What’s Love Got to Do with It

Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shove the Mountain

Shove the Mountain

Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

“Are you ready to shove the mountain?” What in the world? Where did that come from? The Voice of the Lord whispering inside of me, yet audible enough to make me look around. Did anyone else hear it? Apparently not. When the Lord speaks to us, it is human nature to try to excuse it away as our own personal thoughts or maybe think our mind is playing tricks on us. After hearing His Words in the innermost depths of my heart and soul, I knew in that moment that God was up to something. It begins as a thought or idea planted inside of us. Maybe it came to you as a dream or vision. It has to be the Lord because it is a notion of the impossible too great for human comprehension or execution. What if? The dare to dream mentality that overtakes fear of failure. The decision of faith that determines God is good no matter what and to grab hold of the anchor called hope.

Isn’t it funny how God works and His Perception of timing? Allowing us to make it to the end of our strength, use up personal power, run out of ideas, and about ready to give out when He comes and challenges us for more. Oh, it’s not personal but providential. See you can’t do it. The things that God has in store for us are humanly impossible but pride will not relinquish control until it is thoroughly exhausted and out of ideas. Our plan must be completely interrupted to finally accept the Will of God for our life. Desperation must become our drive which leads us to the divine. The Lord is patient concerning us. He waits for the right moment. When it comes, He is ready to take full advantage. “Are you ready to shove the mountain?” These words have been written on my heart as a challenge to experience a new level of faith empowered by higher levels of grace and greater expectation than ever before.

If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” What is your “impossible” today? What is the thing that you believe to be the biggest obstacle in your life? Many times, there is a face attached to the problem when people have nothing to do with the blockages and stoppages of life. Define the “mountain” in your life today. Though you may be plagued with many problems and situations in need of divine intervention, just pick one. The Word of God tells us distinctly that if our faith is the “like a grain of mustard seed” that “nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 4:8-10 (ESV) Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

The impossibility in your life represents an opportunity to exercise faith. Faith must be used in order to properly develop. It must be planted if expected to grow. When the “Spirit led” Jesus into the wilderness, it was a test of faith. It was to demonstrate to us how to deal with the lies of the enemy which are thrown at us every day. The Armor of God includes a shield of faith to ward off these “fiery darts”. The enemy took Jesus to a “very high mountain” and showed him the kingdoms of the world. He told Jesus that it would all be his if the Lord would bow down and worship him. Now I know it sounds preposterous to think that the devil would be so ostentatious display, but he did just that. He does it to us every day. Offering an alternate route and a subtle substitution for the very thing God has promised you in His Word. Of course, the Son of God quickly dismissed him reminding Him that “you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Worship. What is it? Worship is to show profound devotion or respect. It means to adore. To profess feelings of profound adoration and genuine respect. Our words are representative of our worship. Fear is a form of worship. It demonstrates respect. Fear of God is produced by love. Fear in any other sense is the product of a lie allowed to grow in the fertile soil of our heart. Perfect love casts out all fear not associated with God. Luke 6:45 explains “for out of the heart (our) mouth speaks.” What are you saying about your impossible situation today? Are you speaking the Word of God as Jesus did? Or are you telling everyone how hard life is? How broken you feel? Crying out the people of this world rather than King Jesus who rules and reigns over the universe and everything in it? Are you complaining, grumbling or constantly expressing dissatisfaction? The contents of our heart is the context of our speech and daily communication. Sometimes we worship the giant rather than celebrating the Lord who is the giant killer. It is human nature. It can only overcome by faith invested in God’s Word, His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Our faith grows when rooted and grounded in God’s Love through Jesus Christ. When faith is the substance of our heart, the words of our mouth begin to speak what God says about us, our life and our problems rather than what the enemy is trying to convince us of.

Matthew 21:20-22 (ESV) When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) First, the disciples could not cast out the demon. Perplexed they came to Jesus and He told them they needed faith. Part two of the lesson would come at the expense of the fig tree. “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Jesus replied, “If you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt nullifies faith. There is life AND death in our tongue. We decide what flows out of it by the prevailing substance in our heart. Do you believe? Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He is for you? Do you believe that nothing is impossible? Do you believe that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? Do you believe? Doubt is not only evident in our daily communication.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight…” (Psalm 19:14) Schizophrenic Christianity produces nothing. To live by conflicting and inconsistent doctrines, one day the world and the next day the Kingdom, will not release God’s Power in our life. Mountains to not move with halfhearted commands but wholehearted commitment to faith. The words of our mouth must agree with God’s Word. The meditation of our heart must be God’s Word creating the abundance that flows from our mouth which empowers us to do the impossible simply by praising and worshipping the Lord with consistent and ongoing faith. The mountain shakes at its very core when a believer truly believes. It knows it’s about to move. Something is about to happen. Faith is effective when our heart, mind and mouth agree. The agreement of these three will overcome our rebellious flesh every time.

Faith is illogical without the Word of God. We walk by faith and not by sight. Like a blind man heightens other senses to overcome his inability to see with his eyes, Sons and Daughters of God must begin to see their life through God’s Word. Speak God’s Word. Pray God’s Word. And above all else plant their faith in God’s Word by choosing to believe it. “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It was almost time for Jesus to ascend to the Father. Where did He go? He took the disciples back to the mountain. I never realized how many times “mountains” are mentioned in the Bible. Jesus taught on the mountain. There are blessings from the mountains. Escaping to mountains. Going up mountains. Mountains quaking. Faith moving mountains. Mountains removed. And here we are again…at the mountain. I wonder if all these mountains of problems in our life are by divine appointment. Is the Lord leading us to them on purpose? Yes, for a purpose. Jesus gave the disciples His Final Instructions on the mountain. But do you see what I see today? Jesus standing before them demonstrating resurrection power and life and it says, “But still some doubted”. How is this even possible? It doesn’t matter how many times the Lord saves us, heals us, blesses us, delivers us, answers our prayers, fills us with His Spirit and all the other wonderful things that only He can do for us…everyone struggles with doubt. It is our human nature. If we want to shove the mountain into the seas, we must take the seed of faith and plant it a little deeper today. We must water it with the Word of God. Speak life giving words over it. Weed out doubt, fear and insecurity. Wait for it. Worship until it comes. Praise the Lord and serve Him faithfully even in seasons of drought. Those who do will see the impossible happen and dead things come to life. Will that be you today? Will you accept the challenge to shove the mountain with me?

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Gathering the Crumbs

Gathering the Crumbs

Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Is brokenness a requirement of God? Yes, it is. It sounds contrary to a God described as love. The One who is always good. The Lord whose character is defined by faithfulness. It is hard to understand these verses that reach further into His Way to remind us that it is with a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart that God is delighted in us. It almost sounds cruel and heartless on His Part. There is an indescribable beauty in brokenness that cannot be seen from the outside but must be experienced inside of the human heart. I wonder today if in His Word – there is a way to extract praise from the shattered pieces of our broken hearts.

Jesus is the “stone that the builders rejected” who “has become the cornerstone” of the Kingdom of God. He is the foundation on which the church now constructed of people is being built. However, the Word of God also calls Jesus “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” Jesus is also described as “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” His Unchanging Character and Divine Nature is always good and given to holiness but those who came to save, heal and deliver are not. It is a daily choice if faith and hope will be the substance of our life joining with Jesus or will it mean stumbling in rebellion and refusal to submit to His Love. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him people might be saved. We receive God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in our broken heart that no longer desires control but gives control of their life and destiny into the Hands of the Savior.

It would be safe to say that most of us have sought after the Hand of God more than the Heart of God though few are willing to admit it. We want the Kingdom of God but not the change in character necessary to live there. God understand our selfish nature and is not at all offended by this innate character flaw. He completely understands it. Yet still in His Perfect and Loving Way – He chooses to continually offer us more. I have been trying to make sense of the many pieces of my life lately. However, it situation and circumstance significant in and of itself comprises overwhelming conditions that have caused me to stop and collect my thoughts. Why is life so hard sometimes? Why is the chosen path of holiness so darn difficult? Why must there be desperate circumstances and devastating situations in life? I will never know the “whys” and “what fors” of all the details of my life but the Lord has promised to make good of every one of them. (Romans 8:28)

Matthew 15:22-28 (ESV) And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Who doesn’t want to hear these words of Jesus in their life? I want to be found faithful in the end when it matters the most. Yet what if finding our faith requires complete and utter devastation? Are we willing to continue to believe when life becomes impossible? The Canaanite woman had no claim to the Messiah. She was not of Jewish decent and therefore a lost cause to the House of Israel. Jesus came as the Messiah. To save God’s People who at this point wanted no part of Him. She came to Jesus desperate for her child. What mother wouldn’t do anything to see her baby delivered or healed? She cried out to the Lord in the midst of many onlookers that day. Jesus would make a lesson of the woman’s plight that day and give her a forever place in His Word. It would come at a great price she was absolutely willing to pay. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s Table.” Humility. This woman would do anything to see the Power of God move in her life. Would you?

Humility is the greatest stumbling block that people and the Body of Christ face even today. When was the last time every single person in your church came to the altar unsolicited by the coercing of the pastor but so in love and in need of Jesus that they stopped worrying about what everyone else thought and fully gave their heart, mind and pride to the Lord? It didn’t happen at my place of worship last Sunday either. It is a common plague of pride that is delaying the arrival of the next great revival. People want God’s Hand but have no interest in His Heart. To become humble one must be broken. It is to give up pride and arrogance to live a modest life. To lower our opinion of self in order to exalt the Name of Jesus in our life. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom but our freedom comes when giving up our independence to become completely dependent on Jesus Christ. It is to live in meekness which many consider weakness. To love, forgive and avoid all offense even when you have done nothing wrong but knowing your relationship with God must be defined by His Character being developed and personified in each one of us. Even the disciples struggled with the concept of humility as Children of Israel, when Jesus told them how difficult it would be to enter Heaven – Peter reminded the Lord that he and the others had given up everything to follow Him.

Mark 8:14-21(ESV) Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

I am so thankful that Jesus is patient, loving and kind. How many times will it take for us to understand? Twice the disciples witnessed a miracle. Feeding tremendous crowds with a few loaves of bread and then retrieving basketfuls of pieces or for this lesson sake, crumbs. Well, they forget to bring bread…again. They had only one loaf in the boat. Jesus warned them saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Leaven represents pride in this passage. Leaven is what elevates and gives rise to the dough. Yeast is a form of leaven. Pride requires us to keep our present form and hold ourselves together. But to fully experience a miracle – humility is required. Brokenness is godly humility that allows Jesus to take our life and make it into the beautiful masterpiece that He promised. It cannot happen in our present form. We must live humbled and broken before the Lord to have all that He has promised and so much more.

Psalm 34:17-19 (ESV) When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Are you brokenhearted today? Is your spirit crushed? What if the Lord is the one pressing, pushing, molding and shaping your life into His Purpose? Would it be worth it? Of course it would even though you are not so sure in your present condition. The undoing of what we are to become a new creation is never a comfortable process. Change is good but no one likes it. Troubles in life cause us to reevaluate our existence time and time again. It is the opportunity to reprioritize our life. God has promised that we will be victorious in His Son, Jesus who is our Champion. Well, we must get on the winning team for that to happen which means moving or transition our life from here to Heaven. We must live for forever today. We must walk by faith and not by sight. We must live in humility and not pride. When we are brokenhearted it is because our expectation is not met and disappointment shatters our perception. However, when we are broken it is the Lord’s Opportunity to perform a miracle and release His Power in our weakness. God is not as interested in our comfort as much as our confirmation. He will do whatever it takes to make sure that our destination is to be with Him forever.

Psalm 147:3-6 (ESV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

The fact that you are reading these words today means that there is still hope for God’s Plan to become your fulfillment. I have spent the last six years trying to take all the shattered pieces of my life and put them back into something normal that I am comfortable with. Today I am challenged to see the pieces as crumbs rather than hard, sharp pieces of glass meant to cut me. The brokenness that the trials and troubles have produces are leading to the abundance and fulfillment of God. I no longer can depend on me. I am not a trustworthy source. I am weak and powerless to control the details of my life much less make them anything good. When I praise and worship, lift my hands and shout His Name in church – it is not because I want anything from His Hand. He has given me so much even in the midst of pressures and problems. I need Him to continue to heal my heart. To make it beat with His Heart because it no longer can hold its own.

Jesus will heal our broken heart but He needs all the pieces. After each miracle, the disciples gathered more baskets of crumbs than the loaves they began with. You were created with a plan and purpose that will prosper your life. It is in you. God wrote it out before you were born. He set it into motion from the beginning. Jesus died to ensure that you could be that person who can live with Him forever. It is all in you. It comes out through brokenness and humility before the Lord. He will life us up, when we live a humble life. Great is our Lord! Abundant is His Power! He is mighty to save, heal and deliver us. To move us from glory to glory and victory to victory. The disciples experienced miracles through the brokenness of bread. The Canaanite woman would forever be remembered as the one who would eat the crumbs from the Master’s Table. Will you allow the Lord to exalt you through humility? Will you be broken to be remade in Christ? The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Is this our desire? What will be our sacrifice? A broken spirit and broken and contrite heart summons the Presence of God into our life. He will heal your broken heart and prosper us from this place of humble brokenness. Gather those crumbs today. Cast your cares before the Lord. Let Him take you from brokenness to blessing. Bow before Him in humility and He will life you up!

James 4:10 (ESV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Don’t Move

Dont Move

I Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I went to bed exhausted. Fell fast asleep, slept through the night, yet still woke up tired. My body is ready to jump into the day but my mind is not quite so enthusiastic. My plate is full. May I be so transparent today? I needed to come into His Presence just for me today. My thoughts are filled with too many details to stop the cursor from spinning 24 hours a day. I know God loves me. I am absolutely certain that He is in complete control. He is working every detail of my life for good and His Glory. I know this full well. My faith and trust are in the Lord and His Love for me. His Mighty Hand provides and protects me. His Intent is to prosper me. However, I am a human being just like you. The stone slinging hand of every giant killer needs a rest. The sword wielding arm grows weak. You know the days when it seems like carrying our cross, holding the shield of faith and dragging the sword of the spirit is just too much. Yeah…I think I am there today. Just a little while longer…

Endurance takes time. Endurance takes patience. Endurance drains all of our strength. It brings us to the end of self where the Savior is waiting. The key element of survival in the process is to be “steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord”. We can do this by “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Note: It does not say “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This would limit the text to what we do to just those things done expressly as an act of direct service to God. No – it says that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Life is full of details. The more it is one’s intent to serve the Lord completely surrendered and submitted to God’s Plan and Purpose the greater the target painted on your back. The enemy doesn’t have anything to take from halfhearted servants or those who choose another way. He attacks God’s Children who seek to do their Father’s Business. He wants to move us from knowing God loves us and waiting for what is coming. He wants to steal, kill and destroy every bit of faith and trust in us in order to stop us from receiving eternal life. I know the cares and worries that fill you because the same are on my plate, too. However, at the end of the day, it is all about the Kingdom. My future. My hope. My forever with the Father who loves me.

I Corinthians 15:58 is a little different in the New Living Translation. It says, “Be strong and immovable.” Such a simple statement can be the greatest challenge a believer may face. To be completely confident means that when chaos interrupts, everything falls apart and all hell breaks loose in our life that God is in control. To believe this enough to remain strong and immovable.  “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” The enthusiasm and zeal that produces inexpressible joy is not from the outcome but the onset. To know that no matter what the task or undertaking, nothing done for the Lord is ever useless. Do you believe that today? If so, you must not move.

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

I love the Lord. Don’t you? I have come to the realization that no matter what I cannot walk away from my relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust me when I say it has been tested. It has even made me feel a little bit guilty. To love the Lord more than anyone or anything else challenges our roles as children, spouses, parents, grandparents, even with friends and acquaintances. I remember before this realization thinking it’s just not possible to ever love God more than my husband or children. Climbing the mountain with our son, there came a day when I wasn’t sure if he was going to win his battle with cancer, then what? Would I still love God? Would I still believe that He is good? Would I be convinced of His Love in my loss? I heard a weak whisper from the bottom of my heart and soul rise into soft broken words from my quivering lips say, “Yes.” It didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a celebratory moment. The accuser came to whisper – “You are a terrible wife and horrible mother to forsake your own.” But then His Grace rushed in to remind me that I can truly love through Christ way better than I ever did apart from Him. I am a better wife and mother because I know Him, love Him and trust Him with my life.

“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love…”

I have shared before that I was once given a word from a friend. He said the Lord had given him the image of a peg being driven deep into the ground and that peg was me. I thanked him with a chuckle for such encouragement. I didn’t really think much of it until later. It was a word from the Lord for my life. I must be rooted and grounded in God’s Love. My heart must be broken from hard ground to soft fertile soil for His Love to get inside and give me the new heart that is promised. His Spirit comes in to tend to God’s Planting and strengthen us from the inside out. This wonderful power is a product of grace. When our weakness is evident, His Grace can produce His Power in our life. It begins inside of us. To change our heart and mind until we know, understand and believe His Love for us is real and immovable so hope is established by faith in such a way. This is not anything I do but what Christ wants to do in me and you “according to the riches in glory.” See God has something for us far greater than this ordinary life. Mundane is not in His Vocabulary only “magnificent”. The Lord is ready to do the miraculous. Your natural life is not representative of the supernatural life coming once you are fully invested, rooted and grounded in His Love. This is where a believer becomes steadfast and immovable.

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I am convinced that there is always more. Jesus came to give us an abundant life marked by satisfaction. Are you satisfied today? Me either. Are you content to point of continual thanksgiving? Nope, me either. Are you living in God’s Abundance – physically, spiritually, financially and completely? Funny…me either. There is more. God’s Love is endless, limitless and always abounding. Our faith is small. It takes time to grow it and develop it. Endurance is required. It is always in the waiting that God’s Love is most evident. In our complete desperation for Him that keeps us from giving up or giving in even when we are weary of well doing, tired of pressing on and ready to just stop. God’s Grace is enough for you to stop but you cannot move from the foundation of faith that is His Love for us. Why? Because Jesus able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Nothing is wasted. Nothing is useless. So what do I do when I cannot do anything at all?

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Your life is productive even in the waiting. The process called endurance can bear much fruit. Colossians 1 gives us some very practical steps to walking through tough seasons defined by waiting on God. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Hold your head up confidently. The Lord is working every detail of your life for good and His Glory. You are not defeated. You win. You are victorious. God is moving us from grace to grace and glory to glory planting seeds of righteousness that are blooming into every promise that He made. You must wait. Like a good farmer, sowing seeds faithfully knowing that God is going to increase them. Successful farmers plant in all seasons not always in favorable conditions. They have faith in the process. They believe if they plant that they will harvest. We must do the same. I will never be worthy of the unconditional love and grace that I have received so I must walk by faith in the Lord and His Love and Grace rather than my worthiness. I live for Him because Jesus is worthy of my best. I live to please God. It doesn’t mean I get it all right or never make a mistake. Lord, knows I still sin despite my best effort not to. When the Lord looks into my heart, He must see good intentions and conscious effort to please Him. He knows I am incapable but am I willing to try? Bear fruit in every work…not just church work. To live out His Love in season and out of season in every societal setting. To live as a Child of God who loves like my Father does. Increasing in godly knowledge by planting God’s Word in my heart, allowing His Spirit to water it and waiting for it to grow into all He says it would be. To be thankful in all things for all things. To be strengthened by His Grace while my pride lay slowly dying. To allow His Power to work through me rather than always wrestling for control. To endure and be patient in the waiting joyfully. God qualifies us for this wonderful abundance in life that comes by His Faithfulness not our ability to be faithful. We just have to remain steadfast and immovable in His Love to attain it. It is His Work in us – I don’t work for it. I wait for Him.

Mark 14:3-6 (ESV) And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. He was fellowshipping with Simon the leper. The woman who came with the alabaster flask did not have a very good reputation. The flask was all she had. It represented her total worth. Her future was in that bottle. Her past filled it. But in the present, she just had to worship Jesus. She wasn’t worried about tomorrow. When she came in and anointed Jesus – the others were offended. The worth of its contents wasted on the ground would have been a huge benefit to the poor. Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” She was not moved by public opinion or she never would have come to the house of a leper or the Presence of Jesus in her sinful condition. If she had evaluated her offering by the way she had procured it, she would have turned away in shame. She was not moved by the many faces who knew her intimately or even had taken advantage of her, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered to her was Jesus. She had to worship Him. She had to give her all. So she did.

I wonder if in the midst of our doing, serving and trying that we miss the fact that it is really the place of waiting that allows us to see that worship is the key. It is not what tomorrow holds but our faithfulness in just worshipping Him today for who He is. Jesus didn’t do anything for the woman with the alabaster box other than accept her worship and she was made complete. He didn’t change her or require anything of her but accepted her offering with complete satisfaction. Immediately Jesus became her Savior, Provider and Protector warding off even those closest to Him including their indignation. What seemed like a careless and thoughtless act to others drew her closest to His Heart. If this is all there is to life will Jesus be enough for you? If there is more to come will you forget this moment walking into your promise? The Lord is securing us to be rooted and grounded in His Love so that nothing will ever move us from this place. Don’t move. Don’t allow the enemy to goad you from the place of waiting and watching. The Lord is working. You must only wait. Worship Him in the waiting and do not be moved from Him but move closer than ever before.

Acts 17:28 (ESV) …For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”

Where You Go

Where you go

Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

What caused Ruth to make such a declaration to Naomi? Reading this passage today, I am struck by her commitment to her mother-in-law. Naomi was obviously grief stricken and hopeless. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. Her other daughter-in-law had taken her advice. Why was this one being so stubborn? Something in Ruth would not let her go back to where she came from and she could not return to the way it used to be so she made this commitment to her future – “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth became attached to Naomi’s hip. She would venture into a new place and find a new husband. The future of both women would be secure for the rest of time and they would find their images clearly set forth for others in the Word of God. Ruth made a commitment to Naomi that day that would change her whole life. What would happen by doing the same thing to Jesus Christ? What are the possibilities if rather than running from place to place looking for immediate gratification or rainbows rather than rain? What might happen if someone…anyone…decided to see where faith might take us and just what hope really looks like? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes.

Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)  Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I think everyone will agree that life does not always turn out as one expected. Jacob was running from his brother. His own flesh and blood who Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a single meal and tricked his father into releasing Esau’s blessing. Esau hated Jacob. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him but wound up in a pit, sold to slavery, falsely accused, sitting in a prison, still being faithful yet forgotten. No one for sees the hardship that leads to fulfillment. Those situations and circumstances that turn our hearts back to the Lord. We must live not only hand in hand with the Lord carefully walking His Way but chose to live heart to heart with Him. Since it is our calling to walk by faith and not by sight, the vantage point of our voyage is not always a clear cut perspective of the pathway to promise. We stumble along groping to see God in the chaos of our life. Jacob was no different. Life had not turned out as he expected. He was in the middle of nowhere and weary so he found a stone to lay his tired head on.

Perhaps, you can relate. You love God. You love Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life has been a struggle. Times just a little too tough. The enemy is chasing you into the wilderness of the unknown or at least you think. There is no one left to rely on or call out to. All your family and friends are too busy or long gone. Now what? The Lord came to Jacob that night to give him a new perspective. Could it be that is all that is needed by you? To see that God is with you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you even in the most unlikely of places. I know I need that, too.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it…

What is your dream? Where is your destiny? Are you desperate to find your way through the wilderness to the promise of God? What if you have to stay right where you are to find Him? What if the course of life you are traveling is exactly what God has for you? It is important to see God in the moment rather than looking all around. Christ lives in us so the atmosphere around us has no impact on faith and hope. No matter if life is beautiful or barren – God is with us. He is for us. He will stop at nothing to have us or to be sure we have His Promise. In that place, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see Heaven on the earth. Is it possible for us to do the same? To see things from the heavenly realm rather than being immersed in reality? I believe that it is. What if it is not in a dream or vision but so subtle that the human eye cannot perceive it? The disciples lived, ate, and existed in the Presence of God while Jesus was with them yet they all struggle with doubt and unbelief. They could reach out and touch the Messiah with their hands. Talk to Him. Know the Lord intimately and conversationally. Yet, still it was hard to believe.

Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel… 

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He set it up for a pillar. He poured oil on top of it. He called the place, Bethel, House of God, or the holy place. What if you are standing on holy ground right now and don’t even know it? Where you go I will go Lord? The same Lord that orders our footsteps will fill them. He fills them with His Love, Grace, Mercy and Faithfulness so that our foundation is solid if only we will walk by faith. From the highest of hills to the lowest valley, He is with us pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness but it doesn’t always look like sunshine and roses. It might just be weariness that gives way to worship. Brokenness that opens up blessing in our life. The very thing that was the most uncomfortable the most fruitful. Jacob woke up from the dream and vision God had given him in the very same place but with a new perspective. He took the hard stone that was once his pillow and made it a pillar before the Lord.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Human expectation is the driving force of our flesh. It sets up our school of thought. It becomes our way of thinking. The flesh needs some sort of control. We take the Word of God and rather than allowing it to mold us, we try to shape it into some logical and applicable form according to our natural life and normalcy. When God does not do it that way, it becomes a fight in our mind and soul for ultimate control. God is doing a new thing in our life. It is for our good. It is to His Glory. If it can be explained away logically, who needs faith? God works in the impossible. Does your life look impossible to you? Is it hard to see the forest for the trees? Take off your shoes. Get on your knees. Raise your weary arms. You are not in the wilderness but on the way to your promise. The less logical life is the more miraculous it becomes.

Forget the former things. Do not conform your thinking to tradition. God is doing something new in you and through you that is not comprehensible in the flesh but must be observed solely by your spirit. Once you take hold of God’s Perspective, a life of worship is inevitable especially when you find yourself in the wilderness, wandering and wondering until worship finally finds you because you know God is with you! I have come to the conclusion that no matter what it takes I want the Lord to keep me right here until His Word is fulfilled. Some days it is easy. But there have been many more when the giants seem to get bigger and the promise even farther that I have to remember and remind myself that this is holy ground. My life is God’s Masterpiece and it is not ready yet. I must make the commitment like Ruth to Naomi that day, “For where you go I will go…”

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

It is easy to get caught up in emotionalism and zeal for the Lord. To get all pumped up in church and crash into life just outside the door. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that you and I have access to the Father. Do we follow His Ways impeccably? To we know the Truth from cover to cover? Is it the wisdom of our life? Jesus understands our weakness. He was human once too. He knows that we struggle with our faith and ability to believe. His Words to the scribe seem harsh, but they are truth to feed our hungry, thirsty and weary souls today. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Bummer right? Jesus was not saying looking for pity. No, the Lord was setting up expectation. Don’t make your home here. Set your sights on the heavenly not the earthly things. Jesus did not come to save the world but to save us. To move us from this life to eternity. “Follow me” is not a call to a better life but a new life. It is not an invitation for new comfort and convenience but to become a new creation. To be molded, shaped, pressed, crushed and broken so that the Lord can make you into a Masterpiece.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When God met Jacob in the desert that night, He did not divinely change his situation but confirmed his position. He reiterated the promise and potential of Jacob’s life to change his perspective. It worked. Will it work for you today? The hard place is giving way to a new life filled with promises and prosperity for the one who says, “Where you go, I go!” We must set our minds on Christ where He is and not focus on where we are. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and that’s a good thing for us. He is interceding for us. He knows our weakness and His Spirit helps us when times get tough. My new life is hidden with Christ in God. I find new life and full satisfaction when I live in His Presence even in the pits, prisons and problems of life. My situation cannot change the Way, the Truth and the Life living in me. It is all just temporary. Lord, help me to see You today. To take this hard thing and build into a new place of worship. Jesus, where you go – I will go! You will be my God and I am Your Beloved Child!

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In

2 Peter 3:8-10 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” (Alexander Pope – An Essay on Criticism)

How many times is God’s Timing questioned by His People? Those times of waiting that last just a moment too long. Thinking takes over believing. We begin to criticize the Lord and His Timing or doubt His Perfect Plan. Wondering if it was His Voice or our own careless thought and yearnings that led us to foolishly thinking that God is working all things out just as He promised. Human logical gnaws at the concept of faith. In a moment, the foundation once strong and secure begins to crumble not because God is not faithful but foolishness is eroding our thoughts. God is good. His Way secure. His Thoughts are higher than mine and His Ways to follow. Yet still hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) It is human nature to jump to conclusions and rush results. Fools rush in. Angels know the Lord is doing far greater things than seen so they wait as humble servants before His Throne allowing His Sovereign Nature to take charge. We could learn from the angels created in Heaven who sing of His Glory in His Presence. They are blessed not to have flesh and stubborn hearts that rally for its cause, yet they do not have what we do. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved…

Beloved…

Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I am God’s Beloved. I am a Child of the Living God. He sees me as a “beloved child” not a stepchild or nuisance but beloved. Beloved means greatly loved or dear to heart. It is the Father’s Perception of us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The grace applied is sufficient to cover the ugliness of sin and scars of rebellion so that the only thing God sees is His Beloved. I wonder how this might change our lives for the better. The idea of a loving, doting father who relentlessly pursues us with His Unfailing Love, Goodness and Favor. I wonder if that would give us pause to wait just a little bit longer to receive such an inheritance. To trust Him to do in us what is necessary so what flows through us will not change or move us from His Presence. To allow God to mold and shape us into His Image even when it hurts or requires more patience than allotted.

To walk in His Love…means trusting His Timing. I am reminding myself today that I have sown a lot of seed in good ground. His Word promises that there is a harvest for every seed planted in love and trust. It is the tiny potential that grows into big promises when faith allows it to so. God’s Plan for me contains a future and hope. Both required designated wait times. To rush in would be foolishness because a promised produced too soon is an abortion. It cannot do all it should do or be all that it could have been without God’s Mark of Completion. Christ loves us. Lives in us. Will not ever purpose less for us. It is our own discouragement that pushes us to settle, compromise or accept substitutions. The Lord’s Purpose is a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. (John 10:10) The thief can only take what is not secured. He has no access to the one who is fully trusting and believing in the Lord walking in His Love, guided by light, shielded in love – those who abide in the Presence of God cannot be moved from success or destiny but only driven to such places.

Romans 8:23-25 (ESV) And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

“…that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness…”

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. The life of the believer is walked out by faith not by sight. Faith is reserved for what we hope for not what we already have. The fulfillment of God’s Purpose for us is that our life of faith will culminate in a forever existence in eternity with Him. Every step and every moment are with divine purpose so He is in no rush or hurry to make us “happy” in the present if it in any way will impact or impede our future hope. The hope of Heaven and eternal life. We must know God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Who will come to Him without reason? No one ever does. It is the moment that there is no control over this life or its random outcomes when the need for Christ arises from our conditions, circumstance or sure death that our lips call out for the One who already calls us “beloved.” He must become our beloved. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His Promise to us. He is waiting on us. God is always working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) But the reason why is more important than the reality of today…

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

This is the impressive and unimaginable truth that rules our life. God loves us completely. So much so that He gave the life of His Only Son to not only show His Love but it available to us again. We are more than conquerors so that means we win. We are overcomers. Yet how often would it be easier to settle for something less than full satisfaction because the price of patience seems too high. Or maybe step down from the mountain of sacrifice because it seems too high and daunting. To secure the blessing of the Father handed to us by Abraham that believes not in just an idea or image of God but His Impeccable “I AM” nature that is not only able but willing to do all He promised to do. See God’s Love for us is secure. He calls us beloved. To have all that He has promised requires my complete and abiding trust that I am His Beloved.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (ESV) What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

The Lord has a plan for His Beloved which includes a promise that He will make everything beautiful in its designated time. He put eternity in our heart and gave us a measure of faith to pursue it. In the meantime, the Lord is pursuing us with Unfailing Love, Goodness and Mercy are pursing us all the days of our life. (Psalm 23:6) His Promise is that I will see His Goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) He is working every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is perfecting that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8) As I type this today, I do have many concerns in my heart and mind that I must continually sow into the fertile ground of the Word attaching God’s Promises that are resurrection and life. My life is not my own. It belongs to the One who calls me “Beloved”. The things that He promises to do and is doing are not according to my faithfulness or even obedience but according to His Faithfulness. His Unchanging and Unyielding Love that just cannot rush things in order to please us but must take His Time to satisfy us because His Love for me is perfect. I am challenged with impatience just like the next person. There are days when I become discouraged and a bit downhearted. We are human and God knows that. He created us. He does not comfort us with a carefully outlined timeline. God doesn’t tell us all the steps just the next one. He gives us mercy for the days we mess up. Fools may rush in but God doesn’t. He patiently and painstakingly takes His Time waiting for us to step in to the divine purpose, provision and prosperity that He promises. Why? It really is simple. I am His Beloved. Will you trust the beloved to hold your hope tightly even if for only one more day?

Song of Solomon 3:4 (ESV) “…I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go…”

Song of Solomon 6:3 (ESV) I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

More Life

More Life.jpg

John 7:37-39 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Are you satisfied today? Truly satisfied with your life, your love and your lot? What do you want? Do you have a specific need or desire unfulfilled? Contentment is not a product of comfort or compromise but evidence of hope. Thankfulness is not always a result but sometimes a resolution. Outwardly our hands reach for the things in life that are often thought to bring security only to find that it does nothing to offer satisfaction. Satisfaction is fulfillment. It is gratification that leads to contentment. The acceptance of something as satisfactory, dependable and true. To be fully compensated. To discharge a debt and live freely from it. The word “satisfaction” is from the Latin word meaning to make enough. Jesus came to give us life and have it abundantly. (ESV) The New Living Translation of the same verse says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” How do I find satisfaction in the midst of dissatisfaction? Where is abundance when it is not in my hand? The enemy has a purpose clearly defined as well. The thief’s desire is to steal and kill and destroy ever good thing God is doing for His Children. Night and day it is his mission to stop us from having a rich and satisfying life in Jesus Christ.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Dissatisfaction fuels desire in the heart of man. It creates desperation that draws out the inner flesh and rallies our pride to take over and make do. To hunger is a desire. To thirst is desperation. Without food, our body can survive for about three weeks. However, without water, the body will only make it about three days. Desire is one thing, but desperation is another. Jesus said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Life is full of fluff. Distractions that make us desperate for things that really only are desires. Jesus promised those who thirst and drink from Him will be filled with Living Water that will overflow from our heart. A heart full of His Love will not desire anything else – it becomes satisfied.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The Words of Jesus tell us directly from His Mouth that His Purpose is to give us life and that it would be abundant. This defies human logic when the details of our existence do not produce soul satisfaction. I have several buckets around the house used to carry water. If the bucket has a hole in it and I turn on the facet to fill it – it doesn’t matter how long the water runs it will never be satisfied. It can run and run but until I fill find the breach and patch it – it will never be satisfied. My heart has holes in it. Broken places. Open wounds. Insufficiencies. To have life abundantly – they must be satisfied first. I came that they may have life…and have it abundantly.

Satisfaction is a two-step process it seems. I must give Jesus my heart. He then can fill my life with good things that used to run right through me. My heart can be full. Expectation met and exceeded. My soul must be satisfied for my life to prosper. I must be made whole and complete to become the vessel where abundance flows.

Matthew 15:32-38 (ESV) Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 

It’s funny how fellowship with church folks usually involves food. I wonder if this is where we got the idea from. We live in a small, rural community with only about four restaurants to choose from. After church on Sunday, they are full of congregants. All the churches are fully represented. Sitting in their designated groups, wearing Sunday best, smiling and waving yet I wonder if they are satisfied. Are they filled to overflowing from the Word of God they just received? Did the Spirit of the Living God saturate their heart and soul in His Presence? Jesus had been teaching the people for three days. There were no restaurants to serve the people. It was quite a crowd. More than four thousand men, women and children. Tasked to feed the people, the disciples applied human logic and quickly came to the conclusion it would be impossible to feed them all. The disciples were looking for an outward solution to an obvious problem. Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” What do you have today? What is in your hand right now? Elisha asked the woman with enormous debt the same question, “Tell me; what do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4) The abundance in our life is limited by perception. Our nature is to hold on to what we have. Fear of lack grips the superficial when God wants to do something supernatural.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took what his men had brought – seven loaves and some a few small fish. He gave thanks for it and blessed it. He then gave them back to his disciples who distributed it among the people. They all ate and were satisfied. How is this even possible? “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Now here is the important piece to the puzzle – when everyone was satisfied there was an abundance left over. Our life is filled with the substance of abundance. There are times when desire and desperation are necessary to experience the promise of abundance. Times of extreme hunger and thirst that drives us beyond ourselves to Jesus. In Matthew 14, Jesus fed more than five thousand with the lunch of a little boy. It tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people. Jesus wants to satisfy you today. He wants you to experience life and abundance. It will require being blessed and broken. It always does.

Proverbs 19:20-24 (ESV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

God has a plan for your life. It contains a future and hope. The purpose of God is never to our detriment. It is always for our good. This is wisdom for your life today that must become fully engrained in our brains to overcome the fear of lack that keeps us holding on to what God gives us rather than using it to prosper in abundance. Releasing seed to soil gives increase, while holding it tightly in our hand does nothing. The potential of every seed is a plant. The purpose of our life is to live and do so abundantly. We need godly advice and instruction to continually sow the seeds of faith and hope in our heart and mind until total trust takes over. It doesn’t matter how many times I get it wrong, fall short, give up, or quit – the purpose of God for my life will stand.

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.

The desire of every heart is steadfast love. It doesn’t matter how cold or callus the exterior or hard the human heart becomes it still beats to find love, connect with it, and become one with it. God has placed eternity in our heart for that very purpose. So that our desire cannot and will not ever be satisfied with lesser things. That it will not be content in the things of this world or find fulfillment in compromise. We are Children of the Living God blessed with an inheritance of abundance that the Father desires to give us and will stop at nothing to produce “in” us. The Love of God satisfies our heart, mind, and soul. It is the plug for the bucket of blessing that we think has run dry. The blessing is pouring in. As Jesus binds our broken heart with love and grace, finally our life begins to increase in abundance because there is no longer a breach between God’s Kingdom and His Children.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

There are two kinds of fear. Fear meaning distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain and then there is the kind that is reverential awe, respect and admiration. In our sinful condition, fear of the Lord is that of distress and rightfully so. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, fear becomes respect and admiration or at least it should. Old habits die hard. Our life in Christ makes us new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  It is a transformation process. All of me for all of Him. I decrease while Christ increases in me. (John 3:30) To fear the Lord leads to life. A life of peace in the Presence of God that offers us true satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment through this process called transformation.

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

The truth in this small statement weighs heavily on my heart today. There are times when the abundance of God is in our grasp but our unwillingness to bring it back to our “mouth” limits us. We falter in obedience. We stop engaging in the process. We give up on the promise due to a lack of faith or commitment then blame God for not doing His Part. Where is the satisfaction the Lord has promised? It is well within our reach. It is just outside of our grasp. It is right there before us maybe just a step or two in the distance. We bury our “hand” in His Presence but do not reach for God’s Heart. When our heart is sealed with His Love, holding on to hope is no longer pointless but essential. We will not only reach out for the Lord but pull Him tightly to our chest. To breathe in His Love and breathe out prosperity. Christ lives in us. His Life is engrained in our being. But until we allow our hearts to be broken and blessed – healed and restored – satisfaction remains elusive and contentment out of reach. Fulfillment is only possible when we become one with Jesus Christ. To reach for Him but not grab hold of Him leaves us empty handed and brokenhearted. Abundance cannot flow from such a place. Increase is not possible where seeds are not sown. God is calling to us. He holds satisfaction in one hand and is ready to give us a brand new heart. As our soul prospers, so will we. It is never Christ’s intention to leaven anyone hungry or thirsty but that all will be fully satisfied by His Great Love.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

He Will

He Will

Hebrews 11:5-7(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.  It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

“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.”

Enoch had the kind of relationship with the Lord that most of us desire. However, to follow in the footsteps of this man right in to the New Testament would mean He must increase and I must decrease. (John 3:30) It is a faithful proposition to find fulfillment in God through Jesus Christ. Enough was taken up to heaven without dying because he had already died to self on the earth. Walking in the giant footsteps of God, side-by-side with the Almighty and sharing in the rhythmic timing and beat of God’s Heart. It was a seamless transition from this life to eternal life. Or could it be that Enoch’s walk with the Lord projected a light so brightly that people saw the Lord and not the man anymore. I am fascinated by the idea. Some days it is my greatest desire, but in building anything including a new life as the new creation that Christ died for us to be there is always a price. The price of my life for God’s Best is self. Every selfish thing in my life must be submitted and surrendered to the Cross Examination of Jesus Christ for Kingdom relevancy. This life is temporary but constantly on blast demanding my time and talent. Some may choose to give portions of their life as an offering to God while maintaining a strong presence in the natural existence. Others may decide that walking with the Lord is worth a fully obedient tithe of 10% with the occasional love offering of just a little bit more. This life producing the blessings of sowing and reaping – seedtime and harvest just as God promised in the days of Noah. For those who are after the Kingdom, it requires much more. It requires all of my life for all of His Plan. All of it.

This life is not for everyone. There were only twelve disciples and yet still one still became a traitor. There is only one Enoch. One man who would walk enshrouded in the Presence of God and become elusive to the naked eye. Enoch was known as a person who pleased God. How do people know me? What pleases God? We do not decide what pleases the Lord. It is what we are willing to give to the cause. The only thing that truly pleases Him and rightfully so would be faith.

Acts 17:24-25 (NLT) “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.”

We serve an all-sufficient God. He doesn’t need us, but rather desires us. He loves us. He provides for us. The Lord doesn’t lie or change His Mind so there is nothing I can do to change the plan set forth for my life. It is impossible for God’s Word to fail. (Luke 1:37) He made this world and owns everything in it. He is the Supreme Authority over heaven and earth. Nothing here surprises Him or causes God to flinch. “He doesn’t live in man-made temples.” Christ lives in me and you. Human hands cannot serve His Needs. Let me put that on repeat. There is nothing that I can do to earn God’s Love and Acceptance because His Grace is enough for me. It is the total summation and sufficiency of my salvation. (2 Corinthians 12:9) God has given me life and it is in Jesus Christ who I live, breathe and exist. Finally, it is all wrapped up in His Promise to satisfy our every need. I can do nothing to please God other than to have faith, trust and believe all of this is true.

Luke 18:24-30 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

A religious leader came to Jesus. He had one question. “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” After a long discourse, Jesus told him the man, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man considered the price too high and became very sad for he was very rich. Jesus shared this story with his disciples to which Peter threw in his two cents. “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” As if Jesus didn’t know the lives these men had given up, his outspoken disciple chose to point it out. In Matthew 19, a different account of the same event quotes Peter as saying, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Don’t’ judge him too harshly. One must consider their own good intentions in following Jesus Christ taking offense at Peter’s words. Isn’t that really the reason for coming to Christ in the first place – a desire for a better life? We live in a living color world but serve a black and white with occasional red lettering God. The Word of God must become alive to us. His Spirit must be recognized in order for faith to be acquired. Faith is not easily harvested in our life. But…

“It is impossible to please God without faith.”

The word “impossible” means not possible. The very thing which is unable to be, exist or happen. Incapable of being true. Not to be done or endured. Utterly impractical. Hopelessly unsuitable, difficult or objectionable. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is confidence, belief and trust. The Latin root explains further – trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, and pledge. Faith demonstrates allegiance. The Bible tells us that “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Just as it is impossible to please God without faith – it is equally not possible to have faith outside of impossibilities.

I have personally witnessed the miraculous in my life. Each time it came prefaced by the word “impossible”. The moment that a desired outcome became absolutely and utterly impractical in the natural – God did it. There is no other explanation. The steps of arrival to the procurement of faith are difficult. It requires all of you. All of your trust, confidence, reliance, credence, and a pledge to not let go of hope at any cost. The substance of our faith is our willingness to stay true to the Lord even when our life becomes impossible. Even if our circumstances seem intolerable, still hanging on to God’s Word – waiting and watching. It seems that He will never do it, never come and even makes us feel foolish while the world mocks our dedication to an invisible and seemingly absent God. God is faithful. I just need to have a mustard seed of faith.

There is a promise hidden in Luke 18:30 that perhaps you missed. ” Jesus said, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” When Jesus finally made it to the home of Lazarus, he was dead. Talking to Martha, it was evident that she believed in Heaven, but she didn’t recognize her Lord’s power here on earth. Jesus intended to raise Jesus from the dead right then and there. He is the Resurrection and Life. (John 11:25) Christ now lives in me. (Galatians 2:20) Faith releases His Power in my life the moment it is planted. I have confidence in my employer to pay the wages that I earn. I trust the roof over my head will be standing after a storm. I believe my car will get me around today. I rely on many objects and some people in my life every day for fulfillment. However, if I want God’s Word, His Will and His Way completely including the rich and satisfying life that is promised to us in this the life or the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) I must put my faith into action.

“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”

When Noah built the ark it had never rained a single drop on the earth. Yet God told him to build an ark with specific dimensions. Noah did just that day after day – he continued to do what the Lord told him despite not knowing the full plan. Hammering away at doubt and fear, he built the ark. It would be the vessel that not saved his entire family. It would be the vehicle that continued the perpetuation of the human and animal population. Faith requires the impossible. I don’t know what you are facing today? I only know my own heart and its troubles. God has been faithful in every test and trial. He has never ever contradicted His Word or gone back on a single promise that He has made me yet I still struggle daily to completely trust and believe. What about you? Are you faced with the impossible today? Is the Lord telling you to do something crazy and out of character? Is He calling you deeper but you don’t know how to swim? Jesus invites us to trust Him. Our heart must respond. It is impossible to please God without faith because truly there is nothing of worth that I have to offer Him BUT to love and trust Him.

“Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

I have a picture hanging in my home that says, “Faith is not believing that God can but knowing that He will.” Think about that for a minute. Faith is not believing God can. Why would that motivate a God who already did? His Plan for your life is prepared before creation. Therefore, with our first breath, it is set into motion. Faith does not give Him Power. It allows His Presence to fill our life. It is to believe that despite my sinful, selfish, and self-centered disposition that His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues me every day. Faith is our acceptance of God’s Love and gives Him presence in our life. Faith wants the life that God has promised and is willing to give up time and space in this life to have it. Do you believe that God exists? Most people reading this will say, “Yes.” Do you believe that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him? This depends on faith. How long have you been waiting? Wait just a little more. How much have you been praying? Just five more minutes might give you the confidence to watch one more day? How precious is the promise? I want all that God has for me and my family. I want His Fulfillment to bring full satisfaction in all things, but through these times of testing one thing has become evident in my life. At some point, I stopped breathing. The thought of waking up a single day, walking another step or breathing my next breath without the Lord is incomprehensible. All the broken pieces of my heart cannot maintain a single beat except His Hands that hold it together every single day. His Word is my protector, defender, and confidence. Faith grows when things are impossible and yet for just one more day we choose to hope fast to His Promise that His Love never fails.

Zechariah 8:6 (NLT) “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Zechariah 8:12 (NLT) For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings.

The prophet Zechariah prophesied to the people of Judah who were returning from 70 years of exile in Babylon. I am quite sure rebuilding their life and taking back the land of seemed overwhelming. The Lord points out them that He is God of the impossible. He asks the question of them, “But is it impossible for me?” I wonder how many of us are being asked the same today. It is an invitation to take that measure of faith the size of the tiny mustard seed and plant it. In verse 12, the Lord delivers the promise. What a wonderful promise it is! “For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.” Sowing seeds of faith produces harvests of God’s Faithfulness. We may plant, others may water, but God always gives increase to even the tiniest seed of faith, trust, confidence, dependence and passion for Him. He always delivers no matter how reluctant I may be – God is never reluctant to bless me. It has been His Plan all along.

Does today seem impossible, this week, this year? Could it be that the impossibility is evidence that God is working all things together for our good? Could it all be a divine set up so that I will trust Him more and receive all that He has for me? Is it an opportunity to move from glory to glory? I believe that for those willing to walk through the impossible to reach the Lord will find Him and every blessing and promise even those thought dead and gone. I am a careful person. A planner who is uncomfortable with spontaneity. I am by no means an adrenaline junkie. However, I have personally seen God do the impossible. Not just once, but consistently. The transition is not easy. You are birthing the supernatural. Endurance is tough. There are even times when you feel foolish because no one sees the potential of our faith but yet you still believe. God is faithful. The great news is that the impossible is possible for the Lord. Most of us believe God can do anything, but we must invest our faith in believing that He will!

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

Hope Less

hope less

Psalm 33:18-22(ESV) Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

I have a tattoo inked on my right wrist. To some it may be offensive that a Child of God would mark their skin, and some are of the opinion that is unbiblical. Each is entitled to their own opinion and I am not offended in the least. I am terrible with remembering dates and times but it was sometime after our son’s first fight with cancer. A friend had lost their son shortly after his diagnosis. All of the family were posting pictures on social media of memorial tattoos. Yellow ribbons with his name, school colors and other things that reminded them of Austin. Though in remission, once the diagnosis of “cancer” comes – it seems to find a place in the dark shadows of the mind as a reminder it may visit again at any time. There is no promise of permanence once remission is achieved just to be ever hopeful the disease is gone for good. I thought to myself that no matter what happened I would never memorialize death like that. No judgment to others but for me – it would mean hope was gone forever. Everyone deals with pain and trauma differently. Most of the infusion room nurses have a tattoo where special patients who left indelible marks on their heart will get a spot. One has a song bird with a note for each brave one lost in battle. Another is a flower with tiny butterflies – you get the idea.

I decided I would get a tattoo now to celebrate life. To remind me that my faith is secure and there is always hope. When I look down at my wrist, the word “faith” reminds me that I have an investment to make while it is still today. A seed of worth that if planted deeper each day will produce a harvest of life. When I show someone my tattoo, they see a different word. It spells the word “hope” to them. Life is a journey to find faith, sow it in our life and produce confident hope in the Love of God that is salvation. It is easy to lose sight of that in the day to day pressures of life in general. It is even easier when trauma or tragedy strikes. The truth is that our existence as it is now today is hopeless. Everyone dies. We are appointed once to die. It is in the Word of God. The hope that I have is for eternity. I promise this is not a message of doom and gloom but when the reality of hope is recognized it has the power to change our life today.

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

My hope is in the steadfast love of God given through Jesus Christ. Hope means to believe, desire and trust. It is the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that the events will turn out for good according to Dictionary.com. The British Dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment” with reasonable grounds. The Bible gives hope a name – Jesus Christ. He is our hope. The unconditional and unchangeable love of the Living God is our hope of fulfillment and substance called faith. Faith is the substance of what we hope for. It is unrealistic to hope for someone not to die because it defies logic and reality. Everyone will pass away and get rid of their flesh. It is the moment after our last breath that hope is finally realized and rightfully so.

Ephesians 1:17-20 (ESV) …that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…

Hope is our spiritual expectation. It is not to life forever in the abundance and increase of this life but to one day step out of these naturally decaying bodies and assume our place in God’s Kingdom as a heavenly being. Natural expectation revolves around naturally occurring outcomes. Hope ventures into the impossible. Faith in God is to hope for eternal results. It takes a higher level of spiritual thinking to grab hold of confident hope which is what our faith in God is based on. Hope less in this life and the physical outcomes but rather hone in on faith that is not dependent on this life but forever results. Heightening our expectancy requires godly knowledge and spiritual wisdom not found in the world but in the Word.

Hope is what God has called you to according to His Glorious Inheritance and what His Immeasurable Great Power can produce toward us when we believe. He is working His Great Mind through us to the same extent used to raise Jesus from the dead. An inheritance comes later, it is not a “now” thing. It comes after a death. The Power of God working in us today is His Grace. It is most evident in our weakness. All contrary to the workings of this world. Humility and brokenness are the ground most fertile for God’s Workings in us and through us. The Light of His Love shines the brightest through broken vessels. Finite thinking thinks hope changes our circumstances, conditions and/or consequences but it doesn’t. Faith didn’t keep Joseph out of the pit, or from the accusations of people, or even the prison but it got him to the palace. It put him in a position to save his family. It gave him more than he could ever think, ask or imagine. God humbled Joseph in the process. The Word of God tells us that in every situation Joseph trusted and believed in the Lord. But consider this…Joseph was never pharaoh. He never was the king. God gave him everything yet never promoted him to the highest level of earthly superiority. His hope for the future was not in this life but forever.

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Hope is the anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19), but if there is no substance or weight added to it then what good is it? Through Jesus Christ I have faith that I am at peace with God again. I can live as His Child and live in His Kingdom. But notice that it says, “we rejoice in our sufferings.” Who wants any of that? When our son was cancer-free the first time, I was asked to record a testimony to be played in church. I mentioned my belief that God heals one of three ways: medically, miraculously, or mercifully. It played one time and was removed. The media coordinator did not agree. God is always is ready to heal someone. Agreed. He could not accept that God heals mercifully and sometimes people do succumb to their illnesses despite the countless prayers of the righteous. We must accept that Heaven is a real place and the one that is hoped for. To believe it is a viable option to leave the earth and live with Jesus is the victory that is hoped for. Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope. These steps are a requirement. Human nature is to settle and substitute natural things for supernatural results to avoid such challenges and inconvenience. What the Lord has in store for us is better!

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

It may sound cliché or even a bit silly but I believe that God wants us to hope less and have faith more. Faith is the substance of what is hoped for. Hope is established two ways in our life. The Word of God is what we hope for. It is the basis of hope. (Romans 15:4) Every single word of it is inspired by God and absolutely true. None of it is out of date, old-fashioned or untimely. It is fresh bread every day for those who choose to partake of it. It is in the Word of God where hope is found and our challenge to live in it. (Psalm 119:81;114) The Plan of God for our life is with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) We are called to seek it out wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) To do so gives us what we need to have logical faith that can be practically lived. Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. (John 1:14) He is our hope. (Matthew 12:21) Wisdom must have knowledge. Hope is wisdom for the future. (Proverbs 24:13-14)

Romans 8:24-26 (ESV) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

The Holy Spirit establishes our hope by taken the Word of God and working it into wisdom in our life. He moves us and motivates us to act on faith and build confidence in hope. If my faith is only able to hope for my son to live in this world, it is not big enough to sustain me. For our son to live forever would mean living with more medical conditions then I can count for the rest of his life. Chemotherapy is poison that kills cancer but has numerous side effects. The reality of what I hope for is that his faith has built a solid foundation of hope that relies and trusts the Lord so when he does cross over that Jesus will know him and welcome him home. The Holy Spirit must help us develop real faith to build the confident hope needed to trust and believe.

If we hope for what we do not see, we MUST wait for it with patience. When hope is deferred it is a challenge to deal with. (Proverbs 13:12) Faith holds the promise of hope tightly but there is an enemy ready to wrangle it from us every day. Situations, circumstances, trials and tragedies meant to persuade us that God’s Love is not real or somehow conditional. God still is a miracle worker. He meets His Expectations not our expectations. His Plan is based on forever not the seventy or so years given to us here on earth. Can I share a secret with you today? We always have hope. His Name is Jesus. He lives in us. Hope does not die. It is life. I have hope but make the choice whether to hold on to it or not. If my desire to be hope full, I must be faith full first because I will never ever see the reality of what I hope for until I meet Him face to face.

Lamentations 3:21-24 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

I believe that God is a miracle worker. I believe that His Goodness is for us in the Land of the Living. I know many people who died suddenly or before their time as people say. There are times when things don’t turn out according to our expectation. These are the times when one must have an anchor to hold on to and that holds us in place. “BUT I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope.” The thing that I hope for and have faith in is simple. God loves me. He always loves me. On the good days, I feel His Love for me in the joy that comes. On the not so good days, I remember that He loves me based maybe on what He did the other day. But on those horrible, good-for-nothing, chaotic, heartbreaking, awful and tragic times, my hope is in His Steadfast Love alone based on the Word and His Spirit working in my life. The hope that I have is not in the everyday miracles or sudden moves of God in this place, but based solely and completely on the fact that He knows me and loves me anyway. The Lord wants to fill every void and vacancy of faith in our life so our hope remains confident and securely fastened to Him. He will never let go. The challenge is that we do not let go in times of turmoil and stress.

Luke 24:19-24 (ESV) And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

When Jesus died, the people thought hope was lost. When did you lose your hope? What is challenging your faith in God today? Has life unexpected happened? Your hope is not gone. Like the men walking down the road, He is with you right now. His Spirit lives in us. It is up to us to build confidence in the hope we have. Confidence comes by knowing, understanding, believing, and trusting the Lord in the even ifs of life. When we put emphasis on faith in our life, it naturally produces hope as our expectation moves from what we can see to the things unseen. Miracles are exciting. Signs and wonders are exhilarating. Mighty moves of God change us from the inside out. To have faith and confident hope produce the kind of character that endures to the end and crosses over to forever. I have a confession to make. During some really hard times, I have tried to scrub off the faith/hope tattoo on my arm. Tired of fighting the good fight, not happy with the outcome so far, and just plain sick of hurting or even worse watching my loved ones hurt. In anger and frustration over unmet expectations, I hated it and wanted it gone in that moment. But you know what, it wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I tried. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. My faith cannot be dependent on here and now but must remain in Jesus Christ. He is faithful. He is good. He is the one who can do exactly what He promises. He is my Living Hope even on those days when I lose my hope. Lord, let us hope less for ordinary things and find extraordinary hope in You!

Romans 15:13 (ESV) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 12:12 (ESV) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Psalm 71:14 (ESV) But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.

Proper Portion

Proper Portion

Lamentations 3:21-26 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Currently, everyone in the office is on some form of diet or new health regime. A variety of methods to control consumption and improve health – all of them seem to be reasonable and show the potential of great success if adhered to. The methodology of each one is very different but the goal of all participants is to lose a few pounds and develop a healthier lifestyle. I have tried many diets over the years. Even in fasting, I have found that when I reintroduce certain foods have lost their appeal. It’s funny how our tastes, preferences and even appetite changes over time. Impacted by life, food can become a dependency, a habit, a comfort, or even an enemy if allowed. People use it to calm fear, alleviate stress, fill voids, and soothe hurts. Usually obesity is a heart or mental condition more than a physical condition as someone tries to overcome something much deeper than gluttony or obsession with eating. I have found success in portion control more than dieting. To evaluate the food I take in and limit those things that are not healthy and satisfy my hunger with things that are good for me. I must pay careful attention to my appetite and how I appease it. What do your portions look like today? What do you hunger and thirst for? No, I am not just talking about the food in your kitchen but the mainstay in your heart.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

It is important to find balance in life. The place of peaceful satisfaction that begins in our heart and soul. Such an understanding will aid us in changing our mind, will and emotions about certain things. Christ Jesus has set us free. Those who live in Christ are free indeed. The definition of freedom did not change and the Lord means exactly that you are absolutely free. Our inability to live in freedom is the problem. With a fickle heart and fixated mind, it is tough to allow the Spirit to lead, guide and direct us because we ourselves are not trustworthy in properly portioning this new life and living in our freedom. I choose each day whether or not I remain free. Once held captive by sin, shame and regret, I refused to receive the portion of love, grace and mercy offered consistently by Jesus to all who come to Him. In Christ, my covenant says that “I am allowed to do anything.” There is no limitation on my life. I can live free from sin or put the chains right back on. I can live a religious life or choose a relationship with Christ. Life is full of choices that the Lord has given us a free will to decide. Not everything is good for me. I am allowed to do anything but not everything is beneficial. Salvation is not a call to perfection but the possibility of a future and hope even when we do not choose wisely or must live in consequences. The Lord promises to work even those for our good and His Glory. The secret is that Jesus must be our portion.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.”

Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To make better choices is a mindset. We must call certain things to mind and take captive the rebellious thoughts contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way for us. Transformation is possible by the renewal of our mind. I must call to mind the things God says about me and forget the lie of the enemy. By testing – you may discern what is the Will of God, what is good, and acceptable and perfect.” God has a plan for your life that is good, acceptable and perfect. He does not lie or change His Mind so we must change ours. His Ways are higher just like His Thoughts so to have all God has predestined for our life – our perception of life must change. Hope blossoms in a mind renewed and ready to receive God’s Word and let it grow into exactly what He promised.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”

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

If only for just a moment, our mind would let go of its preconceived notion of what love is and grab hold of God’s Love for us. God’s Love is steadfast. It never ceases. There is absolutely nothing you or I can do that will EVER separate us from His Love. Disbelief keeps us from experiencing a love so real that the only thing it desires is reciprocation and reproduction. God says love me and love others. This is all that I desire of you. What about sin? What about service? What about selflessness? What about surrender? What about sacrifice? Have you ever fallen in love? Not, like or even lust, but the kind of love that changes your mind about everything. I have. When I met my husband, the hardness around my heart cracked and fell apart. Suddenly, things I thought I would never do – I did again. Trust began to well up from the fortress of insecurity. When a person decides in their heart and mind that NOTHING can separate them from the Love of God – nothing will ever keep them from experiencing His Goodness and Glory again. God’s Love is unconditional. It does not depend on what I do for Him but to place all that I am in covenant with Him. I must love Him with all my heart trusting Him with the same. I have found that change and transformation is birthed in love otherwise it is just a change of habit.

His mercies never come to an end.”

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

It is human nature to decide the limits of God’s Love and mercy. In hard times, the only explanation possible is that God is punishing us or maybe teaching us a lesson. God cannot punish those who live in the dispensation of grace without stripping it of power. The sufficiency of grace is nullified if God decided to punish us so that is a lie of the enemy. I do not believe that the Lord is trying to harm us in any possible way. Even Jesus was tempted by the enemy, God has given us His Spirit to overcome every trial and temptation. It is just part of life. If Jesus encountered it, so will we. This is the promise. Mercy. In the presence of the enemy, I am well provided for and cared for. In fact, there is abundance for me in the battle. Goodness and mercy follow me every single day. New every single morning – I must simply receive it. Is goodness and mercy your portion today? Are you reaching for it and accepting it in your life? Regret and shame stop us from taking what is rightfully ours and promised by the Lord in each new day.

“They are new every morning.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

We live in a carryover society. Allowing things to rollover from day to day until small things become monumental making mountains out of molehills. Think about it. There was a documentary on television the other day, I don’t even know what it was about. In it, the narrator said that in certain low income areas of New Orleans that the average income was $7,000 a year. I remember thinking how can anyone live let alone family on such a small amount. I believe that in Christ – I am a new creation. Do I allow Him to increase my life daily or do I limit Him in my expectation? When I look at my life is it defined by God’s Goodness and Mercy or do I daily live comparing my life to other people? God promises are new each morning because His Mercy is in constant supply. I may judge my potential and future by my current situation or the conditions governing my life but God says, “I have a plan that contains a future and hope” which means that my circumstances today do not dictate my forever. Christ does. With this in mind, when I bring the cares, worries, failures and defeats of yesterday into my today, I limit my own ability to receive all the new things that God is doing in me and through me. Disbelief downgrades my potential and possibility as I try to amend for my inabilities rather than allowing Christ to be more than enough for me.

Great is your faithfulness.”

Hebrews 10:22-23 (ESV) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 

Faith is not our ability to be faithful but our willingness to trust and believe that the Lord is always faithful. Great is God’s Faithfulness. Grace indicates our inability to be faithful always. This does not change the fact that God is always faithful. It is our unwillingness to believe, trust, wait, depend, and hold fast that which we confess that limits our potential. We pray and then do our own thing. Unwavering hope waits on the Lord knowing He is faithful. It finds peace in God accepting the peace of mind given to us by Jesus as blessed assurance. We try to be faithful and fail then think that God’s Faithfulness ends because of our inability. That’s not how this works. God is the One who promised to be faithful. He is the One keeping His Word. The Lord is working out the details for our good. He is the One who perfects all that concerns us. He is the load bearer. The lifter of our heads to see things the way that He does. To see our life and full potential through the Cross and not our circumstances. Human beings try to be faithful but to experience the fullness off the freedom offered in the Son of God is to accept His Grace as more than enough.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Psalm 16:5 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

The Book of Lamentations is filled with expressions of sorrow, regret and grief. In the midst of it all is this declaration. “The Lord is my portion.” Things must be undone to be remade. Hearts must be broken to be rebuilt. Life must change to be better. I share this all to say that the only decision that will ever change our heart, mind and life for the better is to say, “Lord you are my chosen portion.” You have a right to decide what will fill your life today. Will it be regret? Sorrow? Grief? Will you ever experience love, peace and joy again? Yes, when the Lord is our portion the rest of life will find its proper place. As hope arises, it comes with new possibilities. The Fruit of God’s Spirit requires a broken and fertile heart. Faith is the opportunity to invest in God’s Faithfulness. Hope is for a life filled with abundance that is incomprehensible now. God’s Love for you is secure. There is nothing you will do today, tomorrow or the next that can separate you from His Love for you. Let that soak in for a minute. He desires you above all things so much so that He pursues you day after day. He meets you in the morning with gifts too wonderful for some to accept in their state of devastation and disappointment at the thought we cannot please Him. You can. Put your faith in the Lord. Call Him your portion. Make Him your lot. A lot is short for allotted share or portion. The blessings and promises that God has made you are real. They belong to you and no one else. God is not in the business of re-gifting. Once He orders or ordains something for you or in you it remains forever until you accept it. The Word of God cannot return to Him void and must do exactly as He promised because HE IS FAITHFUL. Lord, be my portion today. Help me to see the areas of my life that I have not properly portioned to You so that I may give it all to You today. In Jesus Name!

Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV) Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.