To Prosper

To Prosper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Tis the Season

Tis the Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Crown

Beautiful Crown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humble Calling

Humble Calling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Confident of This Very Thing

Being Confident of This Very Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?