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. 

In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Hate is a learned behavior born of insecurity and fear. As believers, the only real and true enemy is satan. Children are born with hearts of acceptance. They do not understand the inherent dangers in life and so God gives them parents to love and protect them. Being of an imperfect nature, it is easy for us to teach our children the morals and ethics of our life molded by our experience rather an encounter with God’s Love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you”. As if that is not enough, we are to pray for those who spitefully or intentionally use us and even those who persecute us becoming a thorn in soft flesh. Why? So we may be Kingdom Kids who live in alignment with their Father and His Kingdom. Tough one. High calling for sure.

How do we love the people who abuse, betray, hurt, and use us? Where do we find the capacity to ward off offenses, ignore bad intentions, and keep the penetrating darts of gossip and slander penetrate a heart softening in the Hand of God? God doesn’t allow us to ignore them. We are to love them. Pray for them. Accept them with forgiveness no matter how many times they continually mistreat us. I know what you are thinking today. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or maybe, it’s God doesn’t want me to be anyone’s doormat. The all-time best is I can forgive them but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me again. Well…

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Evil is not a character trait of human beings. People are born with eternity in every heart. Each given a measure of faith like seeds to sow in life. Everyone. Even the person who is causing you pain and strife. God loves and desires them just as He does you. Evil is cultivated from sin and sinful desires that take over but are like a sickness or disease that can be removed by the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ. Which means every person has potential and God is constantly showering all of us with “fresh rain” in the hope that faith would grow and eternity would break through the hardest of hearts growing into a fruitful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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

Peter asked the pointed question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I wonder if we ask the Lord the same question. The answer is more than anyone can conceive in the natural. True forgiveness as God forgives us is born of grace. Grace is enough. God’s Grace given to us is the river from which our ability to accept apologies and restore relationships come from. When our expectation is in the Lord, it becomes our profound privilege to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. I didn’t say it was easy only that it is possible. The Kingdom of God is all about relationship. Not only a right relationship with God but all of His People even those still living in sin and darkness.

True love is unconditional. True love waits while others catch on or catch up. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Is this truly the kind of love that is required of Children of God in every situation? Yes…it is. The model of prayer presented by Jesus to His Disciples does not suggest it but requires it in order to be forgiven and fully accepting God’s Grace. God will not give us anything that does not promote generosity in us. Seed reproduces. Good seed produces a harvest of good deeds that give honor and glory to God. Love is the greatest of the Fruit of His Spirit and the first step in achieving our purpose in the Lord and prospering in this life.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

We must sow good seed in our life. Seed produces of the Holy Spirit and not unmet expectation. The Kingdom is comprised of men and women who as daily disciples strive to sow and grow godliness in their life. Any seed not of God is produced from fear, insecurity and doubt that God’s Power is enough and His Authority somehow compromised. It is human nature to experience such emotions. It is the Power of God working in each one of us to remove them.

The enemy will constantly sow weeds in our field. He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that the Lord is producing in our life. He is methodical in his approach. Ruthless in every attack. There is no compassion for his victim. We are God’s People who live in His Love and Compassion for others. His Directive is clear. We are not to uproot the weeds. It is not our job to kill them. We grow right along with them. Why? It is God’s Eternal Hope that one day the rain will touch their heart and the seed of faith and promise of eternity will grow from within in them as it does in you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have recently been studying the differences between followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus. There is a marked difference. Followers are led by their feelings and disciples are led by their future. Public opinion can influence the objective of a follower and offense cause them to be distracted and detoured in life. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, love must be the premise of your life. Not just any kind of love, but the love received from the Father through the Son. Love that sacrifices its feelings for a future hope far greater them temporary circumstances. A fruitful life that continues to cultivate grace when surrounded by weeds. The kind of life that does not walk by sight but faith continually overcoming daily assaults and attacks by the enemy in an effort to kill our faith by producing fear, anxiety, worry and the worst of them insecurity. Love is relational. To love requires interaction. It is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ who tells us to there is no great love than to lay our life down for a friend. To be a friend to all who are around us unaffected by their inability to show love and kindness in return. The only root to be removed is bitterness. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.

I will be honest this is a challenge for me with a handful of people. I am not speaking from a place of innocence but a daily struggle to love others including those who don’t love me. Those who have hurt me. Those who talk about me. I do so with this promise from the Lord – perfect love casts out all fear. God’s Love for me is enough. His Grace is sufficient for me. I must accept His Love and Grace in full measure to extend it to those around me and be His Disciple.

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Do I Measure Up?

Do I Measure Up

Romans 12:3 (NLT) Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

How much is a measure? The King James Version of the Bible (which we all know is the one that Jesus wrote – written with a wink) tells us to “to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Again, I ask, “What is a true measure?” Just how much faith has God given me. According to Dictionary.com and its many sources, a measure is the extent, dimension and quantity of something, ascertained especially by comparison with a standard. People live by comparison which produces choices. Each day is filled with the same opportunities and though there are varying statistics it is all relegated down to a 50/50 chance because for freedom’s sake – we have a choice. Everyone is given a choice. We choose according the standard mode of operation or our moral code whichever is called for. Our life is evaluated by the comparison to others which produce an inner drive based on the estimation. How much is a measure? We are called to measure our life according to the faith God has “given” us. Does this mean that I don’t have to go looking for faith or be given it by another? Nope. You have all the faith you need to have a godly life filled with every spiritual blessing hidden in Heaven with your name on it. You don’t have to beg, borrow or steal from another or work yourself to death to have it. All you need is faith that you already have but have not discovered. It is in there. It is up to us by the Goodness, Grace and Glory of God to help us find it and apply it to our ordinary, mundane and lack luster life to produce the one that was written for us long ago, in our mother’s womb, when God created us to be His Masterpiece.

“I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” (Romans 12:3 – The Message)

What if all we need to live a saved, healed, fulfilled, satisfied, content, abundant and prosperous life was already in us? What if there was nothing else to do but live and thrive in the Presence of God. Spoiler Alert – Everything I need to live a saved, healed, fulfilled, satisfied, content, abundant and prosperous life is inside of me… and you for that matter. I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done. The time that I have wasted. The choices I have made. The circumstances surrounding me. The thoughts impeding me. Or even the conditions that you are born in, subject to or remain in today – you are absolutely right – I don’t. But I know God! I know He is always good. I know that He is always faithful. I know that His Love will never fail. I know that His Grace is enough. Now I must figure out how to make this “measure” of faith find its way out of me…just like you do no matter how alike or different our life may be.

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT) Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” We are part of the Body of Christ. The Body only functions properly when each member performs at an optimum level. In my natural body, if my foot hurts it will cause me to limp. My brain will register pain that my body responds to. I may tense up, clench my jaw and after walking favoring the hurt limb – my hip and back will begin to ache from improper alignment. Please don’t be offended when I say that the Body of Christ is limping along today. Rather than working together, it seems to prefer being apart. My elbow is not attractive. I keep it so I can move my arms around. My face is getting wrinkles but I am not going to cover it or I might start running into things. Our body functions as a unit as the Body of Christ is called to as well. Just before these verses Romans 12, the first two talk about being a living sacrifice and not conforming to this world. We have been given a measure of faith because our present life is not the glorious standard God had for us. God didn’t make you or me to live an impoverished life and money is the last of our problems. The limits on our life begin in our mind. The enemy releases a relentless attack each day on the mindset of God’s People. For every lie there is a truth or better yet a promise to be discovered in God’s Word. We must learn to combat every misgiving with God’s Grace, Truth and Knowledge not only learned but applied to every facet of our life. This will enable us to use the measure of faith given to make some accurate measurements of our life and decide where to apply it and watch it grow.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

The unexpected came knocking. Her husband is dead. Her sons to be taken by a creditor to pay a debt. A religious woman who lived her life (supposedly) serving God. How could this happen? If God is so good, why would he allow her husband to die and her children to be in danger? Who is this God that she served? Why give another moment of another day to Him? The prophet came by “coincidentally” that day. He was not spouted parables or stories of victory but rather peddling some practical faith. Oh Lord, if the church would stop performing and take some time to peddle practical faith. The kind of faith people can use and apply to their life rather than something worthless and untrue. He asked her but one question, “Tell me, what do you have in the house? What’s in your house today? Better yet, what’s in your heart? She answered honestly, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil represents anointing. It represents those approved by God for His Service. You are anointed. Jesus died for you so that your full potential could be realized. He even gave you the faith to respond to the Lord. You have it all in that tiny temple called your body that belongs to God waiting to be consecrated to His Service. The prophet told her to borrow as many jars as she could find and begin pouring out the oil into them. Pouring out! I am down to this one little bottle of oil. The only thing of worth in my life and God is requiring it from me. Desperate times call for desperate measures. What did she have to lose? Everything. What did she have to gain? So much more…

What is in your house? What is in your heart? God often must allow our heart to broken so that we will release the potential in our life and achiever our purpose. Otherwise, we bottle it and stick it on a shelf for all to see but not of much use. Religion will always produce mediocrity in life because it is living up to and measuring up to man and our ability. A relationship with Jesus Christ, just like a strong and productive natural relationship, requires all of me for all of you. The oneship of relationship overcomes the monotony of life. My husband and I are well on our way to becoming empty nesters. With five children ranging from 27 to 14, I never thought the day would come when our house was not noisy and people all around. It is happening quickly. Our girls have an active life and a close friends. They do a lot with their youth group. Come Friday night the pack migrates to one house or the other. Even though it is just the two of us, my husband and I have spent almost two decades working on our relationship so now we are reaping some of the benefits. Had it not been so, this could be a very devastating time for us? We would have been perfect strangers in close proximity rather than best friends.

Faith is not a tangible measure but a new standard for our life. It contradicts the way of this world and does nothing for us held up inside. We can ask the Lord for faith but all we really need is the strength, confidence and courage to pour it out and watch it grow. It is tiny but powerful. You don’t need a lot just what you have properly applied to our life. If I measure my life according to other people, some days I am doing pretty good and other days I am quite dissatisfied. It is a roller coaster of thankfulness and discontentment that I am sure could be classified as a psychological disorder. I am called to live a rich and satisfying life because Jesus Christ died for me to have it. Sin kept me from God’s Glorious Standard, but His Grace is sufficient for me to have the life He planned, prepared and promised me from the moment that He made me. If I set the standard of my life according to worldly measurements, I will never have God’s Promised Results. It is when I take the measure of faith that the Lord has given me and begin to pour it out that I will see just how much potential is packed in a little granule the size of a mustard seed. We must stop trying to measure up to the standards of the world and let our faith bring us up to God’s Standard of Living again. But you can’t keep it in – the contents of our life must be poured out.

Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Human beings have a really difficult time wrapping their head and hearts around grace. It just seems too good to be true. How can God love me when I have done all these terrible things? When I choose lesser things just about every day? When I get mad at him for not doing it my way or when I want Him to? How about the fact that there is nothing I can do to earn it just accept it? That’s a tough one for me personally. I do not like to owe people anything. I don’t like to depend on others. Why? I have been hurt, betrayed, abandoned and let down many times in my lifetime and so it is easier not to depend on other people just look after myself. Am I being too transparent? I hope you can see through these words to my heart. I am no longer hurt or embittered by the battles in my life. But I am fully aware and cognizant of not only my need for God’s Grace but my desire to fully accept it along with His Unconditional Love. Here is yet another ground and heart breaking truth that I discovered. I don’t have to make faith. I don’t have to fake it. I have it. It came with the package. God gave me the faith to respond to every promise beginning with the one called salvation. He has already provided me “every spiritual blessing” so the faith that I have allows me to grab hold of that, too. The Lord has left nothing up to us but to accept the Fullness of His Love and live in it. All I have to give up is this broken, dysfunctional, ordinary, mundane life.

Matthew 13:31-33 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

An oil flask in Biblical times probably only held about an ounce of oil. The woman poured jar after jar of oil from a tiny receptacle. My olive oil bottle in the pantry is about 17 ounces. I cannot imagine pouring it into garbage-can-sized receptacles and getting very far. Can you? However, when the prophet told her to do – she did. Why? She was desperate. The perfume flask in the alabaster box was about the same size. It was all she had gained from her giving herself away to all those people. But when she met Jesus – she couldn’t help but anoint him with it. She was desperate for Him. Are you desperate for the Lord today? Both parables describe the small amount of faith necessary to release the great potential God has planned for your life. You came with a purpose and plan far greater than you can think or ask. He is ready to do imaginable things in you and through you. He will give us perfect peace and inexpressible joy. Our life will be pressed down and shaken together just so it can receive and release all that is promised and purposed for our life. Our life is not just meant to be a blessing to us but the whole body of Christ. Withholding nothing, I have the potential and promise to have it all. What am I holding back? Am I willing to release it to have the fullness of God take over my life? You have all the faith needed to see signs, miracles and absolute wonders in your life. You have enough faith to move mountains hidden with the eternity in your broken human heart. Everything you need is packed in that package called you. Now what are you going to do with it? Stop trying to measure up to other people’s standards and let the Lord pour you out today! When we spend our life measuring it up to Christ, we cannot fail! Are you desperate today? Do you need a breakthrough? Are you willing to be broken? To pour your life out before Christ? Do you trust Him? Faith only needs a little trust to get the job done. In the Name of Jesus Christ – I ask you God to fill my family, friends, coworkers, church and even my enemies with a desire to release the measure of faith you have hidden in their hearts along with me!

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

Hidden Treasure

for sale

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

Hidden treasure, how exciting! The thought of a chest of gold at the bottom of the ocean. Or maybe beneath the sandy beaches of a shore left long ago. Secret maps encoded by those who never would return to claim their prize left to be discovered in another time. The fodder of fairytales no doubt or is it. Is there really such a thing as hidden treasure and secrets in this life?  In the ruthless reality of life is there really room for fantasy? Or would it just be another set up for failure to expect the unexpected? To truly believe that there is more to life than this and that there is a favor yet to be revealed in a mundane existence of struggle and striving just to get by. Does Cinderella really leave to marry a prince in a castle? Does Snow White find a way of escape? Does Aurora ever truly experience the kiss of her sweet prince? The plight of the princess ends in a rescue by her prince. Such things are not truth but written by fanciful authors to bring hope to the hopeless. What about us? We are believers. We have hope. Hope that promises to never lead us to disappointment. We do not wait for a prince but King Jesus. The One who sits on a throne with every enemy as His Footstool. The reality of hope is dependent on faith. Faith is the substance of what we hope for. It is the matter that keeps us engaged in the pursuit of the impossible day by day.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. When you think about Heaven, what do you see? The envisioning of a place filled with light paved in gold? A gathering of those who are now gone but your heart still longs for? What does it look like to you? The Kingdom must become a reality in our life in order to fully seek it out and discover its true potential. A man discovered a treasure hidden in a field. He was excited. He would not steal it so he hid it again. The man returned to his ordinary existence and sold everything he owned to buy the field. Is Jesus real? Is His Kingdom a true destination? Our life hints at the truth of what one believes. We invest our time, talent and treasure to have what is truly valuable to us. There is treasure hidden in Heaven for me. I have an inheritance and secret blessings that are mine for the taking yet if I do not understand the value and worth enough to desire it above all things – it is as the hidden chest of gold or potential princess in the secret place – it waits for us to believe and therefore search for it.

If my grandmother were alive today, she would confirm that I loved to read about the princesses. The story of Cinderella was my favorite. The pages worn thing in the book from constant reiteration. She would offer to read another account of one of the others, but I pleaded to read Cinderella again. Dreams are something given to us at a young age which often are forfeited to cruel and harsh reality. Visions of a better way, life and journey forsaken to disappointment that causes us to bury our dreams while entering adulthood. The desire of our heart is designed by God. I believe it is the potential that the Lord wrapped with the measure of faith and marked “eternity” that is placed in our heart. Your life today has the priceless potential to be more than you can think, ask or imagine. Have you buried your dead dream today? Deciding that it was just a childhood foolishness called fantasy and moved on to real life. I did, too. However, for some reason, they seem to be coming back. My mind is entertaining them again. My heart quickens at the thought. Could it be that the Light of the World is lighting up inside of me and through a fragile heart marked with cracks and crevices full of flaws and imperfections that He is illuminating the hidden secrets called fulfillment as He works the details of life for goodness and His Glory just like He promised. Is it possible?

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

People are quick to judge the rest of their life by its current condition. We make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. There are things that the Lord has hidden in us from the beginning of time when our creation was decided. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Every moment of our life is previously recorded by God. (Psalm 139:16) Our life is predestined to be glorious. (Romans 8:29-30) Jesus changes everything. (Ephesians 1:10-11) Nothing can separate us from God’s Love any longer. (Romans 8:38-39) This is not random fate or good fortune. God planned it from the very beginning that our life would become a masterpiece on display for all the world to see, like a city on a hill that is well lit and inviting. The Glory of God is revealed in His People. What glory is there in a life of poverty, weakness, and ignorance? Faith promotes growth and increase in our life. His Grace gives us the power to overcome every weakness. Knowledge and understanding mean nothing until they become wisdom or applied in our life. Hope never leads to disappointment but if we do not believe hope exists or do anything to pursue it – we will not benefit from it in our natural life. If hope exists only after the expiration date marking the end of our earthly existence – we will miss the glorious life that Jesus Christ offers while alive. Christ lives in me. He is worth having and I am ready to “sell” out to have His Kingdom a reality in my life.

Proverbs 2:1-4 (NLT) My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh to come express God’s Love in a real and tangible way. Even the people closest to Jesus struggled to believe even witnessing great miracles, signs and wonders. Those who believe without seeing are the ones that Jesus called more blessed when showing Thomas His Wounds for credibility. To ask Jesus to be our Savior and call Him Lord gives us keys to His Kingdom to unlock hidden doors and open secret places that are just for God’s Children. My faith in Christ is all that I need to make those dreams and desires a reality now. To know Jesus I must know the Word. To treasure His Commands empowers the process that leads to potential and the realization of my purpose. Ignorance is not bliss. It kills our dreams and the potency in our life. We must listen for God’s Voice and engage in conversation with Him to know the way. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Concentrate on understanding. Cry out for more insight. Ask for understanding. What if all that I am doing is in vain even humbling my life in service to God? What if all the things that I am doing are religious because I do not have a connection or real relationship with Christ? The enemy tells us that Christ requires us to give up everything and live an abased existence because we owe it all to Jesus. Jesus didn’t say that at all. We forfeit the bondage to sin, captivity to the lies of the enemy, and breakthrough every wall of resistance when our faith in the hope that He offers makes us confident enough to pursue Him wholeheartedly. We are adopted by God as His Children. To live in His Kingdom is to experience His Glory now AND forevermore. We must get our faith working for today as it does for the future.

Mark 4:21-23 (NLT) Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

It is human nature to think the worst. How many times have I heard this verse used in conversation concerning people living double lives? “Well…everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open…” said with strong Southern slang followed by the obligatory “bless their heart” or worse the knowing nod of the pious. What if Jesus didn’t mean that at all? What if He was saying as my love burns through your heart igniting a passionate love affair building confident hope that causes you to come boldly before me seeking, knocking and asking that I will show you all the wonderful things that I have hidden in your life? What if it means the windows of Heaven will open flooding your life to overflowing with all my promises so you can lend and not borrow being generous without regard, worry or regret? A lamp draws those in darkness to the light. The Lord is gracious. He doesn’t want to put our sin on display but His Glory. We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and continue to do so daily no matter what we do to avoid it. His Grace is enough. His Mercy is new every morning and fuels His Love and Power in us. We have great potential and purpose in life to do more than imaginable simply because Christ is alive in us.

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

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 

When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. The temple veil torn from the top to the bottom. God was ready to receive His Children and grant them an inheritance. Joel’s prophecy fulfilled. Dreamers could dream again. Visionaries have new visions of the Kingdom. God’s Glory permeated the earth and in Acts 2 came to live in His People. This would be the moment in time that changed everything. God in us. Why is that we bury our dreams? Why do we pass off vision as fantasy? Where is our confidence in hope? It is time to take the measure of faith given to us and unwrap it, inspect it and use it again. God has given us the potential to achieve great purpose and shine His Glory for all to see. We will prosper. We will have success. We will be blessed. We will have influence. We will experience favor. We will see signs, miracles and wonders as His Glory permeates every area of our life. However, none of this is possible until faith is the reality of our passion and persistent pursuit of our life. The reality of His Kingdom is our hope. Hope must have confidence to be of any use today. My forever and future are secure. It is up to me to decide if His Kingdom will impact my today. Dreamer – the Lord invites you to dream. Visionary – the Lord invites you to see new things. Child of God – there is a treasure you have yet to discover. Give up the reality called life to experience the true revelation of hope. A life fully invested in Jesus Christ will bring to light the secret and hidden things that are there just for you! Sell everything to acquire it and it will be yours.

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.

Salty Seeds

salty-seeds

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

All things. Every single detail and moment of life prescribed and predestined as prerecorded purpose for us. It is unfathomable to comprehend a God who knows it all. Everything. From beginning to end, He is God. He is the Great I AM. In Him, we live, move, breathe and exist even when our choice is to wander, rebel and reject the Lord. Love so deep that its boundaries cannot be met or exceeded. Grace that reaches higher and wider than my wanderings. It is just too good to believe. So we don’t…

If I believe that God is the God of the harvest, why don’t I sow seeds in every season? If the Lord promises to perfect all that concerns me, why do I insist on worry and stress? To have faith in Jesus is not a sedentary or momentary passage but a lifelong journey and full-on pursuit of the One who is in control of everything. The Highest Power with great depth perception who takes every detail of my life and when given the opportunity works it out for my good and His Glory. What about that kind of God? Who has that kind of faith?

Praise is given in response to a performance of some sort. We acknowledge the “good” thing that is done or the blessing given or great deed accomplished. It is what we offer God when things are good or at least getting better. Worship has nothing to do with what the Lord has done or is doing. It is a lifestyle based solely and completely on Who He is. Many will praise His Great Name today for the favor that they experience but who will worship the Lord in the midst of brokenness by giving all the pieces to Him with a hearty have Your Way, God. The very second that I decide to say with all that I am to all that He is … Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This is when the authority, power and control of my life is relinquished along with everything I hold dear to my heart and tightly in my hands to His Heart and His Hands. It is the very instant that faith moves a little and trust rises from it.

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT) Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

After our Wednesday night service, I had retreated to the ladies’ room with a friend. This woman is locked in a battle. Things don’t look like the victory she is promised, but she will not give up or give in. The fact that she is standing is a testimony to the faith within her. Sharing together, a young woman walked in with a tear-stained face. Looking at each other, we all kind of laughed at our red noses. Instinctually, I asked, “Are you okay?” She nodded, “Yes…” It’s funny how we do that as women. So caught up in our role as nurturer and giver that when someone reaches out to us – it is hard to become a receiver. Just think about that for a moment… back to my story. When I continued to look at her with the “no you’re not” look on my face, she broke down and began to share the brokenness of her heart. After offering some encouragement, I was blown away when my friend who is broken herself reached out and offered comfort, kind words and the Love of Jesus to this girl. It stayed with me the rest of the night. Where did that come from? How could she give when so much has been taken? She is a Mighty Woman of God. She has faith in her heart that cannot be touched, tugged or tried away. She planted seeds in her tears that will produce a harvest of joy in her life.

 

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” No truer words have ever been spoken. So often as believers our life is limited to the productivity of this season or our current situation rather than fixed on the God of all things, who does all things, is in control of all things, and promises good things to those who continue to plant in their brokenness, emptiness, hurt, and lack. Those who are intent on making it to the end even if it is a fight every step of the way to get their seed in the ground and wait on that harvest. Is that you today? Are you broken? Is it hard to breathe? To live a life of worship moves us to the momentary life of mundane supply to the overflowing supernatural abundance hidden in the next harvest that is just around the corner. Too often it is human nature to abandon the field or consume our seed rather than use our resources for the next day or coming season. Our fruit begins to die away because there are no seeds for the future.

I Chronicles 29:10-15 (NLT) Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Do you believe that God does all things? Do you believe that He is in full control of the workings of our life? Do you think that His Plan contains a future and hope that cannot be trumped or thwarted by the enemy no matter how lengthy his pursuit or unrelenting the assault on your natural life? Do you trust the Lord? The only way to know our faith is genuine and trust is true is through the trials and testings of life. It removes the layer or rhetoric and façade of religion to reveal the rough reality of the smallest of faith. Faith is only perceived at the end of self. The moment when I have nothing left of me and must decide where to turn to. When the rubber hits the road, will I continue my journey to the Cross or lay down the burden of believing and move on to something else?

If God is omnipotent and I believe it, I must trust Him to release His Power and Authority in my life. I must decide to worship Him in my brokenness. To continue to sow seeds of faith and righteousness even when they are soaked in salty tears. He must be the God of my life not the lie that I tell. I can profess to believe all day long but at the end of the day if I cannot live in love with Jesus and share it with the world – what do I really have? A thriving relationship with the Lord must be evidenced in trust. Faith requires trust because it is not based on what we see or evidence that can be touched but knowledge that God is God. It must believe in the Hand that holds us even when our world seems to be falling apart.

“Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” David was a man after God’s Own Heart. He was discredited by his family only fit to tend sheep. God saw a warrior and soon to be king. David was passionate. His passion led him to sin. He murdered for lust. David was a father who paid dearly for his sin. David lost a child. I cannot even imagine. I don’t want to know. David lived a life of many ups and downs but believed that God was greater. Perfection is our worst enemy. God wouldn’t have given us grace if it were possible to be perfect. His Grace is the power of change in our life. To believe that His Grace is enough will empower us beyond our natural ability because we believe.

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. Life is temporary. This world will pass away. Nothing here will remain when His Kingdom comes. Why do we waste our life on a bad investment? The seeds sown in life produce a harvest in the future. This is not just in our daily life and natural seasons but in forever. If I become caught up on having the perfect life, I will never have the Kingdom. The one where there are no more tears. Where there is no sun because the Glory of the Son shines brightly from the throne. There will be no burdens, sorrows, sickness, worries or cares. Today seems so difficult. Tomorrow will have its own trouble. What I choose to do in this moment will ripple into tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. What do I want? These are the seeds I must sow.

Hosea 10:11-13 (NLT) “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins. You have eaten the fruit of lies—“

The enemy sows weeds of lies in our life every single day in an effort to create doubt. It is human nature to consider his words and threats against us, but is spiritual maturity to discern the Truth from a lie. The Word of God is “good seed” for our life. It lines our heart with hope that enables us to grow a little bit of faith here and there. God’s Love and His Grace is all that I need to secure a future and hope for my life. When I choose to seek Him wholeheartedly, it is submitting my heart to the plow of persecution and pain that breaks up the hard ground packed down by hurt, offense and disappointment to prepare it to be fertile soil that produces blessings in my life. Pain is part of the process. Brokenness is absolutely essential. Pride must be crucified with Christ to clothe us in righteousness that is signified by humility. How can I say less of me and more of you God when I am my own god? To think that I can do anything significant in this life apart from God through His Son, Jesus is the greatest lie of all.

James 3:13, 17-18 (NLT) If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 

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

God is the God of everything. All things are under His Authority and Power. He gives us the same in the submission of our life to Him. Why do we live discouraged and defeated lives? Lack of faith or trust gives way to the fruit of lies. We must plant seeds in every season even the difficult ones. We must believe when our situation becomes impossible. In Job 2, Job’s wife tells her husband to give up…just “curse God and die.” Wow, she was a real gem. To give up on God when storm’s come, battles rage and earthquakes rumble is a warning that there is a lack of seed in our life. If our life is defined only by praise without worship, the fruit of the Spirit will be sparse and seeds for the future limited in our life. When we can give up salty seeds sown in our tears, it is then that trust is revealed and faith exposed so our hope is secure. Our seasons will yield a new harvest when change comes. Not because of anything we do or do not do, but because God always gives increase to the sowers in life. Seeds must die in the cold, dark ground to be transformed into fruitful plants. So it is with us, we plant seeds of righteousness by faith and the Lord gives a sustenance through the current season only to reveal an abundance in the next. Sow seeds in the Spirit today. He gives you a fresh supply. It’s called mercy and it arrives each new day so that we can continue planting and sowing God’s Word in our life and watching for the harvest. Don’t abandon your field – you have no idea what is happening underground. God is breaking off the hard exterior to reveal the potential of each well-planted seed. He is changing it and transforming it become the purpose hidden inside. If you abandon the process now, you will miss the productivity of your pain. Hang on. Keep sowing. He is making all things new. All things are working together for your good. The Lord is making all things beautiful…in His Time.

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

Hope for the Future

hope-for-the-future

Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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.

Most of us have heard the age old expression to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Could this be the same thing as being stuck in a rut? I don’t know. I often feel as though I have stepped out of the boat by faith and Jesus is just out of reach – so now what? Welcome to the realm of hope. The uncomfortable place where faith is expended but hope not yet realized. It is the place offered as deep cries out to deep. It can also be the very place the enemy meets us when he knows fear may be stirring and doubt beginning to rise like waves just before the storm. The place where mockers cry out foolishness from the shoreline. Christians call out from the boat, “Are you sure it was God?” and Jesus waits with His Nail-Scarred Hand extended. He said, “Come.” And you responded. Now what?

Welcome to hope. The so-called “anchor of our soul”. The place where faith takes it first step and leaves us in an abyss of swirling thoughts and the vortex of our mind attempts to suck us in and pull us from every single promise engrained in our thoughts. Why? Why do we struggle? Why is life so hard? There really must be an adversary who wants my soul. Who desires every good thing God has given me in this lifetime. He wants my faith. It is the only thing that can save me. He wants to rob me of hope and a future more glorious than can be imagined. Joy so wonderfully secure that it is inexpressible. Do you have plans for the future? Maybe a birthday coming up or an anniversary. Perhaps, you are awaiting a birth be it a person or a promise. Are you taking a special trip? A promotion coming down the pipes. Whatever it is that lies beyond today and this moment are not promised. Only today. This moment. This breath. What will you do with it?

Jeremiah 29:10 hints at a lifetime. Mankind did not have a prescribed lifetime until sin entered him. God offered death as a release from the effects of sin in our life. He limited our years to 120 in Genesis 6:3. The psalmist eludes to a further shortened existence of just 70 years in Psalm 90:10. God’s Grace would not allow His People to suffer as a demonstration of His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us. Jeremiah 29:10 says “You will be in Babylon for seventy years.” Could it just be a coincidence? Or is our future truly vested in forever? We want the future and hope that is mentioned in these verses but so often design it by our choice and preference when it is all by predestination and God’s Master Plan and Design. If our future and hope is hidden in Jesus Christ, one might be wise to decide what am I doing to invest in this future and hope rather than in the one scheduled to end a few decades or less.

“But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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. I am captivated by the future today. What is to come? This week between Christmas and the New Year evokes this response more and more each year I am alive. Since becoming a Christian, this has stirred excitement in me to move into the new thing God offers with each year of life. Our life comes with a plan. It contains a future and hope. Every step of this life has the potential to lead us there. However, our thinking must grow and expand from thoughts about daily life, current conditions and all the circumstances surrounding our existence beyond this life to forever…now. God planned good for us forever. He plans a future in Jesus Christ. We have hope that can only be realized after our departure.

In Matthew 24:36, the Lord tells us that we do not know the day or hour of His Return and that only the Father knows. In Romans 8:28, God promises to take every detail of our life and use it for our good…for those who love Him. What you desire, you pursue? We pursue many things in life based on our wants, needs and desires. Investing our time, talent and treasure in passions and pursuits to improve our standard of living naturally. Will we allot the same amount of energy and dedication to a future and hope that is never experienced by the five senses and only confirmed by His Spirit in us. Will we take a single step of faith when the rest of the process is unclear? Will I waste my time with no guarantee other than one that is promised in ancient text and whispered by an unseen Spirit? I must if what I am after is eternal life and forever with the Lord. I have no idea when He is returning or the day I will meet Him face-to-face, but what I do know today is that I must invest more of me into the process of finding Him in order to have faith that is secure and hope that is confident.

Romans 8:22-24 (NLT) For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

I believe that the church does people an injustice when they do not teach the meaning of hope. I have hope because I have Jesus Christ. But the hope that I have does not exempt me from trials, heartaches, disappointments, and seeming disaster sometimes. Heavenly hope in Jesus Christ does not lead to disappointment, but how many times do we invest our belief in something other than the Word of God, His Truth and His Way? We diversify our faith. Giving some to God, some to man, some to money, and some to self just to name a few. All the while, wondering why we are stretched in so many directions.

We are given hope when we are saved. Hope that will never be fully realized in this lifetime. I remember the first time I heard “realm of hope”. It was sitting in an infusion room when the doctor was trying to tell me that the third relapse of cancer in our son may be his last. As I asked her a flurry of questions, the physician who was always so optimistic and encouraging could not make any promises. When she said those three words, “realm of hope”, something in me leapt with exhilaration. Would this be the place where God took over?

Later in our conversation, she used my other favorite word. She said, “Impossible.” In every trial of life I have endured so far, when someone uses the word “impossible” or “forever”, I have seen the Hand of God intervene. He is the God of our future and no one can dictate the outcome of His Children’s future no matter what. When man says our situation is impossible, it means our faith must be fully shifted to the God who makes all things possible. In our utter devastation and weakness, it is human nature to call out to the One who is higher. He answers our call in that moment of pure desperation. This is the moment when His Power becomes enough for us because it is all we have to hold on to. Life drives us to this point by design. God desires us to live forever with Him. He wants to give us a future. The Lord is making all things possible for those who believe enough to pursue hope wholeheartedly.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT) For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

“You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” In my fifty years of life, I have seen the Hand of God come close to the earth and do great and mighty things. I have also wandered in darkness so deep that I thought I might not return. I have joined many churches and left most of them, too. I have seen ministers step up and sit down. I tried religion for many years struggling with all the “do’s and don’ts” of doctrine and regulations of religiosity. I have been built up by pride and shattered in brokenness. I have come to this revelation today. All of these things are trivial and do not matter if I do not have hope. One glorious hope for the future. It is the commonality of Christianity that is lost in hidden rivalries and mass marketing but remains the same day after day. My future is in Jesus Christ not my ability to work or invest appropriately. Nothing I do, say or become outside of a Child of God really matters. We must focus our attention on one hope in order to experience the revival the Body of Christ is calling out for. It is time to liquefy our lives as an offering to God.

There is one body and one spirit. We are the Body of Christ. We are not functioning as one body currently. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. We do not act like it. Our hope demands unity in order to fulfill our future. My future, my forever is in Jesus Christ. I have made it about so many other things. “You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Me, too. How do we get there from where we are now? If we all are headed there, why can’t we get it together?

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NLT) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

The Ephesians were “members” of the Church of Ephesus. Do you remember them? In Revelation 2 they are applauded for all their “hard work” and “dedication”. They were known for their patient endurance. The picture of “Christianity”. They were victorious in many ways and touted for not being quitters.  The model church, right? Wrong. What does the Lord say to them? “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” The incredible wealth of Jesus Christ is His Grace and Kindness toward us. His Great Love for us is our hope. He is our future and forever. Have we taken back our heart? Are we pursuing God with some of us and the world with the rest of us? If our heart is not invested in our pursuit of Christ, are we not just lusting after His Hand?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NLT) In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What am I currently pursuing in this life? What are my passions? What do I desire? Where is my treasure? My future and hope are in Jesus Christ. I must align my life with Him in order to have that which I hope for. It is time to repent. It is time to return to the Lord wholeheartedly. It is time to pray more than ever before. It is time to examine what is precious to me right now in this moment and determine if it is my Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. Do I love Him like I used to? Do I love Him more than ever before? Have I lost my first love? My one true love. Are there things in my life that have taken God’s Place? Have I chosen to hold more tightly to this life than my future? Am I gaining the world but losing my soul? Is there anything worth more than your soul today? Jesus certainly doesn’t think so. He died to give us one future, one hope and life everlasting. Do I want it? I do. How about you?

Matthew 26:25-26 – “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

While We Wait

while-we-wait

Psalm 27.14 (NLT) Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Waiting on God is not at all for the weak and fearful. To take a stand on an invisible foundation with nothing more than a word or thought seems fruitless in a world based solely on sight. Yet as believers, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. It is important to accept that God always incorporates waiting in His Process and Promises concerning us. Prosperity always has a prescribed wait that cannot be avoided. To know what to do while we wait requires one to understand the purpose of waiting.

James 1:12-13 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

Jesus said,But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) Endurance requires patience and persistence. Humanity is born with stubborn obstinacy that gives have to persistence but it is patience that is nonexistent. Through the process called life, it is up to us to allow the Holy Spirit to produce it in us. The Spirit produces patience in us. The evidence of patience is in the fruit called self-control. We are tempted by our flesh and desire for immediate gratification to reduce wait times and leave the watchtower.

God does not prescribe wait times as a form of punishment but discipline. Temptation to hasten God’s Process and quickly obtain His Promise is the very thing that keeps us from it altogether. We must wait on the Lord. It is important to the growth process. The seed of faith must grow, develop and mature in us until there is total trust in Jesus Christ. The Crown of Life is the desire of our heart. To avoid death and obtain life in all things. Those who endure to the end will be saved. Those who give up and walk away receive nothing.

Psalm 5:1-3 (NLT) O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Are you waiting today? I am. As we sit and wait together, let’s talk about what to do while waiting. I find that most of the time, I am not afforded the luxury of other company in my wait times. So I will take full advantage of this time with you. “Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” What is your expectation of this wait you are in? Has the Lord given you a promise? Is He doing a new thing? Are you at a crossroad or even a valley of decision? If you want godly direction or the Lord’s Instruction – it is important to bring your “expectation” to Him.

Christians pray. Believers may even pray a little more. However, the challenging examination is whether or not we are able to wait on the Lord “expectantly”. When our son was sick, occasionally he was able to attend worship services. People would come to him and say things like “I am praying for you” and other tidbits of encouragement. We could always tell who believed that he would make it and the ones who had their doubts. The culture called Christianity adopts its own language but without acquiring a new heart it is all just lip service. The culture changes into a community when there is a viable relationship with Jesus Christ full of expectancy in His Word and Will alone.

Psalm 37:7 (NLT) Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

You are waiting on God not people. The Lord may use people and He may not. The enemy may or may not use people to try to interrupt you as well. People are not the provider of your promise. God is. People are not the problem. The enemy of our soul is. We must continually keep this in mind while we wait.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT) I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

On the game show, Let’s Make a Deal, contestants are given choice after choice. They will have a prize and be asked if they would like to trade what they have for that which is hidden behind the curtain. Giving up the known for the unknown? It is the exchange day by day. To give up life as it is to have what is eternal. Is it a fair exchange? Of course it is more than fair – it is overly gracious. But is it easy? Not really. I know that when my children were babies, if they had something in their hand that they did not want to give up, I could get them to release it by offering them a something else. At that age, they were easily distracted. However life begins to harden our heart and stubborn pride takes over our mind until there are times when God offers us a promise that is better but because our flesh likes comfort – we settle for less. Oh to have childlike faith that always trust the Father for what is better.

While we wait it is important to decide what we are waiting for. Do I want victory? Will I wait for the win or walk away? When our choice is to wait on the Lord, we will be victorious every single time. It may not happen now or today but the Lord has secured it for us in His Time and His Way if we will wait to have it.

Psalm 62:5 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly wait before God, for my hope is in Him.

All of me must wait all on Him. God’s Plan is complete. It is accomplished in Christ alone. When I decide to put my faith in the hope that I have in Him, the anchor only secures that parts of me that are firmly attached.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

The faithfulness of God is unchangeable. He cannot lie or change His Mind. The blessing and prosperity that He preordained and predestined for us does not change by our choices. I visit the watchtower often and climb the ladder to the guard post a lot. It is the place where I watch and wait for the Lord. Note that verse two is actually the Lord’s second response so it is not uncommon for us to inspect, dissect, and examine God’s Word and His Promise for our life frequently when it does happen as one would expect in the natural. It is those things labeled impossible that miracles happen so why do we get so discouraged and dismayed? The watchtower and guard post are often lonely. It is a place where the Lord has our attention or at least He should.

The Lord has recorded every moment of our life in advance. His Plan comes with a future and hope. We live in a new covenant much more glorious than the old one. With all this in mind, it is up to us if it is what we want and worth waiting for. Some things seem nonnegotiable. Other things test our ability to wait and self-control. Each moment spent waiting gives that small seed of faith time and space to grow.

Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Finally, if you have been waiting a really long time or your promise seems to be taking forever, I wonder – could it be that the Lord is waiting for you? There are times when I have done everything to stand and waited until what seems the final hour only to realize that He was waiting on me to come to Him. Startling revelation to think that sometimes we may not have had to wait as long as we did if we had come to the Lord in the first place with all our heart and soul.

While we wait together, may I remind you that God is good, good Father. Everything He does and does not do is for our benefit and blessing. He is always faithful. His Faithfulness is not contingent on mine – thank you Jesus! His Ways are not my ways even though I often expect them to be. His Thoughts are not like mine so I must change my mind and how I think to recognize His Presence in my life. Those who wait on the Lord always win. They are the redeemed who are saved in the end. So while we are waiting we can do so peacefully praising His Great Name. And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” (2 Peter 3:14)

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

It was nice waiting with you today. Be encouraged that the seeds of faith, hope and love God has planted in you are being carefully cultivated, developed and matured in your life to prosper you, bless you and complete you until you lack no good thing. Even when you feel nothing but frustration, impatience, and discouragement but choose to remain in the watch tower manning the guard post of your heart waiting on the Lord – the time spent there will never be in vain. God is always worth waiting for you. It will be worth it. It will be worth it all.

Psalm 38:15 (NLT) For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.

Like A Child

Like A Child

Matthew 18:2-5 (NLT) He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

Naturally, since today is Father’s Day, my mind is on the Father. Of course, my earthly dad comes to mind. I am thankful to have one who loves Jesus. But this morning, for these moments before life gets busy all over again, I have the opportunity to sit in the Presence of My Heavenly Father and bask in His Love. He is a Good Father. I know we sing that the Lord is good. We tell others that He is, too. But do we really know and understand the Goodness and Greatness of Grace and the privilege that we have to know God personally and intimately.

When I was very young my parents divorced and I lived with my mom. On the weekends, I would go to my grandparent’s house. It was my favorite place on earth. In the back of their home was a whitewashed garage, on one side was my granddad’s ice cream truck. Yes, after he “retired, my grandpa drove up and down the beach selling ice cream. I was a lucky kid. On the other side, there was a makeshift apartment made to help their only son through a rough spot. My dad wasn’t always there when we visited. I would sneak back to the little room that he stayed in and sit in the middle of his bed smelling his pillow. I just wanted to be with my dad. I wanted to feel his presence. The sad story of divorce has a happy ending as my dad found a wonderful bonus mom for me. They have been together the majority of my life.

This story is shared to talk about presence. Presence is all that there is to connect with our Heavenly Father for now as we live this life in preparation to be with Him forever. Faith binds us to hope so we know what we are after. Prayer is how we communicate with God. His Spirit helps us to see through the darkness and walk in the Light of His Love. But the thing that we desire above all things is to be with our Father and to live in His Presence. As a human child, I longed to spend time with my natural father. How much more as a Child of God do I long to be with Him! If you enter this place called Presence just one time, you will only want to find it more and more.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” What does this mean? Should we shirk the responsibilities of life and live in a church building somewhere? Do we give up our jobs to carry a cross around the world and back? Do we stop caring for ourselves waiting for others to do it for us? No. Children represent total trust and dependency. We are to love, trust, and honor God as our Father.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

God set forth certain principles for children. They are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your mother and father which is the first commandment with a promise. So that it may go well with you. Obedience, honor and respect for our parents is a commandment by God. I know as a parent that I am not always worthy of such things in my imperfection nevertheless the Lord still requires it of my children. In exchange for obedience regardless of my behavior, my children are blessed with a promise.

Obedience is essential for maintaining parental relationships. However, there are many rebellious people in the world. Parents don’t always set forth good examples. We have countless kids in our church whose parents drop them off at the door. These children have outgrown their parents spiritually but the Lord still requires them to respect them. Colossians 3:20 goes one step further saying, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Like a child, obedience is essential in establishing a place in God’s Presence as His Child.

Rebellion causes dissension in any relationship. Two parties cannot walk together going their own way. Jesus invites us to accept His Yoke of salvation. His Invitation is simple. Are you weary? Burdened? I will give you rest. My Yoke is easy. Partnering our life with Christ allows us access into the Presence of God. We must remain in the Lord to walk into the innermost chamber of God’s Presence. This cannot be accomplished our way. There is only One Way. His Name is Jesus. Any other attempt would be an act of rebellion because it is contrary to God’s Way? The road is narrow. Repentance is turning our life back to the Lord. It is maybe better explained turning our life “over” to the Lord. This is the act of obedience that brings back to a child-like state of total dependency and trust in the Lord.

I Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

In Proverbs 23:24 it says that “the father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Challenged to enter the Kingdom as children does not exempt us from spiritual maturity. Immaturity does not honor our father. It means that he failed at his task to train us up the way that we should go naturally and spiritually. Some may even use it as an excuse, well God knows my heart. Bless your little heart, He does! He knows the plan and purpose put there because He wrote every single word. The Lord knows your potential because He already provided everything you need to fulfill it. He also gave you His Spirit so there would be an answer to every question, calm in the storm, certainty in the selection and motivation to move in the right direction. You are fully equipped lacking no good thing. He is a good father remember, He gave His All just for you.

Honoring our father’s instruction, teaching and guidance increases our knowledge. Once applied to our life, it becomes wisdom. It feeds and nourishes our soul. It is in such a process that we grow. Let’s face it. Our parents always become a whole lot smarter as we mature. So it is with our Heavenly Father as He is able to work all the details of our life into the Goodness that is promised. (Romans 8:28) This cannot happen outside of respect, obedience, dependency and trust like a child.

Matthew 7:8-11 (NIV) For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

When I was a little girl, I pursued my father’s presence. He was not with me at that time. I did not really know how to reach him as a little kid. But now I know exactly where he is and how to get in touch with him. I also have learned to pursue my Heavenly Father’s Presence. In fact, in coming to know God more has improved my relationship with my natural dad. Why? My expectation is met in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Spirit fills every void and lack in my life. This enables my earthly relationships to be filled with love, grace and mercy because I am complete in Christ. No longer needing or wanting anything less than God’s Best allows me to give love and acceptance effortlessly to others. I depend on God for everything I need.

When my children come home, they do not have to knock on the door but enter boldly. Most of the time, they go look in the fridge even when they are not hungry. They have a relationship with us. They know that they are always welcome. They know we love to see them. They call us when they need us. They call us just to talk. We are bound together by love. This is exactly the relationship that God desires. He wants to be our Father. (Jeremiah 3:19) He longs for His Children. It is time to give up our wandering, prodigal ways and answer the call. Even when that call requires change, discomfort or challenges us, we must pursue Him at all costs. Why? He is a Good Father. He loves us. His Kingdom holds treasures of inheritance for His Children and He invites us to come boldly like a child.

I John 3:1-2 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 

 

Priceless Pearls

Priceless Pearls

Matthew 13:45-46 (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

 

There are those days when irritation seems inevitable. Our patience are tried by people and every other process and production of life. Even in our Christian walk, there are those moments when the pressure seems too great a price and the pain too much to bear to take another step. Just before breakthrough is the time when the enemy offers the most opportunities to quit, give in or walk away just to have some relief. The idea of throwing up our hands turning and walking away seems so inviting yet deep within us there is that still small voice telling us to watch, wait and pray. There was a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. He was not just looking to turn a quick profit. His intent was to find the most expensive and exquisite pearl. The pearl of great price. He was looking for the most priceless pearl to be his treasure. When he found it, he didn’t balk at the price but committed everything to have it. He went and sold ALL THAT HE HAD and bought it.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant, not the pearl. It is the passionate pursuit of Christ as our treasure not just to gain entrance into Heaven that we are after…sometimes we forget. We desire the things of Heaven rather than the Kingdom itself. God’s Glory fills the Kingdom. It is illuminated by Jesus. He is the treasure of Heaven. Eternity is hidden deep in our heart so that we may pursue Him with passion and purpose. The Lord desires us. We are God’s Treasure. He seeks us with every bit of passion if not more implied in this parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Jesus paid it all to have us. Will we do the same for Him?

 

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.

 

The process of pearl production is not elaborate in nature. In fact, I can absolutely relate to the process. It is much like the process of patience born within us during times of perseverance and persistence beyond the pressure, pain and problems of life. An oyster is not a complex creature by any means yet produces a valuable treasure. As an oyster grows, its shell must grow also. The “mantle” within the shell secrets the substance that enlarges the shell to accommodate the growing and changing mollusk inside. If a foreign substance becomes lodged between the mantle and shell, the oyster will begin to produce nacre to cover the offensive intrusion. It is like a thorn or splinter that becomes lodged in it causing irritation and as the oyster works to stop the irritation a pearl begins to form. The average pearl takes about two years. A pearl of great price takes about five to seven years to mature. It is through a process of irritation that a masterpiece and treasure is formed inside an otherwise basic organism.

 

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. What is irritating you today? No, seriously what is the thorn in your flesh or splinter in your finger that is not killing you but nagging at you day and night. The Lord allows us to be irritated on purpose. I knew it – you say. Not because He is mad at us or punishing us in any way. God created us with purpose. He has a plan with a future and hope that we cannot produce naturally but must be instigated in us. God allows discomfort to produce the purpose hidden under comfort, complacency and compromise. Ever say, “Why me?” Because God loves you too much to allow you to be anything less than the masterpiece that He designed you to be. He will produce pressure in our life to motivate us to move from our current situation into His Glory. The testing of our faith produces patience. The Lord does not gauge our process by our cries and complaints, it is all based on the purpose hidden in our heart trying to get out. The perfect work of patience is completion. Jesus will not leave you lacking or incomplete. He designed us to be perfect and complete lacking nothing. Is that you today? Are you completely satisfied with your life? Are you lacking nothing? If not, press in, be patient, and by all means do not give up due to the minor irritation.

 

Matthew 7:6-8 (NKJV)

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

 

Are you casting your pearls before swine today? There is only one source of complete validation and purpose in our life. It is Jesus Christ. The Word of God planted in our heart must have time to couple with purpose and grow into God’s Plan. The world demands immediate gratification but Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” Do I want it right now or do I want forever? It is our choice if we live for today or if pursue forever. God does not force His Plan and Purpose on us but simply gives it to us along with enough grace to see it come to pass despite our human weakness and natural inability to finish what “we” start.

 

Ask and it will be given. When our son needed a bone marrow transplant to beat cancer, the insurance company denied us more than Peter did Jesus. Door after door slammed in our face. Rejection letter after rejection letter crumpled in the trash. I heard “I’m sorry” more than grieving widow or Catholic priest. But that didn’t cut it for me. My son was dying. Jesus told me that he would live and not die. The world was not lining up with God’s Word. I had to choose who I believed. Was there ever really a choice? I knocked until knocking turned to pounding over and over again. When I had exhausted every effort, I went to the Throne Room of God boldly yet broken. I remember it like it was yesterday. My strength was gone. I had done everything I could possibly do. I had exhausted all effort. All I had was this teeny, tiny promise given to me on my knees in a filthy bathroom. It started like a banner announcing the Grand Marshall of a parade. Now it was as small as a tiny fortune from a Chinese cookie held in desperation. I said, “You said that he would live and not die. Jesus, I am still holding on the promise. The rest is up to you.” End of prayer. End of me. Everything on the line for Jesus.

 

Have you stopped reaching? Are you no longer knocking? Have you forgotten His Promise? Have you walked away from purpose? Are you irritated? A bit agitated? Downright done? Do you have a thorn in your flesh today? If so, I have awesome news.

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

The world abhors weakness as it represents dying flesh. The Spirit flourishes in our weakness. Paul says in verse 7 right before this famous passage, “A thorn was given to me, a messenger of satan to buffet me…” Can the “thorn” in our flesh really be God’s Way of producing “priceless pearls” in us? Absolutely. If a pearl is purpose, it will require some irritation in order to produce patience in us. The mantle over us is our spiritual covering in Christ available by His Grace which is freely given to us. As it begins to cover those irritants and by choosing to wait for God’s Process to be complete, we allow something priceless to emerge. The masterpiece eluded to in Ephesians 2:8-10 that is created by His Grace when He saved us and grows by faith and confidence in His Plan and Purpose for us. It is not something we can do or build but is the working of God in us by His Spirit and the Truth. It is this mantle of grace that takes every grainy irritant in life and allows the Lord to makes something marvelous and beautiful out of it. This solidifies the truth that all things work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) Our mantle came from the Father and was handed down to the Son just like Elijah gave Elisha his mantle with the warning that Elisha had asked a hard thing in requesting a double portion of God’s Power. The more of the Kingdom that you desire the greater the irritation and pressure it will cause in our life. Those who press in, press through and are patient under pressure will produce something of great worth with a life that was ordinary making it extraordinary.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

You are God’s Workmanship, His Handiwork and His Masterpiece. He created you with purpose, a future and a hope that sin tried to strip from you. He gave us grace in His Son, Jesus Christ who saved us when we put all our faith, hope and love into pursuing Him. I can do nothing to make my life any better than what it is outside of Jesus. I am capable of making better choices but have no idea how to be complete lacking no good thing. Anything good or even great that I can do or be is because of Christ in me. It means there will be pain, pressure and problems in order to create the irritation that I need to motivate change. Otherwise, I would gladly remain in the comfortable place of compromise and complacency because I am human. God loves me too much to leave me like that…

 

The largest naturally formed pearl ever found is the Pearl of Lao Tzu. It measures 9.45 inches and weighs a whopping 14 pounds. Put that on your necklace and wear it. It is worth $3.5 million. If you look at it, it is not round or perfectly shaped and suited for jewelry. Yet it is the pearl of greatest price in the world today. I wonder if sometimes we look at ourselves according to the world’s superficial standards rather than understanding it is the work within us that makes our life successful. I am a bit irritated today as I watch and wait for the next phase of God’s Promise to unfold. He gave me His Word yet again, and I am gripping it in my hand refusing to let go. I cannot judge my process by the world’s projections. It is not up to anyone else or even me to complete me – it is the work of grace becoming the mantle of my life. If I refuse to give up, press in and persevere, every promise will be mine. I will have the pearl of great price. I will find my treasure. He will fulfill my purpose and make me His Masterpiece. His Name is Jesus.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NKJV)

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

To Be Perfect

To Be Perfect

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Is perfection even possible? Paul said, “not that I have already attained or am already perfected”, so is there a subtle implication in his words that by pressing toward the mark and laying hold of Christ our life will somehow become perfect? What is perfection anyway? Perfection is defined as the highest degree of proficiency, skill or excellence. It is the “perfect” example of something. The word “perfect” means conforming absolutely to the description of definition. Excellent and complete. Exactly fitting. Entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings. I am human being filled with everything that makes me just the opposite of perfect so what’s the point? How can I ever be perfected when every fiber of my being and character are contrary to it? Perfect comes from the Latin word “perfectio” which means a finishing. Over time, we have defined perfect but the root of it all is finishing. This means that perfection is not how we start but found in our finishing. Our growth and development that leads to completion is the very thing that perfects us. If we can change our perspective on perfection, perhaps people will stop compromising and accepting substitutions and choose to be perfect.

 

Forgetting those things which are behind me can be such a challenge. Seldom do I dwell on my past successes, but rather all the times I gave up, fell short or thoroughly messed up. The enemy gladly shoves the memories of all my faults and failures into my face inviting me to question God’s Perfect Grace. To be perfect as God has promised and desires us to be requires reaching forward to those things given by faith and confident hope. These are the impossibles made possible for those who believe. Do you believe? This is the foundational question that must be answered to attain a perfected life.

 

James 1:4-8 (NKJV)

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 

Perfection is finishing. It is not how we begin, but those who endure until the end of this process of growth and development in Christ. The Lord wants to make us perfect and complete, lacking nothing. It will require wisdom which when we take what we know and apply it to our life. Otherwise, it is misplaced zeal. Hosea warns that His People perish from a lack of knowledge. Ignorant Christianity will never get us into Heaven. It is the heart and mind bent on perfection willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the end that will be saved. Faith is a life without fear and doubt producing full confidence and contentment in God and His Ways beginning with Jesus who is the Only Way to the Father. No one comes to the Father but by me. Do not be deceived for a double-minded man (or woman) is unstable in all of their ways.

 

Matthew 5:48 (NKJV) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

Jesus said that we would be perfect. We would be finished. Made complete. Whole lacking nothing. Yet, in all things I am imperfect. The first thing I must do is accept that fact that I am nothing apart from Christ and can do nothing outside of our relationship that is worthwhile or beneficial for my future. There are a couple of things required to achieve perfection.

 

Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

 

Grace releases God’s Power of Perfection in our life. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But as we read further, it says that he was a just man, perfect in “his generations” and that he walked with God. Everyone requires the Grace of God. No one is exempt. It is the daily overflow of God’s Grace that allows us to move deeper in righteousness and closer to the Lord. Noah found favor with God not because he was perfect but because he desired a relationship with God the Father and worked to maintain it. His Works did not define that process but God’s Grace given to Noah. Noah and his family would be the only generation to survive the total demolish of the earth. Would our pursuit of God save our family from destruction? Does my life exemplify the grace and goodness that I have been delivered?

 

Psalm 18:30-32 (NKJV)

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

 

God is perfect in all of His Ways. He will not change any of His Ways or that makes Him indecisive and changeable which invalidates His Perfection. He got it right the first time. Man mistakes God’s Grace for a change of heart. God is not emotional. He is Sovereign. He loved us and chose us from the very beginning. He established the Way for us before we were born into sin. He knew us and loves us because He created us. You don’t have to believe the Word of God to make it any more valid or true. The Truth stands alone. In an ever-changing world with compromised morals, mixed feelings, gray areas and convoluted ideas of grace, we must take God’s Word as the whole and absolute truth making it the foundation of our thoughts and filling our hearts with its knowledge to be wise when it comes to Christ. Perfection is impossible outside of the Lord.

 

God is My Strength and Power. Do you agree today? Think about it before you answer because the next mind-blowing revelation might rock you as it did me. To truly believe that God is perfect requires two things – weakness and surrender. You will never give God everything when your life is perfect. It is in the devastating revelation that you are weak and helpless that surrender is accomplished. It is in THAT moment when perfection becomes possible in our life.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Weakness acquires His Strength. We cannot become strong in the Lord until we discover our own human weakness. We want to do what is right but cannot. We desire perfection but fall short. It is right here in this place of giving up and giving in that His Perfecting Power is manifested in our life.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

God’s Power requires full surrender of our life to God’s Plan and accepting His Grace. Grace is the key to perfection. We must accept God’s Strength and Power in order to allow our heart and mind to change according to His Will and Way. We can do nothing apart from the free gift of God. We must learn to walk in His Way.

 

Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.

 

The truth behind grace is the absolute solidity of God’s Word as true. Do you believe God’s Word? It must be the unadulterated truth of our life to move past the opening stages of the gift of grace to the perfecting qualities of faith in God. We must grow, develop and mature in our relationship with Jesus Christ in the dispensation of His Grace to become who God created us to be. Life does not get easier, just more purposeful. It does not turn down the heat of fiery trials just keeps us safe and gives them meaning. It is the conversion of our heart and soul in becoming a living sacrifice that allows us to be transformed and perfected according to His Word. (Romans 12:1-2) It does not change the past but our future.

 

Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

In this parable, the dilemma faced in the pursuit of perfection is revealed. Heartbreakingly true, it happens every day. The young man was raised in religion and performed quite well. But when Jesus reached inside his heart to expose his weakness, the young man could not let it go. He could not become weak for the Lord giving up the security and comfort of his wealth. He could not give Jesus his weakness which was his love of position and power. So he took his perfect worldly life and went his way rather than answering the call of Jesus to follow me. What is keeping you from perfection today? I know with vivid clarity the areas keeping me. The things I choose to build my own strength rather allowing the Lord to be my strength. The areas of weakness I hide from the risk of exposure that would allow Him to make me strong. God invites me to have perfection. I was created to be perfect but chose iniquity. (Ezekiel 28:15) If I make a commitment to perfection (Psalm 101:2), He promises to perfect all concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) He will keep me in perfect peace if I set my mind on Him. (Isaiah 26:2-4) God has given us so many promises as a result of the perfection that He gives us by His Grace. (I Corinthians 7:1) If only we would consider the opportunities of grace rather the opposition of our flesh to following His Way, what would happen? We might just be perfected.

 

Ephesians 4:12-16 (NKJV)

For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 

To be perfect is the fulfillment of God’s Grace in our life. To take the gift we have been given, open it and apply it to our life. This is a direct result of one’s decision to accept our weakness and desire His Strength, while we surrender our life to accept His Power of Transformation and the conversion of our soul from death to life. Christ was perfected in the third day. Not on the Cross but in His Resurrection from the tomb. This is how God’s Power works in us. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is the same power in us that allows us to be perfected in Christ. (Luke 13:32; Hebrews 5:8-9) We have a purpose that grace accomplishes. His Strength and Power allows us to be finished, made complete and lacking nothing. God is not finished with you yet…He is just beginning. In giving our life to Him, walking His Way and choosing to take Him at His Word, we are promised to be perfect! His Love makes us perfect!

 

Colossians 3:14 (NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.