Overwhelmed to Overcomer

A close-up shot of a broken chain

Romans 8:37-38 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 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.

Overwhelmingly victorious – that’s us in Christ. Do you feel victorious today? Are you overwhelmed? Or are you an overcomer? Are you convinced? Convinced you are sinking fast? Or convinced the Lord will lift you up? Tis the season for the overwhelmed to experience the greatest of difficulties. Carefully laid traps along the way to snare our emotions, feelings and even suffocate us with exhaustion. It is time to stop defending our depression and disappointment and take a step over to the offense. We have the power to be overcomers in life. Not just in the big things, but in every detail. The Lord gives victory over our worries and cares to those who believe.

Neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s Love. The scripture seems like such a wide curve. We go from death to life straight to worries, cares, and feelings. We must overcome fear to circumvent doubt. Doubt can only exist where faith ceases to exist. If you have fears, cares, worries, burdens and stress today – you are not alone. The winter months are considered the most depressing time of the whole year. Add the holiday lists and enormous expectations put on each other and people are easily overwhelmed during a season of great celebration. The birth of Jesus changed everything. If we could only convince ourselves of that, maybe this season would be filled with overcomers not the overwhelmed.

Expectation adds weight. I expect that chair I am sitting in this morning to bear my weight. I have put my faith and trust in the cheap desk chair to hold me and not fold to the floor under the burden. During the holidays, expectations run high. Human expectation is put on one another. Impossible demands on our time. Suddenly our faith in God is displaced and put on the shoulders of ordinary men and women to make everyone’s dreams come true. Demands turn to debt in all shapes and sizes. What do you expect this holiday season? Who do you have you give your full expectation? If our full expectation is not on Jesus Christ, then the substance of our faith has been compromised. Given to a lesser thing that is not able to render full satisfaction and the abundant life promised by the Lord. What is the substance of your faith today? Or should I say, “Who?”

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.”

Many times, people decide only to take “big” things to a Big God. Yet, He is interested in every facet of our life. Every day, moment, second and breath – the Lord is with us turning the details into good things for us. (Romans 8:28) Our inability to give every burden, care and worry to the Lord is a detriment to us. He will perfect all that concerns us (Psalm 138:8) – our only responsibility is to trust Him more. The Lord was quite transparent – here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. I think sometimes we forget that part and jump over the “but” to “I have overcome the world.” You are an overcomer and there will be many opportunities to exercise our faith in the realm of impossibilities called trials and sorrows. You cannot find peace until you understand uncertainty. You cannot have faith until you overcome doubt. Trusting God requires believing Him at His Word.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NLT) Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.

Who? Those who fear (respect) the Lord and delight in obeying His Commands. “Such people will not be overcome by evil…) Yes, to be overcome by evil can be sin. What if it also means the lie of the enemy that leads to anxiety and fear, too? What if the Lord is warning us here of the carefully laid trap of feelings and emotions. The Word says that God is greater than our feelings. Please God take hold of my emotions, wrap them in Your Word today so that I may do Your Will at all times. The rules and regulations of the Bible are for the religious. The instructions in God’s Word are for His Children and those who live in a loving relationship with Him.

Psalm 119:133 says, “Guide my steps with your word so I will not be overcome by evil.” Feed your soul today. Give the Spirit of God something to nourish your spirit man. Fill your mouth with praise. Empty your hands long enough to lift your hands in worship. The relationship you have with Jesus Christ is not a religion it is the role of beloved. He wants to help you carry the load called life. He will take your burdens and turn them into blessings. We must only believe. Funny, that we plaster this word all over the place during the holidays but seldom take the time to truly live it accordingly.

“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!” (Mark 9:23-24) Before getting overwhelmed in the days and demands ahead, take a moment to ask the Lord to help overcome unbelief. Jesus Christ overcame the world. (Period) There is nothing you will face today that can defeat you. There is nothing you do today that is not marked by success. God already promised to supply your need and released every spiritual blessing in your life so be generous. Confidence is born of trust. You will never be confident in someone or something left untried. Test the Lord. Try Him at His Word. Believe. He can handle it.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (NLT) But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The Will of God for you is to overcome fear, stress, worry and doubt today. The Lord desires nothing more than to move you from overwhelmed to be an overcomer. To overcome means to overpower and overwhelm that which is trying to do the same to you. It means to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty. It means to be immovable. We must fortify our faith by investing trust as seeds of success in our everyday life. The roots of a tree do not stop growing until faced with a limitation. I have trees in pots that hardly grow because they have reached the limit set by the container. My yard is filled with trees of all kinds. The roots have been growing for years without limit as the treetops tower high in the sky. How big is your God today? Have you placed a limit on His Power by limiting the space of your heart? He wants to make you strong and immovable ready to thrive and prosper in this life. We have victory over sin, death and the grave so what is there to lose. We have been given His Promise that He has overcome the world for us so we do not ever have to be overwhelmed again! God even goes so far as to promise that we can enthusiastically work for Him and nothing we do will ever be in vain. We will always be successful.

Success in Jesus is prosperity of our soul that works its way into our life. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take a deep cleansing breath. Breathe out every worry, care and fear you have been holding on to. Breathe in His Spirit. Whisper His Promises. Let the Lord love on you today. He will never ever let you down. The Lord is with you always even to the ends of the earth. We just have to get to the end of self and trust Him more.

Isaiah 61:10-11 (NLT) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

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Mountains Out of Molehills

Mountains Out Molehills

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) Let us than approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith is the confidence that a believer has in God’s Word for their life. God’s Word came to us – His Name is Jesus Christ. The Word of God wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love for us in living color. He died for our sins, tore the veil giving us access to His Presence so that it is our privilege to approach “God’s Throne of Grace” with confidence. Faith without confidence is not faith at all by definition. To attempt to become a Child of God outside of faith is futile. You must believe. You must do away with the doubt that creates insecurity, fear and anxiousness about our relationship with God. Christ cannot live, breathe, move in us somehow miraculously changing us into a new creature outside of faith that believes, trusts and therefore obeys the Word. We could stop there and have enough meat to chew on for a week in our Christian walk. However, the Lord will not leave us with leftovers but always provides new manna and fresh water for His People.

With this in mind, I was listening to a brief video sent to me on Twitter. The mentor referenced the report of the ten spies who went to survey the Promised Land before the Israelite people would enter. The word given to me sunk deep in my heart and began to take root. The spies came back affirming that God had indeed led them to the land of milk and honey – the Lord did exactly as He promised so far but…there were giants in the land. Acquisition would be a problem. They would have to overcome them to take the promise. What giant are you facing today? Is it doubt? Fear? Anxiety? Insecurity? Low self-esteem? A lack of faith? No confidence? Pride calls doubt so many lesser names but the reality of doubt is that it stops faith completely because faith must have confidence to be faith at all.

Numbers 13:30-33 (NIV) Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Caleb and the others brought back fruit from the land and confirmed it was plentiful and prosperous. Then they added the word that nullifies everything beforehand…”but”. The people who live there are powerful. They were referring to the Nephilim. Nephilim were giants. Not just men of tall stature but believed to be fallen angels who created a race of super humans in that time. Not only were these guys big, but powerful beyond their physical strength in the eyes of the Israelites. The bad report spread more quickly than the praise report that God had brought them to the place of promise. Definitive words in their reports such as “we can’t”, “all” were of great size, and probably the most damaging…”we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” Their self-confidence shattered by comparison revealed a trust problem far greater than the giants they would face. In fact, it was their own report that made a mountain out of a molehill and raised up giants all around them.

There is always one crazy believer in God’s success stories in the Bible. The one man or woman who says not on my watch. Not today, devil. I believe God. I am going to trust the Lord. And it usually a solo effort. Moses, Noah, Jacob, Daniel, David, Peter and Paul just to name a few. Not the mightiest men or those of the greatest integrity – God called them because they believed. Caleb silenced the people when he spoke these words of faith, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” As usual, the bad report spread much faster than his report.

Whose report do you believe today? God brought you through the fire unharmed, the rough waters just fine, and has led you up to your promise – will you go for it? What do you have to lose? So many times, when the journey is long and hard the moment of truth comes and the lie of the enemy keeps us on the verge of breakthrough because somehow we forget it was never about our power, strength or energy. It was God’s Plan from the beginning and He will carry us through to the end. The Children of Israel had taken their eyes off God and began evaluating their progress and promise through natural eyes. They obviously couldn’t do it. Confidence in self will not produce the purpose God put inside of you to be accomplished by faith. It is by faith that our life pleases God and makes His Plan successful.

I Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV) David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Are you a giant builder or a giant killer? Do you make mountains out of molehills? The whole Israelite army had been camped on the side of the mountain enduring the taunts and threats of Goliath. He was backed by an army but one man held them at bay. Who will kill the giant? There was a reward. David came with a directive from his earthly father – take your brothers food and bring me back a report of their welfare. David did not set out on the journey to kill a giant but simply to do the will of his father. When he arrived, he saw the cowering soldiers and heard the threats of the giant. His response to the report he received was not like most people. David had faith in God more than man even a giant man. What about you?

David didn’t realize that what seemed like a mundane task would be a defining moment in his life. His brothers mocked him. Saul tried to change him into a soldier. In the end, David stayed true to himself. His confidence not in his stature, strength or prowess but simply in God who He loved with all his heart. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty.” By faith, David killed the giant that day with a slingshot and smooth stone. He did not build the giant with fear or add mass to the mountain of doubt, but simply came against his adversary with total and complete faith in God. His victory that day was with purpose that would flow into today. The battle belongs to the Lord. He will give it all into your hands. If you believe this enough to receive it, nothing will ever be marked impossible in your life again.

Zechariah 4:6-7 (NIV) So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”

By comparison, you may feel like a grasshopper but there is a giant slayer in all of us. Confidence in God begins by believing His Word and trusting His Spirit. Faith is confidence. It cannot be changed or redefined according to our willingness or ability. Faith is confidence in the unseen reality of the Promises of God for His People beginning with salvation moving forward to prosperity. Miracles must be marked impossible. Healing comes through illness and infirmity. Deliverance is packaged in bondage. Freedom is for the captive. Faith grows when our trust in God becomes greater than the “giants” and “mountains” in our life. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit – the Spirit of the Living God lives in us. He is the giant killer and mountain leveler in us who gives us overwhelming victory and glorious triumph when we walk by faith and not by sight. Is there a giant before you today? Is the mountain too big? Faith and confidence in the Living God who lives in you will knock both of these down in your life if you choose to believe. Don’t let the give the giant the strength of your confidence. Do not let doubt in your heart become words of discouragement adding to the substance of the mountain. Instead, grab hold of the Word of God for your life. Speak it over your life, dead dreams and far off future. Seek to do His Will. Plan on His Promises being the reality of your life. Stop believing every bad report and spreading it around. Stand your ground. You have overcoming power and overwhelming victory locked inside you. Let it out.

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Desire & Destination

Desire and Destination

I Corinthians 12:31 (NIV) Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Our desire will lead to a destination. Desire defines our drive, dictates our dedication and decides our destination every single time. Desire is not an opinion but an inner force of combined thoughts that become our attitude and actions. Desire is a strong feeling. A feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. God has a desire. His Desire has a face. It is your face and mine. God desires people. To create an everlasting Kingdom of those He loved first and still loves the most.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” (Plato) Our attitude and actions first formed deep within us are motivated and mastered by sin. Our flesh knows no other way until introduced to the better more excellent way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is by way of Jesus that humanity is reconciled to God through His Grace that is always enough. To know the Way is not enough – even demons know the Name of Jesus and tremble at it. However, to the Way and decide to follow Him is a new thing altogether. Our destination is decided by our desire. Desire dictates our drive. Desire is the motivation for dedication. When we desire anything other than Christ, it leads to dissatisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NIV)  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

The Lord loved Solomon. In I Kings 3, King Solomon was faithful to the Lord God and so God offered Him anything. Solomon chose wisdom and a discerning heart. I wonder how the same person who was so invested in serving God would come to such a place as Ecclesiastes 2. At this point in his life, “everything was meaningless.” His desire and drive made him successful. He denied himself nothing that his eyes could see. Maybe if he had heard Paul’s warning that all things are permissible not all things are beneficial. When he surveyed his success, all that his hard work had achieved – he found it all meaningless. He had gained the world and lost his soul. Anytime that our life prospers without soulful participation – life becomes meaningless. The purpose and plan of God that leads to fulfillment cannot be achieved apart from Him.

Mark 4:18-20 (NIV)  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Overcoming doubt in our life is accomplished by faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Seeds of faith planted by the Word have various results. Seeds sown among the thorns hear the word and maybe even believe it but quickly the “worries of life”, “deceitfulness of wealth” and “desires for other things” literally choke the word and it does not bear the fruit it was intended to. This was King Solomon’s dilemma. God was true to His Word and gave the king exactly what he asked for. However, his human desires overtook his desire for the Lord and well we see what happened in Ecclesiastes 2. It happens to us all. God blesses us and then our desire overtakes our desire for the Living God and well you know the rest of the story. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:17-19)

Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

We must master our desires and place them fully into Christ. The mountain you are facing marked doubt will not move until the very thing you desire is Jesus Christ. Why would God move a mountain if the everlasting was not waiting on the other side. The Lord has placed His Spirit in us to cultivate the fruit that leads to everlasting life and hope that never disappoints. Are we using these gifts for righteousness sake or do we simply desire the Hand of God? Are we after His Heart in the process? The things of this world will pass away. Our life in Christ is eternal. It is the admission point of eternity. Jesus died to give us access to His Kingdom. His Father will not give us the things that might block our entrance. His Grace is enough to endure our wrath of unmet expectation. “Desire increases when fulfillment is postponed.” Maybe the mountain is not moving because secretly you desire something different than Christ? Is it possible to know the Lord but not desire Him? Absolutely.

The Spirit of the Living God will lead you to life and peace. Feeding our flesh starves our soul. Feeding our soul, likewise, starves the flesh. The Fruit of God’s Spirit changes our appetite for the things of this life as eternal life becomes a reality. Suddenly, all the things we wanted, needed and desire change to one thing – Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Psalm 145:13-16 (NIV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. (Unknown) Are you satisfied with your life today? Are you struggling with unmet expectation? King Solomon had it all according to earthly success yet found life to be meaningless. How many of the rich and famous who appear to have it all end their life due to depression, discouragement and distress that the world could not see for the notoriety of fame and influence of wealth? Life outside of Christ is preset and predetermined. Sin produces death. Our life in Christ must become more than just knowing His Name but we must desire the Lord. He desires a relationship with us. His Hand opens with His Heart. His Hand will not open outside of an established relationship or risk losing us forever. His Desire is for us so He will do nothing to keep us from Him even if that means withholding what we ask of Him.

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” You were born to be part of an everlasting kingdom yet arrived in a temporary world. The Lord is trustworthy and true. He created you with purpose. You have a handwritten plan prerecorded for your good. The only investment you make in your future is faith. Faith in God’s Love. Faith in God’s Son. Faith in God’s Grace. Faith in God’s Promises. It is all about living a life of faith that overcomes doubt in every area of our life. This is when the mountain will move and be cast in the sea. The very moment our heart’s desire is for the Lord and Him alone. God will then open His Hand and satisfy our desire.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NIV) With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ

WWJD?

WWJD

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Remember the Christian trend several years ago, “What would Jesus do?” The question posed everywhere from colorful silicone bracelets to bumper stickers. I wonder what happened to all the paraphernalia. You don’t see it much anymore. I wonder if anyone still seeks the answer or was it just another fad. The Word of God tells us to imitate Him. To strive to make the same choices and live by the same moral code. Society has made church a culture. Churches have turned to conformity rather than embracing real transformation. There is more to life than just repentance. God did not create us to just get by but to prosper, live in abundance and thrive. His People should be influential with the kind of character that is attractive not reactive. I wonder if the simple question posed decades ago might just be a relevant one today. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would not be religious. He would not live a pious existence of judgement. He would extend His Love just as broad and wide as when he stretched out His Arms to die on the Cross to save us. He would continue to rejoice from every lost one who is found yet still seek to live in love from that day on. He would forgive seventy times seven and once more if needed. The example of Jesus Christ is not defined by doctrine. Religion is not his idea. Relationship is the pursuit of our Lord and Savior. A love as strong as death…jealousy as demanding as the grave…so passionate it is as consuming as a flame. When you love like that it transforms you. It makes your desires and passions one with the object of your attention and affection. You seek to please your true loves. Those who matter most you would stop at nothing to live in love with them.

Do not be conformed to this world…   

How do I know the difference between conformation and transformation? Why is it so important? Religion seeks to conform you. It sets a standard of rules and regulations in place to create order to its body. This is not a bad thing and in fact necessary to create agreement and harmony within a congregation. But it is not enough to complete the transformation process. In fact, it can even hinder or limit the complete work the Lord is attempting in our life.

Religion often leads to conformation. To conform is to act in accordance to or in harmony with or compliance. The doctrine is the prevailing standard, attitude, practice of the group. This is an outward change in actions or appearance. Conformation as a Christian can be fatal. To change outwardly but not be transformed inwardly can create the idea of true repentance without ever truly experiencing such a marvelous encounter with the Living God. Society set the precedence as it is human nature to want to fit in with the group. Unquestioning a soul wanders into church and if able to blend in effectively may never know there is more to life in Christ than a religion and never enter a real relationship with their Savior.

Relationship will transform you. A relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated by His Spirit living in a holy inhabitation of our life. The Lord seeks intimacy with you and me apart from any other human being. It is personal. It requires a willingness to invest all of who we are and accept all of who He is. Redemption provides the provision of power to instill godliness in us. It is the means of transformation. Transformation changes our thoughts which leads to formulating. It changes our purpose which proceeds our actions. It changes our actions which are character determining habits. Salvation is the acceptance of new life. The transformation process is not something that can be faked or replicated. It is a change of heart that is undeniable. As our soul prospers so does our life.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Willingness is the key to relationship. A true love relationship is willingness of two parties to become one together. This is in all loving relationships such as marriage, family and friends. In Christ, it is extended to all people even our enemies. When a believer tries to live the commands of the Bible in their own power and strength it is impossible. Our conflicting nature is contrary to the Word, Will and Way of God because is the death of flesh. Jesus gave us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit needed to feed our soul, mind and body and nurture our relationship with the Father. He even gives us self-control. This is the power to be transformed. It is not what I do but what Christ does in me. It may not be evident on the outside because it is working its way out of me. I can change bad habits and make better choices. This is conformation. The transformation comes when all my attitudes and actions are based on my love for Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Titus 3:4-6 (NKJV) But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The kindness and love of God demonstrated in the giving of His Son. I can never be righteous apart from Jesus Christ. God’s Mercy and Grace are the power of salvation. The power of transformation is acceptance and willingness to be changed from the inside out by His Love and Kindness. I wonder what impact it would have on the modern day church if we took off the masks of conformation and revealed the work in progress. What if rather than acting like Jesus somebody tried to live like Him? Jesus broke all the rules of religion to have a real relationship with you and me. We prove what is good, acceptable and the Perfect Will of God not in our pious attitudes and rightness but our ability to demonstrate His Love, Grace and Kindness in every situation. To live a higher standard of humility and love that demonstrates the Character of God no matter how we are mistreated or conditions one might be facing. Jesus poured out His Spirit abundantly in us so that His People will be genuinely regenerated and renewed by Him. To effect a change that no one can do on their own. Driven by passion and love that asks in every situation, “What would Jesus do?” because you love Him too much not to do it.

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… 

To be practical in this application, one might ask so what do I do to facilitate this process. Well, the good news is that Jesus already did it. You must be confident that Christ is doing a good work enough to invest yourself in the process. Study. Pray. Praise. Worship. Everyday. Jesus is the Word and this is how you work on the relationship. Willingness to change is absolutely essential. When you feel the urge or nudge to reach out, give or give grace to another – simply do it. These are the baby steps to allowing Christ to work in us and through us. Allowing what He is doing in us to leak out on others. You must make the commitment to stay in this relationship no matter what. Never back down. Never give up. Never walk away. But if you do, remember His Grace is more than enough to successfully continue the journey. You are greatly and dearly loved and desired by Jesus. He will not stop even if you do.

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For me to live is Christ…

Less than Perfect

Less than Perfect

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mom guilt. I struggle with it from time to time. I feel like my kids deserve more of time. Wife guilt. I want to be a good wife. To meet all my spouse’s expectation and earn a good reputation at the gate as the Proverbs 31 woman. Ministry guilt. Why am I struggling to begin this new call on my life? I usually charge in headfirst without a care or fear of failure. What about all those times when I feel insignificant? Unqualified? Undeserving? Am I alone? Do you struggle with imperfection? Do you wonder why your life or ability to perform doesn’t seem to make the cut?

I am not perfect. In fact, so far from it I cannot even perceive it. Yet God’s Word says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How is that even possible? Religious doctrine will give you an out. A carefully constructed list of do’s and don’ts based on the expectation of others who are probably not doing any of the listed items either. My imperfection and flawed character is not a hopeless situation but an opportunity for God to do something miraculous. We must decide what perfection looks like in the eyes of the Father in order to properly examine our own heart and mind for evidence it exists.

Matthew 5:48 (AMP) You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Amplified Bible gives a brief description of what it might mean to “be perfect”. To grow into spiritual maturity both in mind and character while actively integrating godly values into your daily life. God doesn’t have a long list of character traits. The Word of God is careful instruction with a waiver called grace that allows us to be imperfect. We get so caught up sometimes in all the “things” Christians aren’t supposed to do, saying everything Christians are supposed to say, and acting like saved folk should that we miss the real life-changing endeavor that molds and shapes our character to be just like our Father in Heaven.

Ephesians 5:1 (AMP) Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]…

To be perfect is to imitate God. To be like Him. Oh no big deal! I thought it would be much more difficult than being like God…(sarcasm intended). It seems impossible to do so primarily because man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks inside the heart. (I Samuel 16:7) He sees the contents of a man’s heart and decides that’s the one for me. Think of all the failures in the Bible who went on to be mighty men and women of God. Imperfect in their choices, rebellious in their decisions, reckless in their ways, yet in the end God molded and shaped their character into exactly who He created each one to be so they would take their place in history for our benefit.

God is love. “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]” I John 4:8 God has given us perfect love. His Intent is to love us so His Mercy meets us with each coming day. (Lamentations 3:22-24) His Love would not stop at my sin, but overflows with grace that is enough to cover it and allow me to live in close fellowship with Him again. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Even in my weakness, I am given His Power. Perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18) The fear that produces doubt and insecurity about the Love that God has for us is dissolved in the Truth that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

The word “perfect” comes from Teleios which means the end or finished product. The presence of Jesus Christ within us completes us. His Spirit works inside of us to produce a finished product. The perfection that God is after is simple – perfection in God is love.

The emphasis in the command to “be perfect” is not on flawless moral nature but to have an all-inclusive love that seeks the good of all. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God with a purpose that no one else can accomplish. (Psalm 139) He has scripted a plan with a future and hope of good and not evil for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) The secret to that life is to seek Him wholeheartedly. It is more about identifying with the Love of God that will not allow us to love others less that matures us from the inside out.

Colossians 4:12 (AMP) Epaphras, who is one of you and a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [He is] always striving for you in his prayers, praying with genuine concern, [pleading] that you may [as people of character and courage] stand firm, [spiritually mature] and fully assured in all the will of God.

Epaphras is noted as someone who was “always striving” for others in his prayer life. He prayed with “genuine concern.” He was pleading for those on the brink of giving up or giving in. He was pulling for them rather than pushing them over the edge. He was noted as spiritually mature and absolutely confident in God’s Love, His Word and His Will. I believe that perfection in Jesus Christ is full acceptance of His Love to the degree that it is enough to lavish on others. His Love becomes who we are.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11) Is there a reason this scripture is in the “love” chapter of the Bible by chance? God is love. His Divine Character manifested and magnified in us is His All-Consuming Passion for us. His Love is endless and unconditional. Perhaps, our inability to be perfect is to keep us in a place of humility. Looking for love and giving love off as a beacon. Brokenness makes room for togetherness. It binds people together. When all the personal agendas are removed, personal interests are set aside, and people start loving people – it makes beauty from ashes.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

What if the only way to achieve perfection is to become one? What if completion is only possible by incorporating the members of the Body of Christ into one functioning, living, breathing unit rather than the splintered sections it has become? What if to be perfect means loving each and striving for one another?

Love is the constant factor. It is the standard of living that believers are called to. Not just any kind of love, but a love so deep and abiding that it is needed to breathe. God’s Love infiltrates every dark place in us producing light glorious light. The more we accept God’s Love for us – the more we have to draw from. God loves you. He loves me. I am insignificant or small in His Eyes – but complete lacking no good thing. The more confident I become in God’s Love for me the more consistent I will be in loving others. His Love changes us from the inside out. Faith grows fruit that gives us an offering for others contradictory to the “what’s-in-it-for-me” world that we live in. My war against the flesh begins to take a turn when love dictates my life and not my emotions or feelings. God lives in me. The enemy wants me to believe that I am nothing, insignificant, unimportant and most of all unloved. It is simply not true. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down. Jesus did that for me. His Love is for me and it will never let me down. I may be less than perfect but the Love of God is working to perfect me day by day so I will rest in His Promise that He will perfect all that concerns me (Psalm 138:8) starting with love. If perfection in God is defined by love, I have the opportunity in each moment with each encounter to be made perfect when I choose love.

I love my family. My husband, my children and even my grandchild yet to be born. Maybe I am a more perfect wife and mother than I thought. Not because I do not make mistakes but because the presiding factor in these relationships is true love. I would most certainly lay down my life for any of them – in a heartbeat. I have friends who I love, too. What if I am evaluating my worth by the wrong standard? Jesus thought I was to die for. God thought I was worth being so He created me. I am imperfectly perfect in the parameters of God’s Love.

I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Hidden Snare

Hidden Snare

Proverbs 29:25 (NIV) Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Fear is a snare. It is a trap that keeps us from the safety and security of peace. It swallows up copious amounts of time with stress, worry and anxiety rather than love, peace and joy. Fear of anything other than the Lord does not produce a single thing of worth in our life but robs us of precious minutes. “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27) I wonder if the psalmist in Psalm 25 was talking about fear when he wrote, “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:14-15)

The enemy wants to convince you today that God doesn’t love his people unconditionally. He tries to convict us with lies and half-truths using the Word of God in a twisted and tainted fashion. Religion concocts remedies to keep pride alive and the façade of control while people are ravaged by such antidotes. Fear of man…or anything else for that matter will prove to be a snare for God’s People. Faith is the only thing that can overcome fear. It comes at the price of seeing to believe. It is a radical form of trust in a Living God who is not perceived by our senses but known by our heart.

Job 1:6-11 (NIV) One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 2:3-4 (NIV) Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 

The “even-ifs” of life are those moments when despite trial, trouble or tragedy, hope remains steadfastly anchored in God alone. Job experienced times like this. He lost everything of value and worth including his children in a single day. The next day, after proving his love and devotion to the Lord – his body afflicted. The Lord allowed it. We know in the end God restored Job and gave him a double portion blessing but oh what a price he paid in the fire of refinement. Maybe you remember three Hebrew men – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

“But even if he does not, we want you to know…we will not serve other gods.” Our confidence in God must grow to larger than our fear of other things. Even if He (the Lord) does not, we will not serve another. Such confident trust that even in death, our complete and absolute trust is in the Lord. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we must make it through today.

Some points of interest in Job’s Account is that Satan went before the Lord in the heavenlies. God is fully aware of the enemy and his earthly activities. Secondly, the enemy asked for permission to tempt the man of God. Why in the world would the Lord allow such a thing? My faith in the Lord must be genuine. When the hedge of protection is secure and everything is going good, it isn’t that hard to be faithful to the Lord. However, when all hell breaks loose in our life, what happens next is true revelation. Even if, God doesn’t deliver me what will I do about it?

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

You are a child of the Living God. You have every reason to live a fearless life. However, total faith in the absence of fear does not exempt you from fiery trials. In fact, it turns up the furnace seven times hotter. True repentance should produce real faith. Faith that withstands trial, trouble or even tragedy is real and genuine. It is said to be more valuable than gold. The Spirit of God gives us liberty from fear, worry, stress and anxiety but it is up to the individual the role taken in life. The sons and daughters of God are not in bondage. There is no enslavement for Christ but rather servanthood as His Beloved. Who the Son sets free is free indeed – first and foremost from fear that hinders our faith. But can we say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Romans 8 goes on to say…

Romans 8:28 (NIV)  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Are you wondering today – how can any good come from this? Why would God allow such a thing to happen to me? Where is He when I need Him most? Fear whispers such terrible lies but the Truth God is with us. His Word will not return to Him void which includes this one. He will never let the righteous fall. I could go on and on with the Truth that refutes the lie of the enemy challenging the Sovereignty and Constancy of God.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Perfect love drives out fear. (I John 4:18) The more we seek to know the Lord and His Word, the less likely it is that we will fall for the lies, traps and snares of the enemy. The Light of His Love illuminates our way so that we can overstep and bypass them. The Promise is that we are more than conquerors so even if we must fight the good fight of faith there is nothing to fear. We win. We will be victorious simply because Christ overcame the world. He is our Beloved who gives us victory after victory. There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. What can make us depart from it today? Usually fear is focused in that area, the thing that we just cannot seem to trust God with. Is it your family? Your finances? Your future? Whatever it is should be evident to you. It is the place where fear constantly challenges your faith. Where you feel the least hope and struggle with confidence in God. It is the place where the enemy lays his most intricate traps and seeks the Lord’s permission to challenge you on a regular basis.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

His Grace is enough! It is always sufficient. Grace gives us access to God’s Power. You have the power to overcome the enemy including every lie he tries to feed you today. Do not feed your fears. Let God’s Word feed your faith today. His Love is unconditional. You can never blow it with God in a way that cannot be overcome by His Grace. His Power is always available to us. His Love for us complete without our contribution. Finally, self-discipline is the key to overcoming fear each day. We have God’s Spirit alive and well on the inside of us. It is up to us if He will be in control of our mind, will and emotions today. Will I allow God’s Spirit to stir my faith and build strong confidence in Christ or will I let fear take over? I choose faith today. How about you? Lord, reveal all my fears to me today so that I may strive to apply faith to them. Every snare, trap and lie the enemy has laid before me so by faith I can leap over them into Your Waiting Arms. Let me live fearlessly in love with You!

You unravel me with a melody…You surround me with a song… Of deliverance from my enemies…’Til all my fears are gone. I’m no longer a slave to fear…I am a Child of God!

Heart’s Desire

Hearts Desire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen and amen!

Never Too Far

Never Too Far

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 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.

Today I will drive a little over four hours to get on an airplane. The plane will take off and fly about another three hours to Boston, Massachusetts. At the airport, our beautiful daughter and son-in-law will pick me up to drive another hour or so to New Hampshire arriving at their home. Thankfully this will probably be my last trip to visit her as she and her husband will soon turnaround and drive 21 hours or more back to our hometown. It seems like a long journey will all the driving and flying today but it really doesn’t seem like much to me. The thought of spending the next few days with her makes it all worth it. As I contemplated the time and distance which may seem like a crazy investment for a long weekend, I began to think about the Father’s Love. That’s really what is making me embark on this journey. Other than these two kids and the little one on the way, there is nothing that New England has that would make me want to sacrifice time and money to seek out.

This beautiful prayer of the apostle, Paul, reminds me today that God’s Love for me goes the distance. He has used every bit of His Glorious and Unlimited Resources not even withholding His Own Son to show His Love for me. He has pursued me with unconditional love, amazing grace and overwhelming goodness for more than fifty years whether I was aware of it or not. As a parent, it is easy to feel taken for granted sometimes. Imagine how our Father must feel when His Beloved Children wander off, rebel, settle for lesser things or fall for the enemy’s lies. His Grace empowers us to know the power of His Love and live in it each day. Though it feels as though we are drifting in busyness, trials or even weariness, Christ in us working through us to convince us according to His Spirit that He loves us. The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us that nourish our soul and strengthen our bond with Jesus. The ultimate goal is that the Lord can convince us of the vastness of His Love. To know and understand the width, length, height and depth of His Love and Affection for us. To experience such love exceeds all understanding. To know such love transcends time, trouble, and even tragedy. The Father is going the distance to show His Love for us.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

As I prepare for my trek to visit our daughter, I am wonderfully aware of God’s Unfailing Love today. It pursues us. His Goodness is always within arm’s reach just a whisper away. The Lord lives in us because He desires intimacy with us. Romans 5:7-9 tells me that while I was still a sinner that Christ died for me so we could become one again. There is no condemnation in Christ. (Romans 8:1) When I don’t get it right or fail due to human weakness, His Grace is ALWAYS enough to cover the distance I have created. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Maybe, just maybe, the distance between us and our Heavenly Father can be foreclosed if we would simple turnaround to find Him right there behind us. God’s Love and Goodness is not based on my ability to perform but complete in the performance of Christ which provided the grace I needed to receive it. Nothing more and nothing less. The Father loves you. He loves me. Just like the dad of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for our return. He wants to embrace us. Fully restore us. Spend time with us. Do life with us. He is a Good Father. There is no distance too far that the Cross cannot reach. You will never be too far from Him for God is always closing the distance with His Mercy. It is new every morning as an invitation to those who will respond.

Luke 15:20-24 (NLT) “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

 

Walk Uprightly

Walk Uprightly

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

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

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

Walk uprightly…

Grace

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

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

Favor

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

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

Honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catch 22

Change

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Christians live in a daily process of change. Those who truly believe and turn to Jesus Christ cannot remain the same and in a relationship with Christ. The evidence of Jesus in us is that we become a new person. The old life is passing away giving way to the new lift that has begun. To be yoked to the Lord means accepting His Way. Therefore, in order to become one with Christ, we must be the ones who accept the new way of life and thinking because He cannot and will not change to conform to our way. There is not a believer out there who would openly admit that they do not want all of Christ but few engage and endure the process necessary to be successful in such an endeavor. When change begins to take place, it usually produces inner turmoil, discomfort, inconvenience and things appear to be out of control. Our flesh and inner being is not okay with it and rebels against it. The human tendency is to escape rather than fully engage in the process of revival, restoration and renewal that the Lord is producing in us to secure the conditions of our present environment. There are many reasons that the church is not thriving mostly intrinsic. The Presence and Power of God is available to us but the catch 22 is called change.

Romans 7:22-24 (MSG) It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The paradox of humanity is the war within our bodies. The inner being called our flesh likes to have its own way and preserve its place of control. God’s Spirit moves in and begins mixing things up. The flesh dies a little each day. It must give way to the change God is producing unless we allow it to maintain full control. Mind, will, emotions and even our body chime in against what the Lord is doing in us. The rebels rise up and if our heart does not stand strong against them – our process remains incomplete. Frustration and discouragement set in.

The Lord uses a process called transformation. He does not use conformation but we must be transformed by Christ. This means change. Change so comprehensively complete that it changes who we are, how we think and what we do. There is no compromise in God’s Vocabulary. He is God. God is not human. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) God is everlasting. He is the Creator of all things. He does not grow tired or weary. His Understanding is endless. (Isaiah 40:28) His Thoughts and Ways are nothing like a human being. He is perfect in all of His Ways. When He speaks, His Words are on a mission and will not return to Him until that command is complete. (Isaiah 55:8-11) The ordination of our life including His Plans (Jeremiah 29:11) handwritten before our birth (Psalm 139:16) even the calling the Lord has placed on our life cannot be withdrawn or recanted. (Romans 11:29) He said it and He meant it.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning God’s Unconditional Love and Affection for us is eternal. The constancy of God includes His Great Love for us. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He loved us first. (I John 4:19) He loves us most. He will love us always. His Mercy given to us each new day is evidence of this very thing. (Lamentations 3:22-24) He pursues us through life with goodness and unfailing love all the days of our natural life. (Psalm 23:6) His Son, Jesus, bears the same qualities and traits. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) His Example is set and clearly delineated in the Word of God with an invitation to yoke our life with Him. (Matthew 11:28-29) Every detail of our life has the potential to turn out for our good and God’s Glory based on all these foundational truths and promises concerning God’s Unchangeable Character. (Romans 8:28) He does not change like a shifting shadow. The sun casts a shifting shadow moving according to the natural conditions. However, the Son never changes. God has sent good and perfect gifts for His People including the ability to have a new life and become a new creation. Our flesh dies in the process therefore tries to abort it quickly to save itself.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Romans 7:25 (MSG) The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Change is inevitable to achieve a new life, become a new creation and experience godly fulfillment that leads to full satisfaction and contentment in Jesus Christ. Our flesh creates a paradox. Our body, mind, will and emotions are sinful and contradictory to God’s Way. The problem is that God will not change. He will not compromise for you, me or anyone else. He will settle for nothing less than His Best for us. He refuses to leave us in our current state or condition but must see our purpose and potential fulfilled. This is all because of His Love and Goodness. We are His Passion, Prize and Treasure. He will stop at nothing to bless and prosper our life. Even when we whine, complain and give in to the flesh when our body doesn’t like the change the Holy Spirit is producing in us – God will not relent. He will continue to work in us as long as Christ is in us.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG)  By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Faith will always be a catalyst of change. To trust God moves us from glory to glory which is a conduit of change. Change is also a crucible which burns away at the things keeping us from experiencing all of God’s Goodness. It is hard to see the forest for the trees as the saying goes. We forget that our life is a comprehensive plan set into motion that will lead us from victory to victory. We are overcomers in all things because Christ lives in us yet fall subject to light and momentary troubles allowing them to stop the momentum of change. Salvation made us right with God. Repentance is the turning each part of our life over to Him. As we do so, change is inevitable. We must embrace change each day or risk hindering the process of full consummation in a thriving relationship with a jealous God who is reckless and extravagant in His Love for us. He stops at nothing to give you His Absolute Best in full abundance.

Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Every single man and woman of God has days when they question God’s Motives and Intentions. Pressure, pain, and problems make us wonder is God’s Promise really for us. In pregnancy – we wait for the baby to grow, develop and mature into a viable little human. During the birth process, anticipation of fulfillment is close but the real work begins. Right before the baby is born, the woman’s body enters a phase of labor called transition. This is generally marked by the mom’s sudden change in her demeanor. She will say things like “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to this”. She becomes frenzied and irrational. Usually within minutes, she is holding her precious baby in her arms. If she quit or gave up in that moment, refusing to push her newborn into the world, what would have happened? Maybe you are in transition right now in your spiritual life? Perhaps the Lord is finally birthing that promise that He has grown and developed in you all this time, but it is too hard so you are just want to quit. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. Does it seem impossible? Does it feel like it’s never going to happen? Are you expecting today?

The Lord is calling out your name today. Like Elijah on the mountaintop, He is asking, “What are you doing here?” The enemy wants you to disengage in this process called change and take the easy way out. It is the moment that he will take fulfillment, contentment and soul satisfaction from you. The moment you give it up to compromise for comfort, convenience or control. Don’t let him do that to you. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Not just forever, but in the land of the living too. You must push, press and endure stopping at nothing to have it. There is no catch 22 for the one who is sold out completely by absolute faith, total trust and confident hope. God will do it. He is able. He is true. The rest, dear one, is up to only you. No more catch 22 or contradictions allowed. Be confident that the Lord who has begun this great and glorious good work in you will complete it!

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.