Artificial Light

Artificial Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG) “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Light of the world. What does it even me? To be the Light of the world…like Jesus. There are many lights shining in the world. Just one house has countless fixtures, lamps, and a variety of light all turned on by the flip of a switch. Some put dimmer switches on the wall so that the amount of light can be adjusted according to the mood or occasion. It seems that thanks to Thomas Edison – lighting has come a long way since the first light bulb was patented in 1879. Mr. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.” I wonder if this was the result of testing more than 3,000 prototypes for the light bulb in a span of two years. I understand his attitude. Many times I feel the same way. I try to get this “God-life” right and end of finding out – I was wrong again. Wrong in a good way always.

God has put the Light of His Amazing Love inside of me. It is the Christ in me. He has ordained me to be the Light of the World. There are so many different kinds of light. How do I decide what kind of light I should be? There are stores specifically for lighting homes and businesses. Yet in the grand scheme of life the lighting in my home is not as important as the Light that shines from my heart. Is the Light in my life real or artificial? How can I tell?

Is the Light illuminated in my life effective? Is it attractive? Or is it like a flashlight shining abrasively in the eyes of the lost? Blinding rather than leading? Insulting rather than soothing? God’s Light is His Love invested in our heart and mind given for the purpose of leading others to Him. Too often our misuse of light can drive people away further. It is important to constantly reflect and refine the Light shining from us to see if it is attracting people to Jesus or not. Oh, don’t be offended. If we all got it right the first time, the Lord would whisk us away the moment we asked Him to come live in our heart. However, the purpose and plan scribed by God as He created us is one with divine potential that will bless us if given time to get it right. To become one with the Lord. To shine His Light to the world.

John 8:12 (MSG) Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

I usually do not use The Message Bible but today its straightforwardness is refreshing. Jesus provides plenty of light to live in. He is our Source of Light. He is an abundant God who gives plenty of resources. However, it is up to us to engage with the Lord and have what He offers. I am the world’s light. There is no greater or more satisfying light in our life than that of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, Truth and Life. Everything I need, want and desire can be found in the Lord. Not only that He promises to be doing more than I can think or imagine. Together – the Light shining from my life will be real. It will be authentic. However, for the Light of His Love to get out of me requires an opening. This is not always the pleasant part but the absolutely necessary one. Religion tries to keep us altogether in our doing. A real relationship with Jesus Christ is our complete undoing until all people can see is God’s Love shining from us. What do people in life truly desire above all things? To be loved.

Psalm 89:15 (NLT) Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

There are many theories as to what attracts a moth to a flame. There is one called transverse orientation. It theorizes that the artificial light throws off the moth’s internal navigation system that is flying at a constant angle relative to a distant light source. The thought is that this will cause the insect to take a kamikaze dive into the light as a result. I wonder… does the same happen to those looking for the Son of God when we put of artificial light? Absolutely. It is not a theory but truth.

I am filled with the Greatest Light ever known to mankind. It is real. It is true. It leads out of darkness into the Presence of God whose Light surrounds us, fills us and overflows from us as light. The kind of light that attracts the world. But when they get close do they find it is not real light? I love the flickering of candlelight. You can buy plastic tea lights with battery-operated tiny light bulbs that shine for a few hours. They work for many occasions but they do not give off the same light or create the real ambience of real candles with the faint smoke line of a burning wick and the smell of liquid wax. We must examine our heart and evaluate our life to be certain that the light of our life is real, true and authentic. Flowing from the Source of Light and not warmed over, recreated artificial light that is not of God.

Are you happy? Is your life filled with joy? Can you laugh when most people are crying? It matters what’s inside of us? Insecurity, fear, doubt and unforgiveness will smother the light inside of us and snuff out the ember of passion God has sparked in us. It is the beginning of doubt that eats at our faith which is the tinder to the flame that attracts others to the Lord. The faith that is constant on matter what the situation. The part of us that believes no matter what we think or feel that God is good. We must work to remove all pretense and hypocrisy from of our life so His Light shines clearly through us. God is love. Grace is real and always enough. We have all we need to be bright and burning lights for Jesus Christ without doing anything for ourselves. Jesus is the Source of every good thing in my life. His Favor shines on me. His Glory will come out of me…when I choose to be real and authentic.

Psalm 112:4 (NLT) Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

Do you attract people in your natural life? Are people drawn to you? Are you comfortable in the midst of many? The Light that shines in you should be attractive. It will produce traits in us like generosity, compassion and righteousness. Righteousness is not piety. It is humility that allows us to give our life away with complete confidence that God has us. We do not need to look out for number one, because He has us in the center of the palm of His Hand and no one can snatch us from Him. It is with such confidence that compassion will give our heart away and generosity will give what we have knowing the Lord always provides for His Children. It is this confidence in Jesus Christ that others find attractive. One’s ability to maintain a life of constant love, joy and peace no matter what the natural conditions of their life because the Light of God’s Love keeps them secure. If I am not secure in the ability of God to light up my life and make it better, how will I ever attract others to Christ?

Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT) I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

We must learn to live transparently. Open lives in the Presence of God so that He can be the Light that shines from us. Here is a mind-bending reality – God sees us in darkness and in light. He loves us no matter what. The Light of Love in us should shine in every situation. Our position on the hill is placement by God not a form of exultation. In fact, our light shines brightest and is most reflective of the Lord in humility. He chose to love you and put you forth as a shining example not because you are Susie-Super-Christian or Johnny-Jesus-Junkie but because His Love has overtaken you and shines from you. It is a product of His Love, Grace and Faithfulness. What we do doesn’t project it unless covered in His Love? What we say is merely conversation if not backed up by His Love? I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ and His Love that has saved me.

In Isaiah 58, I believe it tells us the difference between artificial light (v. 4-5) and real light (v.6-12). The Love of God demonstrated to people is not a religious act or congregational movement but rather how we live day in and day out. It is to take this wonderful gift of amazing grace and spread it all around. It is to love and love some more. It is to be the first one to forgive and the last one to accept offense. It is to love Jesus more than anything this world has to offer. We are in this world but not of it. We are part of society even though only foreigners. Christianity is not an organization of exclusionary elitist – it is a-who-so-ever-will-let-them-come kind of family. It doesn’t matter who you are, how you look, how many times you have tried, how many times you failed or if you think you have it all together! It is all about the Love of God and His Grace which is always enough to hold the door to His Presence open to us and the welcome sign is lit. It is not up to me to save, heal, deliver, restore, renew or revive another person. It is my divine calling and position to be Light that leads people from darkness to the Love of God.

Proverbs 13:9 (NLT) The life of the godly is full of light and joy…

I know a whole lot of people who don’t go to church anymore. When they got to the House of God, they found the light to be artificial, judgmental, overbearing, unloving, and religious. Rather than finding the Source of Light, they are were driven to darkness where they found acceptance and affirmation rather than rejection and hurt. Why is that church? Where is the Love of God? The real and true love that allows people to approach the altar unbiased and unrestricted by an audience of artificial light who pretend to love but really don’t. The altars of such places are empty and the people come once and leave. It is just another set of rules, regulations and expectations that cannot be met so they go back to the life they know and comfort found there. This is such a tragedy when inside of us lives the Life-Giving, Life-Changing God who desires nothing more than to welcome them, love them, help them and accept them just as they are. As believers, we must inspect the Light of our life. Use the Word of God to make sure it is burning bright. To keep the ember alive means continually basking in His Presence so passion remains. I want to be the Light in this world that Christ has called me to be. It means that I must give up my life and my way to shine brightly according to His Plan. The more of my life surrendered to God’s Love the fuller the light and joy overflowing from my life. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? Everyone one would…even if they are not now. I have the ability to make better choices and give more of my life to the Source. It is up to me to decide the Light I choose to shine.

Thomas Edison also said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I love it. To love like Jesus and shine like Him in this world is going to be a lot of hard work. It means giving ourselves away when we don’t really feel like doing anything at all. It is to yield and yoke our life in total dependency to Jesus Christ and allow Him to illuminate our life. It doesn’t matter if you have tried a thousand times…do it again. This may just be the time you get it right and your light shines brighter than ever before. His Love is attractive. It is soft and loving. It never is blinding but always overwhelming. Maybe if we started leading the way rather than pointing fingers – the Kingdom of God might get somewhere. Maybe… Lord, be the Light of my life today. Move me out of the way until all people see is the Light of Your Amazing Love – Jesus!

Psalm 119:130 (NLT) The teaching of your word gives light so even the simple can understand.

Honeymooners

Honeymooners

Psalm 26:2 (NKJV) Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

 

When I gave my heart to Jesus completely, finally surrendering ALL of my life and not just the parts I was comfortable with, it entailed a different kind of worship than that of my family. My husband and I were attending a full-gospel church. For the first time in my life, it all made sense. The Word of God and the Spirit of Truth finally made up my mind. I wanted all of God. I engaged in a full pursuit to know Jesus – spirit, mind, heart, soul, and body. Every facet of me in agreement to live for the Lord…finally. Although my family was glad to see me finally settle down and surrender my life, they were concerned with my choice of doctrine. Raised Southern Baptist, they were cautious about my choice to become charismatic or Pentecostal. I was hurt. I was disappointed as the newfound zeal and enthusiasm for Jesus seemed to be somehow discounted or discredited. I knew the transformation I was experiencing but could not seem to express it to those whose opinions mattered most. After months of radical change in our life, but continued questioning all I could ask was that they examine my fruit, the productivity of my life and decide if it truly was of the Lord.

 

There are honeymoon periods in life when something is new and exciting. Obviously a marriage is followed by a honeymoon which can last a few days or even a few years for some. This is followed by the reality of commitment. Love is not the fuzzy feeling or enveloping emotion at the first sight of someone or deepening intimacy. It is the commitment that after initial passion cools or appearances fade who can continue in covenant when the getting becomes giving. Love is an extension of us. It connects us with the outpouring of self to accept another and give them our all. Anything less is not love. Every new thing in life comes with anticipation and excitement but as we engage in the operation of life called obedience – it is remaining faithful and true to all that is promised which challenges the wavering heart and indecisive mind. Any oath taken, promise made or commitment agreement is laborious. It is contrary to human nature. It will require patience, endurance and perseverance. This is when we no longer can rely on the five senses or emotions to get us through but must examine our heart and mind to prove our commitment.

 

We must examine ourselves. We must invite and allow the Holy Spirit to assist us as we do. Other people are not the most credible source for evaluation of self. No person is above sin or has achieved perfection. Only Jesus can give us clear insight of what needs to happen to take one more step in the journey to eternity. Only I know the real and raw contents of my heart and mind including every doubt, fear, hurt, disappointment, bitterness, strife, malice, anger, sin and more that keeps me from moving deeper into the Presence of God whether I will admit it or not. This partnership with Christ must be one that is examined daily for reality, credibility and true or our life as a Christian is nothing more than a farce. A self-established title for this life without any benefit beyond our natural life.

 

2 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NKJV)

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

 

Examine yourselves as to whether you in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? How do you respond to the testing and challenging of your faith? Are you the only one who knows that you are a Christian? Are you sure that Christ lives in you? Are you experiencing manifestations and demonstrations of God’s Power in natural life? All of these are valid points of faith in full operation. We cannot live as a life of godly authenticity and not experience God’s Power in our life. Obedience and faithfulness beginning in our heart and mind in agreement with Christ will yield supernatural results whether invited, welcomed or acknowledged or not. We are weak in the natural but the Strength and Power of God is ours in our weak inabilities. When we decide to live a life committed to the Lord, His Power is released in us and through us.

 

Faith is not blind though we cannot see what we can believe. It is the knowledge of God exalted in our life as we live by what is unseen rather than relying on what we do see. Successful Christianity is not dependent on what another person pours in our life, but what we receive from the Lord directly. It is not our pastor or Sunday school teacher’s responsibility to grow, develop and mature us but rather equip us. It is what we do with the knowledge give that determines if we will live in God’s Power or remain in human weakness. We must test ourselves. Our faith must be genuine. It is personal. It is intimate. No one can make our faith stronger or determine it validity but us. We must examine our life daily.

 

I Corinthians 2:10-12 (NKJV)

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

 

You know your heart. You know your mind. You know what you believe. Now whether or not one is willing to admit the longings, thoughts and truth behind these entities is up to the person. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to partner with us in the soulful and heartfelt development of our faith and commitment to Him. He is our deepest confidant and closest companion until our Savior and Lord returns for us. He comforts us and convicts us to fully commit our heart and mind to Jesus. He searches us and offers us knowledge and understanding to use as wisdom in our life. But no one can examine ourselves but us. People at the leading of the Holy Spirit may confirm in us something that the Holy Spirit has expressed but God is our confidant and will never tell them something outside of what He has already been whispering to us. Our relationship is intimate and personal.

 

Many couples who have problematic relationships will give a hundred and one excuses as to who is to blame and why the partnership is failing. It can be finances, careers, family, kids, responsibilities, unmet expectations and the list goes on and on. When our life and ALL our expectations are firmly rooted and established by our faith in God’s Love for us, we can live our lives without need, want or expectation in anyone or anything else. The bottom line in any relationship is our commitment to one another. Love covers a multitude of sins. Our natural spouses, partners, family, friends and coworkers are all imperfect. They all have their own needs, wants and desires driving them. They have weaknesses just like us. Our life and happiness is not dependent on any other human being. Our true confidence, joy and peace is found only in Jesus.

 

I Corinthians 11:27-32 (NKJV)

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood[ of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

 

What is communion? It is not the symbolic gesture in a church service when we sip on grape juice (or in some cases wine) and break a tiny wafer that tastes like paper. This is strictly symbolic of our relationship with Jesus Christ that should be our lifestyle. Religiously this act means nothing without a heart committed to Jesus. The Word of God is the Bread of Life. His Spirit is the Living Water rushing in us. When we eat or drink in an unworthy manner it is judgment. Stop. Process and repeat. When we eat (the Bread of Life) and drink (in His Spirit) without a true desire and longing from our mind and heart to live in complete commitment to Jesus Christ it is worthless and unfruitful act of self not surrender.

 

Communion is association and fellowship with Jesus. It is to share our thoughts, emotions and intimate communication with the Lord. We sharing and hold everything in life in common and participate in life together. Communion is our daily life engaged with our Savior withholding nothing. It is this kind of life that opens the windows of Heaven in our life. Our life will become a demonstration and manifestation of the Power of God when our heart and mind agree with Christ choosing to live in an intimate partnership of love, trust and commitment. It is then and only then that we will be able to examine our heart and mind to find real faith and confident hope.

 

Revelation 3:19-21 (NKJV)

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

 

Jesus is standing and knocking on our hearts today. He can only walk as far as our faith allows. As we examine our heart to repent, we allow the Lord to come in closer to us. By seeking Him each day through His Word and Spirit, the building process continues as He moves closer and closer in our life. One day, it will be like Enoch and we will find ourselves living in the Presence of God. This doesn’t necessarily have to be when we meet Him face-to-face but by daily communing with Jesus. Asking Him into our heart requires a pure heart and made up mind that nothing less than the sweetest intimacy will do. Forsaking all others, Lord I want you!

 

If the honeymoon is over and reality setting in, maybe you don’t feel the same warm fuzzies as when you first fell in love with Jesus. This is a natural human reaction when the excitement of first love wanes and the rubber hits the road. Faith is born of commitment. It is the genuine and real part of love. It leads to a road less traveled that is quite narrow. It can be a lonely place at first as we begin to leave people behind or they leave us, but then we can focus on the One who loved us first, loves us the most, and always loves us the best! He is knocking today. Will you answer?

I John 4:18-19 (NKJV)

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.

Traveling Through Life

Traveling Through Life

John 16:33 (NLT)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

Traveling is a chore. (Deep sigh!) To plan a family trip for someone who is a Type A personality requires months of preparation. Booking flights, reserving hotels, and buying tickets while planning each day when trying to stay in control over all the details of that day is overwhelming. Some days I wish that I could be spontaneous and free-spirited but that is not how God wired me. It takes a week of packing, unpacking and repacking to be sure we have what we need away from home. If children are involved, this is a compounded effort especially when flying. Our girls are teenagers and it is the first time that we have flown with them. They are used to throwing whatever they want in the car unrestricted. What is this concept of one outfit per day and only two pairs of shoes? Is forty pounds even possible and still have the proper necessities of life? When the big day finally arrives, it is all about timing and execution. Driving to another city to catch a flight, spending the night in a hotel, racing to the airport, checking bags, going through security, waiting at the gate, boarding the plan, calming the fears of first time flyers, ears popping not only from the ascent but from the child who wants “out”, arriving at the new destination, finding luggage, grabbing the shuttle to get the rental car, loading the luggage, setting the GPS and discovering we are not in “Kansas” anymore. Finally, unloading at our new temporary home for a couple days, running to the store for some snacks (forgot to eat since breakfast) and forgotten necessities (how is that even possible) and finally after all that deciding we made it. Meeting up with our precious loved ones that we have missed so very much, only to realize that you are too tired to enjoy them longing for bed. Falling into the bed that doesn’t smell or feel like home, wanting to cry because you made it but it doesn’t feel like you thought. Where is the elation? Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the triumph? Today is another day!

Life is a journey. Just traveling to another city for a visit poses so many details, one can only hope it works out. Dependent on others – it is anyone’s guess what the outcome will be or is it. While I was exhausted from our cross country journey, I realized when I woke up this morning that we made it. This trip planned to see our children in New Hampshire was not what I had originally decided. I was going to send my husband to a football game to see our hometown team play rivals and bless him. But as I planned and prepared, I could sense the Lord impressing on my heart the notion of everyone going. Sending one person turned into taking the whole family, what a task! In the dark stillness of the morning, I could hear the soft snores of my family sleeping soundly. I began to thank God for this trip. We made it safely without a single hiccup along the way. Even though it was still a long, exhausting day for my body – the Lord led us safely to our destination. There were some frustrations, waiting and a few delays but we made it. Ironically or maybe not so much, our son releases his new CD compiled for his church. It is called “Overcome.” The church has proclaimed this “Overcome” weekend. I am laughing on the inside as the Lord draws me into His Presence and we talk about overcoming.

Jesus said quite frankly and emphatically, “Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows…” He did not mix words, but so often Christians have. Somehow thinking that to enter a relationship with Jesus Christ should eliminate trials, sorrows and the many hardships of life. That is not what He said. Why would we even think that? What Jesus did says is “take heart because I (Jesus) have overcome the world!” To overcome means to “get the better of in a struggle or conflict; to conquer; defeat; prevail over and to overpower or overwhelm in mind or body. The word itself implies the very things that we are experiencing meaning everything is going according to His Plan. There must be conflict and struggle to overcome and be victorious. What’s the point of this journey called life if it is going to be filled with trials? Why follow Christ if we cannot avoid struggle? It is all about victory. It is to be redeemed by our Champion and win the war against sin so we will live forever as overcomers and become more than conquerors in Christ.

Romans 5:2-5 (NLT)

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

Faith is the purpose of our life and every detail in it. Christ brought us to this place of undeserved privilege so we can confidently share in God’s Glory. This is an act of faith, produced by faith and requires faith. There is absolutely no way to have God’s Plan and Purpose along with every single promise outside of faith. Problems and trials produce faith in us by developing our character. Endurance strengthens our character as our faith is stretched well past our patience and ability to withstand the pressure of each trial. As our faith is developed it brings about confident hope which never leads to disappointment. “Never leads” means we have to go somewhere. We cannot stay where we are within our comfort zone and experience this kind of hope but must go where He goes. God loves us and fills us with His Holy Spirit who is helping us each step of the way no matter how difficult it may be to achieve the level of faith required to produce the hope we need to keep going.

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT)

And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

A trial is an “act of testing, trying or putting to the proof” of something. Trials test our faith to make sure that is genuine and authentic. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith makes all things possible beginning with salvation. We have to know that our faith is real to have confident hope that we will one day be with the Lord. When our faith becomes strong, the trials of life no matter how difficult will no longer sway us from believing that God loves us and that He is always good working out every detail of our life for His Glory. These two concepts make everything we go through in life worth it knowing His Glory is coming.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)

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

 

These trials and hardships in life that reveal more and more faith demonstrate our partnership with Christ. When we emerge from an experience, giving praise and honor to God, still walking in the Light – we made it. We are victorious. It doesn’t mean we have arrived. It certainly doesn’t mean that we will not go through something else sooner than later – it just means that our connection to Christ is becoming stronger through genuine faith and confident hope which makes it worth it every single time.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)

 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

 

A strong connection to Jesus Christ means disconnecting from this world. Sorrow is produced by death. The death of our flesh can cause sorrow in life. Sorrow is distress caused by loss, affliction, disappointment, grief, sadness and regret. The transforming power of God’s Love will cause change to come about in our life. The enemy will attack the “good work” in us being performed and executed by God’s Holy Spirit inside of us. There will be things in our life that must be relinquished to the Cross. Sorrow is good when it leads to repentance. Our new life in Christ unfolds much like the peeling of an onion layer by layer producing the same amount of tears. The closer we become to Christ the more we will see our inability to do anything for the Lord outside of what He is doing in us and through us. It is a surrender to total weakness. For when we are weak, we become strong in the sufficiency of grace which is everything we cannot do for ourselves.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT)

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Today is my birth mother’s birthday. She passed away last November. We had not seen each other in a number of years. Her addictions separated her from her family and eventually cost her life. When my son was battling cancer, the Lord impressed it upon my heart to call her and tell her. I did not want to. I was not up to it. Our relationship was so difficult. We had not spoken in years. But finally to relieve the pressure, I called her. We talked. I told her that no matter what I loved her. It was the last time that I spoke to her. I believe that sorrow in life opens up areas that we have closed. Areas of unforgiveness, bitterness and all the kinds of behaviors to expose them and allow the work of the Holy Spirit. Even though it was a difficult conversation to have with my mother, I was able to tell her that no matter what I loved her. I would probably never have made the call if not for the brokenness of the situation. The pressure and pain of the trial made it the only way to find relief and release so I did it. Every trial we go through in life has purpose and meaning with the promise that it will produce faith and confident hope to those who remain connected to Jesus Christ. It will always be worth it.

I Timothy 6:10-12 (NLT)

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

We all have the propensity to wander from true faith for a number of reasons which pierce us with many sorrows that the Lord has already overcome. Calvary satisfied the price put on our life because of sin. Grace affords us the opportunity to discover true faith, be fully redeemed and by confident hope become overcomers in life. The self-inflicted wounds were paid for when by His Stripes we are healed mind, soul and body. Every trial and every sorrow that we face surrendered to Jesus Christ moves us to a higher level of faith and deeper confidence in the Lord so we are not easily moved. The tests and trials many times become tougher because we are stronger in the Lord. Jesus wants us to fully realize His Potential in us and live out that purpose that turns ashes into something beautiful and our mourning into dancing.

Mark 9:21-24 (NLT)

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.  “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

I am excited about this journey we are on. I cannot wait to do all the things we planned and experience all the things that the Lord has hidden for us in this visit to New Hampshire. I know it will be well worth the journey because it is my experience that whatever the Lord impresses us to do and we do by faith yields results we cannot fathom. I was tired last night from travelling. The journey was long and jet lag set in but with this morning came new mercy.

Life is a journey like traveling to a new place. It requires total faith and dependency of God to experience what confident hope has to offer that never ever leads to disappointment. Every trial and sorrow has the potential to lead to more faith and dislodge disbelief that joy killer and faith robber of life. There will always be areas from now until we step into Eternity that produce problems but these are opportunities in God’s Eyes to increase our faith and hope that allows us to experience the fulfillment of true redemption body, mind and spirit. What are you going through? Is it a trial? Are you experiencing sorrow? Jesus is saying that anything is possible for those who believe. Overcomes say, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Romans 4:16-20 (NLT)

So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

True Love – A Devotion

True Love

John 15:13 (NLT) There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

 

William Shakespeare said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” I stand in agreement with Mr. Shakespeare. Without being tested, how does one ever know that the love they have is valid, real and credible? It is the test of time that measures best as the winds of change come and go but the constant that remains is love. This is not always the case. The love stories that draw the greatest attention are those that contain a mix of tragedy. The struggle is real to that place called love but for those who ever really find it – there is nothing like it. I have found true love in my partner. My husband is my best friend. Love indeed covers a multitude of sins. It is the one thing that remains when everything else falls apart in our life. Faith, hope AND love are all that will remain. We must be sure that these things are in us to ever learn to depend on them. I can never love another until I truly discover that I am loved. God loves me. I am His Child. He created me to be this although I chose something else. Jesus loves me. He demonstrated His Love when He laid down His Life to die for my sins. The Word of God says that this is the greatest love of all. In His Desperate Need to be one with me, the Lord has given me His Spirit. He now lives inside of me. But is it true love?

In an effort to find the definition of true love, I “Googled” it. I came across an article that listed “21 Ways You Can Know What You Are Feeling is True Love.” I will not cover all 21 that were delineated but a few caught my attention:

  • You see something and instead of thinking how happy it would make you, you think about how happy it would make them.
  • You do not desire other people.
  • Their happiness means more than your own.
  • You are willing to give in on things that you would normally not compromise on.
  • You always want to listen to them.
  • Even when you do disagree or even fight, you don’t want to be mad at them.
  • They can come at you with anything and you won’t judge or condemn them.
  • You wake up happy just because you get to see them that day.

My husband makes me feel that way. My children make me feel that way, too. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I have a few friends that I feel the same way about too. It’s sad to think that the Lord intends all of our relationships to be true love yet we settle for just a few.

I John 4:18-19 (NLT)

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

 

Three years ago, I was wrapped up in my life. Stressed out and overcome by all the minute, insignificant details of life – I was a ticking time bomb. My priorities were out of place and I didn’t even know it. A friend of mine who coincidentally is a co-worker and I were discussing the first day that we met. It is so sad. I was completely consumed by my job and totally disappointed that the “new hire” was not one of the qualified candidate that had been interviewed and carefully selected. Instead, her department had been closed and at the last minute her position changed so that she would not lose her job altogether. There was no easy letdown. I was buried in work and now the light at the end of the tunnel blocked by this textbook editor who would now be immersed in the darkness of federal funding that loomed over my head. I didn’t even know if she could count and quite frankly didn’t care lost in my own world. Over the years, she not only has become my right hand at work, but one of my very best, closest and dearest friends in life. Long after I employment ends, we will still be friends. To hear her talk about how awful I treated her in the beginning breaks my heart. I am not the same person she met that day and she has been with me through the transition as ugly as it has been at times. She was there when our son was diagnosed and my world fell apart. It was her who has helped me keep my job even with prolonged absences due to our son’s illness. I truly love this person and I know she loves me. How does this happen when people can be such unlovable and selfish people?

I changed the day that I discovered perfect love. It wasn’t at the altar or even in a church. It wasn’t when I fell in love and got married. Even when I have fallen in love five times over with my precious children, my love for them is not perfect. I found perfect love in the greatest tragedy of my life and it has rebuilt my life into a beautiful love affair. When everything fell apart? Only faith, hope and perfect love remained. No one else could help me. No one else could fill that void of fear. No one else could soothe my pain or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. No one else could heal our son or heal me. Perfect love expels all fear. This will never happen until we discover how perfect the Lord’s Love for us really is. Many times it is in the revelation that no matter how much love we have in life, it means nothing until we find the true perfection of His Love for us. This is the kind of love that completes us so when natural love that we call true falls short, it will always remain.

This love that is called perfect can and will reshape every other relationship in our life. It is through this love that I see the potential of all other relationships in my life even those that my sinful nature could have driven apart, but perfect love kept its place until I was ready to allow the Lord to change my heart forever. Looking back, I cannot believe who I was back then or the validation I felt as that person when all along perfect love was calling me to greater relationships and friendships that my pride and ignorance almost wasted.

John 3:16-17 (NLT)

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

 

The concept of Eternal Life is based on three things – faith, hope and love. We have faith in Jesus Christ. We put all of our hope in Him and therefore live for the Lord. His Love encompasses our life completely perfecting every other relationship we have. God loved us so much that He gave His Only Son for us to have His Love. He wants us to live forever not limited. We are limited by our lack of love because His Love for us is unfathomable. This passage is not about escape but entrance. To simply use our salvation to escape death is pointless, when the potential is entrance to the Presence of God where perfect love really does exist. I cannot explain how it will change you because words cannot give it proper due. You have to experience the kind of faith, hope and love that exist forever to understand its true potential. However, we must lay down our own life to discover it.

Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)

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

 

There is a teenage girl who is currently undergoing treatment for the same kind of cancer that my son has been battling. Her family was already experiencing hardship as her mother was ending an abusive relationship with her father when she was diagnosed. When I first contacted her mom, the woman seemed so fragile and broken not just because of her child’s diagnosis but with life in general. But since that time, I am sensing a transformation. In the midst of what should be a vast wasteland a desert bloom is rising from the cracked hard ground of disappointment and devastation as a new confident and transformed creation blossoms in the Love of God by faith and confident hope that comes along with it. I recently have been in contact with another couple who are facing disastrous natural odds but choose to live in the supernatural. Newly married, the husband has been battling a brain tumor that in man’s eyes is winning. However, never before have I seen two people more confident in God’s Love for them even in the possibility that he may be going home soon. Their faith is God and His Plan not their own. It is amazing. It is love. It is true love convinced that nothing will ever separate them from God’s Love. What about the young couple whose bucket list for the baby gained national attention? Baby Shane came in this world for only a few hours. His entire life on the earth celebrated by loved ones. Due to anencephalic state, he probably never was able to process sensory perceptions of pain or the like, but this baby knew love! His family never put him down in the four hours that he lived loved ones poured constant love over this tiny baby. He came into this world surrounded by love and left it the very same way. Tragedy turned triumphant in love. I get it. I have experienced it the moment that I discovered the Love of God and its true potential and genuine reality in my life. It has changed me forever. I am convinced that nothing can every separate me from God’s Love. Death, life, fear and worry have no hold on my heart because the Love of God has consumed it entirely. I do not expect the circumstances of my life to change but I expect His Love to change me in my circumstances to move me closer, deeper and more aware of His Amazing Love.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

What will it take to find true love? Rest assured you will never find it in another person until you understand the perfect love that has been given to you by Jesus Christ as a Gift from God. When will I know it that I have found true love? I guess that really depends on you. I am a stubborn and prideful person who is intent on doing it all myself. It took a situation where I became powerless for His Grace to finally reach me. Once I discovered that there was more to His Love than I was experiencing – it became the ocean that Hillsong sings about. It is wider, longer, higher and deeper than anything that I could have ever imagined. Just when I think I have figured it out, His Love overwhelms me all over again. When I lost myself, His Love began to perfect my life. I am more satisfied now than ever before. I am happier than I have ever been. I am at peace even in the midst of great uncertainty and it is all because of His Love. Yesterday was our midweek church service, I didn’t go. I went to the gym instead. Don’t judge me. Sometimes you have to clear it out before you can clean it up. I usually listen to Pandora and some fast beat workout jam but “for some reason” the station would not load. After repeatedly trying, I laughed oh I get it now. I changed over to my playlist and found my favorite worship music. I realized in that moment that the Lord wanted some alone time with His Beloved (that’s me). My true love wanted to reaffirm His Great Love for me. He wanted to wipe away all those worries and fears that were accumulating on the doorstep of my mind pressing to come in. An hour seemed like minutes as faith, hope and love surrounded me. I am loved. I have found perfect love. It is true love.

I John 4:7-8 (NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Am I For Real? – A Devotion

Am I For Real

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

Is your faith genuine? Is it real? Is it manmade or God-Inspired? It is important to know if one is authentic in their relationship with Jesus Christ or simply practicing counterfeit religion. Imagine paying thousands of dollars for a diamond, then upon appraisal finding out it is just a piece of meticulously cut glass. Would you be upset? Would you demand your money back? Of course, you would. Christians struggle with the value of true salvation because they did not pay the price. It was not their son or daughter hanging on a Cross nailed by their hands and feet bloody and beaten that absorbed the high price of everyone’s sin so how could we possible comprehend the true value and exorbitant worth of such a sacrifice. It is no sacrifice for us at all but a gift given in unfailing love and overwhelming grace. No wonder we take God for granted. We did not pay the price so there is no cost to produce value in our life. It is up to you and I to get to know Jesus Christ and truly understand the price that was paid on the Cross for us. In doing so, we will begin to comprehend the vast love of God for His Beloved Children and the price that was paid for our salvation. This enables us to go through the trials of life in persistent pursuit of faith by fiery trial and claiming confident hope in our deepest desperation.

The word “synthetic” popped up in the news headlines today. A father on “synthetic” drugs murders his five children, drives them across several states in his SUV, and dumps their little bodies in the woods. I looked up the word “synthetic” in a vain attempt to distract my mind from something so heinous. Synthetic means manmade. It is a counterfeit reproduction of the real thing. It is not real or genuine instead artificial, feigned or counterfeit. This is the world in which we live. No longer willing to wait for anything – everything has a quick counterfeit. We do not want to wait on a meal so there are microwave meals. I don’t care what you say – you forsake taste for time saving substitutions every day. We do not want to endure the process so we create a substitution, but then do not understand why we cannot be satisfied. Life is a process. It is an opportunity to enter the process of faith that becomes confident hope. However, since it is not manmade but according to God’s Plan there are no substitutions even though we have tried to create some. Where are the genuine people today? The father in the headlines had never displayed any violence against his children and was described as a good father. He is not the only one who “has gone mad”. Every day the headlines express unthinkable acts of violence that once would only happen among strangers. Love is growing cold. The hearts of fathers have turned from the children. Sin is rampant. We need genuine faith if we will ever turn our hearts back to the Lord and receive His Inexpressible Joy once again. “He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (Luke 1:17) This is a part of the description of the life of the John the Baptist spoken to his father, Zechariah. I believe God is calling us to the commitment to Christ that John had before he even knew the Lord. He had not met the Lord face-to-face but called men and women to genuine faith demonstrated in authentic belief. The Holy Spirit calls us to the same today.

Job 2:2-4 (NLT)

“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life.

“A man would give up everything he has to save his life”. Would he now? If your life was required of you today, how far would you go to save it? If the one requiring it of you, promised you could live if you denied Christ would you do it? This is not meant to instill fear in the heart of anyone but allows us to examine the innermost parts of our heart if only in theory. Remember, Peter didn’t think he would give up on Jesus even offering to die with him. But when he was sitting in the courtyard with the other people, he denied the Lord not once or twice but three times. What about Job? First the enemy took everything that he had from him including all his children. Job was found to be a man of integrity with his heart set on God. So he asked for another go at the man physically – Job remained firm in his faith in the Lord. If you think for a second that the enemy stopped with Job, you are wrong. He is the accuser of the brethren just waiting for a crack at you and I. What will remain of our faith when a fiery trial consumes us? What will happen when our whole world falls apart and all that we have left is our hope in Christ? Job was found to be a man of integrity. What will our testimony be?

James 1:19-25 (NLT)

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Genuine faith is the product of a process. It is daily submitting our life to the power and authority of Jesus Christ choosing to turn our entire being over to the Lord accepting His Word, Will and Way as our directive. Faith in God requires something of us. It is not a spoken commitment but a life’s calling. Faith creates the foundation on which we live, breathe and move until Christ returns. It is developing a relationship not a religion. It is to look at the gift we have been given to appraise its value and worth. Only then will we consider the cost as we lay our life down at the foot of the Cross. Otherwise it is just like every other counterfeit that we have impatiently accepted rather than waiting for the real thing. The Word of God not only reveals God’s Love for all mankind pointing to Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith but tells us how to develop our faith into confident hope. It shows us how to live a life of authenticity that the world can see and follow as well. “Otherwise, you are fooling yourselves. You see yourself, walk away and forget what you look like.”

I have a confession to make. I have no idea what my natural hair color is. There may even be gray mixed in there after all these years. Somewhere in my thirties, I decided to “enhance” my natural color with synthetic hair dye which has continued into my late forties. I am really not that concerned and will continue to highlight and color my hair. But it has made me think of the man (or woman) in the mirror who looks back at me each day. Are there areas of my life that are not genuine? If you carefully look at the roots of my hair, you will begin to see the new growth of my hair. It is here that you see a hint of what color my hair really is. As a believer, this is how I determine just how genuine my faith is. Am I growing? What is my life producing for Christ? Is there any good thing coming from the harvests in my life? If not, Lord show me the areas of my life that lack spiritual integrity. Change me. Renew me. Restore me and revive me again by your Spirit! When hints of my natural color start to overcome my color, it’s time to get my hair dyed again. When my old nature begins to overtake the growth process of God in my life, it is time to be washed in the Word, and covered in His Blood once again. Rinse and repeat as many times as it takes to be genuine in faith and authentic in our hope. Finally, God make me more conscious of my inner man and the new creation that I am called to be then my outward appearance and momentary struggles.

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Pretend love is a real problem in the world we live in. Love has grown cold just as Jesus predicted and mankind is desperately in search of real love. Many are victims of love grown cold ranging from the heartbroken to those who have lost their lives at the hands of a loved one. It is a heinous representation of the work of the enemy which has caused us to pretend to love each other rather than really doing something with this great love given to us by Jesus Christ. The time has come to reevaluate the Body of Christ and discover real love all over again. Everything that Jesus Christ did for us was motivated by His Love for us. Anyone who tries to follow His Example without true love will fail. “Pure and genuine religion is caring for one another and refusing to let this world corrupt you.” (James 1:27) We have let the world into the church and it is time to bid it goodbye with all of its counterfeit and substitutions. It is time for real love to flow through the hearts and minds of believers once again attaching our life to Jesus Christ as we develop confident hope that is representative of true and genuine faith in God through His Son. We must be real in our commitment to the Lord and stop bringing Him what is left of our life rather than tying our lives to His Altar each new day. Only real and genuine faith in Christ allows us to live with Him forever.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

I will take this opportunity called today to examine my heart and mind for genuine faith. I will test myself to make sure that His Spirit is in control of my life and not my only sinful self. It is important to know that everything I do is in accordance with Jesus Christ not because I have to but it is my profound privilege to surrender my life to Him. I am free to live how I want but I choose to live in the shadow of the Cross. I want my faith to be memorable (2 Timothy 1:5) not because I have it but because Jesus gave it to me. It is the hope that I hold onto. I must strive to know what true love is. It is found only in faith in God through Jesus Christ. I have to know Him more…

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.