Finding Refuge

Finding Refuge

Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV) In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.

The waiting room of God has a sign hanging over the door marked “Refuge.” It is a place of peace and calm even when storms rage all around us. Like watching a torrential downpour from the comfort of our home, tucked under a soft blanket in our comfy clothes, listening to the rain hit the house, and watching the wind whipping through the trees yet somehow comforted and untouched by the sound structure of our house. When I was a child, our family lived in a mobile home. Not like the manufactured homes produced today but more like a tin can with wheels. When a mighty storm with wind and rain rocked the trailer back and forth, I would sleep peacefully knowing my parents where in the other room seemingly unaffected by the bad weather outside. Refuge can be found in our natural circumstances and sometimes in situations and certain people can offer the aid, comfort or escape needed. But what about all the other times when conditions around us threaten the peace within us? Those times when nothing in the natural can give us rest or relief from the storms of life? We have a refuge. We must learn to find Him.

Life is full of changes and uncertainty. Just when everything seems to be coming together, it can suddenly fall apart. The unexpected looms around every corner. Comfort is compromised on a regular basis. Convenience is our goal most often unattained. Could this be God’s subtle way of ushering us from movable circumstances to immovable confidence? Maybe in the storms of life it in our panic it is possible to persuade us to enter His Refuge called Peace? Refuge (machseh) is translated in the Bible as trust. Trusting the Lord is our shelter, refuge, protection, fortress, hope, shelter from the storm. We find the word “refuge” used many times in Psalms. It describes the place of peace and calm in the midst of violent storms and enemy attacks. It is for God’s Children. He offers us refuge. It is up to us to enter in.

Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.

To wait on the Lord is the most trust-filled position yet completely contrary to human nature. To stop trying to find a way out, over or through a situation or problem and rest in peaceful hope with the fullness of expectation that God is good, able and willing work it out for us. God’s silence is not His Absence. It is an opportunity to step deeper into the refuge called hope. To experience the comfort called peace. To the God of the Impossible and live in His Presence. Yet, silence makes us uncomfortable. It makes us fidget and squirm. The lack of communication fosters fear in those who do not have fearless confidence in the Lord, His Way and His Word. We must buffet our heart and mind with the essentials of faith so that hope becomes our refuge even in God’s Silence. While the enemy dares us to move, our heart remains steadfast in His Shelter.

I shall not be moved…

The Lord is my salvation. He is my glory. He is my strength. He is my refuge. All these qualities of God are to be made manifest in our life. Salvation being the core value of faith that gives us a place to put all our expectation. He is our Glory because through Christ we are victorious in our Champion who overcame the world. He is the rock so much higher than I but climbing is striving drawing me from my comfort zone into His Presence. To look down from such a place in the natural is riveting but to remain steadfast in such a place is powerful.

Trust in Him at all times…

Easier said than done most of the time, trust is the access point marked “refuge”. We must trust the Lord to find the peace of God even when He is silently working every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Fear and doubt produce anxiety that keeps us from staying in the refuge of God’s Presence. Faith cannot remain where fear is given a place in our life. The two cannot coexist but are mutually exclusive opposing forces. If we could only learn to trust the Lord with every detail of our life – we would live in the refuge of His Presence where peace passes all understanding. Faith would give way to confident hope rooting and grounding us in His Love. (Ephesians 3:17)

A preacher once gave the illustration of trust being the difference between a potted plant or planted tree. A potted plant is in grave danger when the storm comes. A tree planted with deep roots will fair far better. The potted plant is tossed about in the driving wind and raging storm where the one that is planted will be swayed back and forth but remain steadfast. There are many believers who are like potted plants when it comes to the Lord and His Presence. Running to and fro when the storm comes their position in Christ is compromised by a lack of commitment. However, those who decide to be like a tree planted by the riverbank will prosper in every season because they are planted in the Presence of God. The roots that keep us planted in the Presence God called refuge are called trust. When we trust the Lord, it will create a bond that keeps us latched on to Him tightly making us immovable and unshakeable in the most violent of conditions.

Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

God is a very present help in trouble. What about when I can’t hear Him? Feel Him? See Him? Understand Him? Our inability to perceive the workings of the Lord doesn’t mean that He is absent. We are called to walk by faith not by sight or any other of our natural senses. When given the opportunity to trust the Lord, we choose our position. Will I remain faithful? Will I continue to worship the Lord for Who He is? Will my words be filled with confident praise or constant complaining? Will I believe for one more day? Will I wait for Him to come like He said that He would? Will I give God the time and space to allow His Will to come to pass even if it means forsaking my comfort, convenience and control? God makes all things beautiful in His Timing. We are His Masterpiece yet to be completed.

Trusting God is the only way that fulfillment will come and our expectation be fully met. He is our strong tower that keeps the enemy at bay. (Psalm 61:3) God does not force us to enter refuge but we must make the decision. “I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge…’” (Psalm 91:2) God’s Presence, His Place called Refuge, is “my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5) So many times, we try to weather the storms of life because we cannot accept that by grace we are saved through faith” and there is nothing that can be done to earn it, deserve it or preserve it. I must have faith in the Living God. He lives in me…now. He wants to give me refuge now. He wants to be my peace and portion…now. Trust creates the kind of reliance on God that meets our expectation despite our current condition. “But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” (Psalm73:28)

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The only place in the New King James Version of the New Testament that refuge is mentioned is in the Book of Hebrews. The faith book of the Bible tells us that so “we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Are you holding on to hope today? Even if it is only by a thread you can use it to pull yourself into the Presence of God. He is our hope. He has made an oath to us. He has given us a plan containing a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) God created us with a measure of faith to seed our life (Romans 12:3) so that confident hope will be produced. We sow God’s Word in our heart and it is cultivated by His Spirit inside of us when we trust Him to do so. (Galatians 5:22-23) God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. (Hebrews 6:18) He does not withdraw His Calling from us. He is always for us working every detail of our life for good. (Romans 8:28) He promises to perfect all that concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) But none of these things will ever come to pass, if we do not learn to trust Him. We must yoke our life to Jesus Christ in order to find the refuge needed to wait out the storm or find protection from the enemy. It is in that place of silence and security that peace passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and there is joy in our salvation (Psalm 51:12). He wraps us in a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10) Shields us beneath the wings of angels (Psalm 91:4). He will fight for us when our faith allows us to stand down yet steadfast in His Love. Confidently waiting for our portion to refill us, restore us and renew us day by day.

There is no greater refuge than the peace found in the Presence of God. He offers to be our refuge always not just when tough times come or bad things happen. We can live in the Presence of God every day. He will be our refuge. He wants to be our strength. Finding refuge means to simply trust Him with your life. All of it. Withholding nothing and His Presence will fill every nook and cranny. You will prosper as your soul prospers according to His Word. Once you find it, you will never want to leave Him again.

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Can’t Stop the Rain

Can't Stop the Rain

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NKJV) “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Our son recently graduated from college and secured a position in our hometown. Yesterday was moving day so our family loaded up to help him make the trek with all his possessions back home. He doesn’t have a great deal of furniture since he has been living in the quad housing with only a bedroom and bathroom to himself sharing the rest of the unit. The forecast was favorable all week. Hence, it was decided that a truck, my SUV and his car would be sufficient to get the job done. Well, the work truck ended up needing a new tire that delayed our departure a couple of hours. It took three stores to find the tire in stock. Our plan was not already behind schedule. Upon arrival, it seemed time was on our side as in less than an hour fully loaded and ready to go – the caravan back began. It didn’t take long to see the clouds on the horizon grow dark and black. My daughter and I prayed asking the Lord to hold back the rain. We asked in Jesus Name. Within minutes – a few drops became a torrential downpour. My heart sank as I realized unavoidable rain would ruin everything in the truck. Why? Why didn’t God answer our prayer offered in His Name? I know that I believed in my heart that He could and He would but He didn’t? Food for thought for the next hour and half.

Why doesn’t God keep us from the inconvenient to inconceivable in life? Whether we pray to miss a storm or for Him to heal cancer, why doesn’t it happen? To know and understand this truth will change the way a believer approaches the things in life that cannot be understood and must be overcome by trust. Isn’t the point of this life? To exercise faith and develop confident hope that is able to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is working hard to sow seeds of faith that will grow into His Fruit. The kind of fruit that not only promotes godliness, but prospers us. (Galatians 5:22-23) As our soul prospers, so will our life. (3 John 1:2) God has granted us every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3) accessible by faith and trust that decides to live in a right relationship or covenant with the Lord. There is purpose in our life with far more potential than the human eye can see or mind understand. (Ephesians 3:20) God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. We must walk by faith and not by sight to receive it. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

John 14:12-14 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

I asked the Lord to stop the rain during our trip because it was inconvenient. It would cause a problem for us. It would cost us money to replace the furniture. It would not be good for us. It was not what I wanted. It would prolong our day and lead to great frustration. There is a whole lot of “me”, “we”, “us” and “I” in the previous statements. If every day and in every way including every detail of my life goes the way that I want it to – there is no need for faith or trust because I am content within my conditions, circumstances, and control. However, when things do not go according to my plan, my will and my word it forces me to depend on, lean on, rely on and trust the Lord.

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

We want to believe that whatever you ask in Jesus Name that He will do it. However, the important part is hidden in the remainder of the ordination when it says, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God has a provisionary plan for our life. He also has a providential plan for us. God supplies all our needs according to His Riches in Heaven. A place that we cannot see, feel or experience apart from Jesus Christ. It is not a place to be comprehended by human logic but faith made logical by the Word of God. We pray for the things that produce comfort, convenience or control but to know Christ and live in Him means giving up these things to become confident in our hope. Truth bomb that doesn’t feel good when it hits but as it sinks in you will experience peace that passes all understanding. This peace allows us to be patient enough to see that when God doesn’t answer our prayer for our will that His Will comes to pass and it is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Yes, it did rain on our son’s furniture and ruin some of it. However, before we made it back to town new items were found and arranged for purchase. We were all gathered around a nice meal enjoying each other by dinner time. Tired? Yes. Rained on? Totally. Together? Absolutely. God is doing wonderful things in our midst. His Plan and Purpose always is far greater than what we can promote for ourselves. He is working in us to make certain that our faith and confident hope prospers into a bond that will overstep death into eternity. Yes, it is in the details of life that challenge us until one day rather than trying to control everything – we finally see that His Word will not return to Him void. He is indeed working every detail of our life for His Glory. He will answer the prayers of a righteous man but it doesn’t always turn out, look like or happen as we asked. Faith in God requires us to experience rain. The rain comes with promise. It promotes productivity. It waters the seed of faith in us so it will grow, develop and thrive in every season of life straight into forever.

James 5:17-18 (NKJV) The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (I Kings 17:1)

When Elijah prayed that it would not rain, he was not praying according to his will. Think about it. Drought in the land would cause him personal hardship. It would also be a life-threatening proclamation to king and country that would put his life in danger. However, God was setting Elijah and the people up. First there was the widow who would be given the impossible child. This would be the child resurrected from the dead. This would be the same woman whose testimony restored all she had lost in the drought. All this came to pass because she faithfully opened her home to the prophet. God had all the details planned out in the drought. Then God told the prophet it was time to release the rain again. Surely this would bring favor to God’s man, Elijah. Well, not exactly. It would be the setup for great revival on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal would be proven wrong and many would call on the Name of the Lord. Jezebel would now threaten Elijah’s life and he would hide on the mountain. God came to him there and he would experience new revelation and communion with the Lord.

I Kings 19:11-12 (NKJV) Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is setting you up. He has something in store for you worth waiting for. He is working in you and through you to bring it to pass. God did not send the rain, wind, broken pieces, earthquake, fire or any of those other things to harm you. He is going through them with you to bring about fulfillment. The Lord is removing every barrier between you and His Blessing, Promise and Prosperity for your life. He is working hard to tear down every lie that keeps you from the Truth. Will you trust Him? Will you wait for Him? Will you seek Him? Will you keep talking to Him? Will you believe?

Genesis 9:12-16 (NKJV) And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Our son arrived to the college campus compliments of Life Flight. Once there he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer. He spent six years on that campus getting his education and fighting cancer more than half the time. On my way to the hospital to begin treatment and on the same highway traveled home on yesterday – there were more rainbows than I could count. I cried the whole way. Not because of the journey begun but the promise in those rainbows. Rain comes with promise. The promise that God is with us. He has not forsaken us and will use every drop to prosper our life. It may be messy and inconvenient. It may spoil our plans or reroute our life. But in the end, I have found the Lord to always be faithful. Our son graduated college and beat cancer more than once maybe that was the sign in all those rainbows. When God decided to destroy the earth and all the inhabitants except Noah and his family – the man of God who found favor with Him could not stop the rain from coming. He could just be obedient in building the ark, getting on it when ordered, patiently waiting out the storm and exiting when it was time. Once there God promised a new covenant…a better covenant… and with every shower there will be a rainbow to remind us. God is with us. Jesus lives in us. It may not be going according to our plan, but it is according to His Plan. He is faithful.

If you are going through a storm that you have tried to pray away unsuccessfully, be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. The rain is watering the seed of faith planted in your heart and as your soul prospers so will your life. God is doing more than you can think or ask. You just have to believe and keep confident in God’s Word for your life. He has promised you a future and hope attained in wholeheartedly seeking Him. It will cost you convenience, comfort and control. But in the end, it will be more than you ever could have produced naturally as His Peace overtakes you and His Joy fills you from the inside out. Your cup will run over. The table set before your enemies. His Unfailing Love and Goodness will sweep you off your feet and carry you way into your Destiny.

Hosea 6:3 (NKJV) Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

 

Sow Good Seeds

Sow Good Seeds

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While I agree with Mr. Franklin in his statement about discipline, I might be so bold to add that what you do between those hours of rising and then falling into bed are equally important. The hours of each day are expended time which cannot be reclaimed. Some days are filled with productivity and others lived on a whim. What are you doing with your time? The most important commodity of your life is the very thing that cannot be replenished. In order to produce something of worth – the Kingdom of God – we must sow our time wisely along with the right seed to have it prosper into fulfillment rather than regret.

Seedtime and harvest is the simple process of planting and harvesting in life. Sowing and growing are naturally occurring but when used to expand and increase the Kingdom the natural is infused with the supernatural.

I Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

What is God growing in your life today? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your current condition? Are you prospering or stalling? Consider the seed you are sowing. Going to bed early and getting a good night sleep will definitely improve the quality of your day with ample endorphins. Rising early will allow you to get a head start. However, before attempting to put your seed in the ground – let’s consider what it is that is being sown. It is the telltale of the harvest. Sowing the right seeds each day will produce a good harvest. God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and wise – these are qualities of prosperity in life. Jesus came to give us an abundant life full of satisfaction. We must plant. It must be watered. God will increase it.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

In Matthew 3, it tells of the farmer who is scattering his seed. The seed is sown in a variety of places. There are many outcomes to the productivity of the seed according to where it falls. The parable is a picture of God’s Word. Each day it is important to sow the Word of God in our life to produce Kingdom results. Not to get too deeply theological, it is the essence of communion with Jesus Christ. His Body was broken for our consumption so that we can live connected to Him like the vine and branches. Abiding in Him. Jesus is the Word of God. We must consume the Word daily to produce the workings within it. The Word of God that falls on a fertile heart will produce the kind of life we long for.

We must make a conscious choice to find time each day to plant God’s Word in our heart. To study, meditate, marinate and digest the Word of God is my personal endeavor in farming His Plan and Purpose for my life that will prosper into a harvest of His Promises. To rise early allows us to do just that apart from the distractions of life. If we can get a jump on the day and determine what God has for us – it will allow us to get good seed in the ground before facing the challenges and responsibilities that come with the sun. I Co

“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) If you have decided to follow Jesus all the way to the Kingdom, sowing the Word of God is essential. The more you sow the more you grow. God’s Word is filled with good things for your life. It is impossible to please God without faith. The Word of God feeds our fail and grows into confident hope in our life producing God’s Goodness wherever it is planted.

Mark 4:26-29(NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

Once seed goes in the ground and watered, God takes over. He is the one who increases our life with good things. He has an inheritance in Heaven released by obedience. The Word of God released in our life, over our homes, in our finances, infusing our ministry, or any other area of life partnered with God – it will experience radical growth. The potential in the seed is not obvious to us but God knows exactly what to do to bring it to full maturity and productivity in our life. Sowing is an act of faith. To put that seed in the ground and leave it requires patience and persistence that require assistance from the Holy Spirit to encourage us and keep us in the waiting. “As soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it.” God has not forgotten or ignored the seed. He is preparing and processing it to produce abundance in our life.

James 5:7 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

The pathway to prosperity is patience in the process. Be patient. The seed you have sown will grow because it is mandated by God. If you sow plentifully, you will reap bountifully. If you are sowing God’s Word, you will harvest supernatural abundance if you are willing to wait for it.

Psalm 63:1 (NLT) O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

Consider the seed being sown in your life today. Where do you spend your time? What are you investing in? The place where seed goes in the ground is the place your harvest will come from. Seedtime and harvest is a natural and supernatural process ordained by God. He promised never to curse the productivity in our life again. But God is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. He has no double standards. What does that mean? What you sow you will reap. When you plant you will harvest. He does not pick and choose what is planted – you do. I decide the productivity in my life by the sowing I choose to do and the seeds I pick to plant in my life. The natural conditions and circumstances of my life do not impact God’s Potential Growth in me – I do. Will I choose to sow seeds of God’s Word and plant from the measure of faith that I have been allotted or will I let natural conditions dictate the harvest in my field?

Early to bed and early to rise works. When I choose to rise early and seek His Face with a thirsty soul filled with good seed sown from God’s Word, my life begins to change supernaturally as my soul prospers so do I. I cannot explain it but can testify of it. God is good. His Mercy showers my life removing the bad seed giving the good seed room to grow, develop and become the abundance of my life. It’s time to sow some good seed. If you plant it, He will water it, and give increase in your life.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 

 

Simply Repent

Girl Praying With Hands On Bible

I John 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

During worship on Sunday morning with lifted hands our congregation sang together, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here…” In the midst of mixed melody as voices melded together inviting the Lord to join us, I heard the whisper of the man standing behind me. I promise I was not ease dropping and I definitely was pressing into the Presence of God all around us. Yet, his words caught my attention and immediate my heart was shattered in that moment. He simply said, “Jesus, forgive me of my sins.” It was soft and intimate. Like one might whisper to a loved one in an embrace. The intent of his heart rolling of his lips in the sweetest apology that I know melted God’s Heart. It made me ask myself when was the last time that I came to the Lord and chose simply to repent?

This verse brings back memories of a scripture memorization challenge in high school. More years ago than I care to count, we were given packets of cards to memorize just one verse per week. This would be the card on top. The significance only now sinking in after many decades. Our life in Jesus Christ begins and ends in simple repentance. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. He does it all. Not only does He accept our apology but unlike in the realm of humanity – the Lord chooses to restore our righteousness or right standing on the spot without anything else from us. True repentance opens the door to righteousness. To humble myself before the Lord and to say, I have sinned and I am sorry opens the door to prosperity in the life of a believer. Obedience does not change the heart or mind of God toward us. It is repentance that does that. If I could have done anything to save myself from sin, then salvation may have been something altogether different. But the truth is that apart from Jesus Christ, I am nothing. I have no future. I cannot produce anything good in my life including salvation. It is the single most important step of faith that secures future hope for all mankind.

Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV) Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisee

Romans 3:23-25 (NKJV) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…

We all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. God has justified us freely by His Grace through the redemption offered by Jesus Christ. God accepted His Blood sacrifice as enough to repay every single sin ever committed past, present and future. By way of the Cross, those who humble themselves before the Lord and repent will receive God’s Glory in their life. Note it does not give a list of demands or expectations other than we come with open hearts to receive the Lord. The Pharisee came to the temple to pray. He came to repay an obligation. His routine ritual defined by religion. He prayed loudly so everyone could hear him. He used comparison to prove his ceremonial worthiness. He was prideful. He was arrogant. This man left the temple the same way that he arrived. Full of self. Full of sin.

The Tax Collector

Micah 6:8 (NKJV) He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The tax collector came to the same temple to pray in the exact same condition as the Pharisee. Obedience will never take the place of repentance. It implies that salvation can be earned which is not true. It is offered and received by the humble. Those who are willing to come before the Lord and confess their sins from an honest and forthright heart. The Pharisee compared his life to the other people who came to pray and worship God. Comparison will always keep us from the Cross. My calling is to walk humbly with my God. I cannot do that trying to be like or be better than anyone else. I must keep my eyes on Jesus Christ and keep the way clear. He is close to the brokenhearted. Those who fully expose their heart to the Lord cannot do so without repentance. A relationship defined by love cannot stand to have anything barring access to the other. When we hurt someone we love, we should apologize. To fully restore the relationship there must be some kind of repentance.

What does it mean to repent? The word comes from Latin origin meaning repentir or “to regret” and poenitire to “make sorry”. The Old French definition means to feel such regret for sins as produces an amendment of life. The origin of the words regret and repent are connected. One should produce the other. According to Dictionary.com, repent means to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better. To repent means to ask God’s Forgiveness through Jesus Christ and turn from that thing which brought you there. I cannot live a successful life with God is I am not consciously aware of the sin that separates us and take the time to simply repent. Romans 3:23-25 makes it clear that 1) We have all sinned and need God’s Forgiveness; 2) None of us can afford to repay the debt associated with our sin so we need Jesus; 3) the only way salvation can be received is to accept it and obtain it freely; and 4) There is nothing I can do to repay Jesus for one ounce of His Blood so I must live in humble acquisition of His Grace. This is an act of humility. There is nothing I can do to save myself. My life is no longer my own.

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

The person who covers his sins will not prosper. There is a subtle truth in this statement that pride and self-preservation would like for us to overlook. The enemy will continually offer substitutions for true repentance and water down grace if possible by offering excuses for our indiscretions. The worst one of all is comparison. The truth is my first sin was the only sin needed to condemn my life to certain death. It required every single ounce of Jesus’ blood in repayment. God did that for me. Jesus died for me. There are many empty altars in the House of God with rooms full of Pharisees trying to pretend that sin is not their problem any longer. The few who do choose to live at the foot of the Cross are afraid of judgement by the religious order of the day and quietly whisper to God from their seats. I wonder what would happen if we all chose to simply repent before the Lord as the tax collector did that day. To say to the Lord, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NKJV)  if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.

Could it be that the church is going about this revival thing all wrong? What if the Lord is listening and waiting for a people to humble themselves, pray and seek His Face willing to turn from their sin and simply repent. The Word of God says that He will hear from heaven, forgive us and heal our land. We must humble our heart before the Lord at every opportunity. True love is defined by forgiveness. Constant grace for each other as offered by the Lord to us. We must learn to live in love with Jesus. We do this by living a truly repentant life that is not afraid to humble our life at the foot of the Cross. To kneel at the local altar in our churches. To say, “I am a sinner who needs God’s Grace.” The confession of an obedient servant touched my heart yesterday. His apology was soft, honest and sincere. His words laced with love, awe and admiration. They broke my heart for my Savior all over again and within a few short minutes, I was doing the same. It was freeing. I felt a peace flood over me. Worries and cares melted off of me. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Our willingness to expose all of our life including our shortcomings and sin to the life-giving and life-changing Power of the Living God will never take anything from us we do not want or force anything upon us. It will break every chain holding back God’s Blessing and Prosperity in our life. It is my earnest and heartfelt intent to start each day from this place. To simply repent and walk humbly with my God.

Psalm 26:4 (NKJV) Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.

Psalm 51:9-12 (NKJV) Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

 

Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG) By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Those Who Wait

Those Who Wait

Lamentations 3:25-26 (ESV) The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Sitting in the doctor’s office with our son, I was looking at apartments and sharing my discoveries with him. Newly graduated from college, he will be moving back to our home town to pursue a career. Look what the Lord has done! The waiting room was overcrowded and it took him longer than usual to get checked in. As I continued to scroll through listings, he shifted back and forth in his chair until finally announcing it had been 38 minutes since his appointment time. I laughed. He should be used to waiting by now and told him the same. After years of appointments, testing, procedures and treatments surely this came as no surprise. Flashback to my grandmother in her kitchen with blue linoleum floors and rooster wallpaper. “Lori, you must learn to be patient.” A short passage of time into my teenage years sitting in Sunday school, the teacher giving us a staunch warning to never pray for patience for it is born of trials, trouble and produced by waiting. I will be the first to admit I am impatient. Just when I think I have acquired a little bit of patience and longsuffering, I realize it is usually not enough. I still get frustrated when something takes too long. Those times when my expectations are not met according to my own personal time table. Then there are other times like at the visit with our kid that I realize I have learned to wait a little.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…can we just stop there? Galatians 5 clearly details the productivity of His Spirit in us. He plants seeds of love, joy and peace but then there is patience. I guess there is no need to pray for patience because God already commanded the Holy Spirit. The pathway to patience is waiting. Not to wait, complain and grumble but to live in the love, joy and peace of God fully trusting that His Timing will produce only the best for us. It is good for us to wait. It is good for us to wait “quietly” for the Lord. You know the old saying, “I’ll do it but I don’t have to like it.” Well, I don’t think this is true of waiting for the Lord. I believe that trust comforts us so that waiting quietly is the most productive. What are you waiting for today? What is it that you can do nothing about but must wait solely and completely on God to do? Maybe you have done everything you know to do and still the desired result has not come. You have prayed until you are blue in the face. You have tried every door only to find it locked. You have done it all now you must wait on the Lord.

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.

At the end of the appointment, the doctor promised to call next week with the results. I knew that would more than likely be the outcome of our visit. It didn’t really sink in until the long two-hour drive back home as I shared the information with my husband. Ugh! I feel the wrings of the watchtower ladder in the calluses of my hands. I can feel my feet curving around them as I climb to the top. It used to be a hard climb but now I scale it effortless for I know the way. Yet, even in this time of waiting, I am still feeling the angst of impatience and overwhelming desire to complain. My nerves rise to the top and frustration becomes evident in my responses to everyday inconveniences. The Lord whispers words of encouragement. He reminds me of His Word. He tells me He loves me. My spirit is a petulant child who balks at the attention of the loving and doting yet unyielding nature of the One who loves me best and the most. Honestly God I am tired of waiting. He responds – “You find me in the waiting.”

Psalm 37:3-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

About six years ago, the Lord asked me point blank, “Do you trust me?” I immediately and without hesitation said, “Yes, of course I do.” He then asked me again. “Do you trust me?” From that point to this very morning, I am still in the midst of the testing of trust in my life. We all are if you want to know the truth. Trust is a word that is overused and misplaced in this life. We give it away only to have it betrayed and shattered. By the time the Lord inquires of it, there really isn’t much left unbroken or untainted, yet still He outstretches His Hand to ours and invites us to try again. Do you trust the Lord today? Trust in the Lord allows us to do good, our best, what we can, and wait for Him to do all that He promised. It is a foundation of love, joy and peace that keeps us steady during long droughts and famines in our life. Without trust, there will be no production of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith and even more impossible to know its validity without trust. Trust is made evident in how one waits. Those who do and continue to dwell in the “land” of His Presence in the midst of circumstances while befriending faithfulness and choose to delight in the Lord will have the desires of their heart. God knows every secret desire hidden in the deepest recesses of your heart. Even those dead dreams and barren visions that have died in the waiting. You may have given up on a future and hope but not the Lord for He is intent on giving it to you. I can wait on people. I can wait on things. I can wait for earthly solutions. I can wait for what I want. OR I can wait on the Lord…Those who wait on the Lord trusting Him will see Him act.

Psalm 37:7-9 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land

Be still in the Lord. On those days, you feel caged and trapped pacing back and forth to find your way out of the watch tower of waiting, be still. Just as Jesus calmed the storm and raging sea, He is perfectly able to calm you and me. Waiting works out impatience, but if must be carefully supervised as not to produce bitterness in us. When a woman gives birth and sees her promise arrive, suddenly all the inconvenience, sickness and pain of pregnancy and childbirth disappear. She remembers all the unpleasantness but does not bear the scar of suffering. Why? Her promise has arrived. As she falls in love with the little person, grace falls like soft waves over her. But during the process, she felt all these feelings, emotions, and even tremendous pain. Yet in fulfillment it is all forgotten. God is birthing promises in each of us today. Yes, the journey to victory is often paved with problems, pain, inconveniences and change. But to cross the finish line, those who win forget the journey and bask in the glory. God has a purpose for your life that will produce prosperity and abundance in you, through you and for you. It requires total trust and complete faith that keeps us in the waiting. As the mother of five, I can testify that it was worth the wait every single time. To birth a promise too soon is spiritual abortion. To wait on it, trusting the Lord and to do so quietly is to have the Peace of God that passes all understanding as He leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory.

Isaiah 30:15-18 (ESV) For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

The fatal error of fallen prey in the plains of Africa is the moment they become separated from the herd. How many times does it happen? The predator will not take on the entire group but waits for the one who is weak, wanders off course, or becomes separated. It is in that moment the error of their way is realized as the sharp teeth sink into their flesh and they are brought down hard. God has promised to do exactly what He promised to do. He has proclaimed Himself to be the God who does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord has offered each one of us a future and hope. The only way to miss out on God’s Plan is by being unwilling to wait for Him. Trust is required to wait on the Lord. We must walk by faith and not by sight to stay in a place of waiting safe and secure.

Psalm 40:27-31 (ESV) Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Can I encourage you as I encourage myself through God’s Word today? God knows exactly where you are today. He knows that you are growing weary in the waiting room. He understands that your heart and flesh are crying out for relief. He has not forgotten you or given up on you. The Lord is going to do exactly as He planned to do from the beginning. Every promise and blessing secure with your name on it. You just have to trust Him even on the days when impatience becomes unbearable and your mind argues the logic of faith that is produced by endurance. Will you wait with me just a little longer? Will you wait for the Lord just one more day? He promises that those who wait on the Lord will be given power. He will increase their strength. He will renew them and they will soar above circumstances, situations and problems to live in His Presence now and forevermore. He is an everlasting God with a much greater perspective of our life including every step from here to Eternity. He knows the desires of our heart. When we delight in Him, the Lord gives us that which is desired most. Usually the very things we gave up in the waiting. He didn’t give up but dug in so that we could have His Very Best in spite our bad attitude and impatience. Will you wait one more day? One more minute? One more breath…just breathe in. Exhale. This one act signifies a moment of waiting that has passed as the Lord renews every cell in your body with oxygen. Why not breathe in His Spirit the same way and let Him produce love, joy and peace in this place marked “still waiting”?

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!

The Promise of the Living God designated for your life is worth having. Remind yourself today. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the Lord in the LAND OF THE LIVING. Don’t be like Martha pushing all those things she couldn’t do or comprehend into the afterlife. Instead, take hold of Jesus who is the Resurrection and Life. He is breathing life into all the dead things around you. He is life to every promise, hope, dream and desire hidden in your heart. He is faithful whether we are or not. He is always working for us even when we grow weary and give up. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit sows seeds in us each day. It is our job only to have a soft and fertile heart. Are you willing to wait on God’s Promise? You must believe. You must trust Him at His Word until it comes. He promises those who wait will not be disappointed. Hope cannot lead to disappointment. God has only good things for our life. It is all found in the waiting. Those who wait for the Lord become strong. Those who wait on the Lord rise above the momentary, temporary trials of this place to live in His Presence now and forever.

We find Him in the waiting not in the wandering. We find Him faithful when our own faithfulness is wavering. It is the moment of giving up or giving in that His Outstretched Hand is evident. When we become weak and His Power takes over. Don’t give in to the thought of quitting today but take hold of your hope with both hands. Get down on those weak knees and ask Him to wait with you today. To fill your life with the love, joy and peace that ease our heart and mind while waiting for patience to yield its prosperous fruit. Those who wait on the Lord will be blessed.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

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.

When I Can’t

Life is beautiful .Young woman and clouds  .

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I can’t do this again. I just can’t. Do you feel that way today? Life is hard. Struggles are real. The burdens can be overwhelming even to the strongest person. The harsh reality is that some things are unavoidable. Life does not present options when it comes to the tests, trials and troubles that come with each new day. When the hit comes, the employment ends, the debt takes over, the diagnosis comes or the relationship is broken – you have no other choice but to go through it. When you come to the end of your proverbial rope all that is left is to tie a knot and hang on. I understand. I truly do.

Many years ago, our family vacationed in Orlando, Florida. Visiting a water park, our youngest was thrilled to find out she met the height requirement to embark on the giant water slides. For years, I graciously relegated myself to accompany the younger children while my thrill-seeking husband would go with the older children to ride giant roller coasters and water slides. The truth is that I am not a fan of fear. I don’t like adrenaline rushes. I am not okay with being scared. I hid in the kiddie lands and pools of our trips. However, now I felt the pressure not to allow my fear to extend to her so I agreed to go with her. Ugh! Climbing the stairs slowly – she was bounding up them joyfully to keep up with the “big kids”. Arriving at the top, all I could think was “heck no” as I could see the entire park from the vantage point. It was a straight shot to the bottom. I was already backing up when I saw them pack my itty bitty in the tube and her say, “Come with me, mama!” How could I back out now? I didn’t. I want my children to be brave and courageous. I did not want to give her the spirit of fear. God doesn’t give us that spirit either. At the bottom, my little girl was jumping up and down ready to go again. Overcoming fear is a challenge every day. Some opportunities come with choices, others there is no choice.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” I wish I could say that the “I can do” comes before the trial or trouble is over but it is my experience that most days I feel the weakness in certain areas of my life. When our son was in the midst of battling cancer, time and time again people would say, “I couldn’t do it.” Friend, when that thing you fear the most does happen – you have no choice but to do something. It may not be pretty or how you expected to respond but you will do something as long as you are breathing. The Lord offers us strength and power. His Spirit inside of us the essence of His Strength and Power. Looking at the verse right before this power verse that is readily shared, printing, and projected is the truth about the strength Paul speaks of – I know…

Proverbs 8:14 (ESV) I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” is a forgotten truth found in Hosea in the Old Testament. It is true today. Faith dies, hope dies and people die because they claim to know God but simply don’t know Him at all. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh so that people could be brought back to life. The Word of God written through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are pieces of the Bread of Life to be consumed on an ongoing basis just as regular food. It feeds our soul giving us the counsel, sound wisdom and insight that gives us strength. Scripture reading, meditation, memorization and recitation is a form of communion offered to us each day. It empowers us with the truth about every situation. It shows us the possibilities of faith. It adds weight to the anchor called hope. Proverbs 24:5 tells us that “a wise man is full of strength and a man of knowledge enhances his might.” We need God’s Word to feed our spirit and overcome our flesh every day. Failure to thrive in a human being is a condition of malnourishment. It cannot be overcome in a day but is resolved with a solid nutrition plan over the course of time. Is your spirit man starving today? Have you been feeding him or her on a regular and ongoing basis? Proverbs 24:10 states candidly “if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is too small.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I can’t. I hate to admit this when it is true. I loathe my weaknesses. I don’t expect to fail so when I do it is the ultimate letdown. Who does? Our person comes prepackaged with this little (or not-so-little thing) called pride. It is the flesh. It rivals the Spirit inside of us because it must die to give up control. Pride fights to the death to be in control. Humility is not fashionable and deemed weakness in the world. What is that thing you have pleaded with the Lord about? What is the very thing that keeps coming back to fight your feelings and flesh time and time again? Why? Why does it keep happening? Why God? It is okay to ask God why as long as we do so with the understanding that His Ways are higher than our own and His Thoughts, so it is with full knowledge that it is probably still going to allude our intellect. I will never let God do until I can’t. There I said it… the truth that must come to light but is never going to feel good at first.

Faith is not about what I can do but what I allow Christ to do in and through me. It is in my weakness that His Strength and Power can work miracles in my life. When I finally quit trying to control the outcome, do everything for Him, or be something that I am not. It is that moment when I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore” that He can finally rush in and fill the voided bravado and façade of control to be my strength and my power. He promises to be my strength and shield so while He is fighting my battles, righting my way, healing my body, working every detail for my good – His Hand still keeps me safe. He is covering me. It hurts. I am weak. The Lord offers to be my strength today. He is ready to release His Power in my life because when I am weak…I am strong.

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

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” How do I find my way from desperation to delight in the same breath? Reading Psalm 73 this morning, I hear the Lord whisper, “I know the desires of your heart. I haven’t forgotten. I am not done yet.” Oh, how I needed such encouragement. Peaks and valleys do not change the heart or mindset of God concerning His Children. His Intentions for us are always the same. The outcome of the test or trial including our ability to remain faithful in it or not does not change what God is doing in us and for us. It is all working together for our good and His Glory if we can just remember that God is a good father. His Love is constant. His Power is mighty. His Strength invincible. He is working it in us and through us. Our flesh will fail. Our heart might go with it. BUT God…He is my strength of heart and my portion forever. He will never fail because His Love for me never fails.

Psalm 84:5-7 (ESV) Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

Isaiah 40:29 (ESV) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Psalm105:4 (ESV) Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Just like that, fireworks for my spirit and soul. These promises are for those who think they can’t do it anymore. Those who are growing weary in well-doing. The ones considering climbing down from watchtower of waiting. The ones who might feel they are drowning in doubt or weighed down by discouragement. The valley is deep but God’s Love is deeper. The night seems dark but Light lives in you. You may feel faint but don’t worry His Strength is about to take over. Maybe the drought in your life is not meant to be doused with rain but saturated by the spring welling up within you. Sometimes it is our expectation that limits us until we put all of our expectation in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the One who promised us a rich and satisfying life so maybe it is His Way, His Truth and His Life we needed all along. Perhaps it had to come to this for us to finally reach out and take hold of Him. Who knows? All I know is that when I feel like I can’t – Jesus not only promised that He can but that He will!

Psalm 68:35 (ESV) Awesome is God from his sanctuary the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 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.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

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.

Mama always used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…” I completely agree. Our words hold power and should be released thoughtfully and completely filtered despite my fourteen-year-old who insists that people need to know the truth. I concur. People do need to know the truth. Who am I to give it to them? Do I really know the truth about life, love and happiness? Contentment, peace or joy? I used to tell people that I wished I could break open my heart and let people see the real Jesus who lives inside. Who He is? The Living God who I have experienced. They would have to love Him, too. Well, as I sit here this morning, I still hope that I can share Jesus with others. Tell them of His Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in a believable and acceptable way. However, I can feel the little sting of those words running through the broken pieces of my heart. The hard places of pride and stubbornness now rubble in the Hands of God as He gently and lovingly molds and shapes them into the kind of heart He desires. The tiny shelter where His Glory resides. Did I ask the Lord to break my heart? No, I just invited Jesus into it. Just like old wineskins will burst when filled with new wine, my heart in its previous condition could not contain the fullness that the Lord had for me. He had to make room for His Presence to fill me. I have to be broken for it to come spilling out.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We have the Light of His Love shining inside our hearts. The Presence of God, His Spirit lives in us. He came by invitation but is He truly an honored guest. A question for another day, I guess. I think that the error in our way as believers is the through that the holy inhabitation of God in us is another layer to the armor in our life when it is not like that at all. Yes, we have the full armor of God available to us but it requires leaving the old armor behind. Who can stand in fight in such a condition? The Great Power of God living in us must find its way out of us for the Glory of God to ignite a revival that will wrap around the world.

Exodus 34:29-32 (NLT) When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

One person. Moses. Though His Children were all around Mount Sinai, only one person dared go into the Presence of God. Moses remained their fasting and communing with the Lord for forty days and nights. When he came down, in his arms were the Ten Commandments, and on his face was a tangible radiance so bright that the people were afraid. In Exodus 40, these tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant and hidden behind a heavy curtain or veil in the Tabernacle. No one could come in contact with the Ark except the high priest after undergoing proper repentance and cleansing. The Ark of the Covenant represented the embodiment of God’s Presence among the people. The atonement cover or mercy seat – God’s Throne. (2 Samuel 6:2) God’s Presence was above it. (Leviticus 16:2) If a person approached the Ark, it was entrance into God’s Presence. Sin is consumed in the Presence of God so those who attempted entrance without proper remission of sin would die. Sin prohibits life. (Psalm 5:4-6) In Numbers 11:16-17, it tells us that God administered His Spirit to people individually according to His Will and Purpose for them. It all started with one person. Moses was the only one willing to go into God’s Presence and he came out changed.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

I promise this history lesson is almost over. It is vitally important in our understanding and utilization of God’s Power and Presence in us. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, God identified Him as His Son and placed His Spirit in Him. The Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove. Now the Son of God is crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is an acceptable sacrifice and so now God releases His Presence (His Spirit) to all mankind. The first thing the Spirit does is rip the curtain from top to bottom so that God’s Presence is available to us all. The Spirit didn’t stop there but then began breathing life into all the dead. Resurrection power released in a moment that immediately perpetuated life.

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT) On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Here we go! Wee! This is where the Pentecostals start shouting, Baptists are cringing and Catholics are like “what in the world”. For just a few moments, take your doctrine in one hand and the nametag of your church in the other – put them aside. Just listen… The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. He is the identifier of those who believe. He is the guarantee of all God’s Promises. You cannot experience Christ and not encounter the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that every person will manifest these gifts the same way nor does it mean that we have to. Religion demands the context of doctrine not God. The Presence of God is not some performance or show. It is not defined by certain procedures. Jesus did away with every condition. His Grace is enough to access God’s Presence without my ability to do a single thing.

Now then…moving on.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:1, “on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Hmm… Believers meeting together in one place. What did they believe? They believed in Jesus Christ. (period) Agreement. Unity. Harmony. Nothing is more pleasing to the Lord. These believers had been through the ringer. They were hiding because the “church” wanted to kill the idea of a risen Savior and missed Messiah by murdering the people. They were praying for their very lives. God’s Presence with all the Power and Majesty of Heaven descended on that place. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues or any other spiritual gift. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Now that everyone here is looking at Jesus Christ. In His Presence, the first manifestation of His Spirit is to love each other. Care for one another. Create a community of communion with God and each other. (period) Signs and wonders are birthed in this connection of believes as they agree and meet together in “one place”. Speaking in tongues is for our own gratification. It is a prayer language. I do very much believe in it but I do not believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or live in the Presence of God. What I do believe is that the Glory of God available to us in His Presence has been put behind a curtain and covered in clothes because we fail the first test – to love others like Jesus loves us.

We can share the Gospel, preach the Word of God, and even demonstrate every gift eluded to in the Bible, but the absence of love. Self-sacrificing and pride-killing kind of love that puts everyone else before our need to have, do, or be right. We all have the Presence of the Living God inside of us. He is waiting to be pressed down, shaken together and run over every blessing that He has in store for us. However, if we choose not to let God break our heart enough to love others and care for each as a community of believers – the Word will fall on deaf ears like water on a rock.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22) We do not have the privilege of defining what love really is – it is clearly stated in God’s Word. I Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us all the qualities of true love. Patient, kind, no jealous, boastful or proud, giving and forgiving. It never loses faith or hope. It does not give up. It endures all circumstances. It goes so far as to comment in verse 8 that “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) I wonder if the Glory of God is not producing revival because the church does not know how to love? I am concerned that His Presence is somehow stifled by our routine and religion hindered by a lack of real relationships among believers including me…

If the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The only thing that lasts forever according to God is His Love. Love remains when all else fails. It is the glue that holds together the believers as one to make the body of Christ who will be His Bride. To cry out for revival is to ask God to show us how to love. Love will break your heart every time. It will crush rebellious spirits as two become one. With the new covenant, there should be boldness and confidence that is not demonstrated in most churches today. (Verse 8) If the Word is not watered down, it is hidden behind a wall of religious values and doctrine that no one really can endure. Grace removed the sin that kept me from Jesus. Who am I to place a condition on a love so freely given? Who am I to condemn others when Jesus refused to do it? Who am I to withhold my life from anyone else when it is no longer mine at all? Who am I? I am a Child of God. I am filled with His Spirt. His Spirit is the very essence of resurrection power and life that will spark the next revival. The same spirit that lives in me as a believer lives in you. We all must be broken of our prideful, stubborn and selfish ways to let His Glory escape from us and become the radiance in our life that attracts others.

Let me ask you something. Are you frustrated in your walk with the Lord today? Are you disappointed because your ordinary life is not the extraordinary promise you thought He would make it? Has the monotony of your walk and the mundane existence got you thinking that there has to be more to life than this? Friend, sin stole the glorious standard of living from us but Jesus gave it back and more. He promises us a rich and satisfying life. Love produces that life. Plain and simple. The kind of love that builds up community and bonds together people. Religion points out differences. Relationships overcome them. God’s Glory is available to all of us. In fact, it dwells within us. It radiates from our life in our ability to love unconditionally. It’s time to remove the veil and let the Love of God shine through us again. Busting through doubt, fear and insecurity to put our life out there like a city on a hill again. You were meant to be the Light. It begins with love and ends the same way. Let God out of the box today. Take the next step in putting yourself out there. Stop hiding behind the curtain. There is nothing there anymore. His Spirit is alive and well in you! It’s our time to shine! For His Glory…

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”