Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

I don’t remember who spoke these words into my life. Like a challenge issued to every part of my stubbornness, I set out to prove them wrong. Never is a powerful word. It is difficult to enforce. It is final. It means not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, and to no extent. However, who are we as mere human beings to dictate time. Ecclesiastes 3 tell of God’s Outline of life including the relevance of His Timing in that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” climaxing with the promise that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, and even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Never implies control over God’s Will and Timing that is simply not the case.

When our daughter was very small, she developed rapid onset asthma. Within a matter of weeks, her condition had worsened to the point of daily doctor visits and an extension list of medication to manage her breathing. We had to carry a nebulizer with us everywhere. Her activities were limited in order to prevent a respiratory illness due to the compromised state of her lungs. This would be the beginning of a journey of faith. I had been praying for the Lord to give me faith. I wanted to see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and even the dead raised. I wanted to see the signs, wonders and miracles. For weeks, I struggled with the condition of my child. A couple strong in faith mentored us and taught us about the elements of faith. To them I am forever thankful for their teaching and guidance by the Holy Spirit. On the day that the Lord would reach down and touch our daughter, forever removing this dreaded disease in a single instant, I found a truth about the Lord that I will “never” forget. God rules forever. He dictates the boundaries of our life with His Love. When the enemy tries to cross that barrier, the Lord firmly enforces His Position of the Reigning King. When the doctor told us that she would remain the list of medications forever based on a slightly improvement and never be without it. Heaven and earth collided. The room stood still as His Presence filled that place. Our God is the One who has dominion over forever. Neverland is not a real place. God does not ever except never but gives it a time and place.

I have found it to be true that every never I ever have spoken is a line that I have crossed. Never makes us think we have some kind of control over our life including our mind, will and emotions. The moment it is established as some kind of boundary – it seems our flesh takes the challenge. As a young person, there are some things that I said that I would never do based on the mistakes of my parents. Disappointments and doubts that formed a plan for my life with certain boundaries which I am sad to report – I did them all. Giving my heart to Jesus during my teenage years, I accepted a harsh doctrine with many more definitive items on the long list of never. I did them all, too. Every never has become a reality in my life. I wonder if Peter felt the regret of never, the pain in his heart as he discovered that he was all too human by denying Jesus not once, or twice but three documented times. Jesus told him that the enemy wanted to “sift him like wheat.” I am sure it was a painful process but oh so necessary to make the reunion on the beach more wonderful.

Matthew 5:34-37 (NLT) But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

To say, “I will never” is a vow. It is implied control over our present state that is just not the case. We are ruled by a master – be it sin and flesh dictating our attitudes and actions or the Master who gives us the Mind of Christ. The enemy uses the statement that “I will never” to set up false barriers and invisible boundaries in our life so when we cross them we are shackled with guilt, shame or regret. The feeling of failure erodes faith as doubt and fear take over. We cannot ever say that never is possible for us or become insistent in one direction. This life that I live given to Christ is a humble offering. It is to yield my life piece by piece to the Lord. It is to accept His Will giving up my own. Therefore, I cannot say never but remain hopeful that whatever happens in my life that the Lord will keep His Promise. What promise? This one:

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Predestination – now that is a word that will start a quick theological debate. I am not looking for a discussion or a debate simply to reveal the promise of such a revelation. Predestination means to decide in advance, to foreordain, to predetermine which is exactly is what the Lord did for us. He provided a plan for our life including a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before our birth. (Psalm 139:16) He decided to give His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my life. Not to bring condemnation but grace sufficient to cover ever sin in advance. (John 3:16-18) The Lord has provided everything I need according to His Riches in Glory (Philippians 4:19) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) to yield abundance and prosperity in my natural existence on my way to heavenly hope. Jesus even promised that He went to prepare a place for us in eternity and will come back for us one day. (John 14:2-3) We are predestined. Freedom allows us to choose our destination. There are many flights leaving the airport today that will go to a variety of destinations around the world. The people in the airport must choose their destination according to their free will. We do the same. To indicate “never” in our life may be the very dictate issued that limits the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised us. (John 10:10)

The promise found in predestination is this: “we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.” Jesus came to save us and provide the grace needed to return to right-standing with God. Humility is the route to such a destination. It is to release control of our life including mind, will, emotions, body, spirit and soul to live in His Love completely. This eliminates never and impossibility from our life. Faith in Jesus is the requirement which means I give up my way to follow Him beginning with my stubborn heart set on dictating the order of my life and accept His Spirit to lead me into the everlasting.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

The New International Version translates the same verse as – “And I will give them an undivided heart”. We want Jesus in our life. However, to release perceived power and control contradicts everything the world tells us. We are to protect our heart. Gather all the broken pieces and hold it all together. Hide our insecurities. Build walls between ourselves and fear. Fake it until you make it. God has placed eternity in our heart because that is the part He longs for. To pursue God with our life and keep our heart for ourselves will end in disappointment and frustration. God is love. Love is messy. It requires brokenness and giving up our way to unite with the object of our affection. No marriage can survive two people bent on having their way all the time. There must be giving.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Is the Gospel of my life hidden behind a veil? This veil can be constructed of many things. It represents the veil in the Temple. The one that kept people on the verge of knowing the Lord but dependent on someone else to endure the process. The Spirit of the Lord ripped the veil in half when Jesus died for our sins. There is no longer anything separating us from God and His Heart except those who decide to reconstruct a barrier in our life. The limitation in our life is built by us not the Lord. He made it clear. God wants His Children. His Desire is for us. He longs to live in love with us. He has created a life for us worth having.

We cannot share a love that has not been experienced. If we do not give our heart and all its stubbornness and brokenness and insecurity to the Lord to accept the new heart that He offers then what is the point. I can share the Good News with others but without the Light of His Glory which is His Love shining forth – it’s just another fairytale or feel good story. I can share all the miracles that we have experienced in our life as a result of faith – but without the love found in the careful and constant intervention of Jesus – it is just another coincidence or inexplicable random event – gawked at today and forgotten tomorrow. The Gospel is a farce without the heart of God’s People shining His Love through fragile, clay jars containing grace and mercy for all. We must give our hearts to Jesus. Every part. The broken parts. The hidden parts. The held-on-to parts for safekeeping. Our life is nothing under our own control. We cannot even keep the simple promises and vows made in our life. Jesus makes all things possible. He erases impossibility completely according to His Will and Way. His Goodness can only overflow from a heart freely given and a responsive one accepted in return.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So we go back to the beginning…God has promised to give us a new heart. He also offers us a new spirit. A tender and responsive heart. What is the never in your life that is holding you back? Or maybe it is the never that you did anyway? You and I are created in the Image of God. Christ is the visible image of God. Before departing this world, He took the Light of God’s Love and placed it in our heart. The cold, stony, and stubborn heart still held on to carries the potential to live a rich and satisfied life not in the choices we make or our ability to “change” our life making better choices or improving habits, but in our acceptance of a tender and responsive heart. We must respond to God’s Promises beginning with accepting the new heart and new spirit that is freely given to us. However, this is a position of trust that believes no matter what happens in our life that His Love is working out everything for our good. Do you believe that today? If so, your love will be made in the image of God. Your giving will be complete as you give your life away in love relinquishing control. God is intent on changing us not the environment that we live in.

The Glory of God shines brightest through the broken. This verse came to me praying for a mighty woman of God with congestive heart failure. A year ago, she testified in church that through many complications she did not have a “zipper” meaning no heart surgery. She gave the Lord glory for her healing and was a source of encouragement to me. She is in the hospital today facing her third heart surgery. Her faith in the Lord is stronger than ever. She still sings louder than everyone else when worshipping Him in the sanctuary. The first to proclaim “Hallelujah” at the mention of His Name. Her testimony is even stronger today than it was a year ago because in the midst of her trial she is still in love with the Lord. Her faith shines through the darkness of a broken body. Her heart for Jesus beats strong though her human heart is struggling. Jesus let that be me today. I give you my broken and beat up heart for a tender responsive one that shares the Light of Your Love consistently in all things, in all ways, from now until You come! I must decrease allowing You to increase Jesus! Like a wineskin bursting with new wine, I give my heart to you again. Make it beat with Yours, Lord. Give me the desires of Your Heart, God. Make me one with You today Jesus!

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

Have I Forgotten…

have-i-forgotten

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

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” Not everything in our past bears forgetting. There are details that are significant in making future decisions and the successful fulfilment of goals and aspirations. If the Word of God is true (and it is), He uses every single detail of our life for our good and His Glory. In Jeremiah, the Lord already declared that He has a plan for us that contains a future and hope. In Psalm 139, He tells us that every single day of our life has been prerecorded. I don’t fully understand predestination but I do believe that it is God’s Will for every human being to come to saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ. I also believe that woven into the story of our life are many opportunities to encounter the Son of the Living God and step into the Light of His Love forever. God chose us by creating us. However, in order for us to love Him, each person was given a free will. I am free to decide if I will love Him or not. God knows my choice. He also knows you, wants you and loves you endlessly, too. But sometimes I forget the good things that I should remember, things vitally important to the survival of my faith and growth in trust needed to make me believe.

I press on to possess that perfection for Christ Jesus first possessed me. I am far from perfect so what is this perfection all about? His Perfection. His Completion. The complete overtaking of my body, mind and spirit entrusting my soul to Jesus Christ. How can I achieve it? I must focus on one thing. The only thing that really matters in this life yet seems to fall down the priority list so easily.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Let ALL that I am praise the Lord with my WHOLE heart…let ALL that I am praise the Lord. Am I fully invested? Am I all in today? There is no question in my mind that Jesus is. He died a brutal and horrifying death as an innocent man because He wanted me. He desired me. Jesus loved me just as I am. The question is my love. My devotion. My willingness to trust. To not look back over my shoulder, asking what if, or thinking of turning back. There is no turning back as a Living Sacrifice. To sacrifice is to be completely committed to a cause. Absolute trust takes you to the mountain with not to offer but your best. The journey is not dependent on God providing but our willingness to go without a guarantee. Faith in God is never based on anything I can see. It is completely expressed in hope of the impossible and everything I cannot see but know and trust God is doing. What is the Lord doing anyway?

He forgives all my sins. New mercy arrives daily to cover every shortcoming, failure, rebellious thought and thoughtless act completely removing it as far as the east is from the west. He heals all my diseases. God heals our body, mind and spirit three different ways – miraculously, medically or mercifully. We do not always get to choose how God does it but know that if our trust is in the Lord it comes out for our benefit every single time. I miss my loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord. They do not miss me. The moment they laid their eyes on Jesus – they experienced complete healing and satisfaction never looking back again. He redeems me from death. Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for our sins and spent three days in the grave claiming His Prize. When He emerged from the tomb, He held the Keys to the Kingdom which He is thrusting into our hands. There is wonder working power available for us if we would only muster up enough faith to claim it and use it every day. He crowns me with love and tender mercies. Jesus loves me. Everything God does in my life is based on His Sovereignty including His Love. Why is this important? God chose to love us and there is nothing I can do to be separated from His Love. With this in mind, He fills our life with good things. With all this in mind, we have every reason praise Jesus with all that we are and trust Him with our whole heart.

Psalm 103:11-13 (NLT) For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

For His Unfailing Love toward those who fear (love and respect) Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. We spend our lifetime trying to grasp just how far, deep, wide and real His Love for us really is. How can I be sure? How can I keep myself from forgetting His Promises and Future with problems, pain and hard times at almost every turn?

Proverbs 3:1-5 (NLT) My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understand, feelings, opinions or the like. My praise cannot be dependent on my current circumstances or present situations. Seeing is not believing when it comes to the Kingdom. Religion may say so but my relationship to God is based solely and completely on the righteousness given to me by Jesus Christ so I walk by faith and not by sight. This means that my praise and persistence is based on my pursuit of the faith, hope and love found in Christ and not my ability to fulfill a single command. My vain attempts at obedience and spiritual growth add nothing to my salvation package. The one thing I must never forget are the things that the Lord has taught and is teaching me.

Store my commands in your heart. God’s Word planted in my heart will always produce Fruit from God’s Spirit. My ability to obey and fulfill each command does not add to the completion to my redemption but offers reverence and honor to the Lord. Religion makes us think if we do better than we are better. Reverence is totally submission to the One who fills our life with good things and fulfills our destiny. I am as helpless to do anything to earn the wonderful promises and blessings of God. All I can do is claim them, trust Him and believe until they come to pass.

Isaiah 43:18-20 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

The last month has been a little crazy in our family. My mom had to have emergency open heart surgery. I missed almost two full weeks of work. On a two-person production team, projects began to pile up. Already behind, there were a number of others “small inconvenient” things that crept up. By last Friday, I had worked a significant amount of hours to “catchup” at work. My goal was to spend some time with my parents and check in on them. Well, I was two hours late leaving work which set back our scheduled time to leave. When I got to my car, birds had a party in the tree overhead and it was covered in … well you get the picture. Pulling into my favorite gas station to fill up and get a quick car wash, the sign on the pump said, “Sorry for the inconvenience, car was unavailable. Annoyed I left, thinking I was sweating because of agitation adjusted the air condition to find that it was no longer working. This would not be a probable but I live in humid Florida where 85 or 90 degrees is common in the first week of November. Pulled into the shop to get it checked. The nice mechanic assured me it was probably just Freon and hooked me up to a machine. Meanwhile, kids are texting me that they are ready to go. Well, it definitely needed Freon but now the compressor wasn’t working. I was really getting ready to lose it at this point. My frustration level was on the brink of meltdown. It was at that point I just began thanking God. It was small and weak at first for minor and insignificant things until my frustration began to break and I could feel thankfulness and peace begin permeate my mind and spirit.

Sometimes to “forget all that” I have to dig into Psalm 103 and thank the Lord for the things that He does whether I am walking by faith or not. The days when the details of life overwhelm me because see those days are not going away. The pathway is through the wilderness. He makes a way through wastelands. Trusting God brings refreshment to our souls, but does not exempt us from trials or troubles in life. The table is prepared in the Presence of our enemies not some grand banquet hall on the other side.

In Lamentations 3:20, it says, “I will never forget this awful time…” Sadly you may not. The only way to forget the past is hinted at in verse 21, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…” These words of encouragement are offered to us by someone who struggles to release the past and grab hold of the future…is that you today? I find that when I begin to feel like I am falling or drowning in trouble – I remember Peter walking on the water to Jesus. When his faith failed, Jesus grabbed hold of his hand pulling him to safety. Lamentations 3:22-24, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

I Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT) When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

It is my profound belief that if Christians would live more transparent and honest lives that the Light of His Love would have an impact all around us. If believers would stop worrying about creating a life that like they “think” Jesus wants from them and focus on simply praising Him with ALL that they are and giving Him their WHOLE heart something in the atmosphere would change. We are all battling flesh no matter how holy we act in church or around other people. We all sin. So why are we compelled to judge anyone else since sin is sin none more vile than the other and all equally condemning? Why can’t we take God’s Word to heart, plant it and grow it rather than the opinion of others and offenses of others? When will Jesus be enough? When I decide that I will forget everything except Jesus Christ the one who was crucified? Church is not some big fancy building. I am the temple of God’s Spirit and so are you. What I bring to the building is what fills it. If I cannot bring a heart set on Jesus Christ alone, what do you think everyone else is doing?

Can I just encourage you today as the Lord encourages me? God will not forget you so you have nothing to fear. Jesus Christ sealed our salvation. All I must do is accept Him as my Savior and Lord. He has it all worked out. I can rest assured just each tiny sparrow that God has not lost sight of me and that I am important to Him. (Luke 12:5-6) It says in Isaiah that my name is inscribed in His Hand. I have nothing to fear. I do not need to worry. There is no need to look back and dwell on the past. Nothing of worth there is wasted. I have a future and hope ahead of me filled with life and life everlasting. Imagine the impact if this is the message of hope that believers shared with the world with full confidence.

Psalm 103:22 (NLT) Praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the Lord.

 

Almost Home

Almost Home

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

At this very moment, everything that we own is packed in one very big U-Haul truck, an equally large covered trailer, scattered among a number of automobiles, and our family housed with friends. It is a very distinct and odd perception to see everything that you own consolidated like that. It is humbling as well. It seems small for the investment of our life the contents and possessions that we accumulate. Furniture, once bought brand new, reveals its imperfections when emptied and moved more than a decade later. Clothes you haven’t worn in years are carried to another place in mounds. All those things that seemed so important unceremoniously stacked all around in an effort to move it to the next destination. Last night my husband reminded me for the evening that essentially we were homeless.

Transition is never. In the natural or spiritual sense, it is hard and uncomfortable. Today, an old chapter ends and a new one begins. Yet still I will not be home in every sense of the word because this place that I live is not my permanent home. I have a better more fulfilling place to look forward to. It is important in life to gain this perspective from time to time. To see our life not by where we are now, but where we are going. To see the treasures of this earth and their deteriorating state, to remember that this is only temporary so that the Lord can remind us that He has given us freedom to live for so much more.

Though moving less than an hour from our previous home, it seems like it is taking an eternity to complete this journey that began about a year ago. The day that I walked in a church and the Lord set my heart ablaze again. I cannot explain how God works all the time. I just know that when we choose to love Him that He never stops working on our behalf even when we give up, give out, or just can’t take another step. In the challenges of life, it is not always easy to offer a continual sacrifice of praise verbally but our willingness to continue this journey home even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and just plain hard is praise in and of itself. We are on a pilgrimage not to a new earthly destination but we live our life in full pursuit of God and His Kingdom. Our allegiance is to King Jesus so therefore everything that I have, will have, want or discover is homage to Him as Lord of my life or at least it should be.

I am trying not to complain in my discomfort. I really do not want to balk at the inconvenience. I know that God is moving us to better things and for His Purpose. The enemy has made it clear that he wants to stop our movement and hinder all progress. To God be the Glory this is not my permanent home, therefore the temporary trials cannot stop me. Life in perspective is a good thing when we look down from where the Lord is seating and take it for what it is worth which is far more than the contents of our life that fills trucks, homes and businesses. It is the One who fills our heart.

John 1:14 (NLT) So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

God’s People just couldn’t get it. Pilgrimages and journeys could not change their perspective on God and His Faithfulness. Unable to see the forest for the trees, God sent His Son Jesus to us so we could see His Word come to life. Jesus came to make His Home among us. To find a way from outside of us to live in our hearts. People proved to be a tough crowd. Jesus loved us and died for us just the same because God our Father and Jesus the Son could not image life without us eternally. God loves you. Do you believe that today? The perception of your life and circumstances would change dramatically if only we could somehow grasp the sheer magnitude of the Father’s Love. To live too far gone to turn back now…kind of like we are today.

The Word of God in our heart should promote our heavenward progression. In our daily determination to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ, it should always be evident that our purpose in life is God’s Word that has made His Home not just with us but in us! In this state of being unsettled that I am currently in, I am acutely aware that God is working doing more than I can think or ask. I sense His Spirit urging me gently on as the task ahead seems so overwhelming. Life is full of transitions, however; if our relationship with Jesus does not progress as His Word grows into a prospering soul – what have we gained.

John 14:23-26 (NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Yesterday afternoon, there were more than a few challenges associated with our move and closing on the new house. Details that could have derailed us completely. Frustrations that could have ended in defeat. Constant opportunities to throw in the towel and just give up except for one small fact – I believe that God told us to make this move. Driving to our friend’s house last night, I could feel the pity party starting and was determined to fight the urge to begin the chorus of complaints. I just did not think that after all the Lord has done for me behaving like Hezekiah would be appropriate either by reminding the Lord of all that “I” have done for Him. How could I? So instead, I just reminded the Lord of His Word both written and spoken to me. My circumstances did not change. My attitude did.

I love Jesus. I try to do what He says. I face opposition on a daily basis. The Lord has made His Home in my heart and given me the Holy Spirit as a helper. I have everything I need in this life to live like I am at home with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that things always go the way that I think they should or how I would like them, too. Just because God said it does not mean that He will immediately do it. It is in this nomadic journey called life that I discover the true potential and fulfillment of Christ in me rather than what I have around me.

2 Corinthians 5:5-8 (NLT) God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Just like every other step closer to the Lord and His Will for me, each one is just as challenging as the one before. My life is filled with purpose and potential written by the Hand of God. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in my heart. His Spirit fills me and surrounds my life with His Fruit. In every patch of my existence surrendered to the Lord, there is prosperity. It is times like this I can dig a little deeper in my heart to find a fertile place for the Word of God to grow some more. It is in my displacement and discomfort that I see even here in the midst of chaos that He is with me, in me and working for me not against me. We must live as temporary residents faithful to a timeless and limitless God. How do we do that? By being pushed beyond our comfort to find rest in the Lord. To be moved past complacency as not to die in this place but life in His Presence for His Glory. Not a single that I have will give me greater joy and peace than Christ who lives in me but how will I know that unless I see things as they are – the reality of this life is that what we have is worthless compared to knowing Jesus and asking Him to make Himself at home in our heart.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

When our kids were smaller and we would go on trips, they would begin the chorus of “are we there yet” sometimes minutes on our way. One would ask and then another might join for good measure. I would begin my response of “almost” which continued into reaching our destination. I know that there are days I cry out to the Lord the very same thing. Challenged to trust His Timing and determined to end disbelief, I want to welcome His Way, His Word and His Will in my life. My flesh likes comfort but commitment is born of sacrifice. I am stubborn by nature but God is looking for a soft and pliant heart to welcome His Seed and let it grow in my life. I must continue to trust that the Lord is working out my salvation, making every detail for my good and perfecting my way when things are to the contrary – I choose not to be contrary but strive for commitment.

My life is all about faith. It is learning to lean on the Lord and trust Him just a little bit more each day. Days like today are challenging. Not many people can actually comprehend that our family is completely transitioning because we are taking God at His Word…but that really is the only reason. It has to be enough. It can only be enough when I allow Jesus to make His Home in my very unstable and weak heart. It is the moment I decide that the One who lives in me is greater than he who is in the world. It is in that moment you tell God you cannot go any further, yet somehow find a way to take one step more called faith. God lives in us. His Son, Jesus has made His Home in our heart. This means no matter where we are, what we are doing, what state we are in or the current conditions of my life – I am still almost home because Christ lives in me.

I Peter 2:9-12 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

 

 

Inconvenient Life

Inconvenient Life

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

 

The week of “what next” is what I would call it. Just one thing after another, nothing terminal. My life has felt as though I am being pecked to death by a brace of ducks attacking feet. One annoyance after another. Sick children topped the list. One trip to the doctor will now turn to two. Missed work going on day three and wondering if it is piling up on me. My left eye is twitching so now I am wondering if I have pink eye, too. Schedules interrupted. Routines broken. I think I need to disinfect my entire house all over again. Do I have bleach? Wait work. I need to focus on work. Will I get caught up today? What about the house? Why isn’t it selling? Man, I hope the new one is not under contract. Wait! What am I doing? Inconvenience. I would call my life inconvenient today. What about you? Are things going as planned? Minor illnesses plaguing the roost? Work got you down? Housework piling up? Schedule hectic. Routine ruthless. All these things lead to distraction. Deadly distractions if we do not see things from a higher view and broader perspective.

 

We must never ever consider for a moment giving up but always strive to press on. We are called to something greater and much higher than the ordinary things in life that tend to hold us back. Our emotions get entangled in the inconveniences and soon our faith is strained and hope bogged down in the temporary rather than fixed on the eternal. It happens to us all. We are all human but called to a supernatural life much greater than ourselves. Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) It is this mindset that allows us to fix our eyes on the things we cannot see rather than becoming consumed with all that is around us. “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) It is time to take it up a notch. To look beyond all the inconveniences that exist in our ordinary existence to reach for the extraordinary life God planned for us.

 

Our present troubles are small. They won’t last long. Our trouble is only temporary even though some days it feels as though you just can’t seem to catch a break. Remember Job, first it was everything he loved and all of his livelihood and then his life. Did he know that God wouldn’t allow the enemy to kill him? I am sure as the boils rose and broke on his skin, death seemed like a relief. God had other plans. He planned to prosper and bless Job giving him double for his trouble. What about you? Do you feel as though you and Job have a thing or two in common? If so, rejoice! Rather than looking at the situation, celebrate the season that is coming. I know, I know. It’s hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. But God wants to take you wider, longer, higher and deeper than ever before so that His Love can wrap around every single part of your life. (Ephesians 3:18-20) It is in the Presence of God that we can see above the pain, heartache, suffering of this season into the next one that is coming. It is called faith. It is the very thing that produces hope that never leads to disappointment. While you are simply looking for a way out, God has more in store for you than you might ask or think.

 

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

 

If you can see it, do it, or think it – you really do not need faith to secure it. Faith is the reality of things that we hope for and the evidence of things that we cannot see. When the life does not add up to the Promises of God – it is important that we live in the realm of hope. The life of faith is ever changing the more we pursue the Lord. Faith is illogical. It requires God’s Spirit to hold on to because there is no tangible evidence otherwise. Hope in us must become so weighty it resembles a mighty anchor or we will waver and drift away. (Hebrews 6:19) I have come to live for the word “impossible”. When someone deems that nothing more can be done or attempts to seal my destiny with a word life “forever”, they step outside their realm of authority into God’s Place in my life. He does not take this lightly and time after time changes the situation immediately. Trouble is most people cannot exist without options or escape routes. They will follow Jesus until it me going places our feet cannot touch, or jumping out of the boat to walk on water. Comfort and compromise take the place of inconvenience. We want immediate gratification so many times God’s Timing is just not acceptable to us. It is in those moments of decision when we choose to stick it out and wait to see what God is doing that we experience double portions, complete healings, supernatural turnaround and more.

 

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 

Just like you, there are things in my life that do not add up to what God has promised me in His Word and confirmed in my spirit. I am waiting. I don’t like to wait. In fact, it is a joke among those who know me. Yet, God consistently gives me opportunities to wait. When I have waited and watched beyond my expected wait time, rather than abandoning my post, I now begin digging a little deeper and try to look past what I can see. I have learned that in my waiting that the Lord is always active. But what if, like the “foreigners and nomads” wandering the earth, waiting and watching for the Messiah, I had died before He came. Would I have been faithful? Would I have strived to live a holy life? Would I have been called “righteous”? They did not receive the promise in their lifetime, yet seeing it in the distance still welcomed it. I want that to be me today. No longer bothered by the inconveniences in my life but to be focused and settled on the Kingdom that is coming that lives in me now.

 

I Peter 1:14-17 (NLT) So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

 

Many times people become so engrossed in making this life better, we lose sight of that which is coming that is far greater than this life we live. We want God to satisfy our fleshly desires, fill our bank accounts, tame our rowdy children, give us promotions and increase along with a nice house and fancy car yet none of that will add a moment or measure to our life of worth. Those things are dying with this planet. We must live as God’s Obedient Children right now. Before we see Him, just because we know Him and love Him. We must be holy, set apart and consecrated to the Lord which means constantly and consistently laying our life down for others in every way possible. We must live humbly.  We are to live respectfully. We are to live honestly. We are temporary residents and must live faithful to the Kingdom to which we belong. My response to life should not be based on my circumstances but solely on my residence in God’s Kingdom and responsibility as a Child of the King.

 

I Peter 2:13-17 (NLT) For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

 

There is no sense of entitlement in the Kingdom of God and so we cannot adopt one here. The world owes us nothing. As a member of the Body of Christ, I do owe the world something. Love. Romans 13:8 says, “Own nothing to anyone except your obligation to love one another.” We are to submit to ALL human authority even if you did not choose it or vote for it. It is God’s Will for us to live honorable lives that silence ignorant people. Here’s a hint – there are no soapboxes in Heaven. You do not have to prove a point. Discredit the devil. Or prove God right. You are called to love everyone. If your words brutalize another, they are not from God. We can love others to Jesus without offending them, verbally assaulting them or even convincing them of hell. We must use our attitude and actions to convince other people that God’s Love is great and His Grace even greater so they will see Him and love Him like we do.

 

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

We will always have trouble. There will be trials in our life to produce faith that is so precious. Endurance is the thing that allows our faith to grow into the capacity needed to have secure hope that can live for forever rather than fixed on today. The process is lengthy. Some days overwhelming. But for those who do not give up and carry the term “temporary resident” though life is inconvenient, it will always be worth it. Nothing is wasted as God’s Word Promises. He works every detail in our life for our good. (Romans 8:28) He perfects that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He has a plan far greater than my own containing a future and hope even though I want it right now. (Jeremiah 29:11) What does He want in return? Just for me to believe. If I choose to live this life as though I really do believe in God, His Son, His Spirit and His Kingdom, this inconvenient life will lead to an everlasting forever. The Lord desires to make us perfect and complete needing nothing. Fully satisfied and completely fulfilled. Who doesn’t want that? Everyone does. Who is willing to wait for it? Not as many. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Will it be you? Will it be me? I intend to make it so.

 

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are

Better Life or Eternal Life?

Better Life or Eternal Life

Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

 

On the days when I am fortunate enough to keep my head above water, my heart from wandering, my thoughts from worthless things, and intent on following Jesus completely, I see things from a perspective of faith and hope that calms all fear and provides great peace. It is a challenge. A battle fought daily with mind, body and spirit. If anyone were to tell you differently, it is only a lie. The truth is many have stopped fighting. Giving up on God’s Glory and all that goes with it because they have not experienced it for themselves so it must not be true. Getting wrapped in today with total disregard for tomorrow much less forever, it is human nature to live for today because it is all we have left. Are you discouraged today? Are you a bit confused? Are the outcomes in your life not adding up to the Word you hold on to? Where are His Promises? Where is hope? If the intention of our heart is to know Him, the enemy will give us every opportunity to give up. See he wants our heart, mind, soul and desires to twist them, turn them and pervert them so we will be overtaken. Today, the Lord is reminding us to take a step up. Look at life from His Vantage Point taking on His Perspective. God has a plan with a future and hope. Jesus is definitely coming back and there will be a Day of Judgment. Whether or not we believe is inconsequential.

 

For those who call themselves believers, the return of Jesus Christ is a day that is longed for. For those who follow the Lord, it will be a great relief like coming home after years apart. It will be a time of celebration. We not know when it will happen, or exactly what it will be like yet still we can prepare. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus will come back just simply to be ready. When an evangelist, pastor, preacher, apostle or prophet gives a specific day, I am pretty certain you can rule that day out completely because only He knows the day and hour. What I do know is this? According to this passage in Luke, there will be atmospheric changes precipitating the Return of Jesus. Can we all agree that there is definitely changes in the weather, more frequent earthquakes, and other things that are not normal? Men’s hearts will fail them with fear. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, from 1999 to 2012 the percentage of Americans on antidepressants increased from 6.8% to 13% nearly doubling. A report released in 2011 by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (ages 12 and older) increased almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. The federal government’s health statistician’s figure that one in every ten Americans are takes an antidepressant. Yes, I would say that the human heart is filled and failing in fear. Heaven and earth are being shaken. The Lord is moving as if pacing back and forth. He sees the condition of the earth and the plight of His People. He is ready to move. But are we?

 

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I do not share these viewpoints or statistics to beat anyone down or produce more fear than already looming, but to say this…we are about to see God’s Glory. The first three checklist items are already happening. The church is crying out and calling out for revival. There is a generation that is sparking a renewal in the previous one for Jesus. I desire, passion and longing is stirring. It says right here, “then they will see”. I believe that the Glory of God precedes His Arrival. It is coming. Are we ready?

 

Psalm 85:9-13 (NKJV) Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

 

You haven’t missed it. It doesn’t matter what we have done but what we do now with this knowledge that Jesus is coming back. Do you believe it? Our chosen lifestyle tells more than our lips ever will as it reveals what we believe in our heart. When God waits, it is on us. When He tarries, it is by His Grace for us. He rumbles the world around us upsetting the environment as if saying, “Ready or not, here I come!” He allows are heart to be pressed so that the innermost contents are expressed so we know where we stand and have the opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. The Heavens and earth shake as His Glory begins to pour out. We are crying out for revival because though our brain may not comprehend, His Glory is coming to pour out on all mankind because right after than Jesus comes back. A call to righteousness proceeds His Arrival. It is here. It is now.

 

Matthew 24:5-13 (NKJV) “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

When I was a teenager, our church would go through the Book of Revelation at least once a year along with the Book of Hebrews. It’s a good combination don’t you think? Now, they would show us films depicting what it would be like in the “end times”. One of the things it showed was the mark of the beast. How creepy, right? We would all watch slowly shaking our head vowing never to get the mark. One of those movies showed it to be a branding of some sort with the numbers “666”. Not to make fun of anyone, but do you really think the enemy is dumb enough to come right at us? Seriously. Didn’t think much more about it until more recently. First, the AMA now requires that all health information be entered into a world system so that no matter where a human being is in the world that their medical records can be accessed. This new innovation is introduced as public safety. Fair enough. The next step is to inject tiny chips in our hands so that it can be scanned to obtain the information. Coincidence? The banks and financial institutions caught the drift and feel this would be a wonderful way to increase security and stop identity theft, etc. So to begin with a chip is now on credit cards. When you receive your new card, it will have the chip. The long-term goal is to “allow” users to have a microscopic chip implanted for ease of use and security. This is all in the news.

 

We hear wars and rumors of wars. There are famines, violence and even earthquakes all over the world. Just because it does not affect you, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Christians are facing tribulation and persecution. Who do you think ISIS hates? They are at war against Christianity. People are offended just ask someone what they think about Target’s new bathroom rule and be prepared. Betrayal is everywhere even the church. People hate one another. False prophets…there are more than a few touting Jesus is not the only way and grace requires nothing from us so do what feels good. P.S. God still hates sin but loves the sinner. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. We must endure all these things to be saved. We must not be consumed by the things going on in the world around us or become distracted trying to change the world for the better. We are not called to change the world but to be the Light in the Darkness showing others the love and grace given to us by Jesus.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

Hebrews 10:35-37 (NKJV) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: for yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

 

The word “therefore” means in consequence of that, as a result, or consequently. The Lord has told us what it would be like and equipped us to make it to the end. It is important that we do not give up or cast away our confidence in the midst of the circumstances of life and daily pressure around us. We must not be overcome by the challenges of life but keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. You don’t have to go it alone but so many times we do. Religion tells us to do things for the Lord. He only wants a relationship with us. He wants to welcome us home to be with Him forever. The enemy wages war to keep us from that day. We have a great reward. We must endure. We need faith and confident hope to do that. It says, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” I believe with all my heart that revival is coming as His Righteousness proceeds His Return and a final outpouring of His Spirit and dispensation of His Glory like never before. Do not be discouraged today but look up and life up your head. He is coming closer than ever before. Jesus loves you. He wants you. His Grace is for you.

 

John 17:20-24 (NKJV)

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Jesus prayed for us. He knew these would be tough times. He desires to be one with us just like He is one with the Father. It is very easy for the stress and worries of this life to overtake us. Matthew 6:25-30 tells of overwhelming worry and fear driven by survival. We do not have to survive but can thrive in a life surrendered to Jesus as He completes and gives us a rich and satisfying life. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The Lord offers to carry our burden as we “yoke” our life to Him walking His Way, and allowing His Will to take over. The need for control is a fear response. In fact, worry, fear, and anxiety are all born of doubt and disbelief which disqualify faith. We must daily turn every single one over to the Lord in order to walk with Him. Freedom is given to those who by faith put their trust in Jesus. How about you? Is it time to unload? Are there some things weighing you down that you have chosen to carry rather than trusting the Lord with them? They will keep you from His Glory if you do not let them go!

 

Matthew 19:27-30 (NKJV) Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

“See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” I can only imagine in the days leading to the Cross that the disciples were perplexed. What do you want from the Lord today? Is it a temporary fix? What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? (Mark 8:36-38) Are we really seeking Jesus for eternal life or a better life? Don’t answer that…just yet. If our mindset is not forever, we are bound to today. Hope is for the future and found in Jesus Christ. If we can see it, we can have it. If we can touch it, we can do it. I think about the rich young man who came to Jesus. He was really confident in what He was doing by following the letter of the Law and “doing” all the right things. But then Jesus took it up a notch requiring him to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. What did the young man do? He turned away because he had a pretty good life here on earth with many possessions. He could not give up now for forever. What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from entering the Presence of God? What is keeping you from His Glory? It is always a “me” thing because His Offer always stands, “Whosoever will let him come.” (Mark 8:34) As we deny ourselves – our comfort, convenience, complacency and control – God’s Glory will resonate in our life and we will see the greatest revival of all time. It will be the one that proceeds Christ’s Return.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Do not lose heart today. Friend, Jesus is closer than you think or feel. He is pressing in and drawing near to your broken heart and ravaged soul that has been severely taken advantage of by the loveless and brutal world. Circumstances and conditions may not change in the earth, but the Lord will make peace in your heart. He will cause that measure of faith that you were born with to begin to grow and seek to connect with the eternity in your heart. This is not the life you were created to live. You have purpose. Your life has real meaning that is not found in what you do here but who you are in Christ. The Lord promises to renew our inward man day by day. He is ready to release a far exceeding and eternal weight of glory in our life. If we will just set aside the weight that holds us back, release the worries and cares that keep us bondage and step into His Glory. The Lord loves you today. He desires you. He calls you His Beloved. If you will just wait a little longer, go a little farther and press in a little deeper – there will be a happily ever after. The King is most definitely among us. His Glory surrounds us. We are victorious. Revival is rising in His Name. Will you take part in it? Or will you allow it to pass you by caught up in these temporary things? It’s up to you. I say lift your head up and look – Jesus is closer than every before.

 

Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV) Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.

Latter Days

Latter Days

Proverbs 19:20-21 (NKJV)

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

 

The big 5-0 is finally here. Would it be safe to say that I am entering my latter days? The reality of it truly hit me last night at my surprise party. My husband and children along with sweet friends managed to pull one over on me. They really did an amazing job. So well, in fact, that I think I must keep a closer eye on all of them in the future. The reality of it all came last night looking at the beautiful birthday cake that turned out to be divine. Getting ready for everyone to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, I read the message on lavish icing. “Happy 50th Lori!” I am not senile or suffering from any form of dementia. I did not forget the day or my age. But in that moment, it all became real. I am fifty years old. How did it happen? Where did half a century go? What will I do with the rest of my days? My thoughts were drowned out by several renditions of well wishes. My ponderings tucked away in my fully overflowing heart. Until today…as I begin the latter days.

 

Lord, let me be wise in my latter days. Who has regrets about the past? Who has ever looked back at years squandering hoping for restoration? Time is the most precious commodity that we are given. Once a moment passes, it cannot be regained or relived. This makes it valuable and worthwhile. Listen to counsel and receive instruction. No longer a child yearning for freedom, I have freedom in Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful freedom hard won and everlasting. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for my life. In Him is the counsel and instruction that I need to be wise in my latter days. Lord, give me wisdom in each step and revelation in each breath. Let knowledge of you blossom and bloom into a deeper relationship with you. Jesus, help me to enter the promise of latter days today and every day for the rest of my life.

 

Job 42:11-12 (NKJV)

Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning…

 

Job 42:16-17 (NKJV)

After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.

 

What have I learned in all these years? The Lord is good. He is worthy of my praise. He is a good, good Father just like the song says. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. I am weak but He is strong. I have felt the peace that passes all understanding and the inexpressible joy that cannot be explained. I found these golden nuggets of wisdom in the rough terrain of life. Whether I was struggling up the rough side of a mountain or crawling through the valley, the Lord has been with me. Life is hard. People change. Nothing in life is dependable but my God is faithful. Tomorrow is certainly not promised so we must live out each day. I have discovered that most of the “majors” really are minors vying for too much time and attention. The good do die young. Not every story has a happy ending. There is heartache in every happy ending. Experience is the very best teacher and it is okay to taste and see that the Lord is good. I could keep on with these bits and pieces of revelation but the truth is that each one applies to me and my understanding of life.

 

Life is filled with ups and downs – days we do and days we don’t understand the Plan and Will o God but must choose to remain in His Love. There is a harvest of hope that comes from great hardship. I have desired wisdom that comes in waiting even though I have never been a proponent of patience. Job endured a great hardship in his life losing everything of earthly value in a single day. The “things” that made him successful in man’s eyes quickly evaporated with the breath of each messenger. What did Job say? “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord!” Today, it is my sound conviction and active confession that “blessed be the Name of the Lord forever.” The Word of God tells us that Job lived a long life, upon his departure that he was old and full of days. Filled to the uttermost is how I like to think of it. The Lord produced double for his trouble and it was according to God’s Glorious Standard right down to the details including things like his daughters being the most beautiful in the land. God fulfilled His Promise and Prophecy over Job’s life.

 

Job 8:5-7 (NKJV)

If you would earnestly seek God and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you were pure and upright, surely now He would awake for you, and prosper your rightful dwelling place. Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.

 

As I read this today, something inside my heart grabbed hold as if reading my own diary written before time began. The words of Bildad the Shuhite to his good friend, Job. His friends were convinced that Job had sinned against the Lord inviting wrath to destroy his life. Not the case at all, but rather God’s Plan painfully yet beautifully unfolding like the wings of a butterfly set free from the cocoon. I believe that Bildad’s words are prophetic to Job and even whisper now to my own heart. The message is simple and clear as I prepare to step into my latter days of life.

 

Seek God more earnestly than ever before. Pray more. I need to pray first. I need to pray often. I must not stop praying until I receive answers. Be pure. Take everything I know about the Lord and how I apply it to my life and run it through the Word of God one more time. Compare my life to His Example to imitate God more and the world less. I need to wake up and take notice that while I am not getting any younger – Jesus is definitely moving closer and coming sooner. I bloom where I am planted. Going after God is not a forward propelling motion but a deeply rooted love that is not moved in stormy weather and does not dry up in the midst of famine. Why? What’s the point? I’m over the hill. My life is halfway over. My youth is in the past. Not exactly.

 

Today, I hear these words so clearly. “Though your beginning was small, yet your latter end would increase abundantly.” It took 50 years for the Lord to mold and shape me for the days called latter. The harvest of hope that comes after long periods of waiting are just within my reach if I continue to lay hold of Jesus. Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that “the end of a thing is better than it’s beginning.” Just as Bildad prophesied his friend’s future, the Lord is speaking to me… or maybe to us that it is time to end starting and stopping. Stop excusing our youth, living in the past and forgetting about the future. Those who endure to the end are saved. The Lord has declared the former things from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) It is time to take hold of each promise and bind it to our life as a reminder that the best is yet to come. As we ready in Job 42, Job lived a full life. The best is yet to come.

I Corinthians 13:9-13 (NKJV)

For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

I have lived long enough to see that good things really do come to those who wait. Well placed expectation mixed with patience and perseverance pays off in prosperity and the fulfillment of God’s Promises. Looking back over the last fifty years at least as far as I can remember, I have felt this nudging in my heart that constantly keeps me on the verge of the sentiment that “there must be more to life than this”. This has been the drive of most of my spiritual walk. My salvation must produce more than I can see. My hope is just the tip of the iceberg. Hidden beneath is the magnitude of God’s Love for me. Every promise for my life is “yes” and “amen” in Christ Jesus. Not a single one has passed or is forgotten just waiting for its proper place in time.

 

I guess now would be as good a time as any to put away childish things, unimportant endeavors, and emotional interludes to take hold of God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. I believe that God is not only good but that He is good to me. He loves me. He would never set me up to fail. His Hope never ever leads to disappointment. Lord, thank you for your promises today every single one. The ones that I can see and the ones that will be coming. Let faith lead me into a future of boundless expectation and limitless purpose just because I believe. Nothing is ever wasted. God let all the seeds planted in my life give way to an abundant harvest. I know that I am stepping into my latter days. Thank you Lord! I see how far we have come together. Bind me to Your Side, humble me at Your Feet, keep my hand upon Your Heart and may my feet fall in step with You, God. Let me put away childish things for clearly I am no longer a child. Lord, let my life be so covered in love that all others see is You, Jesus. This best is yet to come. It is the latter days.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NKJV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Everlasting

Everlasting

Psalm 106:47-48 (NIV)

Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.

 

Can I encourage you today? Can I stretch your thinking about the events of yesterday and ease your worry already rising up about today? From everlasting to everlasting, He is God! Did your day just get better? Did your cares and burdens begin to lift? If not, they should have. It is the promise that we as believers hold on to in this life. By faith, this is the foundational promise of the hope that we need to anchor our soul (Hebrews 6:19) and keep us from wavering (Hebrews 10:23) due to distractions and detours all part of the enemy’s plan. Faith is found in the everlasting. It is the very thing that keeps the troubles and trials of today temporary rather than terminal. It is one’s absolute faith and conviction that God is everlasting which allows us to wrap our heads and hands around Heaven and pull it down to the earth.

 

From everlasting to everlasting is a long time. It means “lasting forever”. The Kingdom of God is from everlasting to everlasting. It has no beginning or end. It is the past and future all together. We must make an attempt no matter how feeble with our limited understanding to wrap our brain around the Everlasting God who is our Father. (Isaiah 9:6) When Jesus came one of His Roles was that of Everlasting Father. His Death and Resurrection presented the ultimate sacrifice that allows us mere mortals to become part of His Kingdom forever as a Child of the King. Maybe your life doesn’t seem that awesome today…perhaps your position is not that of royalty but constant slavery. The idea of the everlasting today has the power to free you from wallowing us in pity and pain to establish our priesthood in the Lord and our place as princes and princesses as Children of God.

 

I know…I know optimism based on opinion is annoying when you are fighting in the trenches for survival. When yesterday, today and tomorrow are covered in foreboding clouds with a forecast of rain. How do we enter the Light of His Love when everything around us is shrouded in darkness? Friend, faith is based on fact. The fact is God is Everlasting. His Kingdom is everlasting. His Love is everlasting. His Grace is everlasting so that makes His Covenant everlasting. The fact that God cannot lie or change His Mind makes His Promise and Plan for us everlasting, too. The everlasting changes everything.

 

Everlasting means lasting forever, constantly recurring, and continuing for an indefinitely long time. It never comes to an end. Unlike the things of this life that will all come to an end when King Jesus arrives. Your problems will vanish. Your trouble will end. Your pain will be relieved. Your questions will be answered. How do we connect with the everlasting? When we stretch our faith from everlasting to everlasting, believing that He is the Alpha and Omega or the Beginning and the End, it allows our faith to connect Heaven and earth in agreement with God’s Perfect Plan and acceptance of His Promises as the Truth that governs our life. It is in that moment that we believe and proclaim effectively – “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

 

Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV)

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 

The omnipresence of God is relevant to reinforce our belief and ability to have faith in Him. We must believe that He is God and the Great I AM whose existence cannot be documented because there was nothing before Him and will be nothing after Him. God is everywhere at the same time. Hard to fathom but nevertheless the Truth. We serve an everlasting God who is always with us.

 

Psalm 119:142 (NIV) Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.

 

God is always right. His Word is always true. It leads to purpose and perfection for those who believe it making it the instruction and guidance for living. What does God say about you? Do you know? Have you read His Word? Have you discovered your purpose? Let’s be practical. If you buy a new gadget or toy, the instructions are useful as the manufacturer instructs us on how to properly assemble the product. It gives the consumer guidelines for appropriate use and maximum life of the item purchased. God is our Creator. He has a plan and purpose for His People that contains a future and hope. It is for our good in all things not just some things. He is everlasting so He takes all things in to consideration and tells us that He will make good of every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) It’s like a money back guarantee. If God is always right, and we believe this in our heart, then it would only seem fitting that as His Children we would follow His Instructions and Directions in this life. Fitting it may seem but truthfully few actually read the Word of God on a regular basis. Starving our faith weakens our connection to the Kingdom. We are powerless to bring Heaven to earth because we lack knowledge and understanding which comes with the warning – “my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

 

Psalm 103:15-18 (NIV)

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

 

The life of mortals is like grass. What a depressing statement if you don’t know the Lord! God’s Love for us is from everlasting to everlasting. From beginning to end, the Lord expresses His Love to us hoping that one day someone will notice. Is that someone you today? Though people are considered mortals, we put our trust in them readily. God offers mankind an everlasting covenant that disconnects our outcomes from the possible to connect with the impossible. We can experience Heaven on earth as our faith connects us with the Kingdom of God. We must trust the Lord more than people. We must love God more than other people. We must put our faith in the One who we hope for and long for other than those we encounter with our five senses. It is imperative to lock our lives into the Everlasting Covenant that the Lord has given us in order to change the atmosphere of our life and impact the lives of others.

 

God’s Love is full of grace and mercy so on those not so stellar days when we become consumed by others rather than our Lord, we can call it a day and get on track tomorrow. We have a Source of Light and Love so profound that no bad day will last forever. No promise will go unfulfilled. No pain is forever. No brokenness will destroy us but cause us to become stronger. His Grace is enough for me because it is everlasting. Lift up your head and see today where your help comes from! It is not your best friend, your partner, your spouse, your parents, your children or any other human that you come in contact with. Your enemies are powerless. In fact, those people who are annoying, aggravating or assaulting your life are not the enemy of your life, but rather God’s Ministry for our life. Our ability to love those not so lovely extends the everlasting kingdom that we have been given to another. ALL OF HEAVEN rejoices when one lost soul is found.

 

Isaiah 40:27-31 (NIV)

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

 

Discontentment and dissatisfaction are warning signs that our connection to the Kingdom of God is weak. It allows us to press into His Presence for the love and compassion that draws us close to Him. By connecting to the Kingdom of God by faith and hanging on no matter how rough the ride, it becomes an active force in our life. The everlasting becomes evident and real in us so that we do not struggle to hang on but fight to maintain it. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that God is everlasting and so is His Kingdom. You can outlive any circumstance. You can outlast any trial. You can make it to the end of any situation because greater is He who is in you than He that is in the world. Jesus is always the last man standing. He will always be victorious. Stick with Him and we win!

 

It is in human weakness that we forget the God we serve. He will never forsake or forget us. He is never tired of pursuing us. He is never wearied by our weakness. His Love is everlasting. Do you believe it? Do you believe that His Grace is enough? It is actually more than enough to be applied to any situation without need for reserve. When we agree with the Everlasting God, His Everlasting Kingdom, His Everlasting Covenant and His Everlasting Promises – we have established an everlasting connection by faith. Everything changes in that moment even if we cannot see the impact on the earth.

 

Silence your complaints. Build your faith. Pursue His Love today. You will find it because it is forever. Recurring. Endlessly supplied. He understands when we cannot. He promises that every detail of our life will work together for our good. We need only agree and say, “Amen!”

 

Jeremiah 32:39-41 (NIV)

I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

 

You know the saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” It is human nature to be prideful and pursue a better life for one self. What happens when we fail? What is the consequence of our faults? What about when we are wrong and misguided? We come to the end of our self. It is humbling. It can be devastating. Some will never return from the place of complete devastation because there is nothing keeping them secure. Faith in ourselves end when we fall short. Confidence and hope in others end when betrayal comes. When the unthinkable happens in our life, we are forced to examine what we believe as we forage through our heart and mind looking for faith. God doesn’t want us to flounder but to live faithful and confident existences. This is achieved by our connection to Christ who offers us the Keys to the Kingdom so that whatever we ask for in His Name will belong to us according to His Will. I want the Will of God for my life. I cannot always say that I did. It was in my complete undoing and with a shattered heart that I came to understand just how important it is that God is everlasting. I must connect to that to bring Heaven to earth. It is such a pursuit that the Lord gives singleness of heart and action as we now have purpose and a plan. Our fearful respect of Jesus in our life allows me to benefit from our everlasting covenant with God that produces His Favor and Everlasting Goodness in our life. It has no end. Even on the days it is unclear, faith reminds me to just hang on because He is coming. He promised. God rejoices in doing good for us. We simply must align our heart and mind with His Kingdom!

 

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Sometimes we just need a little soul searching to see that which has become an obstacle to what we believe. There are days that I forget that my God, His Love and His Promises are everlasting and true. Don’t you? It is on days like that when I just cannot see the Light of His Love in the darkness of the storm that I simply say, “Amen!” To agree with God by faith believing that He is the Everlasting and Omnipresent God who is always with us and will never forsake us allows us to have His Kingdom come and His Will to be done on the earth. It is pretty clear that He intends to love us. We accept and acknowledge His Pursuit of us by faith and confident hope in the everlasting. Faith is made firm when we choose to believe that our God reigns forever and over every situation enough to stand in the rain. Hope keeps us anchored by our soul to the place that loves and values it most. Do you need to experience God’s Everlasting Love today? Invite Him to examine your heart today. Be ready. He will reveal the very thing that has caused a breach in your faith or blinders to cover your spiritual eyes. His Spirit will remove it and fill it with more of His Amazing Love. Let the Lord have all your cares, worries and anxious thoughts today. He cares for you and is always making a way for you so there is no need to fret. Finally, ask the Lord to reveal anything that offends Him in your life or that which grieves His Spirit. Be ready. God speaks to those who listens and blesses those who do what He says! You can live from everlasting to everlasting just connect your faith to the Kingdom of God and refuse to move until He does!

 

Isaiah 60:18-20 (NIV)

No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

Honeymooners

Honeymooners

Psalm 26:2 (NKJV) Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

 

When I gave my heart to Jesus completely, finally surrendering ALL of my life and not just the parts I was comfortable with, it entailed a different kind of worship than that of my family. My husband and I were attending a full-gospel church. For the first time in my life, it all made sense. The Word of God and the Spirit of Truth finally made up my mind. I wanted all of God. I engaged in a full pursuit to know Jesus – spirit, mind, heart, soul, and body. Every facet of me in agreement to live for the Lord…finally. Although my family was glad to see me finally settle down and surrender my life, they were concerned with my choice of doctrine. Raised Southern Baptist, they were cautious about my choice to become charismatic or Pentecostal. I was hurt. I was disappointed as the newfound zeal and enthusiasm for Jesus seemed to be somehow discounted or discredited. I knew the transformation I was experiencing but could not seem to express it to those whose opinions mattered most. After months of radical change in our life, but continued questioning all I could ask was that they examine my fruit, the productivity of my life and decide if it truly was of the Lord.

 

There are honeymoon periods in life when something is new and exciting. Obviously a marriage is followed by a honeymoon which can last a few days or even a few years for some. This is followed by the reality of commitment. Love is not the fuzzy feeling or enveloping emotion at the first sight of someone or deepening intimacy. It is the commitment that after initial passion cools or appearances fade who can continue in covenant when the getting becomes giving. Love is an extension of us. It connects us with the outpouring of self to accept another and give them our all. Anything less is not love. Every new thing in life comes with anticipation and excitement but as we engage in the operation of life called obedience – it is remaining faithful and true to all that is promised which challenges the wavering heart and indecisive mind. Any oath taken, promise made or commitment agreement is laborious. It is contrary to human nature. It will require patience, endurance and perseverance. This is when we no longer can rely on the five senses or emotions to get us through but must examine our heart and mind to prove our commitment.

 

We must examine ourselves. We must invite and allow the Holy Spirit to assist us as we do. Other people are not the most credible source for evaluation of self. No person is above sin or has achieved perfection. Only Jesus can give us clear insight of what needs to happen to take one more step in the journey to eternity. Only I know the real and raw contents of my heart and mind including every doubt, fear, hurt, disappointment, bitterness, strife, malice, anger, sin and more that keeps me from moving deeper into the Presence of God whether I will admit it or not. This partnership with Christ must be one that is examined daily for reality, credibility and true or our life as a Christian is nothing more than a farce. A self-established title for this life without any benefit beyond our natural life.

 

2 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NKJV)

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

 

Examine yourselves as to whether you in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? How do you respond to the testing and challenging of your faith? Are you the only one who knows that you are a Christian? Are you sure that Christ lives in you? Are you experiencing manifestations and demonstrations of God’s Power in natural life? All of these are valid points of faith in full operation. We cannot live as a life of godly authenticity and not experience God’s Power in our life. Obedience and faithfulness beginning in our heart and mind in agreement with Christ will yield supernatural results whether invited, welcomed or acknowledged or not. We are weak in the natural but the Strength and Power of God is ours in our weak inabilities. When we decide to live a life committed to the Lord, His Power is released in us and through us.

 

Faith is not blind though we cannot see what we can believe. It is the knowledge of God exalted in our life as we live by what is unseen rather than relying on what we do see. Successful Christianity is not dependent on what another person pours in our life, but what we receive from the Lord directly. It is not our pastor or Sunday school teacher’s responsibility to grow, develop and mature us but rather equip us. It is what we do with the knowledge give that determines if we will live in God’s Power or remain in human weakness. We must test ourselves. Our faith must be genuine. It is personal. It is intimate. No one can make our faith stronger or determine it validity but us. We must examine our life daily.

 

I Corinthians 2:10-12 (NKJV)

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

 

You know your heart. You know your mind. You know what you believe. Now whether or not one is willing to admit the longings, thoughts and truth behind these entities is up to the person. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to partner with us in the soulful and heartfelt development of our faith and commitment to Him. He is our deepest confidant and closest companion until our Savior and Lord returns for us. He comforts us and convicts us to fully commit our heart and mind to Jesus. He searches us and offers us knowledge and understanding to use as wisdom in our life. But no one can examine ourselves but us. People at the leading of the Holy Spirit may confirm in us something that the Holy Spirit has expressed but God is our confidant and will never tell them something outside of what He has already been whispering to us. Our relationship is intimate and personal.

 

Many couples who have problematic relationships will give a hundred and one excuses as to who is to blame and why the partnership is failing. It can be finances, careers, family, kids, responsibilities, unmet expectations and the list goes on and on. When our life and ALL our expectations are firmly rooted and established by our faith in God’s Love for us, we can live our lives without need, want or expectation in anyone or anything else. The bottom line in any relationship is our commitment to one another. Love covers a multitude of sins. Our natural spouses, partners, family, friends and coworkers are all imperfect. They all have their own needs, wants and desires driving them. They have weaknesses just like us. Our life and happiness is not dependent on any other human being. Our true confidence, joy and peace is found only in Jesus.

 

I Corinthians 11:27-32 (NKJV)

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood[ of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

 

What is communion? It is not the symbolic gesture in a church service when we sip on grape juice (or in some cases wine) and break a tiny wafer that tastes like paper. This is strictly symbolic of our relationship with Jesus Christ that should be our lifestyle. Religiously this act means nothing without a heart committed to Jesus. The Word of God is the Bread of Life. His Spirit is the Living Water rushing in us. When we eat or drink in an unworthy manner it is judgment. Stop. Process and repeat. When we eat (the Bread of Life) and drink (in His Spirit) without a true desire and longing from our mind and heart to live in complete commitment to Jesus Christ it is worthless and unfruitful act of self not surrender.

 

Communion is association and fellowship with Jesus. It is to share our thoughts, emotions and intimate communication with the Lord. We sharing and hold everything in life in common and participate in life together. Communion is our daily life engaged with our Savior withholding nothing. It is this kind of life that opens the windows of Heaven in our life. Our life will become a demonstration and manifestation of the Power of God when our heart and mind agree with Christ choosing to live in an intimate partnership of love, trust and commitment. It is then and only then that we will be able to examine our heart and mind to find real faith and confident hope.

 

Revelation 3:19-21 (NKJV)

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

 

Jesus is standing and knocking on our hearts today. He can only walk as far as our faith allows. As we examine our heart to repent, we allow the Lord to come in closer to us. By seeking Him each day through His Word and Spirit, the building process continues as He moves closer and closer in our life. One day, it will be like Enoch and we will find ourselves living in the Presence of God. This doesn’t necessarily have to be when we meet Him face-to-face but by daily communing with Jesus. Asking Him into our heart requires a pure heart and made up mind that nothing less than the sweetest intimacy will do. Forsaking all others, Lord I want you!

 

If the honeymoon is over and reality setting in, maybe you don’t feel the same warm fuzzies as when you first fell in love with Jesus. This is a natural human reaction when the excitement of first love wanes and the rubber hits the road. Faith is born of commitment. It is the genuine and real part of love. It leads to a road less traveled that is quite narrow. It can be a lonely place at first as we begin to leave people behind or they leave us, but then we can focus on the One who loved us first, loves us the most, and always loves us the best! He is knocking today. Will you answer?

I John 4:18-19 (NKJV)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

AMEN!

Amen

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.

From everlasting to everlasting…forever. Man equates time between a birth and death certificate and the line positioned between two dates on a grave. Life is not equated as the time we live naturally but spiritually. This timeframe is called forever. Our soul was created before birth and remains long after the body dies. If we could take the image of our life, its potential and purpose, stretching it from the beginning of time into eternity, it might allow us to experience all the possibilities found in the Everlasting God who we serve. He created an everlasting covenant. The Lord offers it to each person. Everyone makes their own choice. Doing nothing to earn it or deserve it, we choose in each “amen”.

There is a sign on my wall that reads, “Think Outside The Box.” I wonder what might happen if people really did think outside the box, the pine box that will mark their demise, the limitation that life puts on time, and the perception that it really doesn’t matter how we live as all are trapped by fate. I don’t believe it. I choose to believe that my life was made to be from everlasting to everlasting. Reaching out to God, I desire to claim the promise of forever with a life of “amens”.

The Lord desires to make us complete in every good work to do His Will. He is working in us what is pleasing in His Sight as His Love, Grace and Mercy overtake us. Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth and Life that allows us to step out of fate and into forever. We are born dying. Sin is a congenital. We are born in sin and therefore, sentenced to die. All have fallen short of the Glory of God and His Glorious Standard of Living. The wages of sin are death but the Gift of God is eternal, everlasting life in Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) God’s Love gave us His Son. Our response to His Love determines the boundaries of our life. “Amen” means it is so or so be it. It is to agree as an expression of strong approval and support. There is nothing that we do with it other than that. We can do nothing to earn this tremendous and invaluable gift that we have been given other than accept it. Good thing, because we struggle with that. Amen in Hebrew translates to “firm and hence also faithful.” To accept the everlasting, our response is “amen”.

I Chronicles 16:34-36 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. And say, “Save us, O God of our salvation; Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your Holy Name, to triumph in Your Praise.” Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

Will you say “amen” today? No matter what is going on around you and what your circumstances may be, will you stand firm and hence also faithful to the Lord in all things. This is to accept the terms of covenant that are available in the Lord. The Lord established an everlasting covenant in the days of Noah. (Genesis 9:12-17) He promised never to destroy the earth and its people again. This covenant was perfected in Jesus Christ now everyone has the opportunity to escape death and live forever. Amen takes God up on His Offer and allows us to live in covenant each day. It is to continue in the promise made at the point of salvation and continue in righteousness.

We are not entering into a promise with a mere mortal but rather the Everlasting God. He is constant. (Psalm 90:1-2) Amen. God’s Authority and Power are everlasting. (Psalm 93:1-2) Amen. God’s Love and Mercy are never ending. (Psalm 100:4-5) Amen. God’s Word is forever true and unchanging. (Psalm 103:15-18) Amen. His Righteousness (Integrity) is eternal so that we can be confident that God does not lie or change His Mind. (Psalm 119:142) Amen. The Lord is always leading us to forever. (Psalm 139:23-24) Amen. His Kingdom is everlasting and not based on this world’s opinion or outcomes. (Psalm 145:13) Amen.

One’s ability to live in Christ is not based on an activity or action. Religion does not get you to God or allow access to Eternity. You are given the privilege of God’s Presence by accepting His Love completely allowing one’s heart, mind, body and soul to say, “Amen”. We live in Christ simply by acceptance. To take His Love and apply it to our entire life and learn to say every day in every situation, “Amen” to our Everlasting God, His Everlasting Covenant, and His Everlasting Love.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.  Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.

Can you say today with a willing heart, “Your Kingdom come. Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”? Totally releasing every natural and human expectation to accept the Will of the Everlasting God completely and totally. There is freedom in this choice but it is a battle to get there. It strips us of all pretense as we see the Lord God for who He is Everlasting, All Mighty, Superpower, Sovereign, Relentless and Unchanging both now and forevermore. The prayer given to us by Jesus is simple in format but significant and complex in each word. Do we live in complete submission and total respect for the Name of God? Do we really want His Kingdom to come or do we love this life more? Do we want His Will or our own personal wants? Do we depend on the Lord to provide giving seed to the sower so we give our life away without regard? Do we forgive? Do we avoid temptation, sin and compromise? Do we live as though His Kingdom is forever? Do we desire His Kingdom Power and Glory forever beginning with today? Amen. This is the response that God is looking for which means “firm and hence also faithful.”

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV)

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”

God has desired an everlasting covenant with you from the very beginning. He placed Eternity in our heart. He recorded every moment of our life before our birth to ensure that we would have multiple opportunities to give our heart to Jesus and live in a state of “amen”. He offers us His Kingdom. Yet, we live paying for things that are given to us by God. We cannot simply accept what we are offered but find a way to make it harder than it really is. When I say “amen” and live for this world – it is an empty, fruitless response. It is to misuse the word and opportunity so graciously given on the Cross. Amen is a declaration of affirmation. It is the opportunity to live in an everlasting covenant by accepting the Everlasting God and His Everlasting Promises. Those who do will be given perfect peace and everlasting strength to hang on until eternity comes. (Isaiah 26:3-4) The Lord is drawing us into His Everlasting Love. (Jeremiah 31:3) What is our response today? Do we want His Kingdom? Do we want what God wants for us? Do we expect exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask? Jesus is called the Everlasting Father. (Isaiah 9:6) He is the everlasting foundation on which our life builds fulfillment and satisfaction rather than regret and disappointment. (Proverbs 10:25)

It takes one word. It is a simple response. We just need to say amen and mean it. In all things, amen. In the highs, amen. In the lows, amen. In the waiting, amen. In every situation along with every circumstance, we say, “Amen.” Those who do accept “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort for your hearts and establish every good word and work.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) So today, Lord, I say let your Kingdom come. Let Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. You are my Provider who supplies all that I need so I can give those things tangible and intangible to those around me. I step out of my comfort zone called this world and step out by faith on the firm foundation of Christ and say, “Amen!”

Psalm 41:13 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.