, people make more choices than they realize. Before arriving at work, there are more than a handful of decisions that must be made. Habits and routine take over so it becomes a ritualistic lifestyle. Like cattle through a turnstile going out to pasture in the morning, and coming back to the barn at night. Sounds monotonous doesn’t it? Well, how about getting up, head to work, stop for coffee, clock in, make eight, punch out, sit in traffic, cook dinner, do laundry, help with homework, and collapse in bed times five days a week. Where is the extraordinary in the midst of ordinary? How does one find the supernatural surrounded in the natural? It begins with a choice.

Psalm 27:13 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer the first time, God asked me to trust Him and I did. The Lord promised me that our boy would live and not die to declare His Works. (God’s Promises do not change – He repeats them often.) Then our son was diagnosed again, and again multiple times. The third discovery was the most invasive covering most of body from neck to torso. The reality that God’s Healing might not be as I expected was weighing heavy on my mind. The Lord brought me to this verse. I must remain confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. How quickly we dismiss God’s Promise for the future when things don’t turn out the way we expected? How often do we give up on faith when it doesn’t yield the return in the right time as our plans indicated? It was only when I had absolutely no control over our son’s life that I had to truly learn to trust the Lord from beginning to end. I had to make a choice. I had to settle it in my heart and soul to keep breathing. It was at that point in my life, I trusted God for Who He was rather than the outcome I expected. In total weakness, His Grace and Power flooded my life.

Free will can be difficult when one comes to the understanding that the Lord gives us the right to choose. Jesus chose to die for our sins and hand us the Keys to His Kingdom. He loves us. Therefore, love cannot force us to do anything and be love. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It doesn’t boast. It is not proud. It honors others and is not ever self-seeking. It doesn’t get angry. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Love never ever fails. For Jesus to force us to do anything would be contrary to His Own Definition of love found in the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. So with this in mind, the Lord will not make us do anything that we do not want to do. It is important to note that the Christ in you sets you free from sinful captivity which means the devil can’t make you do anything either. You have a choice to make. Who will you serve today?

Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV) “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

All the time in the wilderness, God did everything in His Power to show the Children of Israel a better way. His Way. The way of blessing and prosperity. (Deuteronomy 28) It is now time to enter the Promised Land. “Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness”. This was the intention of Joshua for his household. It was settled with in his heart and soul. However, listen to the Word of the Lord to the people, “if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” God wants us to choose. Why? Half-hearted service to the Lord will only produce disappointment and discouragement in our life. It is only when we seek Him wholeheartedly that His Plan for our future unfolds. It is our willingness to serve Jesus with our life body, mind and spirit that our life will prosper as our soul does. The Lord detests “dishonest scales”. Sin is abhorrent to the Lord. Grace is provided because despite our best effort to remain sinless – our sinful nature will get the best of us sometimes but the Lord looks deeper than that to the intent of our heart. Who are you serving? The outcome of our life is directly connected to the master we serve.

John 15:15-16 (NIV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Bear with me as I try to work this out in my own heart and mind, but God has called me and chosen me to prosper in all things. He appointed me that I might go and bear fruit. Fruit that will last. Whatever I ask in the Name of my Father it should be given. After our son went into remission, I was completely awestruck by God. At that moment, God did not have to do anything else for me for the rest of my life. Jesus saved me. He created a beautiful family out of all the pieces I brought to Him. Our children all love the Lord. The one on the verge of death with only a 2% chance of survival was back in school living his life. One would think it to be the greatest spiritual high of my life. It was not. The new normal was a difficult adjustment. The enemy came and somehow convinced me that I had reached the limit of expectancy. After all, God had granted life to our child. What greater gift could there ever be? I was so underserving of the new life that I have in Christ – it would be selfish to ask for anything else…right? Wrong! God’s Plan for my life is not finished or complete until I breathe my last breath, endure to the end and reach eternity with Him.

I am a friend of God. My relationship with Jesus Christ is a friendship with benefits. Do you have any friends in “high places”? Influential or powerful people who the Lord has placed in your life. A friend who favors you? God operates in relationships. Friendships are important to our reproductive growth in the Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit is cultivated in our fellowship with other people. The first commandment is to love God but the second cannot be fulfilled outside of relationships. God has called us to cultivate fruit. In Genesis 1:27-28 – He calls us blessed. Not you might be, could be or possibly will happen – God specifically blessed mankind. He also ordained them for certain things – be fruitful (purpose), increase (prosper), fill the earth (generosity), and subdue it (rule and reign over ever earthly thing). Sin separated us from God but did not end stop the blessing or calling of our life. Jesus came and His Blood eliminated the debt of sin so that now all mankind is free to walk out the ordination of God for their life. Purpose is both earthly and heavenly. Prosperity is earthly and heavenly. Generosity is earthly and heavenly. God’s Power is for the earth just like heaven. It is time for believers to stop segregating their life into earthly and heavenly things. Our existence in Christ makes the unification of earth and heaven complete. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)

Psalm 65:4 (NLT) Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

We must choose who to serve each day. James 4 is a firm and true commentary on submission to God. God waits for us to surrender our life to Him. This is not an act of authoritative force meant to make us miserable but instead to entrust with everything He promised because we know what do with it. Most lottery winners lose their fortune in the first three years. Why? Having money doesn’t change our life and habits. If the winner could not manage the resources at hand previously more money is not going to change their behavior. God has power to release in you when you are ready to receive it. He will not let a thief in the Kingdom. If you are only after God’s Hand with no intention of knowing His Heart, the door will remain closed to God’s Promises and Prosperity. Those are obtained only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In Isaiah, the Lord says, “Come let us settle the matter…” Do you want God’s Promises and Prosperity in life? To settle means to appoint, fix, and resolve definitely and conclusively in agreement. It means that our life must agree with God’s Will, His Way and His Word. It is to place our life in a desired state of order pursuing the pathway of life. We must decide to agree with God concerning our life. Those who do will apply God’s Word to their life more and more each day which produces the good things He has promised. (Proverbs 8:8-11) We will speak God’s Word over our life and not man’s predictions. We will listen to the Lord and His Still Small Voice over the roar of the crowd and opinions of people and we will prosper! (Psalm 25:12-13) I must believe that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living enough to live for the Lord right now.

Revelation 3:15-17 (NIV) “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Life is limited in lukewarm living. The entire planet is subject to sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. It is natural productivity. When we choose to invest our life into something wholeheartedly, there is generally a substantial return. Why? God honors a choice. However, for those who choose to remain lukewarm – their life is equated to vomit. Is the yield of your life satisfying? Sometimes we may have more than we ever thought possible yet have no peace or rest. I cannot live in close friendship and fellowship with Jesus Christ and be yoked to anything else. (Matthew 11:28-30) I must surrender my life to His Will, His Word and His Way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that is rich and satisfying. Prosperity in heaven does not mean I must live an impoverished life – nothing could be further from the truth. Who wants that kind of parent? The one who gives stones to hungry children rather than bread. Nobody! He is a Good Father. God’s Plan contains a future and hope secured when I pursue Him wholeheartedly. I must choose today who I will serve. I cannot serve two masters for I will love one and hate the other. To choose Jesus as not only my Savior but my Lord leads me to discover the goodness here in the land of the living. It will bring heaven to earth.

Psalm 25:12-13 (NIV) Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.

Disappear

disappear

Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

“Birds of a feather flock together.” The old adage meaning people who have similar interests, ideas and characteristics tend to seek out and associate with one another is absolutely true. We tend to congregate with those who are like-minded. Our social circles are well-developed rings of relationships with those that connect with us. Even churches group together under this proverb. Comfort zones are created among like-minded people who grow relationships. It’s funny how when we begin to hang out with people and enter the social arena in which they live that we become like them. We begin to conform to the standard of living each group has set as acceptable and agreeable within the organization. It is all about conformity. We were not created or called to be like anyone else. God’s Children are individual and purposed exclusively. However, in our need for acceptance, approval and affirmation of others, we develop tight social circles. The Christian club is called church.

Before we go any farther, this is not a church bashing session of any kind but rather a religion smashing to allow resurrection life to flow through us into our congregations. Conformity is hidden in tradition. Tradition is that which is handed down generationally. It is the inherited way of thinking, acting and believing that many shape their life around based on the opinion or adopted practices of another. It is a continuing pattern of cultural beliefs marked by conformity to that particular standard. When we choose to live a customary life based on the culture in which we live, a limitation is immediately placed on our life as we begin to conform to society. We are not called to be conformist at all unless it is to the standard of Jesus Christ. God wants to transform me into a new person. He begins by changing the way I think. As I begin to learn God’s Will for my life, I find that it is good, pleasing and perfect so my desire is to seek Christ and not the attention of others.

Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Christian culture is established in a building called church. However, once Jesus died on the Cross releasing us from the bondage of sin and giving us His Spirit along with resurrection power, believers are no longer limited to live at the altar of God in a temple but rather we become God’s Temple where His Spirit lives. In this age of revival, congregations have a great desire to see the Power of God manifested in our gatherings. However, if we hold on to traditions of well-constructed religion conformed to any standard or example other than Jesus Christ, it simply will not happen. It is imperative that every religious organization examine its relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ raising its expectation while tearing down every barrier and removing those obstacles of tradition that are hindering the next Great Move of God.

I remember singing, “Old Time Religion” in the red covered hymnal of church. One of the verses conclude that “it is good enough for me.” The author is right. Old time religion is good enough for me verses the new watered down version a lot of people are tossing off the pulpit today, but I am challenged deep in my heart and from the depth of my soul to ask Jesus to examine my life and point out that which is religious in me. To shine the Light of His Love into the dark corners of traditionalism and habitual Christianity that has taken over so it can give way to resurrection life again. Life begins with a commitment to living in covenant with Christ forming a radical relationship that becomes an epic love affair. If we conform to any other standard than Jesus, our relationship with Him becomes limited. God called and created us to live a limitless life. Jesus called it a rich and satisfying life. Abundant. Conformity restricts such an outpouring but transformation allows us to live in it.

We are to have one heart, one mind and one purpose in our fellowship with Jesus. It is all about Him. When we deviate in purpose or allow our heart to become divided, our gathering is nothing more than a religious social circle or Christian club. However, God empowered us to live in His Resurrection Power. In our commitment to one another with commonality in Christ, revival is sparked.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Every church has religious people. There are hypocrites on every row. We do not gather together to establish some kind of order but to grow, develop and mature our faith as a unit. Why? We are after one thing – Jesus Christ. Our faith is demonstrated by our belief that pushes us to know Him more and be like the Lord. This is not based on rules or regulations. The Letter of the Law was completely fulfilled by Christ. It is the terms of covenant but not the measurement of truth. Our standard is Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. He planted the seed in us before we were born. He is the one that will harvest it when we meet Him face-to-face. What we do with it in the meantime is called free will and personal choice. Examining the fruit of our life determines the source.

To say that “birds of a feather flock together” within our churches would be accurate. Even though the Lord established us in unity with one heart and mind fully consumed in Christ, this is not always how it turns out. Over time, habits become tradition. So groups of individuals establish rules of order called doctrine. With the passage of time, these become ingrained in our thinking. If we are not careful, it will become the evaluating standard in our congregations.

Jesus Christ is the standard who transforms our ordinary life into something extraordinary. It is the Lord that takes our natural circumstances to produce supernatural outcomes. We are to imitate God not man.

Matthew 15:1-3 (NLT) Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

How do I know if I am a traditionalist? I want to know because I do not want my life limited by tradition or religion. My heart’s desire is to be like Jabez who prayed, Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request. (I Chronicles 4:10) I want God’s Blessing on my life. I am asking the Lord to expand my territory. I cannot do this if I live in conformity to any other practice or standard than the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 15:1-14 is a conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. They wanted to know why the followers of Jesus did not participate in religious practices such as ceremonial handwashing. Traditionalists will critique and question those who do not live according to their doctrine. Comparison is beneficial according the standard set. Our example is Jesus Christ. Living by His Grace, it is a limitation to be subject to the law because that is a contradiction of the Power of His Love given on the Cross.

Mark 7:8-9 (NLT) For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.

The same account is found in Mark 7. Jesus tells the Pharisees that while ignoring God’s Law that they have substituted it with tradition. We are no longer bound by sin. We are not captive to the Law because our debt has been paid by Jesus. To bind our life to the rules and regulations of religion is to somehow indicate that the sacrifice of Christ was not enough to cover it so we now need to work for some more. God’s Word never contradicts itself. His Word will not return to Him void always accomplishing what it set out to do. Jesus told the Pharisees that “you cancel the word of God for the sake of your traditions.” Don’t believe me. God’s Word offers a message of whoever will should come and drink freely of living water. (Revelation 22:17) Pastor reads it and everyone agrees until the smelly homeless man shows up with his tattoo-covered baby mama with their three stair-step children living out of a creepy, rundown van filled with their life. You gonna be the one to welcome them. Maybe that example is just a bit too raw, so let’s not be so blatantly callous. Single mama cannot control her unruly babies in church and is messing up your worship, what do you do? A man comes to sit by you reeking of smoke and alcohol – are you offended that he came to church in such a state? The young woman arrives in a too short dress and too high heels with a face full of Maybelline including false lashes. Do you judge her when she walks in? Tradition has a dress code for salvation. Customs put our opinions higher than the Love of Jesus for all mankind. The fact that a person is differentiated by any distinguishing factor other than the contents of their heart is appalling to the Lord. He desires to send the revival that we cry out for – but what if we don’t like how it looks, what it smells like or God forbid it inconveniences our life? When God’s Word and our life do not line up – there is a heart problem hindering our relationship and limiting His Spirit from moving in us and through us.

Matthew 15:10-14 (NLT) Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

It is easy to get caught up in the habitual Christianity called religion. To place standards and limitations on our life through traditionalism. The Lord could see the heart of the people and his disciples. Even though his followers had witnessed everything that Jesus was doing, it’s clear that they did not fully understand. “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees…?” In that moment, the Pharisees became “greater” than the Lord to them. Oh Jesus…Precious Jesus! As believers who desire an effective connection to Jesus Christ, we must live in relationship to Him. A religious spirit gives way to a traditional approach to God that will not allow us to enter the Presence of Jesus and live there. It is important to constantly and completely evaluation our connection to the Lord based on how we serve Him. We must surrender habitual servitude for complete surrender.

Tradition limits our life to what has already been done. Religion establishes perimeters and boundaries around us that are inescapable as they nullify grace giving power over our life to another. It doesn’t matter what I wear, the words I speak or the things that I do, if my life does not yield a harvest of spiritual fruit. The abundance of our mouth relays the production of our heart. What are you saying? I am challenged by this today. I am deeply convicted of my perception of Christianity in terms of traditionalism. I have some things that are habitual that need to be invested in the supernatural again. Do you?

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

To be completely transparent, about a year ago I was ready to give up on organized religion. Not Jesus, but church. Tired of the politics and people, I tried to find God’s Blessing in falling off the doctrinal grid to simply follow the Lord. I tried. I truly was committed to stop going to church. This is not God’s Will for our life as He clearly does not want us to forsake fellowship. I began attending youth services with our kids. I sat in the back and fought the all-too-familiar spark inside me. We finally visited the church. The preacher taught from the Word. The people were awesome. The Holy Spirit dwells there. However, reading the doctrine almost kept me from joining. Why? There were items in the doctrine that I do not necessarily agree with. Traditional beliefs tagged on to a list of characteristics. Let’s be real together, you may not agree with everyone in your congregation. Yet Jesus told us to come together to form the Body of Christ.

Imitate God in everything you do. Live a life of love following Jesus. This is evidence of a transformed life. Go to church but don’t let religion and tradition take over. Our churches need revival just like all those who live according to worldly standards. How do I know? Where is Resurrection Life? Where is the healing Power of God? Where is the Light of His Love? Where are the true worshippers joined together in Spirit and Truth? Are the altars full? Are people waiting in line to get in? Are we still restricted to schedules and programs or does the Spirit have His Way in all we do? I believe that when we abolish religious tradition and come together as the Body of Christ, there will be revival. We will see the greater things promised by Christ. When the birds that flock together are committed to imitating God and loving like Jesus without conforming to the world or religion – revival will come!

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NLT) May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

The Mystery of Fellowship

The Mystery of Fellowship

Ephesians 3:8-12 (NKJV)

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

Friendship. Relationship. Companionship. Fellowship. It is the interworking of people networking through life that incorporates our heart, mind and eventually our soul with others. Intimacy creates soul ties not easily broken yet ripped apart by division and discord. The Body of Christ is not exempt. I have been a member of churches that would eventually split and venture off in separate directions. How is that even possible when our only goal is Jesus? Does He veer off in different directions? Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) God does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) No one came come to the Father but by Jesus. (John 14:6) The Lord is quite clear concerning His Thoughts on division among believers. It is written in His Word, “Now I plead with you, Brethren (or believers, Body of Christ, Christians, disciples, followers of Jesus, whatever you have named your pursuit of God and His Kingdom) by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…” To be a Child of the Living God is to live in pursuit of fellowship with the Lord, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The impact for those who engage in this endeavor will develop, grow and blossom into a prospering fellowship among all believers.

Yet in this age of small groups, culture groups, traditional Sunday School and church gatherings, there continues to be discord and division in the family of the Living God. Rather than pursuing greater understanding of who the Lord is and what He desires of us, the church has taken on a whole new cause. In attempt to prove that their way is right, it has become locked in a mudslinging war amongst itself. God hates it. Jesus is broken hearted. The Holy Spirit is intent on changing it. Fellowship is important. Not the kind of friendships and acquaintances that the world engages in, but rather the type of relationships that we have been called to and equipped by His Love to participate in.

 

Psalm 63:1-3 (NKJV)

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your Power and Your Glory. Because Your Lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

 

The primary source of growth and development of true fellowship, the kind that the Lord desires for us to have, begins with Jesus Christ. A daily pursuit of His Love, Grace, Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom that gives us a desire for greater things in our life connections and relationships. The change in our heart produced by Jesus Christ begins to give us a new perspective on people and the role they play in our life. A firm foundation of faith wrapped up in confident hope allows us to love other without expectation from them. This makes grace flow through the inner workings to bind us to one another. We must have a thriving and earnest relationship with Jesus Christ to move into a place of constant companionship that will carry over into all our interaction with others in life. One cannot engage in godly fellowship without being likeminded. To accept Jesus as Savior and not make Him Lord places our life in a gray abyss. We no longer interact with the same people or do the same things because there is an immediate heart change, but unless He becomes Lord producing a life change, those same individuals are forces to move forward or drift back forsaking their new found freedom once again. When Jesus is our Savior and Lord, it changes our heart and life which gives us a desire to fellowship with those who believe as well.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV)

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

What is fellowship? It is friendly relationships. It is companionship. To be joined together by a common interest or cause. People come together many times on this basis. There is power in this kind of unity. 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us as believers to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. This does not mean to avoid such people, ignore them or in any way, shape or form abandon them. We are called to share the Gospel of God’s Love with every person who we come in contact with in word and deed. To be yoked means to join, couple, link or unite. It is like the harness used to join two animals together to share the same burden like oxen or horses. Their strength is increased in the pairing of the two. The Lord is telling us that such a connection with those who do not believe should be avoided. Why? There is not a common interest or cause therefore the two will oppose each other and the weaker will give in to the stronger animal. It is counterproductive as we fight a battle that is unnecessary and clearly to be avoided as it is stated in the Word of God. We love and seek to serve unbelievers to lead them to the Love of God. But we are never to “yoke” our life according to their purpose.

Our cause must always be Christ. When it becomes any other objective, opposition arises and churches quake splitting down the middle showing the world around us that we are not untied in cause or purpose without true revelation of God’s Love. We must come to an agreement. Christ above all agendas, schedules, personal tastes and preferences. This is what unites the Body of Christ. It is the very thing that will spark a fire of revival again.

Ephesians 5:8-12 (NKJV)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

I John 1:5-7 (NKJV)

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

True fellowship with Jesus is to avoid darkness completely and live in the Light of His Love with character and integrity each day taking one step closer to Jesus and moving farther away from the darkness of the past. To do so will cause a change in the relationships once had with other people. This is true of most positive change in life as well. If you were once an alcoholic, but now choose a clean and sober life. Your drinking buddies will one day stop calling because you have nothing in common anymore. Single friends will slowly drift away from married couples as their goals in life now differ. It is human nature for relationships to come and go. Jesus is constant. He never changes. As He becomes the premise of our life, our relationships will change. It is okay. Yes, He will heal the hurting heart when love leaves. But the real love that is found in Christ will fill every void left by wandering people and wavering hearts around us.

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (NKJV)

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

 

The fellowship of ministering to the saints. The Churches of Macedonia were suffering great trial of affliction and poverty that they gave with great joy and abounded in freedom. They did not allow the challenges of their life impact their fellowship full engaged and completely generous in their absolute surrender to the ministry of the saints. What is that? I believe it is to never forsake the coming together of like-minded people in Jesus Christ. To fully participate in becoming like-minded and growing in the Grace of God together. It goes on to say as you abound in EVERYTHING – faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, love and grace. Understand that this life will not get any better, it will always hate Jesus. You and I cannot change how the world feels about the Kingdom of God but by continuing to put aside our opinions and personal agendas to pursue true fellowship and absolute unity. The commonality between us is not how we choose to worship but Who we worship with our whole heart and every fiber of our being. When yoked to other believers in a thriving relationship, a constant source of comfort, encouragement and unity become a cord that we use to bind ourselves to the Altar of God as we pursue Him together.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

As a teenager, our youth group had a weekly Bible study and fellowship. Each gathering included a devotion and prayer. In the modern church, small groups and culture groups gather in homes, restaurants, basketball courts, shopping malls, and just about any other place you can think of. They call it fellowship. Maybe. Is Jesus in it? See fellowship is formed by a common cause or interest. If that interest is anything other than Jesus and He is not glorified during our time together, we are pursuing a hobby or interest. The work begun in us by Jesus Christ relies on the constant molding and shaping of the Word of God, Holy Spirit and friends who are in our life to become the iron that sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17) We must not become distracted by trying to find a common interest other Jesus Christ. But dwelling so deeply in Him, that any other interest or gathering that we embark on will bring Glory to His Name.

There has always been power in unity. The Tower of Babel is the perfect example. The people united in cause were able to do extraordinary things but apart from the Will of God their efforts would end in confusion as the Lord disrupted their communication. (Genesis 11:1-9) There are many towers that have risen in these dark times and some include the word “church” attached to them. Like-minded people forming a fellowship on a cause other than Christ with a convoluted message and disgrace of grace. They have not made Christ the foundation and one day, it will be evident in their fall. To preserve our fellowship as pure, holy and godly requires a constant connection to Christ with full examination of our heart going in. As we fellowship with others, it should be yoking those believers who pursue Christ wholeheartedly and blending our lives together in God’s Love. By doing so, God will bless every relationship born of our love for Jesus – body, mind and spirit. Jesus is our cause. Nothing else will do as it becomes a fiery passion for souls. This will grow into a strong desire and willingness to share the faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, love and grace discovered as we prosper in Jesus Christ together. Our souls will prosper. Life will get better in the Presence of God in fellowship with His People. It is in harmony with all believers that we solve the mystery of fellowship growing in God’s Love, Grace and Mercy together.

Psalm 133:1-2 (NKJV)

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.

Make Today Special

Make Today Special

I Corinthians 14:1-4 (NLT)

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

Opening my eyes in the twilight of dawn with the bed just a little too comfortable to peel myself out of quite yet, I began to pray. I heard my voice say, “Lord, make today special.” It just stuck with me. I wasn’t really sure who thought of the words. Was it me? Was it God’s Spirit trying to motivate my soul? It ended my prayer time abruptly and now I had to get up. Lord – what does it mean to “make it special”? Diving headfirst into the Word of God, I began wading through Genesis and Exodus – one thing is clear – God made us to be His Special Possession. As I lingered in Leviticus reading endless accounts of prescribed worship written as provision of the Law, it was clear sin had made it impossible to follow it down to the letter. People would be endlessly sacrificing every piece of livestock that they had to maintain a relationship with the Lord. But still there would need to be a facilitator or priest to help them in their cause. But the word “special” kept popping up. Now I know that it is the particular text I was using that made this word prevalent, but naturally my Father knows what I read and will work through His Word any way He sees fit to open my heart and massage my soul to fully embrace this life of faith and confident hope that I am after. One thing is clear. It is special.

Toward the end of the Book, I am in I Corinthians – the scathing letter from Paul to the church in Corinth, it seems that he is using the build – burn – build philosophy to accomplish his goal. Church without commitment to Christ is nothing more than a performance but he talks about the “special” gifts that we are given to edify and equip one another. We are God’s Special Possession. He makes that clear. Special people have been given special gifts but religion makes these terms all churchy and the enemy uses that to silence the special things God wants to do in our lives as His Children. For example, the ability to prophesy. Every single person who knows the Word of God intimately can prophesy. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God writes it on our heart and works to wrap our mind around it so it becomes a part of our knowledge and understanding turning it to wisdom that guides our life. It is the sowing and reaping of the heart, mind and soul in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. It is not spooky and heavily misused in some denominations. Hope is the evidence of things to come not things that existence in the natural already. So prophesy makes sense among a hopeful people who are sowing seeds of righteousness (obedience) in full expectation that what they hope for by faith will come to pass. The foundation of our hope is faith but the substance is actually the Word. If God didn’t say it, there is no need or reason to hope for it because it is not of God. Without knowledge of the Word of God, how will you ever know if what you are saying to others or what they are saying to you is worth hoping for?

The Word of God says that the one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. The church is not the four walls in which people worship but the complete Body of Christ. The way we worship effects the unification of the church around the world. We are part of a special procession called the Sons and Daughters of God. We have been given the Power of God in the Holy Spirit and the Will of God called the Word. This combined with access into the Presence of God by His Way in His Son, Jesus Christ, now we can come boldly to receive our directive and carry it with that same boldness into the world wrapped tightly in love. Today becomes special when love is our highest goal. When we speak, we are enabled and equipped as believers to deliver a prophetic word to other people. Are we doing it? If not, why?

Proverbs 19:1-3 (NLT)

Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool. Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

If you won the lottery tomorrow and made a million dollars, do you think it would change your life for the better? Many people do and spend thousands of dollars that their family could use to make some of those changes hoping to hit the jackpot. I wonder what would happen if rather than tithing on tickets that tithed to the Lord. God wants to bless us. He tells us in His Word how to be rich. We don’t like this thing called obedience so we live our life on random chance. Even the church suffers in this way. Radical obedience to God will make you wealthy in ways that you never dreamed of as God does more than we could think to ask for.

We have excellent health insurance. It has paid for our son’s cancer treatment more than other companies usually do and approved treatment but after his fifth round of cancer treatment when it became clear that something radical and different might be needed. The approvals stopped and the insurance company denied us so many times I forgot what acceptance felt like. I exhausted every single effort possible and no one would authorize further care for our son. I was devastated. I could not believe what I was hearing. If they overrode the rejection and approved it, it would open the company up to liability in every other patient who wanted to try something different and possibly unproven. Money has its limits. But God! The truth is that while the money was coming in and approval received – things were moving along fine except the cancer kept coming back faster and stronger. It was when all human efforts were exhausted and the only thing left was our faith that the real miracle took place. The day after the last door closed and the world said, “No!” to our son. God said, “YES!” No one is really quite sure where the approval came from but I know! Our son has been in remission for over a year now because God said, “Yes!” Not when everything ran out but the night that our Son was diagnosed the first time and God told me, “Your son will live and not die to declare my works.” It is in God’s Word so therefore confirmed. So what do you think I carried into His Presence with me when he was diagnosed again and again? The very words I reiterated as I prayed about each denial. See God’s Word cannot and will not return to us void but if our enthusiasm is not attached to sound knowledge, firm understanding and godly wisdom then we have nothing to hold on to that will make today any different than yesterday or the day before! Our words are powerless, strength useless and future questionable outside of God’s Word and Power in our life.

I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

 

God has poured out His Special Favor on us. His Spirit resides in us and will change our life in any way that we allow Him to do so. Each surrendered area emptied of sin is fit for inhabitation of the Spirit of the Living God. In this capacity, the Spirit works all things together for the good of those who love God. He helps us in our weakness. He is the Greater in us than he that is in this world. As we invite the Lord to change us from the inside out and make our life resemble that of the special possession – we are asking the Lord to teach us obedience because the blessing is prescribed and our destiny secure. We are the variable factor that must be established. God does not force His Love and Power on us. We invite Him. He waits for us to come closer to bless us. These are not my words but all promises found in His Word. I don’t know this because I bang my head against the Bible until I get it. It is through a love and trust relationship with God and the fire of testing that has burned it into my heart. It was well worth it. My life is filled with hope just because He lives. I tried everything to protect all my children since they were born. I failed or at least thought I did when my son was diagnosed. I even tried relentlessly to make it my fault until the Lord refused to allow me to take the blame. I have stayed by his side every step of the way right into the door slammed heavily in his face. I have found that the cost of life is about $650,000 because that was pretty much the end of their payment and even though he might die they refused to risk another dollar on human life even when their medical director believed that it would save his life. They just couldn’t take the risk. The world does not know love. It doesn’t value human life. Only God calls us His Special Possession even wracked with sin, He loves us, desires us, and sees great potential in us. We make this day special by surrendering our mind, soul and body to the Lord for His Use. Not our way, but His Way. Anything good in our life is God. Anything worthwhile is all about Him. We cannot survive this life and step into Eternity without Him.

Isaiah 1:16-19 (NLT)

Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.

 

The word “special” means something that is distinct and different from that which is ordinary or usual. If you want something to change in your life, it requires do something different. If that “special” thing is a God thing, it requires settling our heart and mind on Jesus – nothing more and nothing less. Finding out His Way, and living it. Isaiah 1:11-15 is riveting. God asks the people the meaning of all the sacrifices going on to say it was not at all what He wanted or desired. Festivals, celebrations, services and performances that are centered on self rather than doing the Will of God. In Ezekiel 16:6-22, the salvation of the Lord leading to prostitution of self into religious servitude. Serving God to get something rather than celebrating who He is and all He has done for us. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Today is changed in the commitment to make this day special by loving and honestly serving the God of our Salvation beginning with loving Him with all of our mind, body and soul and loving others as He loves us. Our whole life could be caught up in just trying to achieve that one goal. Are you blessing the lives of those around you by speaking God’s Word into their life, seeing them as God sees them, hearing their heart and not always focusing on their banter. The foundation of our life is this “though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow” wrapped in the promise that if you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. This is not literal but can be translated you will have a rich and satisfying life just like Jesus promised. Obedience creates change in the life of a believer. Faith that that thing we hope for will come to pass enough to hold on to God’s Word until it does. Forming all our responses in life in strict adherence to what God says rather than what mankind randomly predicts. When we do, our words will be the catalyst of change that will start a revival because all the special parts have come together to spark a revival. Will you be one of those people who join me in saying, “Lord, make today special”? Will you do whatever it takes to know Him more and follow Jesus? Those who do will be the change that makes life special!

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. 

Family Dinner – A Devotion

Family Dinner

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

 

Ever since we were married, “family dinner” was instituted in our home. No matter what everyone is doing the television is turned off (most of the time), the cellphones are left behind, and we join each other to eat our evening meal even to this day. This may sound a bit old-fashioned and too routine for the fast-paced families of today. But I regret to inform you that if this is not an ongoing event in your home, you are missing out on one of the biggest benefits and blessings your family will ever know. The American Family has become more like roommates and carpoolers who simply use one another to co-exist rather than developing the deep bond of unity that empowers growth in relationships and respect. When the kids were small, they did not necessarily appreciate the nightly intrusion into their lives but we did more than eat at the crowded little table. We talked. To each other. About everything.

More than half of our brood are grown and gone now, but they know that each night there is a family gathering around the table. They will call and ask what time or what’s for dinner knowing that there is always room for them there. Now that the older children are gone, I find that the younger two are more vocal. The no longer must compete with their older siblings. My husband and I laugh a lot about our fourth child who has come out of her shell as the oldest in our home now. She talks about everything all the time. When you consider that she is almost fifteen years old, it is evident what a rare treasure this is. Most teenagers hide away from their parents until they decide they are smarter than they once thought. We love this time together each night. Sometimes it is a struggle when I am late leaving work, overwhelmed by my day, and must hurry home and rush to get dinner on the table but it is always worth the sacrifice when I finally fall into the chair. The Lord has invited us to pray about everything. I think we can sum up this invitation subtly as He is saying, “Talk to me…” That is one of the things family dinner does at our home, it is an invitation to take to each other.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

“Always” and “never” are definitive words. They leave no room for compromise. How can you always be joyful? How can we never stop praying? We are instructed to “be” thankful in “all” circumstances. Again, definitive words. Why? This is God’s Will for our life in Jesus Christ. Joy and thankfulness are a product of a life spent in prayer. But who has time for that? I barely have enough time in the day to do the things that I “have” to do. Maybe if we looked at prayer more as conversation with God like the one experienced each night when families have dinner together, we will get a better idea of what our prayer life could be like.

People have to eat to survive. Now all my people are big enough to fend for themselves in the kitchen with a refrigerator and pantry filled with food not to mention a freezer in the garage. Everything they need to sustain life is in one of those three places and the kitchen has all the tools and utensils to make it all happen. This is how one might survive without family dinner. However, when a meal is prepared and shared something happens as we talk together. Laughing, talking, and voicing concerns over our day. We build one another up together while we eat together. As believers, we have everything we need to survive. God supplies it all. (Philippians 4:19) It is the fellowship with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that empowers our life. When we decide to “talk” to God about everything and never stop praying. We become joyful. We are thankful. Our prayer life is simply conversing with God. As we become friends of God trusting Him and believing in Him, we will confide in Him. Causal conversations with the Lord tend to reveal His Will and Power in our life just as when we talk and share with our family! This is what it means to pray without ceasing or never stopping. The Lord whispers just talk to me…

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

Our family is not perfect. There are times when there is a disagreement or falling out. It is still required to come to the table when called for dinner. This is a place of healing and restoration as suddenly the offense is forgotten over food and family. The Lord invites us to keep asking, seeking and knocking with the promise that you keep on pursing Him, it will eventually come to pass in our life according to His Will. Jesus said, “If we believe, we ask and will receive.” (John 14:12-14) The results that we are asking for, searching for and knocking on Heaven’s door are all found in our relationship with Jesus. These promises are where He is. When we call to the Lord from where we are expecting Him to meet us where we want to be, we miss the connection found when we gather in the Lord’s Presence. Everything we want must be in line with the Will of God. How can we do that?

John 1:1-5 (NLT)

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

 

John 1:14 (NLT)

 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

 

Jesus Christ the Word of God. He is God’s Will for our life. To live in relationship with Jesus allows all of God’s Promises, Blessing and Inheritance to become ours. If we do what the Word says, follow His Instructions and pray the Word over our life, we will have the outcomes we desire. Although we often think of things that we desire, what we are really after is contentment and satisfaction which means our wants may already exist in our life – we just haven’t discovered them yet. The Word and Will of God for our life was established before we were created. People were created through the Word who is Jesus. Hard to wrap our head around I know, but if we can just get Him into our heart. He will change our mind and impact our thoughts and empower our lives. To know Jesus we must know the Word. To have what Jesus left for us means that we must pray the Word over our lives.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

After it says pray about everything, it goes on to tell us to fix our thoughts. I believe prayer fixes our thoughts. Just like talking about our day with one other over dinner offers insight to each other and to us as parents. We see into our children’s lives and can offer wisdom. It tells us what they want and what they are thinking giving us perspective. I believe that prayer can actually “fix” our thoughts. It does mine anyway. When I am overwhelmed, overcome, exhausted and frustrated rather than telling the Lord what I want Him to do about it, I simply spill my guts to Him like I would my husband or best friend. He didn’t ask me to fix it. Prepackage it with a fancy discourse. Get on my knees. Fall on my face. Head off to church. He said, “Ask me. Seek me. Pursue me. Just believe in me enough to bring it to me…” That’s when the Holy Spirit puts a spin on things that might just change my perspective without changing any natural circumstance in my life. Faith that moves mountains begins by moving men (and women) from outside of His Presence shouting through the door to stepping boldly into His Presence for a chat.

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT)

“Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

 

I love these verses. They describe the kind of relationship that Jesus wants with each one of us. We pray from afar, but He says, “Come and talk with me.” This is the kind of prayer that the Lord desires. He just wants to talk with you. The Lord desires intimacy with you. He wants a relationship with you. Jesus wants to live in an ongoing conversation with you. You can only hear Him with your heart. A superficial acquaintance or one-night stand with a quick trip to the altar will never change your life. We walk through life together. When our daughter got married, family dinner was a bit awkward at first. One less person to fill our table. I was afraid that now she was gone and we might be forgotten. Well, that was not the case our conversation continued from the moment she left her wedding reception and through her married life. We live in a lifelong relationship. It’s funny because she still expects us to have family dinner each night and will call to see if the two of them can join us. I love that. Our table is not getting smaller but growing in our midst. This is how conversational prayer changes our life in Christ. Rather than surviving, we begin to thrive in the Love of God. (Jude 1:20-21) The Lord is calling you back home to the table. He wants you to join Him. Fellowship with Him. Talk to Him. Know Him. Believe Him. God loves you! He wants to bless you. He says, “Come and talk with me.” May your heart respond…”Lord, I am coming!”

Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

On Friendship – A Devotion

On FriendshipJohn 15:9-14 (NLT)

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”

 

God loves relationships. Jesus Christ died to restore our friendship with God. Sin disabled our ability to remain righteous and stand in the Presence of the Living God for His Love and Justice would consume us in our weakness. The Blood of Jesus now covers mankind and all who decide to accept the Wonderful Gift of Salvation has the ability to live in close fellowship with the Lord. Notice that it is a gift of choice, salvation is required by all but not forced on God’s People. The Blood of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will allow a human being to pass through God’s Judgment untouched and unharmed, but the choice is still yours whether or not you choose to lean on God’s Love and Amazing Grace. What does God require of you in exchange for His Gift of Love nothing more than to be His Friend?

 

Relationships, companionship and friendship are the lifelong desire of every single person who is born. It is a God-given drive and emotion stemming from Eternity that is in your heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God’s Passionate Love has placed a measure of faith in our heart that allows us to still believe that there may be hope in this world and prods us to love even with broken devastated hearts passed amongst many unfaithful and unworthy recipients. God invites you to gather the many pieces of your broken heart today and bring them all into close fellowship with the healer. The Lord will heal your broken heart and bind up those wounds. (Psalm 147:3) His Word allows us to put proper perspective and expectation on earthly relationships compared to our close fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. (Psalm 119:63) Those who choose to seek the Lord’s Wisdom concerning friendships and walk in righteousness will have many friends. (Proverbs 11:30) God will bless you in your friendships and relationships when they are modeled after the Lord’s Example of Love. Yes, we are to lay down our life for our friends but not our salvation.

 

Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT)

Enoch lived 365 years walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

 

Enoch lived 365 years walking in close fellowship with God. Can we make 365 days living in close fellowship with the Lord? I have read this account many times and only today realized the revelation in this scripture. God does not desire a relationship with His People that equates to 52 days or a maximum of 104. One out of seven days or two at the most is not a friendship, but merely an acquaintance. Consider Noah who also was noted to live in “close fellowship” with God as a righteous man. Outside of righteousness, no one can walk in close proximity to God. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His Throne. For Him to accept us living in the corruption of sin would be contrary to His Will, His Way and His Word compromising the Truth altogether. Why would God want those who trample the Blood of Jesus Christ and blaspheme His Spirit by taking the Word and twisting it to make their life acceptable be welcome in the Presence of the Loving Father of our Lord and Savior? Consider this: if one of your children was in a horrific accident and committed to be an organ donor – how would feel about the one who got their heart living in obesity with diabetes because of a careless lifestyle doing nothing with the new lease on life given them? Or what if the person with new lungs was a chain smoker? What if the person with the new liver continued to be an alcoholic destroying the new organ given at the expense of your child’s life? If it were my own child, I would be enraged and angered at such a thing and I believe you would be, too. Each second chance taken for granted, yet I had no power to change the poor choices of others. What would you do? Why would God think any less of trampled grace at the expense of His Son? To choose righteousness and live in close fellowship with God requires honoring the sacrificial offering of His Son, Jesus and living as a friend of God first. Then we must choose our relationships according to our friendship with God always keeping our commitment to the Lord as the basis of all relationships in the future. How many days of your week are committed to your friendship with God? Is your relationship to Jesus Christ the foundation of all other unions in your life?

 

I Samuel 20:14-17 (NLT)

And may you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David,saying, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!” And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.

 

Jonathan and David would be the picture of best friends in the Bible. When their friendship was threatened by King Saul, they came up with an elaborate plan to determine the king’s intentions concerning David. The words of this friendship pact make it clear that they considered the Lord as a primary member of their relationship. “May you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord…” All of our friendships should be formed and channeled through our Love for God and commitment to righteousness. Salvation is the moment that all that we are and all that we know is rerouted through the Blood of Jesus. Some things will make the cut and others will not. Some people will support our salvation and others will not. Our entire life is now evaluated from an Eternal perspective formed on a foundation of faith and leading to confident hope. It is the direction that we are heading and not turning back some people will choose not to follow. Keep walking. Do not turn back. Is it time to reevaluate our fellowship with the Lord? Maybe it is time to reaffirm our friendship with God? Close fellowship is a friendly relationship of constant communion. We share a community of interest and desire to know who God is and what He is all about. Our life will become a testament of our friendship and love no longer will we be ashamed of the Gospel because it is an opportunity to brag on our best friend who we know intimately and personally and more importantly who knows us!

 

Job 2:11-13 (NLT)

When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

 

When tragedy struck the life of Job, his three closest friends came to support their friend in great loss and devastation. It all begins as one would expect. They had compassion on their buddy and wanted to be there for him. When they arrived, Job’s grief had consumed him and they barely recognized him. And so they tore their robes, threw dust on their heads and joined him in his grief. No one said anything to Job, just stayed with him. Everything is going good so far until they decided it was time to move on and began to put their two cents in. Think about your closest friends right now. If put in a situation of great grief and despair who would come and be there? If you are going through circumstances in your life with many troubles, who is there?

 

Job 42:7-8 (NLT)

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.”

 

By the end of the Book of Job, God AND Job are angry with these three friends. In the beginning, they were Job’s comforters but their lack luster relationship with God and their unfair evaluation of Job gave way to allowing the enemy’s influence to overtake them. Having gone through many trials in life as a believer and nonbeliever, I must agree that in the heat of the fire is when friendship is tested. It is important to choose your friends wisely. You must decide who is worthy of your heart. Those who do not have a close relationship with God should not be allowed to touch you like that because they will not protect you the way that the Lord has intended or demonstrated. They want you to get over it and move on. Own up to your sin. Get on with your life. There was a young woman whose husband was led astray by the enemy. She was a relatively new Christian, but heard God’s Voice telling her to wait for her husband’s return. Her friends supported this decision in the beginning but over time even many mature Christians told her to move on. She held her ground. When her husband did return (Praise God), new wisdom made her very careful about who she told the wonderful news as they began to mend the pieces of their broken life in the Presence of God. A close friend of hers was very upset that she had not been told about the reunion and wondered why she did not tell the world what God had done. The same person began to relent about the impending failure that would come as trust was irrevocably broken and it was her experience that it could NEVER be regained. Whoa! You have your answer right there. We must be wise in our friendships and not shrewd. The only relationship in our life with the power of unconditional love, unending grace, new mercy and overflowing joy is with Jesus Christ. The only people that can demonstrate such a friendship are those who choose to be a Friend of God and then a friend with people.

 

Job 42:10-11 (NLT)

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of moneyand a gold ring.

 

God desires His People to have friendship. God will bless you in those friendships. When Job prayed for His Friends without any expectation from them only expectation from the Lord, his fortunes were restored and he received double for his trouble. If you will make your relationship with Jesus Christ a 365-day fellowship and make the Lord your best friend, you will benefit from every other relationship in your life. Do not expect your friends to do for you what Jesus did for you! Lay down your life for your friends because that is what the Lord expects from you! But expect the Goodness of the Lord and His Very Best and now you are operating in the Favor of God. You are His Friend by faith and everything else is counted as joy!

 

Psalm 25:11-4 (NLT)

For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.

 

Do you have “church” friends? If you do, it is a good chance that you are living a double life because you have friends for all occasions. I have some friends who only contact me when they are in trouble or searching for Jesus but when they are living in the world remain distant. The Lord is a friend to those who fear Him not by means of fright but respect. If you are a friend of God, it is reflected in how you live because you desire to remain in close fellowship with Him. Knowing that sin puts a barrier between you, you will live in such a way that if you come face-to-face with Him in a moment you can face him. I would not betray my husband. He is my friend. I act married whether I am with him or not because I love him and have given my life to him. So why would living in “close fellowship” with the Lord be any different? Do you live as though you are the Bride of Jesus Christ wherever you go and whatever you do 365 days a year? God will teach you to please him. After fifteen years together, I know what my husband likes and dislikes and choose to do the things that make him happy. He does the same things for me because we are committed to a lifelong relationship. Why would it be any different in an Eternal one?

 

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

 

When a cut does not heal properly, it must be reopened so it can sutured once again. It requires that the old scar and surrounding skin must be cut away and then re-approximated so the new tissue can mend together. The open wounds of the human heart cannot be healed by callous friendship that does not go deeper. It must be a relationship founded on the Word of God, walking in the Will of God, seeking the Way of God to be a friendship of sharpening. I have friends that will say what I want to hear in order to maintain the façade of friendship. But when I am going through something, I go to my closest friends who know the Word and more importantly are Friends of God. Real friends will lay down their life for you including telling you things you may not want to hear as long as it based on God’s Truth. Sometimes we avoid the Lord and His Spirit because His Word cuts to the heart of the matter. Our friendships must align with the Word of God to be effective and productive. “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.” (Hebrews 4:12) 

 

 

Psalm 55:12-14 (NLT)

It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—I could have hidden from them.Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend.  What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.

 

We expect our enemies to attack us, but seldom do we expect the attack of close friends who are used by the enemy of our souls in ignorance. Such encounters cut the human heart in pieces for easy consumption by your adversary. I rebuke the spirit of division in the church today and call forth “Jonathan and David” partnerships. We need each other in the Body of Christ to fulfill the mission of love we have been sent on. Friendships founded on the Word of God by people committed to the Lord 365-days will not end in failure but will thrive in God’s Favor. It begins by walking in close fellowship with God. Are your God’s Friend? Abraham was called such a man. When the Lord gave Abraham his heart’s desire then demanding the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham did not hesitate because he knew God was his friend and trusted him with his precious boy. God is asking you today, “Do you trust me?” To be his friend will requires sacrificing the need for human affirmation, affection, acceptance and approval to purse righteousness and live in His Favor? I ask you, “Do you trust Him like that?” God invites you to embark in the most passionate love affair of all time. His Love will consume you! He wants to be your friend. Your faith and actions must work together. You cannot love someone you do not trust. You will not follow anyone you do not trust. You will not trust someone you do not love. Gather the pieces of your heart that have been diversified looking for love and give them all to Jesus. He will mend your broken heart and allow you to give your life away expecting nothing in return because you are a Friend of God and have all you need already!

 

James 2:22-23 (NLT)

You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

Time Out – A Devotion

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slaveand was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

It is time for a time out people! Calling all Christians, followers of Christ and Children of God let’s huddle up for a moment! Here is a simple reminder that so that we do not lose sight of who we are and where we are going. It comes straight from the top “at the Name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, in Heaven and on the earth and under the earth and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”! It is extremely important that once again we realize that we are working on the same team together to draw as many men, women and children to the Love of God through Jesus Christ while somehow managing to maintain faithful and obedient in our own love affair with God! However, somehow we have become separated and developmentally different in our outlook and mission as we have scattered among religious doctrines and theologies. Rather than becoming the Light of the World as instructed by the Lord, the church looks more like organized chaos and impending implosion. Pentecostals versus Baptist versus Catholic versus Methodist versus Presbyterian…you get the picture. Church against church, pastor against pastor, member against member and people against people leads me to wonder whose team are we on anyway? God elevated Jesus Christ to the highest honor and gave Him the Name above all Names. He lived in humbled himself in obedience to God unto death. We won’t even tolerate insult let alone injury in the Name of God. I have called this meeting to remind us all that Jesus Christ is coming back! Look beyond the people you are ignoring, fighting, judging, shunning and/or hating to the world in which we live, when Jesus Christ gets back there will be no religion only one relationship that matters as we kneel together before the Lord. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? Yes, you will remain in His Glory forever. No, you will be leaving His Presence FOREVER.  

Philippians 2:5 (NLT) You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Do you have the attitude of Jesus Christ to all mankind? Do you love your family? Of course, I do. Do you love your friends? Most of them, most of the time, yes! Do you love your enemies? Now I would be lying if I did not admit, there are days that I struggle with that! God knows our heart and we cannot lie to the Lord because our motives are revealed every time. So why do we struggle loving other believers? The church is self-destructive in its love for each other. Rather than growing together, combining resources and impacting the world, there are churches on every street corner that seldom if ever reach out to each other unless it is to point fingers at flaws and differences rather than embracing the commonality of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” It would seem to me that if we all stopped looking so closely at our doctrine and theology and just a little bit more at the Word which is written and spoken all pointing to the identity of Jesus Christ, then maybe we would see men and women through the Light of God’s Love rather than through our own selfish judgment system. Jesus Christ is all that matters. Serving the Lord is our mission and His Requirement is love. We must have this attitude to be prepared for the day of His Arrival!

Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

This time out could produce revival if just a handful of people would take it to heart and realize that when you create division between you and just one other person that you have killed the Spirit of Revival on the spot. Children of God are all united in one family or on the same team united in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter what the other person did, we are all still family. If you harbor unforgiveness against anyone, it is sin! There is no unpardonable offense. A lack of forgiveness has left churches full of broken people unable to fix themselves. Jesus cannot and will not operate in such a spirit. There is no condemnation is Jesus Christ so why are we condemning one another! Jesus Christ is encouragement. He is comfort. His Spirit promotes fellowship among believers. His Heart is tender and compassionate. It is bent on forgiveness, love and unification. Loving one another, working together and living in agreement with one purpose and one mind is the Lord’s Goal for the church as a whole! We are not multiple kingdoms working for one cause but God’s Kingdom uniting together! Your interests are irrelevant now because your assignment is Kingdom Business. When you commit to living in His Presence and His Love, you cannot help but loving other people. His Spirit combined with His Word allows you to love like Jesus Christ. Maybe if we spent more time pouring over the Word and praying in the Spirit rather than creeping on Facebook and lashing out on Twitter, we could get this thing together before it is too late. Revival would come and greet the Lord when He returned or are we too far gone?

Philippians 2:12-15 (NLT)

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

We have to begin somewhere so why not here! If everyone on our team who is a Child of God, would begin inspecting their own life and working hard to “show the results of your salvation” in our own life rather than picking apart everyone else, it would certainly be a start. I have enough sin in my own life to contend with that I do not have time to deal with others, too. If we would focus on love as it will show our obedience to God with deep reverence or fear. What if we did everything without complaining and arguing our Pastors would no longer be referees but the coaches they are called to be. What if we lived clean and innocent lives that were clear, bright lights shining in the world rather than a flashing strobe creating confusion, others would make their way to Jesus. Who knows? We might just mess up and start a revival in the land! It certainly would be worth a try!

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

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

 

If you are having trouble attracting others to Jesus Christ, there may be a basket other your lamp today. He did not light His Love in your heart simply for your own gain or what would be the point of light. He did so that it could pour out over others. If there is something hindering your influence, it quite possibly is you! Are you spending time in the Word of God learning to love others or on social media sites? Are you spending time talking to God about those you have difficulty loving or fostering hate by backstabbing, gossiping and rejecting others? Are you cultivating the Spirit of God and His Love in your life or pointing out the flaws in others to make yourself feel better or promote your own cause? The cause of Jesus Christ does not need your help! He has overcome the world and is the Lord of every person in it! Your job is to reveal the truth about God’s Amazing Love and His Son, Jesus Christ! There should be no personal agenda or condemnation no matter what the other person did or did not do! You are the Light of the Word. Your position is high on a hilltop illuminating the Love of Jesus to a dark and dying world. It is time to step up on the lamp stand and stop putting out the lights. Your good deeds shine out for all to see especially when you step over hurt, insult and offense into forgiveness and love. Such a lifestyle will glorify God! We are all on the same team as Children of God! We all have the same mission! We are all calling out for revival! Well, I for one believe it begins here! Thanks for joining me in this time out…now let’s get back to work!

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Quality Time – A Devotion

I King 19:11-13 (NLT)

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

 

It would be safe to say that in the past couple of months, it feels as though we have experienced a windstorm, avalanche, earthquake and the fire of testing firsthand. How do you prepare for moments like this when life as you know it is totally turned upside down? Plans that were made are all forgotten as we focus on this moment searching for clarity. Busyness had overtaken our life. Our time with God was becoming more of a routine relationship rather than a passionate one. Oh we co-existed and interacted but not with the same zeal as before. Mediocrity was seeping through the refuge of our home. Everyone engrossed and busy with their own life – that is until everything changed. No one is ever really ready for trials that come, even when we are fully aware that they do. However, in the midst of the latest twist, it has become quite clear that God desires quality time with His Child. I never thought that I would be the mother of a cancer patient. I never dreamed that my son’s body would be invaded with a life threatening disease. How dare that tumor reside so close to his brain? Each devastating turn was met with the Face of God. Here I am. The tears of a mother’s broken heart were captured in my Father’s Hand. Could it be in this test as God’s works it for our good that He is gently whispering my name? Come closer. I have something to tell you. I want to spend time with you. Here is hope. Here is confident assurance. Here is my love. My child where have you been?

 

We share a room in the little lodge that is close to the hospital and clinics where my son receives treatment. Inside, there are two little twin beds side by side in a room full of medical equipment and supplies. Each night after the medicine is given, lines are flushed and nourishment begins, it has become our routine to chat before bed. It really doesn’t last long. He is exhausted from the treatments he endures and I am worn out from making sure he makes it to those appointments and follows his strict treatment regimen. However, as I lay there in listening to the methodical click of the pump that feeds him through the night – for the first time in a long time, my mind is clear. Clear of the clutter of everyday life and all the junk I choose to invest precious time worrying about. It is in that moment that I am overwhelmed by love and thankful for the quality time I am spending with my son. Oh I wish the circumstances could be much different – but sadly they are not. It makes me realize all the moments we miss spending quality time with the ones who we love including the Lord. With overflowing schedules and random demands on our time, we have nothing left for those who mean the most. There is nowhere else I could fathom being right now but here with my child. The thought of leaving him this condition causes tremendous desperation. It sparks the thought that God must feel the same way about us, too. His Children with a life-threatening disease called sin. He is desperate to be with us and help us find the Way. Elijah experienced a windstorm, avalanche, earthquake and the fire of testing firsthand and then he heard the Lord’s Whisper. Is God whispering to you today? Come closer. I want to spend some quality time with you. Can you think of loved ones who deserve the best portion of your time and may not be getting it? It’s time for a change.

 

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

How much time do you spend creating fellowship opportunities? To hold tightly to hope without wavering requires a strong faith and trust in the Lord that is only found through constant communication with Him. When was the last time your quiet time (just you and God) lasted more than ten minutes? How much of that time did you spend talking? How long did you spend listening? The only way to hold tightly to our hope is when we remain in the Presence of God. Walking outside of righteousness occurs when we choose not to spend time with the Lord. Not to mention, our absence grieves the Heart of God who has shown us how passionately He loves us by sacrificing His Only Son that we may have a relationship with Him. But the Word of God does not stop there. As believers we are to take what God shares with us to others. To motivate one another to acts of love and good works is our calling, yet too often we dismiss such an effort to spend our time providing for ourselves or chasing the American Dream. We forget our love affair with Jesus which should extend to others, too. The Lord will never give up on you and He never lets go. God will do whatever it takes to develop an intimate relationship with you. In the midst of crisis, you will find Jesus there. Just before you are overwhelmed, it is His Hand that holds you. God is calling you His Child to experience quality time in His Presence like never before. Will you answer before the disaster hits or will the Lord find you cowering in fear in need of a Savior all over again? The Lord urgently wants to establish your righteousness and make you His Glory. He wants to shine through you. How will you arrive at this place? Will it be like Elijah running in fear or will you wait for Him to meet you peacefully at home?

 

Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

 

Is the time you spend with the Lord a lifestyle or lifesaver? There is a difference. If the only time God hears your voice is when disaster strikes, guess what? I would be willing to bet that you are going to continually have great struggles in your life. However, if you develop a lifestyle love affair with the Lord allowing it to overflow to others, I think you get the picture. God doesn’t have to chase you down anymore because in a passionate relationship, there is no place you would rather be than in His Presence. I love my son. However, as he has grown and moved away to go to school, we have less and less contact. He is busy with his life and I get bogged down with work and our household. However, in the midst of this trial, I have been shaken to the core. He will be healed and go on with his amazing life God has planned for him. I will go back home and to my job, but I will never be the same. I gave too many “things” priority and that won’t happen again. Precious moments have been taken from me based on things that “had” to be done or things we thought we “had” to have. Now I know nothing is more precious than time with the people God has placed in my life. There is nothing more pressing than more of Jesus in my life. The only thing I can take with me to Eternity is my soul and those who I have introduced to Jesus Christ. That’s all that matters. It should be the basis of quality time in my life.

 

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT)

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion and there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

Harmony is agreement and accord. It is to be consistent and pleasing. God desires such a relationship with His People and for His People to continue this arrangement amongst themselves. Quality time is lost in the buzz of television, cable, internet and the chaos of life. We have lost touch with each other and too often God, too. We give God about as much time as it takes to cook microwave popcorn as the world has dulled our senses. What is quality time? It is an unforced conversation without the distractions of life. It is quiet moments with the Lord or another when our own needs do not come first. It is a harmonious relationship in the midst of God’s Kingdom. Anointing flows from God to His People this way. His Power is peaked when His Body is in unison and one accord. What has happened to the quality time in your life? Quality time equals a quality life. Without it, we are living wasted moments and missed opportunities outside the Perfect Will of God. Rearrange your schedule today. Give God a slot. Stop working Him in like an Add-on. Make the Lord a VIP. Try family dinner tonight with the television off. Call that friend you have threatened to contact a thousand times for a chat. Take your life back moment by moment and reinvest it wisely. Watch God’s Kingdom explode around you. Your mediocre life will become supernatural. Love passionately. Live righteously. Just like Jesus intended! Spend some quality time with your Father today.

 

Song of Solomon 2:10-11 (NKJV)

My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone.”

Lead Me to the Cross – A Devotion

Colossians 1:19-20 (NLT)

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled
everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

 

Every person who ever comes to Jesus Christ must do so through the cross. Yet so often we try to bypass the ugliness, unsightliness and gruesomeness of the crucifixion. Who wants to look at something so unsightly or offensive especially when I personally caused it all? Hard to swallow the jagged pill of responsibility so we choose rather to enjoy the gift and take advantage of the benefits of the Cross rather than revisiting it. Jesus Christ was not alone on the Cross. “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ.” It would seem that to meet the Lord in His Fullness one must visit the Cross on a regular basis. Avoidance is an issue for the Body of Christ. Avoid sin embrace goodness. Leave the past enter the future. Bury the old life and live the new one. However, the Cross cannot be omitted in the process of transformation for without it, we are just sinners attempting to rob the Lord. Humility comes in the revelation that our sin killed an innocent man who then chose to give us life through sacrifice.

 

In the midst of living in the freedom found through Jesus Christ, I often forget to return to the place that I found my freedom and become enthralled with signs and wonders as God lovingly provides all my heart desires and reaches into my life. However, in the midst of “Living for Him” but doing my own thing, there comes subtle hints that maybe I have lost my way. When offended by the trials and unsettled in tribulation, it is the obvious thought “where is God?” I assure you that God is in the midst of everything good and bad in the life of His Child. Just because unexpected things come up in your life does not mean that God did not anticipate them to begin with and provide a solution down the road. It is important to remember that everything in your life is subject to the Cross. The Cross represents reconciliation back to God. Our primary purpose is to be reunited to God no matter what the cost. Our life on earth is temporary. Sickness is an earthly consequence and bares no significance in Heaven. Trials are not permanent because our existence is not as we know it on earth. We are who God says we are and the way He planned us to be. The things we encounter in life that lead us to the Cross are God’s attempt to continually reconcile us to Him. He wants us closer than we have ever been before. Jesus doesn’t want us to miss a thing and will allow hardship to properly place us continually at the foot of the Cross especially if we choose not to live there. It is a reminder that living in this world requires constantly crucifying our ideology of life and all it is supposed to be in its temporal state and fully embracing all that Jesus Christ provided as a man full of God dying that day.

 

Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT)

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

 

The only way to be a faith champion and perfect faith is to return to the scene of the crime. Jesus didn’t see the Cross, He saw you and decided it was worth it all. So as you face daily challenges that upset your life and inconvenience a perfectly constructed schedule, I wonder if it is not a simple invitation to meet the Lord at the Cross today. To remember all that He has done for you. A reminder that no matter how difficult today may be, He is waiting for you right where you left Him hoping to continue to restore your relationship day-by-day. The hostility and adversity that you may be enduring is as temporary as the next breath you take because as a Child of God you win – no matter what the score is today. Lift up your head, look at His Face, take a deep breath – He knows you are tired and weary from the fight but after tonight joy will meet you in the morning if you don’t give up. His tender mercies will greet you like an overflowing cup. You have not died in this fight for your life though there may be times of struggle and sacrificial strife. Jesus is waiting though the Cross is empty now to offer this reminder to all who will come near, there is nothing as precious or anything as dear as “You” the one He died for so He waits for you there.

 

I Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ sufferedfor you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

 

God called you to “do” good, not be good even in suffering. Through many challenges in life, Jesus Christ reveals his goodness, love and mercy. Though in the midst of difficulty, it may be tough to remain strong remember that the Cross is available for you today as a reminder of His Love. It is a meeting place for the heart as it joins with God’s. Life will bring trauma, tears and pain, but Jesus Christ makes it all worth it when we meet Him one day. When He ushers us in through Eternity’s doors, to a place with limitless time that knows no imperfection or woe, to a place where sickness and pain will affect us no more and the only tears that we shed will be from His Beauty as we adore the one who loved us before time began, then it will be worth the fight to the finish to be found faithful in every twist and turn in life. To live full of trust in One you cannot see with a love stronger than death and fulfillment to be, you will not regret a commitment to Jesus or missing a moment of life but choosing to live in the Center of His Light. So lead me to the Cross, Lord. Do whatever it takes to make me daily seek your Amazing Grace. I know it will be a challenge and I may grow weary in the fight. But Lord do whatever it takes to save me and make me right. Earthy wisdom and worldly knowledge are not what I seek. Just help me to remember your love each day and never let anything block the Cross or get in my way. You are what I desire and the only one I seek.  Help me to remember even when things are very bleak. Be encouraged today to never give up – Jesus never gives up on you! He is with you right now in everything you do. Meet Him at the Cross today and if you cannot find your way…He will gently lead you because He is THE WAY!