Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

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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.

To Be Genuine

To Be Genuine

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

What is genuine faith? To be genuine is to possess the claimed or attributed character or quality. It is not a counterfeit but real and authentic. Something genuine is free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy defined by sincerity. The word “faith” is tossed around loosely in the “Christianese” language, but I cannot help but wonder if it bears the mark of authenticity. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves” and to “test yourselves” which tells me that you cannot test or evaluate my level of faith. It is not up to anyone else to decide if I have it or not. The contents of my heart and how it impacts my existence in my sole (or soul) responsibility. To allow others to dictate what faith is or how I achieve total trust in the Lord is pointless. It is up to me to examine and test my faith for relevance and substance. I wonder what might happen in believers took responsibility for their own heart rather than trying to judge everyone else and compare others to our own successes and failures as Christians. Those who endure to the end are saved according to Jesus. What is this thing called endurance?

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.

Endurance is important in this life. We must not stop loving, believing, trusting and following Christ. To keep the course is difficult because there are peaks and valleys along the way. These require us to dig a little deeper, grab hold a little tighter, and remain on our knees a little longer. When things are out of our control and beyond our comfort zone, we must remain consistent. Endurance produces discipline. It works heart muscles that have never been challenged before as the Light of His Love within us pushes its way out of us. Endurance is the ability or strength to last despite pain, stress or adverse conditions in life. When your life does not resemble God’s Word, but you continue to walk humbly with God knowing He is faithful even though you are challenged to be the same.

Hebrews 12 mentions a “huge crowd of witnesses” who are not our main concern. Too many times, they become our primary focus rather than the race of faith which is a marathon. Though friends and teammates may be on the same course, we run for the prize, our prize, and the high calling of Christ. It doesn’t matter what the voice of the witnesses say or do not say. It doesn’t matter what their personal evaluation, estimation or examination of our life reveals. The one who seeks to endure is in verse 2. They are after one thing – Jesus. With eyes fixed and focused, each step is examined for purpose, each breath exhaled in praise, and the next step embraced with potential. Jesus is our Champion. He is the reason faith is essential in the first place. Sometimes it is important to refocus and reprioritize our life to make sure that faith is our goal and Jesus the prime example.

James 1:27 (NLT) Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:21) Pure and genuine religion is not what it has been made out to be by mankind. Pure and genuine religion as God intended is a love story. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ so deeply committed and passionate that one cannot help but give their life to Him. We give our life to many things in the name of love, but have we given our heart to Jesus Christ? Jesus is more than an opportunity. He is not just an option other than death. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come before God outside of Christ. We must have communion with the Lord. We must consummate our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The filth and evil in our lives is everything contrary to love. Anything that might separate us from our partner, Jesus Christ. However, outside the boundaries of love, obedience is meaningless acts of self service. Designed to make us feel better and avoid true repentance that leaves no room for anything good or worthwhile coming from me outside of Christ. It is a hard pill to swallow marked humility. His Grace must become enough for me in order for faith to take over my life. This is only possible when all I am is not enough to be where He is. When weakness prevails, even if I don’t fall, but simply stumble into His Arms. Jesus is always ready, willing and able to carry me on.

God’s Love is unconditional. Do you believe that today? Jesus did not come to judge the world or even condemn it. Sin already did. God sent His Son Jesus because before we were created, He loved us and desired us despite our rebellious and impetuous nature. It didn’t matter that our heart was fickle and gravitated toward depravity. Jesus already decided to die for us to make a way for our return. Why do we set conditions and limitations on others? Why do we expect them to be religious? Why do they have to dress a certain way or act a certain way to be accepted by us? Could it be our faith has some hidden fallacies that need to be exposed? Perhaps, our own inability to believe makes it necessary to set other criteria for acceptance?

Mark 10:20-22 (NLT) “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus gives us genuine love. Love without boundaries. Love without conditions. This man had no problem following the rules but when it came to following Jesus – he couldn’t give up this life. He had many possessions. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” The man’s face fall and he went away sad. This is the true test of faith. When Jesus asks us to step out of this life to pursue eternity to seek Him wholeheartedly. Holding nothing back. This man was not surrounded by people, it doesn’t say that his family or friends were close by, just Jesus. We will all come to a place in our life that the line is drawn in the sand. The point of no return. The moment when we must choose commitment or comfort. To pursue purpose or settle for mediocrity. Faith follows Jesus, Anything else will hang its head and go home.

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

What if this was the true measure of faith and following Jesus? To love one another as Christ loves us. Laying our life down for each other so that we all make it to the end. Would it be your religion? Would you give it the hierarchy of church doctrine with all its rules and regulations to live this life every single day? To really love people. To hate what is wrong and hold tight to what is good. To take delight in blessing others. To work hard. Really hard and not be lazy – giving your absolute best in all areas of life as doing it for the Lord. What about patience? Who needs them? We do. What about helping everyone in need without judging the person, their situation or what got them there in the first place. Blessing our enemies. Forgiving seventy times seven and turning the other cheek. What if we decided rather than building a church and filling it, each person decided to be the church and take their rightful place in the Body of Christ? Is it even possible for people to live in harmony when families can’t even seem to get it together? What if all God really wanted and required of us is in Micah 6:8 – “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.Genuine faith is born of genuine love. Genuine love does not consider self but others first beginning with Jesus Christ and filtering His Love to everyone else. Until I am ready to give my life up to follow Jesus and love others this way – I fail the test of genuine faith every time. Religiosity melts in the midst of a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Fully committed to pursuing Him wholeheartedly and no one else resolves all doubt and disbelief because faith has completed us and we lack no good thing.

I Timothy 1:5 (NLT) The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 

The purpose of my life begins and ends in Jesus Christ. My faith must be genuine. There will be situations in life when I am challenged to examine my heart and mind to determine if the faith I claim to have is real and authentic. I welcome such an opportunity. There has not been a single time that I have not had to call on the Grace of God for His Help because I lack sufficient faith and need His Power to cover my weakness. The Law of God is not intended for those who have decided to follow Jesus yet we use it as a weapon all the time. While it should be directed at the enemy – it is often leveled at family. We are all Children of God loved and desired by our Father just the same. Jesus died for us…all. There are no boundaries to His Love. The only obstacle I face is my ability to believe and live by faith. Lord, help my unbelief today! Teach me to love like you do! Make my faith genuine so it will bring you praise, glory and honor for the whole world to see!

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Psalm 32:8-11 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

Regret is to romance the past as if it were a long lost love. Many people live in regret in the midst of consequences that seem unchangeable. How can I go back? You can’t. What’s the point of trying? All these circumstances have created a barrier around my life now? Regret is a sense of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction that can literally suck life even new life right out of you. It is to put a hand to the plow paving your future but using your other hand to point back. God promised to make all things new. If our heart is still set on the past, the forgotten, the lost or left behind, it becomes quite difficult to reach forward. We must stop looking in the rear view mirror and begin to look ahead. God’s Purpose for your life is alive and well if you are, in fact, still breathing. Nothing is lost. Yet, nothing ventured is nothing gained. I cannot make the same choices tomorrow and expect different results. It would be foolish to travel the same roads but expect different destinations. My potential as God’s Masterpiece is limitless. His Promises are limitless. I must simply choose the right path. Yet, it is too often the road not taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth…

The words of poet Robert Frost are true in so many ways. Standing at the crossroads of life, one must choose the path of life. It is a strain to see too far down it as it surely gives ways to twists, turns and curves making it impossible to see the end from the beginning. Our ways are not like His Ways. His Thoughts so much higher than our own that I am convinced it is humanly impossible to see much further than the next step down the right path because surely we would not take it. Our purpose, potential and promises hidden in His Way lead us to a rich and satisfying life. However, trust issues keep us bound at the crossroad in the crosshairs of the enemy who is waiting to steal, kill and destroy that dream God is about to make our reality. A life rich in love, joy and peace full of wisdom and grace that always leads to hope and never disappointment. He must lure you another way in order to have his way. Yet there is a still small voice saying, “Follow me.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG) “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

The road not taken. What does that road look like to you? Is it a time when you think you should’ve have done one thing but did the other? Maybe you decided not to go to college, and now feel as though your earning potential is locked because you do not have the key labeled education? Or perhaps, you settled for something or even someone who you think was less than God’s Best now filled with regret tinged in bitterness – you have lost all drive and motivation – lost in the monotony of life things seem a little hopeless and lifeless – now what? You are at a crossroads. Every detail of your life leading up to this moment can be used for your good and His Glory depending on the road that you choose next. The pathway of trust leads to new life. Revival, renewal and restoration from a Resurrecting God through His Son doesn’t change our circumstances and conditions but cures them. He is the One who brings out all the potential hidden in our past and uses it to show the watching world that He really is God who makes all things new and brings dead things to life.

Are you committed to the road not taken? It requires only one thing. Trust. Absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. It means that we make Jesus, not only Savior, but Lord of our life including every decision from this moment forward. It means leaving the past behind us, keeping our eyes fixed on the future and not turning around again. Are you romancing regret or revival today?

Psalm 18:32-36 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

The prophet Joel warned, “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision.” Where are you today? Salvation is more than asking Jesus to be our Savior. It must be solidified by faith, In other words, we must believe. It cannot be assumed that He will come sweep us away just because I bowed my head and recited a quick prayer in some fancy prayer meeting. Heading down to a river, or into a baptismal did not seal the deal, but opened the gate to my future. Trust is the act that God is waiting for. The first step in my future is called trust. It is moving in that new direction that doesn’t make sense is not logical and most often completely contradictory to human nature but simply an act of obedience as we learn to trust God at His Word. I believe the “thousands” in Joel is not an example of those who are lost but rather those who call on the Name of Jesus but cannot truly grab hold of Him in belief. Those who want to have faith but refuse to trust the Lord.

The Lord has made a way that is exclusive for His Children. (Isaiah 35:8-10) Do you trust Him enough to follow it home? We pray for the Lord to show us His Way crying out for His Glory. The church requests His Spirit to come and revival to fill us yet do not do our part in securing its way. Trusting the Lord does not clear our path but provides an unseen way. Remember the Children of Israel, stuck between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They expected death that day either at the hand of the enemy or by force of nature. But God had hidden a road under the Red Sea that was exposed by trust. Even as the wall of waters made the way for their escape, I am sure some were skeptical. Those who chose to trust the Lord that day made it safely to the other side. It was not logical or conventional and so it is with Jesus.

God uses our journey in life to prepare us for victory. He doesn’t want us to simply walk through this life meekly but instead is read to prosper us in every way. The Lord has already imparted to us every spiritual blessing possible so where is it? Maybe it is on the road called trust that has not been taken. Perhaps if we put one foot out – we will begin to see that God made a way. I just wasn’t walking in it. Those who choose to trust the Lord and follow Him are promised the following: God will arm us with His Strength. He makes our way perfect. He makes us surefooted or confident. He enables us to stand fearlessly. The Lord trains us for the battles. He makes my arm capable of holding the shield labeled faith. He supports me. God helps me. The path of trust is surety and it becomes wider as we walk in it so it is not a slippery slope any longer. Psalm 23 promises me that He is a Good Shepherd who goes with me every step of the way when I choose to follow Jesus making Him the Way and the Truth for my life.

Jeremiah 6:16-17 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’”

I am attending a conference in the beautiful Bahamas with my husband this week. The property is absolutely massive. The scheduled meetings are not in the main tower of rooms where we are staying. It would be easy to get lost. However, when we start in the direction of the next event there are signs directing our large group to guide us. From stepping off the elevator, clear directions with people holding signs with our group name and freestanding banners mark the way. It is impossible to get lost unless, of course, one decided not to follow the route. Trying to find a shortcut to avoid the crowd of people or shorten the distance, they might choose another way. I have that choice, but I do not allow myself to give into it because clearly these people can get me there just fine. What about the Lord? What if my frustration is caused by my unwillingness to choose His Way? What if my lack of trust is keeping my life from fulfillment and prosperity? What if it is me? What if I am not taking the right road or choosing His Path? What if my regrets hold my full attention and letting go is not an option? Could it be me? It usually is friend. My experience is that when my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is time to evaluate my position in life. It is easy to become detoured which leads to delay. Delayed obedience is always a deterrent that stops us heaven’s overflow. God is pouring out His Spirit. He has already given us every spiritual blessing. My purpose is part of His Plan that leads to a future called hope but am I seeking Him wholeheartedly? Trusting Him with my life? Could it be the road I have not taken marked trust that leads to faith and confident hope? I intend to find out and make the right decision. I want to arrive successfully at the right destination. I want to endure this life which is salvation to my soul. Show me the right path today, Lord.

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

You Don’t Have To

you-dont-have-to

John 10:17-18(NLT) “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

Engaged in worship on my daily commute, a song called “Thank You” came up in the playlist. It is a song asking for nothing but simply thanking Jesus for always coming. “How do I say thank you, Lord for the way that You love and the way that you come…” It goes on in the chorus to say, “You don’t have to come but You always do.” The bridge explains further…”You didn’t have to come, but you wanted to.” Jesus Christ came as a sacrifice for my life. He didn’t have to. He chose to. Let those words sink into your heart today. Jesus didn’t have to come. He still doesn’t have to. He chose to be made an example for us. He decided to sacrifice His Life for me. The Son of God in an act of submission gave up Heaven and all His Glory to come save us. People who didn’t want Him, yet He came to give up everything just to give every human being the opportunity to have eternal life. He chose to surrender His Life for me on a long shot.

Sometimes our unmet expectation misplaced in this world or misguided by half-truth or boldfaced lies gives us a sense of entitlement created a divided and unthankful heart. We forget who we are in the midst of insecurity when fear overtakes our still small faith. Jesus is our example. He demonstrated the best way to use our freedom and obtain a Kingdom far greater than anything we can see now. He gives a place to put our faith. Wraps us in a robe of thick righteousness allowing the Father to only see the Son in whom He is well-pleased. Placing an anchor called hope in our heart to keep us from wavering. All of this simply because He wanted to. Can you just thank Jesus for a minute that He desired you? I am so thankful that the Lord wanted me enough to come to me! Die for me! Get back up for me! Secure my place in Heaven forever! Now what is it that God desires of me…

John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

The only “work” God wants from you and me is to believe. How is this possible? It is not the way of the world though difficult to wrap our head around imperative that we do. The “work” of God in us is a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The Word of God is clear that no one comes to the Father except through Him. It is human nature to try to earn our way but it is clearly evident there is nothing that I can do to earn my freedom. “Who the Son sets free is free indeed…” This one truth will change your perception of religion forever. Jesus died to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. In our hand, pocket or lost in the junk drawer, they open nothing. Everything remains closed in our life but for those who choose to engage in the “work” God desires may lose their life on earth but gain forever in that moment.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Jesus set three very important examples of us as believers and Children of God here on earth. They are hinted at in John 14:6. I am the way, the truth and the life. There are three responses respectively to these three qualities. If He is the way – we must surrender. If He is truth – we must submit. If Jesus is life – I must sacrifice my life to have eternal life. These are not the ideal characteristics people seek God for. They want His Gifts, His Goodness, and His Glory. Desiring His Kingdom come to earth but not His Kingdom more than the things of this world. When it came down to the wire, and this message was finally brought into the light. People had a problem with it. John 6:67-69 us that many deserted Christ. He asked the twelve, “What about you?” (Paraphrased) Simon Peter spoke from the newfound faith in his heart and replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Our faith must produce a belief in our heart that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life so that our mind, soul and body believes in Him enough to surrender, submit and sacrifice our life and gain eternity. We are free to choose. Have I chosen well?

Matthew 10:37-39 (NLT) “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

Have you surrendered to the new way of life offered in Jesus Christ? It is not as you might think or has been engrained in us by religion. There is nothing to gain from religion other than a new set of rules. Relationship is the key to successfully surrendering our life to Jesus Christ. The moment that He becomes the One who our heart loves and desires more than anything – sin is no longer our desire. Anything that may come between us and our one true love is unacceptable. Just like in marriage, there are things I no longer do because my husband does not appreciate them. Just as Christ surrendered His Way to become the Way for us, love demands surrender. The commitment of love is a giving of our way to be one with another. Since Jesus is “the” Way, it seems to be one with Him that I must surrender my way.

Matthew 8:8-10 (NLT) But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!

Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to share the message of His Great Love for us. (John 1) Do you believe God at His Word? Do you trust that every single written word is inspired by God and useful in everyday life? Will you submit to His Word? Submission recognizes authority and is the response to it. The Roman officer commanded an army. He understood the importance of submission even though many responded to him the very same way. When Jesus spoke the Word that his servant would be healed, as a man of authority, he responded to the authority of Jesus Christ over sickness and disease. What is that thing too big to overcome? If I am willing to submit to God’s Word in every facet of life, it is possible to have the power and authority of the Lord in my life. Do you believe God’s Word is the Truth? If so, our response should be submission. Not only to the things that appeal to us, but every single written word like any good soldier reacts to his commanding officer. Jesus Christ is the Truth. To believe in the Truth and “work” out one’s salvation requires belief that operates on the Word of God alone in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Son.

I John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Jesus gave up His Life for us. Jesus had the perfect life but came to sacrifice His Perfection for our imperfection so that we have the freedom to choose a new life. That’s right a new life rather than the stagnant existence that produced dissatisfaction drawing us to the Cross. We come to Christ is search of a better life. He offers us the freedom to have one. We must choose the life that is desired. He will never force us to live in His Love, become His Light, or give up our life. Love is not forced it is sacrificed. I choose to respond to His Love with my life. Am I willing to lay down my life, hopes, dreams and desires at the feet of Jesus Christ and become the new creation obtaining new life? I have that choice. I don’t have to. I must want to…just like Jesus wanted to. God did not send His Son to judge us but to save us. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but that all might be set free. His Spirit lives in us with a handful of keys that will open many Kingdom doors for those who choose to surrender, submit and sacrifice this life for a new life in Christ. We have the right to choose.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

You are free in Jesus Christ today. You can use your life any way that you see fit. You can come to Jesus and allow Him to give you the rich and satisfying life promised or continue to forge your way through the world. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. In this right to choose, we can follow the example of Christ which is always surrender, submission and sacrifice or any other way that one might life. The invitation is simple and clear – “Come.” (Revelation 22:17) God just wants you to come. Jesus died so you could come. The Spirit calls out to you to come. Will you come? Well, that is up to you. But the one thing I know that inspires me is that Jesus didn’t have to come but He did. He still doesn’t have to come when I call but He does every single time. He doesn’t just come and say, “What a fine mess you got us in again!” No, the Lord brings the very thing I needed and gives it to me in abundance. He gives me perfect peace. He provides inexpressible joy. He gives me deep satisfaction. All these things well up inside me even when not a single detail changes. All this in spite of my fickle, disbelieving heart that I struggle to keep in check. Just because He loves me. Jesus really loves me. Do I really love Him? Enough to surrender, then to submit and ultimately to sacrifice – giving this life away for the new life found in Christ alone. I want to…I really do!

Revelation 22:17 (NLT) The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

Choose Well

choose-well

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Becoming Greater

becoming-greater

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

Turning the pages of my journal – it is quite clear that I have made a mess of things. Whether the pages just stuck together or in my haste I skipped a few, the dates are all out of whack and segments left blank. Not to waste the precious pages, I have begun to fill in the holes each day. It’s really only for my benefit so it really doesn’t matter if it chronologically doesn’t make sense. Maybe the Lord has a reason for ordering it as such, who knows? All I know is that once again I have managed to mess things up.

This is not a browbeating – just a simple reminder from my God, Father and Creator that I am imperfect and He is perfect. A call back to the reality that He orders my steps and has a plan for my life that is much greater than anything I could construct or even imagine for that matter. I forget sometimes allowing distractions to make way for discouragement in certain areas of my life. It can happen to the best of us just about any day. We get up with a heart full of good intentions, our mind made up to follow the Lord and then it happens – this little thing called life. We are called away to fight giants that have already been defeated. To overcome walls that have already been knocked down. Engage in battles already won. How do I keep from falling for such things day after day? I need to conquer the “busy” beast. Tear up the foreboding list of to-do’s so I can shout ta-da. Somehow managing to exchange my “Martha” mentality and adopt “Mary’s” precious spirit. There are greater things hidden in my life. They reside in me. These promises are only possible when I become less and less making way for greater things.

I John 3:19-21 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

To be honest, the whole journal thing did not lead me to John 3:30 this morning. It has been building for about a week. Distractions – lots of them. Once my attention was turned to the lesser things in life including all those little details carefully orchestrated by the Lord yet hugely taken for granted by me – the people around me started in. You know – you get a little tired and overwhelmed and then it seems like that’s just about the time all the “people” around you start acting up. Like salt in an open wound, it gets you all worked up. Your mind begins to contemplate just what you are gonna do or telling the Lord what He needs to do to fix their little red wagons. Suddenly, I have become totally engrossed up to my eyeballs in the lesser things of life and I cannot see the greater that God has for me. Well, I am here to admit that other people are not my problem. I am my own worst enemy sometimes. The Lord has called me and equipped me for greater things but sometimes I decide to be the greater in my life or allow others to take His Place.

My feelings are not as important as my submission to God. What does that mean? It means that on those days that I do not understand the Hand of God or His Thoughts I can know His Heart and that it is set on me. My condition and circumstances do not dictate my outcomes so I should not allow my emotions to either. When I decide that the One who lives in me is truly greater. I can leave all this foolishness behind…what foolishness? Glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:16)God made us with purpose. He designed us with a plan including a future and hope. His Greatness was given to us when Jesus Christ released His Spirit and breathed Himself into us. We are now filled with His Greatness and the potential to do greater things. Faith is the seed that allows the greatness of God to be exposed in our life. As we love and trust Him more, this greatness gives way to His Glory which fills our life with His Goodness. The enemy of faith is pride that works its way into the good things God is doing and somehow takes credit for it. We can do nothing to bear fruit apart from Jesus Christ (John 15) and every good and perfect gift in our life is from the Father (James 1). Jesus is the Goodness and Greatness in our life.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 24:10) I am not sure how it happens other than maybe a religious spirit or prideful indignation but sometimes we forget. We forget that it is all about Jesus and not about me. How I feel? What I want? “I” get in the way of Him. These are the times when His Grace is not enough for me or anyone else. It is the moments when I think that the way people treat me is an excuse to react rather than respond with love just the same. I will be honest. Church aggravates me more than anything else. Why? We should know better. Services are offered at least two times a week. God’s Word is taught. The Holy Spirit moves yet there is no brokenness. Our hard hearts are supported by pride that keeps us from releasing the Greatness of God hidden within us. To do so is to suppose that I am more than a vessel of God in this world, which is just not true.

The beauty in this life is brokenness. When our heart and mind is open to all that the Lord is doing and all that God has promised us. It is with such purpose – pride is laid aside and our lives placed on the altar. A commitment to Christ comes with the promise of pressure and pain as the Greatness in us surpasses all the lesser things once held on to.

Psalm 71:19-21 (NLT) Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

The discomfort, distractions and disturbed state of my life is not anyone’s fault but my own. The enemy will offer such things in exchange for God’s Greatness and Glory each day. It is up to me if I choose to take the bait and chase another little fox along the way. People are not and will not ever be the problem. In fact, laying my life down for others is my purpose. This means sacrificing my life for others – all others. Jesus said, that there was no one greater on the earth than John the Baptist yet in prison it was John who asked his followers to go ask the Lord one more time if He really was the Messiah. Our life is full of testing to insure that our faith is genuine. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is through hardship that the rough edges and sharp corners are broken from our life so that the Greatness of God hidden in us will be exposed for His Glory and our Goodness. We must believe that there is such greatness in order to experience it.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

There are greater works in store for us. The Holy Spirit is insurance that God has greater things in store for us than that which could be accomplished outside of His Presence. God will never give us less than His Very Best no matter how many times we try to compromise. The Lord is intent on giving His Children the best of everything. God promised Abraham greater things. Abraham grew tired of waiting and tried to replicate God’s Promise in a child who he called Ishmael. But God had a greater work being prepared who would be named Isaac. Abraham waiting patiently and His Promise arrived. People make promises every day. How can we expect imperfect people to keep their word? But there is a perfect God who loves us with perfect love who has promised that we will do greater things. We can take Him at His Word because He does not lie or change His Mind. (Hebrews 6) His Spirit living in us is evidence of these greater things. We must learn to have great confidence in order to see greater things.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

We should expect far greater glory under God’s Grace. We must believe that He who lives in us is greater than the one who lives in this world. Our commitment to Christ will produce His Glory and Greatness in our life if we remain connected to Him. The Greatness of God in us gives us victory every day enlarging our territory and creating influence among others. (Deuteronomy 11:22-24) This is the Promise given to those who devote their life to following Jesus Christ. His Greatness allows us to live in a state of joy, peace and rest no matter what life throws our way. (Psalm 4:6-8) If I am not experiencing or expecting this kind of life and waiting on the Lord to do it, then I am not striving to become less so Christ can be more. I must become less and less. He must become less and less. Things are out of order but thanks to grace can quickly be right back in place. Lord, you must increase and I must decrease today.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Thank you Lord for the gentle and loving reminder that it is not all about me today. It is all about you. My heart and mind must be set on the greater that lives in me than all the distractions around me. Even if my faith is small, it is enough to release your Goodness and Glory in my life today. Thank you for the grace that is always enough to get me back on track. I want more of you today Lord. In fact, I want all of You! Move me out of the way as you become my greater again! I ask you Lord to remove the lesser things that I have settled for to make room for Your Goodness and Glory to fill my life.

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Finding Peace

Finding Peace

John 14:26-27 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Peace I leave with you. Are you at peace today? Is your heart settled and still? Do you walk in confident quiet and peaceful authority? Peace of mind is priceless. Peace in our heart is coveted. Peace changes our state of being from chaotic to calm in just one second. Are you looking for the elusive component of a well-balanced life today? Are you having trouble finding the peace that Jesus promised He left for you? Maybe just maybe God’s Children are going about it all wrong. Like the old country song that says, “Looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces, searching their eyes, looking for traces of what I’ve been dreaming of, hoping to find a friend and a lover, I’ll bless the day I discover, another heart looking for love.” Everyone is looking for love but until we discover God’s Love it will never satisfy or bring the peace everyone is looking for.

 

I believe we all are looking for love. Our natural inclination is to look to other people and certain things putting our expectation that something earthly can satisfy a spiritual longing. Trouble is that eternity is hidden in our heart which will never be content or fulfilled by temporary things. So we try counterfeits and substitutions along the way gladly offered by the enemy of our soul in an attempt to cause us to search for something not found outside of perfect peace. I have nothing to offer another human being until I have peace with God. Otherwise, I will always try to make them like God to me with unrealistic expectations of an imperfect human. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us find peace today.

 

Matthew 10:32-34 (NKJV) “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

 

Jesus made a bold statement that is not dwelt upon too heavily. He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus is the Word of God that came to this world wrapped in flesh. The Word of God is a sword that cuts to the bone removing all things that are superficial and erroneous to expose the Truth in our life. (Hebrews 4:12) Why do you think so many people use it sparingly? We want peace on earth never realizing that is not what Christ gave us. This world will never be at peace with God. Darkness will never welcome the Light. Jesus did not bring peace to the world but offered me the privilege of peace with God again.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) There will not be peace on earth until Jesus comes again and reclaims what is rightfully His Own. Until then, there will be tribulation, heartache, tragedy, brokenness, assaults and persecution. The good will die young. The wicked will prosper. Love will grow colder each day. Sin will be (already is) rampant. It is exactly how Jesus said that it would be. Trouble is most people to not dig deep enough into His Word, pray long enough, or search out His Spirit so they have unrealistic expectations based on half-truth, lack of communication and separation from the Will of God because they do not pursue Him. This world will drive you nuts. You will be overwrought and overpowered without Jesus Christ. He has overcome the world and we can to when we find peace.

 

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NKJV) For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

 

Sin puts us in enmity with God. Enmity is the condition of hostility, hatred, ill will and animosity against God. Sin will never be okay in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord will not abide where sin is welcomed or clearly overlooked. There is a difference between willful and mindful sin and those not yet discovery. To entertain and allow sin to have a place in our life is to live in enmity with God. Grace does not change God’s Opinion of sin. Would it you if you watch your child beaten, bloodied and tortured for it? Would you overlook the very thing that took your child from you in such a vicious way? Nah, me either. When we ask Jesus to become our Savior, it means to turn from our sin 180 degrees and walk the other way. To maintain peace with God requires seeing Jesus as our Lord and respecting His Authority and Power in our life. We do not have such things when we live contrary to God’s Kingdom or a life of double standards. Jesus Christ is our peace. He broke down every barrier between the Kingdom of God and mankind becoming the Way, Truth and Life so we can come boldly and confidently to the Father again. It is the moment that we choose to live in the Presence of God that we begin to discover what peace really is.

 

Psalm 34:11-14 (NKJV) Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

 

Peace is a non-warring state of mind, soul and body. It is freedom from commotion and strife. Peace is a mindset on the Lord that is free from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession. It is to live absent of war. To have peace we must pursue it. Peace has a Name. His Name is Jesus. We cannot have any kind of peace without Him because He is the Way of peace, Truth about peace, and produces a Life of peace for us. The world will continue to rally and war nation against nation right down to hand-to-hand combat one against another. Jesus did not come to bring peace to earth. He came to hand deliver it to you and me. We must learn to pursue peace at all costs and stop allowing ourselves to get caught up in changing the world. We are not here to bring peace on earth. Our mission, or commission, is to give others the precious gift of grace that has been given to us and pursue peace with God and man stopping at nothing until it is secure.

 

To be at peace is an occupied place. To live in peace is to make it inclusive. How do I do that every day when problems, trials and tests pummel me? The Holy Spirit produces peace in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) I cannot make peace a provision in my life. It is given to me by the Lord. The Lord is our gladness. (Psalm 4:7-8) He gives peace and rest when we decide that He is our happiness and joy rather than looking for love in all the wrong places. We must choose to dwell in God’s Love and allow Him the time to develop something beautiful in the barrenness of our broken heart given to too many who acted carelessly with it. The world cannot take away this joy in the Lord because it didn’t give it to us.

 

The pursuit of peace is marked by repentance and obedience that hates sin as much as God does and turns from it willingly and readily to face the Lord more and more each day. As we turn our eyes to Jesus, we will begin to follow Him in obedience that will release peace like you have never known as one aligns their heart and mind with Him. (Psalm 37:37) Religion does not give us peace but a true relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to live there free from offense, judgment or condemnation. (Romans 14:16-19) Our relationship with the Lord allows us to live in peace with God and at peace with others. God’s Word produces peace in us. (Psalm 119:165) Through knowledge and understanding, it keeps us steadfast and strong. God keeps in perfect peace those whose mind is set on Him. (Isaiah 26:3) He must place our thoughts and attitude on the altar each day for His Careful Inspection in order to allow His Peace to flow in us and through us.

 

Finally, meekness produces peace in our life. As we lay down our life for others, His Peace rises up in us as we live like Jesus. Giving way to others and thinking of them before ourselves allows us to experience a peace that passes understanding that comes directly from the Father’s Love. By transferring our expectation from the earth and all its many people to Jesus Christ alone allows us to have that peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) The kind of crazy peace that is not depended on our circumstances or the current condition of our life but remains confident in the hope that we have in the Lord. (Romans 15:13)

 

James 3:17-18 (NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of God. Does peace prevail in your life today? Are you stressed out? Overwrought? Worried? Are sick and tired of being sick and tired? If so, the answer is no peace is not prevalent in such an existence. We have been given peace that passes all understanding in Jesus Christ. It is our gift from God produced plentifully by His Spirit in us along with very other spiritual fruit that we allow (yes allow) to be cultivated in our life.

 

You can have perfect peace today. It will cost you some things though. We must yield our way to the Way of Christ. Open our hearts and minds to His Will. He is our life. He will give us a rich and satisfying life that completes us if we will just give Him the mess that we have made of it. You are not going crazy. You have just lost your peace. It is easily regained the moment we repent and choose to make Jesus Lord of our life again. Peace with God is the only way to live a content and whole existence. It is our heart’s most inner desire to have freedom from all the stressors, worries and cares of life. Our confidence must be in Christ so that hope will allow joy and peace to rise up in us now and forevermore. That means that there will be some things that we do not understand and still must go through knowing that Jesus Christ is our Source of Life and has everything under complete control working all the details for our good! (Romans 8:28)

 

Are you pursuing peace today? You will find it when you pursue Jesus. I have heard it all before whose going to do it if I don’t? Or the reality is… The reality is that Jesus Christ is our peace…if we want Him to be. He will not force it on us but rather we accept it when we make Him our Savior and Lord. Jesus, please be my perfect peace as You have promised. Again, I put my trust in You!

 

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

God’s Law of Physics

God's Law of Physics

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14 (NIV)

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) This statement is followed by each seasonal partner under the sun. There is a time to be born and a time to die is the very first one. I understand that everyone has a birthday and a day that they will leave this world. I just don’t always understand God’s Purpose in His Timing and execution of His Plan especially when the good die young, and evil live long lives. There are many things about God’s Way that eludes me. These are the areas where faith and trust bond us together with Jesus so we can continue to follow Him walking in His Ways even when there seems to be no goodness or mercy to be found.

 

I knew who she was when I saw her. I asked someone to introduce us. I was supposed to meet her. We were meant to connect. However, she was very stand offish. My enthusiasm overwhelmed her, it took me by surprise. When she grasped my extended hand, I could feel it. I remember it. I understand it. God has saved, healed and delivered me from it. Timing is everything and though she endured much more than what was required of me, I knew in an instant that this was part of my purpose and plan to help her experience the freedom found when our heart is free again. Even though I don’t understand the Plan of God or His Way, life has produced enough experience to realize that we don’t have to know if we can just find it in our heart to love, trust and honor the Lord – over and over again.

 

Sir Isaac Newton is credited with the important law of physics that says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I am no scientist. Barely making it through science in school and struggling even more with mathematics, I have to give credit to the Holy Spirit for bringing this concept to my mind. God loves science until it decides He is not the driving force behind it. Science in not the enemy but rather the one who tells us that science is responsible for the complexity and perfection of humanity and the world in which we live. Reading Ecclesiastes 3 puts this into perspective today. There is a time for everything. It is predetermined. It is predestined. To learn, understand and live by God’s Timing requires faith. Without faith, it is impossible to know or understand that all things work together for our good even concepts. Each one represents an action with an equal and opposite reaction. This totally eliminates the gray area that humanity has created as a dwelling place between this world and God’s Kingdom. It forces us to choose.

 

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

God has a plan for you that was handwritten from beginning to end before our birth lasting beyond natural death. (Psalm 139:16) It is completely comprehensive lacking not a single detail. Finite thinking has a problem with this not in the action but in the equal and opposite reaction. So how do we know that God works together all things for our good (Romans 8:28)? This is the verse that allows us to step over God’s Timeline when it does not meet human expectation or automatically breaks the human heart effecting our mind, will and emotions.

 

We are given a free will. (John 8:36) Without freedom, we would not be able to express love to the Lord because we would be bound and held captive. God does not save us and keep us. Jesus saves us and frees us to choose darkness or light and good or evil. With the slate wiped completely clean in each moment of every single day, we have the right and responsibility to choose. Our choices determines the resulting action in our life. The Son gives us absolute freedom to choose life over death in each moment.

 

Jeremiah 29:11 is often claimed by Christians who do not read beyond this verse to know what is required. The requirement of God’s Plan filled with prosperity, hope and a future is to seek Him with our whole heart. Any part of our heart given to something less than God’s Best has an equal and opposite reaction that can and will produce consequences apart from total obedience and absolute commitment to God. How will we ever discover God’s Plan and live out its fulfillment? Obedience and commitment founded on love and trust allow us to submit and surrender our heart willingly even if we do it piece by piece.

 

Proverbs 16:3-6 (NIV)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster. The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

 

Love and faithfulness is the desired response of humanity for the salvation received by Jesus Christ. Though human nature is to toil and earn it, it is impossible to do so. If our response is obedience, we will have the outcomes promised in God’s Word according to the Will of God. Our commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior allows us the freedom to choose. It is one’s personal decision to call Him Lord that allows us to possess all the Promises of God according to His Word and dictated by His Prescribed Plan for our life. A proud heart seeks the Lord of its own accord. It tries to make a way other than the One Way already provided. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Is He your Savior today? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? This is the secret to successfully living in the full satisfaction that Jesus has offered to those who follow Him.

 

Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV)

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

 

The process of acquisition according to God’s Will is faith. Faith means that we live by what we know not necessarily what we see, feel, taste or touch. Godly knowledge is discovered by reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word. The more one desires God’s Plan the more they must dig and delve into His Written Word. Not only that, but Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in human flesh. It is by His Example that we have a guideline to follow in this life. He was subject to all the same temptations that we endure and did not sin or rebel against the Father. He was fully God and fully man. Are we so different? Though not the Son of God as Jesus was God’s Only Child, we are created in His Image which means we have the ability to grow, mature and develop to be more like Him. It is in our DNA. When sin impeded our progress and stole our future and hope, Jesus went to the Cross walking perfectly through the earth to the Cross. He laid down His Life completely before God the Father to save His Dying People and gave up His Life freely for you and me.

 

We are to give up this life (our way) if we desire God’s Plan. There is no other way. We do not always understand what the Lord is doing or why He allows certain things to happen. Faith is what we use to step over the unknowns to be surrounded by the comfort of knowing God’s Timing is just as perfect as His Plan and all things work together for our good. Our alignment with Christ give us the impossible outcomes that only God provides. To take up our cross and follow Him could be all those things that we don’t understand to carry them out to fulfillment. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I am grieved when the young die too soon. Yet I know that I know God is good all of the time. It is with this in mind, that I take up my cross daily and follow Him even when that thing I bear is heavily burdened with the unknown.

 

John 14:26-27 (NIV)

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

 

The Lord did not leave us to fend for ourselves or figure it all out alone. We have an Advocate. He is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is described by many names. This one is very important. He pleads on our behalf. There are times when we have no idea how to pray or have exhausted every effort to petition God for a change. It is in that time that the Holy Spirit intervenes. On those days when everything seems to be falling apart, even us, the Spirit of God holds us together until new mercy arrives the next day. He helps us in ways we do not know. He strengthens us in weakness. He is the understanding we need when it comes to God’s Word. (John 5:26) He equips us to keep going when our faith seems so small. He is the Power of God invested in us to carry us through. God’s Grace is sufficient in our weakness. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Crying out to God for His Intervention is one thing, but moving out of the way so that He can perform is another.

 

“My peace I give you.” I have confided over and over again that the battle for our son’s life broke me. It completely shattered my image of normal life and completely destroyed my carefully constructed comfort zone called control. God gave me peace in exchange for all the stress, worry and anxiety that I accumulated before he got sick and carried us through three long years on faith and hope alone. I had more peace throughout his battle against cancer than I did in “normal” life. God used this horrific experience to change me from the inside out. However, when it was over I walked around like a zombie for a year. Every bit of my personal and physical being a shell of who I was with no idea of who I should be from then on, everything changed including me and now I had to learn what God desired for me again.

 

When I touched the hand of the woman, I could feel the weight of her burden. Her daughter who also battled cancer is victoriously with Jesus. I see the pain in her eyes. I felt the weakness in her hand. I saw me not too long ago. I felt purpose rising up. I saw a plan forming. I cannot lead others to where I have never been, and though I did not walk as far in faith as she did, I came out very much in the same condition. God wants to set her free. I didn’t know her yet during our battle I prayed for her, too. Following her plight through social media, I cried when she had to say goodbye. God’s Plan for our life seldom includes just us. He is uniting us with each other to bond us together in love. I have what somewhat else needs. I have gone through things gaining valuable experience that can help them go around. In this case, I know what it takes to release the heavy burden. Death gives way to life in Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers so do we…

 

Psalm 33:10-11 (NIV)

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

 

God’s Plan is perfect. It was planned out extensively for our life. To have God’s Plan means surrendering our lives to God’s Will and His Timing in all things. Sin produces consequences. Obedience allows us to wallow through life in God’s Grace. The equal and opposite reactions of Grace populate our life with promises. Every consequence can yield a promise in our life when surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ. There will be things that happen in everyone’s life that cause hurt, pain and hardship. Through our deep and abiding relationship with Christ by faith, we step over these times to find more grace, love and mercy than every thought possible. We cannot fathom the Favor and Goodness of God in our life. It can only be discovered by faith and hope that goes beyond consequences and is willing to wait on God’s Timing. How many times have we abandoned the promise that comes with the pain simply because we refused to wait on the Lord? Have many times has God provided a miracle that melted when we walked away? I know that the Lord has big plans for me. I know that every detail of my life can turn out for my good. I must be willing to wait for God’s equal and opposite reaction to take place.

 

Jesus wants to turn our mourning into dancing today. He desires our sorrow be traded for joy. The Lord promises for those who endure to the end will be saved. I encourage you today to pick up those dead dreams and abandoned promises and tuck them back in your heart. The Lord has not failed or forgotten you. He is working out all the problems, hardship and trouble for your full benefit. The magnitude of your pain will be produce an equal measure of joy in your life. I know it seems impossible. With God all things are possible if we believe. The immeasurable lose you have endured will produce more abundance then you have ever known. Don’t give up. Scoop up all the pieces of your broken heart and lay them on the altar. The Lord makes all things new. God does nothing halfway. He doesn’t compromise for our comfort. He doesn’t offer substitutions along the way. Those who wait on the Lord are renewed. They are restored. They are made complete lacking no good thing. This is God’s Law of Physics in our life.

 

Psalm 30:10-12 (NIV)

Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”  You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

 

My Point of View

My Point of View

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT)

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 

There may be several witnesses to a certain event and each one have their own account of what happened. Their story will be based on their perspective during the encounter. Some will be influenced not only by what they saw with their own eyes, but the opinions and attitudes of others who might have been with them at the time. The truth can become cluttered by theory not necessarily from the actual event but made more complete with the judgment of others added as truth. It happens all the time. Truth in this world is diluted. One cannot always depend on what they see, hear, and feel to be the most relevant factors in life but we do. Just because I see something does not mean that I know the whole scope in its entirety. We make broad assumptions and run off in all directions with a tidbit of information like a squirrel who has found a tiny nut.

 

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. How is this possible in the life we live each day? If we do test the spirits and weigh words for truth inspect deeds for validity, how will we make right choices and good connections in life? My mom used to say, “Birds of a feather flock together.” She was right. You associate most with those with whom you identify. My mom is very practical. She is also very matter of fact. She does not struggle with truth but lives well within it. When we decide to make Jesus our Savior and Lord, it changes how we view things or at least it should? As a young person, my mom challenged us to make good choices in our companions. To decide who we hung out with based on the evidence in their life. We were to stay in the social circles most like us. However, when coming to Jesus, we must step out of our human viewpoint and step into His Vantage Point for life. This is very difficult sometimes to shake the opinions and attitudes developed for worldly survival to surrender our life to Jesus.

 

John 17:14-19 (NLT)

I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

 

I have discovered that I have undergone an amazing transformation. Right before our son was diagnosed with cancer, things were going great. My career was booming. We were prospering. All the details of our life seemed to be falling into place. When tragedy struck, the Lord was quick to give us His Word that our son would live and not die so we traveled by faith from hope to healing. From the moment that my world came crashing down, I never felt fear or anxiety that he would not make it. The Word of God surrounded my broken and devastated heart with peace. However, as any family enduring extreme hardship can attest, such an experience leaves no part of natural life untouched. When it was over, I did try to return to my normal life. Life was not the same. I could not go back to the same routine and role I played before. I became very depressed and overwhelmed. Life was different. I had changed and could not wrap my head around it.

 

I remember the night I finally saw my life as God intended. It was the night of our son’s port removal that would mark the end of treatment. It should be a day of celebration but all I felt was exhaustion. I raced home from the hospital feeling a tug in my heart to attend a youth worship service with our girls. Making it just in time to change cars and ride to church, I didn’t expect anything other than to bask in the Presence of God. When I opened the door, it was as though Jesus caught me at the finish line. You made it! In one night with teenagers and few adults, my point of view changed as I realized I was not lost in the fight and had finished the course. In that moment, Jesus began to take off the cocoon over my heart and mind. Clearly I could see that in the process of faith, He had made me new. I could not operate as I had before because I was a new creation. My point of view had changed. My life had changed. Everything inside me was different.

 

How is that possible? To love God and serve Him faithfully yet find that you have become lost in life. Friend, it is the process. God turning us day by day, moment by moment until all we see is His Face. He is always working for us. Repentance is the process by which we turn more and more of our life, heart and mind over to the Lord for His Redemptive Power to make something useful and productive with the purpose hidden in us. Renewing us from the inside out. Changes us in the midst of adversity. Producing new fruit under pressure. He is recreating us from the moment that we say, “Yes” to Jesus and choose to walk His Way. We live from glory to glory. Our life is victory to victory. Even when we do not understand the process or the meaning of those things we endure, the Lord works all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

 

Matthew 16:21-24 (NLT)

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.

 

It is human nature to make assumptions in life. To take what we see wrap it in what we know and form an opinion. Until we take what we see compare to faith and wash it in the Word of God, our opinions are assumptions that have no validity or truth. They should not form our next step or make a choice. Jesus shared His journey with twelve men. He had many followers but these were the ones who gave up their life to follow the Lord. Even in their submission and sacrifice, they all had very human ideas and notions of what was to come. When Jesus shared that He was about to die for them, Peter proclaimed, “Heaven forbid, Lord…this will never happen to you!” Jesus immediately rebuked Peter. He warned His follower and friend, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view and not from God’s.” It happens to the best of us. We live in this world but are not of it.

 

As Jesus prayed in John 17, it was for us. Jesus already knew we would struggle between faith and what we perceive to be reality. Repentance is a perpetual process of turning our human nature, every thought, every misconception that becomes sin over to the Lord as we turn to see Him fully and follow Him completely. It is a tragedy of faith to think that we have arrived in Jesus Christ while we walk on the earth. This is not fully accomplished until we meet Him face-to-face. Jesus went on to share with them, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Jesus gives us His Word. We tell the Lord what we are going to do with that word. Rather than following Jesus, we end up standing between the Lord and our blessing. If one truly desires Heaven to come to earth, we must get out of the way. We must repent and follow Jesus. With each leg of our journey, God produces more of His Character in us. He makes us more like Him but only if we yield our body, mind and spirit to the process of healing, deliverance, renewal and restoration in Jesus Christ.

 

We must cast down every thought that rebels against God’s Way. His Plan is perfect and takes every detail (good or bad) making it complete and lacking nothing for those who give up their own point of view to look at life through Jesus. We can only do that if we choose to follow Him rather than standing in front of Him demanding our own way. We have a right to an opinion but that opinion means nothing. The Word of God is the Truth that dictates success in our life. Grace makes it possible. Weakness allows His Strength to take over. We must hold tight to faith and let go of our need to be in control and right all the time.

 

Romans 3:1-6 (NLT)

Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world?

 

In Matthew 26:62-63 and Matthew 27:12-13, Jesus goes before the council of religious leaders and then the natural government. The interrogate Jesus and beat him demanding Him to provide an answer to their accusations but Jesus remained silent. He did not give them any response just endured the persecution and torture on the way to the Cross. I think that we as Christians should take the same stand in life. We do not have to answer our accusers or defend our faith. We do not have to try to convince anyone in word or deed that Jesus is the Messiah. I know you are getting riled up a bit because I am messing with religion. I am not anti-church. I am not anti-religion either. Faith without works is definitely dead. A barren life that does not produce spiritual fruit is cursed. Where the Spirit is there is freedom and liberty. However, until we allow the Lord to change our point of view until we see life and those in it exactly as He seems them – we are in danger of getting in front of Jesus rather than following Him.

 

We are to live by faith. Faith that believes completely in the hope that we have in Jesus. Faith makes the impossible totally possible. However, when we take God’s Word, His Way or His Will and turn it for our own good, to support our opinion, or prove that we are right – we are danger of becoming religious rather than righteous. The Lord never ignored the people in each place. He responded to their need never their demands. People cried to be healed from their present infirmity, but Jesus saved them from their sins and told them to walk in freedom. See we somehow get wrapped up in today and try to keep the Lord bound here when He is interested in our future. The world does not need another person to tell them they are cursed and going to hell. They need humble and committed followers of Jesus Christ who exalt His Name and not their own to take them with them. I am no better than a mass murderer on death row who ruthlessly and savagely takes the life of others without cause. Jesus died for him, too. The only difference is the grace that I have discovered. The grace that changed me when I thought I was standing on faith and fighting the good fight but was dying inside. Jesus peeled away the layers of hurt, devastation, sin, shame, guilt, depression, and I discovered a new life from a new perspective. My point of view is Jesus. Nothing I do or say is of any worth unless it exalts and magnifies His Name in my life. I am nothing without Him. I can do nothing apart from my Savior and Lord.

 

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

God is greater than our feelings. (I John 3:19-20) We feel many emotions in life. They can be quite overwhelming. Emotional overload can drown out the Voice of God who speaks in an intimate whisper. Are you worried? Are you stressed? Are you anxious? Are you depressed? Are you overwhelmed? Are you overpowered? Are you isolated? Do you feel betrayed or abandoned? These are all lies that the enemy uses to overpower our thoughts and change our point of view about Jesus. These are faith-killers, hope-sinkers, joy-robbers, dream-crushers and not of God. It says that if we surrender our life to Him that God will give us peace that exceeds anything we can understand.

 

If you are living in any of these emotional states, it is time to turn back to Jesus. Yes if you who is a minister, teacher, deacon, or apostle. You cannot take others to a place that you have never been or show them something you do not know. We all will find ourselves succumbed to a lie from time to time. It is the enemy’s first strategic tactic to change our mind about God. We must fix our thoughts today. Flush our mind. Clear our eyes. Open our ears to see life and everyone in it from God’s Point of View and through the Eyes of Jesus. I cannot do that standing in front of Him or even right beside Him. I must follow Jesus to see life the way that is most beneficial. I will see everyone through love. And so today this one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. This includes not just how we think about life and ourselves but every person who we come in contact whether we think them worthy or not.

 

Strive to think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Only one thing comes to mind – Jesus! Keep in practice all that you learned and received from the Lord – not religion or the school of hard knocks but from Jesus. His life was characterized by love, grace and mercy for all. I must live by everything He said and respond by doing everything He did. His Promise – the God of Peace will be with you and me. There is nothing like the Peace of God. If you allow it, Jesus will change your point of view.

 

Isaiah 26:3-8 (NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. He humbles the proud and brings down the arrogant city. He brings it down to the dust. The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot, and the needy walk all over it. But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them. Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.