Take a Stand

Take A Stand

Psalm 18:32-34 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

“He (or she) who kneels before God can stand before anyone.” (Unknown and paraphrased)

Psalm 18 is David’s song to the Lord praising God for rescuing him from all his enemies particularly Saul. Who better to sing it than the shepherd boy turned mighty warrior with a single stand and monumental victory over a Philistine giant with one small pebble hurled by faith and powered by the Hand of God. David did stand in strength and power full of self-confidence and natural abilities. He was a scrawny kid surrounded by a battalion of soldiers whose heart was firmly established in the Lord. God arms me with strength. He makes my way perfect. He makes me surefooted. He enables me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle. He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. One might think this is a battle cry of a highly trained tactical fighting machine but really it is more about the human heart than any man’s ability.

Adrenaline fuels our heart and mind to react to a situation. We will either fight or flee depending on our perception of the outcome of an encounter. In the natural, it is often an assumption made after sizing up our opponent or obstacle to determine one’s ability to overcome. But with God all things are possible to those who believe. Do you believe today? Do you have faith and confidence that God is for you? Do you believe that He loves you and will never leave or forsake you? Our mind can play tricks on us especially when the enemy comes with clever traps of half-truth and deception. He cannot stop the plan or purpose of God in our life. He is successful only when we give up or give in to human temptation, weakness or emotions. Yet even still God’s Word for you will never return to Him void. What the Lord has promised – He will deliver – if we stand!

God arms me with strength. God’s Power is delivered by grace in our weakness. It is the humility of repentance when our life is turned over to the Lord and trust begins to develop that victory is secured. I know it seems preposterous that in surrender that His Power is most effective. It seems illogical. But what if this strength mentioned in Psalm 18 is not about anything our physical body can do but rather strength of spirit to trust the Lord until the bitter end. To stand in the field well sown but not growing. To believe in famine and drought that you will do more than survive but God says you will thrive. How do we find our way to the source of strength that becomes the sound foundation of a prosperous life? Tell us today David where does your strength come from? “I love you, Lord. You are my strength.” (Psalm 18:1) From beginning to end, David put his heart and soul into knowing and loving the Lord. From the pasture full of sheep to the battlefield of soldiers, God was God to David.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

He makes my way perfect. In Psalm 139, there is a glimpse of the moment of creation. An intimate encounter with God even delving into His Thoughts for us. God is greater than our emotions and feelings. When He created us it was with the full potential of purpose that would completely satisfy our life exceedingly and abundantly more than we could think or ask or even imagine. Knowing this and believing this requires a self-discipline that stands when every fiber of our being says to run. It is the hardest part of spiritual maturity. To develop an understanding that doesn’t understand everything (or anything) God is doing yet still chooses to continue following His Path. To decide God you are who You say you are and will do what You say You will do and live life with such a conviction and confidence that keeps us in place. It is hard. It is completely contrary to our education and life experience that is until we encounter the Living God and begin to experience His Promises.

It is not uncommon to come to crossroads of decision each day. Who will I trust? What will I believe? Will I consistently choose the better way? Jeremiah 6:16 talks about crossroads – “This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” How many times have I made a rational choice rather than a radical commitment to do things God’s Way? I cannot count the number of times that I have taken my toys and gone home rather than continued laboring in the field God has placed me. What about you? Have you done the same? Well, I have good news. His Mercy is new every morning. His People are called to endurance so there is still time. The God who created you knows you. He had to if His Son would provide enough grace to save and empower you. You may have made a bad choice but today is a new day. The Lord inside of you is full of resurrection power and life which is yours for the asking and ready for the taking of those who surrender it all to Him.

A little knowledge of God is worth more than great knowledge about him. (J.I. Packer)

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. God is fortifying our feet to be surefooted. To stand on mountain heights and look at life from His Perspective requires conditioning. I could not hike up a mountain in my present condition. I am embarrassed at my unhealthy state compared to a few years ago. When I finally foray back into the gym, I will have to recondition my body. It will take time. It will require a commitment. I must ignore screaming muscles and dying fat to continue to bring my body into subjection. And so it is with our heart, soul and mind when it comes to being “surefooted” in the Lord. His Perspective is higher than our own. His Plan is naturally uncommon. His Purpose fully encompassing a life not fully lived. It is our passion to know God that keeps us engaged. Knowing about him does nothing for us. I have thoroughly researched the gyms close to my work and home. I know their hours of operation. I know the equipment offered. I have inquired as to membership fees and requirements. I have not made a commitment yet. Therefore, my knowledge is really doing nothing for me. We must exercise our knowledge of God by faith to make it wisdom beneficial in our life. It requires a commitment. It will take trust to get us there. Our confidence must be in the Living God who is not fully understood yet embraced just the same. Maybe the greatest battle in standing is not taking one but staying there until the battle is won!

“God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand – you failed.” (St. Augustine)

He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. The battle is the Lord’s today and every day. His Plan for you and me is in full effect. The stand to be taken is in solidarity with God. To continually walk in His Ways while training our heart and mind to trust Him implicitly. It doesn’t matter whether you think your enemies are many and your strength too small – greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world. No weapon formed against you will prosper. God is offering you His Strength today. He will be your refuge. It is all up to you. Will you take a stand against human understanding today? Will you believe past your doubt and disbelief? Will you say to the Lord forsaking all others I choose you? These are the words of warriors who win battles and overcome all obstacles in life. The warrior is you! Take a stand! The war waged against you is won in your heart not with your hands!

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Philippians 4:7 (NLT) 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.

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How’s Your Vision?

Vision 2

Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Vision is defined as an experience in which something appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of the divine. The definition sounds oddly familiar. It resonates from the definition of faith. Faith is confident trust based on belief not yet proven. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint or the people are discouraged. The Amplified Bible relates prophetic vision as “revelation of God and His Word”. If our faith in God produces nothing, then what is the benefit of such a process? Why engage in a relationship that is not mutually beneficial? Without vision, people will not engage in the faith process until that which is hoped for finally arrives. I would ask today, “How’s your vision?”

Where there is no vision, there is no hope. – George Washington Carver

We serve a God who is completely contrary to anyone or anything encountered in this world. The Lord is full of unconditional love, overwhelming grace and unchangeable character that makes Him seem too good to be true. Yet, before the first breath filled our lungs, He had a plan and purpose for our life. A good one that contained a future and hope fully recorded before our conception and birth. His Thoughts concerning us are too great to comprehend so He promises to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or even imagine. The process by which our new life as a new creation walking in the blessings and favor of God is called faith. We stay engaged anchored by hope. Where there is no vision, there is no hope.

Genesis 15:1-6 (ESV) After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel Barker

Abram was a wealthy man. He was quite successful. He wanted a son. From Abram’s day of entering covenant with God when the promise of a son came to him and the day of Isaac’s arrival was 25 years. God did not produce the promise of a son until it was absolutely impossible for Abraham and Sarah to create a child on their own. Their bodies worn and withered in old age. God make miracles out of impossible situations. The Lord gave Abram. He changed his identity to Abraham and then Abraham remained faithful for 25 years until his son arrived. The key “he believed the Lord and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Vision without action is merely a dream. How many dead dreams are buried inside of us? Action without vision just passes time. We rush about trying to make a good life when God has already provided everything we need, want and desire. We just need to be active in faith to have it all but fear tells us to make it happen. Vision with action can change the world. Faith in action can change our life forever.

Abraham did not waver in his faith. God gave him a vision and he held that vision for more than two decades. The promise of God depends entirely on faith. It is given as an act of God’s Grace. Our conviction must be that the God of all grace is filled with loving kindness that He gives to His Children. This conviction produces a commitment to the vision our faith produces. The hidden hope that God placed in our heart before our creation comes to life within us. When we pay attention to the vision of God, the Word of God and the revelation imparted through an abiding and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Miracles happen. When we take the vision and holding it tightly in our heart, head and hand – it will produce the promise attached to it because God does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful so when we believe it happens.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (ESV) I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

“Don’t expect people to understand your grind when God didn’t give them your vision.” – Tony Gaskins

 The vision God has given you is individual. Note in this passage of Habakkuk, “I” will take “my” stand at “my” watch post and station “myself” on the tower and look out to see what He will say to “me”. Our relationship with the Lord is personal. It is private in many ways. We must become soul searching and vision holding believers who read the Word, listen for His Voice, and take heed to the revelation that He gives us. Too often we take the precious seed given to us to be sown in faith and make it everyone else’s fodder. It becomes suffocated in opinions, negativity and doubt cursed by others. God has a plan and purpose specific to you. You are a masterpiece created by God with a divine calling only you can accomplish. When God speaks to us, we must become diligent in writing down these dreams and visions. Carrying them to our prayer closet. Feeding them with faith. Washing them in the Word. Nurturing them will produce the rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus and the abundance ordained by God. It will take some time. Every process does. It begins by opening our heart, mind, eyes and ears to the Lord and hanging on every word. Helen Keller said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” Lord, open my eyes to the faith-filled reality of my life.

In 1 Samuel 3 is the story of Eli and his young servant, Samuel. The Lord began speaking to Samuel but the boy did not recognize His Voice. Each time God called out to Samuel, he ran to Eli. Now some interesting details from this passage – the Word of the Lord was rare in those days and there was no frequent vision. The “eyesight” of the prophet, Eli, had grown dim and he could not see so he was lying down in his own place. Then there was Samuel who was lying down in the Temple of the Lord where the ark of God was – he was resting in the Presence of God. Maybe I am looking too deeply into this but I wonder how many people are like Eli. Jaded by the reality of life rather than consumed by revelation from the Living God? Are there still Samuels out there who live in the Presence of God. The lamp of God had not gone out. The Lord was looking to fan the flame of faith in the next generation. He was looking for someone to be the light. Now in childlike faith Samuel says to the Lord, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears!” God has a vision far greater for your life than is evident in your mere existence today. The thing that carries you from here to there is the vehicle called faith. Faith is the catalyst of hope that produces that which was not seen. It believes in the Word of God, follows His Way and waits for the Lord. “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you. (Steve Jobs) What is pulling you today?

Joel 2:28-29 (ESV) “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

In Acts 2, this promise was fulfilled. Now the sons and daughters of God receive the Spirit of God sealing our adoption as His Children. The same Spirit gives us dreams and visions. His Spirit produces in us the fruit to feed our vision and make hope the reality of our life. All of God’s Promises, Purpose and Potential in us is affirmed with a resounding “yes” and “amen” just because His Spirit is in us. You cannot fail if you live by faith. Faith makes all things possible but not necessarily easy. Faith is not by sight. You cannot see it. You just have to believe. Though Abraham and Sarah’s bodies were dead – their dream was very much alive. The only one who can stop God’s Love and Goodness from overtaking you in the land of the living is you. The enemy cannot take what belongs to you – you have to hand it over to him. Do you have a dream? Has God given you a vision? What is stopping you from pursuing it? What keeps you from waiting on it? How’s your vision today?

Your purpose explains what you are doing with your life. Your vision explains how you are living your purpose. Your goals enable you to realize your vision. (Bob Proctor)

Psalm 119:17-19 (ESV) Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Losing Me

LosingMe

Matthew 10:38-39 (MSG) “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

“Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!” (Bethel Worship)

Woke up with music on my mind today and this line from a worship set I have been listening to. Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus! The joy of surrender. Conflicting terms to the world but celebratory for the Christian who gives their life to Jesus. There is joy in surrender because giving up my life allows me to fully embrace who I was created to be. The enemy wants us to think that such an attitude followed by intentional action becomes a regulated life of rules and constant sacrifice. The truth is that in sacrificing what sin made me, I can fully embrace who I was created and called to be by God through Jesus Christ.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.” Seems harsh yet I can attest the humble offering of my broken life has never been less than totally rewarding. I am not who I used to be. Some days, I am comfortable in that and then others it is not so gratifying but always beneficial. To compare our natural life to the supernatural existence offered by the Lord is like a fairytale to some – they want the happily ever after but cannot believe it is possible. I have come to a point where my life is worth nothing outside of Christ. I have come to realize that every good thing in me and around me is straight from Heaven. God is a good father. He has given me a good life. He has stuck with me through thick and thin so the least I can do is oblige Him the same. I don’t want to be like the ten lepers who were healed but only returned to give Jesus glory and gratitude. I wonder if that is a sad statistic hidden in God’s Word. How many come to the Lord yet never go the distance? They take hold of the blessing but never enter a relationship with the One True Blessing. The One who gives and gives and gives to His Children. The One who gave His Life for me and you.

John 12:24-26 (MSG) “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

To make it practical – there is the illustration of a grain of wheat or a mustard seed of faith. It must be planted in the ground to reach its full potential for in its present form it remains just that – potential. Until a seed changes its form, there is no transformation into purpose. You have a purpose. God created a plan with a future and hope just for you. In order to have the full potential and purpose for our life, it must be surrendered by faith to the Creator. He takes what is in us and makes way for fulfillment. We have to make a choice. Natural life or supernatural living – one is limited and the other limitless. One stretches the span of our birthday to the date on our death certificate. Those who want eternal life choose to give up this life in order to have forever. But God doesn’t impose punishment or suffering on those who choose surrender but fulfillment and full satisfaction beginning now. He brings Heaven to connect with us on earth when it is our decision to receive Him now AND forevermore.

Jesus set forth an example. A clear-cut pathway of service called unconditional love and amazing grace. The two will always require a forfeiture of our rights in every capacity. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Giving even when it hurts. Continually laying down our life to serve the most unworthy of characters knowing we once walked in their shoes. Are you surprised? I didn’t mention all the do’s and don’ts of religious doctrine. I didn’t highlight the “seven deadly” sins. I am convinced that those who truly fall in love with Jesus Christ will avoid sin. They will do their best to not sin as to not hurt their beloved. I do not want to hurt my husband, children, family or friends. I have no ill will toward them. I would not take advantage of them knowingly. I try not to take anyone for granted. So why would I ever wish to knowingly harm the Lover of my Soul who laid down their life just to have me with them forever? I tried to be a good Christian. It didn’t work out so well. When I finally crawled to the Cross empty-handed and begged the Lord to take me – everything changed. It continues to change daily. I throw in the towel and pick it back up again. Not for people – I just can’t leave Him. I can’t ignore Him. I can’t live, breathe or move without Jesus Christ. He is my everything!

Philippians 2:16-18 (MSG) Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

I want to be living proof that Jesus Christ is alive and well. I cannot do that on my own. I am a mess just like everyone else. I can pull it together some days with a good night’s sleep and some Maybelline but the truth is that inside I struggle to keep my heart and mind set on Christ. To continue to live by faith and not by sight. To put others before myself especially those who don’t do the same. To do everything readily and cheerfully is a challenge. To be a breath of fresh air to the squalid and polluted society that is going to hell in a handbasket is tough. Some days it is easier to say, “Have it your way! If that’s what you want, go right ahead!” But the Lord reminds me of my worth and that others are just as valuable – every one of us cost Christ every drop of His Blood and breath of His Life to save us. I am living proof that Christ heals, delivers, saves and redeems whether I act like it or not. The only thing I have to be proud of is Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Can we be real for a minute? Completely honest? I get tired. I feel worn out most of the time. I am burned out, fed up and over religion. I just want Jesus – thank you very much! He says, “Come to me.” When I take the time to rest in Him, I find that all the frustration begins to melt away. He encourages me to keep going. He tells me it will be worth it. He prods me to plant more faith. To give more. To learn from unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is easily offered when our full expectation is in Jesus. Disappoint comes when we set our eyes and expectations on lesser things. Human beings are imperfect. They will ALWAYS find a way to let you down. Transitioning all of our life into the Hands of God for His Workmanship to make it into a masterpiece is never easy. We are taught to live each day to the fullest. Go for broke. You only live once. Our faith cannot be based on the ideology and misconceptions of the desperation of this world but fully invested and completely convinced that God is exactly who He says that He is and will do EXACTLY what He promises.

There came a time in my life about halfway through when there were just too many broken pieces to make anything of worth. A normal life became impossible and a good life unpalatable. I was handed fear, anxiety, worry, doubt and anxiety. I carried that basket for a long time. I was broken. Oh, I was a believer and Christian. I had my heart and mind totally set on Jesus Christ but couldn’t see a future rising up from my devastated life. How could this be the life God promised for me? Was it really going to end like that? I remember the night that I slid all my broken pieces across the table into His Nail-Scarred Hands. I can’t fix me Lord. I am lost in my life and struggling. He took it. All of it. Nothing has been the same sense. It seems like just when I think “I” have it all together again. I am reminded by Jesus – “Hey, are you looking for this?” I find my being in Christ. Losing every part of me including all my self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem taught me where to find life. I had to lose control. Life became inconvenient. I had to struggle my way out of my present form to embrace the changes coming. I had to lose my life to find it. I had to lose my life in Him. His Name is Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG) Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

The Feels

the feels

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

Not sure where it came from but glad to see it go, the little dark rain cloud that overshadowed my day. There is nothing worth than an optimist who wakes up pessimistic. I could feel it like a shroud over me. Is this what they call the “feels”? Let’s be honest. It’s called a funk. No one is immune to it and some succumb on a regular basis. I warned those around me. I tried to pray, praise and press through it. With a deep sigh of resignation, it was just going to be one of those days. Are you having one of those days?

To make the day even better (with a hint of sarcasm), I had visit to my hygienist. Every princess needs a crown and my dentist believes that I am such a person. Another tooth that needs immediate attention. Checking out – an unexpected bill. I just keep walking, moving and breathing through this day. Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before but some are just a little more difficult to maintain the love, peace and joy found in our sweet Savior and Lord. Why? We are only human. With emotions, feelings and our own strong will to accompany our flesh in trying to stop this wonderful hope rising up within us to overflow into the darkness of this world. The Lord IS good to those who depend on Him – even when we don’t feel good. He is good to those who search for Him because in His Presence is fullness of joy. It is good to wait on the Lord. He always comes to our rescue.

It is not natural to be happy all of the time. Life happens. God is always good. His Goodness pursues us accompanied by unfailing love. He promises rivers of living water and inexpressible joy. We have hope that does not lead to disappointment but sometimes it’s just a little harder to grasp. The days that are a struggle have purpose and meaning. These are the times of endurance when you go with what you know about God rather than how you feel about life in general. The good news is that joy comes in the morning. Every morning comes with the promise of something better than yesterday. We live from glory to glory and victory to victory even on the days overshadowed by dark clouds. Our hope is in the Lord.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The faithfulness of God towards us is His Love. It really doesn’t matter the details of our day because God has promised to work each one for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) On the tearful days of sadness or frustration, the Lord captures each tear. (Psalm 56:8) The Word of God says, “You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Why? Is He keeping track of something? Yes, the details that will be changed into goodness. The Lord promises to change our mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy. He prerecorded our life from beginning to end so that His Grace would be sufficient in our weakness and His Power manifested in our life. The Lord is my inheritance so on the days when nothing adds up I am still blessed exceedingly abundantly even in my bad mood.

Darkness is the absence of light. Light always drives out the darkness. The Light of His Love carries us through dark days. His Breath gives us words to offer a sacrificial praise and thanksgiving when we just don’t feel like it. He is our strength. The Lord in us gives us the ability to press on when we are pooped out. God is my strength and portion forever, but I will never know that without dark days and difficult circumstances. Opportunities to trust and believe come in moments of testing. When offered our feelings or future what will I choose – to give up or rely on confident hope to get me through a bad day or bad mood. The enemy wants you to believe that they will begin to pile up but God says, “My mercies are new each day!”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens.” The energy expended in a bad day should be in shifting the burden of our heart, mind and soul to the one who promises to give us rest. The mitigating circumstances and troublesome conditions are temporary. They will not last forever. The Lord offers His Yoke to us. To partner with us every day. I wonder if on those less than stellar days if maybe I forgot to give up my way to fully embrace His Way. Or is the struggle that He is offering me rest and I insist on working for it. The blessing of the Lord comes and brings no sorrow with it. Sometimes we put the burden on ourselves in our disbelief or doubt concerning the Lord’s faithfulness. We worry, stress and become anxious in the waiting heaping weights of disappointment and discouragement on a heart set free in the Lord. He promised us an easy yoke and light burden. To be weighed down is of our own design – His Sweet Offering is to simply, “Come to me…” In exchange for submitting our way to His Way, the Lord promises to give us rest and relieve those burdens and sorrows not meant for us to bear.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the “feels” are a wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be explained. You will be tempted to give into your feelings from time to time. Yesterday’s little black raincloud doesn’t have to follow you into today. I John 3:20 reminds us that God is greater than our feelings. Emotions and moods do not dictate the direction of our day unless given the authority and power to do so. On those days of such overtures, when a good dose of the “feels” overtake us – those are the times to endure. Do not permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. Good advice…if carefully considered and applied to our life. When tempted to give in, give up or if you grow weary in well doing, consider the new mercy granted in each new day and reach for it. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Optimists can become pessimists from time to time. Yet dare I hope in this – the faithful love of God never ends. His Faithfulness is new each morning. Yesterday does not set the course of today or have to leak into tomorrow. God’s Grace is sufficient for me to exchange every weakness for His Power. I live in constant hope and expectation. It is a choice. It is His Promise. Say goodbye to the little dark raincloud, and “hello” to the Light of His Love.

Psalm 30:10-12 (NLT) Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.”  You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Be My Vision

Be My Vision

Habakkuk 2:2-4 (ESV) And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

I ventured out with my daughters and grands for lunch and a shopping trip to their favorite – you know the place with the big red bullseye. My oldest daughter needed an eye exam so while I entertained our newest addition she popped in to make an appointment. Of course, who can resist looking at eyeglass frames when presented with so many options? I have been considering new eyeglasses. I have contacts and love the convenience of them. However, my eyes require bifocals. In order to wear contacts, I must give up some of my distance vision in order to see up close. Because I proofread and edit for a living, seeing the computer monitor clearly is a priority. Eyeglasses would allow me to have the best of both worlds – but it requires wearing them. I must choose between 20/20 vision and vanity. The struggle is real.

There is a message here. A valid point that requires our attention. Do you struggle with discontentment? Disappointment? Discouragement? Do you lack vision in your life? Do you see the temporary but not the eternal? Are you stuck in your past or struggling with today but oblivious of the future? See it is human nature to get distracted. The enemy uses it to keep us from moving past the lie that is set before us. He uses the impossible to thwart our thinking and cause us to forget that our future is set. What is your vision today? How do you perceive your life and existence? Can you see the Father or the Son or His Spirit at work around you or in you? The Light of His Love will illuminate the way but Jesus must be our vision.

My littlest grandson is a newborn who cannot clearly see the fully formed images around him but he loves to look at lights. As we walked through the store, his little head bobbled to see the illumination above him. We are attracted to light. However, if you look at the sun it is blinding and impossible to make out the fully formed image of its flaming shape. Little man is growing and developing each day. As he matures, names will be given to those images and he will form thoughts and ideas about life all around him. My prayer is that my little grandson will only have eyes for the Lord and all that He has for him. These are the words I speak and pray over him as I have his mother and her siblings their whole lives.

The Vision

A complaint has been registered and the Lord is responding. I know this seems obvious yet still a question worth asking. Have you let the Lord know your complaints? Dissatisfactions? The things that you share readily with family, friends, coworkers and anyone else who will listen. Have you gone to the Throne of God, your father, boldly and with confidence that He will answer? So many times we take everyday problems to ordinary people and expect that to offer guidance and wisdom. We put our expectation in others rather than leaving them at the feet of Jesus in exchange for perfect peace and victory that only He can give us.

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie…”

How seriously do you take God’s Word for your life? Do you read it? Study it. Pray it. Do you have daily conversations with the Living God who loves you? Do you discuss the things that concern you or details left undone? Do you take this relationship serious enough to trust Him with your innermost thoughts, longings, weaknesses, desires, and yes, your complaints? See if your life is reaching its full potential – the Lord is the only One who can change that. He prerecorded our entire life from creation to completion. (Psalm 139) He promises to make every detail turn out for our good for those who love Him. (Romans 8) Do you love the Lord? Is He your Savior? Is He your Lord? The Lord will be our vision when we look to Him evaluating life through Him, His Word and His Spirit. It changes how we see things. We must take Him at His Word.

Write the vision. Make it plain. I am the world’s worst about hearing the Lord concerning a matter then grabbing the paintbrush from His Hand to make my own masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) In other words, the Lord gives me a vision and I try to make it happen. Why? I like control, comfort and convenience just as much as the next person. I hate to wait and am naturally impatient. The vision of God for your life and mine is specific including the timing. We must learn to write down these thoughts, aspirations and impossible images. Study them by exploring them in God’s Word. Praying about them allowing His Spirit inside of us to instruct us and guide us to completion and full realization. Do you believe that God can do the impossible? Most of the time the vision for our life seems to be just that impossible but please note Habakkuk 2:4 for the secret of fulfillment – “but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Faith gives life to godly vision. It is the factor that overcomes fear and makes the impossible absolutely possible in our life.

“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; thou my best Thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” (Eleanor H. Hull – 1912)

Acts 2:16-18 (ESV)  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

God predestined us with a purpose. He filled us with great potential to live a prosperous life. This life is realized by faith. Joel prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit and there would be visions and dreams that would accompany that outpouring. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us which is what happened in Acts 2 and continues today. The Spirit of God identifies us as His Children thereby granting us our Kingdom residence and heavenly inheritance. God speaks to people through His Word, His Spirit, audibly, prayerfully, in dreams and visions. This is not debatable – it’s His Word. If I choose to discredit or disregard any part of God’s Word as ineffective or impractical – the whole thing is worthless to me. God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. We must recognize God’s Voice in our life in order to make room for His Vision.

“I will dare to believe, anything is possible. I throw caution to the wind, it’s time to risk again! I will dare to believe anything is possible in Jesus…my Jesus!” (Lindy Conant – Bethel Worship)

Luke 1:37 (ESV) For nothing will be impossible with God.

Do you believe that today? Do you believe that NOTHING is impossible with God? In Ezekiel 37, there is a valley of dry bones. It is full of drought and death. God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” The Lord instructs him to speak life into those dry bones and they indeed come to life. What is dead in your life? What is left in the valley of dead dreams, disappointments, and discouragements? Did the Lord give you a vision but it took too long so you left it behind? Maybe you made some mistakes and feel like that thing God had for you is lost forever. I have wonderful news for you today. God doesn’t honor death and always has new life for us. Just because things didn’t turn out the way “we” wanted them to or He didn’t do it the way “we” thought that He would doesn’t mean that we have missed God’s Purpose for us. Remember, Psalm 139, every day of our life is handwritten. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. Nothing is lost or wasted. God even collects our tears. His Love for us is far greater than our love and commitment for Him. We must simply gain a clear perspective of His Word, His Purpose and His Plan. Grabbing it, writing it down, studying it, claiming it, speaking it and waiting for it until it comes. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

God is faithful. Even when our faithfulness and commitment to Him wanes, He still pursues us with unfailing love and faithfulness. Our job in all of this is to simply believe that God loves us unconditionally and live in His Love. When we decide to believe that God’s Love has no boundaries, obstacles begin to topple over as our rebellious thoughts are taken captive and His Word given a place to grow. It will require endurance and perseverance. The enemy doesn’t want you to believe God or His Truth concerning you because at that very moment you will become unstoppable and fully satisfied. Lord, I ask you today to be our vision. May we only have eyes for you Jesus and what you have for us! In your precious and holy name – we ask and receive. Amen and amen.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (ESV) For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

 

New Heart

New Heaert

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The image a vivid reality in my mind. Praying to the Lord to take all of me is a common cry in the church today but do we really understand what we are saying. God begins a good work in us. Holy Inhabitation makes it possible as the Holy Spirit takes over those areas of our life invested in the Kingdom. The fashion of holy consecration is brokenness. It is an act of humility. Sacrifice that demands all of us to produce good fruit and abundant life in all areas. The Lord has promised to give us a new heart and new spirit. The Word of God says, “I will put within you.” When our religion becomes a true relationship with Jesus Christ – our heart cannot be withheld and flesh cannot survive the burning passion and desire to seek Him, know Him and be with Him.

The Heart of Stone

Back to the revelation in my prayer time, I saw a sharp pointed knife cutting through dull gray exterior resembling a rock. As it began to cut with excellent precision – I wondered if it could get through the concrete exterior. What would be inside? As it continued the downward trend, a beautiful beating heart emerged. It took my breath away as in that moment I drew in a cleansing breath. God is this what you want to do in me, my family, my church and my community. Are you trying to take our stony, hard hearts and give them new life? Absolutely.

It’s funny that humanity thinks it can evoke heavenly change in an earthly body. The embodiment of religion is to produce positive change on the exterior, but without the inward change of a circumcised heart – it won’t work. We can build churches but not become the Church. We can resemble broken and handicap bodies but not become the Body of Christ. The prosperity of our hands will not move the Heart of God. He must complete the good work that He has begun in us through His Son, Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Have you given your heart to Jesus?

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 (ESV) “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Before moving ahead to obedience, our heart must truly repent before the Lord. Jesus must be the Way, the Truth and Life for us. In that moment, everything changes but unless one engages in the relationship with Christ – it is merely another social venue chosen in which to exist. The miracle of salvation is made complete in the covenant formed as a relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, it is nothing more than religion. Religious people do not necessarily have eternal life. Without a heart change produced solely by the Lord and His Spirit, we may look different, sound good, and live better but eternal life comes from an intimate and ongoing relationship with the Father through His Son.

Grace is always enough. This is not a call to live a perfect life. Never make mistakes. Always make good choices. Stop sinning completely. Though these are our goals, the battle against our flesh is quite evident and the struggle is real. (Romans 7) What does God require of you? To fear the Lord your God. To walk in all His Ways. To love him. To serve Him with all your heart and soul. To keep His Commandments and Statutes.

Here’s a plot twist for you! Every bit of this is summed up in love. Romans 13 tells us that we are to own no one anything but love. The Message translation puts it like this – “Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.” To love Jesus with all of our heart and soul makes sin unpalatable if it separates us from His Love. When our union with Christ is complete, He becomes our priority over selfishness because He is better than life. You cannot engage in a relationship with Christ without a circumcised heart. It is the sign of covenant. In the Old Testament – an outward sign of a promise. In the New Testament – it is an inward sign of a new heart, mind, soul and body devoted to Jesus Christ.

New Heart

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This verse has been heavy on my heart. The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword to the division of soul and spirit…Is the Sword of the Spirit for me? Yes. To use on others. To wield against the enemy and every perceived threat. Yes. But first, before all of that, it is for me to allow God to circumcise me and give me a new heart and new soul to serve Him. What if we have been going about this all wrong? What if our first action as a believer is to allow God to use this two-edged sword on our own stony and stubborn hearts…first. Always first. When tempted to lash out can we let His Word cut away the lack of love in us. What if the sword is useless in our defense unless it produces change in us first? Jesus is the Word. He is the Way, Truth and Life. No one gets to the Father but through Him. If God’s Word does not work in me, I cannot become the new creation filled with new life that He promised. I must consecrate my life beginning with my heart and soul before I can make an impact in my home, church and community. Otherwise it is just good works not godly deeds.

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

A stubborn hard heart cannot give the kind of love that it has received from the Lord. God is love. His Love for us comes without condition and immeasurable grace. A heart of stone cannot receive such love and it is like pouring water on a rock. Only a heart broken before the Lord can receive all that He has for us. I wonder today if I might be so bold as to say the heart of the church must be circumcised again. To cut away the callous disregard for “sinners” just like us. To see people where they are instead of expecting them to “act” like us. To see ourselves transparently through the eyes of grace and humbly expect our misfortune apart from Jesus Christ. We have all failed the Lord. We are all sinners just the same. There is none righteous no not one.

Lord, I ask you to take the two-edged sword of your Word and penetrate our stony, stubborn and selfish hearts today. This word is for no one other than me for I am the least of these. Father, renew a right spirit in me. Let Your Presence be my dwelling place as I crawl back to You with my heart in my hands asking you to give me a brand new one! In Jesus Name!

Ezekiel 11:18-20 (ESV) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Barriers

Barrier

Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

There is a young lady in my life who I love dearly. She is a beautiful girl with a sweet heart. Like many people her age, she is struggling to make the right choices and apply her faith to life. She didn’t come to church so I reached out on social media. One of the qualities that I love about her is brutal honesty. She doesn’t hide behind a churchy façade of perfection but admits that her struggle is real. I told her I loved her and missed her this morning. She replied, “I was too ashamed to come.” My heart broke in that moment. I told her that God had her and that His Grace was always enough for her, not to mention that I love her no matter what! I hate that the very thing she needed most was restricted by her distrust. She stayed home rather than facing the hypocrites, mockers and stone throwers. “Whosoever come” limited by the line drawn by Christians of boundaries and barriers that keep the seeking from actually making through the door.

I will walk in freedom.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Gospel is only good news when covered by grace. Outside of God’s Grace given to us through Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us. The new creation is a result of God’s Word coming to live in us. His Name is Jesus. He is the Truth. The Truth always sets you free and never limits you. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. This is the inherent struggle of humanity with the Lord. How do we conceive and birth change in our life without rules, regulations and better choices? Jesus. How often do we try to change our attitude and actions only to fail miserable but then hide behind the things we can do and be by ourselves? Disciples of Christ remain faithful to His Teachings. His Primary Purpose and Motivation in all things is unconditional love and overwhelming grace. These are the qualities that establish our freedom and erase the line of religion drawn in the dust and dirt our flesh is made of.

John 8:36-37 (NLT) 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.

Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. I absolutely believe that I am a slave to sin. I cannot help but find a way to fall into it at least once if not a hundred times a day. If you think there is no sin in your life, then you are sadly mistaken. All fall short of God’s Standard for living. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. My way of life is not for anyone else other than me. God recorded every day of my life in advance. (Psalm 139) He predestined me with a purpose only found living as one with Jesus Christ. Within that plan and purpose, the Lord has given me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29) with a provision of love and grace sufficient to empower me in every weakness. He works every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8) I have to believe this includes my mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

John 8 begins with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. I cannot help but wonder where the other person engaged with her was hiding. If she was caught in the act, there had to be another party. Yet, he is absent. If we are all slaves to sin engaged in the same act, why do we not include ourselves when crucifying Christians or calling out their issues. Pride tells us that there is a hierarchy of transgresses not found in the Word. If we can pretend better than others, we win. This is absolutely not true. God’s Love and His Grace are offered to us one way. His Son – the Only Way – to access the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is our freedom.

Twice in this account, Jesus stoops to write something in the dirt. Many scholars conclude the Lord may have been listing the sins of her accusers. I wonder if maybe Jesus was erasing the barrier of religion to form a relationship. Perhaps our Savior and Lord was actually wiping away the line between sin and salvation while her accusers left one by one. Guilt and shame form regret that removes us from the Presence of God. His Love and Amazing Grace will lead us to “spacious places” (Psalm 18) but unresolved sin and judgment lead us to deeper darkness than before we knew Christ. He is the Light of the World. What is done in secret will be made public? His Light drives out darkness. It leads us to freedom. True freedom. Free to love Him without shame, remorse, or regret and openly enjoy His Pleasures evermore.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NLT) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open… Do you believe this passage today? Do you believe that Christ has set you free? What is limiting your life today? Jesus is the Gate. Those who come in through Him will be saved. “They will come and go freely and find good pastures.” The enemy will try to shut the gateway of freedom to our life by putting us back in our sin or at least reminding us of it so guilt and shame tries to shut the door and throw away the key. (John 10) Jesus reminds us today that His “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” He does not mention our past, present or future shortcomings and promises that His Grace will always be enough for us. Jesus knows how we feel, what we do and yet still loves us unconditionally. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Galatians 5:7-8 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

The religious folks had trouble accepting the matchless and magnificent grace of Jesus Christ. They could not comprehend or accept equality with common sinners. The established order of Jewish culture demanded personal retribution. Pride required a level of accountability. We must be very careful not to become trapped in their culture. The “Saul” in us must become “Paul” through our new life in Jesus Christ or it is a waste of time and energy. God has called us to freedom even providing the Way. It is up to us if we will take it, pursue it and live in Him. Legalism will never produce the kind of change that love will. Faith is in us but must be continually fed and watered the Word of God and cared for by His Spirit to grow and flourish into something reliable in our life. Bad choices do not hinder us. Unwillingness to admit our sin and meet Jesus at the Cross daily does.

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

Have you drawn a line in the sand? Is there a list of unpardonable sins that keep you from love and forgiveness? The limit in your life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Freedom to engage in a new life and find an inheritance as a Child of the Living God. Sin made us all slaves. Your only way to freedom is sonship. Turning to the Lord means that the veil of human expectation and accountability is irrevocably broken. Expectation placed in people is misplaced. If we set our heart, mind, body, souls and spirit on the Living God our life will be complete. Satisfaction will be found. Abundance of heart will fill our hands with outpouring of generosities beginning with love and grace for all mankind. It removes the barriers and obstacles of faith marked doubt and disbelief so faith can come alive in our life. Remove the restrictions today. Forgive freely. Turn from rules and regulations to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our freedom allows us to grant others the same becoming a beacon in the darkness for those who desperately need the Light. I am a sinner. I am saved by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. This is my story. It is the Truth that allows me to come to the Cross to be set free. To live free. To experience abundance to overflowing for others in need. Lord Jesus – please do not ever let me be the barrier blocking another from coming to the Cross. Forgive me if I have. Remind me if I do. Remove me from their path! In Your Precious Name, AMEN!

Psalm 119:96 (NLT) Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

Due Season

Due Season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I was talking to a friend of my not too long ago. Experiencing a bit of discouragement, the Lord pressed upon me to share that “He never leads us to barren fields.” The Word I thought was for someone else began to resonate in me. I love how the Lord does that. A word in due season. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) What is due season anyway? It simply means at the appropriate time, in due course, in due time, in good time or when the time comes. Due means rightful, proper or fitting. A season is a period of time when something is best or available.

Ecclesiastes 3 sets forth the boundaries and conditions of each season. Not every season seems pleasant at the time but each one holds its own fruit. Purpose and potential are not always evident in what we seen. The process by which God grows and develops are character is often difficult. The struggle is not in the outward conditions but our inward character. It is the death of our flesh that produces new life in every season. Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real and ongoing no matter how hard we try to overcome it. What season are you in? Everyone loves the harvest season but our willingness to endure the planting, persevere the drought, and wait for God’s Timing is essential in the abundant prosperity that is promised. God will not allow outward prosperity without soul prosperity. Our reliance on the Lord in every season is important to have His Plan with the future and hope it promises. It really doesn’t matter if we are successful in life if it does not allow the faith in our heart to connect us with eternity.

Leviticus 26:4-6 (NLT) “I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land. I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land.”

What season are you in today? Does it seem like it will never end? Are you discouraged? Do you feel abandoned? God’s Promise in Leviticus remains the same today. He promised seasonal rains. When you think the drought will never end? He sends a downpour. The land you are in has potential and is marked with purpose that will prosper and yield good fruit. Here is the important truth to quiet the need to leave or mindset to escape – “your threshing season will overlap and harvest will overlap WITH the season of planting. Learning to continually sow seed will inevitably result in overlapping harvests in our life. We just have to learn to continue to sow and plant when conditions are unfavorable or the wait seems too long. The problem is not in the land but in our heart.

God promises that we will be fulfilled and protected in “your own land”. Too often the greener grass on the other side causes us to wander rather than staying put to fulfill the plan of God that will lead to abundance and prosperity. He gives us peace in that place marked my own. He protect us giving us rest even when the enemies are pressing in and people seem like problems. God has already ordained blessing in our life – the problem is that we do not believe Him enough to stay put and keep beating the seemingly dry and dead place until breakthrough comes.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 

“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) What if God’s Seasons are not set by the same time and space as our perception of seasons? What if the markers He uses are different than the ones that humanity is accustomed to? Not only probably but highly likely. The seasons of the earth are to produce natural occurrences not supernatural outcomes. God defies human logic all the time by doing miraculous things – sometimes in a second or even in lifetimes. The problem is human nature demands natural results when God’s Plan and Promise is a supernatural outcome. He doesn’t bargain with just enough but promises overflowing abundance. He promises that we will produce fruit in season AND out of season. Are we limiting our life by observing natural seasons but not sowing in supernatural outcomes?

What do people really get for all their hard work? Each person who opened their eyes and took in another breath this morning has the same 24 hours to use as they see fit. Many years ago, a friend asked how I found time to write each day. I think she was looking for some epiphany and was quite disappointed with my response. I shared that I set my alarm to get up at 4:30 each morning in order to make time to spend with the Lord and write. She said, “Well, forget that and laughed walking away.” The next time busyness becomes an excuse I challenge you to examine your time. Your schedule and routine will tell you where you are sowing in life. It will tell you where to expect a harvest or increase. When we give a significant portion of our time to the world, we will reap earthly results. Hard work will pay off in our natural life. To sow seed in God’s Kingdom and connect with Him means reprioritizing our time making room for Him. It is only as our soul prospers that all of our life will reap the benefits. We must work smarter not harder. Grace is sufficient to allow us to enjoy the blessings and benefits of God for His Children. It is investing in His Kingdom to be one with the Body of Christ that produces such a harvest.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. What is your investment in Kingdom Living today? If you made a pie chart, what portion of your life is devoted to loving, knowing and serving God? Do you spend time with Him each day? Does He go to work, school or run errands with you? Is He the primary resource in your life? Do you rely on Him or a paycheck or someone else? What are you expecting from Him that hard work and motivation cannot produce? Do you believe His Grace is enough? The place you are planted has a harvest just for you that cannot be produced by anyone else. It is part of your purpose. It is a product of your plan ordained by the Living God who is inside of you. Watch for it. Prepare for it. Sow it. Wait for it. Stand on that field until it produces exactly what God promised you.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Are you waiting for due season? Keep waiting. The harvest of blessing comes with no sorrow added to it. The time, talent and treasure invested in God’s Soil will always produce good fruit even when the land seems barren and dead. He is the Life Giver who has given us resurrection power to call dead things to life.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Your process must always produce the Fruit of the Spirit first. Your soul must prosper in order for the ordinary to become extraordinary and the natural to produce supernatural. The world says work for it. The Lord says, “Worship me and you will have it all!”

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Going the Distance

The Long Road Ahead

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

From time to time, I have the privilege of teaching in our church. To share the Word of God like a warm bread basket of fresh rolls with others is an overwhelming responsibility that I find great pleasure in just like having guests over to eat a good meal together. However, there are times when the fresh word given to me from the Word of God and served up by His Spirit is not received as “I” think it should be. Like seeds falling on pavement or water splashing from a rock, last night was one of those times. While preparing, I sampled the thoughts and ideas for my own life and could see areas that the Lord was enriching me but when offered to others it was rejected like stale crumbs to be discarded. My heart was heavy. I was ready to leap off the platform when it was over.

It would be easy to quit. Give up. Never put myself out there again. It is not God’s Will. I know what I am supposed to do but struggle with not doing it. Immediately I begin to evaluate me. My “performance”. Maybe I should yell more. Jump around a little. Be more dynamic. Be more like this preacher or dramatic like this teacher. What if it is not about me at all? Well…now we are getting somewhere. What if everything was exactly as the Lord planned it last night? What if the lesson for me is perseverance not to make a better performance but to continue through the process until His Word prospers into His Purpose and His Plan?

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere…” To persevere is to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. It means to persist in anything undertaken even when faced with difficulty, obstacles or discouragement. To continue steadfastly. It doesn’t sound fun. It requires overcoming our flesh and pride to attain God’s Best. I want to live in the Presence of God. As close as humanly possible before crossing over into forever. In order to do this, perseverance will be a characteristic that the Lord works to develop in my life. I must persevere to reach my desired destination.

2 Kings 13:16-19 (NLT)  Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

The King Jehoash of Israel came to Elisha on his deathbed. He was perplexed by the Arameans. Elisha put his hands over the king’s hands and shot an arrow. The arrow directed by God’s Hand illustrated victory over Aram in the immediate battle. However, there were more to come. The king was instructed to take the remaining arrows and strike them on the ground. I am quite certain that his royal majesty did not understand the significance and maybe felt a little silly hitting the shafts against the ground. He stopped after striking the ground three times and Elisha with his last bit of strength became angry. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” Why? It is perseverance that leads to overwhelming victory. When things go beyond human comprehension and walking by faith not by sight becomes a requirement, what is your response? What do we do with the promise of victory? Overcoming? Healing? Prosperity? Pursue it for a season and then give up? Press in for a lifetime?

2 Kings 5:9-11 (NLT) So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!

What do you do when life does not go as expected? When the healing doesn’t come overnight? You are not given a means of escape? When the hits keep on coming? Do you give up? Naaman had leprosy. He came to Elisha’s house for healing. The Man of God gave him simple instructions. But rather than immediately heading off to the Jordan River, Naaman became offended and walked off in anger. The Jordan River was not a clean spring of clear water. Oh how our pride tries to stay alive when it is time to persevere. What condition is lingering because obedience is wavering? What if you did what the Lord said and defied human logic to hold on by faith? What if your promise is not held up by the Lord but you refuse to press on?

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)  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.

Walking out of church last night feeling defeated, I ran into the pastor. He had spent the evening with the youth. He asked about the service. I said, “Tough crowd.” He said, “Tell me about it.” I didn’t have to ask about his small group as the kids came pouring out excitedly chattering about their experience. I have the same privilege next week to continue this teaching on the Word of God. (with a slight sigh) I know that the Lord has a word of encouragement and instruction for our people. I know that I am the one to deliver it. But honestly it is way easier to share these things in a blog sent out to hundreds of people without consciousness of their reaction or response. It works for me. But for obedience tells me that in six short days, I will climb the same steps. I may even get the same response from the people. But the acceptance, affirmation and approval of others is nice but not needed. I must focus on one thing. One thing only. “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.” (Psalm 27:4)

I must forget the past. I have to look forward to what lies ahead. I must press on (persevere) to reach the end of the race. I want the heavenly prize. To hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To have something… anything to lay at His Feet will be worth it to me. The world can keep its applause and willy-nilly emotions. Just get me there, Jesus. Holy Spirit lead the way. I will be faithful to the end. I will go the distance.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

Finding God’s Favor

Finding God's Favor

Proverbs 3:3-5 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

There are two marketing strategies used in advertising to attract new customers. The first, lost leaders, refers to merchandise being offered at rock bottom pricing to entice people to shop the business. Usually offered in limited quantities, this technique is designed to gain consumer attention. They will continually shop the store looking for the next great deal. The second is considered a dishonest practice called “bait and switch” marketing. Customers are “baited” by advertising of items or services at a low price. Once arriving at the establishment, they discover the advertised goods are either not available or not as good as expected. Salespeople then pressure them to consider a similar but higher priced item. Advertising is a multi-billion dollar business which employees many tactics to sway the current market and gain clients the increase desired from their investment.

Consumerism is the basis of advertising employing the importance of increasing consumption of goods that is considered economically desirable. Supply and demand are the two main factors. To increase the demand requires the supply to meet those desires. This is how advertising thrives by making us think we need, want and desire certain things. It is also an enemy of contentment as the constant infiltration of materialism influences our choices each day. This was true in biblical times as well. Greed existed even in the Old Testament.

God grants His People His Favor. We sow and reap like everyone else does but with seeds of faith heavily invested the prosperity of life begins in our soul and spills over into our natural life. The psalmist confessed, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” What if we applied this same confession to every aspect of our life including our personal economy? We sow our time into family, jobs, hobbies and church. What is the return? We plant our talents into betterment and success. Are you successful? Investing that which is treasured seeking a return – has it come yet? See I believe that I have the favor of God. I believe that His Goodness is for me in the land of the living, but honestly I didn’t always think so. Some days I struggle to stay focused on the faithfulness and goodness of God granted to me by grace and accept His Favor in my everyday life.

God is able to do the impossible. If it is possible for me, who will get the glory once it is complete? I will. People will explain it away or make excuses. There are some who even expound on what God does, accelerate timing rather than waiting on His Perfection, and even some who will exaggerate the blessing to make it some kind of miracle. I have decided that I am not going to “help” God out anymore and wait for Him. How else will I know that God really can do the impossible? Where else will I find confidence that His Grace really is sufficient then by letting my weakness take over and saying, “I cannot do it”? It is easy to give the Lord credit for something we do. Every good thing is from the Lord, right? What if that good thing we did really isn’t a God thing? What if His Favor was ready to prosper us but we stepped in front of the Lord, ran ahead, or did a lesser thing for ourselves? It is sad to think of all the perfect and precious promise hidden behind pride and disbelief. The good news is that the Goodness of God IS for us in the land of the living.

Genesis 30 tells the story of Jacob and Laban. Jacob has worked his fourteen years and now has two wives and many children. He goes to his father-in-law seeking permission to return home. If you will remember, Jacob arrived at Laban’s home fleeing from his brother, Esau. He had schemed to take his brother’s birthright and the blessing of his father. Laban, being a shrewd businessman, is acutely aware that he has prospered significantly with his son-in-law’s help. He asks Jacob, “What shall I give you?” Jacob finally tells him to give him all the spotted, speckled, and black lambs along with all the speckled and spotted goats. This offer is too good to be true. Everyone knew that most lambs are born white and only goats came speckled and spotted. Laban agrees and both men leave thinking they have out schemed the other.

Jacob comes up with a preposterous plan using striped rods to visually incline the animals to produce striped or spotted offspring. He separates the animals so that only the strong animals reproduce. He thinks his elaborate plan has worked as the spotted, speckled and striped herd flourishes. When the time comes to leave, Jacob is a very wealthy man. He thinks he has pulled one over on his father-in-law but he had nothing to do with the prosperity experienced. God prospered his flock despite his interference. Everyone knows that what a sheep or goat “sees” doesn’t impact natural (or spiritual) reproduction.

How many times do we try to manipulate the Lord with futile efforts and fruitless deeds? We boast of blessings and favor not produced by the Lord but the result of our own investment and hard work. God has promised us that He will do exceedingly abundantly more than we can even imagine.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I was sharing with someone not too long ago that I am the Child of God who is given a glimpse of the bigger picture so I grab God’s paintbrush and try to finish the masterpiece. I am God’s Workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) He has carefully designed my entire existence to be beautiful in His Time. He has prerecorded all the days of my life according to His Unconditional Love, Overwhelming Grace, Abundance of Mercy and Constant Goodness which is always in pursuit of me as I run off to make things happen. What if God is doing a wonderful work in you but you are too busy doing things for yourself that there is no room for His Goodness? Yep – I am talking to me. How often does Father God have a blessing with no sorrow added to it but due to my impatience or need for control I decide to make it happen adding an undue burden to what God was going to do without any burden at all? Religion is based on works. Relationship is based on trust. This brings me back to Proverbs 3 today.

Because of God’s Steadfast Love for me and His Faithfulness, I have His Favor. The Favor of God is for the land of the living. The work that He is doing in me as a result of grace makes way in my weakness for His Favor to flourish prospering me in the natural as my soul prospers. God promises us good success in the His Sight and the sight of man. Laban attributed Jacob’s success to God’s Favor. However, Jacob thought he was doing it. Jacob spent the majority of his life in deception. He wasted many years thinking he was pulling one over on people. Despite all that, God was working in Jacob. He is working on me. He is working on you, too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

The Lord gives us opportunities to trust Him each day. Our relationship with a human being requires trust and so does our relationship with Jesus Christ. His Word is the covenant of our relationship. It carefully details every blessing and benefit of our connection with Christ. It says that those who abide in me will bear much fruit. This is not just in a spiritual connotation but a physical and natural directive. If we abide in Him and He abides in us it is the natural reproduction of things. God is good. His nature is to love because He is love. The rain falls on the just and unjust because the Lord desires to prosper us on every level. I am challenged today to trust God in every area of my life. This means I must evaluate every part of my heart, mind, and spirit for compliance. It means I must be patient and persevere. The enemy will challenge the weakest part of our heart. The area where trust seems to be the hardest. He is always seeking the ones who may be devoured. The truth about our life is this…

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

God is our sun and shield. He presents to us and gifts us with His Favor and Honor. NO GOOD THING does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. What does the Lord require of us? To act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8) To walk perfectly and live flawlessly has nothing to do with it. To live in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ is our lifelong pursuit that unwraps the gift of God’s Favor in our life. To trust the Lord with all of our heart and stop trying to understand everything. I hear all the time, “Well, if I don’t do it – nobody will.” That’s not true. If you don’t do it, God will have His Way and do exactly what He planned from the start. Pride tells us God needs our help. He needs us to build His Reputation. He need us to do something…anything to participate. Not true! The only thing the Lord requires of us is trust.

As believers it is very important not to sell a “lost leader” God or “bait and switch” Lord who offers good things to us that aren’t really true. To even suggest that we can somehow earn or deserve all that He has done for us is to make a mockery of the Gospel and is defined of a life of works without real faith. When we package our life based on anything other than steadfast faith and hopeful confidence by giving a false persona of who God is and how He operates – we lose people. God does then impossible. He doesn’t need to take credit for our investment. He will do it all to perfection without adding sorrow, burden or even weariness. The Lord has given us His Favor and our life of trust honors that gift. We cannot up sell God when His Gift of Life is priceless.

Do you trust the Lord today? The evidence is in the contents and conquests of our life. Areas of dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and discontent are the very place that are ready for divine intervention if we will only give up our need for comfort, control and convenience. Let God bestow His Favor on you today. Let His Goodness be Your Source. Allow Him to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can imagine. His Favor is for you. He is working in you to bring it to fruitfulness today – in Jesus Name!

Psalm 90:17 (ESV) May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.