Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Living – having life, being alive and not dead.

Sacrifice – to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable.

To consider being a living sacrifice seems to me to be a contradictory term. How can a total sacrifice be alive? If sacrifice is to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable, how can I give up my life and still be breathing? Just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe that is why it’s easy to breeze over the first two verse of Romans 12:1 and 2. Reading these two powerful verses today, I realize that sacrifice is no longer a death sentence thanks to Jesus Christ. It is no longer a requirement. It have become an optional choice. Though the components of sacrifice have changed the function remains the same. An offering is not enough to have fulfillment of duties. As a true believer, it is our privilege to be a living sacrifice. To dedicate ALL of myself to the Lord and be set apart from sin (notice I did not say the world). Sacrifice should be a rational, logical and intellectual response to salvation and the acceptance of His Amazing Grace. Offering is more comfortable. It is the portion of what one might be willing to give rather than what is required.

Offering is to present something as an act of worship or devotion to God. It is limited in its power and potential according to its worth. It is a thoughtful gift rather than ultimate surrender of our all. An offering makes sense in comparison to rational, logical, and intellectual thinking when our life is compared to the world. Limitation and/or lack will cause one to consider the amount of each gift in comparison to the longevity of life rather than its significance beyond breathing. Today is Memorial Day. It is often confused with Veteran’s Day. This is the day set aside to honor those who offered their life as a sacrifice for freedom and it was accepted. The ones who did not make it home but died for their cause. There is a sacrifice for freedom. Just because you do not agree with it or support Armed Forces, doesn’t mean that innocent men and women didn’t die to maintain your freedom and right to disagree with their mission. Sound familiar?

Galatians 5:1 (AMP) It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His Sacrifice for your life is non-negotiable. His Cause called freedom from sin, death and the grave remains intact regardless of whether a single person chooses to accept Him as Savior and Lord or not. His Identity remains the same. Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and give us the opportunity to reside in the Presence of God forever. He opened a door that no one can shut. There is not a power in hell or on this planet that can hinder or stop the move of God from person to person or heart to heart. Killing every Christian will not stop the fact that God is God, Jesus is His Son, and His Spirit sets people free. It is only the fulfillment of the Gift given to us by Christ. Jesus broke the yoke of slavery. It was removed from you and He offers you to become yoked to Him. To experience a peace and rest in this lifetime that few will ever discover. The word “yoke” means to join, couple, link or unite. Jesus wants to live in relationship and partnership with you to maintain your freedom even if you do not desire Him. I have a friend who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He maintains that there are other ways to the Father. He will many times attempt to lure me into a friendly debate. I have many other friends who might entertain his invitation which would result in a heated conversation or possibly lead to an argument. I choose to state the truth that I believe, but refuse to debate, argue or try to prove the validity of Jesus to anyone. I know what you are thinking…isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Convince other people to follow Christ. To believe and be saved. To save them… No friend, it is not my job to save anyone. Jesus did that on the Cross sufficiently and completely. It is my opportunity and privilege to be a living sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (AMP)  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

The word “emancipation” in Latin means “setting free”. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit which immediately created access for people to step directly in the Presence of God and the same to live in them. The Spirit couldn’t contain its character for a second and immediately began releasing resurrection power across the city. Literally, dead people came back to life and walked out of graves. Again, this happened whether anyone believes it or not. Our thoughts or willingness to believe something doesn’t give it validity or authenticity. The reality of something is in its substance. Hang on to that thought, we care coming back to it. The Lord is progressively changing and transforming those who love and accept Him. The ones who do not are constantly being pursued by His Unfailing Love and Goodness just the same. Liars, adulterers, haters, thieves, murderers, psychopaths, pedophiles, even the most heinous person considered in society today is the subject of God’s Great Love and Desire. He offers them freedom no matter how horrible the sin or depraved the nature because once the Spirit of God was released from Jesus Christ – He had His Assignment. He knew what to do. The Spirit of the Lord offers freedom to everyone just the same and continues to do so day after day and time and time again. He will do so until Jesus comes back.

Romans 6:6-9 (AMP) We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

There are many churches and even more doctrines that tell us what to do, how to live, and what God requires of us. Many times it forms the thoughts and ideas regarding offering and sacrifice among believers. I do not believe that someone who chooses to live their life as an offering to God has less of a chance entering Heaven. My dad and son both served overseas in the United States Armed Forces. I am a proud daughter and mom. I am a thankful one, too. Their lives were not required of them to maintain our freedom. Thank you, Lord. My dad lived in the days of the draft. He was not drafted but allowed to choose whether or not he would serve. Our son knew in high school that he was called to serve his country. It is the same for many believers. We choose our level of service to the Lord. Some will only offer the Lord a portion of their life and He will most gladly take it and do amazing things in that small space. There are others who will chose to be a living sacrifice. Now had my father or boy given their life for this country, today we would honor their sacrifice. As usual God has offered a better way, thanks to Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price, I have the opportunity to live my life AND give my all to Him as a “living sacrifice”.

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”

I have openly shared that lately I have struggled with a bit of discouragement. I still love Jesus with all of my heart, mind, body and soul. Never a doubt that God is good or that He is faithful. His Love for me is truly overwhelming. Yet, still my humanness gives way to emotions and feelings sometimes just because life is hard. It rains. People get sick. Bad things happen to good people. Senseless and random acts of depravity are in the news every single day. Sin is definitely rampant. Love has gone from lukewarm to frigid cold. This does not change the fact that God, by His Spirit, still is transforming me and progressively changing me. There is no such thing as perfect people. Even by allowing the Lord to take over every area of our life, there will still be hard times and tough battles. God is renewing our mind today with truth.

Freedom belongs to us. We don’t have to offer a portion of our life for it or even sacrifice all of our life for it. Jesus gave it to us. We have the ability to choose the part or portion of freedom that we desire according to how much of our life that we will give up to have it. It is not an even exchange. It is a bonus. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will be presented to us daily with new mercy. Our mind thinks of sacrifice as death. Jesus already satisfied death and the grave. Payment for every sin paid by His Bright Red Blood flowing down the Cross. By accepting this gift labeled freedom in Christ, I am saying, “Yes” to becoming a living sacrifice which defies the logic of mankind. I am surrendering this life and all its problems for completion in Christ. To prove that God’s Will is best. That His Plan and Purpose is good, acceptable and perfect. I do this by experiencing it. Living in His Presence and capitalizing on every single promise that He has made me. Living this life fully in Christ and bearing every single fruit that comes from it. His Spirit will prosper my life as my soul prospers. It begins by sacrificing this life as an offering to God. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. I believe it…do you?

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Today if you are a resident of the United States of America, you have the Armed Forces to thank for preserving your freedom. Now, if you do not believe in the military or war, that is your right and privilege thanks to these brave men and women. You are free to live in this country thanks to the bloodshed of these people and great loss to their families whether you believe it or not – you have accepted it. The only way to truly show that you do not honor their sacrifice is move out of this country and live somewhere else. Jesus Christ died for your sins. All of them. Every single one. You cannot change it or lessen the impact in terms of the earthly and heavenly realm. You simply choose whether or not you will give up this mediocre live to take full advantage of the prosperity born of the freedom Christ has offered us. In other words, when you give up this life, you are merely accepting a Kingdom life. It belongs to you. God created you with a plan. It is a good one with a future and a hope. He gave you grace which is enough to have it all. The Lord even promised to do more than you can even think to ask for. He offers us inexpressible joy. He even accepts the sacrifice of our old life offering us a brand new rich and satisfying life. God is good! Jesus loves you. He sacrificed His Life for you and doesn’t even require a single bit of it back. He offers you freedom to “sacrifice” this life in order to have all that He promised. To be a “living sacrifice” further proves the undeniable love and grace of our Amazing God! It is the only way to honor the Lord – giving up lack for prosperity, giving up defeat for victory, giving up sickness for healing, giving up discouragement for joy, giving up fear for perfect peace. What an exchange! What a Savior!

Hebrews 10:19-23 (AMP)  Therefore, believers, since we have confidence and full freedom to enter the Holy Place [the place where God dwells] by [means of] the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way which He initiated and opened for us through the veil [as in the Holy of Holies], that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great and wonderful Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]… 

 

Artificial Light

Artificial Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Here is a thoughtful nugget for today – breathe in, breathe out. Congratulations! You just successfully accomplished something in life. You perpetuated it by simply inspiring and expiring a single breath. Now do it again! Two triumphs in one day…now keep doing it throughout the rest of today. Completely overwhelmed by work, church and life, I sat working on surprises for Mother’s Day for church. After working the second late night, swinging by the grocery store to restock, taking care of our little puppy, nursing our adult fur baby whose tummy is not well, cooking dinner and settling in to prepare for Sunday. I could feel the pressure closing in on me. Tired. Exhausted. Brain not fully functioning. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as my heart pounded in my chest. Another rough day. There have been more than a few lately. More challenges than usual – but that’s just life right? Having gone through much worse and surviving, I still feel might heart yearning to thrive again. The Lord rushed in to comfort me during my unspoken prayer. His Words clear, calm and focused to me – just breathe.

Too often in the name of busyness – it is human nature to breathe shallowing. To keep running from this task to that one using all of our body, mind and spirit to create a better life and meet human expectation. Burn out comes. The wall is hit hard forcing all the breath from our body. Our humanity a heavy weight that burdens us rather than becoming the blessing we are promised. It is certainly not of God. He doesn’t tell us to “do” it all. In fact, He doesn’t need us to do a thing. I exist for God’s Pleasure. He gives me purpose that promotes prosperity by His Grace not because I deserve it. Just like our children do not earn the house they live in, the food they eat, the money I give them or the clothing that overflows from drawers, closets and the laundry hamper – I give it all to them simply because I love them and want to care for them. But I am not the Lord, and I do grow weak and weary. Thankfully, He does not.

Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.  “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

The Unknown God. Do you know the Lord? I have been married to my husband for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him better than any other person in this life. To know him comes from spending almost every single day with him consecutively for more than 18 years. It has meant giving up my way to follow him on many occasions. It requires forgiveness time and time again. It is to put him above other people. To love him. Seek him out. Serve him with love. Day by day getting to know him more. Have I applied the same desire and drive in getting to know the Lord? His Word is the Way, Truth and Life. See if you really know the “unknown” God who Paul speaks of – you can breathe easy.

God doesn’t need us to do anything. He desires us. He wants us. He sent His Son to die for our sins so that there is an opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. That’s it. All the other religious rules and regulations are not of God. Grace has them covered. What will allow the greatest success in our Christian walk and “living for the Lord” is not in our personal ability or dedication to righteousness but one’s ability to slip into the Robe of Righteousness and return home as the prodigal son or daughter. The Father/Child relationship is what the Lord desires. Our family depends on one another. Though from time to time there is rivalry amongst them, let someone come against them or there be a proposed threat – the circle the wagons quickly prepared to fight. There are many days that I forget this truth. The part about God not needing me to do any particular thing or that my success or failure as His Child is not hinged on my performance. God loves me for me. He formed me in my mother’s womb writing a perfect plan and purpose for my life including enough grace to get me through it. He is always for me. He gives me new mercy each morning and is just waiting to for me to breathe Him in deeply. To allow His Presence and His Spirit to work in me and through me giving me peace and inexpressible joy as I do the unthinkable, unimaginable, and absolutely infinitely more than I ever considered possible. There is more to life than this. It is found in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. I just need to remember to keep breathing. It is in Him I live, move and exist. This is all part of inspiration and expiration the breath called life.

Daniel 10:16-18 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

The breath that keeps me breathing is the same air breathed into Adam. It has continued to bear fruit called life from generation to generation. Just as God’s Word will not return void, neither will His First Breath that brought humanity to life. The perpetuation of life will continue until Jesus comes. It is an awesome thought to think that the very mouth that formed the words that created all that we know is continuing its purpose in me today. If I am breathing – I am alive. I have human breath that is given to accomplish natural respiration. However, I have been given the spirit of Jesus Christ when He released His Last Breath on the Cross and saying, “It is finished.” Do you remember what happened next? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Nothing could ever separate me from God again. His Spirit (His Breath) did not stop there but resurrection power brought the dead back to life. His Breath cannot help but produce life in and around us.

Daniel was filled with anguish, overwhelmed by sorrow, and very weak. He was so weary in fact that he said, “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my Lord?” He had seen a vision that drained his faith and overtook his hope so quickly that Daniel was drowning in sorrow unable to catch his breath. “My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Whether you are overcome by physical, emotional or spiritual exhaustion, weakness, weariness or just plain empty – the Lord has what you need today. His Voice is reminding you just breathe in and let it out. Breathe me in – let fear out. Breathe me in – let broken pieces fall where they will. Breathe me in – let worry go. Breathe me in – fall on me in your weakness. Breathe me in – become one with me, yoke your life to me, become one with me. The Lord is offering you His Whole Life – every fiber of who He is and what He is able to do in a single breath. Will you just breathe today? Will your declaration be as Daniel’s when he said, “I felt my strength returning.”

Psalm 33:4-9 (NLT) For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

So…

Psalm 104:30 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

And finally…

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

The Impossible

The Impossible

Mark 10:27 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

It was one of those mornings, in the stillness and quiet, I could feel the Holy Spirit nudging me awake. I grabbed my phone and it lit up with a notification. A friend shared the details of her visit to Gainesville with her son for his one year scans. We didn’t grow up together, meet in college or work at the same place. No our relationship began as a desperate message from a mutual friend who had heard the details of her son’s cancer and immediately knew it was the same signs and symptoms as our son. She reached out to me to make contact so I did. The young man made it through is celebrating one year of being cancer-free. However, one of the tests, “lit up” on their recent visit. The oncologist caring for him is a close friend who joined us on our journey. She sprang into action. Thankfully no tumor was discovered but precautionary scans in a couple of months. I could feel the tears on my face. I struggled to take another breath as my fingers typed a response. I hate cancer. I hate sickness and disease. I hate the enemy. But God…

I can certainly sympathize with my friend. I can empathize with her plight. I know the feelings and emotions invested in the moment when danger approaches. Like a deer in a field catching a scent on the breeze, her head is up, ears alerted to the next sound, her nose twitches to decipher what is coming, and every muscle of her being is on high alert. Hiding in the folds of the Father’s Love, my spirit turns from the message that has my heart in the pit of my stomach to see His Face. I have no strength to fight when it comes to this kind of thing. I don’t even begin to try to hide behind a false bravado of fearlessness but run to God for His Shelter. My heart will break into a thousand pieces if I do not let Him hold it tight. Lord, you have these kids in the palm of your hand and their names are written on your heart. Be God! I will trust you!

The Word of God tells us that “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” But if you read the very next verse, their disbelief is immediately evident as Peter chastens Jesus. “We gave up everything for you…” Oh my. How often do we feel that way in our Christian life? Walking with Jesus until bumping into the unexpected, then getting mad at the Lord for not moving it out of the way. Well, miracles require the impossible to be a miracle in the first place. Trust must learn dependency for validity. Endurance is found in a course farther than willingness or ability to travel. Patience is discovered in nothing other than waiting. All these things will produce prosperity in my soul and increase the abundance of God’s Fruit in my life. But who wants to pay the price for such things…surely not I.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Faith always starts small. It is described as the smallest seed with great potential. Every seed every planted must die in its present form to reach the fullness of potential hidden deep inside. Who wants to be buried in darkness? Feeling the pressure to change like soil surrounding a seed? Giving way to what is known to embrace the unknown is not fun or favorable to human senses but absolutely necessary to reach the potential inside our heart called Eternity. To live for more than what our five senses can establish or our emotions understand and fully embrace by faith a God who is able and willing to do the impossible for me. Enoch is my example. He continually pursued God’s Presence. He got wrapped up in the Almighty God. He walked so close to Him that one day the man disappeared in the Presence of God. Lord, I want that kind of walk. So consumed by Your Love and Grace that people can’t see me anymore just you. Only You – Jesus.

It is impossible to please God without faith. If our objective in life is to fully pursue the Lord and have real faith then it is obvious that there will be struggles. Not only the natural ones in this place and time called life, but in our spirit as our flesh gives way to God. Do you believe today that God exists? Do you believe that He rewards those who seek Him? Or is He a strict, unyielding Father ready to punish or harm you? Who is He to you today? Do you fear Him? Do you trust Him? Do you love Him? God loves you. He loves me. He hates the sin that plagues us. He despises the diseases invading our bodies. He hates the enemy who is constantly after us. God is always good. So good in fact that He gave us a free will. We get to choose each day how life is lived and the choices made. He will not ever force us into His Way even those it is so much better than our own. He constantly pursues us with Unfailing Love and Goodness every single day. It is ours by simple stopping long enough to turn around and face Him. The details of this life are clearly revealed in the Word of God. Jesus warned us about life and how depraved it would become. He told us what was coming, but then promised He would overcome the world and you know what? He did. He died on the Cross to pay the debt for my sin so that His Grace would be enough for me. Jesus walked through hell and took my life back from the enemy. He emerged victoriously and thrust the Keys to His Kingdom in my hand and said, “Use them.”

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail.

When I did a search in the online Bible for “impossible” – it was this verse that came up first. Funny that with all the ways “impossible” is used in the Word of God – the search engine found this to be the most pertinent. It is. The Word of God will never fail. It won’t. It can’t. God cannot be God if He goes back on His Word or changes His Mind. It compromises His Absolute Sovereignty and perverts His Perfection. If His Word cannot fail, I must invest my life in His Word to find the same results in life. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He came to this world as a living love letter from the Father to His Children. His message – I love you! No matter what I love you and I am laying my life down to prove it. I am opening the doors to my Home called the Kingdom to you and you are welcome anytime. The Windows are open so my blessing can fall into your life like fresh spring rain to refresh, revive and restore you. All of me. God offered all of Himself to us in the person of His Son, Jesus. I accept. Lord, teach me to fully embrace you now.

Impossible. Forever. Never. All of these words smack of opportunity. Each one was spoken over one of my children and each time God came rushing in to intervene. This life is temporary but our God is eternal. Life is hard. His Love is enduring. He never gets weary or weak but constantly fights for us. Our ability to believe decides what is too hard for the Lord, because it limits us. (Zechariah 8:6) Those who decide that nothing is impossible or too hard for God enough to live like it will experience the supernatural. Divine outcomes will begin to happen in our earthly challenges attributable only to God and His Miracles. It is by believing our faith allows us to overstep the boundaries of natural outcomes to the place called hope.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Romans 8:23-25 (NLT) And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Oh, the realm of hope, I have been here before. In a place of impossibility, yet feeling an overwhelming peace. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. If only this word saturate our thick skulls and hard hearts today. If the image of Christ was that of a warrior who fights for us and with us not Santa Claus who is a fairy tale created and maintained by humanity. The Lord has a place for us in His Presence. It is accessed by faith and allows us to come confidently and boldly into His Presence. Reciting His Word and recalling His Promises, the Lord must act on it because He is faithful. Hope is wasted on that which is possible to man. Faith does not promote the natural but increases the supernatural in our life. It is a seed that requires many seasons of growth and development to finally take hold and grow in us. It comes not as man perceives it by having it all together but is received through absolute and complete brokenness ready to receive all that God has for us.

I plead the Blood of Jesus over you today. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind with the Light of His Unfailing Love. I speak to the seed of faith hidden inside you to grow and take root in God’s Love and Care for you. He is the vine and we are His Branches. I ask Jesus to fortify the anchor of hope that is holding you tight keeping you from drifting. I ask the Lord to silence the enemy and reveal all of his lies to you so that the Truth will overtake them. God’s Love for us is overwhelming and life changing. It does not make all our problems, trials and troubles disappear but gives us overwhelming victory. Triumph is in the treasure of our heart and life – Jesus Christ. My constant and prevailing prayer for you is that you will never face such hardships as cancer, death or disaster in your natural life, but the reality is that you more than likely will. My hope for you is that when you do – the Love and Certainty of Christ, found in this life of faith you live now, will keep you tightly in His Presence fully consumed by His Embrace. The Lord is good. God is greatly. His Love is complete and unfailing. His Goodness always in hot pursuit of you. His Presence is always open to you. His Spirit available as well. Do not fear the impossible but fully embrace it because it is where miracles happen and His Glory shines, too. Everything is possible with God… we must only believe. Faith makes all things possible.

Hebrews 6:18-20 (NLT) So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

In Christ

In Christ

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

I signed the handwritten note, “In Christ” and then my name. The embrace of Christ Jesus tangible in the moment as the words come to light in my heart. I am “in Christ”. I don’t ever want to know what it is like to be outside this grip that He has on me. But I don’t want to lose sight of those who stand outside of Him either. It is easy to get lost in the Presence of God, basking in His Goodness and chasing His Glory. Intoxicating and overwhelming all at the same time. Yet I remember what it was like before I lived in this place called “undeserved privilege”. When the Bible just a book full of words and promises I desired, but could not fully understand or apply to my life in a real way. I remember accepting Jesus as my Savior and even intending to make Him Lord, but it still seemed like all the other fairytales in life. Too good to be true. A daydream never a reality…until I found my way into His Embrace. The place where suddenly I fully grasped the concept of amazing grace and my inability to earn it just simply receive it. The moment I turned to see His Unfailing Love and Goodness hot on my heels in relentless pursuit. He didn’t want me to change. Jesus loved me just like I was. He didn’t make me follow a new set of rules and regulations or change my appearance at all. His Love wrapped itself around my heart and suddenly I wanted to be different. I longed for transformation. The Gospel is not Good News to those who do not understand His Love. The church has struggled to accurately portray the unthinkable and incomprehensible God who decided to sacrifice His Son to adopt a Kingdom full of children. The one legitimate for all the illegitimate. I have five children. I would not harm a single one for another person…ever. They are too precious to me – faults, flaws and failures – all I see is their perfection as my child. Those who I love – that’s how God sees me. He longs for the Love that is indescribable to take over so that no longer do I see me for me but live in Christ who lives in me.

“Since” means it is finished. Done. Complete. Jesus said, “It is finished” right before He released His Spirit. His Life Giving, Death Overpowering, Spirit that lives in me. Faith is the only way that I will every embrace the One who is holding me. I have peace with God. Do I have peace in me? The conflict is now in His Capture but my willingness to be held. To allow the love, grace and peace of God to draw me close. Trust is the issue so many times. In a world filled with hook-ups, break-ups and make-ups, love is confused for “likes” and “lust” just to name a few of the imposters. When I married my husband, I knew that I would have to give up my way to fully engage in this effort called marriage. Over the years, I grew in the art of submission. To yield my way and follow him. It is not an act of selflessness but selfishly desiring a complete union with the person God made for me. The one my soul loves. He has taken my heart on the earth. I trust him. Can I trust the unseen God who has given His All for me? Can I encourage you to do the same in some small way?

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The last five years of my life have challenged me. In that time, I have been forced to dump out the contents of my human and broken heart to evaluate the contents. Do I believe God is real? Am I really saved? Do I have faith? Is it working? Is it real? A broken heart is always painful but more than that it is also revealing. Unmet expectations force the examination of the contents of our life. I know that in my darkest days and deepest valleys. The prevailing truths that began to shine in my heart were these three things – God is good. His Grace is enough. His Love never fails. I know it is simplistic. I know it seems cliché to those who do not understand. I approach every day with these three things in mind. When all hell breaks loose – they are the shelter protecting me from the winds of change, chaos of life and the power of the storm. I know God is good. I know His Grace is enough no matter how bad I mess up. I am absolutely confident beyond a shadow of unbelief that His Love for me is constant and unending. I will never know its true capacity or find its boundaries. It is inconceivable to a finite human mind. It is not imaginary or unrealistic. I just have to step in Christ to take on its His Full Potential.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.

We have been blessed with trips to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico and the Bahamas. I have described these exotic locations to friends and those who are planning a trip. I can tell you about the weather, accommodations, restaurants, and other details of the destination. I can tell you because I have been there. I know how long the journey and what to expect upon arrival. I cannot tell you about China or Australia because I have never been there before. I have no idea what you should go see or even how far you must travel. No clue. I wonder if sharing the Good News of God’s Love challenges people because they have never been there.

After five years of sifting through a lifetime of experience, I determined three major points about the Lord to live by. They were discovered in His Word, His Way and His Will. Not that I pursued Him wholeheartedly as I should have, but because when I came to the end of myself – Jesus was still there waiting. Just like the day that I invited Him to be my Savior and Lord at eleven, He never left me not once. I was looking for my way as He quietly waited to give me a better one. All those times, I didn’t believe Jesus at His Word – He was trustworthy just the same. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High find rest, peace, grace and love always. Once I found my way in Christ, now I have something worth sharing. I know and understand the reality and proximity of His Love and just how powerful it is. He loves me. He always has and He always will. Jesus is intent on giving me a rich and satisfying life even when I am hell bent on immediate gratification and taking the easy way out. I will compromised but my Lord will not. I will tap out, but He stays true. I have seen many victories in my life. Before triumph is unfolding even now, I know it is coming. I see it in my heart, know it in my mind and believe it with my being. I can because I have found my way in Christ Presence. I can feel His Embrace so tight and strong around me. I want others to experience the Lord and encounter Him the same way.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.The place of realization and understanding that there is absolutely nothing I can do to earn God’s Love or Grace but only accept it and embrace it. The knowledge and full understanding that just as there is nothing I can do to earn His Love that there is nothing that will ever separate me from it either. Christ is in me. He is part of me. We are one. When every other attitude and action in my love is fully encircled and covered by His Love. I have no fear. No unmet expectation. No insecurity. I can live fearlessly and generously.

Hebrews 6:4-5 (NLT)  For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come…

“It is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened.” I find new meaning in these words today. To repent is to turn. To turn around and face Jesus fully. If you do, you will never turn back. I know this not from carefully scripted words inspired by the Holy Spirit but by the Light of His Love that I found when I finally turned around. The moment I decided to say, “I do and I will” to Jesus was only the beginning. It was fully discovered in all the times “I didn’t” or “I wouldn’t” and the Lord remained faithful and true. It was the moment of complete and utter brokenness when I saw His Hands still reaching for my violated form. All the times I put my faith, hope and trust in other people and lesser things yet Jesus still grabbed hold of me tighter than ever before and revealed that which He had for me safe in His Hands. He has my heart now. I cannot imagine my life without being in Christ. His Form has become my structure. I didn’t change for Christ. He changed me. There is no turning back once you experience His Love for yourself. The satisfaction found in the Light of His Love is completely fulfilling.

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Some days I wish that I could just crack open my heart now healed by Jesus and let people see in it. To see all the hurt and brokenness that the Lord has healed. To get a glimpse of how far I had fallen when my Sweet Savior swept me away with His Love. To know all the times that I tried and failed and He encouraged me to do it again with Him this time. I cannot use my own words to ever express the Power of God’s Love in my life. It has been my complete undoing and total remaking all in Christ. If somehow, our confident hope could illuminate our own life with His Love in a real and tangible way to others, maybe they could see Him too. As we do, those who live in the constant connection and safety of the shelter of the Most High. I pray today that the Greatness of God’s Power invested in us by His Grace will make its’s way out of us in the form of His Love. Today, Lord help us see the validity of life in Christ and its potential in our life as we live and love together. Take us deeper than ever before where our eyes cannot see the edge and our feet cannot tough the bottom of Your Love, Grace and Goodness hidden in Your Presence just for us…for me. I claim that portion of my glorious inheritance labeled “peace” and “rest” today. Let the calmness and courage of complete confidence takeover. You are the unstoppable God let me be your immovable child. I ask you in the Name of Jesus who is the Christ in me.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Art of Adaptation

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Romans 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Survival is largely based on one’s ability to adapt to their environmental conditions. It is an outward emulation of the strength within them. Humanity is excellent in their efforts to survive. The sheer number in existence today around the world in a variety of atmospheric areas shows that people are strong. For example, there are essentially four seasons in each calendar year. With each weather change, we will either layer clothes or shed a few. Turn on the air conditioning or maintain a source of heat. We change with the weather. Change comes in two forms – conformity or transformation. There is a definite difference to be considered to adapt to the conditions, circumstances and conditions of life. Challenged each day by change – many will survive by means of conformation, but some will dare to thrive in transformation. I want to be transformed.

What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? It means to submit our life to God’s Process called transformation. To be changed from the inside out by the Hand of God until our Heart beats with God as His Children. It doesn’t mean that I must change but rather that through the everyday opportunities presented in life that I allow God to change me rather than trying to change to be like everyone else. The Will of God for our life is daily transformation. I know – that means change and no one really likes change even though it is our boast. When Jesus was transformed – His Face literally shined in. His Person radiated the Glory of God right before the eyes of the bewildered witnesses. What if that is God’s Plan for you? What if His Desire is to use your process to transform you into a real and true visible light of His Love for His Glory? To set you apart from the others and make your life a beacon to those who live in darkness by illuminating you from the inside out. Will you accept His Offer to change you? To renew your life and redeem you fully until you reflect the Light of His Love. It means becoming a living sacrifice as conformity is exchanged for transformation. You will never be the same. Things will change. Are you okay with that?

Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

The Message translation of Romans 12:1-2 makes it clear. God wants to help us transform our life from natural to supernatural including our “every day, ordinary life” our “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life” not just our church life but all of it. The Lord wants it all – the whole enchilada – to make it into the masterpiece that He created you to become once sin was removed from you. “Embracing what God does for you (and in you) is the best thing you can do for Him.” To accept our belief in Jesus Christ means to know that He is Savior and Lord. But to accept Him fully – one must embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord allowing Him into the inner circle of our being – the hula-hoop reserved for those who are permitted to live in the intimacy of self close enough to connect heart-to-heart. In life, it is easier to embrace people because they are tangible. We can encounter them with all five senses making them logical and approachable, but what about Jesus. He lives inside of us. When I asked Jesus to come live inside my life, it is like a guest in my home. They come and stay in the “guest room” use the “guest bathroom” but my husband shares my bedroom and bathroom. He inhabits the place where I live. The privacy of my space that others do not necessarily feel welcome to enter uninvited. Is Jesus staying in your guest room today? He is present but aloof. Is His Presence welcomed in every area of our life or do we relegate Him to the outer court of our existence? We can conform even to Christianity. We become transformed when Jesus moves from the outside of our innermost being to every single area of our ordinary life.

It is human nature to conform to our community. To change according to the culture. Who doesn’t want to fit in? I guess I no longer do. I have never really fit in or at least felt that way. As a child, our family moved many, many times. I attended eleven elementary schools, one middle school and three high schools.  Always being the new kid, I learned to adapt quickly to my environment as a means to blend in quickly. I didn’t want to be the outsider or new kid on the block all the time. The worst was when changing schools mid-year. When friends had already been chosen, seats assigned, and the classes scheduled. To be “worked” in is a stressful situation. I learned to conform in the midst of change that when the Lord invited me to be transformed – I was a bit confused. Conformation and transformation are different. One is adaption and the other is the sacrificial offering of one’s life to be changed, renewed, restored and redeemed. One allows us to maintain self while the other requires all of it.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (AMP) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

The Lord invites you and me today to stop trying to be like everyone else and give our life to Him. Our ordinary life. Our mundane existence. Our well-maintained and meticulously scheduled day. Our chaotic mess. Every part of our life no matter how great, not-so-great or just plain terrible it is. He wants to give us the freedom to be transformed releasing us from conformity to the culture in which we live. Jesus offers to transform us form death to life, bondage to freedom and give us favor produced by His Glory. Transformation is the progressive process by which prosperity occurs. As our soul prospers, so do we. Seeds of life begin to turn into fields of blessing and an abundance of satisfaction is harvested in the peaceful plains governed by His Grace, Mercy and, of course, Unconditional and Amazing Love. God doesn’t give us the life we deserve. He gives us the life that He planned for us. The Plan promised comes with a future and hope as we are changed into His Image – Glory to Glory – by His Grace alone. It is all is enacted, enabled and embellished by God through us when we decide to stop conforming and allow His Spirit to fully transform us from natural to supernatural and ordinary to extraordinary.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)  For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

The sculptor takes a hammer and chisel to solid stone and an image emerges, He sands and smooths the rough surface until it becomes a work of art. What once was worthy of a quarry filled with other slabs now is valuable. A canvas and paint are art supplies. The artist takes a brush and portrays the beautiful image in their thoughts and mind to create a masterpiece. It will look nothing like the final work in its many stages. It may require many layers of paint to blend it into the final work. Onlookers may wonder what in the world it will become but the creator knows exactly what it will be when it is finished. The potter takes clay to the wheel. He shapes, softens and forms it into something useful. Putting it in the kiln, the fire blasts away any impurities and strengthens it solidifying the new creation into its new and improved state. The colors once dull and lifeless radiate all the hidden color. It is now a beautiful and useful piece of pottery because it went through the process of transformation to become a masterpiece. Think of all the priceless artwork around the world. God calls us His Masterpiece and products of His Workmanship. When I allow the God in me to transform me into who and what He created and designed me to be – my life by faith will become the Light that He promised. It will radiate His Glory and reflect His Goodness. I must allow the Lord to change me from the inside out by welcoming Him into every part and place of this existence called life. It is by this process that His Glory fills me and spills over into this ordinary life that I live. It will become glorious. I will be changed to reflect the limitless and overwhelming God I serve so that others will experience Him too. I will be changed. I will be different. I will never be the same. That’s okay with me…Jesus I invite you today to transform me and crush the conformity that I have embraced in my life. I want you! All of You! Jesus you are welcome so please come right in!

Philippians 3:20-21 (MSG) But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Mama always used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…” I completely agree. Our words hold power and should be released thoughtfully and completely filtered despite my fourteen-year-old who insists that people need to know the truth. I concur. People do need to know the truth. Who am I to give it to them? Do I really know the truth about life, love and happiness? Contentment, peace or joy? I used to tell people that I wished I could break open my heart and let people see the real Jesus who lives inside. Who He is? The Living God who I have experienced. They would have to love Him, too. Well, as I sit here this morning, I still hope that I can share Jesus with others. Tell them of His Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in a believable and acceptable way. However, I can feel the little sting of those words running through the broken pieces of my heart. The hard places of pride and stubbornness now rubble in the Hands of God as He gently and lovingly molds and shapes them into the kind of heart He desires. The tiny shelter where His Glory resides. Did I ask the Lord to break my heart? No, I just invited Jesus into it. Just like old wineskins will burst when filled with new wine, my heart in its previous condition could not contain the fullness that the Lord had for me. He had to make room for His Presence to fill me. I have to be broken for it to come spilling out.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We have the Light of His Love shining inside our hearts. The Presence of God, His Spirit lives in us. He came by invitation but is He truly an honored guest. A question for another day, I guess. I think that the error in our way as believers is the through that the holy inhabitation of God in us is another layer to the armor in our life when it is not like that at all. Yes, we have the full armor of God available to us but it requires leaving the old armor behind. Who can stand in fight in such a condition? The Great Power of God living in us must find its way out of us for the Glory of God to ignite a revival that will wrap around the world.

Exodus 34:29-32 (NLT) When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

One person. Moses. Though His Children were all around Mount Sinai, only one person dared go into the Presence of God. Moses remained their fasting and communing with the Lord for forty days and nights. When he came down, in his arms were the Ten Commandments, and on his face was a tangible radiance so bright that the people were afraid. In Exodus 40, these tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant and hidden behind a heavy curtain or veil in the Tabernacle. No one could come in contact with the Ark except the high priest after undergoing proper repentance and cleansing. The Ark of the Covenant represented the embodiment of God’s Presence among the people. The atonement cover or mercy seat – God’s Throne. (2 Samuel 6:2) God’s Presence was above it. (Leviticus 16:2) If a person approached the Ark, it was entrance into God’s Presence. Sin is consumed in the Presence of God so those who attempted entrance without proper remission of sin would die. Sin prohibits life. (Psalm 5:4-6) In Numbers 11:16-17, it tells us that God administered His Spirit to people individually according to His Will and Purpose for them. It all started with one person. Moses was the only one willing to go into God’s Presence and he came out changed.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

I promise this history lesson is almost over. It is vitally important in our understanding and utilization of God’s Power and Presence in us. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, God identified Him as His Son and placed His Spirit in Him. The Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove. Now the Son of God is crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is an acceptable sacrifice and so now God releases His Presence (His Spirit) to all mankind. The first thing the Spirit does is rip the curtain from top to bottom so that God’s Presence is available to us all. The Spirit didn’t stop there but then began breathing life into all the dead. Resurrection power released in a moment that immediately perpetuated life.

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT) On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Here we go! Wee! This is where the Pentecostals start shouting, Baptists are cringing and Catholics are like “what in the world”. For just a few moments, take your doctrine in one hand and the nametag of your church in the other – put them aside. Just listen… The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. He is the identifier of those who believe. He is the guarantee of all God’s Promises. You cannot experience Christ and not encounter the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that every person will manifest these gifts the same way nor does it mean that we have to. Religion demands the context of doctrine not God. The Presence of God is not some performance or show. It is not defined by certain procedures. Jesus did away with every condition. His Grace is enough to access God’s Presence without my ability to do a single thing.

Now then…moving on.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:1, “on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Hmm… Believers meeting together in one place. What did they believe? They believed in Jesus Christ. (period) Agreement. Unity. Harmony. Nothing is more pleasing to the Lord. These believers had been through the ringer. They were hiding because the “church” wanted to kill the idea of a risen Savior and missed Messiah by murdering the people. They were praying for their very lives. God’s Presence with all the Power and Majesty of Heaven descended on that place. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues or any other spiritual gift. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Now that everyone here is looking at Jesus Christ. In His Presence, the first manifestation of His Spirit is to love each other. Care for one another. Create a community of communion with God and each other. (period) Signs and wonders are birthed in this connection of believes as they agree and meet together in “one place”. Speaking in tongues is for our own gratification. It is a prayer language. I do very much believe in it but I do not believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or live in the Presence of God. What I do believe is that the Glory of God available to us in His Presence has been put behind a curtain and covered in clothes because we fail the first test – to love others like Jesus loves us.

We can share the Gospel, preach the Word of God, and even demonstrate every gift eluded to in the Bible, but the absence of love. Self-sacrificing and pride-killing kind of love that puts everyone else before our need to have, do, or be right. We all have the Presence of the Living God inside of us. He is waiting to be pressed down, shaken together and run over every blessing that He has in store for us. However, if we choose not to let God break our heart enough to love others and care for each as a community of believers – the Word will fall on deaf ears like water on a rock.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22) We do not have the privilege of defining what love really is – it is clearly stated in God’s Word. I Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us all the qualities of true love. Patient, kind, no jealous, boastful or proud, giving and forgiving. It never loses faith or hope. It does not give up. It endures all circumstances. It goes so far as to comment in verse 8 that “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) I wonder if the Glory of God is not producing revival because the church does not know how to love? I am concerned that His Presence is somehow stifled by our routine and religion hindered by a lack of real relationships among believers including me…

If the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The only thing that lasts forever according to God is His Love. Love remains when all else fails. It is the glue that holds together the believers as one to make the body of Christ who will be His Bride. To cry out for revival is to ask God to show us how to love. Love will break your heart every time. It will crush rebellious spirits as two become one. With the new covenant, there should be boldness and confidence that is not demonstrated in most churches today. (Verse 8) If the Word is not watered down, it is hidden behind a wall of religious values and doctrine that no one really can endure. Grace removed the sin that kept me from Jesus. Who am I to place a condition on a love so freely given? Who am I to condemn others when Jesus refused to do it? Who am I to withhold my life from anyone else when it is no longer mine at all? Who am I? I am a Child of God. I am filled with His Spirt. His Spirit is the very essence of resurrection power and life that will spark the next revival. The same spirit that lives in me as a believer lives in you. We all must be broken of our prideful, stubborn and selfish ways to let His Glory escape from us and become the radiance in our life that attracts others.

Let me ask you something. Are you frustrated in your walk with the Lord today? Are you disappointed because your ordinary life is not the extraordinary promise you thought He would make it? Has the monotony of your walk and the mundane existence got you thinking that there has to be more to life than this? Friend, sin stole the glorious standard of living from us but Jesus gave it back and more. He promises us a rich and satisfying life. Love produces that life. Plain and simple. The kind of love that builds up community and bonds together people. Religion points out differences. Relationships overcome them. God’s Glory is available to all of us. In fact, it dwells within us. It radiates from our life in our ability to love unconditionally. It’s time to remove the veil and let the Love of God shine through us again. Busting through doubt, fear and insecurity to put our life out there like a city on a hill again. You were meant to be the Light. It begins with love and ends the same way. Let God out of the box today. Take the next step in putting yourself out there. Stop hiding behind the curtain. There is nothing there anymore. His Spirit is alive and well in you! It’s our time to shine! For His Glory…

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

 

By Grace…

By Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By grace I am saved through faith…the order of redemption is important. How many times is faith emphasized outside of God’s Grace and when it fails to move the mountain, make the way or summon dry bones and dead dreams to life – there is discouragement, disappointment and even doubt? Grace is difficult for mankind as it defies pride and calls for crucifixion. Pride prefers faith demonstrated by works and the façade of perfection. The Gift of God called Grace is essential as it is our escort through the door marked faith. Without grace this door is locked and cannot be opened. When our daughter married her true love, he waited at the altar on the frigid November day. The music played as all the groom’s men and bridesmaids filtered in and took their place. The music changed and everyone stood up as she made her way to the aisle covered in rose petals. Her father had her arm and they smiled as she made her way to the future. Turning to face our soon-to-be son-in-law, he was weeping openly at the sight of his bride. Overtaken by emotion, he held his face in his hands with tears literally running through his fingers. His love for our daughter evident in his reaction. As they joined hands to pray, our daughter dutifully bowed her head still donning the radiant smile from before, but he couldn’t stop looking at the top of her head. Trying to also bow his head, it kept popping up to look at her. It’s funny as I think about God’s Grace today – that this image comes to mind. The Bride and Bridegroom standing at the point of completion. The day that they will become one. By grace, I am saved through faith.

Grace is true love. It is the love of Jesus that flowed from His Broken Body and Broken Heart that day as a remarkable gift. Grace is the goodwill and favor of God given to His People through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. To know, understand, acknowledge and accept His Grace as enough is a requirement for real faith to be initiated in our life. Faith is the seed in our heart activated by grace. However, to try to grow in faith without being fully immersed in grace will only lead to further frustration. The edges and borders of my life are clear cut. It is a giant canvas made white by His Blood in order to become the “masterpiece” as it is called in the New Living Translation or “handiwork” her in the New International Version. I am God’s Masterpiece. Nothing in my life is without potential and purpose to be worked together for my good and completion. It all begins with His Grace. Grace does not change the details of my life prerecorded by the Lord. (Psalm 139:16) It is the access point of all the promises that He has made to me obtained by faith and trust in the Lord. However, it is all through His Grace.

John 1:16-18 (NIV) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Jesus came to provide us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) This promise is claimed not by what we do but by the grace that is given to us by the One who “is in the closest relationship with the Father”. I am stuck today in this place called grace. Have I tried to live by faith outside of God’s Grace? Is it possible that in my zeal to please God with faith, I sometimes forget that His Grace is sufficient for me? We can only accept grace. I cannot earn it. The grace offered in Jesus Christ is completely and blood bought. I cannot do a single act or make a significant change that will make it affordable to me. It will always be too expensive. It will be more than I can do.

Some assembly required. I often read the reviews of a product before purchasing it to decide how difficult it might be to construct. Many Christmas eves filled with frustration. The box boasted five minutes of construction but the 5,000 pieces represented five days of work. There would be times that after putting it all together the darn thing still didn’t work. So what would I do? I would read the instructions again, and go over each step to see what I missed. For me, this verse today is a flashlight on my heart to determine the areas of my life where I missed the first step called grace. I am pulling and tugging on doors that the Lord will freely open because I have forgotten to remain partnered with grace? I am pleading and praying for things that can only be released by grace? By grace, I am saved through faith. Faith must be first planted in grace to produce other fruit in our life.

Acts 15:11 (NIV) No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

I can hear the invitational hymn that I grew up with playing in my head. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy Blood was shed for me. And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee. O Lamb of God, I come! I come!” Just as I am. Jesus gives us His Grace exactly as I am. No change in me is required just to come to Him. You know my daughter was absolutely stunning on her wedding day. Her beauty inside radiated in her person outside. As perfect as she looked, she was still imperfect. Her husband didn’t see her faults, flaws or failures that day – only the one his soul loved. When Jesus sees us, it is the same way. As a bridegroom awaiting His Beloved, not based on what we can do or choose not to do. It has nothing to do with anything other than His Love manifested in His Grace which provides us access to His Presence. I can come boldly and confidently before Him not because of my faith but simply by His Grace. Oh that the church would find His Grace again, to rely on the grace given to us by the Love of Jesus and stop trying to reinstitute the imperfect law of grace given to Moses. (Romans 11:5-6) By grace, I am saved through faith.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord’s Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. His Power is made perfect in my weakness. However, it is quite another matter to boast about my weaknesses. Everyone sins. Everyday. There is no one that can overcome the flesh and walk in complete righteousness outside of God’s Grace given to us by Jesus. Who delights in weakness? Insults? Hardships? Persecutions? Difficulties? Not many people I know including myself. However, it is in weakness that I am able to fully accept His Grace. It is a humble position never a prideful state. The more I know Jesus, the more I see how much I need Him and how little I have to offer.

James 2:21-24 (NIV) Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

I shared with our small group last night the helplessness that I felt at the bedside of our son enduring the horrible effects of chemotherapy. Watching his body suffer and waste away, time after time I asked the Lord to put me in his place fully knowing it was impossible. One day as I prayed, I pleaded with the Lord. I am a mother. These children are my promise and purpose in life. God, you know that I would die for them. I heard that still small voice reverberate through my heart – “You don’t have to. I already did.” His Grace is enough. His Grace is sufficient. It is in weakness and failures that I am reminded that it is by grace that I am saved through faith.

Faith is conceived by grace. There is nothing that I can “do” to please God without faith. But I cannot have true and relevant faith without fully accepting God’s Grace and the truth that it is enough for me. Faith without works is dead. Faith cannot be productive outside of God’s Grace will also be fruitless. If you are giving your all to Jesus and it is still not enough, it may be time to revisit your connection to His Grace. His Grace is always enough. It is not reliant on the things we do.

Abraham withheld nothing from the Lord. His trust in the grace of God and faith in His Promise allowed him to journey to the mountain of sacrifice ready to give his all. However, Abraham is not the only one listed in this passage. God considered Rahab “the prostitute” righteous. Hold up! The Bible does not tell of her radical conversion. It does not detail her deliverance from her profession. Grace is enough. You cannot wash yourself clean enough. You cannot be good enough to attain right standing with God again. You cannot pay the debt that sin has slapped on your life. it is by grace, I am saved through faith. Lord, keep in your grace today. Remind me that it is enough for me and every other person I come in contact with.

Acts 4:32-35 (NIV) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

How will I know if I am reliant on God’s Grace to accompany me through faith? It really is simple. God’s Grace is the Good News called the Gospel. Have you heard the old saying, “You catch more flies with than vinegar”? My grandmother used to say it all the time. Grace is the gospel but is this the message of our life? Faith without works is dead. But faith in God without grace is impossible. Grace is the access point that is the way to the Father through His Son. The fruit of faith fully invested in grace is found in Acts 4. Believers who believe in the Grace of God will have one heart and one mind. No longer will there be division. Grace is the commonality of Christ. It takes me out of the equation and makes Christ the constant. It says that they testified to the resurrection – they spoke truth and life to people without judgment and condemnation which are not qualities of Jesus. Jesus came to show mercy and love to all mankind offering them grace to be set free.  It says, “God’s Grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Redemption. Restoration. Renewal. Revival. All of these are the fruits of faith conceived by Grace. Could it be that our feeble attempts at faith are fruitless because we have tried to achieve them outside of grace? Food for thought. How can I be gracious if I do not know the sufficiency of grace? I cannot give what I have been not received. I cannot express what I have not personally experienced. I cannot live by faith without living in God’s Grace.

Proverbs 22:11 (NIV) One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

 

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

I don’t remember who spoke these words into my life. Like a challenge issued to every part of my stubbornness, I set out to prove them wrong. Never is a powerful word. It is difficult to enforce. It is final. It means not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, and to no extent. However, who are we as mere human beings to dictate time. Ecclesiastes 3 tell of God’s Outline of life including the relevance of His Timing in that “for everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven” climaxing with the promise that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, and even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Never implies control over God’s Will and Timing that is simply not the case.

When our daughter was very small, she developed rapid onset asthma. Within a matter of weeks, her condition had worsened to the point of daily doctor visits and an extension list of medication to manage her breathing. We had to carry a nebulizer with us everywhere. Her activities were limited in order to prevent a respiratory illness due to the compromised state of her lungs. This would be the beginning of a journey of faith. I had been praying for the Lord to give me faith. I wanted to see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear, and even the dead raised. I wanted to see the signs, wonders and miracles. For weeks, I struggled with the condition of my child. A couple strong in faith mentored us and taught us about the elements of faith. To them I am forever thankful for their teaching and guidance by the Holy Spirit. On the day that the Lord would reach down and touch our daughter, forever removing this dreaded disease in a single instant, I found a truth about the Lord that I will “never” forget. God rules forever. He dictates the boundaries of our life with His Love. When the enemy tries to cross that barrier, the Lord firmly enforces His Position of the Reigning King. When the doctor told us that she would remain the list of medications forever based on a slightly improvement and never be without it. Heaven and earth collided. The room stood still as His Presence filled that place. Our God is the One who has dominion over forever. Neverland is not a real place. God does not ever except never but gives it a time and place.

I have found it to be true that every never I ever have spoken is a line that I have crossed. Never makes us think we have some kind of control over our life including our mind, will and emotions. The moment it is established as some kind of boundary – it seems our flesh takes the challenge. As a young person, there are some things that I said that I would never do based on the mistakes of my parents. Disappointments and doubts that formed a plan for my life with certain boundaries which I am sad to report – I did them all. Giving my heart to Jesus during my teenage years, I accepted a harsh doctrine with many more definitive items on the long list of never. I did them all, too. Every never has become a reality in my life. I wonder if Peter felt the regret of never, the pain in his heart as he discovered that he was all too human by denying Jesus not once, or twice but three documented times. Jesus told him that the enemy wanted to “sift him like wheat.” I am sure it was a painful process but oh so necessary to make the reunion on the beach more wonderful.

Matthew 5:34-37 (NLT) But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

To say, “I will never” is a vow. It is implied control over our present state that is just not the case. We are ruled by a master – be it sin and flesh dictating our attitudes and actions or the Master who gives us the Mind of Christ. The enemy uses the statement that “I will never” to set up false barriers and invisible boundaries in our life so when we cross them we are shackled with guilt, shame or regret. The feeling of failure erodes faith as doubt and fear take over. We cannot ever say that never is possible for us or become insistent in one direction. This life that I live given to Christ is a humble offering. It is to yield my life piece by piece to the Lord. It is to accept His Will giving up my own. Therefore, I cannot say never but remain hopeful that whatever happens in my life that the Lord will keep His Promise. What promise? This one:

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) Predestination – now that is a word that will start a quick theological debate. I am not looking for a discussion or a debate simply to reveal the promise of such a revelation. Predestination means to decide in advance, to foreordain, to predetermine which is exactly is what the Lord did for us. He provided a plan for our life including a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He recorded every single day before our birth. (Psalm 139:16) He decided to give His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for my life. Not to bring condemnation but grace sufficient to cover ever sin in advance. (John 3:16-18) The Lord has provided everything I need according to His Riches in Glory (Philippians 4:19) and every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) to yield abundance and prosperity in my natural existence on my way to heavenly hope. Jesus even promised that He went to prepare a place for us in eternity and will come back for us one day. (John 14:2-3) We are predestined. Freedom allows us to choose our destination. There are many flights leaving the airport today that will go to a variety of destinations around the world. The people in the airport must choose their destination according to their free will. We do the same. To indicate “never” in our life may be the very dictate issued that limits the rich and satisfying life that Jesus promised us. (John 10:10)

The promise found in predestination is this: “we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.” Jesus came to save us and provide the grace needed to return to right-standing with God. Humility is the route to such a destination. It is to release control of our life including mind, will, emotions, body, spirit and soul to live in His Love completely. This eliminates never and impossibility from our life. Faith in Jesus is the requirement which means I give up my way to follow Him beginning with my stubborn heart set on dictating the order of my life and accept His Spirit to lead me into the everlasting.

Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT) And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

The New International Version translates the same verse as – “And I will give them an undivided heart”. We want Jesus in our life. However, to release perceived power and control contradicts everything the world tells us. We are to protect our heart. Gather all the broken pieces and hold it all together. Hide our insecurities. Build walls between ourselves and fear. Fake it until you make it. God has placed eternity in our heart because that is the part He longs for. To pursue God with our life and keep our heart for ourselves will end in disappointment and frustration. God is love. Love is messy. It requires brokenness and giving up our way to unite with the object of our affection. No marriage can survive two people bent on having their way all the time. There must be giving.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Is the Gospel of my life hidden behind a veil? This veil can be constructed of many things. It represents the veil in the Temple. The one that kept people on the verge of knowing the Lord but dependent on someone else to endure the process. The Spirit of the Lord ripped the veil in half when Jesus died for our sins. There is no longer anything separating us from God and His Heart except those who decide to reconstruct a barrier in our life. The limitation in our life is built by us not the Lord. He made it clear. God wants His Children. His Desire is for us. He longs to live in love with us. He has created a life for us worth having.

We cannot share a love that has not been experienced. If we do not give our heart and all its stubbornness and brokenness and insecurity to the Lord to accept the new heart that He offers then what is the point. I can share the Good News with others but without the Light of His Glory which is His Love shining forth – it’s just another fairytale or feel good story. I can share all the miracles that we have experienced in our life as a result of faith – but without the love found in the careful and constant intervention of Jesus – it is just another coincidence or inexplicable random event – gawked at today and forgotten tomorrow. The Gospel is a farce without the heart of God’s People shining His Love through fragile, clay jars containing grace and mercy for all. We must give our hearts to Jesus. Every part. The broken parts. The hidden parts. The held-on-to parts for safekeeping. Our life is nothing under our own control. We cannot even keep the simple promises and vows made in our life. Jesus makes all things possible. He erases impossibility completely according to His Will and Way. His Goodness can only overflow from a heart freely given and a responsive one accepted in return.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT) “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

So we go back to the beginning…God has promised to give us a new heart. He also offers us a new spirit. A tender and responsive heart. What is the never in your life that is holding you back? Or maybe it is the never that you did anyway? You and I are created in the Image of God. Christ is the visible image of God. Before departing this world, He took the Light of God’s Love and placed it in our heart. The cold, stony, and stubborn heart still held on to carries the potential to live a rich and satisfied life not in the choices we make or our ability to “change” our life making better choices or improving habits, but in our acceptance of a tender and responsive heart. We must respond to God’s Promises beginning with accepting the new heart and new spirit that is freely given to us. However, this is a position of trust that believes no matter what happens in our life that His Love is working out everything for our good. Do you believe that today? If so, your love will be made in the image of God. Your giving will be complete as you give your life away in love relinquishing control. God is intent on changing us not the environment that we live in.

The Glory of God shines brightest through the broken. This verse came to me praying for a mighty woman of God with congestive heart failure. A year ago, she testified in church that through many complications she did not have a “zipper” meaning no heart surgery. She gave the Lord glory for her healing and was a source of encouragement to me. She is in the hospital today facing her third heart surgery. Her faith in the Lord is stronger than ever. She still sings louder than everyone else when worshipping Him in the sanctuary. The first to proclaim “Hallelujah” at the mention of His Name. Her testimony is even stronger today than it was a year ago because in the midst of her trial she is still in love with the Lord. Her faith shines through the darkness of a broken body. Her heart for Jesus beats strong though her human heart is struggling. Jesus let that be me today. I give you my broken and beat up heart for a tender responsive one that shares the Light of Your Love consistently in all things, in all ways, from now until You come! I must decrease allowing You to increase Jesus! Like a wineskin bursting with new wine, I give my heart to you again. Make it beat with Yours, Lord. Give me the desires of Your Heart, God. Make me one with You today Jesus!

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.