In the Shadow

in the shadow

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

To live in the shadow of can mean to live close to or in a position of being unnoticed because all the attention is given to someone else. It is human nature to live by comparison. The shadow of choice is the standard set for our life. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. It is important that the standard of our life is from the Word of God and not living in the shadow of other people. God made you with an individual plan and purpose that no one can fulfill but you. It is filled with blessings and benefits that are your inheritance set aside for your good pleasure. There is no competition with God. The Father has no favorites. Each one of His Children unique and complex in His Creation. Or have you someone found yourself living in the shadow of others? Maybe you live in the shadow of the impossible mountain that won’t seem to move? The Lord offers us a place in His Presence. A close proximity to Him. To dwell in the shelter of His Refuge and the Fortress marked “Peace”. He invites us to abide in the shadow of the Almighty! Yes, please.

“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Oh and there is the secret. Trust. To eliminate all fear, doubt, and insecurity by moving from the obscurity of the crowd into the courts of the Almighty. The transition will defy all human logic as it is solely reliant on faith. We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith must have a new foundation. The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ. We must compare our standard of living to Him to align our life with the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What is right for me may not be right for you. Our convictions may be different. The habits that are healthy and choices that are right are not the same for everyone – it is important to understand that while we all have fallen short of God’s Glory not every produces the same light. Each light is needed to drive out darkness of every kind. The brightness of our life is produced by living in the Shadow of the Light of the world.

Psalm 91:9-10 (ESV) Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

The story of Elijah is one of my favorites to study. In 1 Kings 18, he is killing all the false prophets but then in I Kings 19 – he is hiding from simple threat. I was listening to a snippet of a sermon from one of my favorite preachers yesterday. He was retelling the story from a different perspective. Elijah was in the midst of transition. He was being repositioned by the Lord in his ministry. He was a teacher, prophet and minister. He was becoming a mentor. Sure enough at the end of I Kings 19, Elisha arrives on the scene. I wonder if in the midst of transition or perhaps transformation the undoing is too much for our humanity. If in those times – we forget that we live in the shadow of the Almighty and reposition ourselves in the shadow of others. Shadow of fear. Shadow of doubt. Shadow of insecurity. Shadow of isolation. We forget that we live in the shadow of the Almighty God who never grows weak and weary. When we are tired of the process, He continues to work on us just the same. His Word does not return to Him void even when we give up on it. Two different mountaintop experiences – one man. Great faith and confidence on one. Fear and doubt on the other. Same God. Sometimes the Lord has to get us away by ourselves to reassure us. He wants to speak to us but must silence all the other voices so that we listen to the still small voice. No weapon formed against us will prosper in this place.

No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. Faith will always release God’s Favor in our life. It is no different than turning on the faucet and water running out. As long as you are connected to a source, the source is available to you. The source of water to my home is the county water line. The source of Living Water is Jesus Christ. When I align my life to Him and live in His Shadow, things begin to change. My closeness to the Lord allows me to experience such a life.

Psalm 91:14-16 (ESV) “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Because he holds fast to me in love… We are God’s Beloved. He bestows His Unfailing Love on us each and every day. He gives us new mercies every morning. His Grace is always enough to restore any breach. He gave His Only Son to die for our sins. This gift of God to us cannot be earned or deserved only returned. God doesn’t need us. He desires us. He wants us. He is desperate for us. The only thing that you and I can “do” for God is to love Him. To live in close proximity and intimacy with the Lord. To dwell in His Presence. Those who find the way into the shadow of the Almighty and choose to love Him forever will experience long and satisfied living as the Lord shows Him salvation at its finest. There are many who call on the Name of the Lord without the express desire to actually find Him or make their way to Him in this lifetime. It is like having money in the bank but living a bankrupt existence. The fulfillment of God given to us is found in His Love. There is nothing more to do than connect with His Love and never let go. Those who fall in love with God through His Son Jesus Christ will experience a holy inhabitation that consummates the relationship – it is the Holy Spirit. He becomes our teacher, mentor and guide through life so when things don’t make sense or storms rage or situations arise or the impossible comes – we have nothing to fear living in the shadow of the Almighty.

James 1:16-18 (ESV) Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Oh how He loves us! He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affection for me. And, oh, how He loves us… (How He Loves – John Mark McMillan) The capacity of God’s Love for us is not limited by inability to receive it. He just keeps pursuing us and inviting us to enter into His Presence. Every good thing in our life is a product of God’s wooing us. He sends good gifts to His Children even those who do not live in an intimate relationship with Him. The prodigal’s father had two sons. A good son who was faithful to the family and another wild rebellious child who took his inheritance and squandered it prematurely. The father didn’t forget his “lost” son. He didn’t give up on him. In fact, when the broken shell of a man returned, the father welcomed him and celebrated his return fully restoring his place in the family.

God feels the same about you and me. He keeps our place in His Presence. There is no competition. There is no comparison. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. His radical and ridiculous love for us cannot be deterred or displaced it just keep pouring out in our life. Do not be deceived, my beloved. He invites you to come boldly before His Throne today and claim your place in His Presence. There is only one you. He made you to be a masterpiece. You are fearfully and wonderfully made because God did a marvelous work in your creation. (Psalm 139) Jesus Christ has given us boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him to approach God and live in His Presence. (Ephesians 3:11-12) The Lord invites you to live in His Shadow today.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Advertisements

Passion Fruit

First Fruit

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

When taking on large projects or tasks, I usually comprise a “to do” list to keep me focused. I write down everything that needs to be done and then decide on a game plan. I will be the first to admit as a young adult – I was a procrastinator. Chronically late, I lacked conscious respect for other’s time. I would stay up late and wake up later. I live a completely disheveled and disorganized life. I will even admit that there would be days or even a week that I did not make my bed. This chaotic existence was not the fault of my parents who built a structured home and attempted to teach us discipline. When set free into adulthood, I was able to choose how to live my life. What changed? Children. When my first child was born, I discovered this little thing called responsibility in a whole new way. This little perfect person was depending on me for everything. I was to mold him, shape him, and care for him as he was now my responsibility. Suddenly – I wanted to be a better person and the perfect mom. Love produced a change in me.

Purpose is a wonderful thing because it sparks passion in us that burns away things that used to hinder us. It ignites a change inside of us that requires careful attention to build momentum and see the results. As my family grew so did I, old habits gave way to new and improved drive to be organized and skillful in the things “good moms” do. But despite my best intentions, looking back, I realize that even though I tried really hard to be the best mom ever and never make mistakes with my children. I blew it on several occasions. There were days that I took the responsibility of parenting too seriously and needed a little more grace and love. My desire to be perfect overshadowed my purpose which was to love my children with all that I had and give them the life I thought they deserved.

For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Freedom to live a life of full satisfaction apart from perfection but marked by passionate purpose. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image. I am struck by these words today. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my beloved as I am His. As in any partnership, I must learn to find ways to remain faithful to Him even when my flesh doesn’t necessarily agree. The first fruit of God’s Spirit – who is now recognized as Jesus is love. Love produces passion. Passion fuels purpose. How do I take the natural love I have and use my freedom in Christ to expand it and fan it into burning desire? I must live by the Spirit.

I am tiptoeing here. So please bear with me…I am challenged today! I want to live in the Glory of God. I don’t think the church or people who call ourselves Christians really know what that is or how to achieve it on a regular basis. We are to live in the Presence of God. Well, if Christ lives in me doesn’t that mean God is present all of the time? Yes! Am I present all of the time? No! Let me explain – there are times when my husband and I are sitting in the same room and one of us will begin to speak to the other. While lost in thought or completely engrossed in what we are watching or reading, the other may not hear what he or she is saying. Suddenly shaken from our stupor – we will respond to the other with apologies because our attention was elsewhere. God’s Spirit lives in us. His Name is Jesus. He has granted us freedom. Freedom is the opportunity to choose our life and how we live it. To become aware of the Glory of God in us and His Goodness all around us would be the most advantageous use of the gift of freedom – but sometimes we have our heart and mind set on other things.

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

Jesus lives in me. His Spirit has set me free. This freedom is made strong as it is nourished by the Fruit it provides us. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot love anyone else until I fully conceive the Love of God for me and living in me. See God’s Love IS His Glory. When I love like Jesus loves and inspired by the selfless and unconditional Love of God – I reflect His Glory. God gave us freedom to choose a relationship with Him as His Child. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us that allows us to have a rich and satisfying life beginning with love and ending with self-control. Religion gets this all out of order. We attempt self-control outside of love which leads us nowhere. The passion of our love for Jesus Christ will inevitably produce self-control as the final fruit not the first fruit.

Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Those who belong to Jesus must nail their passions and desires associated with their sinful nature to the Cross. Do not think about the seven deadliest sins and most horrible offenses you can think of, but consider this – if our passion promotes anything other than sincere and persistent love for people – we missed the first step of full satisfaction in the Glory of God. Love produces joy. Joy gives us peace. Peace affords us patience and so on. “Since” we are living by the Spirit as God’s Spirit is manifested as Christin us…we must follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Love is the first step of freedom yet the hardest to overcome. Love puts others before our own wants, needs and desires. It is not a me-first position and therefore considered the greatest vulnerability. But if Christ truly lives in me – I am free to do so because greater is He who lives in me. The greatness of God’s Grace is His Love. His Glory is His Presence that is possible by His Love. Everything begins with and ends with love.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! (Jesus)

Have we misplaced our passion? Have we focused heavily on producing fruit from our self and not of the Spirit? I can pretend to have all of God’s Fruit in my life but my life is not surrounded by His Glory and defined by His Love it is just another pointless pursuit. Jesus came to set the world on fire. His Love could not be denied for His Sacrifice complete. He empowered us with His Grace which is totally sufficient to overcome every obstacle and live in His Glory now and forever more. However, this would require giving up our way first.

When I think about the Glory of God, I hear the churches outcry for revival. Revival is new life that will take the place of our old ways. Like the relationship now possible with God through Jesus Christ removed the “veil” that once separated us from God’s Presence. It did not open the curtain so we could step behind it. It tore it right down the middle. When Christians live according to the rules and regulations of the Law, it is not freedom but a foray back into judgment. In Christ there is no condemnation. Christ is alive in me so I am no longer condemned so think about this…

If you come upon a burning building, it would probably be your immediate instinct to call 911. You may decide to be a good Samaritan and get out of the car to offer assistance. If you hear cries from within the inferno, you may try to find a way to get inside and save those who are trapped. Only a few people might risk their life to go inside despite the danger to pull people from inside. However, if the house is your home everything changes. Your love will overcome all fear and insecurity to get your loved ones to safety pulling them out of harm’s way. What if Jesus meant to set the world on fire so we would develop a passion from His Love? What if it is a test of our first fruit to see how willing I am to use my freedom to love people enough to reach them right where they are rather than standing outside calling them out?

Jude 20-25 (NLT) But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

The potential of my life is the Glory of God because Christ lives in me. I have a new love that has given me a whole new purpose. I am a new creation. The law is no longer relevant to me as it has been made complete in Jesus Christ. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. As long as I choose to live free from the Law, I am able to pursue with passion the First Fruit of the Spirit which is love and believe that as every other fruit is born of its seed that I will someday learn self-control. If sin separates me from Jesus, my love for Him will keep me from sin. Apart from God’s Love there is no glory. His Glory is His Love. His Love must be perfected in my life. It does not require me to be a perfect person just perfected by His Love. Passion must be examined and evaluated in our life to determine its origin. It is easy to become religious in our pursuit because habits come and go every day. Love does not. Love is the most difficult to obtain and arduous to keep because it is the constant consummation of self. We must invest all that we are into the Christ living in us so He takes over. Jesus would not think twice about going into whatever hell we wander into and pulling us to freedom if we cry out to Him. My response to others must be the same. Lord, I ask you to examine my heart, my mind, every motive, attitude and action for love. Love is the first fruit produced by Your Spirit, and I want to know I am living a life guided by Your Spirit. Help me to love like You do. Teach me to love like You. Complete me in love as You do. I ask you to grow the first fruit of love in me so I can share it with everyone else and be a true reflection of Your Glory! Fan the flame of love in me until it burns like an all-consuming fire with passion for You, Lord! For without passion – love quickly grows cold!

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Bird’s Eye View

Birds Eye View

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

At the closing table signing papers for our new house, the previous owners told us about the hummingbirds. They had left a hook on the front porch for a feeder in the place that theirs had been and told us that if we replaced it the hummingbirds would come. I have never had a bird feeder in my yard before or hung nectar for hummingbirds. Funny that of all the things they could have shared about life in this house it would be about the little fluttering creatures. On a supply run, I decided to buy a feeder and some red nectar and give it a go. Sure enough not one but three hummingbirds drained it quickly. The feeder is hung outside the windows to the study so in the early morning sunlight or late as the sun finally sets, they are there flittering around it. In the flowerbed just outside is a two-prong hook, it is also for bird feeders. I think I will try my hand at some feeders for the other winged friends in our yard. Don’t laugh at me for my enthusiasm. This is a different life for me. God has brought me to a place that I have never been before and a lifestyle I didn’t even know would be appealing – His Ways are higher than my ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Adjusting to my taste of country living has made me reevaluate some things in my life. God has a plan for us. Sometimes it seems unclear and elusive. In fact, most of the times that is the case. What if we looked at life from a bird’s eye view? What if rather than focusing on what we see right in front of us, we were able to fly over our current condition to see the bigger picture from the heights of the heavens? Birds have that unique ability. They can fly. If danger approaches, they can fly away quickly. If the storm rolls in, they can rise above it or use the wind to lift them higher. The birds clearly have the advantage it seems. Looking through God’s Word, I find several examples given to us by a fine feathered friends to remind us that we serve a God who has ways and thoughts higher than our own. We cannot see all that the Lord is doing so like these creatures who depend on the Lord for everything – we must learn to do the same.

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

If I forget to refill the nectar in the feeder, the hummingbirds will still be just fine. The Lord provides the nectar they need in flowers. They do not need me. I enjoy caring for them and watching them come near. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet the Father feeds them.” Did you know that no matter how hard you work, toil and labor that God is our provider? He gives us the ability to go to work and earn income but it is not according to the hours we put in or one’s ascent up the corporate ladder that determines our prosperity. No, it is God’s Blessing and Favor that gives us the good things that we enjoy. If I stress and worry my life away, I have wasted precious time. It does not impact God’s Faithfulness in the slightest. God supplies our needs. Birds do not worry, stress or fret over food – they trust the Lord.

Before moving on, I would like to point out that birds also understand sacrifice. They were called by God as a sufficient sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus. In Genesis 8, birds were part of the covenant sacrifice bringing together God and Abram (who would become Abraham). Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:4-9) We must sacrifice our life for Jesus Christ. We must give up our way to follow His Way… the only way. You cannot head in two directions at the same time. One way must be conceded. I am crucified with Christ now I live.

Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV) He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Birds know that their provision rests is found in the Presence of God. By faith, they continually look for what they need with complete confidence that the Lord will supply. I am quite certain that our winged friends are not plagued by emotions and feelings that distract and detour them along the way. We must stop relying on what we feel and experience becoming completely dependent on the Lord and taking Him at His Word.

Matthew 10:28-30 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

God is our protector. We have no reason to fear. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground outside the Father’s care, how much more important are you to the Lord? He knows the number of hairs on our head and dares the enemy to touch just one of them. I rebuke fear from your life in the Name of Jesus. In order to maintain one’s courage, we must believe that God is our protector and continually seek His Refuge.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” (Psalm 84:2-4) The sparrow and her friend, the swallow, choose to make their nest in the Presence of God. They have decided that He is everything they need and desire so they live right there with the Lord. Too many times we live double lives – one way in church and another in life. Wondering why we do not live up to God’s Glorious Standard by settling for substitutions and compromises. We must learn to wait on the Lord living in His Presence while “He perfects that which concerns you (us).” Psalm 138:8.

I Kings 17:3-6 (NIV) “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Ravens represent those who choose to obey the Lord. When God wanted his prophet to be fed, He instructed the ravens to do so and they did. What do I do when God instructs me to do something? Is obedience my immediate reaction or an afterthought? Do I miss opportunities to take God at His Word? Am I even listening at all?

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. The Mind of Christ given to us by the Father to help us in our weakness and to give us understanding of God’s Ways. The Spirit of God descended “like a dove” on Jesus after He was baptized. We are given the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. He is our partner in life who guides and instructs. The dove made an appearance in Genesis 8 when Noah released the dove over and over again to find the place God had sent them. To know it was time to open the arc and make their home in that place. We should use the Holy Spirit as our guide as well. He is in us. He is active. The Spirit of the Living God is essential in explaining God’s Word to us, revealing His Secrets and giving us complete understanding that can be turned to wisdom.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Everyone loves the eagle. He reveals God’s Renewal and Restoration to us. His Promise to renew our strength when we grow weary and restore our hope when all seems lost. It says that those who hope in the Lord will “soar on wings like eagles.” Are you able to rise above your circumstances today? Have the burdens of life weighted you down? In Job 39, we find the ostrich which is a flightless bird. She is referred to as a bird who God “did not endow with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.” I don’t want to be like an ostrich who buries her head in the sand when trouble comes. I want to be like an eagle who soars above this finite view of life to see things as God sees them. I want to know His Ways that are higher than my ways. I want confidence in the Lord’s Provision and Protection living in His Presence all the days of my life. It requires a new perspective and not one that is based on the ground. I must take a bird’s eye view of life to live as they do.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NIV) Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

To Achieve Impossible

Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Here I stand on the edge of faith again. Looking up at the mountain, wondering if I have the faith to move it. Thinking it may be better just to turn back. It is not a matter of life or death so should I truly invest all my time and energy pursing the Promise of God when it is not fatal. God has spoken to my heart so now I have to go to cease the endless what if possibilities held captive in my thoughts. I know the stirring of hope when I feel it. I can see the realm of hope inviting me to come in. I smell the impossible simmering somewhere in the distance causing a hunger to rise up in me and a desire for fulfillment. My flesh quakes inside me not again. Every time this happens my natural belief and body die just a little more as the Resurrection Power of Living God rise within me. God give me the strength to move this mountain. Lord order my steps before I move. Jesus give me your mind in the process. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders and let me walk upon the water wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the Presence of My Savior.” (Oceans by Hillsong)

I stopped singing along with the song, Oceans, for a long time. Not interested in the pressure, pain and persistence required to move me from everlasting to everlasting. I was tired. Worn out. Empty. Who would have known that the very moment that I decided that it would immediately lead me straight out of my comfort zone to another test of faith? I should’ve know. God wants His Promises to manifest in my life. He is Good Father. Constantly pursuing us with unfailing love that produces goodness and mercy for each day not just occasionally, the Lord invites us to continue in the process of faith that gives confident hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of this not seen. Well, I certainly cannot see how this will all come together. Yet I still believe…

Faith begins when we believe in the Sovereign and Almighty Power of the Living God enough to base our entire life on the Word of God. We must begin to invest our life in what we see through spiritual eyes fixed on Jesus even when it is not naturally occurring. To surrender every bit of fear and doubt from our heart, soul and mind to pursue wholeheartedly as He also comes after us wholeheartedly.

Luke 1:37 (NKJV) Nothing is impossible with God.

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV)

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Faith begins by believing that nothing is impossible with God. Note that it does not say that nothing is impossible for God which is absolutely true but the secret to the impossible is to know, understand and live with God fully believing that nothing is impossible if you remain with the Lord God. The disciples walked with Jesus. They witness miracle after miracle. They heard His Teaching. Knew God’s Word. Yet, when it came time to use all of these things to the Glory of God, they could not cast out the demon due to unbelief. Our belief in the Lord, His Intentions for us, His Ability to do that which He promised and bring about exactly what He said that He would do is essential for mountains to move. We must believe to see souls saved, sick healed, captives freed, and revival come as Heaven touches earth once more before the coming of Christ.

Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We can live, breathe, and sleep fully confident and full of good cheer knowing that no weapon formed against us will prosper….if we believe it is true. Though we may know the Word of God, without faith it will not become active in our life. We may be obedient adhering strictly to the guidelines of obedience and submission to God. Without faith, it will only lead to fruitless endeavors. Faith allows us to go past what we know and can see into the Presence of the Living God who promised to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Righteousness begins by believing in God’s Love and His Son. We accept right standing with God by believing in Him and trusting Him fully.

Mark 9:21-24 (NKJV)

So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

To achieve the impossible means letting go of reality to embrace the supernatural with both hands, both eyes and your whole heart. When the man asked Jesus to deliver his son, he said, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus’ plan was to deliver the child and heal him. Dad’s unbelief was evident when he asked the Lord, “But if you can…” How many times do we do the very same thing? God lays a dream in our heart. Places a vision before our eyes. Rather than taking hold of it, running with it, or waiting on it, we stay put in the reality of our natural circumstances focused on the problem begging for hand-me-downs from God feasting on the scraps under His Table rather than taking our seat at the table which Jesus has prepared just for us.

Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible for Him who believes…” Can you believe today? I can. I have chosen to look beyond the natural and lay claim to the Promise the Lord has etched in my mind and placed inside my heart. He has confirmed it many times which reveals my inadequate to believe completely the first time around. With each test and trial of my faith, I find that I can reach a little farther into the realm of hope. I can edge one step closer to completely abandoning my way to His Way. It is worth it every time yet painful in the revelation that despite how far that I go that He will always call me deeper still. Today, I am asking the Lord to help my unbelief. Anything that would keep me from entering the depths of His Love more, any barriers or hindrances in my heart keeping me from fully surrendering, and to give me just a little more faith to achieve the impossible.

Hebrews 6:16-20 (NKJV)

For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

God is bound by His Word because it is impossible for Him to lie or change His Mind. Grace will not allow the Lord to take back a single promise for it He could than it would not be sufficient for us. Instead, God places hope before us and encourages us to enter into it by faith. Throughout our natural life, He invites to enter into the supernatural where He takes the ordinary and does extraordinary things. We must believe God at His Word to enter into the realm of hope because it is the birthplace of impossible. Blessed are those you believe without seeing. His Presence permeates the earth. It is evident in natural creation, human reproduction, cycling of seasons and supernaturally it is experienced in communion with the Holy Spirit as we move farther past the veil of reality into the Presence of our King. I want to go there. I want to do the impossible. Only those who are anchored by hope that keeps our soul sure and steadfast believing God as Word no matter how things look or the way that we feel.

 

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

Knowing who I am without Christ makes it easier to accept the trials, testing and trouble in my life more so than the triumph that I am promised. I find myself accepting certain things that are less than God’s Best because I do not deserve all that He is doing in my life. I know me. I know how many times that I fail Him. I realize that I am nothing apart from Him. I do not always expect the supernatural outcomes that He promises simply because I know my own heart and mind in all its weakness and wanderings. But God…

Faith is not in myself but that Love and Grace of a Great God who wants to open the windows of Heaven and pour His Goodness into my life for His Glory. It is not about me. He wants to do this for me whether I decide to live by faith and confident hope or not. It is all about Jesus. He desires my heart more than anything else. Faithfulness is wholeheartedness. What do I believe? There you will find my heart. I must believe without a shadow of doubt that without faith I cannot please Him. I must believe that God rewards those who seek, surrender, and submit to His Beautiful Way and Perfect Will no matter how ugly and imperfect things seem right now.

I glanced through the Faith Hall of Fame or Hebrews 11 today. Asking the Lord to help my unbelief, He began to point out His Champions of faith and the example set by each one of them in claiming God’s Promise and obtaining the impossible. Here is what I found:

  • We must submit our life to Christ living in full obedience to His Word, Will and Way. (Hebrews 11:4)
  • We must be committed to pleasing the Lord before others and even ourselves. (Hebrews 11:5-6)
  • We must operate in the supernatural by obtaining God’s Perspective and on His Word alone. (Hebrews 11:7)
  • We must be willing to leave our comfort zone to enter the Promise of God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
  • We must believe past our natural ability relying and trusting in God’s Total Capability to perform miracles in and through us today. (Hebrews 11:11-12)
  • Valid hope desires something better and believes it to be possible. It allows God to motivate change in us to impact our surroundings. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
  • True faith in God holds nothing sacred and is willing to surrender what we have to obtain His Perfect Will. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
  • Faith believes Romans 8:28 is true. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Hebrews 11:23-29)
  • Faith believes there is no barrier too high or obstacle too great for our God. Faith knows that He does not need our help to accomplish that which is for His Glory. He will flatten every wall whether manmade or enemy produced in our life so that we can lay hold of our promise in Him. (Hebrews 11::30)
  • Faith lives and breathes by believing that God always good and that He always has something better for us than we could think or ask. We will be willing to wait for His Perfection when we choose to live by faith. (Psalm 138:8)

All these thoughts about faith come back to His Love for us. The greatness of it. The validity of it. The truth about it. The fact that it is unconditional and unchanging alone makes it worthy of our faith. He absolutely must live in full assurance of His Love to fully understand and totally trust the fact that He rewards those who seek Him diligently.

Hebrews 6:9-15 (NKJV)

But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

God wants to do the impossible for you and me today. He invites to take a step closer to move just a bit deeper into His Presence so He can remind us of His Love and Faithfulness hoping that we will become secure in faith and confident hope. I believe. It is my unbelief that hinders me from moving. Fear, doubt and anxiety must give way to more faith and hope to have all He has promised being confident of Jesus’ Absolute, Complete and Unconditional Love for me. This is the motivation of His Heart for me and not based on my performance but solely on His Performance on the Cross for me. The miracle of His Resurrection unlocked the door to the Kingdom for which He handed me the keys. He tore the veil and invested His Spirit in me. I have full power and authority over every demon in the Name of Jesus. God’s Power is churning within me. Living water gurgles inside looking for an escape. I must believe to release God’s Power in my life. I must open my mouth to let the living water flow out of me. I must live by faith and not by sight to see the impossible become my reality. Lord, today I ask you to help my unbelief so my heart will come closer, my foot step forward as I am immersed in the deep from which you call!

Psalm 71:14-16 (NKJV)

But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your Righteousness and Your Salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your Righteousness, of Yours only.

The Dwelling Place

The Dwelling Place

Psalm 84:1-4 (NIV)

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.

 

I love my new job. I am learning all about the world of insurance. I had no idea that the realm of the insured was heavily governed by state legislature but it is. I am a nerd. I love to know all the rules and regulations. I like to live within in their lines. I am comfortable in never knowing the inside of a jail or walls of a prison if I can avoid them. I would much rather dwell inside the comforts of home. In the world of property and casualty insurance for residences, there are two worlds – homeowners insurance that covers the structure and contents then there is dwelling insurance that covers our personal stuff. In the flux of learning copious amounts of information, I was not at all surprised when I began dreaming about “dwelling” this morning assuming that it was from all the useful knowledge I am gaining at work. But then in the quiet darkness of early morning before the chaos called family awakes, I could sense this was something the Lord wanted me to consider today.

Homeowners insurance covers your house and the things that make up your living quarters. But dwelling insurance covers all those things that make your house a home. Vague description I know but again this is not an infomercial. The Lord began speaking to my heart today about life. Where I live? How I live? It is important to the Lord how I live. He died so that I would a rich, satisfying life. (John 10:10) Where I dwell each day determines my success or ultimate failure in achieving such a purpose in my life. Growing up as a young child, we lived in a mobile home. I remember thinking that I wanted a “real” house one day like my grandmother and grandfather. One that did not sound like a giant box whenever anyone moved up and down the hall. I discovered as an adult that I did not really long for a house as much as the home my grandparents had together. Everything in this life is temporary. I forget that all the time and dwell on things and in things that are not permanent as though they are forever. How about you? We place high level of importance on security in this life never really contemplating what if tomorrow never comes. This is not a call of despair but rather an invitation to freedom.

The Lord wants us to dwell in His Presence today. It is not a tangible place like a house where you open a door and step in. You cannot get your GPS to guide you to your destination. It is not a filled with things but rather the One Thing we all need to live a rich, satisfying life. How do we get there from here? How do we dwell in an unseen place with an untouchable God? We must learn to find this dwelling place and move the contents of our life from the temporary life we now live into the forever place of His Presence.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

We bought the house we live in just over ten years ago as it was being built. The company had already drafted the plans and designed the house so we just watched it all come together. When we purchased our home, everything inside of it was brand spanking new. It still had tags on everything. It was painted to perfection. And then of course, we moved our band of gypsies inside and needless to say it has been well-loved. Now it is beginning to need some touchup here and there even though we strive to care for it, it is like every other physical resource we have subject to wear and tear. Painting, caulking, repairing and replacing just come with owning a house. However, something that I have discovered is that while I long to fix most little things there are some things that represent the memories that were made in this house now called a home. The imperfections came about not because we owned the property but rather because we lived in it.

The world that we live in today is a temporary place for those who love the Lord and have Jesus to be their Savior. We do not end up here forever but rather walk through this life to get to Eternity. We dwell here a short time but sometimes forget where our home is. I am just as guilty of it as the next person. The word dwell means to live or stay as a permanent resident, to reside. It also means to live or continue in a given state. Finally, to dwell is a state of mind meaning to linger over, emphasize or ponder in thought. To dwell means to live in a certain state. Dwelling is not a place but how and where we live mind, soul and body. The conditions of life are subject to the world. Where we live. How we live. What we have in relationship to things will always be subject to the degradation and downward sloping of society. But how we live mind, soul and body does not have to be dependent on outward conditions. When we decide to dwell in the House of the Lord, we change the outcome of certain situations in life. We remove ourselves from the natural so that the supernatural governs our life. This is not a physical and tangible choice but an inward change that can absolutely impact our living conditions.

Psalm 15 (NIV)

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

Who can dwell in the Presence of God? Who can live on His Holy Mountain? The one whose walk is blameless. Build up, build up and letdown for some who read this today. It shouldn’t be. Your walk is blameless because of Jesus Christ alone. How we live is really up to you and me. I had a job. The Lord opened the door of opportunity for another. The money was the same and benefits, too. The difference between the two was dramatic though. One working for the government in a high level supervisory position which a ton of responsibility and the other a low-key position in a small insurance company with one job and low stress level. One would think the choice might be easy. It was not. The world wants us to think that success is measured by stress. It tells us to fight our way up the corporate ladder. It sucks you in to the competitive career world quickly. How can you drop the heavy workload and assume the much lighter burden without becoming suspect? We assume the conditions of where we live. When we become immersed in life it infiltrates our mind, soul and body. But if we will make the choice to dwell in the Presence of the Lord that same life because a place of blessing and peace.

It’s time to work smarter not harder. To know and understand the Will and Way of God we must know the Word of God. When we begin to feed our mind, soul and body with the Word – it strengthens our spirit man (or woman) to understand the impact of God’s Presence in our life over the expectation of mankind. But didn’t the Word of God just say that I must be “blameless” in my walk with the Lord. Yes it did. Yes you are. The world wants us to think we must do “something” to earn the Grace of God that is actually a gift. It is up to us to discover the Truth and believe it that God’s Grace is His Gift to us and know we can come boldly into His Presence and live there if we want to.

The only way to be blameless and righteous is through Jesus Christ. You cannot do anything other than to come to Him for it. (Period) End of story. We are not comfortable in our undoing but would much prefer doing something. Well that’s too bad because our sin makes our offering not acceptable. What can we “do” for the Lord today to remain faithfully in His Presence and dwell where He is? Walk in love, talk in love, and live in love with Jesus so much so that it pours out into the life of others. This changes the place we live into the Dwelling Place of God wherever that is and whoever is there with us will be forever impacted.

Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

We have the right and freedom to choose how we live our life. A true love affair is never forced so the Lover of our soul gives us a choice whether we choose death or life. I choose life today. Life is found in the Presence of God. It is a place we cannot see or feel but can very much live. It sets the course for our daily life. There is blessing in each moment and potential in each breath as Children of the Living God. We decide whether or not we will live as permanent residents in His Company. We choose whether or not to live in our current condition or will we surrender that “state” to Jesus for quick rejuvenation and renovation. We are the ones who linger over things that don’t really matter, or emphasize our problem when we have the solution or even ponder in thought the lesser things more than the One Thing who we really need. God wants us to dwell with Him today. He will change the living conditions of those who love Him with all their heart enough to move a little closer in each day. We have to trust the Lord because we cannot see Him. We do good because we love Him. He allows us to dwell in safety in the midst of the roaring lions of this life. God’s Glory is in His Presence right where He wants us to be. (Psalm 26:8) Strength and joy surround the midst of Him. (I Chronicles 16:27) It is a safe place. (Psalm 4:8) I want the life that God has prepared for me in His Dwelling Place today far about the worthless things in this life to live in forever today.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

The Perfect Father

The Perfect Father

Psalm 103:13 (NLT)

The Lord is like a father to his children tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

 

Today is the day set aside to honor dad! Thankfully my father is still living and just turned 70 years old. Where has the time gone? I am blessed to have a wonderful father and husband in my life who is an excellent father to our children…all of them. My father and my husband have blended families and become fathers to the fatherless. I love that quality in both of them to take in and love children who may not have been biologically their own but became their heart. I believe this to be a God-like quality in both of them. I see my sons as potential fathers thanks to the influence of the “dad” that took them on. Who decided to love them without being told or forced but accepted the challenge and oh can boys be a challenge! The Lord is like a father to His Children tender and compassionate…” I love this quality in God the Father. I see it in these two mighty men of God who I love.

It is important to accept God as our father you know. It positively impacts and empowers our relationships with our earthly fathers, step-fathers and father-like figures in our life. God is perfect. He is the Flawless Father and most Devoted Dad. There is no one who loves us the way that God loves us. His Extravagant Love for His Children is fathomless. You cannot comprehend it or imagine it which makes it hard to understand its unfailing and unending quality and quantity. So in life, we look for the love that comes with the eternity in our heart in people beginning with our fathers and mothers. It is well-noted that in the majority of cases mom’s stick around but there are a lot of absent fathers. Unfortunately, many times we judge God’s Love comparing it to human love. We decide that God doesn’t love us based on our inability to be perfect which is simply not true. When we accept the Love of God as our own and begin to build a relationship with Him, the relationship or lack thereof that we have with others will change.

John 14:1-3 (NLT)
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

 

Human beings are guilty of putting unrealistic expectations on natural love. Our sin makes us imperfect and therefore incapable of loving anyone with such commitment. We try and fail all the time. God has more than enough love, grace and mercy to love us perfectly forever. He knows us inside and out. The more than enough we experience in God begins with His Love but then applies to everything else in our life. There is more than enough of everything once we allow God to take over each area. The only limitation is our faith and inability to trust the Lord to be more than enough.

How does this apply to fatherhood? Well, fatherhood is one of first and primary relationships in life. It comes with a big title that creates a larger than life image and great responsibility which few are prepared to truly take on. I am only a mom but I know the devastation that I felt each time I let my children down, or did not make the right choice. I can only imagine that a father would feel the same way. I have watched others put unworthy dads on pedestals saving a place for their return and my heart aches that their expectation is yet to be fulfilled. Involved, active and committed parents will tell you that our children are the greatest blessing in our life. However, everyone makes mistakes in relationships all of them. We must rely on the same love, grace and mercy that we have been given by our Heavenly Father to have successful relationships on earth. God accepts our imperfections and loves us anyway. When we trust God for all the love we need, affirmation, affection, approval, provision and depend solely on Him then we can accept the love and care that we receive from others without the hurt and disappointment of their weakness or shortcomings. God is more than enough. His Love is more than enough. We have all we need in His Presence so we are free to love others without unrealistic expectations including our earthly fathers.

Luke 15:20-24 (MSG)

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’  “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

Nowhere in the account of the prodigal son does the story talk about what “kind” of father the dad was. We don’t know what kind of life that he lived other than he was obviously prosperous but I promise you that he was not perfect. When his son could be seen dragging up the road headed for home, the father didn’t care about the past. He didn’t care what he had done or how far he had fallen. He just wanted the boy home. He loved the boy and wanted to provide for him and be with him always. Now this is not a parable about earthly relationships but the way that God loves us. Jesus was trying to relay the intensity of God’s Love to the people. Forget what you have done. Stop living in the past. Just step into My Presence, that’s what God was saying. I want to shower love, grace, goodness, and favor on you.

The world is filled with imperfect fathers. In fact, every single man that ever fathered a child is a sinner. The child that he produced sinful, too. We cannot escape our weakness and shortcomings as people – therefore relationships will always be laborious for us. But if we fall in love with God as our Father and depend on Him to fulfill every longing, want, need and desire in our life – we will have successful relationships in all areas of life because we have appropriate expectations of other people. Our relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to live in the Presence of our Father God and enjoy every single benefit of His Children allowing us to freely love others without expecting anything in return. The father in the story didn’t care about anything but celebrating his child’s return. It was the son who harbored guilt, shame and anxiety about the reunion. Stop that right now in the Name of Jesus! God is calling you closer today. He wants you to come closer to Him than ever before on this Father’s Day so that He can bless every other relationship that you have in this world even with your earthly father.

John 14:25-28 (MSG)

 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.

I have been looking for a picture for my Father’s Day post to my husband and my own father today. I found a picture from our daughter’s recent wedding. All I could think looking at this picture was “look what the Lord has done.” We started out a mangled mess and God has made a beautiful mess out of us. We are not perfect not a single one, but I see three fathers in the picture – my father, my brother and of course my own handsome husband. I see the future in my sons, nephews and son-in-law who love God and will raise their children to love the Lord like they do. We all had good intentions that fell far short. We all wanted to be good people but lost some battles with sin. But God opened His Arms and said, “Come closer.” We did. Now we have this beautiful family.

Dads if you are reading this today – thank you for loving God and empowering your family. You have partnered with the Holy Spirit so even when you think you have blown it God makes good on every single detail based on His Love. There are a lot of questionable fathers in the Word of God. Abraham sent away one son and almost sacrificed another. Jacob didn’t recognize the animosity among his own children or depth of bitterness growing there so he did not protect Joseph.  What about Noah? He was a drunk. How about David? His son died because of his sin. See nobody’s perfect yet these men were some of God’s Favorites even though they were not perfect. We need a perfect Father today. We have one His Name is God and Jesus will show us the way to Him! He is more than enough father for all of us so we can have healthy and productive relationships in life.

I love my dad. I will call Him and tell him just that today. But before I do, I have said thank you to the one who made this Father’s Day perfect no matter how it turns out. He has taken something truly broken and over the last few decades made a beautiful and loving family. I will celebrate my perfect father today. I know that I am His Favorite!

I John 3:1 (NLT)

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!

Run and Hide

Cropped view of a runner tying her shoelaces while standing on the sand at the beach

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

 

Life doesn’t always make sense. In fact, most of the time all you can do from one day to the next is shake your head and keep moving. I don’t understand how we made it to this place and all the things that have occurred over the last several years. Our life has been a whirlwind of activity. At the end of the day, it is of comfort just to count heads and do a quick up and down to realize it’s all good – thank you Lord we made it. Time passes. Seasons change. It takes human beings time to catch up. Twisting and turning we wind up in places that we never expected doing things that challenge our comfort zone.

God is with us. Those who have named Jesus Savior and Lord will never be without Him again. His Presence is in us. He is with us. The Essence of God that fills us has a name – He is the Holy Spirit. He is our guarantee of all the good things that God has promised us. The Spirit identifies us as Children of God just as our DNA points back to our biological parents. There is absolute and complete joy for those who learn to live in the Presence of God even though that place is within each of us. To taste and see that the Lord is good is only the beginning. When we become consumed with His Presence and the desire to remain there – everything changes even when not a single detail of our life is different.

My dear friend, Marilyn, lost the love of her life to cancer a few years ago. It was discovered but progressed too rapidly and he went home to be with the Lord. If you met her today, you would have no idea that she had endured such a loss. Her countenance is not that of a grieving widow lost in a big world all on her own, but she glows in the Glory of God. Why? In her grief, she chose to lose herself in the Presence of God and He filled her with joy and peace that is not available in the place we called home and life. Does she miss her husband? I am quite sure that she does. The joy of the Lord fills every broken part of our life while the Lord heals us and delivers us from the inside out. If we could find our way into His Presence, life would be different.

Psalm 27:4-6 (NLT)

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

 

Getting back to one thing is a difficult task in a world as complicated as this one. A place that demands every fiber of our being just to survive concepts like “let go and let God” seem like foolishness until our options are exhausted. Entering the realm of hope, we run out of solutions to our own problems. When the world has exhausted all efforts and there is no satisfaction, desperation leads us into the Presence of God. If you are like me, I wonder why I avoided such surrender for so long. There is something about the moment we allow God to take over even if it is only a second before we grab back the controls. It’s okay. It’s human nature. He knows exactly what we are capable of and how long it will take for us to come back. In those quiet moments of complete brokenness, He fills us with love, peace, joy, acceptance that only grace will allow. Suddenly, the problems that we face, trials too big for us to endure and testing beyond our comprehension do not matter – we are with the Lord. He takes that burden and pressure off of us until, of course, we grab it back.

Everyone is going through something in this life. Don’t let their tough exterior fool you. It is the moment when we need that one thing that God thing the Helper who is stronger and bigger than our problems that we run and hide in Him again. His Spirit inside of us has been waiting. Like a mom with a warm towel who catches their soaking wet child running in from the rain, drying them vigorously so they will not catch cold, removing their heavy cumbersome clothing to make them more comfortable and the one who cares for them completely. This is God’s Relationship with you, His Child. This is how He wants to take care of us each day not just on the ones that are too much for us to handle.

Psalm 19:7-9 (NLT)

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.

 

The Word of God is not all about rules and regulations. It is not the hammer of God in our life but our helper. It shows us the way into God’s Presence. God is in us but that doesn’t always mean that we get it. At least, I don’t always get it. The Spirit and Truth agree. They are partners one holding each of our hands ushering us closer and closer to the Lord. It really hard to turn around when we are holding hands with two people and so it is with the Holy Spirit and Word of God. God’s Way is perfect. It revives our soul which could really use it after living just one day on earth. He makes the way simple for those of us who tend to complicate things. God’s Way is always the right way. It always leads to blessing and prosperity if we will walk in it.

Psalm 32:1-4 (NLT)

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. 

The Presence of God is never oppressive. Jesus cleared all that up when He died for our sins. When David and his men were moving the Ark of God (His Presence) back into the City of David – it slipped. One of his men reached out to catch it and keep it from falling, he died on the spot. Our sin once kept us from experiencing God in such a way, but now thanks to Jesus we can have a full on encounter with God! The joy that we find in His Presence is possible by His Grace. When we fail or fall short, it is the grace that we find in His Presence that keeps us from falling completely. He catches us with mercy and sweeps us away in His Love.

There is a great deal of change occurring in my life lately. There are many details I do not understand. I feel as though I am walking in a daze. The only thing that I do know is that God is good. His Word never fails. I find joy and peace in His Presence. It is more than enough to make me run and hide there until everything is worked out for His Glory.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

When Uzzah died reaching for the Ark of God, David was shocked. He was mad. He didn’t understand so he hid the Ark away in Obed-edom’s house for three months. The Lord blessed this man’s entire household. David saw this and then decided to move the Ark of God the rest of the way. As he entered the city with the Ark of God’s Presence, everyone celebrated as the joy of the Lord entered in. (2 Samuel 6) The Presence of God inside of us is a powerhouse. It is too big to comprehend but attentive to even the smallest detail of our life. His Extravagant Love is amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. It is an all-consuming fire that is uncontrollable so we become a bit apprehensive in our approach unless we fall in desperation. Not everyone understands or welcomes this joy and peace that we have found simply in knowing Jesus, they think we are crazy. Michal felt that way about her husband for the moment he was in the Presence of God leading the Ark into the city – he danced unashamedly and undignified before God. David was after God’s Heart and really didn’t care what other people thought about it. He failed but never fell. God kept David in His Hand all the days of his life. Not because David was perfect, but because he chose to live in the Presence of His God.

I know. I really do. Life is hard. We expect God’s Glory but don’t know where to find it in the details of our life. I have experienced pain and brokenness just like you. Nothing is wasted when we haul our mess and all its little pieces into the Presence of God and leave it there. He takes all those details and makes good on every promise. (Romans 8:28) Only God can perfect that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) if we want His Way, His Plan and His Word to work in our life. When life is bearing down, and I am gripped with fear, confusion and lapse into worry – it is His Presence that I run in to hide. It is that place where He fills the voids in my life with His Peace and Joy. His Power is working in my life. But I am just a weak and helpless human being who needs my Great Big God! He can be found. I must come boldly to His Throne living in His Presence where I find all the Grace, Mercy and Love that I need to thrive in this life and forever.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 

The Good Life – A Devotion

The Good Life

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

Who would have ever thought that watching ten minutes of a house hunting show could provoke such thoughts? As my daughter stalled in bedtime preparations, I watched the beginning of the next show waiting for her to finish her prolonged routine. It was one of those shows where a family looks at three houses to choose their next destination. The very thought of moving makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. What a task! I thought our last move over ten years ago would kill me. Five kids and an entire life packed up just to move across town. I confessed then that I would die of old age in this house. Nevertheless my husband and I have always enjoyed looking at different houses spending countless weekends wandering through open houses and new construction. When the economy changed, our options became limited. The family of six on the screen had decided to forego their 2500-ft house to live in a 600-ft house offering just 100 feet per person. They were joining the new trend of tiny houses. Just enough to live in for those who want to really live. They felt that in their current structure physically that the family was divided each in their own living space with little interaction. While I fully embrace the fact that our children can find a quiet place to study or just take a time out, I long for their company as they become lost in their rooms. Our teenage daughter only comes out to eat or if the Wi-Fi goes down, but very seldom to interact with everyone else. This family on television intrigued me.

The family decided for one summer that they would just pack up the minivan and travel. They visited thirty states and chalked up over 8,000 miles on the van but in the end thoroughly enjoyed sharing such a tight space together along with the adventure of living. So now they planned to downsize, paying cash $30,000 to $50,000 for their home of no more than 600 to 900 feet to live in close proximity. They wanted not only to limit the walls but financial obligation for the good life. At first, I could not imagine sharing such a small space even with the two remaining girls at home but then I felt a sparkle in my heart if you will. Could we do that? Could we sell our house and many possessions to downsize even cutting our house in half? What would it be like to live together so closely? Our house grows larger as our kids become adults spreading us farther and farther apart. What if we returned to the 1400-ft home we left to come here? I am intrigued. I am aware. This thought of a simple life may not be my own but a gift from the Holy Spirit.

Not that I was ever in need….so many of us could say that if not completely inundated by the world’s philosophy that more is better and money solves our problems. Money only gives us more options. If our heart has a problem, it only will add to it. Have I learned like Paul to be content with whatever I have? I am learning. In fact, I have felt the urge to simplify our life for several months now since returning from caring for our son. I don’t really want more “stuff” to take care of but to live, love and enjoy my family. Contentment comes from Christ. When I learn to be content no matter how much or how little I think that I have, it is then that I can experience the fullness and satisfaction given to us by the Lord. Otherwise, I am trying to live for God and the world which never leads to anything promising. I can do everything through Christ. Can I find contentment through Christ? To do so would give me the peace of mind and satisfaction that makes a good life.

Micah 6:8 (NLT)

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

 

What does the Lord require of me? He wants me to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. How did all this other stuff become so important? It is called distractions and the enemy will throw them at you as long as you keep grabbing them and letting them pull you off course. I find it quite ironic that in a season that has become so materialistic that the Lord has chosen to speak to my heart about choosing less over more and a simplified life. Has He not seen the kids Christmas lists? Would a simple life make it easier to hear the Voice of God and do what He says? Yes, I think so. Consider this…what if the North Star shown in the sky today signifying the birth of our Savior would anyone see it? If it is close to a city whose lights illuminate the sky would it stand out with any significance? Would it draw the attention of those who are out looking at the wonderful Christmas lights displayed by many? Would we look up from our endless lists and countless to-do’s to see that something has changed? Probably not. But something significant is happening in the hearts of God’s People as they become more inclined that less is definitely more.

John 3:30 (NLT)  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

 

Jesus is inviting us to clear our life of clutter in order to gain clarity. He must become greater and greater in us. This will happen when I become less and less. This is the part about walking humbly with our God that is misunderstood. We are called to live a simple life. A good life doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. I am not saying that people with money or things cannot do this. I am only saying that in my life I am prone to distraction. I cannot just let things go and do what God has called me to do. So for me, maybe less is more and that is God’s Gift to me this Christmas. The message that as I simplify my life as an act of worship to pull my family closer together than Christ will fill our family with more joy, peace and contentment than ever before. I want a good life. We have had some tough times. I know that I have missed three years of our daughter’s life to care for our son. I want that time back. God is offering to me by asking me to make more room for His Presence. The rest is up to me.

Psalm 39:4-7 (NLT)

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”

 

Thank you Lord for reminding me of the brevity of life today. There are many meaningless things vying for my time today. Help me to realize that this motivation of my heart for a simple life is a calling to move not only myself but our family into Your Presence, increase our faith and secure our confident hope. Lord, keep me moving in the right direction even when I am not sure what that is. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit and compelled to reach my destination. Give us grace as we go. Prepare our hearts and minds for the days ahead. Lord, make us willing to change to have all that you promised. Thank you for always meeting and exceeding our wants, needs and desires with Your Very Best. I trust you as you lead us to the good life!

Proverbs 4:10 (NLT) My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.

It’s the Little Things – A Devotion

Romans 8:26-28 (Message)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

My husband and I have been married for many years now. Years have come and gone with all the special holidays that each one brings. Many gift-giving occasions, we choose to share the day and purchase something for our house or a gift together rather than exchanging gifts. Forgoing the uncertainty of making an incorrect choice or having a complete mental breakdown trying to hunt down the most perfect gift because of our love for each other it is important to us to find just the right present for the other, we take out the guesswork altogether. With all the communication about each upcoming milestone, there is seldom room to surprise the other with an unexpected gift. However, our children will demand little trinkets from one to another. It is these times that my husband painfully stresses over blessing me. He loves me and wants to find the perfect thing so to help him out I will drop very loud hints with specific choices even at times including coupons or discounts to sweeten the experience. With such subtlety, I am sure to love whatever he and our children have selected.

Who would think that our last anniversary would be any different? Happy with our system and with great anticipation, we decided to open our gifts the night before. I had no idea what to expect when I was presented with a jewelry box. With great excitement, I opened the box to find a stunning black and white diamond heart ring. I was completely blown away. Not so much by the bauble as anyone who knows me knows that I have simple tastes and do not require extravagance, but it was the thought that my precious husband had put into his selection. You see a couple months before as we strolled through the local mall, I had commented that I really loved black diamonds. It was a passing comment with no hint intended. It was followed by other lighthearted comments and conversation that day. To be honest, I never really thought of it again until that moment! My heart was bursting that my spouse cared enough to be interested in the smallest detail of my life. It is the little things that blow you away in life and leave you breathless. The ring has become my favorite because of the love and dedication expressed through its presentation. He was listening to me!

God is a detail-oriented God! We often get lost in the details of life as society dictates it and forget that God is interested in every single detail of our life and how it pertains to a forever of togetherness. There are days when our relationship with God seems mundane and routine. It happens in marriage, friendship, work and life. Yet in the moment when we think no one is listening, sees our tears or acknowledges our hurts, God is there. He knows. The Lord has crafted together every moment of your life into a wonderful love story that concludes with the happily ever after of an Eternity with our Bridegroom. Even love stories have letdowns and detours along the way. But it is the little things that add up to a wonderfully big life full of God’s blessings piling up to lift us into His Presence. Everything you have ever experienced has a good side. God works it all out for those who will stay in the relationship! The enemy cannot defeat a union bound in faith. Look for the little things along the way, hints from God that of course He was listening and diligently working behind the scenes on your behalf!

Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.

My husband delights in making me happy. I delight in blessing my children. God delights in every single detail of our life no matter how large or small. If you have not experienced the depth of God’s detail, I invite you to read the book of Exodus and the elaborate detail in God’s Design of the Tabernacle. God loves the little things. Look at Creation, how it works together. Everything wound together to operate separately but in perfect unity to keep the ecosystem operating and changing with the times to maintain its operation. Just the intricate plan of human growth and development is a testimony to a Creator that did not miss a thing! God is not only good at what He does but He loves doing it especially when it involves you! In fact, the world actually does revolve around you! Adam was placed in the Garden as complete authority over all God’s Creation. His delight for mankind is greatly evidenced in the beauty of nature. The Lord would have nothing less than the best for His Children! That’s you! Don’t give up! Open up and look at what God is doing! It may not seem extravagant at the moment but it is building in greatness as your faith rises to meet it!

2 Corinthians 4:13-15 (Message)

We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!

Faith should not require a life built around extravagance. The faith focus is God! He is the extravagance of life. Faith grows through a live out loud relationship with God built around the little things. Faith the size of a mustard seed totally impresses God and He empowers it! Do not forsake the small details in your life that seem insignificant – no, look for your Father there! He is in it! He is listening to your prayers and activating His Plan for your life as you press in closer to Him. Shout from the rooftops the praises of God! He not only is listening to you today, the Lord is working every detail to your advantage and God’s Glory! His Grace covers every facet of your life big and small reworking it! At just the right moment, God is going to blow your mind with the little things that grow into greatness and make you love Him more!

You Should Have Been There – A Devotion

John 3:31-34 (Message)

“The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heaven born is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.”

The account of an actual witness to an event is clearly the most easily acceptable story when it is relayed by the source. The closer to the event the person is or the better associated with the people involved makes all the difference. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a God experienced at a distance and through various angels and messengers. Their faith was potent yet based on a God who was inaccessible because of the unresolved sin factor. They longed for close communion with the Living God and lived a consecrated lifestyle in search of a closer proximity to God! Moses had closer encounters with God on his mission to lead God’s Chosen People to the Promised Land. The Presence of God surrounded him as he would communicate with God face-to-face. Closeness to God never before experienced resulted in an afterglow that frightened the Israelites. The Presence of God clung to Moses despite his humanity and would illuminate his very countenance from time spent with God. As time continued, few others experienced such adjacency with God. It required entering His Presence and years of teaching created a sinful identity that prohibited entrance for most common people. John the Baptist then proclaimed that One was coming that would bridge this gap between man and God. Keep watching for the Spirit of God rests on this man. It was soon after that Jesus arrived on the scene and suddenly he was attracting large audiences of people hungry to learn about this new life that was being offered. Something about Jesus made it clear that He had come from Heaven and bore the Presence of God. Although Jesus was a man, the Spirit of God lived inside his body adding credibility to words that just seemed impossible. The witnesses of the miracles of Jesus were instant Believers who could not help but share the person who changed everything. His language was not bound by human limitation but the limitlessness of God! People wanted what Jesus had because they witnessed it firsthand. After Jesus Christ died, rose again, and ascended to Heaven, He would not leave us empty-handed. On the contrary, Jesus Christ released His Spirit so that every single thing that He did, we would be capable of! With the Indwelling Holy Spirit, we too gained access to the Presence of God and His Kingdom. Those who were once “earthborn and earthbound” would now become “heaven born and heaven bound.” Your encounter with Jesus Christ and receipt of the Holy Spirit automated an exchange beyond that of life for death and purity for sin. It was not only real, it was real personal. It would be the day that you became a credible witness. Your testimony became powerful and valid. Your access to the Kingdom of God allows you to move from the natural to the supernatural and back again, if you want to. It is a total freedom that will cause people to see God as they examine the evidence of your life! Are you a credible witness?

To be a credible witness means that you have spent time in the Presence of God. Corporate worship can cause goose bumps to rise up on your arms and tears to stain your face but it is not the experience that adds authenticity to your faith. It is the moment that everything fades away and all that you can comprehend is God’s Presence. It will change you from the inside out! It will create a witness in you that will spill out unassisted by your human reasoning or brain power. It overflows from a heart that is one with God! Which birth are you embracing today? Are you landlocked to this earth? Afraid to get too close to God because the results are beyond your control because if so your fear is valid – God will not wrestle you for control of your life! However, once He has it you will never be the same. Those who have embraced their supernatural transition into the realm of God known as His Kingdom and His Presence will immediately experience different results in their life! It will become your dwelling place because it is the most powerful thing you will ever experience but don’t take my word for it. I am just a credible witness! See I was there and still strive to live there! When you enter God’s Presence, you never leave empty handed. He gives you grace, mercy, love, wisdom, knowledge, truth, healing, comfort and favor for you and those you will encounter until you come back for more!

I John 1:1-4 (Message)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Are you a credible witness for Jesus Christ? The most reliable witness is the one who has been there. The Presence of God will turn you into a character witness for God because it is in this place of communion that you experience God in all forms! Through your faith and trust in the Lord you verify who He is and develop undeniable confidence in His Ability that you will have no problem testifying to! In the words of Eddie James, “You should’ve been there when I came through. Church was on fire, and the Holy Ghost, too!” It is time to make the connection to the Presence of God and enlarge your perspective of who He is and confirm your credibility as His Witness. In doing this, your joy will spill over into the lives of everyone you come in contact with and love will be your mode of operation. Soon others will be asking you what happened – then it will be your turn to say, “You should’ve been there…”