Lord, Help Me

Lord Help Me 2

Psalm 121 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Did you know that broccoli can cure cancer? No seriously there is a study that there are properties in this amazing veggie that can end these rogue cells attack. Lord, help me. Help me to see that people are trying to help when offering advice and articles such as this one to my son or even me. Our son has been in remission for almost four years now. People still send us information about diets that help aid in the fight against this horrible disease. I value their concern. I appreciate their good intentions. Really, I do…at least I try to.

There was a point in time about five years ago that every avenue of treatment was being explored. Our son was living in the realm of hope. Doctors were desperate for something…anything to save our son’s life. Not only were physical doors slammed in his face but financial wells of insurance dried up completely. We were living in a season of extreme drought and famine. Sitting in the hospital praying for God to help us – I would open emails or get texts about dietary changes that would heal our son. I would get so angry and frustrated in my desperation for a “real” solution. Our prayers were answered by none other than the Lord. There is no other explanation. He is alive when there was a 98% chance that he would die. He is well despite the fact that “if” he survived they only expected it to be for a couple of years at the most. God is my helper. The Lord helped our son. He is ready to help you, too.

People generally have good intentions. So it is only natural that when trouble comes or tragedy strikes – our eyes wander looking for a helper. Someone who will listen or give a hand. What happens when no one comes? What does one do when forgotten? How do we handle loads too much to be borne alone? Where is our help? What does it look like? The Lord has promised not to leave us or forsake us so why do we feel all alone sometimes? Maybe a more fitting word might be…helpless.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Perspective and perception determine our position in life. We must decide where our help will come from by where we look for it. I can turn to people and they will help as much as they are able. I remember in the beginning of our son’s battle and our journey of faith – people brought food to our family every single day for months while I was away taking care of him. Not just take-out – no friends – they cooked spreads of delicious meals for them. Our son’s friends who were attending college in the same town as his treatment would come by to visit and maybe play some cards or video games. In the beginning, we were literally surrounded. Facing a disease such as cancer can be a long arduous journey. It is hard to watch a friend endure the treatments or loved one with anxiety. It’s hard to watch another face what we fear the most. The enemy wants us to feel isolated, alone, and abandoned. It makes us easy pickings for his lies.

From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord. You will never gain such insight until every leaves you. I wish it were different but our eyes lead us most of the time. It is only when we cannot see any other assistance or exit from our current situation that we tend to cry out to the Lord. Yet, He is always ready, willing and able to help us. In fact, it is His Prime Objective and Innermost Intention to save, heal, deliver, and prosper our life. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. The faithfulness of the Lord keeps Him on high alert and always attentive. He doesn’t fall sleep on the job. He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So if it’s not the Trinity’s fault we feel helpless and alone…who is it then?

Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

When our son was diagnosed, I sought the Lord concerning this turn of events. Recounting my allegiance to Him and then reciting His Word to Him as if He somehow forgot, I stormed the gates of Heaven and marched right up to His Throne. He told me, “Your son will live and not die.” I took that word and tucked in my heart and mind for safekeeping. I began to build my faith around it. There came a point in time that those words given to me by the Lord were all I had left to hang on to. Nothing…NOTHING pointed to a future only a funeral. Yet sitting in the darkness, I dared whisper them just one more time. God is our helper. If He says it – it will come to pass. His Word never ever returns to Him void. It is us. We are the problematic variable in this life of faith and believing. We do not wait on God. God is not into temporary fixes but triumphant recoveries. Jesus did not come for ties – He promised you the WIN! The Holy Spirit was placed in us to remind us of His Word and accompany us in our wait time. What has the Lord promised? Are you still waiting? Waiting and wandering are very different things. God is not diversified. He calls it double-mindedness. God is faithful to His Word…are you? Am I?

Mark 9:22-24 (ESV) And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

But if you can do anything…

How many times is this our prayer to the Lord? Rather than coming to Him with boldness and confidence in His Word as the Truth that governs our life and guides us to destiny – we come to him like a homeless and helpless beggar? God if you can do this one thing. Jesus if you can heal me. Lord if you can help me. Well, it is obvious in his response, Jesus was a bit irritated with the man’s lack of belief. All things are possible for one who believes. Do you believe today? Before you answer think about it. It is disheartening to think how many Christians do not believe and have no idea. Vacillating between yes He can to maybe He will to can He – as believers it is important to stand on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ knowing that He will do exactly as He promised to those who believe. He is faithful even when our faith is flailing about.

Psalm 118:6-7 (ESV) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Please do not misinterpret these words today. People are important. Everyone who is in our life is there for a reason. God orders our steps and encounters along the way. He puts certain personalities in our path. There is purpose and meaning in every human connection in our life. We must come to know and understand that the Lord is on our side. He is always with us. No matter where we go, what we do, and even how badly we mess us. He is right there – on the inside of us. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit who is our HELPER. He lives in us now. It is up to us to develop a partnership with His Spirit inside of us. We must become friends of God through faith and believing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Just one impossibility turned into a miracle will change your perspective forever. Just one instance when God’s Word comes to pass will change your heart and mind. Faith begins to grow in the fertility of a broken heart. Jesus knows and understands our feelings, emotions and pain because He experienced them all. He knows our weaknesses. He carried our burden. Let Him be your helper today. Lord, help me.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 54:4 (ESV) Behold God is my helper. The Lord is the upholder of my life.

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Keep the Wheel Turning

Keep Spinning

Jeremiah 18:2-4 (ESV) “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

The image was vivid and clear. A bicycle wheel spinning when a stake appears in the spokes. The movement is halted and what once was an image of symmetry in motion halts abruptly. What is stopping us from turning? Repentance is turning our heart, mind and life over to Jesus Christ. The vision I see makes me wonder what in me is not turning properly. Is there something I have allowed to enter what once was fluid and now is stagnant? Christian living is a perpetual and constant turning of our life over to the Lord. Salvation is only the starting point of redemption. We must redeem our life piece by piece reconciling our way and will to the Father for recreation through His Son – Jesus Christ. There will never be a point in our natural existence when repentance will be complete. Our purpose and destiny in life is achieved by faith in the process of God that is repentance.

Arise, and go down to the potter’s house…

The instruction is clear. It is not open to interpretation. It is an invitation to leave one’s current position to enter new destiny and possibilities only available in the Presence of God. Who will go? It is a choice. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You have to decide that new life is the desired pathway for your life. Arise. Get up. Move. Go down to the potter’s house. It doesn’t say go “up” to the potter’s house, but rather go down. Humility is essential in engagement with God. You cannot come boldly before Him in pride which is self-confidence and reliance but must enter confident in the work of His Son and its availability to us. Will you arise? Will you go down to the potter’s house today?

There I will let you hear my words…

The act of true repentance positions us to hear God’s Word and understand what exactly He is saying. We must arise and go down to His House – entering His Presence. God is speaking. He is always whispering to us in a still small voice. The distractions of life do not silence His Word. They keep us from hearing Him. It is the act of sacrificing our time and surrendering our priorities to wait for Him to speak and give us understanding that allows the transformation process to begin. We must have a desire to hear the voice of God and do what He says. Keeping His Commands are essential. It begins with the simple summons, “Come.”

So I went down to the potter’s house…

Repentance will always lead to obedience. Obedience is the key to opening the potential and purpose hidden within us. Faith holds the key that opens the door to all that heaven has hidden for God’s People. We cannot experience God’s Blessings or Promises apart from His Instruction. You cannot have God’s Will – your way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Word that is written is breathed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Word. We cannot and will not ever reach maximum potential in Jesus Christ apart from the Spirit and Truth connecting in us. Will you meet Him where He is today?

There he was working at his wheel…

This may very well be my favorite part of this passage, God is faithful. He is always faithful to His Word. He does exactly as He promised to do apart from our departures and wanderings. When returning to Him, the Lord is still there working everything out for our good. (Romans 8:28) I am so thankful that God is not a man. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. Nothing can separate me from His Love – not even me. When I repent, turn back, humbly enter His Presence, God is exactly the same as when I left Him last time. My faithfulness is not primary in my relationship with the Lord. His Faithfulness is everything. It means that I can be exactly who He promised and fulfill my potential in Him no matter how many times I wander off or succumb to weakness. His Grace is always enough. His Grace is sufficient.

The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand…

God is not shocked or dismayed when I fall short. He knows exactly what I am going to do before I do it. He keeps me safely tucked away in His Hand. He knows me inside and out yet still chooses to love me unconditionally, recklessly and completely. He waits for me to respond to His Promises. Lovingly and securely I am in His Hand. No one and nothing can take me from Him. Isn’t it a relief to know that God knows us, yet loves us just the same. He doesn’t throw away “spoiled” clay but holds us in His Hand until…

He reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

No vessel is ever too broken for the Lord. Jesus knows exactly who He invested His Great Love in still choosing to give us His All. Our undoing gives God the opportunity to “rework” us into another vessel. One fit for His Use, His Service, and His Glory. God has already promised that He has a plan for our life containing a future and hope. It is by faith that our confidence gives way to trusting the process of brokenness. To allow God to begin to reshape us through renewal, restoration and revival from the inside out. It begins with repentance. Repentance allows the potter’s wheel to keep spinning. It is the very thing that ends stalling in our process and gives way to our potential. Is there a stake in your spoke today? The Lord will carefully take it if you will surrender it to Him. God is ready to reveal your divine purpose and release your full potential today. Will you arise and come to the potter’s house with me? He is ready to make us a masterpiece.

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

John 14:18 (ESV) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

On this Father’s Day, many will celebrate the men in their life who have filled the prestigious role of dad. Dad comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The natural father given the title by sheer contribution would be the likely candidate for celebration. However, there are guardians, grandfathers and step-fathers that have become the bonus dad for many. Men who stepped up to fill the void or simply added to the enrichment of children who were not their biological children but their kids just the same. Some may even honor the spiritual fathers and mentors who have guided each one with love and divine discipline along the way. Dads will be honored on earth and in heaven today. Today is all about dad!

I am quite certain the song, “Good Father” will resonate in our churches in honor of God our Father. Sons and daughters of God will sing it out among those who remain orphans. Those who have not met the Father in person or allowed Him to manifest in their heart and mind will not understand the grace and goodness of unconditional love from our Father in Heaven who came to us in His Son. We can relate to the story of the prodigal son because most of us identify with his person. It is difficult to understand the heart of the father who loves without consequence or condition but welcome his son home with open arms and full reconciliation. Oh that we could know the Father’s Love today as it is not as one may perceive it.

John 14:8-11 (ESV) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip thought his request reasonable in his misconception of Christ. He wanted to identify with the Son but needed to “see” the Father to bring it all together. Faith does not come by sight but by hearing. The Word stood right in front of him, but because Jesus did not meet Philip’s earthly expectation – he questioned the identity of Christ. The prodigal was in a pig pen eating with swine when the thought of being a servant in his father’s house seemed like a logical solution to his impending starvation. I will return home and ask my father to allow me to be his slave. He was looking for a consequence. He was convinced there would be a condition. Philip didn’t see the Father in the Son so he doubted. It didn’t matter how much love Jesus demonstrated or how many miracles that He performed. Philip did not believe. The prodigal did not believe that he was worthy of his father’s love so he sought his compassion instead. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to release the Spirit of Adoption for us. The Holy Spirit in us identifies us as sons and daughters of God. He is a good father. We are no longer orphans. The question is – do you believe?

John 14:12-14 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

The Spirit of Adoption gives us the right of receivership. Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit when we first believed. This is the Way Maker that restores a right relationship between God the Father and His Precious Children. Done. Complete. Powerful. Life. See there is nothing in heaven or the earth withheld from us as His Children but we do not live in freedom as His Children when locked in our identity as orphans. The prodigal spirit is that of an orphan.

Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

You have received the Spirit of God. You do not have the spirit of slavery or fear for these are products of sin. You now have been saved from these terrible reminders of your past. The Spirit of Adoption given to us by Christ FULLY RESTORES our relationship with God the Father. Complete. Lacking nothing. You are a Child of the Living God with full access and benefits. We must learn to identify with the Spirit within that bears witness to our true identity. The One that reminds us in the midst of the storm or struggle that we are Children of God. The One who whispers the truth when the enemy is pummeling us with lies. The One who is always ready to receive us because He pursues us each day with unfailing love and goodness. His Goodness is for the land of the living. You are no longer left to feed on the crumbs under the table but have been given a seat AT the table. God will not force you to be His Child or live as part of His Kingdom. He simply has given us access. The rest, my dear friend, is up to you and me.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Your natural father is only a man. Any other father figure, like the one who partnered in your existence, is a human given to faults and failures just like everyone else. As we celebrate dad today, it is important to understand that although the one who is called father in your life may have disappointed you – there is one father who never disappoints. He will meet and exceed the expectation of His Children. Children exercise the rights of relationship. There is no prerequisite for a father’s love. As Children of God, our acceptance or denial of God’s Love does not change the fact that He is love and has chosen to adopt us as His Children. He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ withholding nothing from us that was given to His Son – Jesus. It is easy to judge God by our human parental experience, but so errant and remiss. God is not an earthly father but our Father in Heaven. Nothing can separate us from His Love. He is constantly pursuing us and waiting for us to return to Him without reservation. He is ready to respond to our acceptance of His Spirit of Adoption today and every day!

You are not an orphan. You are not alone. God has not left you to fend for yourself. He is a Good Father.  He loves you and has wonderful promises hidden away just for you. It is discovered by accepting Him as our Father. The Perfect Father. We access Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. He gives us His Spirit which seals our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God. Every day is Father’s Day for those who believe. We celebrate adoption today because we are no longer orphans.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV) And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Easily Distracted

Easily Distracted

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I sat down with the youth of our church last week to talk about distractions. Using these two verses, we discussed some of the distractions in their daily life that keeps them from focusing on time with the Lord. In just a brief thirty minutes, it was as though the Holy Spirit was teaching the lesson. Rabbit trails and squirrel chases had us in fifty different conversations all at once. It took extreme discipline to wrangle everyone back on topic. It’s funny how that works in life. We are so busy running around like chickens with our heads cut off that we lose sight of Jesus unintentionally. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith that is discovered by following Him rather than seeing where exactly He is going. This requires paying attention to every detail such as His Word and communicating through prayer to know and understand what to do and when to do it. The benefit is at the end of the day peace overtakes us and the lie of the enemy causing panic is dissolved in truth. Let us run the race with endurance that is set before us. This indicates a marathon and not a sprint. One must live a life of self-control and discipline to find His Way. We must learn to cast aside the weight of sin, doubt and discouragement to live in righteousness, trust and hope. How do I get there from here?

Song of Solomon 2:15-16 (ESV) Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.

I find it fascinating that these two verses are coupled together in the Word of God. It is an intentional dialogue and one that can change our focus immediately. Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Your life is fertile ground. You have seeds of potential to be planted in faith. The enemy knows that God has promised you a prosperous and abundant life. He is not after the fruit of our life but rather to kill our potential. The distractions of life will cause us to stop plowing, planting, pruning, and preparing for a harvest. The little foxes ate away at the base of the plant and it died. They did not kill it but rather disconnected it from the source of the soil. Our source in life is Jesus Christ. He must be our beloved. We must decide that my beloved is mine and I am His. This commitment called covenant changes everything. It demands our attention. It is a union of one.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (ESV) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

When Jesus Christ died for you and me, He gave us freedom. Real freedom to choose all over again the life that is lived in us and through us. We have life and good or death and evil. Life and good is only obtained when we choose to pursue God through the Love of Jesus Christ. His Grace gets us there. It is a choice to walk in His Ways, keep His Commandments, and to live and prosper in His Love. Bottom line – it is a choice. The life of my choosing is not the result of God’s Lack of Goodness or the Insufficiency of Christ’s Grace but my selection of something else. God does not offer a lower standard of living – it is up to us to choose it instead of abundant life.

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

To decide to pursue God’s Love is to believe that He is good. His Goodness is for you. It is for right here and right now. Those who believe will wait on the Lord. To be strong is not the absence of weakness but acceptance of amazing grace that affords unconditional love. The lie of the enemy is that God expects something of us other than just us. There is nothing I can do for the Lord – He did it all for me already. I cannot repay Him. I cannot in any way compensate the God, Father, Son or Spirit for the complete work. All I can do is accept it. To fully experience God’s Goodness is to fully believe that His Love for me is complete without my assistance. What a pride killer and ego buster? I am weak and helpless but all I have and all I am – I give to You – Jesus!

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I love this “let your reasonableness be known to everyone”. The problem with our faith is that it is illogical. We are not convinced and so easily distracted from the truth by the lies of the enemy. We settle for less because there is doubt within us. Faith is reasonable when Christ becomes our beloved. When our relationship with Him is the foundation of all other things in our life. Fiction becomes fact when backed by Truth. To decide to pursue the Lord is not enough. We must be fully persuaded that God loves us and His Goodness is for us. Otherwise peace is compromised by rebellion and treason of the heart gives way to compromise because doubt is allowed to exist. We must focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. This will silence complaints, grumblings, arguments and disagreement. When faith becomes a reasonable choose, it will be our choice every time. God’s Love is full of goodness. He is always good. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. It is all about believing enough to wait for Him.

Have you lost sight of the author and finisher of faith today? Have little foxes nibbled at your confidence a bit? He is the vine. We are the branches. Jesus will sustain you if you choose fix your heart and mind on Him today and stop allowing all the distractions whittle away at your faith. You are your beloved’s and He belongs to you. There is nothing that can or will every separate you from the Love of God or Christ in you… but you! Change your confession over your life today. Speak the Word not the world’s perspective. Make your faith reasonable and logical by putting God’s Word in action and living a life of rejoicing in all things. The enemy flees when we resist him. Be strong in the Lord today – He is strong in you!

Lord, I ask you to fill each person’s heart with the peace that passes all understanding. Put Your Mighty Hand over each fragile broken heart and guard it from the fiery darts of the enemy today. You are good! You love us. You pursue us with unfailing love. May each one of us accept your love, grace and mercy today – in Jesus Precious Name!

 

The Light

The Light

John 8:12 (ESV)  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

In a moment, the last breath is taken and another beautiful light is gone from the earth. Reading all the posts on social media, the light that one woman cast was far greater than she knew. She simply did as God instructed never pretending to be perfect yet striving for perfect love. Her character was that of a Titus woman called to build others and restore the broken hearted. Her hands bathed in the tears she had captured and arms heavy from the hugs she had given – it seems surreal that her work here is done. Laughing, crying and healing together – she spoke wisdom into my life. She was only a few steps ahead of me in time yet so wise in the depths of her soul. She is with the Lord today. Her light is not out as I thought it was waning but through the legacy of her life – somehow seems a bit brighter.

When my grandmother passed away so many years ago, many people offered their condolences. Their words were inspiration of another light in the dark shadows of the world. Though she never held a microphone, stood behind a pulpit or even conducted a Bible study – my grandmother gave off a similar light. People talked of her loving kindness. They told stories of her encouragement and generosity. Individuals pouring out volumes about her love. No one really mentioned anything about my Gram’s earthly accomplishments just how much she loved others. What a legacy to leave! Jesus create that legacy in me!

This is the legacy of light that God has entrusted us with through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” But the Lord did not stop there but went on with a promise – “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Those who are believers have the Living Light inside of them. We are but earthen vessels but our great potential is to cast off the Light of His Love hidden deep within. To love others as Christ loves us. To give our heart away with nothing to lose but everything to gain as our Light grows brighter with each new spark or tiniest flame.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

God placed His Light inside of us knowing that we are all broken vessels. No one lives a perfect or sinless life but that cannot be our excuse but our exclamation. Every crack and crevice in the human heart has the potential, once filled with His Love, to illuminate the darkness for someone else. We do not give off artificial light but rather simply allow our passion for Christ to burn within us. To know Him is to love Him and to serve Him is to love everyone else with His Love.

Some people are really good at this kind of love. They are usually the most broken folks you meet because there is nothing left to hold on to. In their lifetime, the heartaches and disappointments that the enemy used to destroy them makes them perfect vessels to let God’s Love and Light shine through. They have no pretense but live transparently held together by His Love. Light shines though such people. God wants to shine the Light of His Love through you. I think sometimes it is human nature to try to present a Gospel that is not real rather than the True Love that is found. It doesn’t require bright lights, good seating, loud music or perfect people. No it begins with the confession – I once was lost but now I am found. It continues with extending the same love, grace, compassion and kindness to every person encountered for the rest of our natural lifetime.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Yes – you! Inside of you is enough light to illuminate every dark place around you. His Name is Jesus! Inviting Him to live inside your heart is enough spark to start revival all around you. Today as I think of my dear friend and her living legacy of light – I must ask myself – Is my light shining before others so that they see God is good and give Him glory! When I came to the church I attend and met this mighty woman of God – my torch was dim. My heart so broken that the light inside was flickering in my tears. She helped me. She gave me some of the light inside of her to help me find my way back into the light of His Love completely. I will be forever grateful for my friend. I am so thankful for Jesus who gives us the Light of His Love to walk through dark places and times in this life with hope and revelation. Lord, help us always remember to be the light. To never give up but constantly fan the flame that you have placed inside us for all the world to see. In Jesus Name – Amen!

Power of Praise

Power of Praise

Psalm 108:1-5 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Our grandson is just four months old. He is beginning to engage with us. When he does something new and exciting, everyone smiles and praises him. When he simply sits in his seat looking around in wonder, you guessed it – we do the same thing. He is constantly being praised and affirmed even though his behavior is simple milestones in human growth and development. His mama tells him all the time that he is a good boy and he is a “cool dude”. She is constantly positively affirming her little boy. He smiles at her words. He looks to those around him for their reaction to his new endeavors. It is important to speak life over our children. To affirm them when they are good and redirect not so good behaviors. Punishment is not the goal of parenting but rather discipline. Building strong character in our youth begins with affirmation and praise at an early age. Praising tiny humans raises up confident adults.

There is power in praise. It elevates our spirit and strengthens our resolve eliminating insecurity and lack of confidence. However, it is not human nature to praise. It is all too common to be critical, to tear down, and this is usually from a place of comparison. People are created in the image of the Living God. He is the standard set that sin has stolen from us. It is our mission in life to discover the eternity hidden inside of our heart and take the measure of faith entrusted to us to pursue it as our destiny. As sons and daughters of the King, there is no need for strife or division because we are all joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

My heart, O God, is steadfast…

My heart is steadfast, loyal, faithful, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid and trusting. Are these the words that describe your heart connection to the Father? Do you remain steadfast in love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of His Spirit? Praising God comes not from our current circumstances or conditions. These generally will produce complaints. Praise for the Living God must come from a confident heart. A heart that fully knows and understands that its connection to God is through His Son – Jesus therefore our boast is in nothing this world has to offer but fully consummated within a steadfast heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our heart must remain constant in this truth to offer praise in every situation. Praise builds the stairway that faith will tread upon. Though one might think our praise elevates the Lord – it really is our pathway to His Presence.

I will sing and make music with all my soul…

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

Praise makes us prosper. We must make our praise project from the depth of our soul. To prosper is to make successful. The prayer to prosper and become successful is not answered unless it comes from our soul. There are many who have created shortcuts to God’s Favor that simply are not true. God honors every seed planted by faith in good ground when our soul is healthy and our heart is fertile. What is a fertile heart? A heart that is broken and remade by the Hand of God into the wonderful masterpiece that He has promised before our birth. What is a healthy soul? A soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. A soul that is satisfied with the Bread of Life and Living Water. A soul that pursues God’s Presence. A soul that is hopelessly and completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Our soul is eternal. It must be trained and guided to look past today and all the cares and worries of life to become confident in Jesus Christ alone.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Praise propels us past our problems to the promises of God for our life. It is the opportunity to remind ourselves what the Lord has promised and what He will do for us. We really have nothing to offer the Lord except our praise and adoration. There is no possible way to earn or deserve the goodness and love that He pursues us with each day. Our pride would like to somehow find a way to repay the Lord to keep itself alive, but the truth is that there is no possible way to out give God so we praise Him for His Faithfulness and Generosity to us. Praise is a valuable tool when the giant seems too big or obstacle too large. It elevates our perspective from the ground to the Heavenlies. It reveals angels unaware who are positioned for our deliverance. It excites the Spirit of God within us so that as He expands our momentary trials and troubles don’t seem that big any longer. Praise keeps us company while we wait on the Lord for proper timing brings about completion.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Praise changes the atmosphere from hopeless to hopeful. Paul and Silas were in prison. They were arrested and severely beaten after delivering a slave girl from a demonic presence. Surely God should have protected them. Why such savage treatment? Where was God? Chained to the wall like animals, they were surely discouraged and afraid. Things were looking rather hopeless for the men of God. They were in danger. In the midnight hour… Before moving on – I think it pertinent to point out that praise is not always our first thought. Midnight is the time when one day turns into another. The Word of God says that mourning lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. I wonder if they were crying and complaining but heard the bell toll twelve and decided to make a change. It says that they were praying and singing hymns to God with an audience of prisoners when suddenly… Do you need a suddenly today? Are you discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? On the verge of hopelessness – it is important to evaluate our vocabulary. Praise has the power to change the atmosphere. The breath of God in us released causes a change around us. Not only did the doors fly open and chains fall off of Paul and Silas but every prisoner was set free. The jailer was saved and took the men home to wash their wounds and feed them good food. The next morning the magistrates came to free them. This all happened because they choose to praise in the prison. Whatever has you captive is subject to your praise. Jesus lives in you!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV) Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God affirms His Children. He has great affection for you. He has no intention of punishing you but rather good discipline gives footsteps direction and makes destiny divine. He put eternity in our heart for a reason. There is power and purpose awaiting those who pursue His Love with all their heart, soul, body and mind. It is important to position ourselves in His Presence to live in His Promises. Praise is our constant reminder to exalt the Lord giving Him proper placement in our life. No allegiance is a sign of rebellion. Praise communicates our allegiance to Jesus Christ and puts the enemy on notice that we have relinquished our life to Him as Savior and Lord. Praise does not exalt Christ in the sense of moving Him but rather praise moves us. We must be intentional in our praise. Praise is a powerhouse for those who choose to use it.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Absolute

Absolute

Psalm 147:5 (NLT) How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!

God is great. He is absolute in power. His understanding is beyond human comprehension which makes faith naturally illogical. The absoluteness of God is a stumbling block for human nature. As perfectly created imperfect beings there is a contradiction in us to be settled by grace. The weakness in us is sin. The solution for it is Jesus Christ. Like any corrosive, there is a certain erosion to the body, mind and spirit that leaves a void once the penalty of sin is paid for. The unlocked door to an opened heaven still needs a gentle push to swing wide giving us access to new life, spiritual blessing and future that God has already prerecorded for us.

Our heart has a measure of faith and eternity already deposited before our birth. It was placed in us by God the Father as a compass of calling and map to destiny. Sin calls for substitutions and certain compromises but God is holy and tells us to be holy, too. How is it possible to remove all impurity from that which is tainted? Is it possible to have the life that God predestined me to have even when I have taken detours along the way? Of course it is because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the stability of God’s Plan for us. He is the resurrection power that gives lives to dead dreams and destinies buried by sin, shame, regret, remorse and self-loathing. The absoluteness of God is our staunch defender, He doesn’t lie. He cannot change His Mind. He is Sovereign. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. This is the absoluteness of God that will not allow His Children to settle for something less and be satisfied.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous— how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

God’s Plan and Purpose for your life is absolute. What does that mean? Absolute means free from imperfection, complete, perfect, not mixed or adulterated. It is pure and complete. The absoluteness of God makes His Promises unrestricted, unrestrained and unlimited. He is positive that He loves you and certain that He desires you. He is outright about His Intentions and there is nothing you can add to His Perfection. God is absolute in His Love and Intentions for you and me. We must be absolutely certain of this in order to put our faith and trust in Him.

The life by design described in Psalm 139 is not the blueprint of a perfect person but a perfectly loved Child of the Living God. Created in His Image to be like Him, the Lord carefully constructed every detail of our life and that includes the mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses in our sin. This prerecorded life deemed “marvelous” workmanship has the potential of flawlessness. If every moment of our life was carefully laid out before our birth or a single moment passed, an all-knowing God would have to include the good days and bad. Those times when we choose less. The moments that we rebelled. Sin had to be a factor or His Grace would not be enough. God’s Thoughts concerning you and me are precious. He is absolutely positively certain of His Love for us.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Because we have these promises…let us. I need you to read this again. So…because we have these promises…let us. Are you absolutely convinced of God’s Love for you? Are you confident that no matter what happened in the past or how things look today that His Love for you is unconditional and unfailing? See I don’t think we all do or there would be more certainty in the Body of Christ. Holiness is a consecrated life reconciled to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean living up to a standard clearly unattainable but letting the Christ in us take over. You can’t do it. How many times must we try and fail to see that the discipline in our life is not to become Christ but to let Christ become one in us?

Confidence in the intentions of God for His People produce a life of sowing faith. The measure of faith (Romans 12:3) already given to us planted in the fertile part of our heart marked eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Everything you need to live a holy life is in us. God gave it to us. He has already invested himself in us. Christ is the catalyst to claiming every His Plan, Purpose, and Promises. It already belongs to you. You must only step into His Absoluteness to have it. His Love is not understandable. His Plan is inconceivable. His Purpose is beyond our comprehension. His Affection for us is almost too good to be true. Yet it is…He promises to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) The angels do not even understand the limitless love and overwhelming attention that the Lord pays to us. What does it take to live in the place of true faith and actual holiness that responds to the promises of God?

Hebrews 12:10-11 (NLT) For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

God’s Plan for our life is established by His Absolute Perfection. It is certain. It cannot be changed or altered by scheme of man or the enemy of our soul. It is set in stone and written on our heart. It is through divine and personal discipline that our heart and mind become united with the Lord in holiness. Holiness is allowing the Living God to resurrection new life in us and through us. It means letting go of our plan, life goals and agendas by running them through the Word, asking God for His Will and choosing His Way every single time. It is a discipline. Discipline is not the same as punishment. We no longer are judged by God but by Christ. (John 5:21-23) How can Christ judge himself or why would He? If Christ lives in me, I will no longer be judged. It is only the parts of my life withheld from the Lord that are fodder for others. The pain of discipline is our physical, mental or natural response to change. Just like our muscles cry out after a work-out, flesh reacts to the pain of its own death. We must press through the pain with our eyes on the prize. God is absolutely and perfectly in love with you and me. His Promises belong to us and can never be taken from us. It is only by forfeit that a loss may be established. It is only the quitter who finds victory elusive. Do you trust the everlasting love of God today? Do you trust Him enough to be your absolute?

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Living a Kingdom Life

Living a Kingdom Life

Luke 12:31-34 (ESV) “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Kingdom of God belongs to the righteous. Our righteousness is founded and established in Christ alone. If Jesus Christ lives in us, then the Kingdom belongs to us equally. Do we live a Kingdom life? Do I live a Kingdom life? What is such an existence? It is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you and me His Kingdom? God wants us to live a rich and satisfied life. In fact, it is the reason that Jesus Christ came to give His Life and reestablish a right relationship between God and His People. We must seek that which is given to us. We must make it our passionate pursuit to receive the fullness of God given to us in His Kingdom. But how? Where? God’s Kingdom is not a house or inhabitable dwelling. God’s Kingdom begins in the human heart, overtaking the soul, changing our mind and engaging in a lifestyle of faith and confident hope not in what we see but completely in Who we believe.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God is His Love. He is our First Love. The Father loves us in our unlovable condition and consumes us with His Love. He does not give us a portion of His Extravagant Love. He gives us all of the all-consuming and completeness of His Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are the fickle hearts and wavering minds that choose to love Him one day and leave Him the next. It is never God’s Will or Way to abandon us to our own devices but He continually pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6) It is His Desire to live in relationship with us so even on our worst days new mercy is waiting for us. (Lamentations 3:22-23) His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. The power within us is the Holy Spirit who is the guarantor of God’s Faithfulness to us. He identifies us as God’s Children. He establishes Kingdom power and authority in us.

To be rooted and grounded in the Love of God is the starting point of a miraculous and prosperous life. To allow Christ to dwell in our heart and mind to the point that through faith nothing is ever impossible again because we are overtaken and consumed by His Love for us. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God again. Do you believe that today? You will never establish a Kingdom lifestyle outside of the complete confidence that God’s Love for you is complete and all-consuming. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) ”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ is life changing. It is the moment – that we decide that Christ is who He said that He is in our heart and mind the keys to the Kingdom are obtained. It is not anything we do but completely based on what we believe. Do you believe? Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” When Peter announced with heartfelt conviction, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, everything changed. Peter would go on to make many mistakes but that did not limit the Kingdom power bestowed in that moment. Jesus did build His Church on Peter – His Rock. The firm foundation of faith that believes that God is for us. The cornerstone of faith – Jesus – provided everything we need as a perfect sacrifice who gave us access to all of God the Father and fills us with His Spirit. The moment of reconciliation when our mind, soul and body agree that He is Christ. Christ in us. This is the point when everything changes for those who believe…truly believe.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:18-20) When the Body of Christ begins to believe with complete confidence that we have Kingdom power, no longer will there be separation. The revelation of Christ is personal. We own it. No one can take it or apportion our faith, blessing or promise for themselves. It belongs to us. It is our inheritance. God’s Investment in us is to be used for us and others. It cannot be taken. Therefore the need for comparison and competition fades in the shadow of complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Agreement brings unity and produces miracles, signs and wonders as Christ is in our midst.

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Every kingdom has a king, ruler or authority in command. Ours is Christ Jesus. Sometimes one must evaluate the heart and mind to resolve conflict. The enemy wants us to unseat Jesus from His Throne inside of us and allow pride to climb back up. There is nothing God wants or needs us to do. He simply wants us. He consumed with passionate love for us that is all-consuming. The conflict of confidence is created by doubt. To disbelieve that God’s Love is complete and His Kingdom within us. We must believe that the Word of God will not fail. We must plant our feet in the foundation of Jesus Christ and take a stand. He must remain on the Throne of our life to be the King of our kingdoms. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to clean house today? To remove the lesser things held on to in fear of the Power and Preeminence of Jesus Christ – our King. To sow seeds in the void left behind and pour healing oil over battle scars and wounds of the past. Let him wash away all fear, stress and anxiety to replace it with confidence in God’s Love and Power today. Speak the Word of God over yourself and situation today. I agree with you in Jesus Name that His Kingdom come – His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV)You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

Too Broken

Too Broken

I Corinthians 15:35-38 (MSG) Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? Are there things in God that are destroyed for a purpose? How does one know the difference? If the scripture is true that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His Purpose.” How do you explain brokenness in the midst of goodness? The painful process of dying to the present to release the full potential of the future requires every bit of faith inside of us and all the hope that has been mustered up. It takes courage beyond that which we are born with because it is a total investment in something we cannot see or comprehend with our senses yet nevertheless seek it with our heart. What seems to be “dead” in your life today? What dream, vision, goal or revelation? This is not about meaningless or worthless endeavors but those pursuits once sought after wholeheartedly that have fallen into pieces at our feet. You thought it was right. You thought it was His Calling. You believed that He sent you to this place or put you in this position. Now what?

The biggest hurdle of faith to overcome is human disappointment. Those times when things do not turn out as one expected and the experience is not what was hoped for or imagined. Faith must overcome the perceived failures in our life to reach the full potential of brokenness. Fully bending and surrendering our mind, will and emotions to the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ will require someone relenting and it will not be the Lord. If you are truly seeking to live the life that God has promised, brokenness is inevitable because the potential that is inside of us must find its way out.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, had died. He was a friend of Jesus. Martha confided in Christ that she believed that if the Lord had been there that her brother would be alive. Jesus shared a secret with Martha in her grief. “Your brother will be raised up.” The limitation on her faith exposed in her response. “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” How often we put boundaries on the Living God by pushing our expectation beyond this life into forever. Jesus goes on to tell her and then show her that He is the “I am, right now, Resurrection and Life.” You say that you believe but are you willing to let that thing you love most die to experience the Glory of God that waits those with real and genuine faith in the Living God?

And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” Our firmest conviction must become that there is nothing impossible with God in order to let doubt and fear die to grow faith and believing in our life. Some things will have to be too broken for human hands. Some things will have be become impossible for the Living God to manifest His Plan and Potential for your life evidenced in His Promises. We must die fully to self to be clothed fully in His Righteousness. Religion is only a half-hearted attempt to love and serve a fully-invested God.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (MSG) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The Grace of God is sufficient for me. His Power works its best in my weakness. His Presence is closest in my brokenness. Hear me today! Grace cannot become power in hard heart. It cannot facilitate God’s Strength in the stronghold of pride. If you are still standing, you have a long way to go before His Power can make it to your heart and mind. We must die to self to experience Resurrection Power and New Life. The battle begins inside of us. We must give up our way along with it our control. It is the continual lowering of self and exaltation of Christ. It is the giving to and forgiving of those who once were considered our enemy. We have but one enemy. The seed goes in the ground alone. One seed has enough potential to grow into something far greater than itself and reproduce enough to create more than it ever was. This potential is in you but cannot be released unless you are willing to put it all in the ground and let Jesus cover you in darkness and bring forth new life. You will be broken but the potential of what is to come will be worth it.

Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG) Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Christian performance is overrated. God desires our heart not our hand. There is nothing God needs me to do for Him yet so often I get caught up in service as though it might somehow make me worthy of His Love. My pride has been shattered countless times by my inability. Failure has brought me to the end of self. My heart broken many times until the pieces too many for me to put back together again. God comes to us when we can’t do it ourselves. No longer given to the thought that I am anything outside of Christ, I become putty in His Hands. It is only then that creation of His Masterpiece begins. (Ephesians 2:10)

Romans 9:20-26 (MSG) Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well: I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!” They’re calling you “God’s living children.”

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? We do it all the time. Second-guessing God is the moment one chooses delayed obedience or to partially obey Him even in the most simplistic of commands. It is revealed in our words of doubt, fear and defeat. When we complain or gripe about our life is the tell-tale signs of disbelief and discontentment with God’s Provision and Promise in our life. We are His Created Ones. He is the only one who can take all these broken pieces and makes something beautiful out of it. The Lord promises to work good from every detail and perfect all that concerns us but He is not going to wrestle control from us – we must submit and surrender every area of our life to the wonder-working power of God given to us through His Son, Jesus.

Can anything be too broken? Beyond repair? Without hope? The definitive answer is no. Absolutely not. But does it feel like that sometimes…absolutely. God cannot use us until we become completely compliant. A fertile heart is a broken heart. The seed of God’s Word cannot penetrate a willful, hard, and stubborn heart. So the Lord leads us to brokenness so that the seed of His Word and faith within us meet and become the purpose that He promised would become a rich and satisfying life. He leads us from victory to victory. You cannot win if you do not play the game. Play to win. Leave your all on the field or more aptly the altar today. It is human nature to squirrel something away for a rainy day but it will not be enough in the storm. All of me for all of Him requires complete and utter brokenness the kind that I cannot put back together but only Jesus can fill with Resurrection Power and Life.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (MSG) Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

Death to Life

Death to Life

Romans 6:1-3 (Message) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

Today is Baptism Sunday at our church. There are people who have decided to participate in the symbolic act of baptism, but I wonder if they know the true potential of such a public confession. It is the gateway by which one may enter a “new land” and “new life”. An existence of true repentance marked by a turning over of every dead thing in our life to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh how I wish they knew how powerful the water can be for those who step in it with such an expectation. Salvation is the beginning of a transformation process that takes a lifetime to complete. It is the moment of realization that sin is killing us and without a Savior there is no chance of life. The next doctrinal step might be a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ and then baptism. I love the opportunity presented by Paul in this passage and the way the Message explains it to us. It is a form of house cleaning where we lay down our old life, ways, faults, failures and disappointments in order to move into a new one without all the shackles and chains of our past holding us back. A handful of people have signed up to participate in the baptism service today, but I wonder how many more might if they realized the potential of leaving it all behind and moving into the new life Christ promised us.

Romans 6:3-5 (Message) That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

I grew up in the Baptist church. My little sister has a very soft and sweet heart. I cannot count the number of times she responded to an altar call to repent and start again with Jesus. I know you may be thinking it silly, but I think it is essential. Since when did the altar become a place of shame, where people are chided for coming again and again? I think she was baptized at just about every summer camp. My sister is a mighty woman of God who leads home Bible studies and small groups. She impacts many lives with grace and generosity. She understands the life and power of Jesus Christ because she kept coming until she found what she was looking for. Oh what might happen if the church and its people were open to true repentance and transparency before the Lord again? Not afraid to come forward for prayer and divine healing? Unashamed that they want a new life when this one is not working out for them?

John 7:38-39 (Message) On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus…

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes…” Are you overflowing with Living Water today? Or are you feeling the thirst that comes from seasons of drought – an inner dryness that nothing in this life can seem to satisfy? The Spirit inside of us produces good fruit to nourish and satisfy our soul. There are times when the Spirit of God within us is limited because of the lack of fertile soil – He cannot sow in a hard heart. The Holy Spirit lives in us to change our life from death to life sowing good seeds in fertile soil. Faith produces seeds of potential that must be cultivated to become the promise within each one. It is up to us to provide a place for them to grow, develop and mature into the abundance that the Lord has promised us. Without water, seeds die in the ground. Without the Spirit, the believer cannot move from death to life.

To be lowered in the water is like being buried with Christ, to make an exchange of all the dead things in our life so that they either be washed away or revived again. Sin is washed away along with regret and remorse. Faith is revived in the water and new life begins in that moment for those who believe. We must be buried in Christ with fruitful expectation that His Spirit will take over and produce new life in us all over again. This is not just for the new believer but every other saint of God who has become weary in well doing or overcome by fear, doubt, anxiety or disappointment. The water is for everyone.

Romans 7:3-6 (Message) So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.

It is often easier to get caught up in the rules and regulations of our religion rather than live a life true repentance and ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ. I have nothing of worth to give God other than my whole heart. My heart and life are not worthy of His Glory but what God desires therefore enough. We are married to Jesus in the careful exchange of sin and the acceptance of His Grace. When our life is fully reconciled to Christ – all the benefits and blessings associated with our relationship are evident. When we come up out of the water – it is like the resurrection of Jesus and new life begins all over again. There is no Christian who has it all together. There is no preacher, teacher, elder, deacon, or leader that does not fall short of the Glory of God and His Standard of living. No one can live apart from sin and the only hope we have is the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ to keep us constantly turning in repentance to receive what He died for us to have.

We no longer live under “oppressive regulations and fine print”. We are free to live a new life of freedom in God. Do you live in the perpetual freedom that God offers those who believe? Do you have living water flowing through you today? Have you been baptized? There is no limitation on the water. You can come to the river as often as you like. Repentance is turning. Cycles are circular motions without real results. It may look like revival but it is not. It is repetition. Seasons are the terms and conditions of God’s Productivity. It is the prospering soul that receives all the blessings. A season produces something. It has purpose. It gives provision. In the end, there is an abundant harvest. It is how real revival begins and perpetuates itself. It begins when we surrender every dead thing to new life.

John 5:5-11 (Message) One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

There was a man who had been handicapped for more than three decades. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man began to make excuses. Jesus told him, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man did exactly what Jesus said. He didn’t even make it into the water, but received his healing from Jesus right then and there. Immediately the Pharisees began to condemn the man for breaking the rules. It was the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll on Sunday. How many people carry burdens into church and lug them right out afraid to break the rules? Or how many preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, and the like live with heavy chains because they are afraid to come to the altar and be judged by their peers? How many times do we accept death where Jesus promised life just because of our pride? Too often. Jesus gives us the opportunity to exchange every dead thing for new life. He promises to make good of every detail of our life if we would only trust Him. Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you allowing something to separate you?

Seek out new life today. If that comes in the form of baptism when you can lay all these burdens into the likeness of His Death and be raised to new life then jump in with both feet all over again. Jesus didn’t give up His Life so that you would like a dead existence filled with doubt, discouragement, depression, disease or defeat. He came up out of the grave and so can you. You can leave death behind and embrace new life. You can do it as often as you need it. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Don’t stop until you receive it no matter what the cost. If that means running to the altar, do it! If that means jumping in the waters of baptism, go! Whatever it takes – let Jesus breathe new life in you again!

John 11:25-26 (Message) You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”