Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heave

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do you have a treasured possession? My grandmother’s china is very special to me. She kept it in her china cabinet only bringing it out at certain times. I remember looking through the glass at them and how they shown in the golden light of her dining room. Funny, that in the same cabinet, in the midst of all the good stuff, grandma had a plastic salt and pepper shaker in the shape of two hanging grape clusters. These were a gift from me to her. She treasured the artwork and tiny trinkets given to her by her grandchildren. They took a place of honor in her home. My birth mother passed away a few years ago. We had been estranged due to addiction for many years. When her death certificate arrived, it contained two gumball machine rings that belonged to her. Little pieces of cheap metal crafted in to plain bands that were gifts from her grandson. I have tucked them away. Tiny treasures with great significance.

We all have treasures. People or things highly valued and greatly prized in our life. Some of those things may actually be of monetary worth while others provoke precious memories. If a thief were to break in, would he be able to steal your treasure? Could moths or rusts destroy that which is most precious to you? Treasure is defined by the value or worth placed on something. It is the desired content of it that makes it so special and sought after. What do you spend your time pursuing these days? The pursuits in which our time and talent are invested generally will reveal our treasure. Priorities produce busyness but what is the purpose and motivation behind all the rushing back and forth? Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?

It would be quick to interpret this passage to dissuade us from loving things and money too much. While looking ahead, the perception of worth and wealth is based on the perspective of what we see. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The kind of faith that sees the Kingdom must turn its face from worthless substitutions to obtain the treasure stored for them in heaven. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Drives and desires become our masters. To have money, possessions and things is not bad. To love money, possessions and things allowing them to become the master of our life and that which defines our pursuits is the real trouble for believers.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV) My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The hidden treasure of heaven belongs to you and me. We have the Word of God to invest in our life like good seed planted deep in fertile soil. The act of sowing God’s Word in our lie turns knowledge into understanding and wisdom. We must “receive“ His Word. We must “treasure” His Commands. We must be “attentive” to His Voice. We must “incline” our heart to understanding. Treasure is defined by human desire. The thing desired most defines the idea of “treasure” in our life. Who or what gets your time? Who or what gets your talent? Who or what gets your treasure? This is the person or thing valued most in your life. It will show you who or what the desire of the heart is.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is hidden treasure. It is found when Jesus Christ is discovered. The potential of the Kingdom is in us. He has placed eternity in each heart and a measure of faith to cultivate the purpose placed within us. In order to have it, we must pursue it wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The man found treasure and covered it up. We invite Jesus to come live in our heart. What we do with our salvation is completely up to each one of us? To participate in a building a relationship with Jesus Christ means that we must go and “sell” this life to obtain the Kingdom. The man sold everything for “joy”. Less is more in the Kingdom. I must decrease so Christ can increase.

What if this passage represents moving our life from the planet to His Presence? To begin getting rid of lesser things to make room for His Abundance. To work the fields of our heart rather than toiling with our hands all the time. To build a life on faith rather than worrying about the world and its future. We are temporary residents of this place, the Kingdom of God is our forever home.

Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Reading these verses today, I am wondering if there is a message here. The “man” moved his life and existence on the field. He sold everything to dwell in it. Live in it. Take ownership of it. What if these verses represent our personal life with Christ and the next ones our professional life? The merchant bought and sold pearls for a living. But when he found the pearl of great price, he sold all to have it. The treasure of my life is Christ. To have the Kingdom – I must have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is not futuristic. He invites me to open the windows of Heaven and bring it down to the earth.

The deal breaker, game changer is my participation. Will I sell out for the Kingdom? Will I place the highest priority on heaven rather than earthly pursuits? It doesn’t say that they gave everything up for the Lord. They sold everything to acquire the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven offers abundance, full satisfaction and complete contentment. It is not to accept a life of poverty, but to prosper from the inside out. I find that as I continually invest more and more of my time, talent and treasure into the Kingdom – things begin to change as I do. The struggle is real. Faith relies on that which it cannot see as the vivid reality of what is true in our life. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10. He was rich. He was a ruler. He was religious. He was the total package according to the world’s economy. Jesus instructed him to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. To exchange all of his things for righteousness. To have a constant and abiding relationship with the Living God. The man walked away “disheartened” for he had many possessions.

Luke 12:32-34 (ESV) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If the world didn’t give it to you, then the world cannot take it away. The Treasure of Heaven is Jesus Christ. The Presence of God that wants to dwell in us, live with us, save us, heal us, and deliver us. The Prosperity of God that wants to increase us from the inside out. To create such contentment and godliness that the conditions, circumstances and situations of life cannot impact the love, joy and peace overflowing from us. It says, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We cannot earn the Kingdom with all of its blessings and benefits. We certainly do not deserve it yet each day His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us. “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” God is asking His People simply to prepare a place for the Treasure of Heaven and He will gladly do the rest. What do you treasure? Where is your treasure? Can anyone take it away from you?

God is good! He is an excellent provider. He only gives us good things. He is perfect in all of His Ways. To connect with God’s Economy – one must move into His Presence and learn to operate in godly prosperity. It doesn’t work like the world does. It operates by unconditional love, unending grace and overflowing blessing from the inside out. Tap into the hidden treasures of heaven. Reinvest your life into the potential of faith living in confident hope. He will never ever let you down. It is His GOOD PLEASURE to give us the Kingdom!

Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

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The Hope of Glory

The Hope of Glory

Romans 8:18-19 (NKJV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

The earnest expectation of all creation is the revealing of God’s Children. Expectancy will fuel desire and drive motivation. It becomes the commander of attitude and actions. It is influenced by residency. Those limited to the conditions, circumstances and situations of only the natural world and the timeline of birth to death will never be satisfied. Coming into this world with nothing, striving for fulfillment, then dying to leave it all behind seems futile. Those who discover new life through Jesus Christ become Sons and Daughters of God with unlimited potential. However, without a pivotal shift in our expectancy, there will not be realization of the new creation that Christ has promised to make us. Instead, our light is dim and salt not salty as we try to express a glorious God in a hopeless gesture.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NKJV)  For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

God has filled our heart with light…glorious light. Jesus is the hope of glory within us desperate to make His Way out. Our old “wineskin” cannot contain the new wine of His Spirit and therefore we must become like new “wineskin”. (Matthew 9) To change and be changed is the process of transformation limited only by unwillingness. I wonder if the pressure, pain, perplexity, despair, loneliness, and devastation in us is really dying flesh giving way to new people assuming the identity of God through reliance on Christ. People would not seek the Lord any other way as pride would remain in charge of our heart and mind in our own ability to maintain a peaceful and comfortable existence. It is in our discomfort that our heart seeks the Father. It is in our displeasure His Name is called forth. When all the while His Plan and Purpose is to make our life glorious. Perhaps, just maybe, the pressure is the process of new birth that is the eternity in our heart releasing expectation that is trying to find its way out.

God has placed light in us that can only be accessed through brokenness. It sounds cruel but it is actually the remodeling of our heart and mind to let go of possible and embrace impossibility. To connect our faith and confident hope from just a concept to the conviction of our life that drives us to true repentance turning us from death to new life that permeates an ordinary existence and making it extraordinary. The weight of our expectation is His Glory. His Glory changes everything beginning here and now.

Colossians 1:24-27 (NKJV) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

What is Christ, the Hope of Glory, doing in you? The mystery of His Grace is revealed in His Glory. It is working through hard hearts, twisted minds, fickle feelings and futile efforts to dismiss fruitlessness and release abundance in us and through us. Our soul is the starting place. As our soul prospers so will our body, mind and spirit. As His Purpose, Plan and Potential begin to work its way from our soul to these other areas the productivity of our life changes. It all begins with pressure. Pressure begins the process. Our body releases adrenaline when pressed because fear is our first response. Fight or take flight? The fight of the flesh is a dauntless effort day by day to believe God at His Word, trust Him more than our feelings, and use faith as the logic of life. The flight extends the waiting, lengths our journey and causes delays. However, in Romans 8 there is a promise that God will still work every detail for our good. Grace is our sufficiency and it is always enough when our humanity chooses the lesser rather than engaging in the good fight of faith. Nothing in our life is every wasted as Children of a Good and Gracious Father.

Romans 8:22-24 (NKJV) For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The hope of God’s Glory being released in us comes with one requirement – change. True repentance is a heart turned to God rather than the things of this world. It is not a call to perfect but to give the Lord every imperfection. To lay our broken, tattered, used, abused, and devastated life full of disappointments, mistakes and bad choices at His Throne. To fully accept His Grace as enough to allow Him to change us from the inside without fear of punishment or destruction but giving way to His Glory. Christ has every intention of birthing a new creation from the wreck received. He is not intimidated by our wretchedness. He is not offended by our sin. It is all under covered by His Blood and removed as far as the east is from the west unless we choose to retain it. In its place, the Lord fills our voids with hope, healing and full restoration. He renews us, restores us and revives us from the inside out. The weight you are feeling and tremendous pressure you feel is the new creation inside of you working its way out. You are birthing the Glory of God given to you by His Son – Jesus. You must only endure the process to see true character and your real identity revealed.

Do not give priority to the thing causing pressure in your life? Do not focus on the problem? Embrace the potential within you. The Hope of His Glory – Jesus Christ. He has all the answers and solutions. He knows a better way. He will never leave you or forsake you but rather partners with you until the end. It only says that those who endure to the end will be saved. It means that the battle is won, the work complete, and Jesus overcame the world. You must only hold on to Him to make it to eternity. Expect God to make a masterpiece of your broken pieces. The Lord promises that He will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to HIS POWER at work in us. God is able. He is willing. We must only embrace Jesus and engage in Him to see His Glory in our life. This is not achieved by doing anything but the realization of His Love – to comprehend the limitlessness of it – and to live in His Grace which is His Power for our life.

Luke 21:25-27 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Give Thanks

Give Thanks

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)  So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is this week. No really, it is in just four days. How did it get here so fast? I feel the panting of the racehorse of stress and anxiety beneath me. Panting hard getting ready for the pistol shot and the gate to fall. The holidays are here…Lord help us. We also have other excitement in our family. Our son is now engaged. There is a wedding upcoming. Our daughter is expecting our first grandchild at the beginning of the New Year. Office parties some to plan others to attend. Church related activities. List making, shopping, and gift giving. I can feel the pull and stretch already.

The stores have all the fall seasonal merchandise on clearance. Rifling through a pile of placemats – I find one that says, “Give Thanks”. I pause for a moment. Looking at all the plates, platters and wall signs also marked down – it is written on many of the items. All of them hidden away on a clearance aisle. While they have been replaced with Christmas trees, ornaments, gift wrap and the like. A celebration is coming. The newborn King has arrived. Salvation is introduced to the world. Grace ready to overflow to all mankind. Hope restored for a lost world and people shrouded in darkness. We have much to be thankful for and so little of it is in this store. Hidden deep in our heart where His Spirit lives there is quiet voice reminding me – “Give Thanks. Don’t forget to be thankful. You have it all right here in Me.”

Overflowing thankfulness is not a human quality but a spiritual gift born of a made up mind and hopeful heart. To be thankful in every situation is our goal but not always the outcome. “So then” as an introduction to this passage points to a result. This has happened so then this is the result. Paul indicates that the church has shown great discipline and firm faith in Christ so then…the result is to continue to live life rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness. I wonder if our hearts focus solely on living the life prescribed by the Word and continually attempting to sow seeds of faith for prosperity in all things, but we struggle with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a result of satisfaction and contentment. To be overflowing with thanksgiving means to live in a constant state so that it continually multiplies and cannot be contained. The result of living in Christ and firm steadfast faith should be thanksgiving. Are you thankful today?

Colossians 4:2 reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful for the return of Christ and to be thankful. I wonder if our prayer life is stagnant and witnessing weak because we have forgotten to give thanks. Discipline is not only a spiritual trait but can be from natural habits. Religion sets forth a standard doctrine. People who comply with the demands of the doctrine exhibit discipline but it doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship is formed of a different kind of discipline that changes our character and identity. Two become one making it a whole different creation. Christ promised to make us new creations. This is not possible until our attitude and actions are changed by His Word, Way and Will for us. We don’t make that change but submit to His Discipline as a disciple of Christ. Without a heart experience, an encounter with Jesus is a chance meeting. It is our heart, desires and passions that He is after to make our life fulfilled and complete. Apart from the Lord this is not possible and therefore overflowing thanksgiving the same.

Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

“And be thankful.” This mandate comes after a long list of characteristics of God’s chosen people. We are holy and dearly loved to be clothed in compassion, kindness, tenderness, gentleness and patience. To bear burdens together and to be forgiving. With all these attitudes and actions – we are to do them in love. Live in peace with Christ and others. Then the statement comes almost like an add-on “And be thankful.” It’s almost as if it says, “You must do all these things and like it.” The giving of our life to Christ does not come with challenges and struggles along the way. We must wrestle our flesh for control of our mind, will and emotions in order to surrender our heart and mind to the Lord. We can do all of the conditions listed above but without thankfulness – is it really a heart change or merely a change in habits?

In Ezra 3, the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple. The reconstruction process was finally showing some results. They stopped to have a praise break. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; His Love toward Israel endures forever.’” It goes on to say that many people did not share the same enthusiasm and joy. There were older priests, Levites, and family leaders who had seen the former temple that wept with sorrow. Change is hard. It is difficult to endure. As the Lord prepares His Church for eternity, it requires transformation which is more than just a habitual change or altering of appearance. He is molding and shaping a Body of People to fit together in unison and harmonious perfection. The foundation of our life is faith in Jesus Christ. Though all engaged in a personal process, it is with one purpose. Where are you today in the restoration and renewal process of Christ? Is it hard to be thankful because life is just too hard? Are you the one who is celebrating all the good things going on around you? Are you the one who weeps in sorrow when the praise team starts singing longing for the faith, love and hope that you are still trying to find?

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Therefore…the world is certainly shaken. Love is cold. Sin rampant. It is a polluted place and perverted culture all around us. As “temporary residents” this is not our home or forever. Sometimes in the midst of our natural life our supernatural destination grows cloudy and dim. We forget that the details of our life are promised good outcomes. (Romans 8:28) We forget that Jesus will never leave us or that His Spirit is alive and well given as our helper. Burdened and pressured by the temptations and trials of life the unseen reality of our faith becomes elusive. Not only that tradition seldom gives easily to transformation, God is doing something new in the churches around the world. New vitality is rising up from ashes, as the Lord shakes Heaven and earth once more. Since we are part of the Kingdom of God and His Chosen People, we have confident hope that no matter what happens, our future is secure. For this reason alone, the Word of God says, “Let us be thankful.”

Give thanks. I don’t know the trials you are going through or the temptation you are facing, but for a few moments, just thank God for His Love, His Son, His Spirit, His Salvation, His Kingdom, and continue to thank Him for every single thing that is good in your life. We all have something to be grateful for especially if America is our home. The enemy wants to put out our passion and desire for the Lord by making us overly busy, consumed with lesser things, bound up in lies, falling into temptation, caught up in religion, hanging on to tradition, and so many complications. It is up to us to enter His Gates with Thanksgiving and His Courts not one day but every day if our intent is to be one with Christ. I must make the personal choice to begin each day with a grateful heart even when dissatisfied, discouraged or overwhelmed. It may begin as a habit but will lead to personal transformation. Peace with God removes all doubt and fear becomes love dispels them. God is good. He is good to us. He will do exactly what He promised that He would do. Trust produces thankfulness before the thing for which we asked, prayed and believed ever happens. It is the foundation of faith like mortar in its bricks. Don’t get caught in the holidays but being changed by His Holiness. The Lord longs to live in partnership with you. He desires to carry those burdens and teach you to live apart from them. (Matthew 11) He is the Gift that keeps on giving. Give thanks today for the greatest gift of all.

Psalm 100 (NIV) Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Salvaged Life

Salvaged Life

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

I had this idea yesterday. It dropped in my spirit and produced a weight in me until I wrote it down. “As believers, we do not salvage the rest of our life. Salvation produces new life.” The latter days of our life fully invested in Jesus Christ have great potential to be greater than our past even if our past isn’t so bad. The enemy is set on getting God’s People to settle for something less. A conciliation prize is not described in the Word of God but rather reconciliation to fulfillment of God’s Perfect Plan for us. Time is not running out for me as a Child of God – it is only beginning. It is up to me to see the beauty of new life in dead seasons. Faith believes in what it cannot see and relies on the impossible.

“Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through…” but do not suppose this is the Will of God for every day of the rest of your life either. It is human nature to hope for the best but expect the worst. This is how letdowns and disappointments are accepted as a part of life. It is a call to self-preservation that kills our faith and trust in God. Fueled by fear, insecurity and anxious thoughts it takes the focus off our victory and keeps giants mocking us. I must change the way that I think when it comes to struggles and trials in life. Looking past probable loss or fearful of the trial, it is in hopeful expectation that I grab hold of my partnership with Christ. Faith plants seeds of righteousness that produce blessings in our life. However, we must find the peace to plant those seeds with expectation.

You will have wonderful joy seeing His Glory when it is revealed. Faith begets faith. Trust more trust. Hope grows more confident in fulfilled expectation. It is only possible through suffering. Why? When did you turn to Jesus? Was He your first thought or last resort? People turn to the Lord in devastation. We look for God when in complete despair. When failures produce moments when the human heart cries out to Him. When there is nowhere left to turn or no one to run to – we call on the One who knows it all, can do it, and will rush to our rescue every time. So maybe suffering wasn’t God’s idea but the choice of His Children.

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.

Today I am pressed that the problems I face in life may not be the enemy waging war against me but my flesh slowly dying within me. What if the trails really are for endurance so I will make it past me to see the Glory of God in my life? What if these long dry seasons are to stretch my character and give it new strength with a larger capacity to love people more and obey the voice of God when He is silent? Could it be the confidence in the hope I have will remove all residue of disappointment and let the Light in me shine through? Hope never leads us to disappointment. Faith chases after hope. Without faith it is impossible to please the Lord, but without problems would we ever discover the fruitfulness of faith that produces fulfillment? Probably not. God has given us the Holy Spirit to live in our heart and produce good fruit. I must make room there for Him to dwell which is the removal of pride so He can plant humility, doubt so He can sow trust, and sorrow so that the Lord will produce joy in the new creation I am becoming grabbing hold of the new life He has promised.

2 Corinthians 2:7-11 (NLT) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, that indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 

When our son was ill, it came to a place his doctor labeled the “realm of hope” which to other people might mean there is no solution. His case is terminal. He is going to die. But it was in this place that I realize that the Lord had told me that our son would live. This was the point of impossibility that would produce God’s Glory. There is no statistical or medical data to support the young man who was on the verge of death who went on to graduate from engineering school, secure a future and live well beyond his life expectancy. Yet, he does. It took a trial almost to the point of tragedy to change my perspective on faith and hope. Though I would never wish this on any parent or person for that matter, if something could change their perspective of faith and hope to the point of confidence then I do pray that for them. Sorry not sorry. That’s pretty much what Paul writes here. The church was in an uproar and totally offended by his first letter (I Corinthians). So he sent a second letter to them in an attempt to reconcile the relationship. Basically, this text says, “Sorry not sorry”. He did not want to hurt them but rejoices in the “diligence” in faith it produces along with “clearing of self.” This simply does not happen in our comfort, convenience or control but when we see the Lord to restore these things in our life. Are you uncomfortable? Have things become inconvenient? Have you lost control? Have you called out to the Lord?

God’s Desire is to lead us to fulfillment. Our fulfillment is made complete in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, we cannot make it to the Father, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we want Him, we must seek Him. We must sow seeds of faith that will produce pleasing fruit – not because we have to but because we want to. It is all about willingness and obedience. The sorrow in our life is present when we choose something less than God’s Best – not because He does it to us, but our soul is only satisfied by the One who created it. If you are trying to salvage a good life after salvation, it will never be good enough. God doesn’t recondition people – He restores them. He doesn’t recycle our life but gives us new life as a new creation. Anything less is not God’s Best and will not bring about satisfaction and fulfillment. Are you holding on to sorrow? You must release it for joy. Unforgiveness creates bitterness that expects disappointment rather embracing expectant hope. Let that go, too. One of my favorite “go-to” verses that inspires me daily is “I would have lost heart, unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) God’s Goodness is for you today. He is fully invested in you the seeds of faith that will grow into the hope you live for. You have everything needed to prosper in this life and in this moment. The rest is up to you and me. I am not called to be salvaged but saved by the Grace of God to fulfillment of new life – I must take hold of that today.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Feeling Full

Feeling Full

Colossians 1:19-20 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Are you fully satisfied today? Are you content with your life? Do you have unfulfilled hopes and dreams that are fading on the backburner of life? Are you ready to settle? Have you already? What do you expect? Do you expect anything at all? Expectation is fueled by hope. It is given substance by faith that lays a foundation of trust, waiting and expectation. It is the very thing that lends our faith and hope credibility as it molds and shapes our behavior.

“For God in all His Fullness was pleased to live in Christ” and now He lives in us. Are you feeling full today? Do you feel the fullness of Christ pressing the edges of ordinary about to overflow in extraordinary? Do you sense that your natural life is about to give way to a supernatural existence? Oh if we did, it would make a difference in how we lived. If for one moment, one day, one week, or even maybe one year that it was our goal to remain fully invested in our faithful expectation at the feet of Jesus – worshipping and waiting as if that which we hoped for had already arrived. What happened next would be remarkable? It would be worthwhile. It would be fulfillment. A completion uncompromised by the world’s settlements and substitutions. Is Christ enough for you today? Come on. It’s just us for now. Think about it. Is Jesus really and truly enough?

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Is this your declaration today? The Light that guides your life. From glory to glory and victory to victory, it is the foundation that Christ has made you more than a conqueror. Overwhelming victory belongs to us in Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37) All of this fullness and completion comes as believers reconcile their life to God’s Plan. Of course, a catch. Yes, a beautiful offering of a consummated relationship with God the Father through Christ His Son being filled by His Spirit. It is not a trap but rather a transition from death to life, captivity to freedom, and living in lack to fulfillment.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I believe that nothing can ever separate me personally from God’s Love. Nothing. I have tested the boundaries and limits of His Love and found that just when I think I have reached the edge I fall over into fathomless depths of more love, compassion, goodness, and grace. It never ends. When I think I have gone too far, I turn and find Him waiting. It is this concept of endless and unconditional love that bridges the gap of human insufficiency fulling accepting the God-Given Grace that allows salvation and reconciliation with God the Father through His Son.

God doesn’t stop there but then begins to remove all rivals for our attention and affection by showering us in His Grace and Goodness over and over again. Faith engages us in the process. Endurance keeps us there. Confident hope rises from seeds of trust planted in a fertile and broken heart give time to grow, develop and mature in Christ. Any love affair takes time. Time is the test that proves its longevity. It is the only thing that can determine if it is long lasting and never ending. The bond of marriage is a commitment to invest all that I am into life with my spouse. It is hard work. It requires constant attention. It’s tough. Giving up my way in order to find our way together. Such is our relationship with Christ, it cannot be based on what I have to contribute when He offers completion. I must simply desire it and pursue Him to have it.

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

How incomprehensible is a God who is good? With all the “bad” things that happen, it can be really difficult to decide that God is better than that and always working the details of our life for good. We make decisions and expect God to alter the outcome rather than understanding that consequences are the very details that can produce the most good in us. Good times don’t produce trust opportunities to trust it is the difficulties of life. The times when there are no more options so believers take to their knees. God is our escape plan not our daily sustenance. Everything changes when our expectation is the Lord first. When we seek Him first. When we read His Word and take it to heart first. When He becomes our priority – His Spirit reforms our mind, reorganizes our priorities, changes our thoughts, and creates order in a once chaotic state. It is our complete union with Christ making Him the ruler and authority of our life that allows His Light to take over.

Colossians 1:4-6 (NLT) For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

I am not a huge fan of the statement “faith it until you make it”. It sounds a lot like the worldly adage “fake it until you make it.” I believe that there are a whole lot of church folk living this way. Faith is how I make it. Faith is the substance of what I hope for so how can I hold on to something I do not have. Faith must be the foundation my life is built upon. In Colossians 1, it says, “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s People.” Is your faith in the Lord perceivable? To talk a good talk without the walk is to send mix messages. To act like you have faith without any real evidence will not shine a light in the darkness. Faith produces confident hope that becomes a beacon. It is the fruit that changes lives. Fulfillment in Jesus Christ gives us something worthwhile and palatable to offer the world. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is not bitter but tasty fruit for others to enjoy.

Good news produces hopeful expectation but only if you believe the message. The Truth concerning our life is fully explained and carefully detailed in God’s Word. Those who believe it will taste and see that the Lord is good. Is your life lacking today? Do you feel less than satisfied? What if I told you that you are what you eat? Maybe just maybe a sizable chunk of the bread of life might satisfy those hunger pains? Perhaps a great big gulp of living water might be just what you need to be fulfilled? I wonder if we are saying one thing but believing another and living on less than enough.

Colossians 1:11-14 (NLT) We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

There is no lack in the Kingdom. God operates in abundance. It all belongs to Him. Freedom from sin provided by His Grace gives us access to the Kingdom of God and all its resources. Lack does not exist in the Kingdom of God. It would contradict His Nature. He is more than enough. He supplies all our need. He has given us every spiritual blessing. Jesus can to give us a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He wants to complete us. We must believe this in order to benefit from it. The more confident I become in the expectation that God is good and that He will never let me down – the more His Love, Mercy and Grace are manifested in my life as Light Glorious Light. Confidence in Christ makes way for completion through a little thing called expectation.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Be encouraged today! God loves you! Christ will complete you! You just have to believe it to receive it. He will give you the power to understand just how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is if given the chance. To fully comprehend the Love of God offered through Jesus Christ means forfeiting logic and fully embracing faith. I cannot tell you exactly how it all works or why it all comes together in the end, but I can testify that it is true and give you many examples. Faith allows our heart, mind, body and soul to be fulfilled in Christ. He will only fill the voids offered to Him and would never violate your freedom. Hope never leads to disappointment so if you are currently experiencing this emotion than it is the opportunity to sow seeds of faith that will turn into that which is hoped for. The standard or benchmark for our life is Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:13) You cannot be satisfied until full of Jesus Christ who promises to meet and exceed all human expectancy with absolute fulfillment. Have you given the Lord full authority and power over your life? Let go of the reins and allow God to take you new places. He will never ever let us down. This is the expectation of my life which will lead to complete fulfillment.

Ephesians 4:13 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Not A Single Bloom

Not a Single Bloom

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We adopted a new family member a few months ago in the form of a Labrador retriever puppy. In the past, our family pets have included guinea pigs and Chihuahuas all under the ten pound weight limit and truly without much drive to anything other than eat and sleep. Scout is a massive black lab weighing in around 70 pounds at seven months old. At her size, it would be pretty difficult to make her do something she did not want to do. Thankfully she is a good puppy. She learns quickly. However, one thing we did not have to teach her is to retrieve. In fact, she loves to carry stuff and bring things to you. It is innate. Preprogrammed in her DNA as she was bred for hunting. The breed is considered a working class animal. She has a purpose and it comes out in her behavior naturally.

The fig tree grew from a tiny seed with great potential. All fruit-bearing trees come preprogrammed to reproduce fruit containing more seeds. When Jesus saw the fig tree, he was hungry. There should have been ripe tasty fruit hidden behind the foray of plentiful leaves. As the Lord got closer and inspected the tree, he found no fruit. Jesus cursed the tree and it dried up right then and there. It seems harsh to think Jesus would be a tree killer. To note in this passage, there were no blooms and no fruit on the tree. The potential of the tree was to bear fruit and it did not fulfill its purpose. There were two lessons to be learned that day – first the obvious example of faith inspired revelation and secondly the less obvious truth of the future of unfulfilled potential.

Matthew 21:20-22 (NLT) The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

The disciples were amazed. How did the Master speak causing the tree to wither in die just like that? It was a sight to see no doubt. I wonder if they were listening to what He said or mesmerized by what He did? This is vitally important in our walk with the Lord. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) However in that moment they could not take their eyes off the once alive now dead carcass of the tree once covered in leaves now reduced to firewood.

Jesus explained the power of confident faith. The kind of faith that doesn’t just prays but believes that prayer is a powerful resource in their life. Faith is empowered by our belief. If you do not believe that God will do exactly what He says, you will not have enough faith to see it come to pass. The disciples had witnessed signs, wonders and miracles yet still did not fully believe without doubting. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. You can pray for anything and if you have faith you WILL receive it. Jesus said it, but do we have enough faith to believe it. It only takes a seed of faith to produce such confidence. The seed that is planted deep within our heart and not forgotten but nurtured until it grows, develops and matures into confident hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment.  (Romans 5:5)

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Our puppy came with a purpose engrained in her being. She knows that it is her job to retrieve. In fact, she does it all the time without being send or issued a command. She walks around the house with dog toys. She carries sticks and limbs around outside. She demonstrates her potential every single day. It is up to me as her owner to cultivate her purpose by teaching her commands and obedience that will lead her to fulfillment in her potential.

The Lord has preprogrammed us with purpose. He has a plan handwritten for each one of us individually. (Psalm 139:16) You are not insignificant to the Body of Christ but incorporated in its full potential. (Colossians 3:15) The plans of God for His People are good always good. He has given us a future and hope in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) He has given us His Spirit to guide us, teach us and encourage us along the way. (John 14:26) We are full of potential and purpose! Our life is not meaningless and insignificant. The challenge is to believe it beyond what we can see. To accept that God has something bigger and strive for it even when faced with adversity. Faith is the catalyst and by believing the conduit to reaching fulfillment in Christ. But what about right now…what about today…what if there is no fruit…what if not a single bloom…what then?

Haggai 2:19 (NLT) I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NLT) For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

God has given us a promise. Each heart knows the promises of God spoken to them. I wonder if faith has been applied to that seed. We can condition our conversation to say all the right things producing leaves that cover the ugly side of unbelief. I can talk a good talk, but am I walking a faith walk. The fig tree had the potential to produce fruit. Planted in good soil by the side of the road, carefully watered and cared for by the Hand of God, it appeared to be a healthy tree. God doesn’t look on the outside but carefully examines the human heart. When the Lord came close to look for fruit, He found nothing. I wonder if sometimes we get caught up in the social spectrum of religion forsaking a faith-filled relationship with Jesus Christ. When the answer takes too long, the promise seems too impossible, or when the opinion of others override our confidence in Christ.

In Haggai, the Lord spoke through the prophet that He was about shake the heavens and earth once more. He promised that even in the shaking they had His Promise. I wonder if we needed the reminder today that even when nothing seems to be going right and even in the waiting that His Promise is yes and amen in Jesus Christ. The potential inside of us is not dictated by our surroundings or sufferings but rather prescribed by God beforehand so that He could do exceedingly abundantly more than we could think or ask. Do you believe that today? Your life has hidden potential released in a broken heart. Your heart is not broken by God for destruction but for full consummation of all that He has for you. Faith cannot reach a hard heart. Seeds must find fertile ground. All seeds take time to grow but the promise keeps the farmer waiting and tending the field.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2) This is one of my favorite verses. It is true revelation for the believer. May you prosper in all things and be in health…just as your soul prospers. God will not prosper our natural life until first we prosper in our spiritual life. The Fruit of God’s Spirit (who labels us Children of the Living God) are love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Faith in growing, developing and maturing in our life begins with these qualities. Confident hope will cultivate this kind of fruit long before the natural overflowing of abundance comes. The disciples were caught up in the awe of the moment. They couldn’t believe what their eyes had encountered. Jesus was trying to get through to their heart. Their lives as His Disciples would need a prospering soul to make it through the dark times ahead. To fulfill their purpose, they couldn’t abandon the Cross but had to follow Jesus to it.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” How is your praise today? Can you rejoice right here and right now? Even though the fig trees have no blossoms…What is your response in such times? Jesus is the vine. We are the branches. The vinedresser will have to prune us from time to time to allow new life to come forth. Will His Praise still be on your lips in times of testing? God loves us too much to keep us from fulfillment. To give us our way when the Highway of Holiness becomes too steep. He just can’t put aside His Perfect Love to allow us to compromise for less than His Best. He is more than enough so when settling for less than enough is not in His Nature. Jesus may have cursed the fig tree that day, but He has not cursed you. He has given you and I every spiritual blessing. Now it is up to us to receive it for ourselves. You have potential – His Name is Jesus Christ. You have a purpose handwritten by God and gifted by grace. You have blessings, promises and fulfillment waiting for you. It is for now in the land of the living. Thank you Lord for the future and hope that I have in you. Teach me never to settle for leaves when fruit is my potential and purpose. Lord, help me to accept nothing less than the fulfillment you have predestined in my life! I will walk by faith. I will believe. I will not be moved.

Romans 15:1-5 (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. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Be Moved

 

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John 20:21-23 (NLT) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Yesterday my daughter came to see me at the office. She had just come from a doctor visit to check the progress of our little grandson growing inside her. The doctor declared him perfect and she had ultrasound pictures to prove it. She had an ultrasound about two weeks ago and already there are so many changes in his little appearance as he grows into the little personal with a big personality that the Lord has planned him to be. Each image more fascinating than the next as the image of a baby become clear from within the hidden place of her womb. I am fascinated, enthralled and totally in love. Whenever she has an ultrasound, this little man already shows his complete displeasure. Sonographers laugh at his immediate attempts to escape their probing. He arches his back and kicks his legs. Twisting, turning and flipping over to avoid the unwanted attention. At first, it could have been a fluke but after three attempts with the same reaction I am convinced this guy has a strong will tucked in the fast beating heart. Still a bit riled from the intrusion, my daughter laid my hand on her stomach and he kicked me. I melted. Pressing a little harder, I could feel him moving around with the occasional kick. My heart was moved. It swelled and the capacity to love became even greater in that moment for a person who I cannot even hold yet.

I remember being pregnant with my own children. Feeling flutters give way to movement then resounding kicks. All the potential, possibility and promise of a new little one to love, nurture and care for. This morning as I was thinking about our little grandbaby, I was touched in the heart by the Holy Spirit. The One who lives within me given to me by Jesus as a precious and useful gift to assist in my pursuit of Him in a dark and dying world. When Jesus came to see the disciples after his death and resurrection, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” There is power in the Spirit that Jesus gave us. He is living, breathing and moving within us. What is our response when He moves? Do we respond? Do we pay attention? Does our heart leap inside our chest? I have felt the movement of other children and grandchildren inside of new mothers. But now it is different, because this grandbaby is mine and lives inside my own child. I wonder what would happen if we perceived the Holy Spirit as our own rather than watching Him move in others?

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.

Repentance and turning to the Lord including baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ according to grace makes one eligible to receive the Holy Spirit. It is a gift. It is given to us as believers whether we want it or not. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman who will not force himself on anyone but eagerly waits for acceptance to activate God’s Power including the resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave in our ordinary life. He is the guarantor of every promise that God has made to us. Jesus gave us His Word that He would never leave us or forsake us and the Holy Spirit is evidence of the reality of His Promise to us. What is our response? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Father’s Love. Do we invite His Spirit to accompany us through our day, instruct us in our actions, soften our attitude, give us direction, listen to His Urgings, and move when He nudges us?

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) 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.

Conviction is a power revelation of a positive change. Pride gives it a negative connotation. The things that bring sorrow to God’s Spirit are anything contradictory to His Love. The divine nature of God is love. He demonstrates that with His Mercy, Grace, Compassion, Kindness and Goodness that He lavishes on us. The woman at the well was given insight to the powerful combination of worship that would come – true worshippers would do so in Spirit and in Truth. The Holy Spirit is a facilitator of worship in us. He gives us the words, groanings and utterances when we do not have the words to say. In times of great pain, pressure, or persecution – the Holy Spirit expresses our heart, mind and need to the Father even in something as simple as an “oh” granted in a place of prayer and surrender before the Lord. He has the power to change our vocabulary by sifting through the contents of our heart and applying the Word to it. Filling our heart and mind with the love of God that produces all the valuable produce promised in Galatians 5:22-23. In every way, the Holy Spirit is out to benefit our life. I am not sure why Christians would shun or limit the Spirit of God when His Presence in our life offers such powerful potential and the fulfillment of Christ.

Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

When Jesus died on the Cross, he shouted and released His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 27:50) It was the Holy Spirit who tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. The earth shook as an earthquake erupted at the Glory and Power of God poured out that day. Immediately – resurrection power began to bring the dead to life. His Spirit now poured out would soon find its way to His People filling them with the grace provided by His Love and empowering them with it. We are those people. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. I can now fully express the love of God because I have experienced it intimately. When I feel the Spirit of God move within me, I recognize Him. I know who He is. I know what comes next is important and to pay attention. If  you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and truly repented – you have been given the Holy Spirit. Do you feel Him inside of you? Do you know when He is moving, urging or nudging you to better things?

I encourage you today to acknowledge God’s Spirit. Thank the Lord for investing His Spirit full of life and power in you. The Holy Spirit was sent specifically to help you. Let Him do His Job. He is a wonderful friend, teacher, guide and companion. He wants God’s Best for you and does everything possible to make it come to pass. He is intimacy with Christ. He identifies you as a Child of the Living God with full benefits. Utilize them. God promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) His Spirit is the fulfillment of the promise. Take advantage of God’s Kindness by inviting the Spirit to have His Way in you today!

God’s Spirit is alive in you. His Presence in the life of a believer is non-negotiable. Those who belong to Christ have His Spirit. The two must become one. I wonder what might happen if our expectancy for His Spirit became as elevated as let’s say my enthusiasm and desire to feel my grandchild moving inside his mom. What would happen if we responded to His Move with the same level of attentiveness and excitement? We must be moved by the Spirit of God to reach fulfillment. He gives life and power to the believer. He is a Gift from God!

John 14:26-27 (Message) “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Heart’s Desire

Hearts Desire

Psalm 37:4 (NIV) Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

God will give you the desires of your heart. He absolutely positively will. I am a believer. I want to encourage you today to believe in a Good God who is filled with overflowing love and abundant grace for you. He will stop at nothing for His Very Best to be yours as well. Do you have a dream? Do you a desire deep within your heart? I think everyone does but some give up and move on as time shows no evidence of that thing God first placed within us. Time takes too long. Life gets too hard. Too much water under the bridge to change the current now. The enemy of your soul wants you to believe that God has given up on you. He wants you to think that time has run out. The dream is dead. He wants you to stop hoping, trusting and believing because he is a thief. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how far you’ve wandered, or how much you have given away – God’s Plan, His Purpose and Potential within you is just as real, true and alive as when He first whispered in your ear.

In 2015, I was a very tired and broken believer. We had just come through the difficult season of sickness as our son finally entered remission. Worn torn and weary – victory was sweet but I was completely drained. Years of traveling back and forth with our son took precious moments from me, first days of school missed, graduation year passed by, engagement and wedding preparations done long distance made my heart’s desire to make up for lost time with my family. The New Year brought the hope of time together once again. However, the Lord had other plans calling the newly married couple to New England to serve Him. How could we make up for lost time now? Our daughter now 21 hours away. I was devastated. I was lost. I was broken. I couldn’t fathom how this was possible. Why this? Why now? Sometimes when life’s hits keep on coming, there will be a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” and this was it for me.

After months of depression and devastation, I finally had to sit down and come to terms with my Father. I knew this was His Plan. I knew that He had a purpose in it. I just couldn’t see how my very human heart would ever heal from all the hurts of the previous years. I put all my hurts before the Lord and wrapped them in a tiny package called trust and tied a nice bow marked faith around it and sent it to the Father. I couldn’t carry the burden anymore. God knows the desires of our heart. He knows the innermost longings within its deep folds. Faith and trust becomes belief when things don’t turn out like we planned and our promises seem forgotten. God doesn’t forget He is just working all those details out for our good and His Glory. We must remind our heart and soul of who He is and decide to stop focusing on what we have been through.

Our kids called us in the spring with the wonderful news that they would move to Tampa. Just four hours away, we were elated and overjoyed. God had answered our prayers. I rejoiced. Then came the news shortly after that God in all His Goodness would be sending them home with a souvenir – our grandson who will make his appearance early next year. Blown away. All of His Goodness poured out to us. Well, our excitement would dampen within a short time when the move would be postponed until after she had the baby. Plans crumbled quickly. Devastation kicked in. More missed moments. God, I just don’t understand. So back to the prayer room with my packing tape to send up another package to the Lord. See when I can’t understand what is happening, when the events in my life and the desires of my heart do not coincide, I have learned that I have to send them back to the Heavenlies. My daughter and I both did the very same thing independently. Focusing on other things, we trusted God together. Sometimes in life, we must do just that. Take that thing that overwhelms us and send it right back to God. Here you deal with this – if truly successfully life will go on and joy will be ours in the midst of trial, trouble or tragedies.

Today. Today is a day of celebration. Today is the day that they will pack the moving truck and head back home. Yes, home. Not to a city four hours away but to our town. God had a plan. He has a purpose. We waited Him out and He came through with our heart’s desire. I was willing to settle for them returning to the state, but God was sending them much closer. In a few days, they will return. God is good. God is always good. He will never let us down. I didn’t always see it that way but now I do. I am sharing this with you because I know you have heart desires yet unfulfilled. Things that seem forgotten by God so you are about to give up on yourself. I am challenging you today do wait a little longer. Believe a little harder. Trust a little bit farther.

Psalm 37:3 (NIV) Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Trust the Lord and do good. I believe a huge part of trust is our ability to continue to do good while we wait. Waiting and complaining are not trusting the Lord. Endurance is not God dragging you to the finish line but rather waiting, trusting, and hoping until He comes. Persistence requires patience. God is pursuing you with His Unfailing Love and Goodness every single day. His Mercy meets us in the morning encouraging us to accept the sufficiency of His Grace. We are blessed and highly favored by God every day. However, it is human nature to focus on what God has not done yet rather than celebrating all of His Goodness for today.

Psalm 37:5-6 (NIV) Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Commit your way to the Lord. Trust Him. He will do this. God will do exactly as He promised. Those deep desires that He placed in you rely on our ability to believe by faith that He is good. Always good. Constantly good. God does not lie or change His Mind. He will never let us down. We must teach our heart to trust Him. It is not preprogrammed in us to trust but rather to question everything. We must sow seeds of faith each morning and wait for them to grow, develop and mature into God’s Fruitfulness in our life. It doesn’t always happen overnight. It may take years. The Lord sees our life through the lens of eternity not limited by our lifetime.

Psalm 37:7-9 (NIV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Be still before the Lord. Stillness before the Lord is produced by confidence. The more confidence in our heart the more willing we will be to wait and be still before Him. Confidence comes through faith and trust fulfilled. Sometimes we must remind ourselves of everything the Lord has done to remember we can trust Him in the waiting and be still. It is possible to wait on the Lord impatiently just ask Abraham. He had a son called Ishmael born of waiting without trusting. It didn’t stop the Lord from sending the promise named Isaac. We must not fret at the seeming good fortune of others during our times of waiting. It produces bitterness that will stop our growth potential until removed. God gave you promises with your name on them. There is an inheritance just for you. It doesn’t belong to anyone else and cannot be claimed by them. Hope is the steadfast place of waiting on those things which have not come to pass. The steadfast anchor of our soul that keeps us steady during the storms and waves of life.

Psalm 20:1-5 (NIV) May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.

The impossibilities in life are the birthplace of miracles and divine intervention. The Holy Spirit sows seeds of love, joy and peace in those times of trusting and believing. He grows up the fruit called forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All the good fruit that gives way to hopeful possibilities in our life. God has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11) Are you following Him wholeheartedly today? (Jeremiah 29:13) God looks at our heart not our activities. He is looking for just a little bit of faith, a small amount of trust, a bit of believing and a handful of hope. He will give you the desires of your heart. Not according to our small and finite perspective, but His Perspective which is called exceedingly abundantly. (Ephesians 3:20)

The beauty of fulfillment that constantly overwhelms me is that God doesn’t have to do all the wonderful things He does for us. I find that as I learn to trust Him more and become more willing to wait that He does crazy things I don’t even ask for sometimes. He gives me the desires of my heart even those unspoken in the midst of prayer. Things I don’t deserve and could never earn. Just like that, they become the reality of my life. God is good. He will never let you down. He is always working for you. He never gives up on the promise or limits potential. He is working, pressing, and pushing you to fulfillment. Our response is simply to trust Him while we wait. To be still and know that He is God and that means His Unfailing Love and Goodness is for us. Be encouraged today. I am praying for you and with you today even if I don’t know you – God does. He knows the dreams you buried as dead. He knows the potential promises given up on. Jesus is the Resurrection and Life calling to all the “Martha”s to believe in this life – don’t wait for the everlasting. God will do it in the land of the living. Do you believe in the Living God? He believes in you. He loves you. He will bless you! He is giving you the desires of your heart. To God be the glory great things He has done!

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen and amen!

Walk Uprightly

Walk Uprightly

Psalm 84:11-12 (AMP) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and honor; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

What do you expect? Hope for? Long for? Believe to be true? I wonder today. Expectation is the premise of progress in our life. We will pursue possibilities but feign away from the impossible. We give in to the inevitable. I believe the hardest thing to change in church culture and the mind of Christians is expectation. We base God’s Ability and Willingness on our own ability and willingness which is not the case. God is Good. He is withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Oh I get it…you know you. You make mistakes every day. So do I. You fail on a regular basis. Me, too. Gods grace, favor and honor have nothing to do with you or me. The Lord decided to bless and prosper us. Every good thing given to us is a gift from Him. We cannot earn it and certainly don’t deserve it, yet it is within His Intent and Mindset to do it just the same.

Walk uprightly…

Grace

Ephesians 2:8 (AMP) For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God…

The Amplified Version of the Bible is wordy. I love how it spells out all the finite details of the scripture. Grace is God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing us to Christ. His Grace is enough in every situation to position us in righteousness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) His lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough and always available regardless of the situation. Like His Love, His Grace is unconditional. If you want it, you got it. His Power is perfected in our weakness. When we cannot do it anymore and choose to seek Him – the Lord can always be found by those who seek Him, call to Him, and come after Him. To walk uprightly means to accept God’s Amazing Grace.

Favor

2 Corinthians 9:8 (AMP) And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

With the manifestation of God’s Grace comes favor. Favor is a product of grace which is spiritual and earthly blessing. We are liberally supplied everything needed according to His Riches in Glory in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:19) Relying on grace, favor comes in to fill ever void in our life. The Lord did not stop by simply meeting our needs but does so in super abundance. Jesus has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3) We literally have the Keys to the Kingdom. The ability to unlock the heavens so it rains down on the earth. You have all sufficiency in you to have full satisfaction which will produce contentment. As if that were not enough – the Lord promises to carry out His Purpose and do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask, or think and infinitely beyond our prayers, hopes or dreams according to His Power (grace) working in us. (Ephesians 3:20) To walk uprightly is to live in unlimited favor.

Honor

John17:22-23 (AMP) I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.

Jesus Christ lives in us. He is one with us. His Spirit is consummation of the Son of God’s holy inhabitation of ordinary human beings. This is the honor given to us by God through the sacrifice of His Son. He wanted us. He desired us. He wanted to honor us and exalt us to be with Him forever. In the humble acceptance of His Grace and movement into His Favor, we have His Honor. It is the very thing that moves us from the natural to supernatural place of His Presence that allows us to walk with the Lord, speak to Him directly and hear His Voice as He responds to us. God honors us by inviting us to be one with Him through His Son, Jesus. It is an honor, a privilege and undeserved position granted by His Love and Grace for us. To walk uprightly is an honor given to those who have no right to do so.

Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

The groundwork is laid for a supernatural life with more than enough grace, favor and honor to establish an upright life that leads to promises, blessings and prosperity in superabundance for our life. Why don’t we live like it? What’s the disconnect that keeps all of Heaven’s Resources and the Kingdom’s Supply from reaching our mediocre life and transforming it into a miraculous existence? Blessed and greatly favored is the man (or woman) who trusts in You! To walk uprightly requires only one thing of us. To trust the Lord is good and absolutely able to do all these things without our help or intervention. To continue to believe even when nothing in our life aligns with the truth God has laid on our heart but continuing just the same to live as one with Christ.

We must believe the Word of God is true. It must be the validity of our life. It must be as relevant to our existence as breathing is to our body. Being contrary to our nature and in direct contradiction to our flesh, it will require daily attention not weekly visitation. To fully accept God’s Grace requires repentance – not conversationally but by complete conversion. We must turn from our way to fully embrace God’s Way. This is not a religion but a relationship. It is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We go where He goes. Do what He does. Converse regularly. Honor Him in our walk. Trust Him with our life. In other words, I align my life with the Word because Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (AMP) Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

To trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart is a change of character that takes time. A leap of faith is really only a single step in the right direction. It feels like a leap because it may not be logical in the earthly realm or seem like a radical maneuver to the rest of the world. However, God will take your life just one step at a time. He made you. He knows you. The Lord knows exactly what it will take to satisfy your soul and lead you to redemption and fulfillment of purpose. He is loving, gracious and oh so patient with us. His Grace is enough. His Power works best in our weakness. His Mercy meets us each day waiting on our doorstep for careful collection. He will never ever let us down. It is our ability to accept all of God’s Love, Grace, Goodness, Favor and Honor that completes us in Jesus Christ. It is a life time accomplishment that begins with your very next step. Will you trust Him today? Will you pursue Him? Will you allow Him to fill just one more void in your broken heart? Will you take just one more step in His Direction? I hope so because if you do the best is yet to come for you! To walk uprightly is not a human condition but a spiritual revelation accepted by a humbled heart and surrendered life to be one with Christ in all things.

Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.