To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

A Balanced Life

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James 2:17-18 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

Balance is a place that I strive for and tend to fall short. I feel like I am always busy…too busy. Looking back over my life of more than fifty years, I see the places where unimportant tasks and trivial duties took the place of time better spent in different ways. Wisdom is the product of applying new knowledge and greater understanding in life. This is not easy to come by and therefore the Word of God describes it as worth more than precious metals and stones. Time stops for no one. Each tick of the clock is a second of our life that is gone forever now becoming history. Did I use it well? Do I have regrets? Do I wish I did things differently? We all have moments and seasons wasted on lesser things – immediate gratification is highly promoted in the world in which we live. Supply and demand is the current that overtakes us. The very thing purchased yesterday at such a great price depreciates in our hands the moment it is marked “sold”. My desire is balance. I am tired of being distracted with busyness. I am motivated. I am a hard worker. I am disciplined in many areas of life. It comes with age and experience for most. I have fallen many times. I have failed more than I have succeeded. However, in my heart today, I believe that the overwhelming overcoming faith that I am after will be achieved in this place called balance. The rest entered in by those who choose to be faithful and fruitful. It is an intentional place of trusting God enough to rest in our duties of life and pursue His Kingdom passionately. Not by putting our work ethic and tendencies into the production called church – but to become one with His Presence as His Body the church.

Faith is essential in our life. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is not only a noun, but its precipitation is a verb. We must produce good deeds from our faith. Trusting God is the definition of active faith. It gives us confidence that just because our activities do not prosper in our hands that it causes our soul and heart to flourish with the Goodness of God. The Holy Spirit does not produce tangible fruit in our heart to nourish our natural body – instead He produces the kind of fruit that prospers our soul instead. When our soul begins to prosper in God – our life will too. Not because of my works but by the faith and trust in God that allows me to release the worries and cares of this life to find rest in His Presence and share the Glory of His Kingdom.

“I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” Many people take this and turns it into I have to “work” for God in the sense of filling their schedule with work and church all the time. This is not the case at all. I will show you my faith by my good deeds. Let’s take a moment for an attitude check. How’s your attitude? Is your attitude like a gloriously delivered fruit basket filled with all the offerings of the Holy Spirit? Do people leave encouraged at speaking to you? Do they want what you have? Or run like it might be contagious? What about your activity? Busyness is an excuse given by those who have misspent their time and now have regrets. Everyone has the same amount of time in any given day. It is up to me how I use the 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a single day. If I am not satisfied and content, it is my own fault. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. I am the master of my life. I choose where I plant it, what I cultivate in it, and the harvest from it. God has given me the seed. I must sow it. The problem is that I cannot decide where to plant, what to sow, or when to wait for the harvest. My faith is not demonstrated in my ability to work hard, be disciplined or even in earthly success. My faith is only evident when I trust the Lord no matter my condition, circumstance or situation. It is the steadfast, confident hope that no matter what Jesus is enough.

James 2:21-22 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Faith when planted properly should cause our natural life and spiritual life to become one. We achieve balance in our life by faith in God that permeates every area of it. Diversified living creates a divided heart given to too many things and mastering none. The consummation of the holy inhabitation of the Spirit in my life should be evident in every attitude and action that I take. My works should be evident of my relationship to Jesus Christ. Everything I do should resonate absolute and total trust that God is my Father who provides and protects me. My actions complete my faith. My actions will change only if the knowledge that I live by becomes wisdom found in God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came as a Living Love Letter from God inviting me home. He promises all that belongs to Him will be my inheritance if I just come back to Him. This must be a wholehearted endeavor. God has big plans for my life. He offers good, future and hope. They are mind for the asking. I will have them if only I seek Him with my whole heart by faith and learning to trust Him more. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)  As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I will be the first to admit that I identify completely with Martha. I understand what motivates her and just how she ticks. I am task oriented and responsibility driven. I used to think if I didn’t do it that it wasn’t going to get done. I used to judge those who weren’t busy, stressed out and overloaded thinking them of lazy and unmotivated. It took a tragic turn in life for me to understand that my existence is not necessary to the world in which I live. It will keep going whether I am here or not. Time stops for no one.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, an elaborate schedule to alternate his care among family. It would be three months of every day treatment. I couldn’t leave my job. I had a career. I was responsible for three departments. It was our busiest time of the year. They needed me. You may want to avert your eyes because my pride is showing as I tell you of what a self-absorbed person I had become. How could I just stop working for three months? For two weeks, I wrestled to incorporate taking care of our son with my job thinking that is what any responsible employee would do. Or so I thought… when my son got out of the car at the hospital after two weeks of packing up his things and withdrawing from school – I believe that the Lord removed the veil from my eyes. I could see the shadow of death surrounding our son. Everything changed in that single moment. I called my boss that very moment. I am sorry I cannot leave my child. I am going to stand by him. I am sorry and I will do what I can to help long distance but this is where I need to be, I hope you understand. My passion and drive to succeed came colliding with the reality of death in a moment. Not just that which loomed so near, but the fact that tomorrow is not promised and I was wasting precious time. When our battle was over and our son rallied in the victory of remission, I ended up leaving my former career to take a much more laid back position. Work doesn’t come home with me any longer. It does not lay a trap of busyness. I work. I live. I play. I worship in all three because my heart and mind are finally free. What has you all tensed up? What steals precious moments from your family or even the Lord? Hey Martha, I think the Lord is calling to you – what will your heart say?

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

Balance can only be achieved by proper prioritization. There is no doubt that God wants us to be hard workers. In fact, many passages in Proverbs point to the many benefits of hard work. Such as monetary wealthy (10:4, 13:11); plentiful provision (12:11, 28:19); rewards (12:14); promotion (12:24); and prosperity (13:4, 21:5). All these things can be produced by being a hard worker. If we apply the simple truths of the Bible to our lives, we will prosper in our natural life. However, to prosper in our soul requires balancing our life of work with our life of worship. When busyness overtakes us the balance is interrupted. The demands of this world creates distractions and diversions that derail faith in exchange for pride quickly and without warning. We adopt the mentality “if I don’t do it, who will?” God says, “I will because I AM.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

The place of busyness that produces good things in life is also the point when life begins to feel meaningless. Busyness makes us feel vital and purposeful but if the things we do with our hands is not reminiscent of the Jesus who lives in our heart. They will quickly be overtaken. (Matthew 6:19-21) Don’t get all holier-than-thou on me either. Christians are the worst. We profess to believe by grace we are saved and then kill ourselves serving in the local church. The program and production of church becomes overtaken by pride. It inhibits worship. It allows religiosity to choke out new growth. We must find the balance of Spirit and Truth to connect with the eternity in our heart in order to achieve godly purpose that leads to total and complete fulfillment and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This is the point when I begin to decrease and He increases in and through my life. When I no longer care about the packing out the moments of my life but connecting with the Lord in each moment.

The work of my hands alone cannot produce the life God has promised me. I must seek Him wholeheartedly or else risk finding no meaning in living. No matter how successfully I become working, it is meaningless if Jesus Christ is not the very essence in all things. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19) I can work hard my whole life. I can build a good inheritance for our kids. Everything that I acquire will belong to someone else the day that I die. (Ecclesiastes 2:21-24) Every good thing have is a Gift from God. I must always remember that. Nothing I do will every produce His Goodness, Grace or Glory in my life. It is His Gift to me no matter how unworthy I may feel and there is nothing that I can do to earn it. The only thing I have of worth is eternity. Will it be enough to prosper with God in His Kingdom? Will the seeds I plant in life yield a harvest of believers? See the fruit of my life will not be evaluated by stuff even that which I generously give away. It will be amount of faith that I have when I meet the Lord. Will it be enough?

John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.

His invitation so simple. Come and follow me. He met them right where they were. They stopped fishing left their careers, homes and families to follow Jesus. However, through the course of His Ministry it became clear that they really did not have a clear perspective on all that it meant. Peter was passionate and impulsive. Always the first jump in and the first who wanted back out. He fumbled with this thing called faith and exactly what it meant. He even went so far to deny the Messiah just the day before that he had promised to die for. So feeling defeated and deeming all a failure, he went back to his career. However, although his life looked the same, his heart had change. Faith had been planted and cultivated in Him. His pride crucified with Christ. All Peter wanted was Jesus. When the Lord showed up on the beach that day, his man was ready and knew exactly what to do. He jumped over the boat and swam to Jesus. He didn’t care about the net-breaking wealthy haul of fish that would supply his earthly need. He knew Jesus was all that he needed and would not be stopped making his way to the Lord. I believe that through the trials, temptations, tests, and even tragedies in life – the Lord uses them to remove those things that keep us from the rich, satisfying life that He died for us to have. It doesn’t look like worldly success. It does not come with the pressure but peace found in the Presence of God. It doesn’t require us to always be so busy. It means knowing when to stop and rest. It recognizes the still, small voice when He calls and responds immediately. There is no distance too far when it is Jesus who we are after. There is no other thing in this world that gives us fulfillment other than faith. Faith is worthless until it is completed by Christ. We plant it, others water it, but only God can increase it in our heart so it overtakes every other attitude and action in life.

It is time to inspect the nets of our life like any good fishermen would. The things that clog our net keep the fisher from being captured. We are to be fishers of men. If our life is stressed out, filled with fear, doubt and anxiety it will be all men for themselves. That is not the life you are called to. You have the Mind of Jesus Christ. He has given you the power to overcome. You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ. Fear robs us of such things. Faith binds them to every detail of our life. It is time to check out to-do list and mark some things off. It is time to reprioritize it. Number one must always be time spent with Jesus. Don’t let busyness disrupt the balance of your life. Set your plumb line to vertical and build your foundation of faith around it. Prosperity begins in the soul and overflows in our life.

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 

Worth the Wait

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Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

The most difficult part of sowing and reaping is the inactivity of waiting. The seed is planted safely under fertile soil and watered sufficiently. Now what do I do until I see its potential? I must wait. Waiting takes a little thing called patience which I was not born with. One of my earliest recollections is my grandmother lovingly but firmly telling me, “Lori Lynn, you must learn to be patient.” However, historically in the church I was told whatever you do for the love of all that is holy DO NOT pray for patience. So where do I find this little genetic insufficiency called patience. Waiting. Waiting. And waiting some more. I have tried my whole life to do whatever possible to avoid waiting one moment longer than absolutely necessary. God has jokes, friend. If I pick a line at the grocery store, I can guarantee you it is behind the world’s most famous coupon queen or the cashier is slower than Christmas. Do not follow me, I am prone to extended wait times. I prefer ordering lunch from the sandwich that boasts being “freaky fast” and lives up to its name. God has prescribed the perfect plan for me and it has included long arduous periods of waiting. But, I can attest to one thing – each time I have waited for the Lord, it has been worth the wait.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Forgive me, if this sound as though I am stating the obvious but indulge me for just a few minute. Ecclesiastes 3:1 is important. It is the purpose of waiting. Everything has a season. Not some things, but all things. This is referenced in two places. Psalm 139:16 tells us that during the Creation process as God packed us with potential that He prerecorded every moment of our life. Every year, every month, every day, every hour right down to this very minute. Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has a plan for us including a future and a hope. Future is not today but later. Tie it all together with the principle that God does not lie or change His Mind, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – it solidifies the truth that EVERYTHING has a season.

There is a time for every activity under Heaven. Again the word “every” is used. There is not a moment of a person’s natural existence that does not have the potential to yield His Purpose and His Promises in our life. Seeds of potential that must be pressed in the broken and fertile heart to produce those things that faith has promised in our life. If Romans 8:28 and Psalm 138:8 are correct, and they absolutely are, it means every moment of our life can yield God’s Promises and Abundant Blessings. Every detail of our life can be made into something good no matter how terrible or tragic. God is always working to perfect those things that concern us. Everything good or bad in our life can be made right through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The seasons of life are carefully listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, while some are joyous others can be quite devastating. We celebrate life but mourn death. We complain about planting but love to reap the harvest. Killing is tragic but healing is a miracle. Tearing down is tough but building up quite rewarding. Crying is soulful pain that makes us all puffy and snotty, but doesn’t laughter produce the same tears sometimes. Nobody likes the grieving process. We all love to dance even if alone when nobody is watching. Who doesn’t love a hug? Parting is such sweet sorrow. There are times to hang on and times to let go. There are times to press in and times we give up. Things kept while others discarded as unwanted, unnecessary or not beneficial. Time to tear and time to mend. A time for conversation and long separations of silence. There is good and evil and so therefore love and hate. Finally, the Latin adage of “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or if you want peace, prepare for war. The Lord went to all the trouble to touch on every season of human life. God has a plan. It is a good one with a future and hope. It will always require waiting.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In every detail of our life, God has placed a promise. God will make everything beautiful for its own time. The seeds of potential the Lord placed in us all have a set season or time for which they are entrusted. The attempt to harvest any seed prematurely will abort the potential within it. A baby born too soon, a harvest cut before it is ripe, and even a promise entrusted to God but snatched from His Hands impatiently because there is no faith to secure it. Hope is the anchor of our soul but it is not based on anything that can be seen with the human eye. It is help secure by one’s ability to trust God at His Word. The good seed planted in our heart. It is called eternity. It is based on forever and a day.

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

Faith is defined in worldly terms as confidence and trust that is not based on proof. Tangible evidence is absent when faith is applied. Faith comes from the Latin root word “fidem” which means “to trust.” The only way to engage in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is referred to as a mustard seed. The smallest of seeds with the largest potential. Faith demonstrates that hope is a reality in our life. It is evidence of our belief in the unseen God to the point of entrusting our life and future to Him. Hope is to look forward to (expect or anticipate) with reasonable confidence. To believe and again to trust.

In a world of broken promises, hearts and dreams, trust is a tough commodity. It is not harvested easily from our very human heart. Yet, it is in brokenness that the promise is received. If life was great all the time and our future secure – who needs a Savior? Why make Jesus Lord? Well, life is hard. Love is cold. The future uncertain. We need a Savior because sin has devastated the life that He purposed for the people who God calls His Special Treasure. Jesus died so that our faith could harvest hope in our life. Many people believe in a God or higher power, but few truly will commit their life by faith in the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I will not engage in such conversation. The need for a god comes from the eternity placed in each heart. Everyone searches for meaning and purpose in life based on this motivation. If my faith becomes a tree of life for me, it will become an attractive resting place for others. They will want what I have. What I have is not a law by which I cannot abide, but a book packed with promise and potential that by faith, hope and confidence trust – the Lord will produce in my life. It takes time.

Christian character is marked by three distinct qualities – faith, hope and love. The Lord is quick to point out that the greatest of these is love. Love for the Lord produced in our life gives us a distaste for sin. Why? Taste and see that the Lord is good. It is not based on my ability not to sin but avoidance of sin because I love Jesus. Christian character is not defined by doctrine or religious beliefs. This is why I do not argue with people about religious choice or how they choose to worship. No one could convince me. It is the moment in time when all there is to make the next breath possible is faith no matter how small, hope no matter how distant, and His Love that is not tangible yet perfect when something grows in me just a little. It is called confidence. Trust yields confidence in our Christian character. Trust is only possible by faith. Faith in its smallest form yields great potential.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The greatest test of my faith by far so far has been our son’s battle with cancer. The moment when his future became negotiable in this life and solely dependent on the Lord. Truth is that life is brief and uncertain no matter how hard one tries to secure it. If only each person could see the brevity of life and let it change our priorities each day. When I came to the throne boldly, angrily, devastated and broken before my God, I recanted the commitment of my life to Him demonstrated by the things done, ways served, and daily acts of devotion. The words fell on the hard cement floor accompanying the pieces of my broken heart. Like Elijah, it was after my rant, tirade, frustration and fear emptied and silence surrounded me that I heard the Voice of the Lord. It was calm and quiet just as described, the still small voice asked, “Do you trust me?” “Of course, I do!” Thinking back, I almost hurled them back insulted by the fact that clearly God did not listen to my previous rant. Chest heaving and tears flowing, the God of the Universe asked me again, “Do you trust me?” Completely broken before my Lord, I whispered, “Yes God, I trust you!” In that moment, He said, “Your son will live and not die.” This was not the end of the season, but only the beginning. It would take five years for God’s Word to come to pass.

Endurance develops strength of character. Christian character is faith, hope and love. Human expectation causes us to think that our faith is vain and trust misplaced when God’s Plan is not our way, our will, and in our timeframe. The one who endures to the end with faith, hope and love is saved. I added those three things to keep us focused on what we are after. If my faith is for today is not faith at all. If my hope is anything other than what I cannot see or do myself it is futile. If my love is conditional or contingent on any tangible quality of life – it’s not true love. Real love. Agape love. God love.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. A farmer cultivates the field, plants his seed in fertile soil, watering and caring for it when there is no sign of harvest. He trusts that something is growing underground based on what kind of seed that he has planted. A farmer believes in the process. It is his belief that allows him to wait and not dig up the harvest while it is seed in the ground. It keeps him from leaving the field when little plants sprout up rather than the harvest that he expected. It allows him peaceful rest knowing that if just waits until it is ready that he will reap what he has sown. He knows his labor is not in vain but that timing is everything. We must be like the farmer. We must be patient. We must learn to wait for God’s Promises to be ready for harvest. It is this confidence that keeps us close to Jesus through the process until the very end. It is the kind of faith and hope that opens the door to the eternity placed in our heart that satisfies our soul.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

God’s Plans for our life are always good. Never for disaster. The Lord has given you a future and hope. He has given us a desire for eternity. Forever is secure by seeking just three things wholeheartedly. Faith, hope and love that begin and end in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Those who desire His Kingdom will sow seeds of faith each day. God’s Word is proof of the promises that the Lord guarantees. If the tiny mustard seeds are never planted and given time to grow, how will I ever have confident hope? Hope that keeps me standing. Hope that keeps believing. Hope that endures to the end. Hope that cannot be shaken or moved by the not-so-favorable seasons of life. Hope is expectation. To look forward with reasonable confidence. Faith is only logical when confident hope causes us to trust Him more. The more we learn to trust God the greater our satisfaction, contentment and peace in this life knowing that our future is secure forever. It makes a difference. I cannot give you satisfaction, contentment or peace. I can only share what the Lord is doing in my life. My family was right. With each test of my patience and lesson in waiting – my faith in the Lord has grown into confident hope. To walk by faith and not by sight is a process developed by sowing God’s Word and waiting for it to come to pass and produce the harvest for which it is intended. It takes time. It requires waiting. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

What are you waiting for today? What is trying your patience? What seems to be taking forever so you are considering striking it from your prayer list? What is impossible? What dream is dying? God’s Purpose for us is that our character be fully developed, perfect and complete so that we need nothing. Satisfaction and contentment are godly traits that demonstrate trust in the Lord not the evidence of life. Are you confident in God’s Word today? Do you believe His Promises? Do you trust Him? Are you willing to wait for Him to make good of all the details and perfect all that concerns you?

God’s Goodness is for now. His Glory is promised by placing all that I am into the person of Jesus Christ. Grace is only sufficient in our weakness. Waiting is not a weak position but the very place when His Power overtakes my life and becomes a harvest in my life. The fruit of His Spirit are not of this world. His Harvest is named love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is what nourishes our soul and strengthens our heart to achieve the future and hope that is offered to those who invest wholeheartedly in pursuing the Lord and His Harvest. Wait for the Lord. It is a requirement as faith and hope make us confident in His Love for us. Believing God’s Word means trusting Him to do exactly what it says, not backing down, giving up, or even complaining about it but waiting patiently until it comes to pass. He promises that everything will be beautiful in its own time. Everything even that thing which is ugly and seems to be dying will produce new life according to its purpose. Nothing is impossible with God! It will be worth the wait!

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

Good Seed

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Matthew 13:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.

The potential of the harvest is always in the seed. You will reap what you sow in the most basic form yields such a conclusion that whatever the content of the seed speaks to the end result of full development and growth potential. We must plant good seeds in our life. Johnny Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed was an American pioneer who traveled throughout Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and parts of West Virginia planting apple seeds. He did not plant trees but seeds. Not just seeds that would produce a harvest of tasty apples, but he was an American legend known to be kind and generous in many ways. Mr. Chapman was a leader in conservation. He was also a missionary. Johnny Appleseed did not share a harsh message of turn or burn but of love and generosity that would show the Light of God’s Love to many Native Americans. I wonder if Christians today could boast of the same.

What are the seeds sown in our life each day? Are they good seeds? Is there such a thing as bad seed? Well, of course, it is all indicated by the harvest. When Johnny Appleseed planted those seeds across America, he did not just toss them on the ground carelessly moving on to the next without regard. He did not do random planted but produced radical transformation. He planted nurseries that would become orchards. Each nursery surrounded by a fence to keep it safe from livestock and he left the nursery in the care of a neighbor returning once every year or two to check on them. Are we planting good seed and tending it the same?

Genesis 1:27-31 (NLT) So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

Human beings every single one born is created in the Image of God. Sin corrupted the good seed that God created limiting its potential and hindering its prosperity. The purpose which God instilled in you when He created you is not eliminated by sin at all. God created you and oversaw your life come together in your mother’s womb. No matter what the circumstances of your birth, condition of your childhood, or even bad choices made in the maturation process, none of it in any way limited the potential or promise of God built inside of you. The only limitation is sin.

Upon the entrance of humanity, God ordained two things reproduction and full authority. His Purpose for our life is that these two principles are restored to us. It begins with the elimination of sin which sounds so simple but becomes complex. Botanists have broken down the science of the plant reproduction, growth and development down to a cellular level. They have even tried to replicate the process but cannot change the factors only influence the variables. Biologists have reproduced animal life calling them clones. However, no one can reproduce human life any other way than that which was ordained by the Lord. When God create human beings things went from good to very good. If God knew our propensity to sin and rebel, how could He call people given to such “very good”, “special treasure” or even “beloved”? God sees the potential in the seed.

The potential is always in the seed. It is allowed to prosper when the elements needed to be transformed are introduced such as fertile soil, sunlight and water. Yet once committed to the ground, nobody can knows fully the mystery of growth that follows. We know the maturation process but how does it know what to do or how to do it is the burning question. God gives the increase. God knows what He is doing in seeds, animals and more importantly the human heart. Jesus Christ came to break the power of sin, death and the grave. He paid our debt in full so now the full potential of our life is not limited by it. It is by sowing the good seed of God’s Word in our heart consistently and committing our life to spiritual growth that His Full Potential breaks loose and prosperity is our portion. God created abundance for us in His Provision, Protection and Power. We just need to plant good seeds in a fertile heart to receive them.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Jesus is the farmer who plants good seed in us. When Jesus came to be our Savior and become our Lord, it was as a farmer sowing good seed in us. The seed of most potential is called faith. It is by far the smallest seed but should be the most coveted. It is the seed that develops into righteousness with God. Peace is a seed given by the Holy Spirit as He produces the other fruits of God’s Spirit in us including love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This was definitely demonstrated in the life of missionary and nurseryman, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. He understood the relevance of the Gospel and importance of relationship as he planted good seeds. He didn’t carelessly toss it to the ground and expect it to grow. He planted nurseries which required tending. He established people who he instructed and entrusted with his gardens. He supplied their needs. He came back to check on them continually.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. When coming to Jesus as Savior, He gives us a tiny seed of faith offers us the platform of Himself to plant that seed in to grow deep roots. Many will call Him Savior but few will make Him the Lord of their life. Blessed are the peacemakers is often attributed to external relationships but it begins with Christ. Humbling ourselves before the Cross and remaining in Christ day after day. It is not what we do but the plowing, rending and breaking of our heart day by day allowing seeds of faith to be reproduced in us until greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. What does this mean?

Religion will never produce righteousness. It hinders the growth of spiritual fruit. Human life only produces natural things. The Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. I cannot avoid sin completely. I can attempt to make better choices and change certain habits, but my flesh likes sin whether I want to or not. With this in mind, our faith must grow into a thriving love affair with Jesus greater than our love for the sin, darkness or the world in order for us to produce the seeds of faith for others. We must make peace with God to release our potential. We must make peace with Jesus calling Him Lord to find our Way. We must allow the Holy Spirit to prosper our soul before we can be the sowers supplied by the Lord.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Faith sown richly produces life. As our faith grows, it expands to seed the Kingdom. It is a small seed. The smallest of them all usually hidden at the very bottom of our heart. It is discovered in complete brokenness with the realization I am nothing apart from Jesus Christ. I can do nothing good without Him. I cannot survive if He is not with me. The moment when His Grace becomes enough for us is the time when seed is released to the sower.

Everyone pictures the finish line of faith as a jubilant place. The line freshly painted rather than a line drawn in the sand. It is imagined that the “great cloud of witnesses” are cheering us on but only mockers and naysayers wait to see us fail in the greatest test of all. It is the moment that I know I cannot make it to victory or overcome in my own strength but by the grace of God that His Power is revealed in me. Most do not run through a bright colored tape with crowds and resounding applause but barely crawling on hands and knees to the finish with just enough to get one finger across the line. It is a humbling win to the world but a resounding victory to our soul when God cracks open our heart and releases our full potential that allows His Abundance to be produced by the good seed which has grown just a little more.

Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Every good seed planted in our life will yield a harvest. It doesn’t matter if it is planted and left behind. In due season, it will yield its harvest. Have you abandoned your field? When the Christian life did not change your current condition, circumstances or situation did you walk away? Did you sow good seed in your children but they became prodigal? Did you give your heart and life to another before God and man but that person changed their mind? You will reap what you sow. It is not contingent on you but completely by the Power of God that there is increase. You plant. Others water but it is God who increases our life. He cannot lie or change His Mind so if you planted faith – it is going to yield its potential.

The Word of God contains good seed. It tells us of our life potential in Jesus Christ. Every single Word in that book can be committed to fertile soil and watered by His Spirit to produce every good thing that is promised. If you are looking for worldly gain though, be warned you must plant in the world. If you love and desire money, then you must invest seed of the same. If you desire a promotion at work, you must invest the hard work and motivation to secure the position. If you desire power in this life, you must sow seeds of drive and determination in the same. But if you want the Kingdom, eternal life and Jesus Christ, it is in the Spirit that one must sow good seed.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first.  And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” (John 3:6) To become one with Jesus Christ means that I must die to self. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To become one with Him means that I must let my way go. Jesus does not force us to make such a choice but offers us the opportunity. To have all that He promised is to do all that His Word says, this is not something I can do in my flesh or it is religion. It is when I consummate my relationship by allowing faith to be the seed that gives birth to new life in me. Every seed put in the ground must die to its present form to become the potential that is inside. You reap what you sow. Yes! You also reap only as much as you sow!

2 Corinthians 9:6-10 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Are you sowing good seed? What are you investing in today? We must carefully inspect the seeds of our heart and eliminate those which have little or no potential. Weeding out the ones that will result in nothing good is worth it when the harvest comes. There will always be weeds. (Matthew 13:24-29) The enemy will do his best to choke out God’s Word, His Potential and His Promise for our life. It marks his death sentence. He wants to steal, kill and destroy our faith with seeds of doubt, discouragement, defeat and despair. We overcome by faith. Faith must have time to grow in us to supply the famine or drought that lies ahead. To feed our heart, mind and spirit when the world is intent on starving it. We sow for the next season. It is preparation for the days ahead.

Sow generously. Sow good seed generously.  We must give before receiving. Giving is essential to good planting…God planting. You must constantly take in good seed from God’s Word and through communion and communication with the Lord in order to have anything worth sowing in your life. Too many times the cares of life demand our attention. Busyness sucks every spare second. Other things demand a higher priority as the images seem larger than our God. Faith invested even in the smallest portion yield huge potential. The softest and most desperate cry, “I trust you, Lord” will produce miracles and things greater than you ever imagined. You will reap what you sow. Choose to sow in the Kingdom today and you will harvest Kingdom benefits.

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

The Garden of My Heart

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Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Home renovation central, I guess is what you might call it. This place has become one DIY project after another. Paint is going on the walls. Furniture is moved around. Making a house a home is a process. Ironically it is the house plan that our former house was. Laid out the same even built by the same builder, yet as we settle in it is different. A new location. A change of season, if you will. A month or so ago, I dug up the front flowerbed. I decimated all the dead plants and overgrown weeds even removing a “Christmas” tree. It is now a clean canvas ready for a floral masterpiece.

I find that as I look at that barren area in need of new plants, that I am carefully considering what to plant there. The soil seems good. The sun hits it differently than our old beds at the previous house. It is a new place and should have new things. Our children were younger and in need of more care before so I would just head to the Garden Center and grab a variety of pots to stick in the ground. It didn’t matter what really just needed some ground cover. But now is different so I am contemplating more now than before. I really would love to successfully grow some hydrangeas in the damp corner by the house. Their full blooms are my favorite. I would also like some of those large colorful pots that people lean over to put annuals in each year. I am considering the time it will take to maintain it also. Heading into winter, some of dreams and aspirations will have to wait for the cold to give way to spring again.

As I read today’s passage in Luke, it made me think of my heart. The things that are growing from it. Are they beautiful like the garden I envision for the front of my house? The kind of blooms that when others drive by they notice the array of color and glorious splendor so they slow down just a little. If a tree is identified by its fruit, it matters the seeds that I sow each day for they will be that which I bear in the future. I cannot grow what I do not plant. To be a good person, I must produce good things. Those good things become godly things when born of the precious seed of His Word cultivated by His Spirit in my life. What is growing in my heart today? What do I want to grow?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

The Bible is clear as believers the Holy Spirit should be cultivating this kind of fruit. Love. I stop here because it seems to be the biggest problem that we face. How to cultivate Jesus Love among all people. The love in this world has grown cold and selfish…in many ways so has the church people gone. God grow love in my heart today. There is a variety of other fruit including joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are produced by God’s Spirit in us and often emulated as a means of defense. I can act like I have joy – until I get a bad report. I can believe that I am at peace – until conflict arises. I can say that I have patience right before blasting the offending person who disrupted my day. I can do kind things yet not act in kindness at all. I can accept God’s Goodness and never offer it to anyone else. I can mistake service for faithfulness. Gentleness is displayed in more than our words – it is to be our response to life. Finally self-control, pride is an enemy of self-control. The Spirit cultivates control from love that evaluates and compares our words, actions and intentions according to the Great Love and Amazing Grace that is sown in us through Christ rather than what is given to us by the world.

It is important to see these fruits in our life. Examining the condition of our heart daily to make sure it is good soil. Softened by the Word of God. Watered by it, too. There will be times of brokenness as God plants the new and better fruit in the old and hard heart surrendered to His Hands. Given to His Way. Accepting of His Will. As I evaluate this new place and new season of my life, I am evaluating the condition of my heart and the atmosphere God desires in my life. What kind of fruit will I plant today? What will I get rid of to make room for that which is better?

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The multiplication of the Kingdom is discipleship. Discipleship is the cultivation of human hearts. It is not teaching people to be like other people. It is not religion. It is not rules and regulations. It is love. “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” Got it, Jesus. I’m on it. What did you command us to do, again?

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

I know what you are thinking. What about all those dos and don’ts that I have been taught? What about our church’s doctrine? What about what my preacher, teacher and mentor said? What about this? Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it. If you act first in love, you will never break a commandment. Not earthly love, but the supernatural love given to us by God through Jesus Christ. If we start planting that kind of love in our hearts, it would begin to multiply the church. Selfless love is not fashionable in a world bent on saving itself. True love. God love. When the avoidance of sin becomes about loving Jesus rather than congregational acceptance – we will be onto something. I don’t really care what people say anymore. If you wait long enough and get close enough from the abundance of their heart – their mouth will speak and tell you what is really growing there. What God is longing for is a church that is set on multiplying His Kingdom not their own buildings. He desires a people so consumed with love that the differences on the exterior of people give way to the potential and promise inside of them. The Lord loves us and wants us to cultivate the same kind of love to all people. How can we ever move down the list of fruits if we cannot become overtaken by the first – love. Love God. Love each other.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

Rain falls on the just and unjust or so the Bible tells us. God is watering our heart to see what grows from within us. He knows what is in there but now it’s time for us to see what pops up. When I cleaned out the flowerbeds a while ago, I tried to be sure to dig down deep and remove all the roots of the plants I was excavating. Well, as time has passed some of those unwanted plants are growing up again. I didn’t snatch them out by the root so now they are taking over the places vacated by the old plants now long gone. When I do not properly examine my heart every day and remove certain things I run the risk of them growing and taking over again.

I must get rid of all evil behavior. (I Peter 2:1-3) All evil behavior means everything contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way. That’s a lot of stuff. I must stop judging others until I can clearly see my own shortcomings and take them to the Cross. (Matthew 7:4-5) I cannot judge you until I have rid my own life of all the sin hidden within me. What does that mean? I will never be able to judge anyone else. Good! That’s not what I am called to do! I am made for love. I must get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander. (Ephesians 4:31) Oh Holy Spirit, put your hand over my mouth today. While we are at it, our communication should be rid of all filth and malice so that the words we speak are covered in love and smothered in grace. We are sowing in other people’s hearts when we speak so I must always consider what they will produce from our conversation. My new nature should speak life into other people not drive them away. It should offer everything that God has given me not what I think they need. (Colossians 3:7-10) My opinion doesn’t matter. All that matters is the Word of God that brings dead things to life. Finally, so get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” Here is what I have discovered in this process of growth I am undergoing. The more I know God the less I love me. My opinion is not as important as His Word and Truth. My feelings are emotional but His Word is full satisfaction. If I cultivate anything before love, it is worthless. Every fruit of the Spirit and that of worth in my life is grown from love first.

What is love?

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

This is the kind of love that God produces in us. Just when we think we have it all together, it is clear there is another facet to His Love missing. We never arrive fully at the place of unconditional love because only Jesus knows what that is. The selfless love that gives up perfection for people. There are some days that believers will not give up pride for people let alone their whole life. My garden, my heart – to represent Jesus must be covered in love and grow the fruit that comes from love each day. This is what feeds my soul causing it to prosper. As my soul prospers, so will I. Discipleship is the multiplication of love and commitment to Christ through the Body. It has become disconnected with superficial relationships rather than supernatural love.

James 3:13-18 (NLT) If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The property our house is built on belongs to us. It is our responsibility to maintain it. The flowerbed out front is no exception. I must decide what I will plant there if anything at all. I get to choose what grows from the earthly black soil all around it. As I care for the plants, it is up to me to water and fertilize them. Each year as the old dies away, I must evaluate their heartiness and whether or not I should plant them again or choose something else that is more suitable to this environment. I am free to pick what grows from my garden. The garden outside and the garden inside my heart. I will not know until Jesus returns or I meet Him face to face if I chose well.

Wisdom from above is all pure. Get in the Word today and compare it to the productivity in your life beginning with your relationships. If envy, bitterness, or strife has created division – pray for resolution and ask the Lord to make His Way through your heart to forgiveness and resolution. Decide what spiritual fruit needs some attention in your life and look for ways to plant it, water it and cultivate it in your life. The Holy Spirit has probably already begun pressing seeds into the brokenness of your heart. Be peace loving – love is peace. Be gentle to every one all the time. It is time for the church to yield to others again rather than molding and shaping Christians to be like us – it is our lifelong serve to get wrapped up in His Love, covered in His Grace and begin to grow that in the fertile ground around us. Will you examine your heart with me today? Removing all the weeds and worries choking out purpose and prosperity. Breaking up all the hard parts making it ready for more seed. Will you stand in the storm so He can water your soul and wash away hidden sin? God wants to grow you so you can grow others. He is looking at our hearts today. What will He find?

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

The Perfect Holiday

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John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Show Me Your Glory

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Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Show me Your Glory, God. The cry of Christians around the world. The revelry for revival is just about the only thing the church agrees on anymore. Wanting Jesus, but having no idea how to produce the overflow and outpouring of years gone by. Why is God keeping His Glory from us? Where is the spiritual blessing promised in the Word of God for believers? Ephesians 1:3 is clear in praising God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY SPIRITUAL blessing in Christ. Where is the spiritual blessing? Are we just not spiritual enough?

Not to change the subject, but to elaborate on it practically. Our new home has an irrigation system. However, the previous owner did not maintain it. Many of the sprinkler heads were buried underground and others broken off completely. The system did not come with instructions. My husband has undertaken the task figuring out how it works and finding each one of the outlets to repair  them so that it will all work as it is supposed to. To find the different sprayers, he turns on the water for a bit and walks around the yard to find where it bubbles the ground from beneath the surface. He then carefully digs around the area until he finds the hidden unit. He evaluates each one and buys a replacement. He will work on that area until it is working properly. This has taken weeks to accomplish and he still works on it today. It is with in mind that I believe is a lesson of expressing God’s Glory in our life.

We have every spiritual blessing that is possible. The Grace of God expressed through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ has produced an outpouring of unfailing love and goodness in our life that is not making it from the Heavenlies to our everyday life for some reason. God’s Word promises that He is my Shepherd and I lack no good thing. (Psalm 23:1) There is a lot of real estate covered in Psalm 23:2-5 including the green pastures, quiet waters, right paths, darkest valleys, evilness, pain, and even in the presence of my enemies. All the tests, trials and travails of life. The psalm ends with the revelation that “Your Goodness and Love follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) From the beginning – we lack no good thing, but then life happens as we journey through this life to eternity. There are days when His Grace is enough for me and other days when I try to do it all myself. Those are the days when He follows me with everything in His Hands waiting for me to turn to Him.

So I had this thought, if God’s Glory is manifesting in our homes, jobs and churches, could it be an “us” thing? Could there be a problem with my connection to Heaven rather than some grand order from God to stop His Blessing from reaching His People. Absolutely. It is a me thing not a God thing. How do I see the Glory of God in my life? In every season, in every situation. Well, it begins by evaluating our connection to Christ in every area of our life much like my husband is working on our sprinkler system. Step by step. The water is flowing. The source is intact. It is in our ability to express it in our life that needs some adjustment. God does not change His Mind. He does not lie. He has ordained His Love, Grace and Goodness to flood our life. We must find out why it is not happening and make the proper adjustment.

John 15:5-8 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The Glory of God is not reserved for a church service or revival. The Glory of God is for you. It is for me. It is available in every dwelling place in our life. His Glory can fill our homes, jobs, and communities. It can reside in our relationships including intimate, personal, acquaintances and even with our perceived enemies. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” Are you grafted to Jesus Christ today? The overflow and outpouring of God for our life once restricted by sin and shame is now washed clean by the Blood of Jesus and grace established a new connection called righteousness. Here is the errant way of most in that righteousness at some point becomes about what we do rather than who Jesus is. Remember in Psalm 23, the initial declaration is that Lord is my Shepherd and I lack nothing but by the end of the chapter His Goodness and Love are following behind.

Life happens. Things happen. To continue in our pursuit of God’s Glory is a constant and ongoing giving up our way and our will to have His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one will make it to the Father but by Him. Those who remain in His Love will what? Produce much fruit. Prosper as their soul prospers from the connection to Christ. However, grafting requires a cutting process. It is a form of brokenness that must be ongoing. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing. It goes on to say that once I am firmly fixed in Christ that I can ask anything in His Name and He will do it. “This is to my Father’s Glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.” If my life is not bearing spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) there is a problem with my connection to Jesus Christ. It is definitely a “me” thing and if I do not come back to the Lord examining and evaluating my relationship with Jesus I will never see His Glory in my life again.

2 Corinthians 3:9-11 (NIV) If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

How much greater should the Glory of God be in our life today? The Law brought condemnation along with a long list of things to do that were impossible of ordinary people. Lives committed to a physical worship that never really measured up to God’s Glorious Standard. So God sent His Son with a new covenant bringing new life. However, sometimes our humanity is more comfortable with the old covenant rather than fully accepting the terms of the new agreement that did not do away with the Law but completes it. How is this possible?

God’s Grace is enough for me to have His Glory in my life. It is not to be earned or endured but is fully endowed by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In my previous employment, I supervised multiple departments for a local technical school. It was part of the county. It was said that job security was intact unless you “shoot the Pope”. This produced the mentality that if you made eight hours every day. Came to work and sat in your seat that you would eventually be promoted and get a raise simply because you showed up. There was a particular employee who was transferred into our school when her previous position was terminated and since she had not committed any fatal offenses she was given a job. The task given was overseeing the Financial Aid department which consisted of one person – her. She was to administer millions of dollars in Federal funding and keep our school compliant. She did a great job. Overlooked multiple times for a raise, I went to the administration and fought for her to obtain an increase. It was a battle and she was promoted to a proper position and salary for her duties. Well, this did not sit well with the ones who had held their positions for quite some time and felt entitled. One was bold enough to confront me. She wanted a pay raise. She felt it was her right. So I asked her one question, “What have you done above and beyond your job description that I can share with my supervisor to justify an increase?” She sputtered and shifted in her seat. She indicated that she had good attendance, dressed appropriately and had been in her position for a number of years. She looked me straight in the eye and with complete indignation said, “It is my turn!” I told her I would take her concerns to administration which I did.

In government positions, employees are on contract. Since these offices are generally associated with elected with officials, termination is frowned upon. Everyone wants a state job. It comes with great benefits and a level of security other professions, businesses and employers do not offer. We have a covenant that connects us to Jesus Christ. As long as we show up and do the right thing, we feel entitled to receive the benefits that He offers. But what are we doing to establish a deeper connection with Christ? Are we willing to do anything to have a deeper more meaningful relationship with our Savior and Lord?

The young woman in my story did not once ask for a promotion or pay increase. I knew what the position was worth and aware of her excellent performance so I began interceding for her. She was thankful for her job since the other one was taken from her. She had an advocate that went to the administration and authorities on her behalf. Jesus does this for us every day. He goes to the Father and reminds Him of His Grace and that His Glory can be given to us. I think sometimes as believers we think we are entitled to God’s Glory based on our performance when it has nothing to do with anything we do but everything Christ has done for us. When we strive to love Him more, to know Him, be like Him, and have Him permeate every area of our life – we become properly aligned and that which already belonged to us makes its way to us.

We have an irrigation system on our house. It belongs to us. Water flows into it in abundance. It is up to us to examine and fix every outlet until it works properly. We have everything we need. We own it. All we have to do is make the proper connections. God is outpouring His Love and Goodness to us and the Windows of Heaven are open. If God’s Glory is not reaching us, it is us not Him. The Grace obtained through Jesus Christ is more than enough to prosper the life of every believer.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Glory of God is desired by every church in operation or at least it should be. Why are churches divided, separated and broken? The Glory of God is not in them so without purpose they implode. God is pouring His Love, Grace and Goodness over the bodies formed of believers pursing Him. What happens if we just turned around? What if the each person in each body stopped trying to “do” all the right things and repented right there? Rather than inspecting, evaluating and judging all the people not like us, what if each person decided to inspect, evaluate and examine their connection to Christ independent of the organization so when meeting together collectively there was no barrier of sin, unforgiveness, or condemnation to block His Glory. His Glory is not earned. It is pouring out for us according to the Grace of God every single day. We can do nothing to earn it just clear the way to receive it. Once you experience the Glory of God, you will desire more and more of His Presence in your life. It is that good! Misalignment keeps us from receiving what belongs to us in Jesus Christ.

My husband can go outside and call forth every sprinkler to come on and water his lawn. Probably won’t happen – God bless him. Or he can roll up his sleeves and get to work making the way for the water to reach the atmosphere and let it water the ground. The proper channels are in place. The water is flowing. It is up to us to uncover the places in our life that have taken over the outlet of God’s Overflow for us. Revival will not come until God’s Glory is flowing from heaven into the lives of His People once again. It is up to me to clear the way in my heart and mind for His Glory to makes its way to me and through me first. Friend, we can stand at the altar of every church praying, crying out and even travailing for revival but until we fix our everyday connection to Christ, produce the fruit of His Spirit that makes us His Disciple then they will just be words falling to the cold hard ground. I must want Jesus more than anything else with a willingness to do anything to find Him even it means simply turning around, giving up my way and embracing Him fully – then this is what we must do before we ask Him to show us His Glory. Lord Jesus, let your power work in me today. Wash away everything that is between my life and Your Glory. I want to know the power of your grace. I want to comprehend just how wide, long, high and deep your love is or at least just a little more as I move in closer to YOU! Show me Your Glory, Lord!

Psalm 145:9-16 (NIV) The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Poison Apples

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Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Scientific studies have concluded that women speak on average about 20,000 words a day. Our male counterparts are believed to only speak about 7,000 words in the same amount of time. Research has also proven typically girls learn to speak earlier and more quickly than boys. Is this a blessing or a curse? It depends on what is coming out of our mouth, I suppose. I remember hearing somewhere that our words must be evaluated for worth. The worth of our words is this – are they kind, necessary and true? Imagine if before uttering a single sentence it was measured against these three qualities. Not only would our words be the tree of life that God intended them to be, but our relationships would thrive as well.

Not to add to the pressure ladies, but we will be judged for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Who says? Jesus! A tree is identified by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. What is in our heart determines what we say? The words we speak are to be a tree of life to those who they fall upon. What is the fruit of your lips today? I am evaluating mine. A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart. What’s in your basket of conversation today? What is the product of your words? Is there life? Do they feed and nourish those around you or are you giving away poison apples?

Have you noticed how expensive fresh fruit is these days? Four or five fresh Honeycrisp apples (our favorite) is about $5.00. Given the high price, I take my time going through the bin to select that apples that are ripe and colorful. I check them for bruising or signs of rotting. It is important to me that I choose well because they are for my family. I wonder what life might be like if we chose our words as carefully as selecting expensive items at the grocery store? What is the worth of our words?

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

I have changed a lot over the last five years. It used be all about being right. Voicing my opinion, and steamrolling through. I was full of pride. If I was right, it really didn’t matter what I said or how I said it. I had a coworker at my previous job who created a sign for me. On one side, it said, “Stop!” and on the other side “Go Right Ahead!” She would use it when she could tell I was becoming agitated as a warning system. She was like a mini-Holy Spirit if you will. When a conversation was escalating, she would hold up the sign. Thinking back, I wonder if the Lord was using her to send a message to me.

It doesn’t matter if I am right. Jesus gives me grace and mercy for when I am not. What matters to the Lord is the intention of my heart. Do I intend to love and honor Him with my life? In doing so, do I love and honor others in every conversation? The power of life and death is in our tongue. Every conversation has an accountability factor whether heard by many or simply with our self. Every idle word produces judgment in our life. Today I must evaluate the fruit of my life by examining my conversation. Are my words true? Are they necessary? Are they kind?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I used to think my opinion mattered. I also believed that everyone should know the truth even it was harsh reality. I believe that the Word of God is Truth and the only thing that really matters. When I take my feelings, emotions and opinions out of my conversation, it adds worth to my words. God loves us. He is good to us. He loves others. He has given us a message of love, faith and hope to be shared with others. If the words of my mouth do not line up with the meditation of my heart, I am sending mixed messages which are invalid. How can I know if my words are coming from a pure heart? Well let’s see…

In Proverbs, there are several verses that allow us to determine if our words hold life or death. Proverbs 10:11-12 tells us that the words of the godly should be a life-giving fountain. Do your words speak life to relationships or poison them? Godly words are valuable. (10:20) They offer encouragement. (10:21) Godly words are helpful. (10:32) They bring satisfaction to the giver and receiver. (18:20) Our words have the power to save lives. (12:6)

Proverbs also instructs us on the value of wise words. They will bring benefit. (12:14) Wisdom brings healing. (12:18) Wisdom is winning. (13:12) They cause us to dwell in safety. (14:3) Jesus told the Pharisees that their religious actions (what went in their mouth) did not defile them but rather what was coming out of their mouths. (Matthew 15) What are my words doing in the lives of those I share them with? Do my words feed others? Do my words attract them to Jesus? Do I spread life? Do I encourage? Do I build up? What am I spreading around for others to pick up? Our daily conversation allows us the opportunity to examine the contents of our heart. What are we looking for? Kind words. Necessary words. Truthful words. Godly words full of His Wisdom not our own.

James 3:17-18 (NLT)  But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The words of James come at the end of his discourse concerning the power of our tongue. I know that when my emotions get all riled up, it feels like I am pulling back on the reins of ten stampeding horses trying to rein them in and not react. We must learn to respond to the unexpected rather than react. The more I know the Lord – the less my opinion about people and things really matter. He decided everyone was worth it when Jesus died for us on the Cross. No one is righteous (right) outside of the love, grace and mercy of our Savior. One sin is enough sin to condemn us. Should we include our words in such considerations? When I speak harsh words against another, I am saying that Jesus died for nothing. My insults and frustrations invalidate my belief that His Grace is enough for me when I decide that it is okay to malign another with harsh words and accusations. It brings judgment on me.

Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds. Our words are seeds planted in the lives of others. What will they grow into? Love. Peace. Joy. Kindness. Or any other fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do my words drive a wedge between Jesus and His Beloved. Lord, give me wise words and a discerning heart today to pluck away all the bad apples in my communication and rotting seeds of bad words.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NLT) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

There is a “bless your heart” mentality in the church that makes it okay to gossip, malign and slander others. Sharing their secrets, exposing the truth and spreading gossip is covered in the heavy veil of religion because we are going to pray for them. The discourse is usually covered by a “we need to pray for them” or “bless their heart.” However, I believe this brings sorrow to the Holy Spirit. We are to cover each other. We are to pray for one another in love. Believers must get rid of all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” to yield fruit fit for the Kingdom. Parents – our conversation in the home dictates the pattern of speech our children will adopt. To tear down people around our dinner table only teaches them it is okay to do so in the lunchroom. It is up to us as Children of the Living God to share a life of tenderheartedness, compassion and forgiveness even when we want to give others a piece of our mind. It doesn’t really matter what people say about me. My life is dependent on what I say about others and to them. I cannot change the heart and mind of another person. I am only responsible for my own.

My words belong to me. They are produced in my heart. I love Jesus. I want to have a heart and mind in alignment with Him. I must remain in Him and He lives in me. His Words must live in me, too. His Word bears the Fruit of His Spirit which is the only thing of worth I have to offer in this life. Do my words hold power? Do they emit light? Do they feed a hungry soul or deal the death blow? Are they fruit of His Spirit or nothing more than poison apples? Lord, when I open my mouth today to speak some of those 20,000 words that I am known to use in any given day, please Lord help me to remember to evaluate them carefully and inspect them thoroughly. Holy Spirit make sure they are kind, necessary and true – beneficial to the Kingdom. Thank you Lord for this reminder.

I Peter 3:9-11 (NLT) Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

 

Purpose in Every Step

Purpose in Every Step

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

“Life is a series of experiences each one of which makes us bigger even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.” (Henry Ford) If only we could view the concept of life in its entirety from a single vantage point, only then could we see that every moment and each step a culmination of God’s Perfect Plan. Each moment holds purpose. Every step leads to blessing. In each opportunity, there is a chance to experience new life. Life is hard. Each day seems to bring the unexpected. It doesn’t seem to fill us with satisfaction as one might that it would. We get bad news. We trip and fall. We make mistakes. After all, we are only human.

“So I run with purpose in every step.” Today I wonder what might happen if we changed our thinking to test the idea out – that each step has purpose woven in it. I no longer believe in leaps of faith but walking by faith. Leaps skip important steps laden with purpose, provision and prosperity that the Lord placed there for me. I leap when I am fearful and do not believe that He is with me each step of the way. It is my inability to accept that He goes before me and follows me with His Hand of Blessing on my head. (Psalm 139:5) When I was a child and my dad was trying to direct me through a crowd of people, he would place his hand on the top of my head to gently guide me along from behind. I naturally would not pull away or buck his direction, but would allow his hand to guide me along. I trusted my dad. I knew that he was holding on to me because he did not want to lose me along the way. What an awesome Father in Heaven that we have who desires to do the same for us each day?

Life and all its experiences are not random, but carefully orchestrated by the Hand of God. He recorded all of our days and moments before our birth or first breath. God has promised that He knows His Plans for us. He promises that each contains a future and hope. An all-inclusive opportunity for those who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The Lord also makes two additional important promises in the Word of God for those who choose to answer His Call and walk in His Ways – He will perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) and He will make good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) When you take all of these precious promises and put them in a pretty package with a humongous bow, what do you get? Purpose requiring character and endurance to achieve. I can have a tremendous amount of potential hidden inside of me by God (and we do) but until I activate potential by allowing God to develop my character, it will never become purpose.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

My purpose is completely dependent on God’s Plan. Why? He created me. The Lord predesigned me for the purpose that He would place in my heart. To fulfill it, I must be willing to obey all of His Commands. What about freedom? We are free. Christ set us free indeed. Freedom is not forced, therefore the Lord cannot make us choose His Way yet offers it to us day by day. He also gives us new mercies so that if we mess up (which we will) that we will not be defined by our inability to walk perfectly through but our willingness to get up and keep trying no matter how many times we fall.

Each wilderness wandered into is an opportunity to know God more. To increase our trust and commitment to Christ. It allows us to test the contents of our heart, mind and soul while disciplining our body to keep up. There is purpose in the wilderness that you may be wandering in today. You don’t know if you are going the right way because things don’t look like you thought they would. The details of your life are not turning out as you expected. There has to be more so you keep pressing to find your way through. Our experiences increase our endurance especially those that do not make sense. We press harder to get to the other side. We push on the doors of heaven with our prayers and petitions to the Lord. Humility is stumbled upon in the wildernesses of life. It is apprehended by faith when God’s People see that there is nothing worth having apart from the Lord.

Psalm 105:17-22 (NLT) Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers.

Joseph was a dreamer. He was convinced that the Lord would do as He suggested in the visions the young man was having. It was all the fuzzy details in between that Joseph did not see ahead of time or understand while he was going through them that would be the problem. Fulfillment has an appointed time that cannot be rushed or purpose is aborted. Joseph had to go to the pit to get to the palace. But note, Joseph did not own the palace but had all power, dominion and authority over it. This is our life in Christ. It may resemble the natural. We may not own a thing. But we have the Power of God inside of us to overcome the world.

God does not thrust the weight of the world on our shoulders but has handed it over to Jesus Christ. This is an important detail. God builds our character to rule and reign with Him but doesn’t always give us the promise as a possession.  Joseph enjoyed all the benefits of the kingdom but did not bear full responsibility for it. Joseph served the Lord in every position. He surrendered his life to God no matter where he ended up. What about you? Are you looking to serve God completely somewhere else? Do you think certain situations or conditions have to change for fulfillment to come? Friend, the Lord has placed you right where you are for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14)

Psalm 103:7-8 (NLT) He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

Do you know the character of God? We are made in His Image so it is important in our development of purpose and character that we know God’s Character. When Moses asked God to show him His Glorious Presence, the Lord obliged saying, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” God is characterized by unfailing love and commitment to each of us. In Psalm 103, the psalmist reminds us of God’s Character. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He does not constantly accuse us and is not mad at us. God does not punish us for our sins and does not deal harshly with us thanks to the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. His Unfailing and Unconditional Love for each us has no boundaries. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. He is our Father filled with tenderness and compassion for the plight of His Children on their pilgrimage home. The Lord knows we are weak. He gave us His Spirit to help us in our weakness. This is the character of God. It is the moral and mental attitude toward each of us. We must believe in the Character and Nature of God to be just that to trust Him with our heart, mind and soul for forever.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” (Helen Keller) Helen Keller literally had to walk by faith and not by sight due to blindness from birth. Yet, she still struggled. We all do. Character is not easily achieved in life but one of our most valuable assets. No one rejoices when trouble comes especially if it is more than we can bear. Yet it is through life’s experiences that challenge us when endurance develops strength of character. We cannot see our character until it is expressed in life. Our ability to believe and trust the Lord when life is not favorable or we become increasingly more uncomfortable indicates that we have godly character. However, disbelief is evidence of a wayward soul and a lack of divine inclination. (John 8:42-45) You will resemble your master…whoever that may be.

Our character produces actions consistent with our true belief. Genuine faith will be expressed by God’s Fruit productivity in life. If we do not believe, we will not sow. If we do not sow, we will not harvest. If we do not grow, we will die in famine. Famine can be defined as any condition that keeps us from growing and producing in life. Godly hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is for those who choose to have faith and trust in God no matter what their condition may be. Complete confidence and trust in the Character of God and His Reliability come from a daily walk with Him.

We will adopt the mentality and assume the identity of the company that we keep. (I Corinthians 15:33-34) Be mindful, alert and aware of those around you. The influence and impact of others is important. “Bad company will corrupt good character.” If godly character is important to you, it will require immersing your mind in the Word of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, and surrendering each and every step to God’s Will every day. It takes just one step in the wrong direction to change one’s destination.

Hebrews 1:2-3 (NLT) And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

We are in the final days. There is no denying that Jesus is making His Final Decent. Prophecy is being fulfilled day by day. Time is running out. I need to make this time count. Jesus has provided us with the Father’s Inheritance once forfeited by sin. Godly character allows us to move deeper in the Presence of God for our life fulfilling the purpose found there. It is up to me whose identity I will assume. When pressure is applied to my life, what is expressed? This is a clear indication of what fills my heart governing my mind. I need to know. I want to know. I desire to have godly character. The kind that endures to the end so I will be saved. Jesus has given us the power to choose the life that we live and the character allowed to develop in our life. I want to understand what really matters. I want to live in such a way that God sees me as pure and blameless. His Grace is enough for me. I must believe in God’s Goodness and Grace enough to trust Him in the wildernesses and broken places in life. We must desire righteous character and live to attain it. This is the purpose found in each step.

Philippians 1:10-11 (NLT) For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

 

Be a Builder

Build a House

I Thessalonians 5:9-11 (NIV) For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

We are all called to be builders in Kingdom of God. Together productive in love. This is accomplished by faith and confident hope that takes our expectation from the things of this world releasing into the Kingdom to achieve the purpose for which it was intended. I can do all things in Christ. This includes not only loving all people, but encouraging and building them up as well as well. It matters how we treat other people. The mandate on our life is to love one another. Jesus was straightforward in His Instructions. Love is the primary objective of our life once saved. First, we love Jesus. Then, we love everyone else. Or, at least, that is what we are supposed to do.

I am reading, studying and writing this on Sunday. After I am finished, I will get ready to go to church. What are my thoughts? What is my main motivation as I prepare to go worship the Lord with other people? The first image is Jesus, of course. As I rifle through my thoughts, I find that the next several things include the things “I do” to facilitate the service and activities of the day. My responsibilities, if you will. I sense the Holy Spirit hurrying behind my rambling thoughts and overwhelming list – His Hand held up as He calls, “Wait a minute, did you forget something?” Indeed, I did.

What about the people? Those who come and serve regularly. The ones who attend each week as the Lord continues to poke and prod them to a new level – perhaps might I help by opening the door. Those who barely crawl in from a harrowing week. They made it. What about them? Could it be that they need me to listen and encourage them before they face the world again. There will be people who are lost and this place called “church” is foreign. Will I make them comfortable today with “whosoever come” or will my behavior be like everyone else staring and gawking at the one who is clearly out of place? How about all the teenagers, children and babies? Will I pray for them? Will I take the time to even acknowledge they are there? I have received the Gift of God’s Unconditional Love, Unending Grace and Unmerited Favor. It is given in surplus to be poured into the lives of other people. How am I doing?

John 15:12-14 (NLT) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

Greater love. The basis of our life is Jesus Christ is the acquisition of the greatest enduring love of all time. The love that did not consider itself but gave its all for me. Jesus is my example as I learn to love others and give my life away. See that is the purpose of our life to give limitless supplies of love to others, to build relationships together depending on Christ to meet all our expectations allowing us to love freely expecting nothing in return. Love that is opportunistic is not love at all. The kind of love that is given in consideration of the return. This is not a covenant but a contract. The investors do not care about their partner but weigh heavily the return. We are benefactors who have received the blessing and benefit of God’s Love to give it away freely and unconditionally with an abundance at our disposal.

Earlier in John 15:5, Jesus unfolds the dynamics to a fruitful life which simply states “if you remain in me, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” Our connection to Jesus Christ is the primary source of our building tools in every other relationship of life. Jesus is calling us to greater love. The kind of love that sacrifices self to see another raised up to a new life, new calling and new purpose. Are we laying down our life effectively? To do so means that our relationship with Jesus must maintain a solid connection. Jesus Christ is the only foundation on which to build such a love life.

I Corinthians 3:9-11 (NLT) For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

How is your crop? Are you building up people? Are you making new disciples? Love expels all fear. It drives away our deliberate avoidance of problematic people and allows us to love unconditionally. We cannot build up the Body of Christ with manufactured tools or plastic fruit. It is accomplished by genuine faith in the Lord and the ability to trust Him in all things. When we do, it will be evident in the structure of our life and one’s ability to love, encourage and uplift despite feelings, emotions, situations, circumstances, or even the busyness of life. We are instructed to build with care. Love is not forced. It is freely given for the consumption of others. The foundation of love laid forth by Christ is limitless and unfailing love that cannot be tainted or turned by the vilest of people. Jesus loves us all. He died for us all. He commanded us all to love one another.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let us consider how we motivate one another toward love and good works. God wants us to think of ways to encourage, uplift and build up one another. Rules and regulations did not allow us to come back to God but rather a relationship with His Son, Jesus. The relationship others develop with us will bring the Light of God’s Love to them or keep them wallowing in the darkness of this world. The love expressed for Jesus in church, during worship or kneeling at an altar is only as strong as our desire and ability to take it to the world around us.

If we eat at a good restaurant, we invite others to that place. If we find a good sale, we encourage others to shop there. If we discover a great product, we will tell others to get some. Yet, Jesus remains in church and doesn’t make it into the world because all our love, affirmation, adoration, and allegiance is expressed there alone. It is time to take God’s Love and not just His Name to the streets, alleys, and workplaces. Church is not a bad place. It is the product of those who fill it. If we are not producing good fruit, there will be nothing for others as we starve ourselves. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (Romans 15:1-2)

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

When our son was sick, I began going to the gym with my husband. He had been working out for a long time, and so one night I joined him. Once on the elliptical machine, I would begin mindlessly walking and thinking. Turning up the praise music and losing myself in prayer without the worry of tripping, falling or being hit by a car walking in the neighborhood. It quickly became my escape. Sorting through our life as the Lord calmed my heart and wore me out, so I could sleep at night despite the battle raging around me. When our son went into remission, I continued to go to the gym without the same commitment and drive until I just stopped going. Our membership was cancelled when our house went up for sale as it would be too far from our new location.

When I was working things out in my mind, something amazing happened. My body got stronger. I was not going to strengthen my body as much as clearing my head, but in the meantime I was in better physical health than I had ever been. We must condition our soul, mind and body to produce good fruit. Jesus uses the tests and trials of life to expose genuine faith in us. If we do not express this to the world, we get spiritual flabbiness. Every day as we press on in our bodies learning to endure, we must allow the same pressure to expose areas of our heart in need of conditioning. Our time spent with Jesus will directly impact every area of our life especially when His Love begins to come out of us to others.

Though we think little things like a kind word, a hug, or simple acknowledge unnecessary, they are not. These are the building tools of the Kingdom that condition the body in surplus ways. The trick is continuing to walk in love, produce good fruit and seek the Lord when we need nothing from Him at all. In season and out of season until the love of our life is to introduce others to Jesus. Our Beloved. Everything expressed in our life should be dipped in the Blood and covered by His Love to be fruitful for His Kingdom. Be an expert builder. Go boldly into His Presence and claims the fruit that draws others to Jesus. You have a purpose. It is a commandment to love one another. Love is not a noun it is a verb. We do it in every attitude, action and activity. In exchange – Jesus promises that our joy will be complete and full!

John 15:11 (NLT) I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.