We Walk

We Walk

2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (ESV) So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 

The giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God no longer is part of our lives. He IS our life. – Beth Moore

Patience is primary in the life of faith because our walk is in a reality that is not seen. It is incomprehensible by the human eye or perceived by any of our natural senses but nevertheless relevant and profound. It causes our reactions to turn into careful responses, not to our circumstances or current conditions, but to the God living inside of us. It is a transition that takes time and transformation. It is partially a learned behavior as we take God’s Word taking it the knowledge given to us and turning it into wisdom by practical application. It is believed that certain habits can be changed in 21 days. New life begins with the introduction of Jesus Christ and takes a lifetime to achieve. Therefore, we must learn to be patient in the cultivation of faith.

The “giant step” of faith is not a leap. It may feel like such a heart-pounding moment. However, the reality of faith is in each footstep taken each day. Even when all there is to do but stand and we choose to stand for what we believe rather than what we see is a monumental victory in the realm of hope and reality called faith. For we WALK by faith not by sight. It is important to understand that it takes a lot of willpower to walk by faith rather than leaping by fear into the unknown daring the Lord to catch us. It takes time to rightly divide our thoughts and acquire the gifting of discernment. It is important to know that when we take a step it is in the right direction. To be sure we are moving closer to the Lord and His Purpose and not making Him pursue us all over again. We are to walk with the Lord each day.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (ESV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the ONE who is leading. – Oswald Chambers

So shall the word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty… This statement is vital in our journey. To understand that God’s Word and Declaration over your life is already in place and working all around you. To know that His Unfailing Love and Goodness is pursuing you and ready to take over your life may just slow you down…or at least it has me. I have a testimony. A young woman came to our church recently. An absolutely stunning girl who radiates beauty. I noticed her a few weeks ago. Instant attraction if you will. She came forward seeking prayer. The moment I took hold of her hands and began praying I knew there was a connection. A deep desire to know her and engage with her. We left the service that evening but she never left my thoughts. It was definitely a God moment so I reached out to her on social media. She immediately accepted my request. Her introduction read, “Six year cancer survivor.” Well there you go! The Lord has put many people in my life who have experienced the awful disease. It is my goal in life to equip and empower every single one of them to overcome in Jesus Name. The disease is marked for destruction in the Heavenlies and I hope God uses me to help! When the next service rolled around, there she was sitting with her mom. I thanked her for accepting my request and inquired about her journey. It is in that moment that I realized the Lord had sent her to me. She was treated by our son’s doctors at the same place using the plan developed from his care. She was alive.

Going back through all those days of praying and believing – one of my declarations was that many would be saved because of our son’s story and that we would rob hell one soul at a time. I remember it vividly during his transplant. He was sick and tired and tortured by the process and wearing the thick purple gloves used only for chemo patients, I was grabbing sheets and blankets out of the cart threatening the enemy and every demon in his army. I was coming. Hot tears of frustration, anger and pain rolling down my cheeks but a heart on fire within. We have seen this in the natural because now they are treating people particularly children, teens and young adults without risk factors differently. This particular form of nasopharyngeal cancer is very aggressive. I have been told that a child came all the way from England to be treated and survived. Thank you Jesus. Though I would not have chosen this for my child, I am so thankful that the Lord is using it to give others new life. Now this would be miraculous enough if I stopped here. But there is more to the story, this young lady gave her heart to Jesus Christ to be her Savior and Lord this week. I cannot express how my heart exploded at the faithfulness of God to His Word. The Word that seemed to take forever to arrive is here.

The illness of our son and years it took for him to find remission took a toll on me. It cost me myself. At some point, my life changed completely. I don’t know when or how but I know this – I stopped being led and started to lean. After leaning awhile, I fell hard. No longer do I have confidence in what I see but Who I know. I cannot explain it. I don’t know how it happened. Just one day, I realized that I can’t do this thing called life anymore. I was broken beyond repair so I handed Him the pieces. Do I still have temptation? Of course. Do I still fail? Every single day. Do I still struggle with situations including insecurity, fear and doubt? I am only human. The only thing I know for a fact is that God loves me, Jesus died to save me and His Spirit lives inside of me and if I just stay right here with Him – it will all be okay. The life that He has breathed in me now sustains me. How about you?

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Basically, there are two paths you can walk; faith or fear. It is impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God. – Charles Stanley

Faith is assurance…blessed assurance…not in the outcome but the One who promised to make all things work together for our good. The One who promised that nothing could or would ever separate us from His Love. The One who gave His All for us. The One who will never leave us or forsake us. The One who not only provides for us but in abundance doing more than we can think, ask or imagine. To walk by faith is simply to walk with Jesus.

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In the Trenches

In the Trenches

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Woke up to the sound of rain today. Not gentle droplets on the window sill but a pounding torrential downpour with rolling thunder. Turning over pulling the covers a little bit higher, I don’t want to get out of bed but rather soak in some extra sleep and surrender to laziness. Struggling to pull myself out of bed, all the inconvenience of going outside and loss of comfort keeps me cozy and in place. Blame it on the rain! I can do this. I will do this. I must do this. It’s Sunday! It’s the Lord’s Day!

Rain is a life giver. As it soaks the fresh cut grass, it is a brilliant green. All the spring pollen is washed away, and it smells new outside. Our lab thinks it is just for her. A gift from Heaven as she frolics, runs and rolls in it. She is a waterdog. Made for such a time as this, I stand wrapped in a jacket hoping it will end before our departure. Yet her enthusiasm makes me smile – she loves the rain. Maybe the rain is just for her…

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. The power of the life giving Spirit has freed us. I will rejoice. Sometimes caught in the trenches of service for the Lord, it is easy to forget what this thing called ministry is all about. We are ambassadors of Christ called to ministry in our once ordinary life given to extraordinary potential with Jesus. Those who are called are equipped with the Spirit of God and ability to make it rain especially in the life of those currently living in seasons of drought, despair and darkness.

I Kings 18:41-45 (NLT) Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

This chapter of I Kings chronicles the “contest on Mount Carmel”, the place where God poured out His Glory, Elijah overcame and killed the prophets of Baal and there was a revival amount the people. “And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!’” THEN, Elijah went to pray for rain. The chapter begins by setting the scene. It was the third year of drought. The promise spoken to Elijah from the Lord – I will soon send rain! The problem in the midst of it all – disbelief. The people had given their heart and mind to serve a dead god – Baal. Yet the Living God pursued them nevertheless. The only thing standing between them and relief from the drought was repentance and revival. Life in the trenches is where we find Elijah. He did not pray for rain with expectancy until the people were revived in heart and soul.

Luke 15:4-7 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Death was introduced to mankind by one man, Adam. Grace was delivered to all mankind through one man – Jesus Christ. Elijah was one man. He was sent to end drought. The contest on Mount Carmel had to be accomplished so the heart of the people would be ready for rain. More importantly, they had to align themselves with God to receive it. Elijah released God’s Glorious Grace when he overcame the prophets of Baal that day. It was not in their death but the new life and hope created when the people recognized God coming back to Him in humility.

I wonder if we forget that sometimes. When a church service doesn’t produce an altar full or maybe the response to the message seems to be nil. Do we lose sight off the greater good that is the power of grace in one person? “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God.” We can all pretend to be righteous or maybe a tad bit religious but when our heart repents and our soul is revived – God sends an outpouring of His Glory like never before. We can pick apart our church and all the people in it. We will miss the point altogether and live limited lives. Elijah dug trenches around the sacrifice filling them with water. It would be impossible for God to light a fire, right? No miracles happen in the impossible. If you have been praying for an abundance of rain, but seem to be living in drought – God is ready to pour out rain on your life today. Examine your heart and align your mind with His Word again. If you have been working a dry and barren land that seems impossible to bear fruit, keep digging those trenches for the rain is coming when the soil becomes broken and fertile. The rain is coming – will you be there to experience His Outpouring? God’s Word will not fail. He will do exactly as He promised. We must humble ourselves and pray with repentant hearts ready for revival. This is life in the trenches and you are in good company!

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (NLT) At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If I had a dime for every time I have recited this verse to my rambling mind, rebellious thoughts and overwrought emotions. God did not give me the spirit of fear but there are days I completely own it myself. Stress and anxiety fuel doubt and disbelief. The enemy whispers, “But…” Lies that get me all hot and bothered as I try to wrestle in my flesh and take captive those thoughts that so easily distract me. God did not give me the spirit of fear or timidity. He didn’t give it to you either. Anything contrary to God in our life must go in order for us to fully embody Christ and experience freedom that is given through Him.

Yesterday was one of those days, after a week of fighting the good fight, it seemed like it was going to be a good day. I got out of the house on time – major victory for the time challenged. I had an awesome worship, praise and prayer time on the way to work. Two major victories before the morning meeting at work had me feeling pretty confident that it was going to be a great close to the long week. Well then the enemy lobbed a bomb over the fence and immediately I was on the run. I was angry, mad, stressed, worried and anxious all at the same time all of a sudden. Caught off guard, I was unsuccessful at pulling in the wild horses dragging me off fast and furiously. It’s hard to remember to never let your guard down especially on the “good” days. To think that the enemy is not lurking in the darkness just looking for a foothold. For me it came as a “misunderstanding” mixed with some “confusion” all the enemy’s tactics waging war against a confident heart and made up mind. “Are you sure? What if? Or else?” Subtle attacks that lead to devastating results if not handled immediately.

So this morning, I am going to share three tips for reining in “wild horses”? Those thoughts and notions that there is a limit to God’s Love, Power and Faithfulness in our life. I hope they help you. They are not quick fixes. It will take a lot of time and practice to instill them as habits in an emotional world that has decided God is not who He claims to be and tries to rob the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So here goes…

Power

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.

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

Grace is available in our weakness. Power comes when we relinquish control of our life to the Power of God promised by Jesus and the Word of God. The problem is that our world is D-I-Y obsessed even the church. “Well, if I don’t do it – who will?” The one called and commissioned to. Giving up control is what crucifying the flesh is all about. To decide that you will fully invest your life in God’s Way through the Way – Jesus Christ means giving up your power to fully embrace His Power. How do you do that? Repentance. Obedience. Trust. Key components to full embracing God’s Power is at the end of self. We cry out for God’s Intervention asking Him to open the windows of Heaven over us and fill our life with the abundance that is promised but never really understanding the change that comes with it. We cannot live in the Presence of God unchanged. We cannot reach the depths offered without giving up our current position. There is no way to discover the vastness and limitless boundaries of His Love and Grace for us without accepting His Grace fully.

Love

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.

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

There is no limit on God’s Love. He pursues us with unfailing love. (Psalm 23) It is endless reaching from creation, through life and into eternity. God demonstrated His Love by giving us amazing grace. The kind of grace that works best in our weakness. Christ was the example who was crucified in weakness to give way to resurrection power and new life. We have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ who loved us. His Spirit lives in us as evidence of adoption. No longer are we exiled from God but through Christ reconciled as sons and daughters of God. Do you love your children? How much? Too much sometimes, right? How much more does God love us? Do you believe that God loves you today? Are you convinced? Love is the conviction of God’s Faithfulness to us outside of our ability to remain pure and blameless. His Love came down and rescued us in our weakness and gave us victory. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We can do nothing to repay God for His Gift. The only thing we can do is believe it and live in that love fearlessly.

Fear is evidence that there is doubt or disbelief in the fulfillment of God given through Jesus Christ. It does not fully embrace the finished work on the Cross or grab hold of the “overwhelming victory” promised in God’s Word. The only hope that you and I have of living a courageous life is in our ability to completely and confidently receive God’s Love. To allow His Love to change our heart, soul and mind until it is completely convinced that there is nothing that can separate us from His Love. His Faithfulness is not contingent on anything we do other than to believe it enough to embrace it and stop running from Him.

In fact, the Word of God says those that believe in the perfect love of God live fearlessly. Perfect love expels fear. The solution to the problem does not end fear. Fear continually sows seeds when not eradicated. It is in the constant sowing of God’s Love in our life that fear has no place to grow, mature or develop into worries, cares, stress or burdens. The conviction of God’s Love is the birthplace of freedom. It is the place where ordinary life takes on an extraordinary existence. Right where you are even if nothing changes. Perfect peace takes over until God delivers.

Self-Discipline or Self-Control

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I Peter 1:13 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Each week I make a grocery list and menu for the upcoming week. I have the best intentions of making delicious meals for my family that are often upended by busyness. Just because I have all the ingredients doesn’t mean I will follow through with my original plan. The Holy Spirit produces all the good fruit for an amazing life – but self-control is what we must use to make it all work together. My thoughts are pivotal in execution of God’s Plan. I must rein in every thought contrary to Christ and adverse to God’s Word. I cannot allow myself the opportunity to worry, stress or fear what is to come. God promised to work every detail of my life for His Good and Glory. Do I believe Him? My response to lies and taunts of the enemy will reveal the content and true conviction of my heart. Consumed by worry, I must decide to worship. I cannot give lies permission to remain but must pray and praise my way through it. I must give up every other conviction than the one that says, “God loves me and He is for me – I cannot fail!”

When I was much younger, I had a good friend who owned horses. We could go riding on Saturdays. There was one particular horse that I was riding which was a bit skittish. My friend who was a confident equestrian asked as we were headed home, “Would you like to change horses because the one that I was on was “barn sour”? I had no idea what that meant and later wish I did. Coming out of the woods when she saw the pens and barn just past it – she took off running out-of-control. I pulled the reins with all my might but she was not having it. All I could do was hang on and pray I didn’t fall off in her haste.

A “barn sour” or “herd bound” behavior is produced by anxiety. Fear of separation from the herd or physical location which it deems secure such as a pasture or barn. It is a dangerous behavior as the rider loses all control of the animal. There is no threat except the stress of the animal. The basis for this equine problem is one that many humans suffer from, too. Insecurity. According to experts, the insecurity caused by this instinct in horses is exacerbated by a lack of training which is easily overcome.  You must teach the horse to be responsive to your clues. It is the same with people who want to live a fearless life embracing fully the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Father, I ask you to flood our hearts with light today. Expose every lie that the enemy has sown in us that it may be uprooted and replanted with faith. I rebuke fear, stress, anxiety, worries and care commanding them to go in Jesus Name. Lord, I trust you. Help any disbelief in me to give way to resurrection power and life. I believe that You love me. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from Your Love even my fears, doubts and insecurities that you are removing right now. Lord, let your Spirit complete His Work in me. I give you permission to permeate every part of my life for my good and Your Glory! In the Name above all names – Jesus!

Ephesians 1:18-23 (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. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

Unlikely Opportunities

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Psalm 76:23-26 (NIV) Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

“Deny your weakness and you will never realize God’s Strength in you.” (Joni Eareckson Tada)

The unlikely opportunity of empowerment comes at the high price of the realization of weakness. The moment that mind over matter doesn’t work anymore and human inadequacy will fail the test of time and trial – this is the pivotal placement of dependency on God. Human nature demands a breaking point to lay aside pride and lean on the Lord. The mountain has to be too big. The valley too low. The season too hard. Or the darkness impenetrable for our pride to finally die. We are created in the Image of God. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

My flesh and heart may fail… is a huge understatement. My flesh will fail. My heart does fail. Those seasons of life that are just too much for our humanness so our heart turns to God. Though it is not a time called affectionately to our remembrance, those who wait upon the Lord or find Him there will never give up the strength and power of His Presence. It changes you. You are still made of flesh. Everyone has a wavering heart, but it is in the Presence and Power of our Creator that we find a new kind of strength called trust that will fill us with peace even in the midst of tremendous pressure.

God is the strength of my heart and portion forever. Is He enough? Is your faith and confidence in God enough? The Lord cannot heal unless something is broken. He cannot fill a place that is already full. Miracles happen in the midst of the impossible. You cannot find your place in Jesus until you stand down from self. Such unlikely opportunities, all the things that the world tells us to avoid. These are the primary places of true empowerment. When weariness gives way to an upset, when our strength completely fails and all that is left is to surrender to the Power and Presence of God.

When life falls apart and the world crashing down around us – chaos ensues. Our mind cannot wrap itself around the incomprehensible tragedy or loss surrounding the time and place when our normal is no longer. It happens all the time. The unexplainable time when human understanding is lost and all that is left is to look to our Lord and Savior. What will that moment look life for you? For Joni Eareckson Tada, it was the moment a freak accident forced her into a wheelchair and a life of quadriplegia. For me, the moment our son was diagnosed with cancer. The same cancer that would come back aggressively time and time again. The days of fighting for treatment in a world that puts a price on human life. The aftermath of a warrior with a body covered with battle scars. Maybe for you it was in the loss of a loved one to death or even in life. Perhaps it was a career that abruptly ended or financial disaster. Could it have been when you just couldn’t do it anymore?

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Such a glorious hope that we have in Jesus, a bright and shining light that sometimes requires shrouds of darkness to truly discover. The Lord is always with us. He is right there with you. It doesn’t matter if you wandering off or ran from Him. He pursues you every day with unfailing love and goodness. His Glory is ready to overtake you. He deposits new mercy on your doorstep each morning and His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for you in every situation. I will always be the place where His Strength and Power overtake us. It is the unlikeliest of places but has the most potential of all.

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.

Every weakness is the opportunity for God to show us His Glory and Strength. Empowerment is a benefit of grace and reward of surrender. God has given us His Spirit. The Spirit is hard at work producing good fruit in our life according to His Word. He is our helper in all things. The Holy Spirit is also our guarantee. The One deposited in us when every promise became “yes” and “amen”. He will not force us into submission. He will not demand our surrender. He waits in us for the moment it is our choice. It is in that time and space that the Presence of God overtakes us and a new strength of heart called faith emerges. The crevices of a broken heart give way to fertile soil that allows His Spirit to sustain us even in seasons of famine and drought. When nothing seems to be going right but rather coming apart. It is right then and there that something changes. We give up our way to fully embrace His Way. Thank you Lord for the days when everything falls apart that You are forever faithful in making every detail and taking every piece of my broken heart to fill with power and use for Your Glory! God is good! He is always good! His Goodness is ready to overtake you today! Max Lucado said, “I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is.” I agree.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

“The human experience of weakness is God’s Blueprint for calling attention to the supremacy of His Son. When miserably failing people continue to belong to, believe in, and worship Jesus, God is happy.” (Michael Spencer) Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He provides unlikely opportunities for ordinary life to become an extraordinary existence. He turns natural consequences into supernatural experiences for those who choose to surrender every weakness to Him. The Lord did not come to condemn us. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He is the Resurrection and Life. He is where dead things breathe again. He is where the terminal is no longer fatal. He is the Alpha and Omega or the Beginning and the End. It’s not over until the Lord says so. The Lord is an everlasting God. He will not give up when you do. He will not give in because you decide its time. No, the Lord will finish the good work that He began in your life. All you have to do is hope in Him. Trust Him. Believe Him.

“A sacrifice to be real must cos, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than your weakness.” (Mother Teresa)

I Corinthians 1:26-30 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Oneness

one

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ prays in me. Christ works in me. Christ looks through my eyes. Christ speaks through my words. Christ works with my hands. Christ walks with my feet. Christ loves with my heart. As St. Paul’s prayer was – I belong to Christ and nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. It was that oneness – oneness with God in the Holy Spirit. (Mother Teresa)

I am struck by the words of this meek and mighty woman of God. Mother Teresa gave her life to passionate prayer and pursuing complete oneness with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Her words echo through the recesses of my mind, body and soul asking the question, “Are you one?” Am I experiencing the fullness of oneness with Jesus Christ? To be fully consumed by love for the One who loved me first and always loves me the most. The holy inhabitation of God’s Spirit is given in order to live in complete consummation of our relationship to Christ. Have we lost our passion for God? Have we lost our first love – Jesus Christ? Busyness robs us of precious moments better given to Christ. Distractions keep us from seeing the opportunity offered in each encounter. Stress and worry produced by fear erode the confidence that is conviction of God’s Timeless and Endless Love for us.

Put on your new nature. Our identity is not an orphan but dearly loved Child of the Living God. It goes deeper through Christ now we are a bride. We prepare for marriage with Him similar to that of natural marriage in the confession and conviction forsaking all others – I choose You – Jesus! Is that your heartfelt desire today? To be a Child of God. To become the Bride of Christ. It is through the pursuit of oneness with the Lord and reconciliation to Christ that this is accomplished. Christ is all that matters. He is alive in us.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 (NLT) Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Comparison to people and personal evaluation to human standards will build and fortify pride in our life. We can always find someone who will make us feel better about ourselves. We can use the scales and balances of the world and find self-satisfaction in our own rightness. But that is not the standard of living that the Lord has called us to. Reconciliation to Jesus Christ will produce a godly standard of living impossible apart from Him. It removes every arrogant thought and prideful excuse to give way to complete submission and surrender to the Lover of our Soul. When two people married it is perceived that they become one. No longer two separate individuals through the bond and covenant of marriage they are one. It is from this union designed by God that our union with Christ is personified. Except two come together in agreement and harmony giving up their way to pursue life together – there is no relationship but constant striving and struggling to maintain our own way.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Do you belong to Jesus Christ? Mind, soul and body have your given your heart to the Lord? If so, then you know it requires a change of direction called repentance. God does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The unchangeability of the Trinity makes it impossible to pursue oneness unless I am willing to give up my way, the lie of the enemy and engage in new life together with Jesus. The church cannot properly reconcile the world to God until the individuals comprising the Body get it together first. We must reconcile our life to Christ completely to create unity of the Body as a whole. We must stop evaluating the success and failure or the church by numbers and begin to identify with the person of Jesus Christ again pursuing oneness with Him in every possible conceivable way.

Love is a commitment. It is a covenant relationship that forsakes self for oneness. If you have been married more than a few days, you understand that success in a marriage is giving. Taking is not conducive to continued unity but the constant and consistent giving of yourself. It is the pursuit of oneness that keeps us on the altar with our flesh slowly dying when it comes to our commitment to the Lord. It is this sweet smelling sacrifice that entices others to engage in such an endeavor to give up this life for so much more.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Our first two children are boys. After that, we have three girls. Lord, help me. Boys are pretty straight forward. Girls on the other hand test every fruit given by the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The emotional overtures are ridiculous. My childhood was very different from our family. The relationships of this generation are mind boggling to say the least. I know people who have sons pray for daughters so consider yourself duly warned – be careful what you pray for. All joking aside the on again off again relationships sometimes hormonal and always emotional are like a rollercoaster that is out of control. I am currently working with our girls on humility and forgiveness whether their adversary deserves it or not. The teenage culture is brutal. I want my girls to arrive at the doorway of adulthood with tender hearts. I want them to be a blessing even if they are cursed by others. The only way this is accomplished is to be of one mind with Christ. I wonder if we are setting a good example for our children. The heart of God is love. The mind of Christ is love. The Holy Spirit cultivates love in us. The confidence of my commitment to Jesus is that He loves me. Nothing can separate me from His Love. This must be the foundation of my life – body, soul and spirit.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

The joy of the presence of Jesus, you must be able to give wherever you go. But you cannot give what you don’t have. That’s why you need a pure heart, a pure heart that you will receive as a fruit of your prayer, as a fruit of your oneness with Christ. (Mother Teresa) Oneness with Christ must be our lifelong pursuit. It fuels the Light of His Love within us. It is the saltiness that flavors our message making it palatable to a lost and dying world. Unity with Jesus cultivates the fruit of His Spirit – the first one is love. To be one with Jesus of the same heart, mind and purpose requires an overtaking of our self with His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Grace or it is a religious learned behavior. I can change habits. I can make better choices. But I cannot be a new creation living a new life outside of oneness with Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)  I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 

Shining Light

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Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

You are the light of the world. A city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. A lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house. I think sometimes this imagery of Christ is modernized into a flashlight meant to shine in the darkness when all along it was intended to be a light standing in the darkness attracting others to its light. The need to illuminate the life of others must never be to expose them but always to encourage them to leave the darkness behind. We choose to live in the Light and give others the same opportunity by becoming light.

Yesterday started out well, I knew there was a big project with a looming deadline waiting in my inbox. I was prepared for it. However a couple hours in the day, things took a twist. It sent me to the Emergency Room with our son. I could feel my not-so-normal life trying to put a damper on the day. My joy was under attack by the constant reminder of days gone by. Sitting in the hospital for some precautionary tests, I could feel frustration rising up accompanied by the incessant beeping of a monitor the nurse forgot to silence in her haste. As time ticked by, I could also sense the urgency of the task waiting at work. Upon returning, I knew that it would be a late one. My heart sank. This is the night our daughter and grandson come to visit. Though the sun was shining, I could sense rain clouds on the horizon. It seems like lately the tears fall just a little faster than before as though they are on the edge of my eyes all the time. Standing in the grocery store with the deli backed up, now even dinner was taking forever. I felt like I would burst into tears at any moment. It was then my daughter called she was passing by the store and asked if I would like her to come wait with me. When she walked in the store holding her bundle of joy, it was like sunshine through rain clouds. She was light. My dark day illuminated by two people who bring me absolute and complete joy.

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.”

You are the light of the world…or at least the Light of the World lives in us. Rather than living like flashlights, it is our privilege to become lampstands of Christ. The light of His Love burning bright inside of us is more appealing than a spotlight in someone’s eyes. There are days I don’t feel saved. There are times when I don’t want to get up again. There are moments when the pressure seems too much to bear. The enemy too close to my ear. But it is in that moment, that God sends His Light to me. I do not ever have to walk in darkness but if it possible to be honest and transparent some days the darkness finds us anyway.

How do I maintain the Light of His Love? To keep a fire alive requires attention or it will burn out. We must feed the Light of His Love within us with the Word of God. The Light of His Love is a lamp that keeps us company in the dark times and helps us find our way in our wanderings. It shines through the broken pieces of its fragile jar called our heart for all to see. This life in Christ is one of complete transparency. People don’t need an artificial light that doesn’t represent a real God but rather need a passionate fire to fuel God’s Love in them. Is your light attractive? Is it bright enough? Is it properly fueled? Maintained even in the most inclement weather?

Psalm 27:1-3 (NLT) The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.

This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Hide it under a bushel…no! I’m gonna let it shine… I am quite sure that I will sing this with my grandson one day. He is a little light already. He is just another representation of God’s Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in my life. A blessing among blessings. The Lord is my light and my salvation. The next part of this verse is so important…why should I be afraid? What are you afraid of? What keeps you from living fully in the Light of His Love today? I guarantee you it is from the father of lies because there is absolutely nothing that can separate you from the Love of God today.

Before I can be a light to the world, I must identify the Light that lives inside me. He is Jesus. He is the Light of the World and definitely my salvation. In order to become a light in the darkness, I must become confident in His Love and Salvation. I know many people who claim to be saved but do not know or understand that capacity of God’s Love and Grace for them. They live in prisons built by fear, doubt and insecurity because surely no one can love like Jesus or offer grace without a price. Well…plot twist…He did and He does!

Psalm 36:7-9 (NLT) How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.

One of my favorite worship songs has a verse, “You can’t turn out a light that shines from the inside. You can’t put out a fire that burns from the inside.” You cannot become light to the world without a constantly consuming passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. Your light will flicker and go out according to circumstances and conditions if not fully confident in the Lord as our Source. He must be more than enough. He must stand as overcomer. He must be exactly who He says He is to me in order for me to offer any kind of glimmer to another. The passion in our hearts is missing so the vibrant reflection of Christ that once was a beacon drawing thousands at a time, without sound systems, light shows, computerized screens and full bands with professional singers but just a light on a stand or city on a hill, is slowly fading to black. The Light that shines from my heart is an important part of the Kingdom. The Light potential in you is, too. Together we become the city for all to see and run to for refuge.

I have a flashlight I use each morning to take the dogs outside before dawn. It is important to avoid any surprises such as freshly dug holes or piles of mess. I share this because this is true in life, too. The Lord has given us the light to see. We must use that light in our own life. It is important to keep our eyes on the path before us with a consciousness of the “cloud of witnesses” all around. Those who are looking for light. Those who need help out of the pits of life and those who need to clean the mess off if you know what I mean. Sometimes we become so consumed with our own magnificence in life that we forget to magnify Jesus and draw others to Him. A light in the darkness stands like a candle. It cannot move or be swayed but nevertheless must be constantly consumed by fire to accomplish its purpose… as do I!

Ephesians 5:8-10 (NLT) For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.

I must live as light. I must pay attention to the lens of my life to be sure that I am allowing the Light of His Love to shine through me. I am not called to illuminate my darkness and live in my circle of light but to be a lamp on a stand and city on a hill to shine the Light of God’s Love to the lost, broken and dying people who He came for. We become consumed with our own life sometimes rather than allowing the all-consuming fire of His Love burn away fear, doubt and insecurity so total trust gives way to complete transparency. The world is looking for love – real love. We have it. Hidden in the fragile jars of our heart ready to spill out for all to see – will you let the Love of God shine through you today? It means focusing on others rather than self. It means climbing the rough side of the mountain with a smile on your face. True joy is found in Jesus Christ. If you do not have joy – it is time to reevaluate the well. Living water flows through you to quench the thirst of others. You were made to be salty adding flavor to life. Jesus Christ lives in you. You are the Light of the World. Don’t hide. Shine. Shine bright and confident in His Love today. No matter what you face you will be victorious. No matter the obstacle – you will overcome. You are more than a conqueror with the confidence that no weapon formed against you will prosper. Even if you are weary, if you wait on the Lord – He will take you higher than ever before. You are called to be a city on a hill! Be the Light!
Proverbs 4:18 (NLT) The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

Proverbs 13:9 (NLT) The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.

 

Finding Purpose

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Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

A throne is God’s purpose for you; a cross is God’s path for you; faith is God’s plan for you. (Alan Redpath)

Did you know that you were created on purpose? It doesn’t matter the details of conception or conditions of birth – no baby arrives void of purpose. Your situation may not have been ideal. Your childhood a terrible tragedy. Teenage years a journey of guilt and shame. Adulthood filled with broken relationships and dead dreams yet still deep inside your heart is purpose. God placed eternity in our heart. He gave us a measure of faith to insure our success. He sent His Son – Jesus to take our life back paying the penalty of all sins so a full dispensation of grace might be available. Our life handed back to us labeled “free” and now it is up to us to decide how to use it. The purpose of God within us is far greater than just making it to Heaven. It is the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth.

The woman at the well had no idea that a divine appointment awaited her. She arrived around noon at the peak of the sun. She was shunned by other women and used by many men. Her current master not her husband just one willing to take the broken pieces of a shattered life and capitalize on it. She had no idea that the broken path she followed was leading her straight to redemption. She didn’t think this was a new day of new opportunity – I believe like many women just like her – she was just trying to get by. When she met Jesus, he asked for some water to satisfy a thirst. It would become an invitation for this dry and devastated life to be renewed.

John 4:13-16 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The purpose in our heart is deep water. We must search for understanding to draw it out. This woman began her conversation in the natural and then encountered the supernatural. She forgot who everyone said she was and ran back to tell them about the Messiah. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” I wonder today if the well of our hearts get so filled with worthless conversation and other garbage keeping the living water within us from making its way out of us. The opinions, insults and offenses stuck in our heart. The woman found her purpose. His Name – Jesus Christ. The guilt, shame and regret of our past is no match for the unfailing love and unfathomable grace given to us in just one encounter with the Lord. Purpose is a deep water that will only be found by those who are willing to dig a little deeper than the superficial overtures of life to reach the abundance found in new life.

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

For you will certainly carry out God’s Purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. (C.S. Lewis)

Purpose is God-given. It resides in us. God placed eternity in each heart. He also provided us all with a measure of faith to successfully secure us in the Kingdom. He even sacrificed His Son to give us the freedom to choose between good and evil again with new mercy each day and more than enough grace for those days we miss the mark. God has us covered completely. Jesus gives us overwhelming victory as a byproduct of His Love for us. We can overcome in every situation. Why are so many Christians and so-called believers struggling then? Are you serving Jesus like Judas or John? Everyone would be quick to say, “John” but on closer evaluation of a wayward heart may be an indication that Judas is hiding in the darkest part.

Job 42:1-6 (ESV) “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The story of Job is all about pride. Job’s life was prosperous. He was known as a religious man. He lived a righteous life. Yet, in all his goodness, the messengers came one by one as his kingdom fell. His family and finances were devastated. Disease soon infected his body. His own wife told him to give up on God. Yet in all his misery, Job did not give up on the Lord. His friends didn’t understand. They tried to offer comfort but only inflamed his heart and mind. In his complete and utter misery as his flesh was dying, Job came to the Lord and this was his cry. Job still believed. In the midst of all the tragedy, God still lived on the throne of his heart. Job knew that God is sovereign. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Such a profound statement. We hear a lot about the Lord and even adopt a certain language laced with hints of faith and believing. Yet it never reaches their heart or penetrates their thoughts forming a new belief which becomes a new life. As the Truth of God’s Identity and Character began to seep into the brokenness of his heart, something changed. Job was ready for a turnaround. Job repented.

Our purpose in the Lord will never be more than a promise if repentance is not a lifestyle. The Kingdom is not a place to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Hearing the Word of God it is easy to make a list of excuses why it’s not for us. But one encounter with the fullness of God in His Son – Jesus changes everything. The Lord dealt with Job’s accusers disguised as friends. He did not just restore Job but gave him double for his trouble. The renewal of faith in God will fill the gaps left by every tragedy in life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. God already gave us everything we need including the promises so greatly desired. It must be our purpose to discover God’s Purpose and invest our life in Him.

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if God’s Purpose is for you to give your life away for others? It is. What if you must lose your life to truly find it? You do. What if the eternity in our heart will not escape without brokenness? It won’t. God has placed a purpose in you far greater than your human life can produce or sustain. It will require every bit of faith to achieve. Your heart will be devastated to be redesigned – molded and shaped into the Masterpiece promised by the Lord in Ephesians 2. My heart was forever changed during our son’s battle with cancer. Normal will never be normal again. Once you know the truth, you cannot believe the lie anymore. For years, I prayed for the Lord to increase my faith and He did. It was not in some glorious service when Heaven opened and poured out His Glory. It was in a hospital room when I finally gave up all of me. Pride must die in His Presence for purpose to be properly birthed. It is painful. It can be messy. It is always worth it.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The Lord will fulfill His Purpose for you and me regardless of our participation. God will do exactly as He planned and promised to do because of His Steadfast Love for us. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us even when we think we are pursuing Him. The Truth about us is that God created us with a plan containing a future and hope far greater than the life created by randomness. Every step has the potential to be purposeful when committed to the Lord. He is leading us to something far greater and exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. Do you trust Him today? Do you believe in God’s Steadfast Love? If you do, you will go with Him. Following Him to the ends of the earth just to continue in His Unconditional Love. He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord invites us to invest our freedom in His Purpose and to prosper in this life. It is up to us whether or not repentance turns us from a worthless life to a radical resurrection of a power-infused supernatural existence filled with God’s Favor.

Is there more to life than this? Yes, there is. His Name is Jesus. He is our Purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Resurrection Life

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Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“The Kingdom of God is within you…” Leo Tolstoy

Jesus Christ is alive. He is living and breathing inside the heart and soul of every believer, but not every Christian. To follow Jesus Christ is not enough. The only way to live a life of successful faith is to let the Holy Spirit change our mind and open our heart to the truth that Christ lives in us. With Resurrection Sunday just a few days away, I am filled with excitement and expectation. I like Christmas, but I love Easter. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah in December, but the thing that makes Jesus so powerful is the fact that He died for our sin and rose again on the third day. Except Christ be crucified AND resurrected, there is not power, authority or dominion over death. It is important that believers serve the risen Savior and Lord or they are worshipping a dead god.

To believe that the fullness of God be fully invested in Jesus Christ means nothing if He is not alive in us today. How full is a broken cup? No matter how much is poured in it would only gush out. The substance of our faith is contained in the hope of the Living God. If our faith has nothing to build upon – it has no validity. Faith in God is paramount on the fact that Jesus Christ lives in us or to make a connection with Him would be sudden death. Outside of Christ – I have no chance of living in the Presence of God day by day into eternity. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive and lives in us is what changes every impossibility into future possibility. It takes a natural life making it supernatural. Our ordinary existence becomes extraordinary when Christ comes to live in us. It is time to change our mind about the God we serve and recognize that Christ is alive and well inside of us. Christ in us identifies us as part of the Kingdom of God.

“God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.” Leo Tolstoy

Faith is not logical. It will never be understood by human reasoning. It is not validated by what we see but Who we know. The more I know Jesus Christ – the more logical my faith becomes. As I submit my life to Him, He fills me with the fullness of God that is in Him. The Spirit produces fruit from seeds of faith like love, joy, peace, and the like. He bestows forgiveness, kindness and goodness to us in epic proportions so they begin to flow from us as we cannot contain the Favor of the Living God any longer. Too many Christians are trying to pour from empty cups. I must submit my life fully to the Lord in order to have a reservoir to draw from.

Romans 8:10-12 (NLT) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Scrolling through social media, I came across a meme posted about the recounting of sins at the pearly gates and not realizing you were that wild or something like that. All in good fun. A particularly long comment thread caught my attention beginning with a young woman who berated the poster as sacrilegious. I will not recount the back and forth banter because quite honestly the debate a complete embarrassment to Christians. Anyway, she recanted that unless we completely separate ourselves from the world and live “sinless” lives that we will not enter Heaven. I just shook my head and scrolled on. Nobody can do that. We all have a sinful nature to be crucified daily. Religion tells us to follow all the rules and regulations and you will make it into Heaven. If there is no relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never get there from here.

I share this revelation because sinless perfection is impossible in a human being ever. Even saved, sanctified super spiritual people sin – all the time. The mindset of the believer is to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to avoid it but surrender and submit our life to the Cross when we fall short. I cannot judge or condemn another person because I have fallen short. It only took one sin and Lord knows I am capable of way more than that. Our mission in life is complete unity with Jesus Christ. Laying our life down, crucifying our flesh and living in the love of God given to us through His Son. I have no obligation to sin anymore. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit of the Living God gives me power and authority over sin. I can make better choices just because He lives. But even on my best day, the good in me and greatest potential of my life is Jesus Christ. My elevation comes from exaltation and the revelation that surrender and submission are the only way to live. “Christian joy is letting Christ live His Life out through you so that what He is…you become.” (David Jeremiah)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

“God doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up to the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.” (R.C. Sproul) If we could get the imagine of death in our mind, the reality of it, the brutal and abrupt end of life – maybe there would be a better sense of exactly what Christ offers us in His Resurrection. We avoid death at all costs. Born dying, we try to outrun, outlive, and outsmart the inevitable end of human life. There is another option but in order to embrace the joy of eternity one must engage in the death process prematurely. The unfathomable and incomprehensible has happened. In our revelation of the true meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is that now that same power, authority and vitality lives in us. He was crucified in weakness and raised in complete fulfillment and victory. We must engage in the same process to move from death to life. To obtain grace comes at the price of strength and ability – it is obtained in utter weakness. When we could do nothing to save ourselves – Jesus died for us. “He did not come to shame the sinners. Jesus came to save sinners.” (Reinhard Bonnke) “He came into this world to make dead people live.” (Leo Tolstoy) Apart from the Grace of God our connection with Him is religious. The consummation of our relationship with the Living God is that Christ lives in us. We have live because He is life.

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I encourage you to join me if examining the heart and mind in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Do you believe that Christ is alive? Do you understand that He lives in you? Do you live through Him? It is important to evaluate our personal walk with Christ each day? To compare our direction to His Directive (His Word, Will and Way). To completely empty the contents of our heart and make sure it is only faith in God that is retained and worthless things thrown away. The only thing of worth in us is Jesus Christ. If we do not fully believe and base our life on the fact that Jesus lives and resides in us – what is there to celebrate on Easter? If Christ did not emerge from the grave victorious over sin and death – folks, we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are doing or successful you are at avoiding sin, without the Living God – there is nothing to live for. All those efforts following the example of Christ are meaningless if the person of Jesus does not reside inside you. The Spirit gives us life. Apart from Him, death is the only option. Revive us again, Jesus. Teach us to celebrate the power and authority that You have given us and live a resurrection life.

John 11:25-26 (NLT)  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Do you believe this (put your name here)?

 

No More But…

No More But...

James 1:12 (AMP) Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

I am blessed. I am happy. I am spiritually prosperous. I am favored by God. But… The word “but” nullifies everything in the previous statement. It is the very word that renders an apology useless in its own justification. I’m sorry but… It is the place saver for the condition that will limit the commitment. I would go to church but… Three letters can change everything in a single breath. I am blessed, but… I am happy, but… I am prosperous, but… I am favored by God, but… What is the limitation on your life today? What comes after the but…?

Steadfastness in the troubles, trials and temptations of life is only possible when Children of God remove the hindrances often breathed into life giving declarations. The little word “but” seems so small but it holds greater conviction than the statement just before. It is the obstacle of faith that must be overcome. The human heart will reveal places of doubt and disbelief and the enemy picks it up using it as a weapon. There is no weapon formed against us that will prosper, but… We are our own weapons of mass destruction as rebellious thoughts become firm beliefs keeping us locked in what-could-have-been rather than living in the realm of hope marked what has already been done.

The word “but” in the middle of a sentence is called a coordinating conjunction. Ever heard the Schoolhouse Rock song that goes “Conjunction Junction” – “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” The function of “but” is to create the opposite. When “but” is placed as a conjunction, it represents a change of direction. It is a contradiction. When our attitude and actions are contradictory to the Lord, suddenly we have a crossroad. We have been crowned with victory by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Goodness is for the Land of the Living…but…

What is the contradiction that is confining God’s Best from flowing in you and through you today? What is keeping you from remaining steadfast in the Lord? It is the thing on the other side of your but… There was a man who was lame for more than 30 years. He would sit by the pool and wait for its stirring. Healing would have missed him altogether had Jesus had enough love and compassionate persistence for both of them. Jesus offered the man expectation. The man only made excuses. Jesus said to him, “Get up; pick up your pallet and walk.” The man was healed and fully recovered. (John 5) The man was reacting to his condition and years of disappointment. When he encountered Jesus, these weights would have kept them there except for the faithfulness of Jesus.

James 1:16-18 (AMP)  Do not be misled, my beloved brothers and sisters. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes].

Thank you Jesus for Your Persistence and Perseverance in pursuing us with Your Goodness each day. New mercies are bestowed on us each day. His Love and Goodness always pursuing us. He offers us victory. His Power works best in my weakness. How crazy is that? Because I am weak. I fail every single day. Simple obedience is often an overwhelming task. I am not talking about religious rules and regulations. I love God. I love Jesus. I love His Spirit at work in me. I am to love everyone else as well. To lay down my life (pride, bitterness, offense) and love unsparingly. It is easier to do the right things. Wear the right clothes. Avoid the so-called vices. To live a religious life than to strive for a righteous one. Why? I must surrender all my “buts” to replace them with periods. I am loved. I am convinced. I am steadfast. I am blessed. I am victorious. I am prosperous. I am successful. I belong to Jesus. I am an overcomer.

I was made with divine purpose that supersedes human ability. He set me apart for Himself. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ who gave birth to me by His Word. When I receive Christ, I receive His Word. He is the Word. Now I can have confidence and conviction in every circumstance of life that I am saved, healed, delivered and perfectly blessed. God does lie or change His Mind. He set the sun to rises in the east every single day because He ordained it to be so and as it rounds the earth it will set in the west every single day. If creation is obedient to God, I must be also without reservation or excuses. Simple acts of obedience change the course of our life completely.

James 1:22-25 (AMP) But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth]. For if anyone only listens to the word without obeying it, he is like a man who looks very carefully at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he immediately forgets what he looked like. But he who looks carefully into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and faithfully abides by it, not having become a [careless] listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he will be blessed and favored by God in what he does [in his life of obedience].

Who do you see when you look in the mirror each day? When God looks at us, He sees His Precious Son. To live my life in accordance with His Word, Will and Way is not a form of restriction or limitation but to live in the liberty of His Love. No longer bound by the penalty of sin or imprisoned by darkness. I can live in the Light of His Love and showers of blessing each day. Confidence in Christ is the beginning of a supernatural life leaving behind the excuses that once kept us from Him. When I look in the mirror, who do I see? Do I see a beloved Child of the Living God? Or do the wrinkles stand out along with every other imperfection? To be steadfast begins with a conviction. To believe means the eradication of doubt. To prove that God is real and trust valid requires a life of faith in action. It is not an outward display but inward belief that no matter what God is good. His Love for me authentic. His Strength for me enough. His Grace always sufficient. His Promise coming. His Blessing given. Prosperity growing from the inside out. This must become our vocabulary to be a firm foundation. To walk confidently in His Love must be more than a confession, it must become our confidence.

I Corinthians 15:58 (AMP) Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Be steadfast. Immovable. Always excelling in the work of the Lord. Hmm… I have always read this and believed it to mean the “work” I do for the Lord, but what if it really means the work that He is doing in me? God is faithful. He is good. He is going to accomplish everything in me that He decided from the beginning. There is nothing I can do to move the heart and hand of the Lord because He is already totally in love and completely committed to every promise and blessing ordained in my life. He wrote it all out before I was born. (Psalm 139) The commitment of steadfast perseverance is not about me performing. It is about the Lord perfecting me and making me the masterpiece that He designed and declared I would be. If I do my best – the Lord does the rest. If I continually press in to the Presence of God simply obeying his every leading – I will have the life that He promised because He is faithful, persevering, and steadfast.

Are you frustrated today? Do you desire a prosperous life? Do you want to be blessed? Who doesn’t? Everyone wants a good life. We all desire good things. I have come to the place in my life where the suffering of self is really the death of our flesh. When we decide that God is going to do exactly what He said that He would – our faith makes us unstoppable. The impossible becomes an ongoing lifestyle simply because we decided to remove all the “buts” and become confident in the Lord. The God of ALL GRACE is the one who imparts blessing and favor on our life. There is nothing I could ever do to deserve or earn the life that I have been given. He is the One who will complete me, confirm me, strengthen me and establish me. All I must do is believe. Believe enough to stop living in lies and excuses. To be steadfast in believing and stepping out in simple obedience day by glorious day!

I Peter 5:10 (AMP) After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].

Fairytales are Fiction

Fairytales are Fiction

Ephesians 6:10-12 (MSG) And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

What did you expect coming to Christ? A happily-ever-after fairytale with a prince on a white stallion coming to steal you away? Or maybe the final scene in An Officer and Gentlemen when he comes to whisk you out of an ordinary life to embrace a new journey? Did you expect every problem to disappear? What did you expect? What do you expect now? I do not want to dissuade you. I do not bring bad news. You are called more than a conqueror for a reason. You have more than enough to achieve great purpose. There must be a challenge to find victory. There is no glory in surviving. God called us to thrive.

God promises to be our strength. To give us His Power by Grace in our weaknesses. He give us the land and then commands us take it. Did you really think the enemy would give up that easy? Oh, he came to Christ – game over. The enemy is desperate. He has nothing to lose. The end of the story is clear and the odds not in his favor. Like a thief who comes in the darkness looking for an open window or unlocked door to enter the unguarded heart or unfiltered mind. His weapon is not hewn out of metal or forged in steel but a tiny little lie or half-truth lobbed into our thoughts. What if? Or else? Really? All he has to do is trick you into believing that God is not Who He says that He is, or He will not do exactly as He said. In that moment, faith falls apart and confidence crumbles.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG) The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

We must demolish the mindset of culture set forth by life experiences and encounter Jesus Christ as the powerhouse that governs our life. If we could just change our mind about Who He is and What He came to do – we would channel our life including our goals and dreams through Christ. Reconciling our life to His Word mandates change from poverty to prosperity in our soul that begins to change every possibility in our life. The impossible becomes possible in Jesus. Every detail of our life turned for good to His Glory. The enemy has no power against us. It is embracing the lie over the Truth that caused us all to fall short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. The struggle is real. It is in our heart and head. How do you wrap your mind around surrender that gives way to power and submission that becomes freedom? To give up and gain it all. It just doesn’t make logical sense outside of faith that believes God does exactly what He says and the Gift of His Son is all that we need.

Mark 9:22-24 (MSG) He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?” “Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!” Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”

There is a young man who I met just over a year ago at our daughter’s birthday dinner. Before the food arrived, she asked him to bless our meal together. As he began to pray, I almost fell out of my chair. The thick anointing in this kid’s honoring God just to say grace got my full attention. I immediately left the “adult” table to meet him. His testimony will blow you away. He was not raised in church but when he met Jesus Christ – he was forever changed. His mother passed away prematurely. He and dad are distanced. No real parents living with grandparents yet finding his way as a Child of God. The potential in this kid is unprecedented. God is going to use him. There is no doubt in my mind. His grandmother was diagnosed with metastatic cancer last week. He knocked out a tail light yesterday. On his way, he got pulled over. He is battling discouragement. He feels alone. What did he expect? To set our heart and mind on Christ paints a big red target on our back. To engage in the pursuit of faith and confident hope gains negative attention from the enemy. He begins lobbing attacks to stop you from reaching your destiny, becoming a bright light or just a little salty. It is up to us to identify these attacks and fight back. How? What can I do?

You just have to believe. You must pump up Jesus and not your problem. Put the Lord on the throne and make Him the king of your hill. The mountains become molehills for those who believe. David didn’t see a Philistine giant but rather knew a Gigantic God. The devil wants you to think that the impossible is the ending point. It is the starting line of faith. It is the entrance to the realm of hope where all things are possible. Do you believe? If you do, then the battle indicates you are about to step into God’s Promise and the place right in front of it is enemy territory. Go back. Give up. Don’t be ridiculous. Why would God love you? You are nothing. You can do nothing. You will be nothing. All the taunts of the father of lies. He is ruthless in his candor and relentless in his taunts. But they are all just words unless we hold on to them. The Word for our life is God’s Word. It contains every promise and provision given to us by the Cross. If we hold it with both hands and wrap our mind around it, it becomes the shield of faith that guards our heart in battle.

Matthew 24:13-14 (MSG) “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

Jesus was clear in Matthew 10 that He did not come to bring peace but a sword. Life is a battle to the finish. We must endure to the end. Jesus is not all about world peace. He is love. To teach us to expect His Love and love others from the Source. We must tear down every stronghold and leave no stone unturned when it comes to claiming God’s Promises. He has given us victory over every scheming attack. It is found in faith for those who choose to believe even when such a thought is illogical. Confident hope keeps us in the battle when it looks like we are losing. Sometimes it takes losing everything to gain our very soul. I have to lose my life to find it. I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!

We are called to be soldiers of the Lord. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in civilian affairs. The unit will provide his basic needs. He is trained. He is equipped. He has his objective. His life is a mission. Not every soldier is a warrior. A warrior becomes seasoned in the fight. His hands calloused from holding his weapon. His mind now confident that he can win. His scars are his glory of victory gone by. He does not flee engagement but welcomes it because he longs for the next big win. He is ready to see glory. I wonder today what would happen if we lived for the battle rather than running from them. If our faith was aroused by confrontation and hope became our life force. What if the impossible got us excited because we knew God was about to do something big? What if we expected miracles rather than settling for mediocre? Let me assure you if you are not living a rich and satisfied life of exceeding abundance beyond what you could think, ask or imagine – there is more to life than this. You have a land to take. A promise to claim. With every promise, there is a fight. With every miracle, a battle in our heart to be won. You can do it. Christ lives in you. He is enough!

Fairytales are fiction. Faithful expectation produces in real life. Every story has a climax. An evil to overcome. Every princess at times must straighten her crown. Every prince must find his way to the throne. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are not called to poverty but prosperity. It gains the attention of the thief. The battle rages on. The promise that we live for is that Christ is enough to make us overcomers. He gives us the victory. He infuses power in our weakness. He will be our Strength. He is more than enough. Live in expectation. Focus on your faith. Pick up your sword (the Word of God) and partner with His Spirit. You are in it to win it. Fight for it. It’s yours!

Romans 8:31-39 (MSG) So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.