Highly Favored

highly favored

Luke 1:28-30 (NIV) The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

You are blessed and highly favored. From the beginning of your life to the last day, your life has been handwritten by the Lord with a wonderful plan. The culmination of which is a future and hope far exceeding the temporary circumstances or conditions surrounding you today. When the angel came to Mary, she was a young girl engaged to her betrothed preparing for marriage. She was a good girl. When the angel came to her it was with the words, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you!” He went on to proclaim her “blessed among women.” She feared the awesome appearance of the angel before her but that would not be the end. It was only the beginning.

For just a moment, let’s talk about some of God’s Favored Ones. Those who He proclaimed favor over in their lifetime. Abel who was murdered by his brother, Cain. Noah, who singlehandedly built an ark and rebuilt from scratch after enduring the flood. Jacob who was tricked and taken advantage of by Laban. Joseph thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned and completely forgotten. Moses risked life and limb to lead God’s People out of captivity and died never reaching the Promised Land. Hannah prayed for God’s Favor in the form of a son who upon weaning would be given back to serve in the House of God. David had to kill a giant. Daniel was cast into a lion’s den not to mention his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who had to walk through fire when they would not bow down. Esther was enslaved as a virgin given to the king. Just to name a few…and what about Jesus favored by God, His Only Son, nailed to a Cross for our sin. All considered favored by God and there are more. I am favored by the Lord. Living in favor is not the end to my trials or temptations but the power by which to overcome them all in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84:11 (NIV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

What is favor? How does it work? Favor is something granted out of goodwill rather than justice. It is to be given something better than that which is deserved. It is the excessive and unfair partiality of God and His Preferential Treatment given to humanity despite their sinful condition. Grace makes favor possible in our life. Grace alone is the conduit to God’s Favor. Faith in God is to believe grace is possible outside of human ability. To accept the Gift of God given by His Son, Jesus and live according to His Word (Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh).

The Lord withholds no good thing from those whose walk is blameless. Now, you and I both know that we need God’s Mercy every morning and grace all day long just to make it through. Our salvation is assured through faith alone because if were based on our obedience and willingness – we would all be doomed. The Lord God is our sun and shield. He bestows favor and honor to us. Back to young Mary, she could not possibly know the life laid before her as the mother of Jesus. God knew that no matter what Mary would love and trust Him. All the way to the Cross watching her son be brutalized and murdered – God already knew the substance of her human heart. She was blessed and highly favored but that did not exempt her from the test called endurance.

Proverbs 16:15 (NIV) When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

In the New King James Version, this verse says, “His Favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Let’s talk about that for just a moment. We live in a world marked by immediate gratification. We want it all right now. Unwilling to wait for anything and everything this thing called endurance is a challenge. The Promise of God is not yet evident in our life but His Favor is assured. What if the problem is the latter day rain is coming in the form of a storm cloud over our life, but unwilling to wait for the harvest – we keep leaving the field? What if God’s Favor is shining upon you but you are not willing to wait and watch for it? What if the problem is not God or His Word but our inability to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable or out of control? God has made us blessed and highly favored. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He has already given us every spiritual blessing with the promise that He will make good in every detail of our life. We must only believe. The Favor of God belongs to me. It belongs to you. It comes with a process. The process of endurance which means that when the going gets tough – the favored stick to God’s Word, watching and waiting for Him to come. The Lord will not pass you by.

Psalm 30:6-7 (NIV) When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

“Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:21-23) What if the truth of the matter is you and I could not handle the Glory of God dispensed in our life right now? What if God is preparing you for a blessing you cannot contain but you keep leaving the process for man’s favor, personal promotion and lesser things? What if God is preparing you to be the next great man or woman of faith but you don’t trust and believe enough to receive it?

Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. This is probably some of the best advice that I have ever been given. It was by a pastor. The choices of our everyday life should be as God’s Children not the sons and daughters of man. To believe that He is working in us and through us just as He promised. To believe in His Blessing. To respond to the call of “highly favored.” What if God is moving and shaking up your surroundings so that you will look to Him? Our life is changed by the Presence of God in it. To step “in Christ” in every area and facet of living. To be unmoved and unaffected by the daily changes that are the molding and shaping of our heart and remodeling of our life to be filled with His Glory. You are blessed. You are highly favored. What if God is just making room for it today? How can I be more than a conqueror when I run from every battle? How can I live from victory to victory when I don’t believe I win? How can I experience God’s Favor when I cannot believe that His Grace is enough? Whatever the thing challenging your acceptance of God’s Favor today – let it go. You are a Child of God. You are blessed. You are highly favored. I see a cloud. It is filled with latter day rain. It will burst over those who are ready and waiting for His Glory to come.

Psalm 5:11-12 (NIV) But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 90:17 (NIV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

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Life’s Greatest Liability

Life's Greatest Liability

Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The greatest liability in the life of a believer is unforgiveness. To restrict the mercy, compassion, love and grace given to us is the source of limitation and lack that often goes unnoticed creating frustration and unmet expectation. It binds and restricts the one who holds it tightly. Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” T.D Jakes tells it like this – “unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the change to escape beyond the pain.” And finally “forgiving someone may cost you your pride but not forgiving them will coast you your freedom.”

Mercy is not only characteristic of God the Father, but the overflow of His Existence. (Deuteronomy 7:9) His Mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1) It is freely given to us each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Lord is our portion. The One in whom our hope is secure. Mercy is defined as compassion and kind forbearance shown toward an offender. Sin is offensive to God. Pride resides in the human heart producing rebellion against God when given the opportunity. Unforgiveness is one of its most effective traits. The decision to harbor unforgiveness in our heart is to sow seeds of bitterness that will take root and choke out the relationship being restored in us producing new life, new love and new creations. How many times has Luke 6:36-38 been attributed to lesser things? Prosperity of our soul begins with the forgiveness of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It continues to grow and develop in us when we choose to extend the same grace, love and mercy to others.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus emphasizes the importance of a right relationship with God. He does not stop there but also right relationships with people. Building and maintaining right relationships is the development and advancement of God’s Kingdom and strengthens the Body of Christ. To know God is the highest pursuit of righteousness. To be in an ongoing and thriving relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of forbearance or forgiveness in us which is evidence of our relationship with the Triune God. Understanding the importance of forgiveness to vitality in Christ is essential in our spiritual growth and development which is soul prosperity. The Lord even put in the model of daily prayer. (Matthew 6:11-13) We must live in a constant state of mercy and forgiveness to maintain a constant connection to God and His Kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus did not give some mathematical formula but instead “seventy times seven” is used to imply limitless forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a liability and misuse of the binding power and authority given to us by Christ. It is forgetfulness on our part of God’s Grace towards us or to somehow imply ourselves more deserving than another. It restricts and binds. It is dangerous to our body, mind and spirit working like a cancer eating away at us. It is mishandling Kingdom power. It limits our prayer life. (Mark 11:25-26) It is sin retention in our life. (John 20:22-23) Unforgiveness is a liability to the believer creating limitation and lack while restricting the abundance that God has for those who live in a right relationship with Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is intimately aware of our sin as it is the very thing that nailed His Precious Son to the Cross. God’s expectation of His People is love and forgiveness as described in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Psalm 52:8-9 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

We have been given the love, grace and mercy of God. It is released in all fullness to the believer as seed to do with it what we choose. Freedom is established in the Son, the Word of God. The very first benefit given to us that makes way for every other blessing. (Psalm 103) To overstep forgiveness is to restrict abundance in our life. All blessings are contingent on the Grace of God that allows His Goodness to be poured out on the unworthy and imperfect chosen by adoption. When we decide to not forgive another person for their offense, it is to refuse God’s Blessings in our life and choose our own portion. Pride chooses its own way bypassing righteousness found in the Grace of God by way of humility. Is there lack in your life? Are you limited? Does your prayer life seem stagnant? Do you lack love, joy or peace? Search your heart with me today. Look for any seed of unforgiveness or bitterness. God’s Grace will cover it as you rip it out by the root. Freedom is poured out the moment we choose to forgive. It may not mean a mended relationship but it will restore righteousness when heartfelt and sincere. Do not let it be a liability but let grace and mercy by an asset as you thrive in the Presence of God today.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

Jealous for Me

Jealous for Me

Deuteronomy 4:24 (NIV) For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Is it worth it? All the time and energy put into serving an “unknown” or “unseen” God. At times the relationship may feel a bit one-sided especially if the enemy has chosen to sift you like wheat. In times of testing or temptation, one may wonder does God really love me. When natural struggle reaches the end of our spiritual rope, tying a knot to hang on to hope can be difficult. To walk by faith and not by sight is not easy. God’s Love for us is complete and perfect. It is boundless and endless. There is no condition which makes it all the more challenging to accept. Life always has conditions and consequences. Grace takes away the penalty to give way to purpose in us and through us. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Fully consummated and complete is God’s Love for us producing a jealousy that is incomprehensible.

A couple of years ago, our daughter and son-in-law moved to New Hampshire to pursue ministry with a fast-growing church. Though I was extremely proud of them, I was less enthusiastic about the 21-hour move. Our family went to visit them. During our stay, we toured the church offices. The pastor introduced us to a very nice woman who he referred to as the adoptive mom of my daughter. Whoa buddy! I was not ready for the flush that came to my face, pounding of my heart and sheer unadulterated jealousy that came upon me. She was not her mother. She was not even related to her. I didn’t want her to have an “adopted mom” because I was her mother and quite fond of my role. My love for my child caused a physical and emotional reaction that took over my whole body. God’s Love for us is greater than human love for a spouse of child. It is pure. It is complete. It is consuming.

God is jealous for us. His Love is reckless. It is extravagant. It is the reason that good enough is not a stopping point but His Best is all that He has for us. Sometimes in the midst of challenges, it is good to spend some time focusing on God’s Jealous Love for us. It puts things into perspective. The Love of God desires us in the purest and most relentless way. It is not that He needs anything from us. (Acts 17:25) The angels serve the Lord.  We “do” all these things to feel deserving of an undeserving love. We “try to” make up for all the grace that is needed in our life. The truth is God’s Love for us is complete and constant without anything from me. His New Mercy each day is tangible evidence of God’s Capacity to love us no matter what state or condition we are in. It doesn’t make any sense. His Love is incomprehensible. With all this uncertainty as to the width, length, height or depth of His Love comes His Invitation to seek His Love, search it out, try it out, examine it thoroughly and hopefully accept it in full measure. The Love of God changes everything beginning inside of us working its way out of us. If we could just saturate ourselves in His Love today, it would make all these light and momentary troubles fade in the Light of it. The Armor of God protects the seal placed over our heart by the Lord when we accept His Love as our own.

Song of Solomon 8:6 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

God knows the enemy’s proximity to you. He knows exactly what is going on and is working every detail for your good today. God’s Love for you is jealous, wild and extravagant. It is recklessly fighting for your freedom. He wants only the best for you. The Lord is fighting unseen battles for you because His Love is far too jealous to allow the enemy to overtake you. You will be victorious because Jesus is our Champion and hands it to us. It is the perception of God’s Love and the Power of it that will keep you fully focused on Him and not all the warring around you. His Love is an all-consuming fire. Place it as a seal over your heart today. Put it as a seal on your arm marking you as a Kingdom Kid. His Love is strong as death. It is unyielding as the grave yet completely overcame it to give you new life and the opportunity to experience His Love firsthand.

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.

Do you believe that God is jealous for you? Even in His Jealousy, God is good. His Jealously is characterized by a solicitous or vigilance in maintaining and guarding you – the person who He so greatly desires and longs to have a relationship with. His Love for us is without rival. There is no one and nothing God loves more than you and me. It is the conviction of His Love that sustains us in trial, trouble and temptation. You will become more than a conqueror when you stop trying to please God and fall in love with Him. Sin is avoidable when it hurts someone we love. We try not to because we want to maintain the relationship in the natural. It works the same way with Jesus. The more I know Him, the more I love Him, the more I seek Him, the more I find Him. He fills the voids in our heart, mind and soul so we are complete lacking nothing especially love. It is from this place that the good fight of faith is won. Confidence in God’s Love for us gives us the courage and boldness to live outside of insecurity and fear in His Refuge called Presence.

Are you convinced? Do you know that God is jealous for you? Do you believe it? Seek His Heart today. Let God show you just another facet of His Love for you. I know that when troubles come it is with firm conviction and absolute confidence I can say, “It is well with my soul.” Not because everything is going right, but that God’s Love holds me in until His Goodness finds me. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God. His Glory will always find me there.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV) May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Until We Tremble Too

Unti We Tremble Too

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)  So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Have you ever prayed and it seemed like nothing is happening? Have you believed with all your heart yet still things did not go well? Walking by faith and not by sight is a challenge. It takes a full body, mind and spirit change to meet such a demand. The five senses of the body are acutely aware of its surroundings and work together to make it through each day. It’s called survival. To give in to the current conditions or circumstances of our natural life is not God’s Will for us. Yet, we do it for lack of understanding or full application of faith in our daily endeavors. We save the “big things” for God and attempt to tackle the mundane tasks and small things ourselves. This is not exactly what the Word of God tells us to do, but it is the culture of church today. Lives made a little better just by knowing the Name of Jesus. Well, need I remind you today as I am also reminded – “You believe that there is one God. You do well. (Good for you paraphrased). Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

The demons believe and tremble. The problem is not in the belief system of the enemy. It is in the mind and heart of God’s People. Do we know the Name of Jesus? Do we believe? Do we tremble at the Power and Authority given to us in the Name of Jesus Christ? Jesus spoke and demons fled, dead people came to life, and even the wind and rain obeyed Him. His Power and Authority was evident yet still some did not believe. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gave the same power and authority to His Disciples. Power over all demons and to cure diseases. They still couldn’t do it. The Lord reiterated in Luke 10 that He gives us the power to “trample serpents and scorpions, and all the power over the enemy and nothing shall by all means hurt you.” Do we believe? Do we tremble at the awesomeness of such a gift? To have all power and authority in this life delivered to us by the Christ in us for signs, miracles and wonders. Do we believe? Do we tremble at His Name?

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

It is one thing to imply belief in our words and actions but it quite another to initialize and implement faith. Faith is active. It is alive. It grows when planted. It must be invested to reproduce or it is just an unused resource. The measure of faith given to us is to be used now. Today. Not for big things but everything. Faith is a tangible substance not a passing thought or idea. It is a full investment of this life into eternity that will produce Kingdom productivity supernaturally in the natural. It begins by believing. Believing not just in the existence of Christ, the Gift of God that is eternal life but becoming fully aware and accepting of His Power and Authority handed to us by way of the Cross and Resurrection. We cannot use a weapon we do not possess or refuse to take hold of. A gun in a gun safe behind a locked door is no good if the intruder sneaks in at night. We are unarmed and not ready. But to sleep with the weapon locked and loaded by your bed ensures that you will not be caught unaware. Where is your weapon today?

Obedience is essential. We must not only read God’s Word. Know God’s Word. We must become fully compliant and obedient to God’s Word to have His Authority and Power. Obedience (hupakoe) means to listen with a compliant submission and agreement. Doubt tells us that when happened in Biblical times cannot happen now. Miracles are for fairy tales and fiction not real life. Reading God’s Word will never be enough. The Word of God makes faith logical. It is the revelation of the seed of faith’s potential in our life and the encouragement needed to sow it daily. Real faith is defined by obedience. To strive daily to live God’s Word and fulfill His Purpose.

The Spirit-Filled Bible offers commentary on strongholds that I found to be quite powerful and revealing. A stronghold is first established in our mind. Behind every stronghold is a lie – a place of personal bondage where God’s Word has been held subject or enslaved to any unscriptural idea or personally confused belief. I remember many years ago teaching a Youth Sunday School Class. In the course of the lesson, I mentioned that Jesus never married or had a family of his own while on the earth. I was quickly refuted by a 13-year-old who was adamant that the Lord married Mary Magdalene and had a family. I tried to explain through passages in the Word that this was simply not true. Her family had watched a movie that made this appear to be Truth to her. She could not be convinced otherwise. Eve was caught up in a lie of twisted truth. The enemy does it all the time. Appealing to our mind with a half-truth or skewed interpretation of God’s Word. Behind every lie is a fear and behind every fear that is an idol. Idols exist and are established wherever there exists a failure to trust the provisions of God that belong to us in Christ. Strongholds are broken by Truth that is turned to trust manifested in obedience even when completely contrary to the world and society norm. It is in such a place our heart and mind are changed and become one. Faith grows to confidence in this place. As strongholds come down and faith arises – our body, mind and spirit prosper in Truth as our soul prospers. Suddenly, our life becomes subject to the Kingdom of God and not this world and all its problems, temptations or trials.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!”

There are many who say that they believe there is a god. There are even those who believe in the one true God. There are some who believe that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the Cross for their sins. Churches are filled with believers. My greatest fear is that when I met Jesus face-to-face that He would say, “I never knew you…” I cannot even fathom that moment of separation. Faith is given to us to develop a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ which gives us access to the Father. The Father who fully embraces us as His Children again. We can now enter His Presence, talk to Him, listen to Him, and the potential of His Word is now our promise. All of this wonderful! God is good! If I do not realize that importance of obedience in claiming the Kingdom of God and my place as a Child of God through faith and belief in God’s Power and Authority over my life – I will miss out on the impossibilities becoming my possibility. More than that – I may miss out on the greatest love affair ever known. See casting out demons and healing diseases is pretty impressive but it is unconditional love that most people truly seek – the rest is just icing on the cake. Lord, may our belief be captivated by Your Word today, fortified by the Truth of Your Great Love for us. Father, help us to plant faith and sow confidence in Your Love that leads to obedience. Help us Holy Spirit to tear down every stronghold, expose every lie, destroy every fear and knock over every idol so Your Power and Authority will be manifested by Your Grace. Help us in our weakness. God give us insight, discernment, revelation, knowledge and understanding to become our wisdom. Father, help us to know you more. Jesus – we want you to know our name. Lord, may we press in until we tremble at Your Name too! Let everything we do and say rise from this purpose in our life. Amen!

Luke 10:19-20 (NKJV)  Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Grace To Pray

Grace To Pray

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Do you believe that God answers prayer? Let’s be real for a moment. Do you pray with expectancy? Do you come boldly and confidently before the Throne of God each day? Jesus was speaking plainly. He was not using parables or descriptive terms. He was direct. “And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do.” Salvation is only the beginning of the complete work of Jesus Christ in our natural life. He has “greater” things in store for those who decide to plant faith and sow confidence in their life. To believe in Jesus Christ and His Willingness to do what He says that He will do. We say that we believe but our prayers are prime indicators of the reality of faith in us.

To pray big prayers is to expect God’s Word to come to pass. Hope is not for the things we can do, can see or can accomplish in life. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen but totally possible in our life. The impossible is the pathway to the things hoped for. God is glorified when the natural is impacted by the supernatural. When extraordinary things happen in the lives of ordinary people. How do we find the faith to pray those prayers? To embrace the impossible situations according to full expectation in God’s Ability and not our own? Can I really trust the Lord to keep His Word and do greater things in me and through me? Absolutely.

Daniel 9:20-23 (NKJV) Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision…

The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23 NLT) I believe our prayers would change if people understood how much God really loves us. His Intent is take every detail of our life and work it out for our good and for His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Every prayer offered to the Lord in faith and hope releases a command in Heaven. It calls all the heavenly beings into action. Daniel came to the Lord fasting and praying. God responded. I believe that when I pray God responds in the heavenly realm first. This is important. God’s Ways are higher than our ways. His Thoughts are too. The promise that offers us solace is that every word released over our life cannot return to Him void – it has to do what He set if forth to accomplish. But why?

God loves us. We are precious to God. Looking at my life from my perspective, I see all my sins, faults, failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. The Holy Spirit identifies me as His Child. His Heart is moved by love. When I come to the Lord with child-like faith, it is as the petition of a child to a parent. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him as serpent?” (Matthew 7:8-10) God is good. He is a loving and attentive Father. He loves us no matter what our present condition may be. His Love is defined by mercy that makes it available even when rejected or refused. He still sends it new each morning.

Mark 11:23-24 (NKJV)  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8) Salvation is available by grace through faith – it is a Gift from God. Do you believe that our greatest power is manifested in weakness? Humility is the realization that apart from Jesus Christ that I am nothing and can produce nothing of worth in my life. It is by this approach of faith in the Grace of God that we are able to pray with great expectation believing that He who has promised is not only able but willing to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. It has nothing to do with me other than my ability and willingness to believe by faith in the Grace and Love of God.

Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” I do not deserve the life that God has given me through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I must accept the Gift of New Life by His Grace. I cannot earn it. I cannot fully rationalize unconditional love so I must believe it by faith alone. When I pray, it must be with full expectation not that God can do it but that He will do it because He loves me. I must gain greater confidence in the Love of God to experience fulfillment that comes from Him. God gives us grace to pray. He helps us in our weakness. Even when we do not know what to pray for or how to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in to do it for us through us. We must humble ourselves each day and pray. Pride tells you it’s dumb to continue to pray when God doesn’t move immediately. The flesh is offended that one might engage in such futility as it lay slowly dying to the new creation you are becoming. The enemy wants to give you a long list of to-do’s that somehow are supposed to motivate the Lord on your behalf, but the Truth is that the moment you began praying, a command was given…because you are precious to God.

James 5:13-16 (NKJV) Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

How many people walk in to church services suffering and sick only to leave the very same way? Why as believers are we okay with this tragedy? The altar call begins and no one comes. The prayer of faith will save the sick. I have seen some with cancer come to church and not ask for a single prayer. I have seen those suffering come, sit in the back, and never have a single hand touch them. There is a bottle of oil on the altar that is still half full. Why is not emptied on the hurting each service? This is not in any way an accusation but an internal examination of my own prayer life and expectation. If I know God is willing to answer my prayers, why do I not pray more? Where are the signs, miracles and wonders, all those greater works that Jesus promised? Why aren’t they here? Why not now? Have we lost our expectation? Is it somehow misplaced? Are we more concerned with the program rather than our purpose? We are building a Kingdom, a fully-functioning Body of Believers who live in unison with one heart, one mind and one purpose. We must get it together. We must begin to pray with expectation again to receive all that is promised those who do. It begins with me. It begins with you. God, give us the grace to pray. Not just any prayer, but the effective fervent prayers of those in right-standing with You.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

I don’t know about you but I set some pretty high standards for myself on any given day. Without goals, there is no way to reach higher levels of expectation. Comparison can be the worst of all enemy’s because it adds to the pressure of performance. So naturally, with all this focus on me, I fail miserably. The unmet expectation puts a baseball bat in my hand so I begin to beat myself up over and over again in all the ways I fall short. Taking it to the next level, all things I want to do to please the Lord, to be faithful, obedient and steadfast in faith never seem to reach fulfillment. I continue to sin despite every effort to avoid it. I cannot seem to get control of the rebellious thoughts and stinking thinking. Trying to fulfill all responsibilities and religious obligations combined is overwhelming with such weak flesh and a rebellious mind. God’s Grace is enough for me. His Grace emphasizes the freeness of His Love toward us. It is a product of His Mercy.

God gives us new mercy every single day. It comes because we need it. It is available. It is already provided. Mercy is the character of God that religion often misses but relationship fully embraces. God’s Mercy is always available but seldom considered. Maybe if we could understand God’s Characteristic called Mercy, we would understand the significance of it.

Mercy is God’s Covenant of Compassion

Psalm 78:37-39 (NKJV) For their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again.

God knows you are only human. A breath that passes away and does not come again. He knows the workings of our heart and the weakness of our flesh. Yet, His Compassion for us never fails. When Jesus went to the Cross, He died for every single sin and offense of every single person. Think about it. No fault of failure, past, present or future, is unknown and unforgiven by God through Jesus Christ. Even when our shortcomings and weakness surprise us – His Mercy keeps us from the punishment deserved. God is love. (I John 4:8) Our sin keeps us from God but doesn’t not in any way change the fact that He loves us. His New Mercy delivered each day is evidence of His Love.

Mercy is God’s Consuming Commitment

Romans 5:7-9 (NKJV) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

The Bible tells us that “greater love has no one than this than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) But what about your innocent child…your only child. I love my friends. Yet I am called to love my enemies the same. I might lay down my life for a friend. But if you are asking me to love anyone enough to give up one of my children, I must draw a line. My kids are nonnegotiable. God’s Mercy is evidence of His Consuming Commitment to a restored relationship with us. It is the precedent of His Grace that provides access to His Love again. It allows us to live apart from the consequences of sin and bask in the Light of His Love. God loves us completely and wholly right now. It doesn’t matter if you are saved, lost, or somewhere in between. His Love for us is uncompromised by our current condition. Freedom in Christ and application of His Grace gives us access to God the Father to enter His Presence and experience His Love in a tangible way. It was and is always available and just one prayer away.

His Offer of Everlasting Communion

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) 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. 

John 14:1-3 (NKJV) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

God’s Mercy provides a place in His Presence and Heaven for us. Revelation 3:20 describes the relationship that the Lord desires with us. It is not as a slave or servant but beloved child. God prepared a place for us in Heaven in advance. When sin barred our entrance, God’s Mercy kept justice from consuming us. He sent Jesus, His Only Child, to die for us and provide the grace needed to pay our sin debt. Jesus released His Spirit to commune with us now as a helper and reproducer of God’s Likeness in us. He identifies us as Children of the Living God. When we fail or fall short, it is not a shocker to the Lord. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Even in the foulest and most depraved state of any human being, God’s Love remains intact for them. His Desire to receive them and commune with them is the mercy that meets them each morning. God will stop at nothing for us to discover His Grace and does it with new mercy each day. By grace through faith – we are able to access the place that mercy built for us.

Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV) But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

I always love to see “but God”. “But” nullifies everything stated before it. Ephesians 2:1-3 outlines my condition before I received God’s Grace. That’s right, even when sin consumed me, death imminent, in complete disobedience, rebelling against God and His Kingdom, and fulfilling the desires of my flesh – God loved me and gave me new mercy every day. It is His Longsuffering Character called Mercy that leads us to repentance. God is rich in mercy. It is because of His Love that He send Jesus to die for us. His Desire to make us part of His Family alive together in Christ is what caused Him to build a place for us called Heaven. God’s Love and mercy for us was never compromised by sin. He loves and desires us anyway. Mercy is the evidence of this valuable truth that should bring us much encouragement today. His Expectation of us is to accept His Love and Mercy by His Grace to live in a right relationship with Him forever. This should resolve unmet expectation with confident hope that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s Love. I need to be aware of God’s Love and Mercy every day. His Mercy is all the encouragement I need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. His Love is a constant commitment to me that I cannot brush off, sin away, or refuse. He will send it anyway! Open the door to your heart today and you will see you have a special delivery. It’s a package marked mercy. It belongs to you. Why not use it today? Those who do will overcome and be more than conquerors empowered by great love.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Praying for Prosperity

Praying for Prosperity

I Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV) And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

Several years ago, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book titled “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was a huge hit. Based on just two verses of in the Old Testament, it would become a mainstay of prayer for many. It also would be turned into a “prosperity gospel” of sorts which many mega ministries. I am not against prosperity gospel at all. I believe that God wants to bless His People…as their souls prosper putting natural resources in proper order and focusing on the spiritual blessings and fruit of His Spirit. It is our goal to seek the Kingdom of God first, then God will add other things. I can personally attest that as the Kingdom becomes your focus all that glitters is no longer gold and those simple fruits will become the substance of satisfaction for our daily life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

God is good. He is a gracious Father. He is an excellent provider for His Children. He loves to bless us. What parent doesn’t like to bless their children? To give them better than what they had. To make their life comfort and complete in every way possible. The selflessness of parenthood is definitely a trait handed down by the Father who would give His Son to provide access to those who were once lost to Him. The Fruit of the Spirit consisting of love, joy, and peace are the three things people long for the most. We want to experience kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control. These are not naturally occurring qualities in humanity. However, spiritually they are all overflowing from God’s Kingdom as the Holy Spirit looks for fertile places in our hard hearts to plant them deep within, watering them with the Word of God, protecting them, nurturing them, giving them time to grow, develop and mature. This is soul prosperity. A soul that is able to produce such things no matter how things are going all around us. To experience love, joy and peace on the most challenging day, diverse conditions and overwhelming circumstances knowing, trusting and believing that God is good, His Love Constant and our life secure in the Father’s Hand.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Before taking one more step, I just have to say to all the parents and guardians of children, consider every single word spoken to them carefully. The power of death and life are in our tongues. The future is seeded by the words sown into these little ones. Every word counts. Words sown that cannot be taken back can be removed by repentance. It is okay to tell our kids when we are wrong or harsh. It doesn’t make us a bad parent or show weakness. It teaches them to be humble and apologize as well. We must lead by example. Now back to Jabez…

His mother named him Jabez because an excruciating and overwhelming experience. He was innocent. An infant in the womb on his way out. Yet his mother, in her pain, hurt and frustration, labeled her precious baby – “He will cause pain.” Jabez was not a label of the past but a terrible prediction and prophesy of his life in general. Evil oaths, angry words, and verbal confusion cause negativity to distill into human reality. Whether spoken by others about you or it is by our own declaration, curses concentrate on our soul like a cancer silently growing into a dysfunctional determination of our destiny. God wants to change all that today. He is providing us an example of changing the course of time and inevitability of our future to align it with what He has called us and become who He created us to be. New creations are born of the context and content of our conversation. Will I be who the world says that I am or who God created and called me to be?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…”

The first thing to note in this passage is that Jabez was a believer. He believed in God enough to converse with him. I Chronicles 4:9 tells us that he was honorable. Access to God the Father comes through His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to the Father but through the Son. There is no other way. God loves you. He hears you. But He cannot grant your petition outside of faith in Jesus Christ. To come close to us would be the end of us as His Goodness consumed the sin within us. By grace we are saved through faith, the Grace of God is provided in the Blood of the Son. I know the Cross was messy, violent and overwhelming but it is absolutely necessary to identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to have eternal life and access to God. Through Jesus, we can come boldly and ask anything in His Name and God’s Will is granted to us which as is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Jabez asked God to “bless me indeed.” The word “indeed” is important. It means in fact, in reality, in truth, truly. It is added for emphasis to confirm and amplify the previous statement. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Jabez asked God to bless him indeed. God desires to bless His Children. Those who desire a life that prospers in the fullness of God. I believe this prayer is born of the revelation of God’s Love for us. To suddenly realize through divine interaction that there is more to life than this for God’s People accessed through the intimate relationship apart from the world’s influence. The more I love the Lord the less appealing sin becomes because it causes a breach between us. I want to please God simply because I love Him.

Jabez believed opening his heart to the possibility of supernatural increase in his life. You have been promised provision from the surplus supply of Heaven. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We are provided an inheritance. More than enough. Surrendering our life and every natural resource of our life to His Word, His Work and His Will precipitates prosperity. Divine prosperity begins in our heart, mind, and soul as we give God more and more of the property of our life including time, talent and treasure investing in the Kingdom.

“Enlarge my territory…”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God cannot be contained in the finite area of our life. The sheer capacity of His Goodness requires room to expand and grow in us. Jabez asked God to take the boundaries and borders off of his life. He invited the Lord to stretch him beyond comfort, convenience and control. He was allowing God to break every chain, remove every hindrance, tear down every wall even those self-constructed, and erase every lie.  The endless possibility of God is overwhelming outside of trust and reliance on the Lord. The shaking and moving of life once settled to “enlarge” our territory can be very frightening. Like Peter jumping out of the boat was thrilling and exciting until he saw how big the waves and powerful the wind were, then his faith ran out and he was drowning in doubt. When you ask for more, increase and enlargement it produces an unsettling of our heart, mind and soul so that God can release the full potential of our life.

John 12:24-25 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

To enlarge our territory is to destroy human expectation altogether. To step into the unknown regions of God’s Providence including provision and promises which is to walk entirely by faith and not by sight or human rationalization. Miracles happen in the impossible. If you can do it, God’s Plan is bigger. I wonder how many truly can pray this prayer with an open and honest heart willing to accept the challenges of enlargement required for fulfillment. To jump fearlessly into the depths of God’s Love even we cannot feet cannot touch the solid ground of logic to bask in the deeper things and hidden places of blessing and prosperity. A seed must go in the ground to be fruitful. It must die to self and give way to change in substance and form in order to fulfill its potential. We must be willing to do the same.

“That Your hand would be with me…”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God is ready to empower all who invite His Works and Resources of Power. God’s Power is released by His Authority to those who humbly accept His Grace as enough. Grace is provided to us and must be accepted in humility. We must give up control in order to be satisfied by grace. Is God’s Grace enough for you today? Ask yourself the question, do I have regrets? Do I live in shame? Do I doubt God based on my ability? To ask God to place His Hand upon us is complete surrender to His Authority, Power and Grace in our life. To say, I am not enough but You are my everything. To accept human weakness, release it to Presence and let His Spirit fill you with exactly what you need experience resurrection power. Jabez knew his limitations. He was well aware of his imperfections. He asked the Lord put your Hand upon me. He didn’t ask the Lord to open His Hand before Him. To desire the Heart of God we accept the Grace of God and invite His Power and Authority to operate in our weakness humbly. We must live a life of humility before the Lord to access His Power in our life.

“That You would keep me from evil…”

Psalm 119:10-12 (NKJV) With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.

God gives us everything needed to part ways with sin in our life. We have His Word. Jesus is the Word of God that came wrapped in flesh and bones to demonstrate God’s Love. The Word of God is the Truth concerning us and must become the logic for faith to grow and prosper in our life. It feeds our Spirit. It builds the foundation to stand on when nothing in our life is going right. It is the waiting place of trust that soothes our heart and mind while patience in God’s Timing is developed. The Lord wants to keep us from evil. We partner in the process by continually consuming the Word of God to feed our soul.

John 14:26 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The seed of the Spirit is God’s Word. He plants it in our heart, nurtures it, and protects it while it becomes His Fruit reaching its full potential in our life. Sin usually is prefaced by an unfulfilled desire or unmet expectation. We must fill the voids in our life or the enemy will offer substitutions and counterfeits. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Jesus gave us His Spirit to facilitate a productive and prosperous life. We must maintain our relationship with God through His Son Jesus to have that. The Word of God and His Spirit creates an environment within us that produces a new heart and new mind that desires more than status quo. Partnering with God means running from evil and pursuing that which is good. Jabez asked the Lord to partner with him in this process.

“That I may not cause pain!”

Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV) Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Children possess a certain innocence and helplessness when they come into the world. Like soft clay, moldable by those around them and what they experience. We have been studying childlike faith in a series at church. Coming to the Father as a child with the natural expectancy of our innocent youth. However, being born to imperfect people, there is a solid chance that your expectations may not have been met. Perhaps your family, like mine, is clearly dysfunctional. Disappointment, betraying, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and more cause children to become broken adults with unmet expectation, bitterness, boundaries, walls and insecurities that cause them to approach God with caution. They are reluctant to trust. Fearful of surrender. Too broken to give too much. Generational curses plague us. Word curses spoken over entire bloodlines cause a people in bondage who want God’s Blessings, His Promises and to prosper but cannot even dare to believe a single word is true, trustworthy or for them when it comes to the Lord. Friend, God is good. He is a Good Father. It doesn’t matter how you got here, what you went through, or how many times you have fallen – His Heart yearns for you. He loves you and desires you above all things. His Grace is enough to lift you up into His Arms, wash you with His Word, wrap you up in righteousness, and fully revive, restore and renew your life. You have to come to Him like a child. Jabez did just that. Uttering the one thing that he thought was unsolvable, unfixable, and unthinkable. God – that I may not cause pain. His mother’s label was erased in that moment as “God granted Him what He requested.”

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

It has been 17 years since I read I Chronicles 4:9-10 for the first time. I have it hanging on the wall in my house. I have read it in passing a number of times and prayed the same prayer. I believe the seed planted by it has finally begun to bear fruit. I don’t see the prosperity gospel in the net worth of my life or what I have but the fact that when I wake up – the Lord is with me. When I go through the day, He is still with me. When I lose my way, He is right there waiting for me. When I lose it, He still listens. The Presence of God has caused my life to prosper with in my heart and soul. God wants to bless us. He desires nothing more than to give us His Absolute Best. But God will release nothing to me that will destroy me, distract me or detour me from His Purpose. My heart is His First Priority. My salvation is His Purpose. To seek the Kingdom of God first allows everything in His Storehouses to be released to me without changing the condition of my heart or ability to trust Him. If I have all that I need, want and desire outside of my relationship with Christ, I would leave Him and so would you. It is human nature. It is in my need for Jesus that I have found true prosperity. The kind that Paul describes when he says, “I know how to be abased and how to abound.” The secret is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If I have live apart from Jesus to have it, I don’t want it. The prayer of Jabez is about so much more than filling our bank account with funds, our homes with stuff, and expanding our influence. It is about becoming a new creation and claiming the future and hope God promised no matter how it impacts our existence today. He must increase. I must decrease. To live is Christ and die is gain. When our soul truly prospers the seed of faith hidden inside of it, you will prosper in all seasons and all ways.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Without Further Delay

砂時計とお金

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

A young woman who was quite intoxicated made the fatal decision to livestream from her car while driving. In the video, she loses control of the vehicle which flips multiple times. You can hear the screams and moaning of her passenger. She continues to livestream from the accident as her fourteen year old sister succumbs to her injuries. The newscaster sharing the details of this tragic and terrible story says, “What has the world come to? Is it going to get any better? It only seems to be getting worse.” Senseless death and the memorialization of horrible events such as this happen every day. Children committing suicide on the air. People mocking a drowning man rather than saving him. What once was hidden is now broadcast on blast. The modern day anchor-now-prophet declaring to the world on national television – things are only getting worse. He wasn’t talking about the economy or the healthcare system. He was talking about human beings. The love of many has grown cold while the lukewarm hearts become stone cold. Sin is rampant. I remember my grandparents telling me how sad the state of affairs of the world had become and that surely Jesus was coming soon. Now as I await the birth of our first grandchild, I realize they were right. Jesus is coming back. As the details of God’s Word become the chilling reality in which we live – there is no reason to fear. Instead, it is a call to action.

Some will stop reading right here. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without the added stress or pressure of the end of the world? For those who know the Lord, the end is only the beginning. God is not slack concerning His Promise. Jesus will return to triumphantly claim His Bride. It all sounds like some fairy tale. However, faith tells us that is not fiction but the fact to live by. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack. He is not in any way delayed. His Longsuffering and His Heart cannot accept that any of His Beloved would choose to die rather than accept eternal life. The new life that comes to those who are a new creation. It all sounds wonderful and almost too good to be true. As God waits, it is time to take notice. He is not delayed. You are not deferred. He is waiting for us to respond to Him so He can receive us.

Romans 6:15-17 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are no longer slaves bound by debt or obligation. The Son has set us free and given us His Grace. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid the price of sin fully so now freedom takes over our life. We choose who we serve making us servants. I can choose the master of my life each day. Who do I choose to portion my life to? Who do I give the best of my time? What is the ethical and moral outline of my life? The process of salvation is grace giving way to faith that produces obedience to the Lord. Salvation is only the beginning. If salvation does not make our life better and more productive, we are not fully utilizing the promised provision, every spiritual blessing and exceeding abundance that God has ordered for His Children.

All things become possible to the one who believes. If the process of God is not producing these things in our life, it is up to us to find the disconnect. Why? Because by grace, we are saved through faith. Faith is the productivity of our life. If we believe, all things become possible because God does not lie or change His Mind. If He releases His Word, it cannot return to Him without first accomplishing all that it set out to do. This is all from the Word of God to the believer but we must accept it as the Truth of our life for it to change us from the inside out.

The girl who foolishly caused her sister’s life to end is greatly desired by God. Acting out in her personal freedom, she will now likely give up the rest of her life to captivity in prison for a single moment. Yet, it did not diminish God’s Love for her in any way, shape or form. The crack addict wasting away in a building is His Beloved. The madman who killed a warehouse full of people or human smuggler who allowed eight human beings to suffocate and die in a tractor trailer – all these people Christ died for. The goal is that none would die and all would come to know Jesus and receive His Precious Gift. We are not in this for ourselves but to build a Kingdom based on the Grace of God filled by faith in God rising up from the obedience of God’s People in expectation of the return of their Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-37 (NKJV) “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

In Ephesians 6:14, it says, “Stand therefore, having girded your wait with truth.” The Truth of our life is found in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To know the Lord it is important to know His Word. Not just to know it but to “gird” our life in it. What does that mean? To gird means to surround, enclose or hem in. It is to prepare for action. To provide, equip, or invest as with power or strength. “Let your waist be girded.” Are you girded and fortified by God’s Word today? Could it be that your provision, promise or prosperity is delayed simply by ignorance that produces disobedience?

The wise servant keeps his light burning waiting for the Master’s Return. Jesus is the Light of the World. He has put His Light (His Love) in us to spark passion for all mankind and lead as many as will come into the Kingdom. Is our light burning bright? The Light of His Love is a powerful force that will draw even the most callous heart to be broken. It is not a haughty position but humbling of our life to represent God’s Love. Faithful obedience is demonstrated in unfailing love. To love God with all our heart and others more than ourselves. There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. To forsake convenience, comfort and even control so that another might get a glimpse of God’s Love for them. When was the last time you gave up your personal comfort to be a blessing to someone else? To consciously serve another over serving yourself? God’s Love is exhibited through His People. It is not a live and let live but a daily giving up our very lives to pursue others as the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.

It is not enough to serve the Lord but we must also sup with Him. To live in communion with Jesus Christ building a strong relationship not just a religious connection. Many know the Name of Jesus, some even believe in its power but few yield their life to faith in His Power that gives way to obedience. We rely on His Grace to save us but not change us. There is power in our weakness when we give His Grace an opportunity to work in us and through us. When we allow His Spirit to produce the good fruit that is promised, it becomes prosperity in our life that is easily shared with others. To know and experience God’s Love through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to become a new creation, a living love story, and true testimony of God’s Power.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

The watered down gospel of today does not offer the supernatural power given to us by Christ. It invites people to experience Jesus Christ but does not fully expose the power workable through His Grace. Our life was not meant to be like it is now. God’s Design for you is a masterpiece. Consider the Word of God the paint by numbers that gets us there. All throughout the Bible, we cry out to the Lord to make haste in His Coming. What if He is waiting on you? What if the grace being provided is for you to finally believe? This passage hidden away in Psalm 119 demonstrates a change of heart that invites the Lord to have His Way in our life. “I made haste.” Has the Lord been speaking to you about something? Has your heart been heavy? Is there something you want to see changed in your life but keep procrastinating? The word “haste” means swiftness of motion or speed. It is urgent need of quick action. “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Lord is inviting us into a union and partnership with Him today. An opportunity to have every provision, promise, and prosper in all we do beginning with obedience.

I love to find new recipes on Pinterest. Changing up the family mealtime and trying new things. When I find a recipe with many favorable comments from those who also tired it and liked it – I make it for our family. I must follow the recipe line by line. There are instructions on how to prepare the food, set the oven and steps to be followed in order to have the desired result, I follow the recipe. No one forces me to try it. I want to. Did you know that is exactly what obedience to God is like? Growing tired of the same old thing, I try something new. The Lord has promised that you will be a new creation. I do not feel imprisoned or any way hindered during the process no matter how long it takes or painstaking it becomes because I want the end result. The enemy wants you to believe that obedience to God is the absence of freedom. Nothing is further from the Truth. It is the opportunity to yoke our life with Christ and claim every promise for our life. It is not burdensome as some might think but leads to victory after victory. We must make haste to know the Word of God and follow the steps to prosperity as a way of claiming all that Christ died for us to have and to become which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever think, ask or imagine.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NKJV) For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

In 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is speaking to the cheerful givers. Salvation is a Gift from God to be sown in our life. God gives seed to the sower. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who take the seed of faith and sow it obediently will produce enough in their life to become givers. It goes on to say, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” The Grace that God has given us is the beginning of many great things that He has for us. While this passage refers to tangible giving, our life has nothing to offer anyone else outside of grace that claims faith and uses it for obedience. Obedience prospers our life increasing our offering. People don’t need more stuff but rather the tangible substance of faith that finds love that is passionate, reckless, all-consuming and unconditional. I cannot give that kind of love away unless I have a commodity of it in my life. God increases me as I come to know Christ and He becomes the reality of my hope. My life is to glorify God for obedience that confesses not only that I know who Christ is but I believe in who He is and what He came to do. God supplies us in surplus so that we can give from the abundance and increase of our life. If you are not a receiver of God’s Love, you cannot be a giver of it. If you have not accepted God’s Grace fully, you cannot share it with others. If you do not believe the Word of God, you will have nothing to encourage others. We must believe in God who rewards those who diligently seek Him with wholehearted and hasty obedience in order to stay in His Service.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NKJV) “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

In Ezekiel 12, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet to tell the Children of Israel that they were making a mistake. They believed that the postponement of God’s Judgment was actually an annulment. Despite the cries of men like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, the people decided that God had changed His Mind and granted some kind of reprieve. The Lord spoke to them. “For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’” We must not ignore the signs of the times. Jesus will come back. Will you be ready? Will I? The answer is within each human heart.

God is not delayed. He is waiting on us. Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to know Him so that He can say that He knows us. The Lord has not left us but lives in us. He wants to consummate the relationship fully as salvation plants seeds of faith and obedience creates a bond stronger than death and greater than the grave. Jesus wants us. He desires us. He is waiting for us. He will not wait forever. There is a day that will come when He will return. It will be a day of great victory for His Servants and huge regret for those who missed the opportunity. It is my privilege to serve Christ not my responsibility. To know Him is to love Him and it is from this place faithful obedience is born…not because I have to but because I want to. I want Him. I desire the Lord above all things so I pursue Him wholeheartedly by faith and obedience His Grace empowers me. One day there will be no further delays. I intend to be ready. What about you?

I have been married for almost two decades. My husband likes things neat and tidy. When I get home each day, I will clean up the house and put away the things our girls leave strewn about the house. I do it just about every day if I beat him home. He doesn’t require me to do it. I know that he likes things in order. This daily act of obedience is not because he makes me do it but because I love him and know he likes things that way. I do it out of love not responsibility. Our life with Christ is like a marriage. When our obedience flows from love, it is not a burden or challenge but an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and please our beloved.

Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Can’t Stop the Rain

Can't Stop the Rain

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV) “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Our son recently graduated from college and secured a position in our hometown. Yesterday was moving day so our family loaded up to help him make the trek with all his possessions back home. He doesn’t have a great deal of furniture since he has been living in the quad housing with only a bedroom and bathroom to himself sharing the rest of the unit. The forecast was favorable all week. Hence, it was decided that a truck, my SUV and his car would be sufficient to get the job done. Well, the work truck ended up needing a new tire that delayed our departure a couple of hours. It took three stores to find the tire in stock. Our plan was not already behind schedule. Upon arrival, it seemed time was on our side as in less than an hour fully loaded and ready to go – the caravan back began. It didn’t take long to see the clouds on the horizon grow dark and black. My daughter and I prayed asking the Lord to hold back the rain. We asked in Jesus Name. Within minutes – a few drops became a torrential downpour. My heart sank as I realized unavoidable rain would ruin everything in the truck. Why? Why didn’t God answer our prayer offered in His Name? I know that I believed in my heart that He could and He would but He didn’t? Food for thought for the next hour and half.

Why doesn’t God keep us from the inconvenient to inconceivable in life? Whether we pray to miss a storm or for Him to heal cancer, why doesn’t it happen? To know and understand this truth will change the way a believer approaches the things in life that cannot be understood and must be overcome by trust. Isn’t the point of this life? To exercise faith and develop confident hope that is able to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is working hard to sow seeds of faith that will grow into His Fruit. The kind of fruit that not only promotes godliness, but prospers us. (Galatians 5:22-23) As our soul prospers, so will our life. (3 John 1:2) God has granted us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) accessible by faith and trust that decides to live in a right relationship or covenant with the Lord. There is purpose in our life with far more potential than the human eye can see or mind understand. (Ephesians 3:20) God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. We must walk by faith and not by sight to receive it. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

I asked the Lord to stop the rain during our trip because it was inconvenient. It would cause a problem for us. It would cost us money to replace the furniture. It would not be good for us. It was not what I wanted. It would prolong our day and lead to great frustration. There is a whole lot of “me”, “we”, “us” and “I” in the previous statements. If every day and in every way including every detail of my life goes the way that I want it to – there is no need for faith or trust because I am content within my conditions, circumstances, and control. However, when things do not go according to my plan, my will and my word it forces me to depend on, lean on, rely on and trust the Lord.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

We want to believe that whatever you ask in Jesus Name that He will do it. However, the important part is hidden in the remainder of the ordination when it says, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God has a provisionary plan for our life. He also has a providential plan for us. God supplies all our needs according to His Riches in Heaven. A place that we cannot see, feel or experience apart from Jesus Christ. It is not a place to be comprehended by human logic but faith made logical by the Word of God. We pray for the things that produce comfort, convenience or control but to know Christ and live in Him means giving up these things to become confident in our hope. Truth bomb that doesn’t feel good when it hits but as it sinks in you will experience peace that passes all understanding. This peace allows us to be patient enough to see that when God doesn’t answer our prayer for our will that His Will comes to pass and it is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Yes, it did rain on our son’s furniture and ruin some of it. However, before we made it back to town new items were found and arranged for purchase. We were all gathered around a nice meal enjoying each other by dinner time. Tired? Yes. Rained on? Totally. Together? Absolutely. God is doing wonderful things in our midst. His Plan and Purpose always is far greater than what we can promote for ourselves. He is working in us to make certain that our faith and confident hope prospers into a bond that will overstep death into eternity. Yes, it is in the details of life that challenge us until one day rather than trying to control everything – we finally see that His Word will not return to Him void. He is indeed working every detail of our life for His Glory. He will answer the prayers of a righteous man but it doesn’t always turn out, look like or happen as we asked. Faith in God requires us to experience rain. The rain comes with promise. It promotes productivity. It waters the seed of faith in us so it will grow, develop and thrive in every season of life straight into forever.

James 5:17-18 (NKJV) The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (I Kings 17:1)

When Elijah prayed that it would not rain, he was not praying according to his will. Think about it. Drought in the land would cause him personal hardship. It would also be a life-threatening proclamation to king and country that would put his life in danger. However, God was setting Elijah and the people up. First there was the widow who would be given the impossible child. This would be the child resurrected from the dead. This would be the same woman whose testimony restored all she had lost in the drought. All this came to pass because she faithfully opened her home to the prophet. God had all the details planned out in the drought. Then God told the prophet it was time to release the rain again. Surely this would bring favor to God’s man, Elijah. Well, not exactly. It would be the setup for great revival on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal would be proven wrong and many would call on the Name of the Lord. Jezebel would now threaten Elijah’s life and he would hide on the mountain. God came to him there and he would experience new revelation and communion with the Lord.

I Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV) Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is setting you up. He has something in store for you worth waiting for. He is working in you and through you to bring it to pass. God did not send the rain, wind, broken pieces, earthquake, fire or any of those other things to harm you. He is going through them with you to bring about fulfillment. The Lord is removing every barrier between you and His Blessing, Promise and Prosperity for your life. He is working hard to tear down every lie that keeps you from the Truth. Will you trust Him? Will you wait for Him? Will you seek Him? Will you keep talking to Him? Will you believe?

Genesis 9:12-16 (NKJV) And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Our son arrived to the college campus compliments of Life Flight. Once there he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. He spent six years on that campus getting his education and fighting cancer more than half the time. On my way to the hospital to begin treatment and on the same highway traveled home on yesterday – there were more rainbows than I could count. I cried the whole way. Not because of the journey begun but the promise in those rainbows. Rain comes with promise. The promise that God is with us. He has not forsaken us and will use every drop to prosper our life. It may be messy and inconvenient. It may spoil our plans or reroute our life. But in the end, I have found the Lord to always be faithful. Our son graduated college and beat cancer more than once maybe that was the sign in all those rainbows. When God decided to destroy the earth and all the inhabitants except Noah and his family – the man of God who found favor with Him could not stop the rain from coming. He could just be obedient in building the ark, getting on it when ordered, patiently waiting out the storm and exiting when it was time. Once there God promised a new covenant…a better covenant… and with every shower there will be a rainbow to remind us. God is with us. Jesus lives in us. It may not be going according to our plan, but it is according to His Plan. He is faithful.

If you are going through a storm that you have tried to pray away unsuccessfully, be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. The rain is watering the seed of faith planted in your heart and as your soul prospers so will your life. God is doing more than you can think or ask. You just have to believe and keep confident in God’s Word for your life. He has promised you a future and hope attained in wholeheartedly seeking Him. It will cost you convenience, comfort and control. But in the end, it will be more than you ever could have produced naturally as His Peace overtakes you and His Joy fills you from the inside out. Your cup will run over. The table set before your enemies. His Unfailing Love and Goodness will sweep you off your feet and carry you way into your Destiny.

Hosea 6:3 (NKJV) Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

 

What’s Love Got to Do with It

Love

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

Just as I have loved you…you also are to love one another. Oh Jesus, if it were only that easy. “People are people so why should it be…You and I should get along so awfully.” (Depeche Mode) A little 1984 flashback for you today. Why can’t we be friends? Another song from the past and the list goes on. Why can’t people accept one another in love? Church I am talking to us just as much as anyone else. “Bless their heart” gives an open door for backdoor banter and faulty fodder. Jesus tells us to love one another but not just to love from our capacity but as He does in abundance without prejudice. Withholding nothing to give it away. Isn’t that what it means to give up this life to have forever? Serving in the local church and avoiding sinful habits outlined clearly in doctrine is one thing. However, love is the only thing that Jesus requires. For if we learn to love the Lord completely, it becomes the overflow of our life to love others. All others. More than ourselves. Jesus – teach us today to love one another enough that ALL people will know that we are your disciples.

Every human being ever created is seeking love and acceptance. I am convinced that each heart is born with a receptor sending out a signal for love. Unconditional love. True love. Eternal love. Gracious love. Never ending love. Where do we find such love? God is love. (I John 4:8) He loves with His All. (John 3:16) Jesus laid down His Life for us which is deemed as the greatest love of all. (John 15:13) The First Fruit of God’s Spirit in us is love. (Galatians 5:22) The only commandment given to us by Jesus was to love one another. (John 13:34) There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God again thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing at all. (Romans 8:31-39)

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

Our ability to become more than conquerors is our full acceptance of God’s Love as trustworthy and true. We test the limits of His Love constantly. Our flesh rebels against the slightest possibility that there is a God who loves me beyond my capacity to love and live for Him. A selfless Father who doesn’t look at sin and has no regrets but loves us completely. This is the vast reservoir from which a believer loves others more than themselves and extends the same courteous grace to their enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44) Why? We were once enemies with God. (Romans 5:10) Sin put us in that position as adversaries to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is taken by force. (Matthew 11:12) The enemy assaults the Kingdom by trying to convince the Body that Christ cannot truly love them beyond what they do or how they live. It is such insecurity that keeps our love limited and with carefully constructed borders. Never letting anyone in or allowing our love to pour out beyond comfort and control. What if they hurt me? Do you serve a Living God who heals you? What if they don’t love me? So what, there is a God who loves you and wraps you in His Arms. What if they betray me or use me? God supplies all our needs doing more than we can think, ask or imagine to satisfy the desire of our heart. Why do we put such a great expectation in others to fill our needs and voids with a God like that? Are you a lover? Do you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and body today? Is it evident in the love you are giving to others?

Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

I used to work for the school system in technical education. My position was supervising Student Services which meant dealing with student complaints. There was a young man who made some poor choices in education and ended up on academic probation. His financial aid could not be disbursed due to his performance. His mother decided to pay the school a visit due to the unfair treatment of her son. She was a force to be reckoned with. By this time in my career, I was pretty good at reasoning with mama bears offended at the treatment until this lady showed up. She yelled. She screamed. She cussed out my entire staff. As if not enough, the administration of the school were all away at a conference and it was up to me to satisfy this woman AND the federal government. After what seemed like all afternoon, we finally came to agreement. My team was battered and bruised by her abrasive words, accusations and outright ugliness. As we parted ways, she said, “God bless you!” I smiled as she handed me a business card to contact her if her little precious began acting up again. Her profession? Reverend So-So…

What does love have to do with it? Everything. A church absent of unconditional love that flows to every person who walks through the door is just another religion and not worth anyone’s time. Jesus came to prepare a Body of Believers who love unconditionally and selflessly following His Example all the way to the Cross. To lay down their life for other people on a regular and ongoing basis not because they have to but because they want to honor His Gracious Gift of love to them. Step outside into the church parking lot as people are racing to beat the church next door to the buffet. It becomes clear that the rain of God’s Word did not find fertile soil but is more like water being poured on a rock. Our love for God must flow beyond all barriers including our family, friends and co-workers but outside our comfort zone to strangers and enemies, too. What is love?

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This is love. These are the qualities of true love demonstrated by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit inside of us produces this kind of love which gives seed to every other fruit in the garden of our heart. This kind of love. Love in this world has grown cold. Dysfunction defines most relationships which opens a gateway to God’s Grace. Grace is required to love other people without condition. People are sinful. Sin is just part of the package. Selfishness is a human quality that can only be overcome by the death and eradication of pride. In the verses preceding this definition of love, the Word of God dares to enter the sacred corridors of the church. The “Gifts”, prophetic powers, and even mountain-moving faith are rendered useless in the absence of love. If we do not have love…there is nothing gained from the Gospel.

To gain proper perspective, we move on to the verses after the definition of love. All these “gifts” given to us will one day pass away. They are to edify the Body of Christ and build us into a sound structure of love to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that extends to every other living, breathing soul without condition. Spiritual maturity comes when love is blind. It moves like faith believing without seeing. Spiritual maturity is to love others not for what they can or cannot do for you or if they treat you with the respect you deserve but rather in godly character that understands our love is not from us but from the One who loves us most, who loved us first and who loves us forever. Loving others is not something I do but the Christ in me does from the inside out. The Love of God restores the trampled and broken hearts of humans transforming them into overflowing springs to refresh others and show them the Light of His Amazing Love. Love is revival. There will be no revival in the midst of God’s People until first His Love is manifested there.

I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I know what it feels like to have a broken heart. To feel unloved and unwanted by others. To be the outsider in a crowded room. But you know what else I have discovered, the vast parameters of God’s Love. When I find myself wallowing in self-pity or about to lose my temper and tell someone how I really feel, it is time to stop and consider my position in God’s Love. See there is no end to it. It has no boundaries. His Love is limitless. I can get caught up in religion sometimes and lose sight of the relationship I have with my Beloved. I allow human expectation to overshadow what the Lord is doing in my life because I am seeking acceptance and affirmation from the wrong place. When this happens, I tend to lose sight of those around me who need the Love of God lived before them. Those who need my immediate attention as conduit of God’s Love, Grace and Acceptance just as I am. People are not a problem – they are the Kingdom. Every single one of them have potential to become sons and daughters of God. Jesus died for them too. He gave just as much for the one who forsakes Him as He did giving up His Life and Kingship for you and me. I forget that sometimes when selfishness and pride overtake my very human heart. The hardness becomes a callous that must be quickly and severely dealt with. Faith, hope and love are the only eternal things in life – the Lord has pointed to love as the greatest of them all.

2 John 5-6 (ESV)  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.