Live Free

Live Free

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

My father is a Vietnam War veteran. He served multiple tours of duty when I was very young. I remember my mother putting me in pretty little dresses and fixing my hair in little pony tails while she got all fancied up to go meet him at the airport for furlough. I also remember the rainy morning before sun rise when my son after a swift hug and smile hopped on a bus full of soldiers to spend a year in the Middle East. A child missing her daddy and then a mother whose heart was stretched halfway around the world – a price paid for freedom. I was watching television with my dad many years ago when the news covered protestors burning the American Flag all the while calling those who defend us horrible names. He told me not to worry about it. He was defending their freedom, too. It was thanks to the men and women who sacrifice that afford them the right to state their opinion. I was appalled to think of all those who do not come home or come home changed that must endure the attacks of those whose rights they were upholding.

We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today is Independence Day. The word “liberty” is important. Liberty is freedom from arbitrary government or control. It is freedom from external rule. It means independence. Liberty is freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction or hampering conditions. It is the right to do, think, or speak according to personal choice. It means freedom from captivity, confinement or physical restraint. We are set free through the Blood of Jesus Christ. For freedom Christ has set us free but we must be careful not to fall back into bondage. To pursue life, liberty and happiness are set forth in the Declaration of Independence which is our right as Americans. To pursue life, liberty and happiness as set forth by the Word of God is truly our freedom to prosper as Children of God and residents of His Kingdom.

James 1:22-25 (ESV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

In John 8, it tells us that “so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Let’s talk for a minute about freedom in Christ. Some may say that it is not freedom at all but more stringent and restrictive. We are instructed to be doers of the Word. There is no penalty imposed or restriction placed on us by God if we choose to use our freedom to pursue other things. Born into the slavery of sin, it is Christ who frees us. My grandson is only five months old. When he doesn’t get his way, he pitches a fit. His mom and dad didn’t teach him to be impatient. Neither one demonstrated what exactly to do when one does not get their way or get it fast enough. No, the little man came prewired and predisposed to sin. As a baby, it is kind of funny when he insists on his way because he such a little human. However, when he is fifteen doing the same thing it won’t be quite as enamoring nor if he carries such behavior into adulthood. We are born slaves to sin and self. Jesus Christ sets us free. We must secure our freedom by doing what the Word says. This is not to complete the work of the Cross – it is finished. The keys to death and the grave belong to us along with the keys to the kingdom. We choose the doors opened and pathways chosen in our life because Christ has set us free and we are free.

To live a life of liberty and true freedom means we have the right to choose how to live our life. God created the world and everything in it then He placed mankind here. He proclaimed it to be good and that was that. People were here a very short time and gave up freedom for a lie. They chose something other than what God instructed. Immediately, they were removed from the garden. Separated from God by choice. This incurred a debt. The debt had to be paid for freedom to be secured. Jesus came and paid our sin debt in full giving us back our freedom to choose. One may decide to use that freedom to build a life of complete unity with Christ, a fully restored relationship with Father God and to attain the Kingdom OR something else. In no way does our choice nullify the price paid for our freedom to choose or evoke God’s Punishment in any way otherwise declaring His Grace insufficient and not enough.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (ESV) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We have been set completely free by Jesus Christ. According to God, there is no longer such a thing as impossibility in our life. Every door is open to us. Freedom withholds nothing from us. Liberty allows us to anything. The bottom line is choice. How do we choose to use our freedom? God created you with a plan, gave you a purpose, marked out a pathway, and filled your life with promises. In fact, every spiritual promise is already released to you in Christ. You are free to live in complete freedom and enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom. Or you can decide that this world is what you want and use your freedom to invest in this life rather than eternity. You cannot get mad at God or call Him a liar because you did not choose wisely. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the variable in our success or failure to achieve a rich and satisfying life. Fulfillment is already prescribed for us – we must only choose it.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (I Corinthians 2:12) God has given us His Spirit. Where His Spirit is there is liberty. Freedom to know and understand the terms of our covenant and all the benefits of relationship. Faith will open every door in God’s Kingdom. Grace gives us power to overcome our weaknesses. We have the power of life and death in our tongue. The keys to death and the grave as well. There is nothing withheld from those who love God and pursue Him. We are set free to do just that. We must choose wisely when it comes to liberty. To use our freedom to continue to open the doors of purpose, promise and prosperity. God will not force His Unfailing Love and Goodness on us but rather gives us the freedom to choose the life so desired. Live free. Live well.

John 8:31-32 (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

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Live Free

Live Free

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:36) Free indeed. Unrestricted. Unbound. Unhindered. Unrestrained. The life of the believer is completely free in every possible way. The debt in life that kept us from living as sons and daughters of God was sin. Jesus paid the price in full and gave us the key that unlocks every door that keeps us from what the Lord has promised us. “Now” we have every spiritual gift needed to eagerly anticipate and wait for Christ’s Return. No longer are we subject to eternal judgment for there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) It is up to us to learn to live free.

“Freedom always comes with a price.” (C.S. Lewis) Jesus paid for our future. It is ours to embrace by faith in the One who secured it for us and released it to us. There is nothing I can do to earn freedom only live in it. I do not deserve the Gift of Grace that I have been given. However, to fully utilize it may very well be the best response to the Giver of Life. The new life given to us in Jesus Christ is without limit. It is abundant. It is extravagant. It is priceless. Always good and futuristic. Freedom is to be cherished and valued. To exercise our freedom in becoming the masterpiece that God designed is to live a life of liberty in His Spirit. How is it even possible? How do I engage in freedom when the Law seems so strict? How does one overcome religious doctrine to live openly in a loving and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? It is really quite simple. It begins with “yes”.

Galatians 4:28-31 (NLT) And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

God made a promise to Abraham. A promise that could only be delivered by faith in the Living God. Like many of us, Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting on the Lord and doubt caused them to try to help God fulfill His Promise. Abraham would have two sons – one born to a slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of Hagar represents a human attempt to fulfill the promise of God. This is also the representative of the Law. The Law kept us bound until Jesus came to set us free. Sarah was a free woman. She is figuratively a spiritual mother of those who live by faith. There are promises born by human effort and then there are those birthed by the power of the Spirit. We are called to be the sons and daughters of the Living God who have been given every spiritual blessing. Too often waiting on God’s Word, His Will or His Way to come to pass produces bondage again to negative thoughts, shortcuts and substitutions that are not the product of freedom.

Luke 1:34-38 (NLT) Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Freedom always says, “Yes!” To live in complete and absolute freedom according to God’s Holy Spirit is to say, “Yes!” The greatest conviction of a free man or woman in Christ is that nothing is impossible for God. To believe that the Word of God will never fail. Mary would become the mother of our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. She was a teenage virgin when the angel of the Lord came bearing wonderful news that might prove catastrophic to her social circle and religious beliefs. Her response the example for us all – “I am the Lord’s Servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Yes! Mary said, “Yes!” What is your response to God’s Promise today? How will you respond to His Word, Will and Way for you? The freedom of potential and purpose is subject to our response to God’s Promises. Will it be yes? No? Maybe? To live in complete freedom is to let go of the things of this world including time to allow God to have His Will and Way for us.

Proverbs 10:22 (NLT) The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

By way of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has given us freedom. The freedom given is not true liberty if it cannot be used as we choose to use it. Think about it for a moment. You are free. The Son has set you free. You have the right to choose how to live and the fruit produced in your careful cultivation. You can try human effort to respond to God’s Promises or simply live by faith. It is up to you because who the Son set free is truly free. It is up to me. The choices made produce consequences. The consequences are directly related to our freedom. How will you use your freedom today?

The blessing of the Lord makes us rich. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Such a life is not of wealth as the world sees it but of a prospering soul. If our freedom is used properly, the blessings and promises of God will not add sorrow to our life but produce wonderful things like love, joy and peace that passes all understanding. This is the life I want. To live free. The Lord has opened doors that no one can shut. I must look for them. He has closed those that are not for me. I must stop trying to reopen them. To live free means to lay my life at the feet of Christ and accept the new covenant. I can’t do it. He must increase and I must decrease. This is how I find true freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Without Love – I Am Nothing

Without Love

2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.

Flourishing faith is evidenced by growing love. What is your response to pressure? When faced with opposition how do you react? It is human nature to play the name game. It feels good to retaliate even seek revenge. Our flesh prefers to harbor an offense rather than freely forgive. Pride doesn’t like being wrong or to be wronged. We are not creatures of flesh or pride any more but new creations in Jesus Christ. This new life is one of liberty. Our freedom doesn’t limit the Gift of Love but makes it our passion. Grace is free to us but not to Jesus. His Grace is enough because He paid the ultimate price to give us this abundant life beginning with a prospering soul. Our soul does not deal in commodities, assets or finance. It is not hindered by time or testing. Our soul is eternal thanks to Jesus.

These words penned in a letter to the church of Thessalonica by Paul, Silas and Timothy commend the people for their flourishing faith and growing love in the midst of persecution. I wonder if such a church exists today. Could it be that religious freedom takes for granted the importance of love and grace in binding believers into an effective body? Our temporary and often petty problems cause the world to see us as just another struggling organization. Divisions and splits create a “Frankenstein” effect. Rather than a flourishing family with a beating heart pumping out love and community – it is a fractured farce framed in doctrine, rules and regulations, buffeted by comfort and convenience, ruled by preference and opinion, and thereby misrepresenting the Love of God and His Son that draws us together in the first place. We have lost our first love and put ourselves in His Place. How do I know?

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Peter preached the Word of God. The same message that is given to us was what flowed from him. There was no difference. The Word of God never changes. It cannot return to God until it completes its task and accomplishes all that He sent it forth to do. About 3,000 in all gave their hearts and lives to Jesus in Acts 2. What happened next? They formed a community. All the believers met together in one place and shared everything. They sold property and possessions to share with those in need. They worshiped together every day. Met in homes to take communion. Fellowshipped together with GREAT JOY AND GENEROSITY. Praising God was their lifestyle demonstrated in freely giving all they were and all they had to create a community called the Body of Christ. With this in mind, they did so knowing that at any moment the radical religious community could drag them from their homes torture or murder them as martyrs. What happened next is the very thing the modern church cries out for…revival. And EACH DAY the Lord added to their fellowship… People were getting saved, healed and delivered and joining the community called church each day. Where oh where have we gone wrong? Oh Lord, teach us to love one another properly.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

To love like Jesus Christ is unnatural. It is not our natural instinct to lay our life down for another. It is not our preference to pray for our enemies and loving those who spitefully use us. It is not our culture to form communities of one but to draw lines of division to protect our own personal interests. All lives matter. Jesus proved this on the Cross when He poured out His Blood for all mankind to have access to the Father if they choose His Way.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Put away the personal agenda. Step down off the soapbox. Forget all the rules and regulations. If we do not love others, we do not possess the Love of the Father freely administered by the Son. The full acceptance of God’s Grace requires giving up our own personal interests to pursue Christ in all things. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice if nothing is given. Love is a discipline. It is a learned behavior. Disciples of Jesus Christ must learn and replicate His Love to be His Body and become His Bride. It is that simple but extremely difficult to achieve.

Romans 13:8 (NLT) Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

Love is not religious – it is radical. I believe this may very well be the biggest stumbling block of organized religion. The thought or idea that God’s Love is completely given by His Grace. His Goodness belongs to me and is exemplified by a daily choice to love one another. The rules and regulations administered as doctrine in the church do nothing to demonstrate God’s Purpose. They are simply guidelines to keep godly order. I like order. I am gifted in administration. But if I am not careful – it will quickly become legalism. The enemy limits us in legalistic thinking and radical religion that adds to our obligation. God says simply the only thing we owe anyone is love. Perfect love expels all fear. Expectation is fulfilled by God’s Love, Grace and Goodness towards us so that we can love freely without expectation.

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. How freedom is used is up to us? God does not force us to fulfill His Purpose just promises that His Plan contains a future and hope. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and Life but we are not made to follow Him only offered a better way. The Holy Spirit lives in us but only takes control of the pieces and parts of our life given to Him for holy inhabitation. Love cannot be forced it must be freely given or received. Love contains no “buts”. I love you, but… I love him, but… I love her, but… I love you. Jesus never added a single condition to His Love offering for us. He freely gives it to us and it is up to us how we choose to use it. Unconditional love is the kind of love that proves our discipleship in Jesus Christ. To love like He does. This is how our freedom is revealed in the Lord when no one or nothing holds our expectation above knowing Him.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Are we gaining anything from church? Lord, help us to love more. Show us what true love is again. Let us fall head over heels in love with our First Love again. Rekindle the passion in our heart and burn away all the worthless things that reside in Your Place.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

There is a fable about a frog placed in a pot of water. It is said that if he is put in boiling water that he will jump out. But if he placed in tepid water and the heat is slowly brought to a boil that he will not perceive the danger. Frogs like water. It is comfortable to them. Science believes this to be false and that frogs will notice the change but I wonder if we notice the change in our own habitat called church. Could it be as we float around in “lukewarm” water that the Lord is turning up the heat to get our attention? Comfort causes a condition called complacency that will create false confidence that can lead to death. If we do not learn to love unconditionally and with the same intensity as Jesus Christ, we have gained nothing other than adopted a social circle.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. The best way to motivate others is to motivate yourself. You get what you give. Sowing and reaping have been around since the days of Noah and will continue until the earth no longer remains. If you plant love, you will harvest love. If you sow grace, you will experience grace. If you bind yourselves to one more person, unity is formed. If you decide to give up your way, harmony is restored. We can never offer the world something we have not attained for ourselves. The Love of God is our primary purpose in life. To live in His Love and share His Love with the world. End of story.

2 John 5-6 (NLT) I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

Arm Yourself

Arm Yourself

Matthew 10:34 (NIV) “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I am a truth seeker. Are you? My trust issues and insecurities demand truth. To be transparent, when betrayed by a lie, it is very difficult for me to establish trust again. If I trust you, it is rock solid. Hidden deception will destroy that in an instant. Forgiveness is a learned behavior for me through years of living in Christ. Childhood and youthful hurts and disappointments led to a do-it-yourselfer who was self-reliant. A faulty and broken marriage led to a bitter and distant person who decided never to love again. Well, God had other plans for the hard-hearted wanderer.

When I met my husband, I wasn’t looking to love or be loved. A conversation over a friendly meal changed my life. He mentioned God. We were not seeking the Lord or even remotely living a life worthy of the love, grace and mercy the Lord was about to pour out in us through the partnership and unity of marriage, but He did it anyway. Loving the Lord is the easy part, however; just like any other relationship it is the commitment of love that can be challenging. The only difference between a natural union and supernatural communion with Jesus is that He is perfect. Always right. Never gives up His Way for our less than perfect wants or desires. He does not give up. He is Perfect Love that drives out all fear.

As one who relies heavily on truth and concrete information, trust is based on the reality of my belief. Growing up in a faith that was Word-based should have been enough to establish firm faith in a Sovereign God but it wasn’t. Jesus told the woman at the well that true worshippers do so in Spirit and Truth. The two are partners. They go together. Both are essential to a long-term partnership with Christ. For example, I told my husband I love you on the day of our marriage. I gave him my “word” that I would live in covenant with him for the rest of my natural life. But if I do not engage my heart (or spirit) into loving him then there is nothing but a contract. We do not have a contract with the Lord but a covenant. We must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. An imbalance creates a problem in our spiritual life.

Jesus did not come to give us peace on earth. He came to overcome the sin debt owed by mankind and reestablish a relationship between God and His People. The Creator desired intimacy with His Creation and union again. Jesus came to put a sword in our hand. To equip us in our battle against the enemy and our flesh. Are you armed today? You are an overcomer. You have been given authority and power to be victorious in every situation. Are you winning today?

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Word of God is alive. It is powerful. It is sharper than any double-edged sword which matches the description of Christ in Revelation 1. “It penetrates even dividing soul and spirit.” Show me a church that is Word strong and Spirit weak and in most cases it will be legalist. The Word with binds but the Spirit is freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17) If a church is Spirit strong but Word weak it is more than likely a based on emotionalism and constantly swayed by feelings not based on Truth. There must be Spirit and Truth to be true worship. The Word of God penetrates our flesh in order to expose faith. Faith thrives on Spirit and Truth. It grows and comes alive. Developing and maturing into the good fruit, good deeds and good works that God has already ordained for us becoming the abundant life that Jesus promised full of satisfaction.

John 1:1-5; 14 (NIV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is the Word. It is impossible to have a thriving relationship with God outside of the Word. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life and no one gets to the Father except through the Son. The Spirit of God is unarmed when there is no Word in us. Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the Word is the Sword of the Spirit. The only weapon the enemy has to use against us is a lie. He takes the Word of God and twists it into a half-truth. Ignorance causes people to perish. The Bible says clearly that God’s People perish due to a lack of knowledge. If you read Genesis 3:23-24 it was a flaming sword that kept Adam and Eve from entering the garden and eating of the tree of life. It would have been eternal death. Hope was kept alive as the “flaming sword” kept them from it. The Word was with God and the Word was God. Everything created through Him and under His Power and Authority. God sent the Word to us. He made a way for us through the Word and it is our privilege to know the Word.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Are you fully armed today? The shield of faith must be partnered with the sword of the Spirit or the Word to be ready to battle the enemy today. The only weapon that is in his arsenal is a lie. The only way to overcome rebellious thoughts and random wanderings is to know the Truth. The terms and conditions of our covenant carefully scripted by divine inspiration to reveal the heart of God and His Great Love for us. Truth will help your trust issues. The more you know the more you grow deep roots in the Love and Grace of God that allows His Goodness to captivate us. When the enemy tells you a lie, you will know what the Truth says and be able to ignore his taunts and temptations. God always has something better for you. His Way is always the best. Pick up your sword. Read it. Practice it. Memorize it. Don’t leave home without it. Strengthen the Spirit today and crucify your flesh. The Word will cut away the things binding and restricting growth and prosperity and give way to new life as a new creation becoming the masterpiece that God promised you would become in Christ who is the Word. Arm yourself today.

John 4:23-24 (NIV) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Know the Truth

Know the Truth

Titus 1:2 (NLT) This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (Charles Spurgeon) The only weapon in the arsenal of the enemy are his lies. The only thing that he can use against a believer is their ignorance of God’s Word and the Truth therein. However, the power of the lie is that it is easily believable so seemingly rational and plausible. The validity of lies in our life are usually based on fear and insecurity. The inner flaw of human weakness that feeds on the lie rather than seeking and embracing the truth. Our experiences in life will mold and shape our thoughts into vessels that catch certain things more readily than others.

It is impossible to please God apart from faith. (Hebrews 11:6) Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is the only way to approach the Father and live in His Righteousness. (John 14:6) Over and over again in the New Testament, Jesus continually repeats “I tell you the truth…” Standing before high priest, our Savior asks, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?” Religion faced off with a real relationship with God, truth won that day but it sure didn’t seem like it. Jesus would be beaten some more, nailed to a Cross, then buried in a tomb.” What did that say about the truth? In the darkness of the three days while Jesus waited His Time, the disciples were face with the daunting task of holding on to the truth or embracing a lie. Hidden in the upper room praying, weeping and crying out to God – they were no doubt filled with fear and anxiety. But what they didn’t know in that moment was the prevailing truth that would soon be revealed.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.” What is the truth that governs your life today? Truth is cemented in what we believe. It may not be the same for everyone according to what they believe but given the appropriate amount of time – truth always prevails. The importance of truth in our life adds validity to our belief system. If we build our life on a lie, the lie is a shaky foundation. It is constantly moving, evolving and changing. Usually emotionally driven, it will set forth a series of events that lead us away from our destination in a series of delays and detours. However, the truth is an actual state. It is the verified and indisputable reality. However, if we cannot see the truth, feel it or touch it – we must decide in its invisibility whether to receive it or not.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

I wonder what would happen in the life of Christians if rather than listening to the opinions of others – our value and worth was based solely on God’s Teaching. The Word of God carefully outlining the details of our life and ordering our steps. Pride keeps us from hearing the Word and doing what it says in fear it may restrict our freedom. This is how the enemy wields his weapon in our life. Feeding us half-truth and watered down lies to convince us that God is not as good as He says He is and that His Promises are not really for me. We get so tangled up in his lies and caught up in fear and insecurity that suddenly an invisible cell of our construction rises up around us. God uses His Word to prepare and equip us to do every good work.

John 8:43-45 (NLT)  Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!

The truth allows us to recognize a lie. If we know the truth about something, we are not so quick to believe or accept a lie. With this in mind, it is important that the Word of God becomes the foundation of our life. A solid foundation poured in our life will not allow the enemy to carry us off so quickly with his deception. We need God’s Truth to keep us secure in our faith at all times. The truth secures our freedom. (John 8:32) Ignorance will cause death in our life. It kills the possibility and potential placed in us by God for the fulfillment of purpose. It restricts our growth and development in the Lord because we do not have a good foundation to be rooted and grounded in beginning with God’s Love. If people were absolutely convinced in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, it would be life changing. Nothing would sway us from seeking truth and pursuing it with passion. Have you fallen for a lie that is hindering the reality of truth in your life? Are you bound by something other than the embrace of Christ? It may be as easy as allowing the Truth to set you free again.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

The Word of God cuts away the stronghold of the enemies lies in our life. It is alive and powerful. God’s Word is sharp because it is true. Truth does not give way to a lie just as light does not give in to darkness. God does not lie. He does not change His Mind because He is truth. (Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:19) Jesus is the Truth. (John 14:6) His Unbending and Unyielding Ways are not because He is rigid and uncaring but because He is Truth. The truth will never give in to a lie. This is so important. The enemy uses his lies to cut us and harm us. To keep us from the life God has given us through His Son, Jesus. To convince us that there is there are things we can do to separate us from the Love of God when nothing could be further from the Truth.

The Bible says that true worshippers do so in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) The Lord has filled us with His Spirit as a believer and that Spirit is Truth. (John 16:13) We must get to know the Truth for ourselves. We must read the Word, study the Word, digest the Word, and live the Word in order to be released from every lie set as a trap to keep us from God’s Best. God’s Word, His Truth, creates unity in the Body called the church when we hold on to the Truth it allows us to come together in the commonality of Christ alone. The enemy wants to split the church, divide its people and take out the lost and isolated. What are you going to do about it?

Psalm 85:10-13 (NLT) Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

When unfailing love and truth met together salvation was born. A gift like no other given to imperfect people from a perfect God. It is a real life love story. Righteousness and peace with God came together and united now His Truth for our life is possible again. What sin once kept us from grace carries us right to it. There is nothing I can do to stop God’s Call or Potential in my life except to grab hold of the enemy’s lie and run with it. See God’s Truth is the mandate of my life as a believer and absolutely belongs to me thanks to Jesus Christ. If my life does not resemble the promise or plan that I have been given, it may be that I have allowed a lie to somehow make its way to my heart and taken it in as truth. The greatest part of the truth that governs my life is that His Grace is enough for me every time I fail or fall for the lie of the enemy. All I have to do is let go and let God take over again. God has ordained blessing and prosperity for my life that grows as I accept His Truth planting seeds of faith from it. It blossoms and blooms into all the good things that He has promised. It allows me the freedom to love others because my expectation is fully met by His Love. I have nothing to gain from this world therefore I can live recklessly in love with people and abounding in generosity because I have all I need according to His Word. What about you? Are you living in the abundance of God in all things today? Are you filled peaceful satisfaction living a life of contentment and joy? If not, get in God’s Word today! Find your promise. Uproot lies and plant new seeds of faith. God is Good! He will never ever let you down! His Promises are true because it is impossible for Him to lie or change His Mind. Let God’s Truth become the foundation of your life. It doesn’t matter how things look today. It really doesn’t matter what anyone says. The Truth is the reality of your life and faith is how you access it. Know the Truth. Let it set you free from every lie until blessing rises up from the ashes of it.

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo Galilei)

Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. (Isaac Newton)

The truth is inconvertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. (Winston Churchill)

Psalm 25:3-5 (NLT) No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

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

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 

 

 

Free Indeed

Free Indeed

John 8:36 (NKJV) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a day of celebration. People gather to cook out, go to the beach, watch fireworks and enjoy the freedom men and women literally died to attain and maintain for us in America.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Preamble of the Constitution)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (Preamble of the Declaration of Independence)

A preamble is an introductory statement of a contract stating the purpose, aims and justifications of the document or contract it prefaces. It is a summary of purpose. Clearly it was the purpose and aim of our forefathers to establish “a more perfect union”. In doing so, they determined the presiding factors of such a place to be “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” To insure domestic tranquility, provide a secure place for families to prosper, to promote the welfare of all people, and secure the “blessings of liberty for ourselves” and “posterity” meaning future generations. They believed that these truths were self-evident. All men are created equal and they are “endowed” meaning provided these rights by Creator. This country was founded by people who believed in God. They served God. They established these historical documents including the Bill of Rights with the prosperity of God in mind whether anyone likes it or not. The freedom described in these articles also give people the right to choose not to acknowledge God without forsaking their freedom.

Enough of the history lesson for today – my son is a history buff but did not get if from his mother. Last night and into this morning, John 8:36 played over and over in my thoughts and dreams until I finally had to seek it out in a quiet place. The Lord promises us freedom. The Sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ is all about freedom. Liberty to choose who to serve in our natural life. I know that when I see someone desecrate the American Flag anger rises inside of me. My first thought is not Christ-like at all, but rather if they don’t like it here then why don’t they choose a country more to their liking and belief system. But the soldier on the battlefield fighting for my rights as an American is fighting for freedom not legality. The person who decides to burn the flag is given that right by the very same servant giving up their time and risking their life for me. It is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. The same applies to the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Jesus Christ died for every person ever created by God. The freedom of choice gives each person the right to decide if Jesus will be their personal Savior and Lord. Just the same, they have the right to reject Him. Love demands a choice. If there is no choice, there is no love.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

“Made free” comes from the word “eleuthero” which means to liberate, acquit, set free, and deliver. In the New Testament, it is used exclusively to describe freedom attained through Jesus Christ. Jesus has set us free from sin and death. But are we pursuing and exercising our rights of freedom according to His Word, Will, Nature and Holiness? Freedom in Christ is not a “get out of hell free” card to be used when meeting the Lord face-to-face. There are rights and responsibilities of freedom in the way we live each day. I was born in the United States. I have only known a lifestyle of freedom given by the laws and bylaws of this nation. It is not foreign to me. I was taught all about this country’s history and heritage from grade school to college. Freedom is comfortable to me because it is all that I have known. But to reborn in Jesus Christ introduces a new way of life. I am a new creation. I must learn what freedom in Jesus is all about because it is contradictory to my nature and the place I live now.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NKJV) Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The word “liberty” used in this passage comes from a variation of the same word as “made free”. “Elutheria” means freedom from slavery, independence, absence of external restraint, a negation of control or domination, and freedom of access. The Lord is a Spirit. The Spirit who lives in you and me is none other than the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We have access to all of His Power and Strength to attain every promise He has made. We have the freedom to pursue and attain all things given to us as an inheritance. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. I ask you today – are you exercising your liberty today? Do you feel free in Jesus Christ? There is a distinct difference between knowing something and believing it. It is called trust. Given access to God by the Blood of Jesus Christ, we can come boldly before His Throne and achieve all of His Plan and Purpose walking daily in freedom. The Glory of the Lord is evidence of transformation in our life. Is your life glorious today? If you are like me, just knowing Jesus has made my life radically different for the better. But in those times that I was able to apply my mustard seed of faith to trust Him, I have seen supernatural and miraculous results.

Today we celebrate liberty as American citizens, but what about our citizenship in Heaven? The founding fathers of this great country believed in a Creator who endowed His People with blessings and prosperity. Do you believe that today? Take some time, just a few minutes from all the festivities, and thank God for your freedom as His Child. I encourage you to ask the Lord to show you the way to greater freedom and liberty in His Son Jesus Christ. To step out of bondage. To claim your blessings. To walk in victory. To live the life that Jesus died for you to have. I have a taste of freedom in Christ, but today I want more. I want to know the glorious existence found in full transformation into the Image of God through Christ. I want to know what it means to be free indeed. Free from fear, worry, stress and anxiety. Delivered from every shackle and chain that tries to bind me to the past and keep me from my future. To live in the abundance and prosperity promised in the rich and satisfying life promised by the Lord to us.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty…I wonder if that is the missing link to our spiritual success. The bridge that takes us to transformation marked by trust. It is easy to claim our natural rights according to the law of the land. Today, make a commitment to claim every spiritual blessing offered in Christ. It is our rights as Christians but we must be believers. Joseph Prince said, “You fight from victory ground by standing. You don’t fight for victory.” Jesus secured the win for us. We have been given freedom and liberty to walk in His Love. He promises to work all the details for our good and His Glory. We must stand. Standing is tough. We must make faith logical by studying God’s Word, communicating with Him and partnering with His Spirit for freedom’s sake. There is a whole new life full of new possibilities as a new creation only when we choose freedom!

Psalm 119:45 (NKJV) And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts.

True Freedom

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John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

There have been some who criticize my writing because it can be lengthy. The suggestion has been made to only reference the Word of God rather than including full passages of scripture. I have been doing this for about eight years now. I have thought about these words and carefully considered others opinions and I have come to the conclusion that I just cannot do it. The Word of God is absolutely essential to our daily life as a believer. Early in my Christian walk, I struggled reading the Bible. It seemed repetitive and boring. It wasn’t a story but excerpts of history. It didn’t seem logical. I couldn’t make it applicable to my life or so I thought. I am an avid reader though I will admit I have a pile of books that are left unread. I have produced one out of five children who also loves books and a second on the proverbial fence. My other three children abhor it. We must read, digest and implement the Word of God in our life to live in true freedom as a believer. Without it, there is potential and purpose in our life that will go undiscovered and unrealized simply due to ignorance.

Matthew 4:3-4 (NLT) During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus was led to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where He would be tempted. The enemy cannot touch a single hair on the head of God’s Children unless God allows it. But before you get all up in arms, not everything that occurs in our life is at the direct hand of the enemy as much as people love to blame him. The enemy simply offers suggestions and opportunities in the form of temptation to stray from our faith, belief and dependency on God to have our own way. There are consequential conditions as a direct result of sowing and reaping. There are things that happen due to our unwillingness to change or be changed as a reaction to our action. The Lord has given us freedom to choose our way. Those who decide to follow the Way, Truth and Life will have the condition added that God will work all things together for our good. Sin introduced evil, perversity and sickness into this world and Jesus has overcome them all giving us a better and more excellent way. Sickness may end in death but to a true believer it means stepping into forever with the Lord. The world shapes our perspective to consider more than this life and see past the temporary trials of today. Less I digress…

In the story of Jesus experiencing temptation from the enemy firsthand, He overcame every one with the Word of God. He simply repeated back to Satan the Truth which nullifies the lie. Ignorance is never bliss. It can be death even to those who think they are serving the Lord faithfully but miss out on the One who overcomes death and the grave. I can understand the concept of sowing and reaping. It can increase and add abundance to my life. Without Jesus, it is just evidence of God’s Constant Character and Solid Sovereignty but without the Word – I can never go farther than provisional principle. I want a covenant relationship with God the Father so I must go through the Son.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 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.

Our daughter lives in the New England area. She and a friend were driving through the city. The story goes that our daughter screamed stopped the car and jumped out unto the crowded street. She runs up to a complete stranger and asks him for a picture. They snap a selfie thanking him she hops in the car and drives off with her friend. She posts the pic on social media all excited about the encounter and calls me to share her story. The actor is from a famous sitcom. I don’t watch television much other than thee occasional real estate or home improvement show. I have just lost interest in it and would rather do other things. At any rate, her shock was clear that I did not know this person and that I didn’t recognize his name. Her story was not very exciting to me other than I could tell she was excited. Now her husband was a different story, the actor was actually one of his favorites and she took the picture for him. He is probably still fan-guying over the whole episode. Do you know Jesus Christ? Who He is? What He came to do? His Place in the Trinity? How He feels about you? Do you really know the Lord?

Jesus is the Word of God. He was the spoken word that created the world and universe all around us. He is the very breath breathed in us that gives us life. He is the One who once believed and accepted will make us Children of God. He is full of unfailing love and faithfulness – the two qualities all of humanity search for and never find among the people who populate the planet. He is hidden in a book on the dusty shelf or Bible tucked neatly away reserved for Sundays, Wednesdays or the occasional small group…if that. The Lord said in the Old Testament that people will actually die from a lack of knowledge. The New Living Translation puts it like this – “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” (Hosea 4:6) God wasn’t just talking about “lost folk” in this passage. No, it was about priests who had “forgotten the laws of your God”.  Some people think they know Jesus but when they die will be devastated to find they didn’t know Him at all.

John 4:23-24 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

True worshippers. I want to be a true worshipper. I want to know Jesus more intimately and completely than even my husband who I know very well. We have been married a long time. Shared almost two decades together. He is my beloved. We have developed a marriage that is a partnership. Strived for two to become one even though sometimes it was a struggle and fight to the death of self that yielded two people willing to stick it out together come what may. I married this man knowing that God had given Him to me even though I met Him when I was living in the wilderness of the world. Sitting at a table in a loud crowded restaurant, I heard the Lord. I knew this was the one God sent for me. However, that didn’t mean that there would not be challenges along the way. In fact, I think the fact that we dedicated our lives and marriage to the Lord from the start even before fully coming back to God painted a bright red target on our backs. Our love for each and desire for God kept us in the fight. I cannot expect a solid marriage to Jesus Christ if I do not take the time to get to know Him. To decide that He is the One for me. To see that sweetness of His Love and full potential of His Character in my life. Salvation is an invitation to intimacy. His Presence is offered to everyone but when you arrive it is a One-on-One experience just you and Jesus. It is private. It is personal. It is intimate. You must decide your level of commitment to this covenant offered to you by Jesus Christ. Are you willing to lay it all down to pick up your Cross and follow Him? A disciple does that. To be His Disciple is to know the Truth and let the Truth set you free.

We must worship is Spirit and in Truth. The Spirit is in us waiting to take the Word of God and work it through our life. The Word does not make sense without the Spirit and the Spirit has nothing to work with outside of the Word. To live by the Spirit and ignore the Word creates a double standard and you will soon be frustrated by a lack of results. To read the Word and ignore the Person of the Holy Spirit is to apply a principle without any power. It is like plugging a power cord into a dead outlet. It just won’t work. It must all a work together. God is three persons. Father, Son and Spirit. We need them all to successfully discover the Truth and allow it to become our freedom.

Hebrews 4:12-14 (NLT) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.

When satan tempted Eve in the Garden, he did not come at her with a bold-faced obvious lie but a deviation of the truth. It was subtle. Cunning. Seemed logical. The enemy is sneaky. He doesn’t knock us off course but entices us to settle or compromise just a little. He tries to refute God’s Word on the tiniest detail. The Word of God is alive. His Name is Jesus! He lives in us. His Grace is enough so even when we fall for the enemy’s lie – the Truth will come to save us and set us free. We need the Word of God to serve the Lord with passion. We know Jesus through the Word because He is the Word. Faith is not logical outside of the Word of God. So without it, we will never understand this life we live, what to believe, or how to share Good News yet to be discovered. We cannot hold firmly to what or more importantly who we believe until we know Him. We cannot know Him without the Spirit AND Truth. You will never know what He has done for you until you know what He has promised. You will not recognize hope that never leads to disappointment until deciding that faith is worth the investment of time and energy ready, studying and digesting the Word of God. This is how Biblical Knowledge becomes Spiritual Truth that is our belief system. You will never know what you have until You get to know WHO He is!

Know the Truth. The Truth will set you free. This world is limited by darkness, sin and evil. The Word allows us to overstep the natural into the supernatural – not when we die but now. In this life, you can live totally free according to God’s Word and His Kingdom. The enemy builds barriers and obstacles in our life out of deceptive lies and half-truths that rob us of God’s Greatest Blessings. It is like being held captive in an unlocked cell. If he can convince you not to try the door or even shake it a little, the enemy can rob you of the love, joy and peace found in the Word of God our resting place. He can keep us from the blessings, prosperity, abundance and increase that comes from sowing God’s Word, watering it, waiting for it and harvesting all of His Promises and Blessings for us. You have been given a gift far greater than you will ever know trying to recognize and receive in the limitations of human thinking. With God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe? What do you believe? The Word of God will show you what you believe now and what is possible when you put all your faith and trust in Jesus! Be free today! Grab your Bible. Invite the Holy Spirit to show you something new there! Pray a promise found in His Word. Tomorrow – do the same thing. The next day – yep repeat. In no time at all, you will see dead things coming to life – word by word, line by line and precept by glorious precept. Get in the Word. It will set you free!

I John 2:4-6 (NLT) If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Love You More

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Romans 6:15-18 (NLT) Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

As I began reading God’s Word this morning, two words weighed heavily on my heart. “Free will.” God has given us a free will and truthfully not many people are quite sure what it means and how to use it. Can I get an “AMEN” from those who have fallen and failed along the way? Why is freedom a good thing when I have no idea how to use it properly or what to do with it on a regular basis? It feels like a loaded gun in the hand of a toddler sometimes. Paul sums it up in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Every Christian wants to please God. Every believer sins. It is our human nature’s desperate attempt to remain alive as it is crucified daily with Christ. How do I move from sinning more to godly living more? You must love Him more.

God’s Grace set us free from the Law. The Law set forth as rules and regulations of righteousness that our sinful nature balked at and quickly rebelled against. It came with measures of sacrifice and offerings to repent and make concession for our inability to remain righteous. We still keep falling short so Jesus came and sacrificed His Life. The reward was our absolute and total freedom from sin. All we have to do is accept it according to His Grace. Jesus did not come to condemn people but to set them free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Our suspect mind wants to know what the catch is. The offer is simply too good to be true. Well friend, that’s the God I serve. He is always better than I deserve. Doing more than I think possible. Loving me more than I could ever fathom. I have been set free to discover the capacity of God’s Love.

The choice is made evident in God’s Word. We can choose to be slaves or Children of God. It seems so clear cut, if only it were that easy. We become slaves to that which we choose to obey. What do you respond to more frequently, flesh or spirit? What we respond to most is the driving force of our life – knowingly or unknowingly. We must understand this covenant entered with God when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. To see that the Law has been satisfied and love is all that matters. Truly love is the only thing that matters once a soul is set free. No strings attached. No new set of laws, rules or regulations no matter how convincing religion may seem. Our sin was great but His Love much greater. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus so now what? We must learn to love Him wholeheartedly…to love Him more.

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

Jesus used the representation of a gate to illustrate our new life in Him. Those who enter through Him will be saved. Not can be, but will be! “They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” Whoa! Wait a minute. They will come and go freely. Jesus was clear if He set us free than we are free indeed. What about all the guidelines and restrictions? They are still their but the “penalty” that takes us captive has been paid in full. By His Grace, I am saved through faith not anything else. I just have to believe. Do you believe today? Do you believe that you are free from the penalty of sin in Jesus Christ? We must understand what freedom is. Because Jesus came into the world to set us free, so that we could make a choice – there is no condemnation in our Savior. People condemn, convict and judge. Jesus came with one thing in mind – freedom.

When Jesus left the wilderness at being tempted by the enemy, He went to the synagogue as He was accustomed to doing on the Sabbath. The scroll was handed to Him and He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom. If we use our freedom to exchange one captivity for another – we remain slaves. If we use our freedom to love, we become God’s Children. The choice belongs to us because in Christ there is freedom. The power of that freedom is love. To accept the unconditional love of the Father as true and valid though we cannot see Him it is completely attained by faith. Just as my husband cannot show me the love in his heart by taking the beating, throbbing mass out of his chest to hand it to me – my beloved does so by daily attempting to show me that he loves me more… More than any other woman, more than any other person, more than any other thing, more than any other pursuit or passion in his life – his whole heart belongs to me. What if that is what our freedom is all about? That is our freedom. When I decide to love Jesus more than anything else, and live like it.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

When Isaac was speaking his blessing over his son, Jacob, he said, “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Jacob had tricked his brother stealing his birthright and blessing. Taking advantage of the bond of brotherhood to the point of bondage, he was forced to flee from Esau’s wrath. Isaac gave his son sound wisdom. “When you decide to break free…” Are you ready to experience freedom? The kind of freedom promised in God’s Word. We do not have to force the door open or wrestle against the chains that have us bound. We must simple desire to be truly free. Jesus did the rest. We are free to come and go through the gate. We must only believe in Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:14-16) We choose to follow Him or stray away. Those who choose to walk with Him benefit from His Care and Protection. If we choose our own way, much like Jacob, we also decide when we will break free from the oppressive yoke of sin and shame.”

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Plan for our life is good containing a future and hope that is not defined by my goodness or ability to live a sinless life. It is secure in my decision to live by faith and to trust Him more and more as I pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. It is giving Him my love without coercion but a strong desire and commitment to know the Lover of my soul and love Him more. More than sin. More than this world. More than my rights. More than my pride. More than promotions. More than anything else. When I use my freedom to love Jesus and others – I will enjoy every spiritual blessing and the rich satisfying life that He promised. Love makes avoiding sin reasonable because we are not in bondage to our flesh. Our love for Jesus makes it possible. I am satisfied with my marriage. I am content with my husband’s love. It makes me want to honor him, respect him and love him more. How much more does this apply to Jesus?

What is your struggle today? Is it a person? Is it a recurring temptation that always leads to a bad choice? Is it disappointment? Is it lost hope? Is it pride? We all have daily struggles, temptations and tests to endure. God wants us to know how much He loves us. He has set us free by showing us far greater love so that we would learn to love Him more than all those other things in life. The Holy Spirit woos us with the choice fruit of righteousness so that it feeds our spirit along the way with things like love, joy, and peace that cannot be found in this life but well up in us from the inside. He prospers our soul which was once headed for death with new life day by day, season by season, until we reach the end and step into forever with Jesus. I have to believe that God’s Love is greater for me than that which I currently show love, affection and attention to more. The thing that compromises my love and trust in Jesus is that which is robbing me of my blessing. The Lord withholds no good thing from us. Our inability to accept, live in and thrive in freedom keeps blessings and promises just out of reach. Jesus loves us more. When the first priority of our life is to love Him more – those dreams and desires will become attainable by faith and confident hope in His Great Love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. True love gives it’s all. Withholding nothing. All of me for all of you. We cannot be one with the Lord if we do not commit all of our love, faith and hope to Him in exchange for all that He is. His Love seals our heart to His Own Heart. Love is freedom to choose who we love and how it is expressed. I want my husband to know that I love him more. I want my children to know I love them more. I want my friends and church to know I love them, too. But does Jesus know that I love Him more… that is the secret of success as a believer. When I love Jesus more than sin, I will stop doing those things I do not want to do. When I have experienced God’s Love testing all of its parameters it is clear that it never runs out for me. I cannot overstep it, outlast it, or move far away from it. It is pursuing me. Unfailing love that I am incapable of but am offered every day with the new mercy when it arrives. Nothing can separate me from God’s Love other than my decision to reject it. Even in bad choices, God’s Love remains, His Grace sufficient and His Power available to me. I cannot shake off, sin way or kill God’s Love for me. How about my love for Him? Do I love Jesus more today? It is the very thing that empowers our choice called freedom. When we use our freedom to love Him more, we will have the rich and satisfying that the Lord has purposed for us!

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Mercy Triumphs

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Lamentations 3:22-26 (NLT) 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!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

“You delight in showing mercy…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Mercy by Bethel Music has been set on replay the last few days. God delights in showing us mercy so much so that He gives us new mercy and a fresh start every day without fail. The next verse yields the secret to God’s Mercy. “My past embraced…My sin forgiven.” The certainty of God’s Grace is full acceptance of His Mercy. To wake each morning believing that His Grace is enough for you releases everyone and everything from your expectation. It means that all the wrongs, hurts, offenses and failures of the day before fall off in waves of grace as His New Mercy covers us. “I’m blameless in Your Sight…My history rewritten.” Do you believe that God’s Grace is enough for you today? I am challenged daily with pride that tells me I deserve better than how I am treated and that I have earned more than I have. Faith must overcome such rebellious thoughts to be reminded with each new day and His Gift of Mercy that Jesus is all that I need to share His Mercy with others.

Do you delight in showing mercy? What is your response to hurt, rejection, or offense? Is it immediate forgiveness? Yeah, me either. If you feel left out, slighted or ignored? Do you press in or move away? If you become angry, do you lash out? Do you fight for what is yours? Does love mean more than being right? See God is love and He is filled with unfailing love and compassion for people. Are you? Am I? God’s Faithfulness is enough to complete our life and bring us into full completion and absolute satisfaction. This requires putting all of our expectation in Christ alone. Releasing others from fulfilling our wants, needs and desires. Placing our complete and absolute total trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

What is mercy? Mercy is compassionate and kind forbearance shown toward an offender or enemy. It is to maintain a disposition of loving forgiveness. It is also the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone. God’s Mercy is kindness, compassion and favor. The very qualities that people desire but are often reluctant to give. Feelings and emotions are powerful driving forces in people that will take years of learning to lean on, trust in and depend on the Lord to overcome. The human heart is held together by soul ties. Connections that must be cut and grafted into Jesus Christ (the Vine) in order to overcome to be free to love and be loved. God’s Love is unconditional. To live in His Love our love must reflect His Love. This is full acceptance of Grace when it is enough so we can give it to others..

Lamentations 3:17-21 (NLT) Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…

Many who read this will immediately have an image in their head of the event or trauma in life that left a mark so deep that a scar has formed on your heart. For some, there is only a festering wound. Constantly poked and prodded by the enemy who uses people as his pawns, whispering lies like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to cause division, strife, and bitterness. Has your peace been stripped away? Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Have you been in living in a “barren, dry” land? Nothing is going right, nobody can help, and misery accompanies you day and night? He is our Provider. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water for thirsty souls. Do you feel like everything you hoped for is lost and every dream dead in a valley of dry bones? Hope is the anchor for our soul. It keeps us trusting and believing when everything falls apart in our life. Without hope, there is nothing to have faith in anymore. Have you decided that you will “never” forget this awful time? Does it feel that your life will be forever marked by sadness, grief and sorrow? “Yet I dare to hope when I remember this…” Mercy triumphs over judgement. Those things that you have ordained as dead, gone and impossible – hope says that His Mercy is new each morning. His Grace is sufficient for us. We must learn to live in grace that allows us to live, breathe and hope in His Mercy for us.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Jesus Christ came to this world. He died to pay the price for our sins giving us our freedom to enter right-standing with God the Father again. We can do nothing to regain righteousness except accept His Gift of Amazing Grace. Jesus came to give us mercy not judgment. This is so important to know and understand to grow in our relationship with the Lord. You cannot have mercy and judgment at the same time. They are opposites. If I accept God’s Grace, I am giving up my right to judge other people. This includes the “right” to be offended, mad, bitter, jealous, retaliate or reject others due to their actions or attitude. Forgiveness is not option to those who desire to be redeemed by God.

Sowing and reaping includes our actions and attitudes toward others. If we sow love in our life, it will be our harvest. If we sow judgment which means demanding what is deserved, it will be the dismal future of our next season. What you give – you will receive because what you plant you also harvest? With this in mind…

John 8:15 (NLT) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.

Jesus judges no one. He said it right here. God judges people. Those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus accepting His Grace will have mercy. Jesus is our example. I cannot judge others and be one with Christ. So now when given the opportunity to be hurt, mad, resentful and bitter…these words rise up in me…”mercy triumphs over judgment.” “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

James 2:12-14 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The “Law” that sets us free is God’s Grace. To fully accept God’s Grace is to let go of our right to judge other people. I could not and still cannot keep all of the rules and regulations of God’s Law, therefore; His Grace must be sufficient for me. The minute that I choose to judge another person as unworthy of mercy is the very moment that I exempt myself from it as well. I need God’s Grace to make it into forever with the Lord. I cannot imagine this being all there is to life. My faith is investing in faith. Faith though small it is mighty. It allows me to plant things in others that they are not willing to give me because they are not the source of my life or satisfaction. When I put my full expectation in Jesus – it really doesn’t matter what others think of me or how they treat me because if I will just give them the mercy that I have God’s Promises are mine. I will be complete lacking no good thing. I will have the Mind of Christ and peace that goes with it. I will remain free indeed because I will be one with Jesus. No man or woman can do for you what Jesus did for you and continue to does for you each day. His Love is perfect. His Grace is flawless. His Favor is abundant. Why settle for less by being unforgiving, unrelenting and unmerciful when you already have more than enough and full sufficiency in His Grace! Jesus will satisfy the soul that cuts the ties to human emotions and rights to be right or revered.

Faith is not only the acceptance of God’s Grace but administration of mercy, love, compassion and favor to others as you have received from the Lord. Judgment is to withhold any of these because you feel the other unworthy. Submission to Jesus means surrendering our mind, will and emotions to a God who is greater than our feelings. He is giving us new mercy today! Mercy triumphs, wins, overcomes and removes judgement from our life. What will you do to preserve God’s Grace and give mercy in your life today? What are you willing to give up? Forget? Forgive? His Mercy will meet you the moment you let go!

Mercy (Bethel Music)

I will wake and spent my days…Loving the One who has raised me up…From death to life, from wrong to right…You’re making all things beautiful. You delight in showing mercy…mercy triumphs over judgment.

2 John 3 (NLT) Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.