So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

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It’s a Setup

It's a Setup 2

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

The blessing of God in our life is a divine setup. God decided to impart every spiritual blessing to us before He created us. Not only that, God the Father also had already purposed to adopt us into His Family before the realization that sin had orphaned us ever came into play. God knew you and me and yet still had already made the decision to love us no matter what the cost. I don’t think that many Christians know and understand just how profound predestination is and what a great factor it plays in life. When God decided that He would make us holy and blameless, He already knew the cost and was willing to pay it. Jesus Christ was always part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan for us because God knew about our sinful nature from the very beginning. You can have the perfect Will of God because our life is a divine setup.

The Perfection of God is not compromised by His Love for imperfect people but rather He has chosen to secure the debt so there is no penalty. He gives us His Grace instead. Therefore, no matter what a depraved wretch I was before I met Jesus Christ and invited Him into my life, I am still made holy and blameless by the Perfect Will of God that He already planned and paid for. Persistence, patience and perseverance are required by us because of our rebellious nature and raging flesh that must be dealt with and put to death on a regular basis. We must learn to let the Lord’s Grace and Mercy cover our imperfection and live in His Perfect Will. It was never possible for you and me to be perfect but rather step into His Righteousness and be perfected by Christ.

Shame and regret attempt to turn our head from the possibilities of God in our life to the past that once kept us from them. Doubt keeps our neck locked in a backward position when God’s Promises whisper “just turn around”. If we believed in the sufficiency of God’s Grace, it would lead us to conclude that He is always good. We are blessed not because of our personal abilities but completely in the fact that God is good and full of grace. He has a plan that will lead to fulfillment of purpose. He is worthy of my praise simply because His Grace is always enough. It is all because of Jesus so there is no performance pressure or assumption that I can or ever will be perfect – but can fully rest on His Plan, Purpose and Promises just the same.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ alone fulfillment is possible, outside of Him our attempts to have a fully satisfying life are impossible. Jesus fills the void that sin left behind. Habits can be changed. Discipline achieved. Schedules shifted. New life can be demonstrated in human behavior but it must begin in the heart to become the new person who can have fulfillment and prosperity in God’s Perfect Plan. We must accept His Grace by being covered in His Blood, its messy process. Yet God “lavishes” grace upon us in copious amounts knowing full well that our nature is otherwise corrupt and self-seeking.

Keeping our eye on the prize is beneficial. My daughter, who six months ago had her first child, sent me a picture of an extremely healthy woman who was in excellent shape. She claimed this to be her in a few months. She is dieting and exercising. It takes self-control not to indulge in all the good food that is permissible but not beneficial. She looks at the physique she would like to achieve and it inspires her to make better choices and do the workouts on the plan. It is our nature to desire immediate and even constant gratification but what if we could see past the process to the outcome. Looking at the prize certainly justifies the price. Why do we as believers expect God to just wipe away all the consequences of our past and pave a path to our future without the suffering born of transformation? There must be a death to achieve new life.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I was taught that God had a perfect will but that sin kept us from it. In other words, each sin committed cost us something from God’s Plan. I am convinced now that is impossible. God prerecorded every single moment of our life before our creation. (Psalm 139) He must have considered every single detail including our sin and shortcomings – otherwise God would be considered delusional. He knew beforehand that every person created would sin. Therefore, His Grace is sufficient in the price fully considered and paid completely. It is by His Grace that I am saved through faith. Faith is the confidence and blessed assurance that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in advance as an inheritance. It means that though I fell short – Jesus (precious Jesus) filled the gap and voids in my life that once kept me from God’s Perfect Will. Jesus is enough to secure righteousness for me.

Does this mean that sinning will not keep us from God’s Perfect Will? No. The only way to receive the fulfillment of God is to be united with Christ. What relationship will ever survive if taken for granted? If I am unfaithful to my husband, surely he would want to end our marriage…I know that I would. True love doesn’t seek after itself but perfect unity with its Beloved. Christ died because of my sin. He endured awful torture and horrendous pain to see me completely forgiven and fulfilled. To engage in willful sin and rebellious behavior would clearly show that I was only attempting to use Jesus for my own personal interests without any regard for the relationship of righteousness to be formed so there is no salvation without a personal commitment to Christ deeper than the surface.

Psalm 139:15-18 (ESV) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

I have lived more than 50 years now. Long enough to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living as prescribed in Psalm 27. I share this with you because it still blows me away when God works all the details of my life for my good and His Glory. The Lord was with me as I was intricately woven. Intricately woven does not imply a careless conception but rather careful creation with divine attention. He saw my substance. Not who I was but who I might become in Him. The Lord recorded every single day of my life before I ever lived it. God’s Thoughts concerning me are precious. He is always looking to perfect my way so I am living the best possible life because His Plan for me leads to full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He is a Perfect God who loves the most imperfect people. He predestined you for a prospering life that begins in the innermost part of our soul and works its way out. Not because we are perfect, but simply because He is.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Like an Arrow

Like an Arrow

Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight.  A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.

He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.

Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him    and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.

Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.

There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Journey

The Journey

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

It’s that time of year again. Graduations are in full swing. We are no exception. Next week, our fourth child will cross the stage of honor to receive her high school diploma. Our family will cheer her on to the next leg of her journey in life. She is filled with mixed emotions. Elation at completing high school and a bit of hesitation at the idea of adulthood. Celebrating her accomplishment, I find my nest is almost empty. With only one child left, it is hard to imagine what life will look like in a few short years when she follows her siblings in following her dreams. I cannot imagine not being a full-time mom. Though I know the blessings of adult children, it is still hard to fathom after almost 30 years entering this new season of life.

“For I know the plans I have for you…” I have seen this verse on graduation announcements, gifts and many other celebratory items. What is graduation? To bask in the laurels of accomplishment and boldly step into a new adventure. Life is a journey. God has a plan for us. Every detail of our life is important. I know when all the children were young, there was no time to consider the coming of this day. Buried in laundry, homework, and all the other responsibilities – it was hard to see past those days to a time when they would move into their purpose and achieve adulthood. Perhaps, you are there today. Or maybe with me in the nostalgia of days gone by wondering what tomorrow holds. The Plan of God for us is complete. It is not captured in a moment but discovered in a lifetime. Whether you are about to graduate from high school or college or maybe graduating from parenthood to becoming a grandparent, it is important to embrace the journey.

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, it changed everything. My life was not as I planned and recovering a normal life seemed impossible. On the first anniversary of his diagnosis, I decided to get a tattoo on my wrist. When I look at it, it reads, “Faith” but if I show it to you, it reads “Hope”. It is called an “ambigram”. I do not mean to undermine anyone’s heartfelt convictions, but I do believe that the Lord led me to get this reminder permanently marked on my arm. What I didn’t know was that soon after that our son would go on to have several relapses, halt treatment due to denials by the insurance company, and enter the fight of his young life. My motive in having it was to embrace the journey not the end. There were some days I tried to scrub it from my arm. On those particularly rough days watching my child suffer, and trying to hold on to dwindling faith – I felt like a hypocrite. It seemed that those were the days when someone would ask about it. What does it say? What did it mean? To have faith and offer hope to others. Who was I kidding?

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. In Jeremiah 29, the small morsel of truth captured in the few verses most often offered are but a glimpse of a much bigger picture. The Children of Israel were in exile for 70 years before the Redeemer would come. A lifetime to us. It speaks of future redemption not an escape from the trials and temptations of life. Psalm 34:19 tells us that a righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers them from them all. Those who endure to the end are saved. (Matthew 24:13) Life is a journey. Your current season may seem barren but there is always good fruit for those who love God. They will see His Goodness and Glory if they do not faint but wait on the Lord.

In Matthew 4, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. It was a divine destination not a wandering moment. He went to the wilderness fasting 40 days. He was praying. Yet the purpose of his mission was to give us an example of power and authority in life. To know the Word (Jesus) and experience freedom that allows us to keep moving on this journey with faith and hope when the enemy offers counterfeits, substitutions, half-truths, and lies. The Father has already handwritten and prerecorded every single moment before our first breath. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made declared wonderful by God the Father. The potential in us is faith. Our faith must be planted in the firm foundation of Christ beginning with a broken heart that gives up pride to fully embrace with passion the plan of God for us. He promised to make good of every detail. He said that nothing can separate us from His Love. (Roman 8) For every sin, mistake, fault, failure and more – the Lord tells us that His Grace is enough. Sufficient to keep us on course for the future and hope that He promised.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (NIV)  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

It would take several cups of coffee and several hours to outline my journey with Christ. There have been some momentous mountaintop encounters, supernatural experiences and then some pretty dark patches along the way. It has definitely been a long and arduous journey. My heart has been crushed beyond repair yet somehow filled with inexpressible joy and confident hope all at the same time. How can something so broken carry anything of worth? Because God created this vessel for a purpose, Jesus died to guarantee that I can achieve fulfillment in the land of the living before I enter eternity. I must but embrace the journey. The Lord has chosen me. He chose you, too. He made a plan for you from here to eternity. It is worthwhile containing a future and hope. The prosperity of life begins with a prospering soul given completely to Jesus Christ. There is nothing of worth in this world outside of knowing Christ. To die with Him and be raised to new life. If I choose to believe this, it means not a moment in my life is wasted but fully redeemed by the Lord. It may take seven minutes or 70 years but my hope is not on a timeline but eternal. Rest assured, friend – everything is going as planned. Embrace the journey – there are good things ahead.

Psalm 107:28-31 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

A Time to Reflect

A Time to Reflect

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This morning writing the date in my journal, I still cannot believe it is the last day of 2017. Where did this year go? It flew by in an instant. I love the New Year…every year. It is always a new beginning. A fresh start when gym memberships flourish, new habits are formed, and so many good intentions are set forth. Looking back over the past year, how many were successful? What about the unexpected things that happened? Did you lose someone close to you? The seasons of life go by and without time to reflect one becomes another until our life is nothing but a course of events.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging as our family has been hit by a nasty virus that I have labeled the “plague”. Sickness and exhaustion have kept us homebound. It has been a quiet time. The usual hustle and bustle stilled to a snail’s pace. My husband actually went to Target with us yesterday desperate to get out of the house. Ironically, it is in this sickness when activity grinds to a stop and best intentions turn into a long winter’s nap that I have time to reflect.

The highlights of the past year far outweigh my disappointments. God is good. He is always good. His Faithfulness is evident in my life. We have many things to look forward to in the coming year. However, human nature often discards those good things to focus on what didn’t happen. Reflection will often lead to regret if not redirected. Perception is driven by perspective. I must align my perspective with God’s Promises and by faith accept them as the inevitable. Faith believes all that confident hope offers as a definitive in our life or at least, it should. Fear tells us to give up on faith when it doesn’t produce what we want in our timeline. God has placed eternity in our hearts and we are eternal beings. The Grace of God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us access to the Kingdom and every blessing God has for us. His Promises become the premise of our life.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. God will do exactly what He has promised to do in you and through you. He will prosper you as your soul prospers right where you are. The effort that releases such things in our life is faith. We must fix our heart and mind on faith for 2018 to experience the life God promised for us. It is important to reflect on the past year but to leave regret in 2017. God’s Grace is always enough. It is completely sufficient and will make a way where there is no way. It opens doors that no one can shut. All you have to do is believe. There is no need to carry regret, disappointment or sadness into the coming year. It is not the lifestyle of the believer. Repentance offers things like refinement, renewal, restoration and revival which are all good and life-giving qualities. The enemy can take nothing from you or the Hand of God in safekeeping for you. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. He is protecting your promises and potential until the time comes for fulfillment.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I am reminded in my reflection that I cannot see things with the clarity of God. At least not yet, there are things that exist in my life that create uncertainty. Not because God is not completely confident in His Way, but because like everyone else I struggle with believing sometimes. When God speaks to my heart, I grab hold of His Words a paint an elaborate portrait in vivid detail of what it will look like creating a master plan of my own. When He has only given me of a glimpse of the greatness of the work that He is doing in my life. When it does work out the way that I planned, I am often humbled at the feet of my Lord in the realization that He didn’t let me down. I let myself down. If I can do it, it’s not God. This year, I want to be mature in childlike faith. When God speaks listening, but not assuming.

Three things will last forever – if the thought, attitude or action is not representative of faith, hope and especially love then I must let it go. Rebellious thoughts that come disguised as good intentions, motivation or even hard work that are really just pride trying to get a leg up – they must also be subject to God’s Word and His Three Essentials – faith, hope and love. It sounds simplistic. It is. We have so complicated the gospel of Jesus Christ that no one seems to be finding their way to Him. I don’t want to be that person. My hope for 2018 is for my life to reflect Jesus Christ to all mankind. I must fight my flesh to make this a reality.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 2018, it is my goal to make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and NOT REACT to everything and everyone else. This is going to require a disciplined life. It is a character change from humanity to Godly Identity. To live in the spiritual and supernatural realm yet function in the natural. I can do it. But it will mean a great deal of self-control which is a fruit of God’s Spirit in me and not human nature. I must strive to allow God to build my character to acquire every promise set forth for my life. I must grow, mature and develop in order to be more productive and useful for Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

In 2018, I will live in freedom. Free from fear, worry, anxiety and doubt that will restrict and inhibit the freedom given to me by Christ. I ask the Lord to help my unbelief. My relationship with Jesus Christ is defined by freedom. To live, love and laugh. To pursue the dreams and aspirations that He has given me. To live a limitless life unrestricted so the Lord can change our ordinary existence to extraordinary abundance as I am changed into His Image. God has not given me the spirit of fear so I must strive daily not to accept it in my life. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. It is in this freedom that God can complete the good work that He began in us.

Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NLT) And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

In 2018, I will enjoy the gift of life that God has given me. Are you happy? Are you content? Are you at peace? What is missing? There is an attitude of gratitude that can overcome many of these problems. God’s Goodness is for us in the land of the living. Too often – we get so busy living that we lose sight of the goodness evident in our everyday existence. I have a good life. Thankfulness for this gift that I have been given and His Goodness all around me will change my life. As my soul prospers, so will everything else. To a life aligned with the Lord is to acknowledge the good things that He has already done for us. Thankfulness overcomes discontentment. It will change our sadness into joy turning our face from the clock marked “waiting” to all the answered prayers around us. Every good thing in my life came straight from God.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.

Looking ahead to 2018, I carry the hopeful expectation of God’s Word that has not yet come to pass in my life. I will leave behind regrets and disappointments because they are all just lies of the enemy. Worthless weight better left in the past. Lord, I will enter the New Year full of expectation. As I reflect on 2017, all I can say is “Thank You!” You are awesome as usual. Moving ahead, I will continue to trust your Plan for my life because “a day is like a thousand years to (You) and a thousand years is like a day.” You are not in a hurry because time is not an issue for you because you have made a time for everything already. Moving into the next year, I realize that there are things from this year that will bloom, blossom and reproduce there that would have been aborted if risen up too soon. Thank you Lord that Your Promises are my reality. Keep me close in 2018 – it will be another good year – of this I am quite sure! Let my life and everything in it be a true reflection of Your Love and Faithfulness and the fact that You are always good!

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

To Prosper

To Prosper

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It is God’s Will for you to prosper. He created a plan for you which is to prosper without harm and to give you hope and a future. It is plainly and clearly written and easily discernable in His Word. If you stop with just this one verse in Jeremiah 29, you miss the whole point of the passage. It is God’s Plan for you to prosper but the how of it comes in the next two verses. Prosperity is produced by relationship.

“You will call on me and come and pray to me.” Righteousness is established when one turns from their old way to receive God’s new way. New life comes to us by way of relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word is so bold to say that there is no other way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To prosper body, mind and spirit requires new life given to us by Jesus Christ. As we become a new creation by planting seeds of righteousness in our fertile and broken heart, feed on the Bread of Life and continually bask in Living Water there is an inner transformation performed by the Spirit of God that produces life and life more abundantly. It is all about relationship. Faith turns to trust and the impossible changes to possibility in our life according to the hope we now have.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Relationship is a heart investment that prospers into an overflow from our life. The beginning of any relationship begins with an encounter. The encounter such as repentance creates an experience. The experience impacts of one of two ways. To prosper the experience must produce pursuit. You cannot overtake something you do not decide to pursue. For example, I met my husband through a chance encounter with friends. He caught my attention. I decided that I wanted to know him so I pursued him. We have been married almost two decades and I still pursue him in our relationship. Our relationship has prospered over the years into more than just an encounter. God wants to invest His Kingdom in our life. We must make room for Him and pursue Him with our whole heart. The more of our life given to Christ the more likely abundance will produce an overflow in all of our life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16; 19-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Love is a choice. Pursuit is a choice. Obedience is a choice. These are the choices made by those who desire to prosper in life. God has set it all before us in His Word. The Word became flesh to come and demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love for us and provide the way to prosper in a right relationship with God again. We choose our path. Life and prosperity are options but so are death and destruction. God does not set conditions on us and therefore does not control the consequences of life. It was preset before time began. Sin leads to death. God is life. Jesus gives us eternal life by paying the penalty of sin. God could not exempt His Own Son from the consequence of sin. Jesus bled and died to pay the price. Our choices lead to consequences. Repentance leads to grace and prosperity. New life is created by making a better choice. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ, yoke our life to Him, accept and replicate His Way in our life will make a difference, we will prosper according to His Words and Instructions. You can live under the mandate of grace and never receive the full benefits of His Kingdom. It is all about choices. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) If relationship produces prosperity, our relationship with God will reach our home first. Our union with our spouse and/or children will begin to produce new fruit under God’s Careful Instruction. If our house is out of order, it will be unfruitful or produce bitter fruit. The roles in each home must fall under the guidelines of God’s House in order for the home to prosper. We must serve the Lord and respect His Commands in them. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must submit to their husband’s leadership. Children must honor and respect their parents. There must be sound discipline. Love abounds in God’s Household rules and grace abounds even more. When we invite the Lord, His Presence and His Spirit to dwell in our homes and live in our families, we will prosper in these relationships. The world today defines family as anything goes, but the Lord has set parameters for the household. They are not stringent or regulatory but absolutely necessary to prosper according to God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

If relationship is a product of trust, then prosperity must include trust as well. True repentance is to accept God’s Grace and to turn from sin and darkness to live in love and light. We trust the Lord to do what He promised as we give up the known to pursue the unknowns in God’s Fathomless Grace. The one who gives heed to God’s Instruction and does what they say will be like a tree by streams of living water able to prosper in every season. (Psalm 1:1-3) Some seasons are not favorable, but hard, cold and dry. We live in a loveless world full of sin and darkness. Righteous living is not always welcomed. In fact, the enemy prowls around seeking who he can steal from, kill or destroy. The Light within us is a beacon only riles his anger and draws his attention. We must trust the Lord in those seasons even sowing seeds among our tears knowing that His Joy comes in the morning and we will harvest every seed sown in righteousness no matter how hard the seasons sown in might be.

Proverbs 11:10 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

When the righteous prospers it blesses their community. I wonder if the church of the Living God is not prospering because it is not a generous church. Are we reaching our communities with credible love from tangible offers of time, talent and treasure or meager offerings reluctantly given? The more sown into relationship the greater prosperity the church will experience. The overflow is produced by a current. The current that influences overflow is giving. Prosperity is produced by relationship. The greater the relationship the more prosperous it becomes. The righteous are promised prosperity. It is only accessible through relationship. Relationship with God. In our homes, churches and yes, our community. The limit on prosperity is our willingness to engage in relationships. As our soul prospers, so will we. It begins inside of us and increases in overflow in our obedience to release it. It is the seed that creates new harvests. To prosper begins with relationship. Lord, may the promise of prosperity sown in my heart be a blessing that overflows in every area of my life through unity, harmony and sound relationships that bring honor and glory to your Great Name!

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…

There is a time for everything. Every season and every activity under the heavens has a predestined time. God made the Heavens and earth not random but completely ordered. In each season, there is blessing by design. Even those difficult times, there is good that will come for those who choose to believe that God is good and seek out the fruit of the season. I recently spent a long weekend with our daughter and her husband. They live in New England and soon will be moving back home. I am obviously elated. They are coming back with a precious souvenir – our first grandchild. Though a quick trip, we accomplished packing her entire townhouse, attending her first baby shower and last doctor’s appointment before moving. It is a new season. However, while I was away a young man who is our distant relative lost his life suddenly in a tragic motorcycle accident while a precious elderly gentleman in our church went home to be with Jesus as well. So many seasons all converging into one time and place.

Life seems to work out that way sometimes. Each season is multifaceted. There is laughter and tears all at the same time. Sometime we become so caught up in the changes that the significance of each season is missed. It is fall. Glorious fall. Living in Florida, the seasonal change is not as obvious as it is New England. Leaves do not always change into radiant color. Instead, hurricane season is upon us. Our hope is that the trees remain standing. Pumpkin spice latte is back at the local coffee shop. Pumpkins are everywhere. Maybe this year it is time to slow down a little and usher in the new season rather than letting it sneak up on me and pass me by. We usually buy a pumpkin but fall has not been fully embraced in a long time. Busyness takes over most of the time. Or maybe just trying to get by and do life. There is a time for everything and every season. Perhaps, the Lord is reminding me today to be conscious of the seasons for as they go by like fallen leaves they cannot be redeemed or put back on the tree.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 (NIV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 

My daughter and I were going apple picking at some point in my visit. However, with all the preparations for their move, it just didn’t happen. After church, we visited the local market to grab some sandwiches and fresh fruit. We ordered our food at the deli and wandered around all the fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers in the market. There was a table of apples. All the varieties indigenous to the New England area, but they didn’t look like the ones in the grocery store down south. They were not the usual waxed and shiny kind processed and packed for distribution. These apples came straight from the tree. They had bumps and bruises on them. They were not perfect but fresh. Oh Lord, I pray that you keep me fresh in every season.

It is human natures especially of the religious kind to appear unaffected by the seasons of life. To put forth the air of perfection not possible even for those in Christ. Our appearance is not what matters but our heart. The place within us that must be broken to give way to the right kind of fruit. The seasons hold all kinds of change because without change our life will never produce anything of worth. The Word of God that is His Seed must find a fertile place to become the promise. We must accept His Way to have His Will. His Grace is power but cannot make His Power perfect in us until we get out of the way.

The seed of potential in our life called faith must be given a time and place to grow. Who cultivates faith outside of the impossible? No one really. When life is good, it is our nature to forget the One who gave us all this goodness in the first place. With age comes maturity or at least one might hope, the ability to wait when life is hard to see the good on the other side. The apples in the market are not pretty. They are not all shined up and made to look inviting. Yet, the aroma they give off makes the mouth-water and draws ones attention to them. My life must do the same thing to give glory to the one who promises no matter what to make all things beautiful in its time. A few years back when the kids felt God tug on their hearts to pursue the ministry opportunity in New Hampshire – my heart was broken. I couldn’t fathom life apart from them. Each visit I would cry for days after their departure. I love my kids. I want to do life with them. I finally had to relinquish my heartache to the Lord and trust that He would soothe my heart or fulfill the desire one day.

Could it be possible that in our attempt to escape difficult seasons that fruit is abandoned? I am quite sure this is the case. Once born, the death process begins day by day. Why plant if you have no intention of harvesting? There are seasons in life that are unavoidable yet God is in each one with the promise that there is good to be found there. There are tiny details marked impossible that He will work into His Promise by faith. Perhaps, rather than enduring the seasons, we might embrace the change. I intend to make fall come to life this year. Pumpkins will be on the porch. An “It’s Fall Y’all” sign will be purchased. I will buy at least one pumpkin-flavored drink or maybe a muffin. Colorful leaves will find a place in our home. I am determined to learn to embrace each season of life and find its worth beginning with this one.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

It is a new season. Life is full of change. With each new season comes more mercy and abounding grace for those who seek the One who created each season knowing the gifts, promises and blessings hidden within it. There is something in this season for you – Child of God. Look for it. Desire it. Walk through it by faith and not by sight. Stop and smell the pumpkins. You were made by God to prosper in every season of life – good or bad. Keep your eyes on Jesus and it is possible. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts not like ours so in those dark times when you feel like you are groping for just a little more faith – He will be the Light that makes the way clear. He will carry you through the seasons when you are too weak to stand. Rejoice because with every difficult season there is still good fruit to be had. Your Father will never let you down! Tis the season. Whatever it is. Pay attention. Rejoice in it. The Lord is with you! It will not fail to produce the kind of fruit that will satisfy and prosper your soul!

“It’s a new season. It’s a new day. A fresh anointing is flowing my way. It’s a season of power and prosperity. It’s a new season coming to me.” (New Season – Israel Houghton)

Beautiful Crown

Beautiful Crown

Proverbs 4:7-9 (ESV) The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

We made it just in time to see the sun inches above the ocean, a stellar sunrise on a clear morning. The beach was full of other folks who had the same idea. She wanted to see the sunrise. Our littlest princess was in awe of the glorious sun. Lingering along the surf, I gathered shells while she walked in the water. Casual conversation turned to a serious discussion very quickly. This one is our thinker. She contemplates life on a regular and ongoing basis rather than the carefree spirit of other young teens. The mystery of life is not good enough for her. She wants all the details now. The unknown does not appeal to her. I assure her that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing in her life and as long as she loves and trusts Him it will work out just fine. Well, that’s not good enough for her…

How many times has an adult said, “If I had known then what I know now…” Would it have made a difference? Considering the details of life and weighing all the good and bad, what would you have done differently? The bad marriage wouldn’t have produced the blessing of your children if it had never happened. The poor choices and challenging consequences may not have given you the sound wisdom you have today. God promises to work every detail of our life for our good and His Glory when we answer His Call. There is no depth too deep or place too dark that His Light will not come to our rescue. Regret does not exist in the one who is fully redeemed. Fear and anxiety are the enemy’s tools to steal, kill and destroy the knowledge and understanding that will soon become confident hope that leads to fulfillment. Is there more to life than this? Absolutely. We must desire it to have it. Pursue it to find it. Believe it for the reality to manifest in our life.

Our little girl doesn’t want to miss what God has for her. She struggles with the uncertainty of not knowing what the Lord is doing and desiring it just the same. Don’t we all yet unwilling to admit it with childlike faith to the listening Father. God has put it in my heart that He is doing a new thing. Looking around at my life, I am pleased with the way things are turning out. God is good. He is giving me the desires of my heart. There is more to this thing called life. I must go after it. Forgoing my comfort, complacency, convenience and control – I want the complete package labeled fulfillment. As we walked on the beach, I did my best to calm the concerns of my little one. She is not so little anymore. Her questions about her future valid. Trust is new to her. She only knows it in a limited sense. But I believe the Lord is calling her deeper. He is asking her to step closer. She is answering His Call and I am challenged to continue to answer mine. Whatever it is? Whatever it looks like? Even if it feels a bit uncertain, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and illogical, faith makes all these things unacceptable.

The wisdom of God is found in His Word. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to portray the Father’s Love and Desire for His Children. He desires us. He wants us. He made the Way for us. Righteousness is the right path in every situation. It requires wisdom. Knowledge and understanding applied to our daily life not once or twice a week. It is not religious but relational. Instruction is the Gift of the Father to His Children. He longs for us to choose the better way and walk in the blessings and promises that He has already prescribed for our life. He doesn’t force us to choose His Path but offers it to us as a precious and valuable gift. Righteousness is only possible through Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of His Life is the only possible way for God’s Word, His Way and His Will for us to be fully accessed and completed in us. Confident hope is discovered by faith in God’s Word completely.

In the handful of children the Lord has given us, we have both impulsive and intellectual individuals. The spectrum of personalities is uncanny considering they are all from the same brood. Being the mom of such diversity, each one has been raised with a slightly different approach according to their personality. I have some that come directly to me when in need of advice or an opinion. There are others who call in the time of need. The cautious generally communicate more openly in contrast to the reckless for whom I am still here. God is a Good Father. He is pouring His Unconditional Love on the just and unjust. If only all of His Children would take some time to discover the vast potential of limitless love, it would change the church forever. It would bring the Body of Jesus Christ together into a blameless and unblemished bride once and for all. We don’t understand such a concept therefore cannot live in it completely.

Proverbs 4:10-13 (ESV) Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Wisdom in our life is the result of knowledge applied in our life. Many receive instructions every day and ignore them. For example, the speed limit posted on the side of the road is not a suggestion but the law. If an officer catches me speeding, do I really have a right to get mad about it? Choosing to ignore the law creates a consequence. When I was an offender a couple of years ago, I was given a ticket that carried a hefty fine. I was required to pay the fine, but also given the opportunity to attend online traffic school to waive the points which would have resulted in higher insurance rates for the next several years. I chose to attend the class.

Sin is an offense to God. He hates sin. It separates us from him. Given the opportunity of grace, it is hard to say no. But there is more to God’s Divine Character than just getting by. The Lord offers us full restoration. Welcoming us home as the prodigal son is received upon his return, the Father desires to guide us along the right paths that lead to full satisfaction and fulfillment. I choose whether or not I will follow Him. Wisdom is offered to me. Instruction given. Understanding in every word, precept, scripture and verse. Will it be the valuable commodity that I live by? Will I remain under God’s Table scrambling for crumbs? Will I sit at His Table and feast before my enemies? It is all up to me.

Wisdom is a “graceful garland” or a “beautiful crown.” It represents a life lived in the Presence of God – triumphant in Christ and fully redeemed as a Child of God. In order to live such a life requires pursuing knowledge, instruction, and understanding found only in God and His Word then choosing to apply it to our everyday life. Faith only becomes practical when fully exposed to God’s Word. It is illogical compared to human intellect and rationalized by average thoughts. We have been given a precious gift to unwrap, open and use in our life. It begins in His Word and allows us to live in Christ who is the Word.

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Walking with my daughter on the beach contemplating the rest of her life, our conversation grew quiet and in my heart I longed to be able to tell her every detail of the fairytale written for her. I don’t know what her life will be like. I pray for her every day. God loves her more than I do yet I still cannot comprehend such a thing. I know that God has a plan for her. I know it contains a future and hope. I know that she loves the Lord. She will not live on mountaintops but journey through the valley of the shadow of death as we all do. I know that every day will not be a good day. She will need to learn to trust and depend on Jesus just like I have had to. No one could tell me how to do or when it would happen. Everyone needs the rod of discipline and staff of instruction in their life. They need these two valuable things so that knowledge and understanding will one day be wisdom even our little princess. God is good! His Goodness and Mercy follow us all every day of life just waiting for understanding to kick in and wisdom to be set forth. It is in that moment when we respond to the Lord that the garland of grace and crown of redemption are fully put in place.

I can give my children instruction. I can encourage understanding. I can continually pour the knowledge of my life into them. Wisdom is something that is discovered individually when truth is applied personally to our life. Our life in Christ will begin to prosper by taking the Word of God and applying it daily, step by step and breath by breath to our life. I cannot do it for my own children. God cannot do it for you. Those who choose to do so will be crowned Sons and Daughters of the King.

James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

I Peter 5:4 (ESV) And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Humble Calling

Humble Calling

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission is a commandment of God given out of reverence for Christ. An act of humility far from human nature and often misunderstood. It is important to not ignore the call of God on our life to submit, but to fully embrace it and learn to live by it. Submit to one another. The world might tell us that it is a weakness. However, according to scripture, it is a powerful alignment with God and His Word. To submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. The Greek word “hypotasso” gives in more in depth meaning to the believer. It means “under God’s arrangement” or to place in alignment with His Plan and Purpose. Our life lived in alignment with the Lord allows Heaven to come to earth. It is the gateway by which Kingdom outcomes are possible over human impossibilities.

“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The same connotation of the Greek word is used in I Peter 2:18 that is used in Ephesians 5:21. Submission is not necessarily to those who are worthy but in all situations of authority. If you are subject to a person who is given authority over your life, submission is the choice made to remain subject to and under the power of the person. Notice that the position in I Peter is to the “slave” not the “servant”. A slave is under the authority of the master and must be subject to them. However, we are servants of the Living God by choice. Submission is a choice. It is the humble giving our life to Jesus Christ. To reverence Him in every interaction.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is important to read God’s Word in context. Follow God’s Example as dearly loved children. God’s example to us is Jesus Christ. The Word made flesh to demonstrate a plan incomprehensible and illogical outside of faith. A King who put down His Crown to come to die for His People. To make a way for those who rebelled against it in the first place. To restore right standing and release the Spirit of adoption to us. Jesus submitted to God’s Authority out of love for us. We submit to authority out of love and reverence for Christ. To walk in love, one must submit their life to others. It is the only way. To give up our life as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Submission is to take our divinely ordered place in a relationship. You cannot force submission it is an offering and sacrifice of our life that can only be made by the individual. Joseph understood the importance of submission. When taking captive by the Midianites, sold to Potiphar, falsely accused, sent to jail, forgotten for years and even in the house of Pharaoh – at any time Joseph could have rebelled against the unjustness of his treatment and difficult circumstances but instead he humbled himself before the Lord. In each position, Joseph served God by serving others. When his brothers came before him, he forgave them. He did not withhold anything from them but wept in joy at seeing them again. The same ones who threw him in a pit to die. Forgiveness is a form of submission. It is also a requirement of God.

Romans 13:1-5 (NIV) Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

The authorities that exist have been established by God. The last election for the President of the United States was downright nasty. I have many friends who are no longer friends on social media because of the ugliness and riotous rants being posted. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. The day after the election the person in power is God’s Elected Authority. Now before you decide to shut me off, leave the page, or sent me an outrageous opinion, I believe that all presidents are divinely appointed. I believe that once in office as a citizen of the United States and a believing Child of the Living God it is my duty to submit and pray for them. My faith, trust and hope is fully invested in the Lord so it really doesn’t matter who God places in authority over me as long as I remain in alignment and full submission to God and the authority who He has chosen for His Purpose. I must remain in submission to remain in alignment with God. I know this is hard to grasp but let me set forth some ideas.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 – God has a predesigned plan for my life that includes a future and hope. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will have every single promise and spiritual blessing ordained for my life. My hope and future are not dependent on the authority and power in this life but my willingness to live a submitted life in accordance with God’s Word, Will and Way.

Romans 8:38-39 – Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. I live in service to the Living God. My full expectation is that the Love of God will overpower any injustice or insecurity that I experience. In other words, God is in control of my life including the authorities over me. God changed the heart of Pharaoh to let His People go – I serve the same God.

Romans 8:28 – If I believe that God works all things together for my good because I love Him, it includes every power and authority that governs my life in the natural. Submission to God is to live under His Arrangement. At no point in time do I believe that God every set down His Authority or Sovereignty but rather has ordered every single moment of life for my good and His Glory.

When submitting our life to the Lord, it becomes our service to submit to all authority and power placed over our life rather chosen or prescribed. To end this debate scripturally, “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

”Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10) I encourage you to read the story of Joseph. His journey is a wonderful example of humility. It is to choose forgiveness over bitterness. We are not to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Pride tells us otherwise. We have a right to our opinion. However, as Children of God it is His Truth that is the seed of all prosperity in our life. To grow, develop and mature into the masterpiece He calls us to be requires submission like clay in the potter’s hands.

I Peter 5:5-7 (NIV) In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Humble yourselves under God’s Mighty Hand…that He may lift you up in due time. God has promised to make all things beautiful in His Time. We cannot fathom God’s Work from beginning to end so we must trust Him. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Eternity is in our heart. It is our purpose and destination. It is accepted through humility beginning with His Grace. It is lived in humility by loving Jesus and others more than ourselves. Rather than fighting authoritative power it is our humble calling to submit to all authority AND be like Jesus Christ. Submission is reverencing Christ and His Selfless Sacrifice. Am I better than Jesus? Do I have the right to rebel? No, it is my privilege in Christ to submit to mankind in this life in order to live in alignment with eternity. I am given the opportunity every day to live reverently for the Lord by humbly serving and submitting my life to others. This is the life each of us is called to live in Christ. It is to put all my expectation in the Lord and cast all my cares with it. Trusting the Lord will always require submission. There cannot be two masters in our life. We serve the Lord by serving others.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…

Walking into church, he stopped me to greet me along the way. “Hey, I have been reading your stuff and you should write a book!” Awkwardly, I laughed and thanked him for the kind words of encouragement making my way to a seat. Immediately, flushed I couldn’t help but think of how many books started and stopped in the files on my computer all the way back to the first time I thought about it. Just out of high school and the beginning of college, I worked in the preschool ministry of a large church. Putting together packets for the upcoming Sunday, the thought occurred to me that it would be neat to write curriculum for the teachers and volunteers to use with the children. It wouldn’t be long after that I would wander off in the wilderness for quite some time.

I assumed after living apart from the Lord for many years that the possibility of purpose in my life was over. To live for Jesus is a privilege considering my misuse and abuse of His Love and Grace all those years ago, why would God still want to use me? How could there be an ounce of purpose left and not drained by impatience and impulsivity over the years? I am thankful that Lord still loves me, hears me, speaks to me, and blesses me like He does. Religion bases God’s Promise, Purpose and Prosperity on our own ability which is not how it works at all. Relationship gives me full access to God’s Plan for my life. The same plan written beforehand. “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Being confident of this very thing… Are you confident today? Confidence is a quality born of absolute trust. The enemy works every day to keep us from building trust and confidence in the Word of God for our life. He wants us to believe that our inability to perform will somehow change or eliminate God’s Power, Purpose and Potential in our life. That is a lie. There is simply no truth to it. If God knew our end from the beginning, then He had to know exactly how many times that I would fail, fall short, walk away and give up before finding my way back home.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it… The good thing in me working its way out is all God and not me. He doesn’t take bits and pieces of my life for His Good. No, the Word of God explicitly states that “and we know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” The only prerequisite to God’s Power fully working in our life is to love Him. Do you love God today? I do, too!

Until the day of Jesus Christ… This is probably the hardest part to figure out. The Good Work in us that God is working out through us is a complete work meaning it begins at birth and ends in Eternity. Salvation is always God’s Primary Objective in our life. The first work is the finished work that leads to God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory in our life. All the other details fall into place accordingly. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Therefore…

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Do not despise small beginnings. We put too much pressure on ourselves to work God’s Plan for our life. The real work is submission. To humble our life before Jesus Christ, surrendering our way for Him to do what He will in us and through us. We do not really “do” anything other than submit and surrender our life for His Work. God does the rest using His Word, His Spirit and His Love to mold us and shape us into new creations and masterpieces just like He promised. The Lord rejoices at the beginning of this work. The moment that we give our whole heart to His Plan and embrace the future and hope set before us. But be forewarned…

Isaiah 55:9-12 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God doesn’t do things like we do things. His Thoughts and Ways are much higher than ours. His Perspective far greater than our current comfort and convenience or even discomfort and inconvenience. God’s Plan is not influenced in any way, shape or form by us. It is always working in us and through us for complete reconciliation and restoration whether we decide to receive it or not. His Word is seed. God’s Word is not barren – it is full of uncompromised potential for our life. Once planted deep in the folds of our heart, it will grow. His Power is in that seed and it is the very thing that leads to fulfillment. The only part I play in the whole plan is to humbly accept God’s Word (Jesus) in my heart and allow His Spirit to sow His Word in my heart to produce God Fruit in my life. It is all Him – I must decrease allowing Christ to increase in my life. It will happen. I must be patient and wait for it trusting the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV) The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We must not give in to impatience. Patience is a product of the Holy Spirit who produces longsuffering in us. (Galatians 5:22) We must learn to give God time to do what He has promised. What do I do in the meantime? Walk by faith not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Walk worthy of your calling with which you were called. Walk humbly. Walk in gentleness and with longsuffering (patience). Love one another. (Ephesians 4:1-2) God is completing His Work in you. He promised not to quit, give up, give in or walk away no matter what you choose to do along the way. He is still working His Plan, Purpose, Future and Hope all around you. Like the father of the prodigal, the Lord waits and watches for our return. He celebrates our arrival. He embraces us. Fully restores us. Nothing changed at home – it changes in us.

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

I will write a book one day. I am confident not in my ability but the fact that the Lord has called me to do so. I will wait for Him to give me the words to complete it. I will carefully transcribe whatever He says. In the meantime, I must put aside every weight and sin that easily ensnares me such as the lie of the enemy that requires immediate gratification and insists on shortcuts marked by impatience. As I continue to sow my life into Christ and accept new seed of His Word in a soft heart, every good thing that He has ordained for my life will come to pass in His Timing which makes everything beautiful. I have no performance pressure other than to daily surrender and submit my life to Jesus and His Spirit working in me. Jesus is not only the Author of my faith but He is the Finisher. He will complete in me the good work that He began. Amen and Selah.

James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.