Humble Prayers

Humble Prayers

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

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) It is not the earnestness of our prayers that move the heart of God. There I said it. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen mighty miracles as a result of God’s People uniting to pray purposefully. I have seen God answer prayers over and over again. I understand that the Word of God instructs us to “keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” (Matthew 7:7) It goes on to tell us to keep seeking and knocking. I have read it and I am encouraged by it. But it is still not God’s Motivation.

God is motivated by righteous people. No one is righteous – not even one. (Romans 3:10) The only pathway to righteousness is because of faith in God who forgives sinners. (Romans 4:5) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is our gateway to God. (John 14:6) Righteousness is right standing with God. The only way that this is fully accomplished is by His Grace. His Grace that is enough for me to enter the heavenly realm and speak to the Father with bold confidence. However, sometimes religion gives us the false thought that there is more to righteousness than a relationship through repentance. It tells us that there is some act or action that makes us worthy of God’s Full and Constant Attention. The only way a person becomes righteous is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways.

Righteousness always requires repentance. Always. I was reading the story of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. The account of a boy who became king at the tender age of 12. Manasseh led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do more evil than the surrounding pagan nations. He even set up idols in the temple constructed by Solomon dedicated to God. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and the people warning them but the ignored Him. Manasseh was taken prisoner. He was led away by a ring placed in his nose by the Assyrians bound in heavy chains. While in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before God. When he prayed the Lord listened and was moved by his request. This man had thumbed his nose at the Lord completely. He had gone so far as to practice sorcery, divination, and witchcraft consulting with psychics and mediums. Yet when Manasseh truly repented and accepted God’s Mercy in all humility it moved the Lord. He was brought back to Jerusalem and given his kingdom. He realized that God was God alone and tore down all the shrines built to honor other gods. His deeds recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel even though every sinful deed and record of unfaithfulness is equally chronicled in The Book of the Seers right down to the location of every shrine and Asherah pole constructed with every idol placed there. God honors humble prayers.

And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.”  Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.  (Daniel 10:11-12)  Daniel prayed humble prayers. The Lord sent an angel to him to tell Daniel that he was precious to God and a command had been released in the Heavenlies to honor his humble request. I wonder today if the prayers of the righteous go unanswered because the key component of humility has been left out.

The word humble or “kana” means to bring low and into subjection. It is not exalting one’s power but fully accepting God’s Grace as enough. It is the meekness that accepts God’s Will and remains faithful to His Way even when things are not going as planned or expected. If my people will humble themselves and pray…to give up our way and fully accept His Way is to have a humble heart. Humility before the Lord also known as meekness is to be overly submissive to Him. It means to comply with all the Lord requires which is to repent and seek His Face. The answer to every prayer is found in the person of Jesus Christ who gives us access to the Father.

If you are frustrated today by unanswered prayers, consider spending some time with the Father. Examine your heart. Consider your thoughts. Filter your mind. Sometimes we lose sight of what truly is the most important aspect of our Christian life to fight battles that we are not called to fight and to wage war against people rather than standing against the enemy. We must become one people with one purpose – one heart and one mind – full of God’s Love, living in His Favor and fruitful in every way to advance His Kingdom. These are the people who know who they are in Christ and stand confidently in times of trouble. Together. I must submit and surrender my life including every prayer to God not because I am right but through the righteousness offered by the Cross. It really doesn’t matter if I am right – when I am called to be the Light!

I want to partner with you today. I ask the Lord to grant you the desires of your heart in accordance with His Perfect Will. I find it encouraging that despite all of his faults and failures, the Lord still saw fit to rescue Manasseh and restore his kingdom out of His Love, Grace and Mercy. Because of Jesus Christ, even though I have a list of faults and failures just like him that the grace and goodness God has given me is more than enough to establish His Power for His Glory in my life. He is a good God. He is an even greater Father. His Love for us is based solely on His Perception of us not our perception of ourselves – surely someone should clap. As I pray today, I lay down everything that somehow managed to take precedence above the Father. I will not be led away by the enemy’s lies today or held in bondage by unconfessed sin. I don’t want to live in exile from the Lord but am taking the time to pray humble prayers. Thank you Lord for reminding me today that you alone are my righteousness!

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Advertisements

This is the Day

Field and sun.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

After receiving some challenging news, a friend text me, “Are you okay?” I confirmed that indeed I was just fine. I have been through enough seasons like this to know that “it is what it is”. If I fell apart every time the enemy threw fiery darts at me or dropped smoke bombs in my camp, I would be a worthless wreck right about now. Walking with the Lord can feel like skirting through a land mine field sometimes trying to avoid pitfalls and trip wires, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I would be a liar to say that I am unaffected. It is hard to maintain joy in the midst of adversity. It is our privilege in Christ to live in constant rejoicing but one must find such a place first.

This is the day the LORD has made. Today. This one. The day you woke up in. It has every bit of potential and purpose God saw fit to pack in it just for you. You do not have to just endure it, go through or be held captive by all the things that want to suck you in. This is the day the LORD made for you. He captured each second in handwritten form before you were born. He knew exactly what you needed to make it to the end of it. He prepackaged enough mercy to see you on your way and grace to catch you as you fall into bed tonight seeking rest and refuge from all its worries and cares. The faith in you has room to grow today. Hope can add another link the anchor that holds our soul. God’s Goodness can reach us right here and now. His Glory can surround us if that is what we desire. We have a choice to make today. Will I rejoice and be glad in today?

I know what you are thinking. I hear your sarcastic smirk even though silently crossing your face. What do I have to be happy about? What could there possibly be to rejoice over? I will be honest, I have no idea what it is or how you will do it but I know that joy is always possible in Jesus Christ. The night our son was diagnosed with cancer – I was there with his older brother. In that moment, the carefully constructed and controlled life that I had built came crashing down. However, about an hour later, there was laughter coming from our room. The nurses came down to check on us. Surely their ears were deceiving, as it must have been tears and wailing they were hearing. When they came in the room, it was indeed laughter. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is our refuge. To rejoice is not just words written by a psalmist to make us feel better but the reality is it is a place that will hold us when life is hard and the struggle real. They smiled in awe as they shut the door and allowed us to continue. I wonder if that is what the others thought when Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord from their prison cell. Could it be that our light shines brightest in the dark? How can it shine if there is no joy in the hope we have? Faith is evidence of what we cannot see that manifests in the impossibilities of life. We must learn to take each day and make it a time to rejoice.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Is it even possible to “always be full of joy in the Lord”? Life is tough. The unexpected hidden in each twist and turn. Disappointment lurking in the dark corners. The struggle real. The thoughts overwhelming. Responsibilities endless. Distractions plentiful. Doubt logical. Fear real. How do I remember that the Lord is coming soon? How do I choose peace over worry? When can I find time to pray about every little thing? God knows what I need, right? He knows my heart and can see all its good intentions. If I want the kind of peace that God provides…the peace that passes understanding it means I must stop trying to figure it all out and choose joy in every situation. Where do I find such a thing? When I decide to rejoice, pray, and let God be the source of my hope again…I will find perfect peace just like He has promised. (Isaiah 26:3) To live in perfect peace – I must trust the Lord and keep my thoughts fixed on Him.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

If it is true (which it is) that faith is the reality of what we hope for and evidence of things we cannot see, we must learn to trust what we know rather than what we see, feel and experience in this life. It is to begin to look at things through God’s Word, His Will and His Way. To apply Jesus to every situation in our life is to apply the Word because Jesus is the Word of God. I will not rejoice in my situation or circumstances – my joy comes from the Lord so if I am constantly fixated in what I see rather than living out what I know – I will not grow in my faith but be surrounded by fear. Hope is elusive to the human eye most of the time. If I can see it or imagine it – it is smaller than what the Lord has planned for me. What I can do in each new day is choose to fix my thoughts and eyes on what is true. God’s Word is the Truth concerning my life. To focus on living an honorable, sincere and authentic life. To do what is right. Live what is pure. Devote myself to what is lovely and loving. To fix my thoughts on what is admirable or that which is deserving of respect and approval – I can think of only one thing – Jesus Christ. When I decide to devote my focus and energy on that which is excellent and praiseworthy it always comes back to Him. No matter how hard life is and terrible it seems – the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Again, I have no idea what you might be facing today. It could just be another day of the same old thing. It could be the day you decided to throw in the towel. Maybe it is the moment you thought things will never change. There is a knock on the door of your heart. It is the Lord. In His Hands, He offers new mercy and the opportunity to turn things around. Why? No matter how bad today is – God is still good. No matter how testing the trial – He has the answer. No matter what comes your way expected or unexpected – He knew it all along and prepared you with everything you need to go around it, through it or to overcome it. Nothing surprises the Lord so He can remain our confident hope. He has provided all that we need and ordained us to have every spiritual blessing. I am well-equipped for victory today. It comes when I set the Peace of God as my priority.

Psalm 16:8-9 (ESV) I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

As I set things in order, ready to face this crazy day, I am encouraged by the Word of God today. If I choose to set the Lord always before me, he is always at my right hand. I must set the Lord always before me. To see life through Him, the future through Him, and make better choices through Him. I will not be shaken in such a position and faith will make me immovable. Therefore…my heart is glad. It begins in our heart. The place where faith grows into confident hope. My whole being rejoices. As my soul prospers, it spreads. And finally…it is important to note that the flesh is the last to be secured. Our flesh will always war against the peace of God in our life. To give up its right to understand all of the “what ifs” and “whys” to fully expect the great I AM in all situations. When I decide to rely on what I know about the Lord and focus on my champion – I will beat my feelings and frustrations today. I will find peace and joy as my refuge. THIS is the day the Lord has made with all its ups and downs, bumps and bruises – I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Philippians 4:4 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Misfit

Misfit

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Forging through life in pursuit of hope led by faith, there are days when I can sit in a room for of believers and still feel like I just don’t fit in. Like a misfit, who is not suited for the environment in which I suddenly find myself yet not given to adaptation. Have you ever felt that way? I have. I do. I don’t like it. In all humility, I will be the first to admit that “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection” because the more I know Christ the less confidence I have in myself. The transition of faith fortifies confidence in hope not a sense of pride to self. I am definitely pressing to possess that thing called “perfection” or purpose that Christ Jesus first possessed me. I am finding that the more I know the Lord, trust Him, seek Him and follow Him – the more out of alignment with people that I find myself. Maybe that is what the pursuit of Jesus is all about. Letting go of fitting in with the world to fully embrace the joy of His Presence.

It is in those moments when I feel like a misfit that I must dig deep inside my heart and pull out the word or seed that God has planted there. Why am I here? How did I get here? God, what is my purpose in this place among these people? Like an ill-fitting garment, slouching over the chair, I know God has placed me exactly where I am. I am confident that the Lord is the One who led me to this place and put me right where I am. Faith is like that leading us out of comfort zone and the complacency found in it to catapult us into divine purpose that changes everything. When I feel like an outcast, out of place and out of alignment, I must ask myself – “what am I doing here?” What led me to this place? For if it is the Lord, I must only maintain alignment with Him to see all the pieces strewn across the table fall dramatically and miraculously in place. Life is like a puzzle with a beautiful picture depicted on the box. It draws us to the challenge. Once the pieces are dumped out unceremoniously on the table, the need for control and order in us begins to sort through each one. Inspecting them carefully, they must be organized all flipped to the right side and corners and edges (boundaries if you will) carefully set. Once in place, it becomes clear that the more pieces in the box and detailed the design that this could take more time than expected or allotted. Now what? Will I wait it out? Will I continue to concentrate on the finished product? Or do I swipe it all back into the box putting it on a shelf for another day perhaps when more patience is developed or someone will come help me finish it? Sometimes Christ must mess everything up to put it all back together.

Growth in anything requires total destruction of the present form to become that which is hidden inside called potential that will one day become purpose. But I am not in the Hand of the Farmer anymore, I am buried in the dirt, the shell of my exterior lies within the foundation called faith waiting for His Glory to draw me to the surface so I can see the Plan coming together and its fruit born in my life. But right now it is dark, I feel my form changing. It is an isolation that is not separation. The enemy longs for us to look in the rear view mirror. To look back and question, if we took a wrong turn or missed the turnpike. It is human nature in the process of life and journeys that take too long or head in a new direction to wonder if we have missed the destination. It is the definition of doubt. The Lord uses these times to stress the importance of true dependency on His Word, His Will and His Way. Where the Lord called you – He will complete you. You are not a misfit or mistake but rather on a mission called fulfillment to be complete in Jesus Christ.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The greatest love story ever written begins with these words. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. It takes an experience to forge God’s Word in our heart. For me it was our son’s illness, when nothing in life could save him but Jesus. When I had absolutely no hope to hold on to in the natural, God’s Word to me the very first night was the end of the rope. I tied a knot in it and held on for dear life. It changed everything. I have seen the Lord perform miracles. I have witnessed signs and wonders that human logic cannot explain. Nothing will ever have the impact that God’s Word holding true will ever have such a profound impact on my faith. The Word is essential. It is the breath of life to every living soul. It is the thing that binds us together and creates commonality in God’s People. It reveals our heritage and birthright. It is sharper than a two-edged sword dividing bone and marrow. It is alive and powerful. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the sword of God’s Spirit that slays every lie that the enemy ever slung at us. (Ephesians 6:17) It is the rod and staff that comforts us with divine direction and discipline. (Psalm 23:4) God’s Word refreshes us like a deep cleansing breath. It reveals the character of God and every promise that He has made us that will become His Purpose and fulfill His Plan. Faith is illogical and impossible without the Word of God to define it. It is but one component of His Alignment that keeps me in place when nothing seems to fit together for my good and His Glory yet it keeps me clinging to hope.

John 14:23-27(NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 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 am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

Once the Word of God takes hold of our heart, His Spirit comes to “teach you everything and remind you of everything” that the Lord has told you. We need to communicate and commune with God’s Spirit in us. Faith is going to lead us outside the borders marked trust and boundaries called fear to a place far deeper and farther than ever thought possible. As our life is unraveled to form the masterpiece the Lord has ordained it to be, the coming undone reaches our heart and soul releasing every insecurity and doubt there so faith can finally take over. The process is uncomfortable. It is not fun. It is necessary for fulfillment. To do the Will of God – we must align our life with the Spirit. It means when God tells us to go – we go. If we get there and things are not what we expected – the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s Word and tells us to stay put. He is our Partner in the watchtower while we wait on the vision. It has an appointment in our life. If we leave the waiting too soon, we will miss hearing our name being called when the time is right.

Jesus said it plainly and made it overly simple, He said, “All who love me will do what I say.” How can I do what Jesus tells me if I do not know His Voice? He shepherds those who know His Voice and follow Him. The Word of God tells me what to do and the Holy Spirit nudges me in the right direction. He is my Advocate who is my support. (John 15:26) He is my Comforter when life is hard and uncomfortable. He is my Peace. I have the mind of Christ because His Spirit lives in my giving me hidden knowledge and secret understanding that the world and my enemy do not know. (I Corinthians 2:16) He is the Intercessor who prays for me in weakness when words escape me but is enunciated in the groaning and wailing of my soul. (Romans 8:26) I must learn to align my life with God’s Word and His Will to have His Way.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The only way that I can live in agreement with God is through Jesus Christ. He is the Way. He is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” There is a whole lot of mileage between those two words making life a marathon rather than a sprint. We prefer the sprints in life that hint at immediate gratification. Faith is a process defined by endurance. It is a lengthy endeavor requiring a sacrificial commitment of all of me for All of Him. Piece by piece our life is offered to the Lord as He shapes and molds us into who He created us to be. Have you ever watched a potter form a clay pot? It can be a brutal process. First he must begin to squeeze it and press it down hard with both hands to soften it and make it pliable. He may use some water to moisten it. Once on the wheel, it begins to spin all the while his hands creating his vision and bringing purpose to life. But if in the process, something goes awry, he will remove it from the wheel and start all over again. If he places the piece inside the kiln and sets the fire on high, any imperfection may cause the pot to break under the intense heat. God has a plan and purpose for our life defined by His Word. It is written to perfection with a future and hope that He is intent on giving His Children. His Spirit, the very essence of His Presence, accompanies us on the long journey to find the Way. We must follow the Way. He is the Author and Finisher of faith. The Champion who gives us victory. He has gone before us and falls in behind us covering and protecting us along His Path. He will never let the righteous fall. Leveling mountains and straightening our path, we cannot get there without Him.

Philippians 3:15-16 (NLT) Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Back to the crowded room of Christians, believers, and righteous people, where I sit as a misfit. Knowing this is where I belong but feeling completely out of place, it is the Word of God, His Will and His Way that keeps me firmly in planted by faith. Alignment with the Lord including His Word, His Will and His Way keeps us from being distracted by how we feel because God is greater than our feelings. He put me in this place “for such a time as this.” I can choose to walk away and find a place that I am more comfortable or I can remain committed to God’s Word, Will and Way. I am free. Christ has set me free and given me the choice of the life I live. Now it is up to me. This is what the Lord has said to me and He may be whispering to you today – “we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Regret romances the past while hope embraces the future. My hope is in the Lord not this world it’s people or anything else. Hope in Jesus never ever leads to disappointment. These are not just words to me anymore but the experience I live on and lifeline I hold on to. To continue in the race of faith and make the mark of His High Calling means I cannot give up but must wait it out. Waiting is not my favorite and I daresay probably not yours either. It is necessary while the Lord takes all the pieces of our life making good on His Promise that they will be used for our good and His Glory. This life I live for Christ is walked according to faith not by the things that I see or how I feel. Faith is the substance of the things we hope for not naturally evident or occuring. If we do not bear the qualities of faith such as perseverance and endurance – it is not possible to reap the benefits of it called confident hope. Hope is the priceless commodity that only faith can grow in us. It requires aligning our life with Christ and waiting for everything else to fall into place.

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Too Familiar

too-familiar

Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

The Fox and the Lion

When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.

The moral of Aesop’s Fable, The Fox and the Lion, is “familiarity breeds contempt”. Contempt is disrespect and disgrace. It is to disregard authority. Sometimes it is evident in an act of willful disobedience. What does this have to do with anything about God? It has become heavy on my heart that maybe there are times when I become too familiar with God. I am a Child of God. He is my Friend. Jesus is my Savior. He is everything to me. However, in the midst of our relationship his character is not changed by our close proximity. God remains Sovereign. Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When the old adage came to mind, I did a little research as to its origin and found the old fable about the fox and the lion. When the fox first encountered the lion, he ran away in fear. The second time he saw the King of Beasts remaining safely distant watched as he passed by. By the third time, the fox became confident in the presence of the lion even chatting with him before “turning his tail” leaving without “much ceremony”. As I pause here, I have to wonder. The lion was gracious to the fox as without a moment’s hesitation – he could have easily overtaken the inferior creature and consumed the small animal. Did the fox take the lion’s grace for granted? Yes. He turned his back on the lion. How many times have I taken my relationship with God for granted becoming casual, comfortable and complacent in the Presence of the Creator of the Universe? Many times I am afraid. His Presence fills a sanctuary and I am too prideful to honor Him in fear that others might think I have fallen short in some way when in truth I fall short every day.

So I looked up the word “familiar” to decide how it can breed contempt in my relationship with God. Here is what I discovered:

Familiar has six definitions that when compared to the Word of God gives way to careful consideration.

Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV) ) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

To be commonly known or seen. We serve a God who we cannot seen. Jesus told Thomas blessed are those who worship but have yet to see Him. Is it possible that because I cannot “see” a full manifestation of His Glory and view Him in the confines of Heaven that I do not see Him as He is. “I saw the Lord, high and exalted”. To see the Lord rather naturally or spiritually should produce the same result – “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I can enter the Presence of God. I can enter with confidence and boldness thanks to Jesus Christ. But let me be clear that I am never, ever comfortable there. Have we taken God and His Presence for granted reducing the Living God to a created being?

I Corinthians 13:12 (NIV) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Well-acquainted or thoroughly conversant. What we know about God and see is only a reflection as in a mirror. A mirror is based on perception. Our position before the mirror, the lighting in the room or other variants determine our view. When I decide that I know what God is doing and that my relationship is complete because I know Him completely. Where is the need for faith and trust? His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. I will know the Lord when I stand before Him face to face. For now, all I can rely on is faith in His Love and Grace for my life. This is where religious people can fall victim to contempt. Having God’s Word as a resource and His Spirit as our Guide our perception is still only partial…for now.

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Informal, easy going, unceremonious. Does my life grieve the Holy Spirit of God? I believe that our contempt for the Lord in our disregard for the Spiritual Fruit being cultivated in us each day. Things like bitterness, rage, anger, slander, and malice consume and kill spiritual fruit such as love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control destroy the growth of new life as a new creation that God intended for us through Jesus Christ. We do not worry about it and continue to allow willful disobedience to rule our life because someone hurt our feelings, offense takes over or it’s just too hard to do what God has instructed.

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.”

Closely intimate and personal. God desires intimacy with us. Jesus wants our relationship to be personal. However, due to becoming too familiar with the Lord, is it possible that He is now taken for granted? It is human nature to assume certain things, but when our expectation is not met it can be disappointing and downright devastating. Our intimate and personal relationship must be with the understanding that He is God. The Great I Am who is truly Sovereign. He cannot change His Mind. We must be changed. With this thought in mind, do we assume certain things about the Lord based on false confidence that we know everything that there is to know about Him? Is our expectation of the Lord set on our wants, needs and desires or do we seek His Will in all things?

Luke 7:40-45 (NIV)  Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.

Taking liberties and presuming. When the woman poured perfume on Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, and wiping them with hair – the Pharisees were appalled. Jesus addressed the homeowner and religious man with this story. I am humbled as I read it again. How many times do I enter the Presence of the Living God as though I have a right to be there? What has allowed me to ever believe that a single one of my sins is a lesser offense than anyone else’s? I have no right to judge another person but do by refusing to share the Gospel with them because I am too busy worrying about my own life, needs, wants and desires? I have it all. I have Jesus. May I never take for granted the Presence of My Lord, the Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit or the opportunities that I have to share His Great Love.

Hebrews 12:22-29 (NLT) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Domesticated or tame. Do not mistake the character of our Creator as meek or mild. Our God is a consuming fire. Only those who know Jesus and have made them Savior and Lord will receive grace and redemption. The familiarity that has bred contempt in us must go. Coming to the altar of God and seeing Him for Who He really is requires repentance, humility and submission to the One and Only Sovereign God. We must accept the Omnipotence of God, His Omnipresence and Omniscience completely to live in His Presence. Religion lives in the outer court. I want behind the veil where Jesus is. I can know Him. But I must never allow familiarity to breed contempt in my life that causes me to disregard who God is and what He is doing.

Isaiah 6:6-10 (NIV) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Jesus lives in our heart. But is He on the Throne? It is easy to reduce Him to the status of ordinary but He remains extraordinary. God is good and He is also GREAT! Lord, I am sorry for the ways that I have taken you for granted and reduced you to humanity. Show me the places in my life where you are but are not Lord. Help me to clear the way for you to have Your Will, Way and Throne again!

Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV) Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Chaotic Love

chaotic-love

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Chaotic love” is a concept spinning the cursor in my head. I heard it a worship song that I have fallen in love with by Dustin Smith. It is called “The One That Really Matters (Chaotic Love)”. This simple song has brought it home for me lately in the midst of change and new seasons. Stepping out of the “boat” to “come” to Jesus, all one sees is the Lord. But once on the water, the details become vivid including wind, waves, storms and the like. Though there is no danger to those who walk by faith because Jesus is their security, what we see is most off clearer than anything the heart conceives. The bridge of this powerful worship endeavor says, “Chaotic love has messed me up so I could live again.” This keeps coming to mind over and over again. God moves me in so many ways. The boat rocks, the foundation shakes, and things change but every time “chaos” ensues I find that when it relents I am always closer to Jesus. The chorus of this song says, “You’re the one that really matters.” Could it be in His Chaotic Love that the Lord is trying to move us from all the unimportant details, overwhelming tasks, cumbersome doctrine and scary giants to get this point across to His Beloved? I am the ONE who really matters.

When I am confused, uncomfortable or discontent – I have learned to seek the Lord. This is important to know who our help comes from, but in this idea of pursuit it is still based on our condition, circumstance or situation. Like the first thief on the Cross who only had moments to live, yet still he asked the Lord – what can you do for me? I believe that all this stirring in our life is to release us from trying to control those same conditions, circumstances, and situations until all we know is our need for Jesus in all things. The second thief knew that he was going to die and recognized his need for the Lord in that moment. We are on the verge of death every day. Each moment that passes brings us closer. The Lord is desperate for us to know Him and to make Himself known to us so we will be with Him forever. This is the kind of pursuit that He is after. Chaotic love will not allow for us to be content with compromise, satisfied with substitutions or even immersed in religion. It shakes our life until all the worthless garbage and unimportant details fall away and all that is left is our driving desire and desperate need for Jesus Christ.

There is purpose hidden the chaos and confusion of your life today. Can anything ever separate us from the Love of Christ? The question posed in Romans 8 today can only be answered in testing because it is not human nature to trust. This world is constructed on shifting sand with moving judgment, mitigating circumstances, winds of change constantly blowing on whims, and society with a conforming identity that never remains the same. No wonder it is challenging to put our faith in God who does not change and cannot lie. His Word is true. All of it. Not a single detail left out or anything to add. It says in the Word of God that NOTHING can separate us from His Love yet we all know that what ifs and if sos are contemplated and challenge such a revelation. Faith is not logical. We make it logical as we come to know Jesus through His Word and the testing of the very foundation called faith. It is in the violent shaking and persistent stirring that yields a constant and consistent love fortified by committed and constant grace that we truly decide that nothing can ever separate us from God’s Unfailing Love.

Romans 8:18-25 (NLT) Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

Be honest. Have you ever asked God, “Why?” Why are bad things always happening to me? Why is life so hard? Why don’t people get it? Why all the hardship? Lord, why the tragedy? Why the sickness? Why? We all do. It is human nature. God made us this way so He does not find it shocking or get His Feelings hurt when we ask such questions. Why can only be answered when we know. Think about it for a moment. Without the “why” moments, would we seek the Face of God? Nope. I know, I know there are super saints out there who think they would but truly there would be no need to know the Lord, if He just fixed everything. Instead, He gives us a promise that He causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Such a promise is pacifying until put into a position where we need the outcome to demonstrate God worked it out for our good. When it becomes a matter of life or death – it ups the ante just a little bit. Chaotic love is relentless love that can only be satisfied when we meet Jesus Christ.

It is our desire to establish order in our life. With all the moving variables and unexpected things that happen – it is our longing to make it all manageable. If your heartfelt notion is to seek the Lord until you find Him, please just throw this whole idea out the window and it will save you much agony. People develop routines and schedules to order their life and operate under these principles. The church organization is called religion. Religion orders our relationship with God making it manageable and doable with doctrine. But God does not want us to settle with a comfortable outer court ritual but an inner court relationship that wrecks us. He has a plan and purpose that far exceeds the confinement of tradition and can only be explored by radical faith and complete trust in His Word, His Will and His Way apart from any manmade order or establishment. When we understand this and pursue the Lord outside the four walls called church, we find that He is the only one that really matters. We come to a place as the song says, “I can’t help but scream about the way that You move me. Chaotic love has messed me up so I can live again.” Imagine our worship services with such a mindset. People would flock the altars in pure recognition of how much God really loves us no matter how we look or what we do. His Love is complete.

Is He the Only one who matters to you today? Do you care what other people think when it comes to pleasing God?  I wonder if our altars would be filled if just these two statements became true in the life of believers today. If our relationship with Jesus Christ became personal and intimate on a level that the thoughts of others and ways of this world did not impact our love, devotion and commitment to Him at all, what would church be like? If a part of His Presence came in the heart of each worshipper so that when it all connected in that moment, the Winds of Pentecost would bring dead hearts to life in our midst and revival would break forth answering the outcry of the modern church. We have made church, religion and Christianity what we wanted it to be and ordered it to our taste. But what if – Jesus became the One that really matters? I have no doubt that chaotic love would mess us up and we would all live again even forever.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

Always Perfect

perfect-always

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.

Last night, I had the profound privilege of attending an open-air concert called the Night of Joy. Hosted by Walt Disney World, sitting in an open stadium, hundreds of people created a scene out of Heaven worshipping the Lord together. This is indeed a privilege that not many people around the world are given. We are fortunate in American that even though people reject, refuse and retaliate against God and the Name of Jesus that we still have the opportunity to praise Him publically.

One of the artist was Chris Tomlin who is probably one of the greatest praise and worship leaders of all time. He sang, “Good, Good Father” along with the “church” in attendance last night. The verse “You are perfect in all of your ways” was repeated over and over again. I always stop to wonder in the midst of that song, if we truly know what we are telling the Lord. Such a confession means “God, I trust You”. No matter what I may be going through, the impossible thing that I am facing, the overwhelming hurt I am trying to overcome – God, I believe that YOU are perfect in all of your ways. The statement is true. It is valid. It cannot be accepted with some trials and troubles along the way. It must be confirmed and written in our heart by His Word. We must rely on His Spirit to help us understand a God who is perfect and how that impacts our life.

In the midst of doing life today, can we just stop and meditate on the Lord’s Perfection? Rather than just singing along with a song, or reiterating church rhetoric, can we think about what we believe for just a minute? Do you believe that God is perfect in all of His Ways? Do I believe it? God’s Perfection is not complex. It is incomprehensible to humans who have never experienced such. It seems cruel and unbending. God is relentless. He does not lie or change His Mind. While at times this does seem harsh, the Truth is it is our security. It means that there is nothing I can do to separate myself from the Love of God. It is confirmation that no matter how far I run or deep into darkness that I wander – His Love will find me.

Matthew 5:48 (NLT) But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Human inability to be perfect creates an immediate trust issue among people. We put our expectation in others who fall short of such a thing, then label God with the human qualities others have shown us. We cannot believe in a perfect God because we try to make the Lord like other people. Who is like you Lord in all the earth? Matchless love and beauty, endless worth. Nothing in this world can satisfy. Jesus, You’re the cup that won’t run dry. If only we could experience the perfection of God for just a moment…maybe then we would understand God’s Perfection is His Love.

You are to be perfect. I do not believe that the Lord would set a standard that people could not attain. If He calls us to perfection, it is totally possible. We must know the perfection of God. His Perfection is Love. Love covers a multitude of sin. Love is His Grace. His Grace is enough for me. It allows me to say that He is perfect in all of His Ways even when I am uncomfortable and inconvenienced by the process because I know His Perfection is filling me and His Process just makes more room.

Matthew 19:20-22 (NLT) “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Perfection is found in following Jesus because He is Perfection. As we do what He did, say what He said, and love like He loved, perfection is not far from us as it once was. The problem is not with His Process but His People. If rather than trying to wrap our head around being perfect, we would allow our heart to get wrapped up in His Perfect Love – our life would be perfect. Satisfaction and contentment are found in Jesus. Too often – it’s those “things” or “possessions” that keep us from the “perfect” life because we will not give them up to go where Jesus goes. This is not about the tangible or the acts of kindness or even Christian service. It is to surrender all that we are and ever hope to be to the Plan of God to be filled completely with His Love. The Light that drives all darkness away.

John 17:22-24 (NLT)  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!

Jesus prayed for us to have “perfect unity”. There was a glimpse of that in the crowded statement as men, women, young and old worshipped the Name of Jesus together. Suddenly the lines were erased defining denomination, organization and congregations. For a moment, it was like Heaven. I believe Jesus came in our midst because for a second or two we were in perfect unity. It was all about Jesus and not about us. Jesus prayed for this on His Way to the Cross. Just hours before every sin of every person was heaped upon Him, Jesus prayed for us that we could experience the Glory of perfect unity with the Father, Son and His Church. This is perfection. To God it begins and ends with His Love.

Philippians 3:12-15 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.

What if today moving forward everyone agreed that God is perfect in all of His Ways? Would it tear down the walls built by people to create a “perfect” church? It might. Saul achieved great things for God before he became Paul. He did not persecute the Christians as a criminal but because of his convictions as a devote Jew who loved God the Father with all of his heart. Jesus showed Saul a better way, gave him a new name, and made him a new creation. Could it be we all need an experience with Jesus to forget the past? Past religion, convictions, denominations and the like to ask the Lord to show us His Perfection once again. To fill us with His Love all over again so we can see the renovations needed in the church and connect the Body of Christ. What if when we disagree, we would believe God is perfect in all His Ways and able to make it known to us rather than causing more separation than we are currently experiencing now. I wonder…

Psalm 27:11-14 (NLT) Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Lord, help our unbelief today. Help us understand Your Perfection and makes us perfect as you are perfect. What? You do believe that He is perfect in all of His Ways? Is the evidence visible in your life? Do you praise Him in the storm? Do you trust Him in all things never experiencing worry, stress or anxiety? Do you follow His Word to the letter? Do you go where He calls you? Do you say “yes” to Him every time? Do you surrender to His Leading? Do you submit to His Will? See if we really believe that God is perfect in all of His Ways – we would not hesitate in faith anymore. Thank you Lord for the stirring and conviction in my heart today. I must not only say that You are perfect in all Your Ways but must believe it with my heart and live it with my life.

Colossians 3:13-15 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Clean House

Clean House

Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT) How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Our family will be moving in a day or so after months of anticipation. For weeks, I have been purging this house going through every nook and cranny deciding what will stay and what will go. We have so much stuff. We are blessed. Now in the final countdown before closing, we are preparing for the walkthrough. As our belongings are packed in a trailer and furniture prepared for the moving truck, I am appalled at the dust and dirt that I have found hidden beneath things that have not moved in years. I clean my house faithfully once a week on Thursdays and require each person to pick up after themselves so how in the world did it get so gross. Dust in the closets. Debris under counters and in cabinets. And could someone please tell me what dripped down the wall of the pantry before I touch it. Crawling along the floor wiping down baseboards, I notice that though they looked pristine and white from a distance on closer inspection not so much. When the new owner walks through, I want this house to shine. I want her to fall in love with it like she did when she first laid eyes on it and decided quickly to have it. I do not want her to regret her purchase or be ashamed it is her home.

We are God’s House. His Holy Spirit lives in us. He is our Helper and Constant Companion. The Spirit of God in mean has the ability and desire to do more in me than I can ask or think but many times I do not allow the Spirit freedom to do these things restricted by sin in my life. I read the Word of God every day. I pray every day, too. I faithfully attend church and serve there as well. I try to live according to the Word of God and His Spirit, but sin still finds its way in my life despite my best attempt at godliness and holy living. I just cannot help it. It is my nature. When the Holy Spirit inspects our heart and mind, what does He find? See I don’t think we consider our holy inhabitation enough to realize that God sees everything. He knows every thought before we think it, every action before we do it and every word before we seek it. He sees our intentions. He knows our follow through. So as I continue to clean my house and prepare for our move, I am looking inside my heart today, too.

God hates sin. He cannot come anywhere near a sin-filled person or His Goodness would consume them so it is with great compassion and persistent patience that He waits for us. What is waiting for? The Lord God is waiting for His People to be overcome with love for Him that causes them to daily examine their body, mind and spirit for sin and remove it simply because they want to be close to Him for the sake of love. Love empowers us to overcome sin because it creates a greater desire in us to please our beloved. To live for God in obedience without love leads to devastation because to walk with God requires grace. Lots of it. Obedience is self-motivated. Obedience in love is different. It causes us to desire the One we love more than those things we do, want or see. Obedience to God in life will produce His Blessings. But falling in love with the Lord will satisfy the soul.

Psalm 51:9-11 (NLT) Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Create in me a clean heart, Lord. Renew a right spirit. The removal of sin allows us to move closer to God. It is the only that stands between us and His Glory. Our churches are not in revival because of sin. Our community is not redeemed because of sin. We cannot come to the Lord and seek Him wholeheartedly entertaining sin in our life. I am not the Holy Spirit. I cannot decide for you the parameters of right and wrong for you. God’s Word tells us what we ought to do. Freedom allows us to do it without the guilt and shame of sin keeping us from God’s Best. His Spirit leads us from everlasting to everlasting by faith. But if we refuse to get rid of, to the bottom of and deal with all the sin in our life – revival will not come. It is with a steadfast and loyal heart that is determined not to let anything come between it and God that we begin to see Heaven come to earth and revival sweep our churches to save, deliver and heal the land.

How can I know the sin lurking in my heart? As not to compound or complicate the issue – I will be straightforward. Read the Bible and pray. Meditate on the Word of God – chew it up and digest it fully. Pray. Pray. Pray some more. Prayer is communication with God. Partner with the Holy Spirit so that you are familiar with the nudge or red flag that signals danger ahead. This will become a mirror for your soul that allows you to see beyond acceptable to godliness.

Cleanse me from hidden faults. In Hosea, it tells us that God’s People die from a lack of knowledge. There are things in your life right now that seem fine to you but soon will be considered unworthy of God’s Beloved. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from hidden faults today. Those things you do but do not know they are sin.

Keep your servant from deliberate sins! You and I both know that there are things in our life that would be considered deliberate sin. Attitudes and actions contrary to the Word of God allowed to remain in our life. We like to think of it as human weakness which would work but greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Yes, His Grace is enough. It will cover every deliberate sin carried to the cross. Deliberate sin will keep you from God’s Best every time. It will ruin relationships. It will detour divine destiny. It will never be okay in God’s Eyes. Consider this – what if each time we sin it meant one more blow of the hammer into the nail’s that pierced His Hands and Feet? What if it was one more bloody stripe across His Back? Or maybe it meant another handful of hair ripped from His Beard? What if that one deliberate seemingly harmless sin produced another agonizing torment to our Savior? Truth is…it did. Those little white lies don’t seem so small. The hot tempered explosion more than just a blowup. The things done in secret now have been brought into the Light.

Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. With that in mind, please know and understand that every hidden and deliberate sin allowed to remain unchecked will lead to our downfall. It will soon plummet us into great sin. Sin will control your life if not dealt with severely. We must decide each day to crucify our flesh to make way for His Spirit to show us the Way into the Presence of God and live there. Sin will always be a part of our life. However, I can reduce the impact of sin on my life but refusing to allow it to remain once discovered.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Peace with God is created by agreement with God, His Word and His Spirit through His Son, Jesus. My mouth and my heart must agree. This forms my attitude and actions. My heart wants to please the one it loves. Proverbs 20:10 says that God hates double standards. You cannot live for self and Jesus. You cannot love evil and do that which is good. You cannot live in the Light of His Love while dabbling in darkness for long. We must be at peace with God, sealed in His Spirit and covered by the Blood of Jesus to move from death to life. If Jesus were to do a walkthrough of your heart today, what would He find? I am asking myself that today as I want only what He wants for me. I want His Kingdom to come to earth and do not want to be the one who stops it for those who are around me. Sin stops the Move of God. I don’t want to stop the next great Move of God, do you?

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

God has filled our life with promises. “If you will, I will” over and over again. Why do we get so mad when we don’t so He doesn’t then? To have the Will of God including every benefit and blessing promised to me in the Word of God – I can only achieve such a life by living God’s Way. Sin forces us to compromise for less than God’s Best every single time. Sin restricts our prosperity. It limits our ability to love. As I prepare for the final walkthrough, I hope the new buyer sees a home rather than a house. I wonder what might happen if we prepared our heart for the Holy Spirit to walk through each day? What if I purposed to make the Lord feel welcome in my heart and make it His Home? What are the possibilities? Limitless! Let us cleanse ourselves of everything that might keep God’s Spirit living, breathing and moving through us today. It’s time to clean house.

2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT) If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Open Buffet

Open Buffet

I John 3:18-20 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Life is a buffet. Full of opportunities requiring choices. When faced with many options, sometimes it becomes overwhelming. When our children were little living on a tight budget, it was a treat to head out to the all-you-can-eat restaurant. By passing the fixed menu, they wanted the buffet so they could pick and choose their food. We would walk with them and guide their choices or they would all end up with ice cream bowls loaded with toppings. My problem with such dining establishments is that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. It is not uncommon for me to overload my plate. When I get halfway through, suddenly my stomach is bloated and I am groaning with discomfort. If I choose the foods that don’t agree with me, I am digging through my purse for antacid. If I were to be completely honest, I would admit that this has been a trend in my life. Taking on too much at one time. Lofty aspirations that are humanly impossible to achieve as a person. The Holy Spirit leaning over my shoulder trying to help me choose but assuring Him that I have it under control. My plate is full today. I am not sure I will finish everything on it. Am I supposed to? Lord, how will I do it?

In case you cannot tell, this really isn’t so much about food. Gluttony by definition is practicing excess and though in most regards it refers directly to eating and drinking, I believe it defines most lives. Life exists on excess. It has become clear in packing in preparation to move that our family has accumulated too many things. Yet if you ask anyone of us there is still more that we desire. We cram and pack too many duties, tasks and responsibilities in every hour of every day and still miss the important stuff because we are busy. Our pursuit of God should be the excess of our life because He is the one who establishes order and balance out of our chaotic choices. Truth be told, He really doesn’t get the time or attention that He deserves as our Lord because we are often too busy trying to impress Him with our independence or influence Him with all that we can “do”.

For a moment, the buffet is closed. The lights turned off. In the silence of morning, surrounded by clutter, in the quiet chaos of transition, the Lord is whispering for me to hand Him my plate. Yes, He can see it is overloaded with choices good and bad. He is more than willing to take responsibility for it and “feed” me only those things that are good and beneficial. Will I surrender control? Will I let go and let God today? Of course, I will in a supernatural sense. Trusting Him with my words. Believing Him in my heart. But will I? Can I possibly? Literally? Hand everything over to Him and just love others like I am supposed to? Can I do that today? I really don’t know. I am a glutton for life. Control. Responsibility. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) It sounds really good, but can I really give Him all those burdens?

I John 3:19-20 tells us that “our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” If we long to love each other as the Lord has instructed us to do, it begins with our love for Him first. Love is a commitment. The commitment is to be patient and kind. To commit to avoid jealousy, boastfulness and pride at all costs. It means to keep no record of wrong including guilt and regret within our own heart. It strives to not be irritable or rejoice in injustice but celebrate truth and righteousness in the course of every single day – good or bad. Love is the commitment to never give up. It is the decision to never give up on faith. It remains hopeful in the midst of desperation. Above all love is a commitment to remain true to our first love even when the conditions of our life are not as expected and less than desirable. The commitment to love begins with the Lord and should reflect back on me. I must love myself. I must commit to loving myself enough to trust the Lord in all things in spite of me. My feelings get in the way. So many things rise up in me as my flesh tries to take over every day. No one makes the right choice every time, but the Lord invites us to do it again. It is called grace. Grace scrapes today’s overloaded plate, grabs a clean one and invites us to try again.

It is human nature to believe for others and not accept God’s Love, Grace and Goodness for ourselves. Why? I know me. I know every fault and failure in vivid detail. I can see the loveliness in others before accepting it for myself. I believe others more deserving than I am for God’s Blessings. Today – the buffet is before us. The Lord is calling us to commune with Him and join Him at His Table. What is our response? Will we meet with the Master? Or will we continue to scrounge for crumbs under His Ample Table? Jesus is reminding me that His Grace is sufficient for me. It is certainly enough for others, but if I do not accept and understand His Grace is for me than I cannot give to others genuinely what I have not received. Lord, here is my plate with all of my choices. Lord, I give it all to You today.

I Corinthians 10:29-31 (NLT) It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

God has granted us freedom by accepting the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for our sin debt. The Blood of Jesus has paid the price for every sin that we have committed or are yet to commit. Grace is applied to the life of those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Those who make Him their Lord will endure to the end and be saved. In this passage, Paul was addressing a problem of religion in the early church. The church had become caught up in the details of doctrine instead the robe of righteousness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed! Our freedom is a gift which allows us to choose how to live once again. God will not force you into freedom. He will not require that you walk in it or shove you into it. If He did, that would violate the definition so it would no longer mean that we are free to choose. There is no such thing as forced love it is offered and accepted freely. I can choose to love you but you don’t have to love me back. We are free.

“It might not be a matter of conscience for you.” Our freedom is not limited by what another person thinks or does. We are free in Jesus Christ. How are we using our freedom? Do we use it to get wrapped up in bondage again? Our feelings most certainly can restrict our freedom. We are born into the world. Conditioned from an early age to be like the world, when Jesus comes to live in us – everything we know and understand up to that point is now challenged by faith. It is human nature to exchange one set of chains for another. We live in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave but are we really free? What are we doing with are freedom? Arguing with one another about what we believe. Killing one another to prove we matter. Chasing the American Dream that changes every night. Living in debt financially, physically with illness, mentally in depression and depravity or spiritually due to religion. Churches are multiplying and dividing more quickly than the cells in a newly conceived baby. People are carrying heavy chains yoked to life as we know it rather than looking up to where our help comes from. You are free. Free to live connected to Jesus Christ. He will be Our Portion if we choose to trust and depend on Him rather than our own strength and point of view. But will we do it?

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

The Lord has given me an amazing husband. He has granted me equally amazing and precious children who fill my life with joy. God has given me a wonderful church and surrounded me with terrific friends. I have a good job that I enjoy and coworkers who have become my friends as well. I are blessed truly. Yet there are still times when my feelings overwhelm me into thinking that I am all alone. Overloaded with tasks and responsibilities, I cannot see the forest for the trees. My plate these days is overflowing with more than usual. I know it is only for a season but right now I need grace to see it through. God have given me a purpose and plan containing a future and hope that is always more than I could think or ask so I should not be surprised that sometimes my “eyes are bigger than my stomach” and I want it all now. Gluttony for life must be exchanged for a deep desire and pursuit of Jesus in excess instead.

My help comes from the Lord – who made heaven and earth! His Kingdom is the one that I am after. His Glory is what I want more than anything. It doesn’t matter how I feel or what I want but when I surrender my life to Christ and submit to His Lordship that I discover all that I am called to be and begin to make better choices with my time, talent and even my treasures. Look what it says in Psalm 121 – Jesus will not let me stumble. He watches over me when I sleep. He never sleeps or slumbers but is always working on my behalf filling out the details with His Goodness. He watches over me. He stands right beside me. Nothing can harm me. The Lord is keeping watch over me.

I am free to live life as I choose. Have I chosen to put all my faith, hope, trust and dependence on Jesus? My life plate is a pretty good indicator of what I live for, love for and desire most. Could it use a good scraping and cleaning? Maybe I just need to rearrange it a little to make room for what is important – more time with Jesus. Life is a buffet abundant in choices. Each day there are decisions to be made. The Lord has given me a Helper whose name is the Holy Spirit. I am equipped with the Mind of Christ to choose well. Greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world. Today, I choose to live like it.

Do you feel worthy of God’s Love today? Mitigating circumstances buried me last night and so I text my husband with the details trying to find my way out. He wanted to know, “Why?” My answer was joking but convicted me instantly. “God hates me…lol” God doesn’t hate me. I just don’t always love myself enough to let go. I try to dictate the details and predict every outcome. Why would this move by anything less than driven by the Hand of God since we are moving because His Spirit led us to? Today I must evaluate the choices I am making for relevance. Will I compare them to God’s Promises or human expectation? I am free to choose how to live. I must choose Jesus. He is my example in all things pertaining to life and godliness.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  If I am distracted or off course today, I promise it is me and not my Lord. If I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and desperate – it is probably because I am trying to do God’s Job. I cannot make God’s Plan come to pass in my life or orchestrate the details. I cannot “do” things that will gain His Approval. Through Jesus Christ alone, I am approved and sealed for the Day of Redemption. What do I do to change perception? Well, Jeremiah 29:13 tells us the solution – “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” What is your heart set on today? If it is Jesus everything is going as planned. If not, I invite you today to feast at the Lord’s Table and commune with Him and you will see. Choose only those things that He has for you and get rid of worthless things.

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.

Fixin To

Fixin' To

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

“Fixin’ to” is a very common term used in the South which happens to be my home. I have a slight Southern drawl but nothing like my friends and family who live in the county outside of town. “Fixin’ to” means simply about to or getting ready to do something. It can also be used as a form of procrastination meaning I wasn’t but I am now that you reminded me or avoidance when you would like help making dinner or cleaning the kitchen…maybe this is just my experience. We are fixin’ to move out to the county. I find that the more time my children spend with our family and friends in this environment that their vocabulary is changing. The word “ain’t” comes up a lot more. The conjugation of verbs is changing. Although born in the South where my dad was born and raised, my biological mom was from Maine. With two very different examples, I find that my vernacular will take on the identity of those around me depending on the speech pattern of those around me. Crazy how our mind works…

Today my heart is challenged by the Lord to be focused. To fix my heart, mind, ears, and eyes on Him. Something is coming and I believe that the Lord does not want any of His Beloved to miss out on His Grace, Goodness and Glory that is about to pour out from His Kingdom to rain on all of us. God is fixin’ to do something that is great and wants us to get ready for what He is fixin’ to do. When my eyes opened, before I could even focus or see in the dark, the Lord told me to fix my eyes and focus so I am sharing this with you.

I have no idea what the Lord is about to do. Like everyone else reading this today, there must be something in your heart that you have been waiting on. Maybe it is that thing you need release to do, relief from or restoration of that He has on His Mind. Perhaps it is for the corporate call of revival that has many churches fasting and praying to experience the Lord’s Presence in a whole new magnificent way. Whatever your solution is God has it and is desperate to get it to you… to us.

Guard your heart above all else. The call to attention in my spirit is real today. A heightened sense of awareness that the Lord is closer than before and tugging just a little tighter on my heart strings tells me that God is about to do something big. Just looking at the conversations of Jesus just prior to the Cross, He did not keep His Destiny a secret but the people around Him did not want to hear that. It was not their plan. It was not what they wanted. We all are guilty of that sometimes. Crying out to the Lord and saying, “Your Will be done…” but not really meaning it in our heart and soul. Our heart determines the course of our life.

When the Lord speaks to us, it is directly to our heart. Our mind is too perverse to truly comprehend the message that He brings so He speaks to the Holy Spirit in us who works His Way through our heart into our head. Faith is illogical. Hope seems unrealistic. It is our heart that can override our mind and fix our thoughts on Jesus. Why Jesus?

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Jesus is the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Initiate means to introduce, to begin, set going or to originate. He is the Alpha and Omega of faith. He is the beginning and the end of our faith. Faith is not a head game but a heart change. It is not challenging ourselves to trust God even when we don’t believe. It is the opportunity to know the Lord and trust all that He does as beneficial. So much so that we learn to depend on Jesus for everything.

Jesus is the Champion of faith which means He is the best at it. He won it all. The great thing about it is when He won the victory over sin, sickness, addiction, evil, death and the grave – the Lord offered it to you and me without hesitation. Even though it was completely our fault, He said, “Here this is for you!” The faith potential in our life found in completion is perfection. It comes from the Champion of Faith – Jesus Christ.

It is all in the “and”. Jesus is the Initiator and Champion of faith. We fill in the “and” with our willingness and ability to take hold of faith and allow His Love to grow deep roots in our life and solidify our connection to Christ. This allows us to take hold of hope. The kind that never leads to disappointment. Jesus did all this for the joy that awaited Him after the Cross. Too many times we look for relief in the midst of enduring but this will only set us back. God will give you respite. He will give you rest. He will restore you as you go just as Psalm 23 promises. You cannot stop holding on and pressing in because winners don’t quit.

Colossians 3:7-10 (NLT) You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

“Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.” This is vital to the growth and cultivation of faith. Our words can be toxic if we do not have a guarded heart that takes over our rambling lips. The heart and mind must become one so that from the abundance of our heart comes pouring out when we speak. This is a full-time job for every Christian so do not think you are alone. I have to pray every single day for the Holy Spirit to cover my mouth. The struggle is real. Especially when the enemy is intent on using others to annoy us, anger us, offend us, take advantage of us, stealing our joy let alone our stuff, and so many other tactics to kill the harvest of those who dare to live by faith.

Every word must be evaluated carefully to be certain that there is no anger, rage, malice, slander or improper connotation. Our brain justifies our speech so we must bypass our brain and connect each word with the Holy Spirit in our heart. Our words should edify the body and build up souls. The best way to do that is to focus on the Word – read it, study it, and meditate on it until it becomes the pattern for our life rather than this world. We must invite the Holy Spirit to control our tongue every day and fight the urge to rant, rave and complain when things don’t go our way.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet. Stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked. Keep your feet from following evil. Jesus is fixin’ to return. We better be fixin’ our lives to be ready when He comes. On a serious note, it matters how we live out the “and” called our life. Fix our thoughts. What we think about dictates how we live? It is easy to get caught in the natural. Life. Love. Responsibilities. Other relationships outside of Christ. If God’s People would come to the understanding that nothing in our life should operate outside of our love for Jesus Christ and obedience to His Word in our life – it would all come together. Our heart and mind would be at peace. The fulfillment of God would overtake us. People could not touch our joy and deep satisfaction. It wouldn’t matter what they said to us or did to us. This is how we perfect our faith. It is nothing we do but our complete envelopment in the Love of Jesus.

Marking out a straight path gives hint to the fact this is what we must be willing to do. Mark means a visible impression or tangible tracing. We have God’s Word. We have God’s Spirit. Now we must surrender our way to allow His Way to take over. Thy Kingdom come…THY WILL be done requires faith that His Way is better. Enough faith to intentionally walk that way each and every day.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Jesus sets us free to choose a way of life. This does not change the fact that He is fixin to come back for us. It means each individual decides what he or she is fixin’ to do. When the Lord comes it will not be to evaluate our good intentions or the things that we were fixin’ to do. Did we endure? Did we persevere? Did we love unconditionally? Did we surrender our life fully? Today I must fix my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable – the only One I can think of is Jesus Christ my Champion. I must be purposeful in practicing all I have learned (from His Word) and all that I have received (through His Spirit). It is important to pray about everything and everyone in my life as I redirect my entire existence through my relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a labor of love. It is the “and” between the Initiation of Faith and its Perfection yet to come. The Lord is fixin’ to come and I plan to be ready. How about you?

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Enduring Freedom

Enduring Freedom

John 8:32-36 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Well, after a long weekend of celebrating Independence Day including fireworks and festivities, it is back to the grind. The weekend was not anything extraordinary for our household. Preparations for the upcoming move kept us busy. While many of our family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances flooded our timelines and social media with pictures of their celebration of our country which allows us great freedoms. How did you exercise your freedom this weekend? Some will wake up with terrible headaches and certain ailments from overindulgences. Why would I even mention such a thing? Today is the morning after. It is the call to reckoning for a weekend spent. For some they will dread putting their feet on the floor to return to reality – what is your reality? Desperate for change a temporary escape leads back the bondage of drudgery. We live in a free country so why do so many people live in confinement. Confinement of purpose, bound by debt, consumed by consumerism, and all other society norms that drag us deeper and deeper into despair. How can we celebrate something that we do not live in? We are a free country. We are free people in Christ. Where is our liberty? Today. The morning after such a celebration before you step back into the rat race called normal life to pursue the elusive “American Dream”, may I remind you that there is a better way?

“And you will now the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There were some people who ventured to church this Sunday and maybe got a taste of the freedom Christ offers called grace. When they left the building, the enemy came and demanded their freedom from them by heaping guilt, shame and regret back on their shoulders which to those who don’t know or understand the full capacity of God’s Grace, Mercy and Love will responsibly take back on. We must learn to live in enduring freedom. Freedom founded in Christ and not available to the enemy. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life that the enemy cannot touch. He opens the Gateway of Grace which allows us to come to Him freely and unrestrained by sin to enjoy the life that God planned for us. (John 10:9-10)

How does one remain free in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ? Freedom comes instantaneously in Jesus Christ but requires a relationship of consistency to maintain it. The Power and Authority of Christ as our Lord allows us to remain steadfast in His Grace and Love each day. Those who believe it will receive. We must know and understand the pathway to freedom and seek to maintain it each day. The grace given to me by accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior and seeking to make Him my Lord allows me open access to His Kingdom because His Grace is enough for me to walk boldly and confidently in His Presence and have the life and promises predestined for me before sin became a problem. The more I seek to maintain this freedom in my life the greater the potential of fulfillment I will find.

Ephesians 1:5-8 (NLT) God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.  

We are the sons and daughters of God. He adopted us because He wanted to and it brought Him great pleasure. He purchased our freedom with the Blood of His Son in rich loving kindness and grace. His Plan was never to make us slaves forced to do His Will and live a life of indebtedness, but rather God’s Desire for us was freedom to live according to His Will and achieve the highest standard of living called His Perfect Will. If God’s Will required perfect people, He would never have extended grace to us to fulfill it. It is His Grace given through Jesus that creates perfect unity and complete removal of all sin for the purpose of fulfillment in God.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Acceptance of Christ is a cure all for sin. His Blood washes your sin as far as the east is from the west. BUT… I decide if His Grace is enough to maintain my freedom. Freedom from what? Sin. Guilt. Shame. Regret. Returning to the darkness. I believe that as a whole the Body of Christ must step up their discipleship game because men and women are falling away every day because of our folly in this area. We count heads at the altar but fail to accept them into the fold. We herd them into groups and programs but fail to meet them one-on-one get to know them beyond Sunday or the occasional Wednesday. We must continue to follow Jesus to have enduring freedom. As we follow, we should be leading, too.

“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (I Corinthians 1:30) The root of our connection to Christ is our relationship with Him. The deeper our bond to Jesus Christ and greater our love for Him, the less likely we become to fall into temptation or sin. His Word is the knowledge that becomes wisdom pointing out traps and snares along the way as His Experience and His Spirit become our guide. The lesser things in life become unappealing once we taste and see that the Lord is good. Christ is the ruler and authority over every other power that exists. Our partnership and union with Him allows us to live with power and authority in life. No longer searching for satisfaction, we live in constant hope and faithful commitment to Jesus knowing His Grace is enough to set us free and our relationship with Him keeps us that way.

How do I know that my roots are grounded in Christ? Easy. A tree is identified by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33) You will grow what you sow. Sow the Word faithfully and obediently in the Spirit and you will reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 classifies this produce as – love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All these things are beneficial to us and those around us. Allowing the Spirit of God to work in us and through us will give us greater and greater freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17) as we surrender our life piece by piece to His Holy Inhabitation and Constant Cultivation as He completes His Work in us.

James 1:21-25 (NLT) So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Here is the social challenge with spiritual freedom – not every Christian believer has the same mindset. Religion muddies the water of our relationships because no one is in agreement. There are different set of rules and doctrine in each House of God. Young converts have no concept of Truth beyond what we teach them. If they do not see a clear picture of Jesus in our attitudes and actions, they will fall back on the world for acceptance. Nobody has it all together. No one gets it all right. We are imperfect people filled with a perfect God. He will make His Way out of those who successfully surrender their all to Jesus. It means not conforming to this world but allowing Christ to transform us from the inside out. Maybe…just maybe…if each believer reading this today took the time to concentrate on the Word, allowing the Spirit to produce a little more fruit, and focused on the Way, the Truth and the Life rather than comparing their spiritual productivity or lack thereof to others, maybe we would get somewhere in setting captives free.

“If you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12) The enemy is crafty and will use the Truth against those who do not fully believe it. For those who do not humble themselves before the Lord, the enemy uses pride to keep them believing they are good people who serve a good God. The same will starve from a lack of spiritual fruit. Without the grace of God humbly bestowed on us by Christ and accepted the same way – our freedom is compromised each day. Every day you will be tempted. It doesn’t matter how strong we think that we are in the Lord, there is daily temptation. What is the temptation? Sin. Anything in our life contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way is sin. We must strive to get rid of all “filth” in our life. Stinking thinking comes in all forms. To truly know who we are in Jesus Christ requires constant inspection of our heart and soul compared to His Word and guided by His Spirit. His Grace is enough for me. It is by His Grace that I have been set free. To live in that grace is enduring freedom.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NLT) This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

What good is freedom if we cannot maintain it? Every captive desires to be free but some have forgotten how to live outside of confinement. Unless they learn to live freely, they will seek captivity again. Convicts who spend many years in penitentiaries have a difficult time assuming a normal life. Countries freed from dictatorship seek new leaders because they cannot live without it. Without a constant abiding relationship in Jesus Christ through His Word and Spirit, we will all do the same. Falling back into the darkness, stumbling over temptations, and letting go of His Grace that will always be more than enough to maintain their freedom. Are you free today? Is the freedom you found in Jesus Christ enduring?

“Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13) We live in this world. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. Even the church is experience the chaotic and chilly conditions. The great thing about God’s Grace is that we receive new mercy each day (Lamentations 3:22-23) so if we have forfeited our freedom in some way, it is easily reclaimed. Failure is only fatal if we never seek freedom in Christ again. The Word of God promises that those who endure to the end will be saved. Enduring freedom comes to those who abide in Jesus Christ. Grace is the gateway to God’s Goodness. Jesus is the Gate. He has unlocked it but will you go through it. Freedom cannot be forced but merely accepted. Take time to evaluate the Fruit of God’s Spirit in your life today. Examine your heart for dark closed up spaces. Plant God’s Word in there today. Thrust open your thinking to the Light of His Love considering its possibilities and choosing Him first.

Psalm34:4-10 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. 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.