Refuge on the Mountain

Refuge on the Mountain

Psalm 57:1-3 (NLT) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. Interlude My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.

David was fleeing Saul’s wrath hiding in a cave carved in the side of a mountain. He wrote these words to the Lord as his soul sought solace from fear, worry, doubt, and anxiety. David asked for God’s Mercy. Compassion and forgiveness in his moment of deep distress. He longed for God’s Protection to be hidden beneath the shadow of the Lord’s wings until danger was gone. David was asking for peace in this moment as his heart ran away with his head. Confidence in the Lord goes as deep as our trust. When we no longer are confidence, it becomes more difficult to respond to Him rather than reacting to our circumstances. But then something happens, David changes his tune. He says, I cry out to God Most High. David is nudging God back on the throne of his wavering heart. He declares that the Lord will fulfill His Purpose for me. Trust in the Lord that no longer leans on understanding is evidence of faith.

I Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV) David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

Psalm 57 was written during this time, David was hiding in a cave. I find it interesting that he was surrounded by many who “in distress, or in debt, or discontented.” Misery loves company. David was in “hiding” surrounded by four hundred men – how ironic. There are times in life, though not alone, one may be lost in the crowd. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Fear is powerful. Fear of God is a respect that generates confidence in His Power and Authority in our life. Trust is evidence of such respect. Our ability to put the substance of our life in His Hands knowing with all confidence that He is worthy of it. However, fear in the negative form is a dangerous weapon wielded by the enemy to take out our faith and confidence in the Lord.

Fear is defined by some as “false evidence appearing real”. It is the lie of the enemy made of twisted truth and empty taunts that the heart decides to hold on to. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Like any weapon, truth must be used properly to be effective. We must know God’s Word to fortify our heart. God has not given us the spirit of fear and we must be diligent in not taking hold of it. The enemy uses isolation to keep us caught up in his lies and empty threats.

I Samuel 22:5 (NLT) But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

What was the turning point? The place in Psalm 55 when fear turns to trust…it was the obedience of David to leave the cave and go to Judah. Judah means “praise”. I wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in the lie of the enemy that our freedom found in truth becomes restricted. David was surrounded by men who were in distress, debt, and discouraged. God was moving David from their midst into a place of praise. Praise relays confidence in the Lord over our present and momentary troubles and trials in life. It is human nature to commiserate but it is willing obedience to let confidence in God’s Word change our conversation. Grumbling and complaining about the “mountain” before us does nothing to remove it. It only keeps it firmly in place. We are not cursing our situation but telling the world that God has somehow lost His Power, Authority and Sovereignty which is simply not true. Such words are allegiance to the Father of Lies rather than the Giver of Life.

I Kings 19:8-10 (NIV) “There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Elijah found himself also hiding in a cave. Jezebel had threatened to kill him since he killed all her false prophets and made sport of her gods before all the people. Now the people were praising God, but the man of God was hiding. The Lord asks him frankly, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Now before you cast judgment on the poor prophet, how many times do we do the exact same thing? Recount the trauma of our trail, the details of our trial, the height and weight of the giant, and the impossibility of our situation. We do it all the time as if God is not with us and Christ does not live in us. As though, He did not create us with a plan and purpose or go before us or hedge us in from behind with unfailing love and goodness. It is important to note that sometimes our heart betrays us even in our prayer life. Do you spend time talking about the size, shape and density of the mountain or the vastness of our God? Trust in the Lord considers the Greatness and Almightiness of God over the stature of the enemy.

Psalm 142:5-7 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.

More words of David hiding in the cave in the side of the mountain, “I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Do not mistake the invisibility of God to be His Absence. The Lord is with you. His Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:14) Do not dismiss Him simply because there is a mountain before you. The mountain has a place of refuge called His Presence. It will take a lifetime to overcome our doubts, eliminate fear, overcome anxiety, silence stress and cease to worry confidently trusting the Lord. It is possible to those who seek the Lord to be their refuge and strength. God will set you free with His Truth. You must praise Him on the mountain so seeds of faith will begin to break the foundation of doubt and give way to willing obedience that offers the fruit of the Spirit to others rather than bitter roots.

One final word as I close today, choose companions on the journey over the mountain carefully. The righteous will gather about me because of Your Goodness to me. When David fled to the cave, who came first? Those who were defeated, distressed, indebted and discontent. What did the lone prophet tell him? Go to Judah. Find your praise. Praise changes the situation by softening our heart to receive the Truth. Praise is the salve that heals a broken heart. It reminds our soul to trust the One who loved us first and who loves us most. Surround yourself in such times with righteous friends not miserable commiserates. We need those friends of Proverbs 27:17 – “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 12:26 says that the righteous choose their friends carefully.

Be encouraged today. God is with you. He is for you. His Love never left you. He is only a whisper away. For those who trust Him, the mountain will be moved. To those who are committed to loving God and seeking His Presence – they will find refuge and strength in peace even when all hell is breaking loose around them. Be a friend of God first. Choose your close companions carefully. Live in Judah it is the place called praise.

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

 

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Salvaged Life

Salvaged Life

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

I had this idea yesterday. It dropped in my spirit and produced a weight in me until I wrote it down. “As believers, we do not salvage the rest of our life. Salvation produces new life.” The latter days of our life fully invested in Jesus Christ have great potential to be greater than our past even if our past isn’t so bad. The enemy is set on getting God’s People to settle for something less. A conciliation prize is not described in the Word of God but rather reconciliation to fulfillment of God’s Perfect Plan for us. Time is not running out for me as a Child of God – it is only beginning. It is up to me to see the beauty of new life in dead seasons. Faith believes in what it cannot see and relies on the impossible.

“Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through…” but do not suppose this is the Will of God for every day of the rest of your life either. It is human nature to hope for the best but expect the worst. This is how letdowns and disappointments are accepted as a part of life. It is a call to self-preservation that kills our faith and trust in God. Fueled by fear, insecurity and anxious thoughts it takes the focus off our victory and keeps giants mocking us. I must change the way that I think when it comes to struggles and trials in life. Looking past probable loss or fearful of the trial, it is in hopeful expectation that I grab hold of my partnership with Christ. Faith plants seeds of righteousness that produce blessings in our life. However, we must find the peace to plant those seeds with expectation.

You will have wonderful joy seeing His Glory when it is revealed. Faith begets faith. Trust more trust. Hope grows more confident in fulfilled expectation. It is only possible through suffering. Why? When did you turn to Jesus? Was He your first thought or last resort? People turn to the Lord in devastation. We look for God when in complete despair. When failures produce moments when the human heart cries out to Him. When there is nowhere left to turn or no one to run to – we call on the One who knows it all, can do it, and will rush to our rescue every time. So maybe suffering wasn’t God’s idea but the choice of His Children.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Today I am pressed that the problems I face in life may not be the enemy waging war against me but my flesh slowly dying within me. What if the trails really are for endurance so I will make it past me to see the Glory of God in my life? What if these long dry seasons are to stretch my character and give it new strength with a larger capacity to love people more and obey the voice of God when He is silent? Could it be the confidence in the hope I have will remove all residue of disappointment and let the Light in me shine through? Hope never leads us to disappointment. Faith chases after hope. Without faith it is impossible to please the Lord, but without problems would we ever discover the fruitfulness of faith that produces fulfillment? Probably not. God has given us the Holy Spirit to live in our heart and produce good fruit. I must make room there for Him to dwell which is the removal of pride so He can plant humility, doubt so He can sow trust, and sorrow so that the Lord will produce joy in the new creation I am becoming grabbing hold of the new life He has promised.

2 Corinthians 2:7-11 (NLT) Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, that indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 

When our son was ill, it came to a place his doctor labeled the “realm of hope” which to other people might mean there is no solution. His case is terminal. He is going to die. But it was in this place that I realize that the Lord had told me that our son would live. This was the point of impossibility that would produce God’s Glory. There is no statistical or medical data to support the young man who was on the verge of death who went on to graduate from engineering school, secure a future and live well beyond his life expectancy. Yet, he does. It took a trial almost to the point of tragedy to change my perspective on faith and hope. Though I would never wish this on any parent or person for that matter, if something could change their perspective of faith and hope to the point of confidence then I do pray that for them. Sorry not sorry. That’s pretty much what Paul writes here. The church was in an uproar and totally offended by his first letter (I Corinthians). So he sent a second letter to them in an attempt to reconcile the relationship. Basically, this text says, “Sorry not sorry”. He did not want to hurt them but rejoices in the “diligence” in faith it produces along with “clearing of self.” This simply does not happen in our comfort, convenience or control but when we see the Lord to restore these things in our life. Are you uncomfortable? Have things become inconvenient? Have you lost control? Have you called out to the Lord?

God’s Desire is to lead us to fulfillment. Our fulfillment is made complete in Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, we cannot make it to the Father, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we want Him, we must seek Him. We must sow seeds of faith that will produce pleasing fruit – not because we have to but because we want to. It is all about willingness and obedience. The sorrow in our life is present when we choose something less than God’s Best – not because He does it to us, but our soul is only satisfied by the One who created it. If you are trying to salvage a good life after salvation, it will never be good enough. God doesn’t recondition people – He restores them. He doesn’t recycle our life but gives us new life as a new creation. Anything less is not God’s Best and will not bring about satisfaction and fulfillment. Are you holding on to sorrow? You must release it for joy. Unforgiveness creates bitterness that expects disappointment rather embracing expectant hope. Let that go, too. One of my favorite “go-to” verses that inspires me daily is “I would have lost heart, unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) God’s Goodness is for you today. He is fully invested in you the seeds of faith that will grow into the hope you live for. You have everything needed to prosper in this life and in this moment. The rest is up to you and me. I am not called to be salvaged but saved by the Grace of God to fulfillment of new life – I must take hold of that today.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Fugitive Heart

Fugitive Heart

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I should have seen it coming. You have to practice what you preach. I have been touting forgiveness to my teenager for a week. So why be surprised when I am faced with a situation that requires forgiving someone who is not sorry. Of course, I would be presented with a large portion of crow. Shocked and dismayed…I know in that moment the enemy chuckled. I have to make a choice. One I do not want to make…will I choose to be angry with this person who has offended me so or will I quickly forgive and move on. As I stumble over my flesh realizing that I am not as far in the race of faith as I once thought, I begin to recite all the scripture I know about forgiveness. It is a command not a suggestion. It is beneficial and crucial yet critical to my pride and fatal to my flesh. How can I just let this go? It is wrong. It is hateful. It is mean spirited. It is judgmental. Tears of frustration fill my eyes as I am sitting on the outside while standing on the inside. I must forgive the person as though my life depends upon it or risk becoming who they are in this moment sitting in the same bitterness, caught up in the past, held captive in hatred, and imprisoned by the wrath so wrapped up in their heart. What do you do when you just can’t get over it?

I am “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love.” Oh my goodness, this is so hard sometimes. People are people. We are imperfect yet called by a perfect Savior and flawless God to walk in His Image and live by His Example which is love, mercy and grace in all things towards all people. I would love to fall back on the fact that I am not God or selfless like Jesus but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Jesus lives inside of me. He is my new nature. His Spirit works to nurture, develop, and cultivate good fruit in the barrenness that once possessed me. I want to bear His Fruit. To be a good steward. To be a vessel from which a good harvest overflows…but my heart is angry and emotions all stirred up. I find that the fertile and broken heart is not always void of rocks and hard spots that need my attention. I am called to longsuffering but would like nothing more than to make someone suffer by my harsh words, mad retort, or not so gentle rebuffing. The Spirit of God says, “Let it go!” My flesh says, “Not so fast…” The inner turmoil begins.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How low can you go? It’s not a limbo term anymore but a question for my inner person. The one who wants to be like Christ but struggles with human weakness. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Love them. I do love them or maybe I should say in this moment of anger that I did. Friends can become enemies quickly in the shadow of hurt, harsh words, betrayal or even a simple misunderstanding. I tell my kids to ignore the offenses of others as I trip over my own tongue today. “Don’t make none and there won’t be none” has been my mantra that now hangs like a heavy mantle around my neck as it tightens into a noose.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NKJV) For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Are you harboring unforgiveness in a fugitive heart today? Caught up in anger that is burning into hatred? Do you feel that an injustice has been done and you deserve retribution? Vengeance is mind says the Lord but is your flesh rallying to take the upper hand? Did you know that the enemy of our soul uses such a weapon to take advantage of us because we are ignorant of his devices? Satan wants to trick you into not forgiving so he can steal something from you today. He wants to get you caught up in words or tangled in lies so he can rob you of the love, joy and peace so heavily invested in you by Christ. Is it working?

“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.” It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person was or how right you are, you become an enemy of their soul by choosing unforgiveness over longsuffering. The Light that shines within us grows slightly dimmer until it is snuffed out by our unwillingness to let a trespass go in the same sea of forgetfulness that our sin drifted away on. The Salt of our spirit becomes tasteless and useless when our season brings about hardness in the mine called our heart. I must forgive others simply because I am forgiven. What I bind on the earth is bound in heaven and that which I loose is free to go. (Matthew 18:18) When I shackle someone in their trespass, I am no different than Saul who persecuted Christians and murdered them for their belief. Lord, I must forgive. Teach me to be longsuffering. Help me to remain free and loose others from the expectation I have placed on them.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

There may be a more significant meaning to seventy times seven which many commentaries can elaborate on but for this particular instance let’s say it means 490 times. Can you think of anyone you have forgiven that many times consistently without throwing the towel in or walking away? Truly forgiveness but become an infinite quality in our Christian character be reflect the grace of God given to us. But how do we continually forgive other people and not become a human doormat? That’s the fear isn’t it? The idea of losing our identity in the giving of our life to others. Maybe that is exactly what becoming like Christ is all about? Giving up our identity to be a true reflection of who He is and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus has forgiven me more than 490 times and the count is steadily rising. Forgiveness is a commitment to love others more than ourselves. Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. I don’t think that the Lord intended for us to have any enemies but one. The Kingdom is built of men and women bound together in unity and love. The enemy seeks to destroy the Kingdom beginning with the bitter root marked unforgiveness.

Luke 7:46-48 (NKJV) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As my heart softens in the Lord today, I am reminded of the woman who entered a room to face the judgmental glares of the Sanhedrin because she wanted to anoint Jesus with oil. Jesus forgave her of her sins and named her an example of one who has been forgiven much. To whom little is forgiven the same loves little. I have been forgiven much and sometimes I forget that when faced with an offense. I choose to be offended or hurt and throw up a wall around my heart. But that only limits me, I have been given unconditional and abounding love and grace by Jesus. I can live in it, walk in it and rejoice because of it even when others do not meet my expectation or hurt me because I have taken my expectation from others and placed it fully in Jesus Christ. Those times when unforgiveness rears its ugly head is only a reminder of how much more I need Him than the day before.

It has been established that it is easier to say, “Arise and walk” then “your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness crucifies pride and moves us to our rightful position behind Jesus and others. Isn’t that what they say true joy is all about Jesus, others and you? I have to be reminded sometimes that it is not all about me and maybe just maybe if I choose to love rather than convict – it may make a difference in others. I am called to be Light in this dark world. Of course, the enemy will try to put that light out at every given opportunity. I choose today to forgive. I will have to remind myself of this very thing throughout the day when offered bitterness and anger toward the person who hurt me. I must choose love and grace because that is where I live and breathe. I will walk in freedom and work to keep the other person free not by binding them in my judgment or condemnation but continually praying for their blessing and freedom in Christ. Ugh! It’s a hard one. It’s a choice. It is not about me but my commitment to Christ so I will forgive.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

Live Broken

Live Broken

Psalm 57:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

As my friend shared her story, I could identify. Her need for something more from someone who didn’t have it to give. Caught in a vicious familial cycle of unmet expectation. Lost in comparison with another. Relationships are challenging. All connections experiencing their own difficulties. Angry at the clear disregard of another with an obvious open and exposed wound where their heart used to beat, it was an opportunity to share from my own experience. What is this thing called broken? Why would God desire broken people? Why is brokenness part of His Process? Could it be that we have it backwards? The order all wrong. Is it because people get broken all the time that God loves and draws close to them. Perhaps, He doesn’t do the breaking but capitalizes on the opportunity to rush in with a flood of grace and healing balm to fill that void left behind by the blatant disregard, neglect or harm of another.

Relationships would be more successful if people were perfect. If our ability to be consistent in mood, behavior and emotions always acting with sound wisdom, making good choices, and able to selflessly think of others first. We are not perfect clearly evident by our need for new mercy each day and constant covering by grace. Everyone has expectation not met by other people. Hearts are broken every day. It is in the next beat that the choice is made what to do with the new piece left behind. Some will collect the pieces and walk away. Others will choose to thrust right back again. And then there are those who will decide to put them in the Father’s Hands.

My childhood was not perfect. There is no such thing. I have attended the school of hard knocks. As a twenty-something woman, I was broken and bitter. That’s right! Bitterness filled all the voids left by hurt, disappointment and regret. I decided to take my life into my own hands. Clearly the Lord was unhappy with all my wrong turns and bad decisions so I was on my own or so I thought. It’s funny how quickly pride takes hold of raw emotion validating its existence and feeding it day by day. Such a dark time in my life, how could anything good come of it?  How could I ever be a whole person again? Little did I know? Brokenness is not the end for those who love God, it is only the beginning.

Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT) I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Bitterness is a poisonous root that will corrupt every good thing working in us. It is the hiss of the enemy in our ear telling us to hold on to that offense, keep being mad about it, and never forgive or forget what just happened. The enemy uses bitterness to build a wall of insecurity, fear and doubt around us. These grow into tall towers that will hinder the most religious person but separating us from others and eventually God. “I will never forget this awful time…” Do you have a moment like that in your life? When enough is enough…or the time when “they” went too far? Are you grieving a loss? What has broken you today?

The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begin fresh every morning. What if God didn’t ordain brokenness in our life but rather uses it as an opportunity to fill us with Himself. To become our portion in the absence of satisfaction. The Lord is my inheritance. I will hope in Him. This kind of hope never leads to disappointment but what if God uses our disappointments to introduce us to hope?

Psalm 34:18-20 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

Brokenness is a part of life in an imperfect world. We serve a perfect God who is able to come close to the brokenhearted. He does not stop there but will actually heal them. (Psalm 147:3) I have found that when I have it all together I have nothing to give but the greatest giving comes from the broken pieces of my life. To hold the hand of a single mom who is pregnant with another child resting beneath her broken heart and say, “God has a plan. He loves you and will provide for you” with confidence because I have been there before. To encourage the caregiver of a loved one battling a broken body filled with sickness and disease and say without reservation, “God is the healer.” To hold the broken sobbing soul at an altar unsure of the Goodness and Graciousness of the Father to tell them – “He is a Good Father. He welcomes you home!” See it is when our life is broken and the Lord is revealed that the fruit grown can be shared. The fish and loaves of one boy could feed masses when blessed and broken – imagine what the Lord will do with the shattered pieces of your heart in His Skillful Hands.

Lord, teach me to live broken today. It is of no use to hide my imperfections because surely they will show through the careful façade I put together each day. Show me how to use each piece for Your Glory, God. To light the way of others who are broken, too. To love them like You loved me in my bitterness and wanderings. Help me Jesus to see through the walls and strongholds of carefully built insecurity to Your Beloved hiding inside. You are Good! You are Gracious! You wait to take every broken piece and construct the wonderful masterpiece you planned. Thank you God for hope that is eternal and love that is everlasting!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Walk Uprightly

Walk Uprightly

Psalm 84:11-12 (AMP) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and honor; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

What do you expect? Hope for? Long for? Believe to be true? I wonder today. Expectation is the premise of progress in our life. We will pursue possibilities but feign away from the impossible. We give in to the inevitable. I believe the hardest thing to change in church culture and the mind of Christians is expectation. We base God’s Ability and Willingness on our own ability and willingness which is not the case. God is Good. He is withholding no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Oh I get it…you know you. You make mistakes every day. So do I. You fail on a regular basis. Me, too. Gods grace, favor and honor have nothing to do with you or me. The Lord decided to bless and prosper us. Every good thing given to us is a gift from Him. We cannot earn it and certainly don’t deserve it, yet it is within His Intent and Mindset to do it just the same.

Walk uprightly…

Grace

Ephesians 2:8 (AMP) For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God…

The Amplified Version of the Bible is wordy. I love how it spells out all the finite details of the scripture. Grace is God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing us to Christ. His Grace is enough in every situation to position us in righteousness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) His lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough and always available regardless of the situation. Like His Love, His Grace is unconditional. If you want it, you got it. His Power is perfected in our weakness. When we cannot do it anymore and choose to seek Him – the Lord can always be found by those who seek Him, call to Him, and come after Him. To walk uprightly means to accept God’s Amazing Grace.

Favor

2 Corinthians 9:8 (AMP) And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 

With the manifestation of God’s Grace comes favor. Favor is a product of grace which is spiritual and earthly blessing. We are liberally supplied everything needed according to His Riches in Glory in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:19) Relying on grace, favor comes in to fill ever void in our life. The Lord did not stop by simply meeting our needs but does so in super abundance. Jesus has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3) We literally have the Keys to the Kingdom. The ability to unlock the heavens so it rains down on the earth. You have all sufficiency in you to have full satisfaction which will produce contentment. As if that were not enough – the Lord promises to carry out His Purpose and do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask, or think and infinitely beyond our prayers, hopes or dreams according to His Power (grace) working in us. (Ephesians 3:20) To walk uprightly is to live in unlimited favor.

Honor

John17:22-23 (AMP) I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.

Jesus Christ lives in us. He is one with us. His Spirit is consummation of the Son of God’s holy inhabitation of ordinary human beings. This is the honor given to us by God through the sacrifice of His Son. He wanted us. He desired us. He wanted to honor us and exalt us to be with Him forever. In the humble acceptance of His Grace and movement into His Favor, we have His Honor. It is the very thing that moves us from the natural to supernatural place of His Presence that allows us to walk with the Lord, speak to Him directly and hear His Voice as He responds to us. God honors us by inviting us to be one with Him through His Son, Jesus. It is an honor, a privilege and undeserved position granted by His Love and Grace for us. To walk uprightly is an honor given to those who have no right to do so.

Lord of hosts, how blessed and greatly favored is the man who trusts in You [believing in You, relying on You, and committing himself to You with confident hope and expectation].

The groundwork is laid for a supernatural life with more than enough grace, favor and honor to establish an upright life that leads to promises, blessings and prosperity in superabundance for our life. Why don’t we live like it? What’s the disconnect that keeps all of Heaven’s Resources and the Kingdom’s Supply from reaching our mediocre life and transforming it into a miraculous existence? Blessed and greatly favored is the man (or woman) who trusts in You! To walk uprightly requires only one thing of us. To trust the Lord is good and absolutely able to do all these things without our help or intervention. To continue to believe even when nothing in our life aligns with the truth God has laid on our heart but continuing just the same to live as one with Christ.

We must believe the Word of God is true. It must be the validity of our life. It must be as relevant to our existence as breathing is to our body. Being contrary to our nature and in direct contradiction to our flesh, it will require daily attention not weekly visitation. To fully accept God’s Grace requires repentance – not conversationally but by complete conversion. We must turn from our way to fully embrace God’s Way. This is not a religion but a relationship. It is an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We go where He goes. Do what He does. Converse regularly. Honor Him in our walk. Trust Him with our life. In other words, I align my life with the Word because Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh.

Proverbs 3:5-7 (AMP) Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

To trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart is a change of character that takes time. A leap of faith is really only a single step in the right direction. It feels like a leap because it may not be logical in the earthly realm or seem like a radical maneuver to the rest of the world. However, God will take your life just one step at a time. He made you. He knows you. The Lord knows exactly what it will take to satisfy your soul and lead you to redemption and fulfillment of purpose. He is loving, gracious and oh so patient with us. His Grace is enough. His Power works best in our weakness. His Mercy meets us each day waiting on our doorstep for careful collection. He will never ever let us down. It is our ability to accept all of God’s Love, Grace, Goodness, Favor and Honor that completes us in Jesus Christ. It is a life time accomplishment that begins with your very next step. Will you trust Him today? Will you pursue Him? Will you allow Him to fill just one more void in your broken heart? Will you take just one more step in His Direction? I hope so because if you do the best is yet to come for you! To walk uprightly is not a human condition but a spiritual revelation accepted by a humbled heart and surrendered life to be one with Christ in all things.

Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

The Father’s Glory

The Father's Glory

John 15:7-8 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Yet another unfathomable promise from a good, good God. The Christ in us gives power and authority to our words. This is to my Father’s Glory that you bear much fruit…showing yourselves to be my disciples. The Holy Spirit cultivates the qualities and characteristics of God in our life. To be a disciple is the glorification of God. It is exemplified by the life of Christ in living color. A life of unconditional love and incomparable compassion for all mankind. So often focusing on the Gifts of God rather than His Grace, it is easy to become caught up in the promises of God without paying attention to His Process.

I am the worst of these when it comes to trying to accomplish godly character humanly. Perhaps, you may find yourself in the very same position today. Trying to achieve the spiritual naturally is a common problem facilitated by religious tradition in many cases. Some churches still sing give me that “old-time religion”. The church needs a fresh anointing and new revelation. I need it. The sum total of my effectiveness and efficiency as a Christian is my ability to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Word of God, He invited the twelve to come and follow, but not one time did Jesus invite them to be just a follower or even call them a Christian. He asked them to be My disciple. Following Christ is part of the process of becoming a disciple but it is the positioning of our entire being IN Christ that completes it. So today, let’s talk about bringing glory to the Father. We seek His Glory desiring His Presence and everything that comes when it permeates a church service or even our prayer closet at home. I don’t want just an encounter or even an experience. My heart’s desire is eternity.

God’s Word

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God’s Word is the seed that produces good fruit in our life. It is the particle of faith that the Holy Spirit uses to create the life God promises those who believe. Without God’s Word, there is no point in our faith because it is illogical outside of His Provisionary Plan. The Word of God is the seed that when placed in a broken, fertile and receptive heart begins the spiritual reproductive process within us. Faith germinates the seed and the Fruit of the Spirit comes into existence and beings to grow and develop.

Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit is essential in a believer’s life. He is the essence of Christ in us that identifies us as Children of God. It is the existence of Christ in us that offers power and authority of supernatural impact to live in our words and prayers. The Spirit produces fruit from the Word cultivated by faith. The fruit is clearly defined as love, joy and peace. The three substantial satisfiers of humanity. Everyone wants love, joy and peace. There are other fruits of the Spirit that are necessary for productivity in our ability to fulfill the commandment of Christ to love others. They are forbearance, kindness, goodness and gentleness. We strive for these in our relationships though not born of our natural mind, will or emotions. The Holy Spirit produces these qualities from the love, joy and peace found in Christ. Finally, there is self-control. Oh how this is vital to spiritual success as a disciple. To keep going when no one else is. To continue when quitting seems favorable. To remain uncomfortable when comfortable escapes are offered. To opt for convenience when inconvenience is required. To maintain control when God asks for our complete trust and confidence.

Be My Disciple

John 15:8 (NIV) This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is the Father’s Glory. It exemplifies the power of His Presence to fulfill His Purpose in us. We have no possible means of doing so. It is God’s Word planted in us. The Holy Spirit’s cultivation process. The commitment to be His Disciple… not just a Christian or a follower. To abide in Christ. To live each day for the Kingdom. I am challenged today by this passage. Do I live for the Father’s Glory? Is my life bearing fruit? Spiritual fruit? Sowing and reaping will produce the blessing of God in our life. Doing what the Word says will also create prosperity. Fullness is only accomplished when our life abides in Christ. Abundance is the surplus reserved for His Children.

Discipleship is to continually Jesus Christ. To engraft our life into His Word, His Will and His Way. Every day. Every breath. Every step. Every decision. Every moment. Not everyone will decide this is the life for them. It is not a requirement for Heaven. It is a requirement to glorify the Father. The good Father and gracious God who sends every good gift to us. The One who sent His Only Son to die for us so that we could become His Children in right standing again. God has given us an opportunity to glorify Him. It is the only “thing” we can do. God did everything else. He gave His Son. His Son gave the Spirit. God has provided for us from His Riches in Glory. He has given us the strength to do all things through Christ. The Lord has given us every spiritual blessing. We have it all. We also have the freedom to choose how to use this wonderful gift.

The Promise

John 15:9-11 (NIV) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Jesus offers His Love to us. We have the opportunity to remain in His Love. Keep His Commandments. He told us these things so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Are you satisfied with your life? Are you complete in love, joy and peace? Does your life glorify the Father today? Grace is the open doorway to every bit of fulfillment found in God’s Word. No matter how we lived yesterday. The Holy Spirit wakes us up offering new mercy for the new day with new opportunities to glorify the Father, bear much fruit and be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It means I must decrease and allow Christ to increase and take over. It means fear must give way to faith. It requires doubt drowned by belief. It is the promise of fulfillment to overflowing abundance of love, joy and peace. It is a privilege. It is a promise. It is more than I can think, ask or imagine. God is good! He is a Good Father! He deserves to be glorified.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

When Mountains Move

When Mountains Move

Matthew 21:21-22 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

When our youngest child was a toddler, she developed rapid onset asthma. It came on out of nowhere. She had not experienced any symptoms before the day of her first attack. Over the next several weeks, it grew worse and worse. We were at the doctor’s office every day to adjust medications and check for complications. She could not far from a nebulizer. Taking her anywhere was strongly discouraged as a secondary illness could compromise her life. Meanwhile, my husband and I were learning about faith. Tangible faith that changed things. Coincidental? I don’t believe in coincidences since meeting Jesus Christ and getting to know His Ways. I was perplexed that while serving God and seeking Him wholeheartedly, how could this be happening to us? Our mentors began to sow seeds of faith in us and teaching us how to pray believing that God would answer our prayers. We prayed often but now it was time to put our money where our mouth is. For weeks following medical advice and praying for our child, begin to build confidence. Unaware of its productivity, I sat in a doctor’s office awaiting yet another list of protocols. Of course, he delivered. And then he did something that changed everything, her doctor wrote “forever” on the prescription pad. The word was underlined. The medications had finally yielded a slightly positive result. Heaven and hell clashed all around us. I was infuriated that an unknown curse was leveled against my child. Walking to the car with her in one hand and the wretched piece of paper in the other, I began praying with angry words reciting laced with complete indignation. An absolute intrusion into God’s Territory opened an unseen doorway to the realm of hope called impossible. When I was done and out of breath from praying in known and unknown languages, a still small voice declared it finished and I was instructed to stop all medications by the Great Physician.

This is our testimony of the healing of our daughter. I do not in any way justify going against medical orders unless you hear the Voice of God spoken directly to you in an audible voice. God still talks to people – directly! I did not share this true story to incite you to spontaneous faith that jumps off mountains heedlessly. The real test came after I heard God tell me what to do. I did it. After months of life threatening situations, I had to decide whether or not to believe the Word of the Lord which meant stopping the medication she had survived on. I did it. Terrified and trembling, not sleeping for days, I did it. Our daughter has never had another asthma attack or any similar symptoms. In fact, she hardly ever even gets a cold. I am sharing this to say that faith is not easy. It is probably the hardest thing that we will ever do. To defy the logic innate and engrained in us to see the Glory of God. Jesus told his disciples that “whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” We must have faith that does not doubt when it comes to a place of action. Heavenly manifestations can be very vulnerable and scary transitions. When Heaven comes to earth, mountains begin to move, and pathways are made straight produces a physical reaction in the atmosphere that removes us from convenience, comfort and control to produce godly change. We want it. Now we must walk it.

Matthew 17:20 (NKJV) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith is a seed that grows in our heart. It doesn’t stop in our heart but by believing pushes through conditions and circumstances to change an ordinary life to extraordinary. It defies the natural to produce supernatural results. The exhilarating rush of putting our faith and trust in the Lord is followed by moments of hesitation when change does not occur rapidly or the conditions only worsen. God works through the impossibilities of life to produce His Glory. If man can do it, there is no reason for hope. Confident trust in the Lord takes us to the edge of self and complete undoing of our mind, will and emotions to take one more step into the unknown place. It causes us to challenge everything known about God and decide if it is credible enough to take a chance.

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV) Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

When seeds of faith grow into fulfillment it produces movement and change in our life. It is not always a peaceful transition and never a comfortable change. Moving mountains shake the foundation of our life. Hills being removed present unforeseen challenges moving us from good to glory! The steadfast security in all transition and change is the unfailing love of God for us and His Covenant of Peace that keeps us. We must learn to trust God completely so that when nothing in life adds up to what He has shown us in His Word or spoken to our heart that we do not abandon our post of waiting and watching for His Arrival.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

His Thoughts are higher. His Ways are too. (Isaiah 55) We must learn to look at our life from a heavenly perspective found only in the Presence of God. His Spirit will tell us the secret things of God when we invest our life in living from God’s Account of how our life could be rather than the conditions around us. The transition is inviting but getting from here to there will take many steps that are not logical and demand us to make a choice between believing and doubting. Doubt immobilizes our faith but when we believe it mobilizes the impossible making all things possible. The movement of such shifting and changing produces unsettling shaking of our life that can cause us to become fearful. God has not given us the spirit of fear but confidence born of trusting and believing God at His Word.

God is our refuge. He is our strength. Hope is the anchor of our soul when the boat starts rocking and we are called to step out of it. (Hebrews 6:19) If your life is shaking right about now, the earth seems to be moving beneath your feet, and things are not going as expected – don’t stop believing! Just step into His Presence and let God be your peace! He will keep you safe in the storm. He is working His Plan to His Perfection not your preference. Discomfort, inconvenience and when things are beyond our control are all signs of something far greater working in us and through us – Christ Jesus! Moving mountains make a sound and cause a reverberation. It is our faith in God and belief in His Authority and Power over our life that keeps us steady in the process!

Hebrews 12:26-28 (NIV) At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

 

 

The Known God

The Known God

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

I have a friend who is experiencing a difficult season in life. He has family issues. He is experiencing health issues. He is an optimist at heart but the last message bringing bad news threatens to take him out at the knees. He writes editorials for the local paper. Articles from a personal perspective offered as encouragement. He came to me asking if I would read his latest commentary. His concern was that his perspective was too raw and might be detrimental to his readers. He is part of the Unitarian church which believes that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues such as the existence, nature and meaning of life, deities, creation and afterlife. The mission is “inspiring to seek freely, live ethically, and nurture each other and the Earth.” He is one of the kindest people who I know that lives this very thing in his life. However, knowing the adversity that he is facing and reading the words pouring from his heart, it is clear that in the midst of this overwhelming trial – he is struggling to keep his optimism. Without faith there is an end to optimism.

Paul talked about the “Unknown God” standing before the council in the midst of Areopagus…“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…”(Acts 17) When everything is going right and all is well in life, it is easy to praise and worship an “unknown” God but when everything is falling apart and nothing is as it should be – this person is not enough. Without His Constant, Abiding and Sovereignty, there is no anchor of hope to hold on to and no one to put our faith in. So it is through our suffering that God is truly revealed to us. Our desire to know Him deepens trying to make sense of the unthinkable when it comes. He is the one who we carry the pieces of our broken heart and life to in an effort to be made whole again. It is hard to make sense of suffering sometimes but thank you that God doesn’t have to be foreign and unknown to us anymore. Greater is He who lives in us than He that is in the world. (I John 4)

Proverbs 14:10 (NKJV) The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Suffering is defined as enduring pain, disability, or death patiently or willingly. To tolerate or allow. To undergo, be subjected to, or endure. You know the very thing that is causing your heart sorrow or even bitterness today. The very thing that challenges your heart and mind to believe beyond the impossible boundaries of the earth into the heavenly realms of possibility just to survive. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those with crush spirits. (Psalm 34) The sufficiency of God’s Grace that releases His Power in our life is when weakness takes over and we cannot in our own strength do anything at all but rely on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12) God knows what we need, when we need and how to give it to us. We must only have faith in God to receive it. The decision to make the Living Hope a known reality in our life is essential.

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Faith is illogical apart from God’s Word. Without a knowledge base to build our faith in Christ upon, there is no possible way to convince our mind of anything else. To attempt to believe in Jesus without knowing Him including His Sacrifice, His Character, and His Identity will only lead to frustration and failure. Jesus is the Word of God. He came wrapped in flesh to be our living love story. (John 1:14) The Cross is unpleasant. His Death violent. His Blood shed quite messy. It is all relevant to the story and without it – God remains unknown to us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can know who God is by name but become His Child or know Him. God loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for every single human being on the earth. It is totally up to us in accordance to freedom to choose to know Jesus or not. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God to grow and mature into confident hope. This is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen reality of the Living God at work in us and through us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. When God becomes known to us, His Comfort surrounds us. He doesn’t make our life comfortable but gives us love, joy and peace from the inside out.

Acts 9:25 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

God has given us a Comforter. He is the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christ released when He died on the cross and made available to all of mankind through His Sacrifice. The veil or curtain in the manmade temple which separated God and His People was destroyed in that moment. Free access to God in His Presence offered to all who come by way of Christ. We need God’s Word to know Him and His Spirit to be known by Him.

Those who walk in reverence to God (fear) and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit where multiplied even in the heavy persecution of the early church. The word “comfort” used in this passage comes from the word “paraklesis” which means calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces the inner peace that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight as instructed. (2 Corinthians 5) “Paraklete” means strengthening presence or the one who upholds those appealing for assistance. The Presence of God is essential for our successful navigation of trials, troubles and trauma in life. It doesn’t make sense. Jesus warned that as sin grew rampant and love would grow cold. There would be wars and rumors of war. There would be hard times. Those who endure to the end will be saved. This means that no one is exempt from such adversity in life but that we all can overcome through the Word of God and His Spirit. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) The humanistic statement quoted by many is simply not true. What doesn’t kill us can make us bitter and broken. It can destroy our soul with vacant barrenness as the last shred of hope is consumed by fiery trial. The treasure I have is the Known God who loves me. He is constant. He is in control. He is good. He is always working for my good and His Glory in the worst of all possible situations. Faith in God is my comfort zone. I must leave the earthly comfort of complacency, compromise, and conventional thinking to know Him. I must accept the terms and conditions of salvation which require a Savior and Old Rugged Cross. I know it makes you uncomfortable to owe someone something. The flipside of the coin is certain death. To live a life that ends in torment forever. Thanks be to God that though there is suffering and sorrow in life – my hope is secure. Faith in God makes all things possible. He comes close to us in our brokenness to be our comfort. He is the Resurrection and Life but to experience these qualities something must die.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I am praying for my friend today. His heart is heavy. Hope is waning. He is struggling to maintain happiness and hope without substance. His Faith is in an Unknown God defined by his mind. The Unknown God will never be enough. We must know God to enter His Presence and live in it. You know your own suffering today. Your heart can well define its sorrow. Bad news may have come calling. It has visited me recently too. It is only by faith and trust which gives way to confident hope that I am still here. God knows what I need and how to deliver. His Spirit comforts me, encourages me and restores me when emptiness threatens to overtake me. Christ is enough. He must be our portion. We must live in Christ to know God and experience His Glory and Goodness in our life. His Way is always better which means I must yield my way to Him. Even when that way is dark and foreboding, I must go where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says, and becoming who He has called me to be. I must decrease so Christ increases in my life. (John 3:30) It is only then that we do not fear the messenger but fully embrace the Word. Only then can I take my eyes off the giant and turn to my Champion. I have hope that is eternal and cannot be stripped away. Living hope. He is the Known God to all who seek Him. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In

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

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

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

Beloved…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coasting Through Life

Coasting Through Life

Psalm 107:29-31 (ESV) He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

As a child, I had a bike with big handlebars and a banana seat. I would love to trudge up the hill in our neighborhood and coast down letting the momentum of the downward slope carry me quickly to the bottom. It was the same hill where my dad taught me to ride my bike just after removing the training wheels. He encouraged me as he began undoing the little nuts holding them in place. He tried to build my confidence as I fearfully climbed on the seat. He promised to hold tight to the back as I started my decent. But then he did the unthinkable, as I gained my balance he let go. I did great…for a while before crashing into a tree at the bottom. He came and scooped me up. I was mad, hurt and scared. My father loved me and then put me right back on the bike again so that fear would not keep me from the freedom of doing the very thing that I desired which was to ride my bike.

Some who read this might think my dad cruel to just let me go like that. We live in a society where kids don’t try anymore because they are given what they want in such a situation. They go unchallenged by parents but are pacified for peace. My father was not mean or abusive. He always encouraged us to try. He taught us to go after the things we wanted in life and that failure was not the end but the opportunity to do it again until success was found. Yes, I fell down that day but the crazy thing is that I got back up and continued to climb the hill and ride down it over and over again. I cannot help but believe that in some strange way there was a life lesson learned that day much greater than just riding a bike on two wheels.

There is a saying that “all who wander are not lost.” Life is our lesson book. The Word of God holds every solution to every problem but let’s be real – it is not the first authority in our life. It should be, but for many it is not. Christians desire the things of God but do not go after God to find them. When presented with challenges, circumstances, conditions, and change – it is human nature to give up. If I had attempted to ride my bike on two wheels alone, would I have been successful that day? Or was it the love of my father and his ability to see the lesson far greater than the task at hand, to build character in his children to try. To equip us to not give up when times are tough but dig in. My dad taught us not be concerned about the climb but to make it to the top and coast down it. I believe that someone needs to know today that the challenge you are facing has meaning and purpose. It is not the Father’s Will to destroy you but to wrap you in His Steadfast Love. Everything He does is with His Plan in mind. The future and hope that He has prepared for us never leads to disaster of defeat but overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ. To continue on this journey even in the wandering is to know that you are never lost but constantly pursued by His Unfailing Love and Goodness that is ready to overtake you! The Father is for you today.

Psalm 107:4-9 (ESV) Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

It might be human nature to do good and parental compassion leading us to pull Joseph from the pit and the prodigal from the pig pens of life. I know that I never want to see my children fail or fall down but there are times and seasons when I must remember that God loves them more than I do and has meaning in the struggles they go through. My love and compassion does not change but I yield to the Power of God at work in them. To trust the Lord with their future and hope as I work to define my own. Journeying through Psalm 107, there are some examples of different situations where people went through something to find the Presence of God in their life. Opportunities to let go of our expectation in order to survive and find that God has something bigger and better. There is purpose in the climb, blessing in each valley and your sowing is never in vain. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble.” Oh how many of us can relate?

Our ability to endure the trials of life and continue through to the other side requires confidence in the Steadfast Love of God our Father. He promises to satisfy the longing soul and to fill the hunger of our soul with good things. The word steadfast means fixed in a direction, firm in purpose or in faith, and unwavering. God’s Love for you is constant. It cannot be changed or undone by a single sin or mistake. It is forever. Do you believe that today? Or did natural paternal relationships jade your thinking and compromise your trust? Sometimes it is our nature to view the Lord through human eyes rather than a broken heart. Withholding the pieces marred by betrayal, broken promises, and shattered trust, we do not give the Lord what it takes for Him to make our life the masterpiece He declared it would be. (Ephesians 2:10) I am a work in progress but if I do not allow God to move me, mold me or shape me – I will remain unchanged. It takes faith and confidence in the fixed, firm and foundational love that is the solidity of our life and permanence of our position as Children of God.

Psalm 107:10-16 (ESV) Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

There are times when the actions in our life produce unfavorable consequences. God does not promise to end the consequences of our actions and eliminate the challenges that arise from our rebellion. It would contradictory in that it would end the sowing and reaping ordained in the days of Noah. There is cause and effect in life. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In Romans 8:28 there is a precious promise for such times. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” To interpret this verse to mean that God will spare us from every consequence is foolishness. Where is the power to overcome if there is not difficulty? How does one experience victory without the possibility of defeat? Where is the glory in such a life of entitlement? God uses our struggles to produce faith in His Love and His Power that leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory through the challenges of life not around them.

True freedom in Jesus Christ is experienced by accepting our position as Sons and Daughters of God and living in His Favor. To pour out blessings and prosperity on a rebellious heart would only give way to farther wandering and worse mistakes enabled by God’s Provision. God loves us too much for that. He doesn’t withhold any good thing from us but will certainly not contribute to our fall. By faith, we are given access to God’s Presence and Promises through Jesus Christ. To enter into this place of undeserved privilege allows us to experience freedom from the driving force of self that keeps us hungry and thirsty imprisoned by our emotional bondage and lack of trust.

I John 3:19-21 (ESV) By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God…

The New Living Translation says “God is greater than our feelings.” When my dad let go of the bike so I could coast down the hill, he knew that I might fall. He also knew that I might just make it and successfully meet my goal, too. His feelings may have told him to hold on, but his faith in me told him to let me go. He was ready to meet me at the bottom. Pick me up and love on me when I fell down. Wiping away my tears and brushing off the dirt. Did I mention that the slope was covered in packed sand rather than asphalt? On the other side of the houses, there was a paved road which would have made the ride faster and smoother but if I feel I would have really gotten hurt. It probably would have made the ascent easier and the ride much smoother but if I fell down, which was inevitable as starting and stopping are two different lessons, I probably would have stayed down for good. God makes a way for us. He knows every pathway of our life even the hard or difficult ones. His Love always makes a way. God is not leading us to defeat but victory.

Psalm 107:33-37 (ESV) He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

If only we could see with human eyes what the Father is doing on the other side of our test, trial or tragedy? If we could just understand a portion of His Purpose or an ounce of His Passion for His Children? God has the power to change your situation instantly. He can do anything and everything except go back on His Word. When He released His Word as purpose for you and penned the days of your life including a future and hope with the promise to become a masterpiece, He cannot change His Mind no matter how loudly you cry. He must endure the process just like you do. His Steadfast Love is set on seeing you successfully satisfied now and forever. He will not relent or back down. We walk by faith and not by sight. The faith that we walk in is the Steadfast, Fixed, Firm, Unwavering, and Unchanging Love of God our Father. We can label the journey anything we want but the destination remains the same.

Coasting is to continue to move or advance after effort has ceased. It is different from drifting which is to be carried along. Drifting is driven by emotions, feelings, and circumstances. Coasting is confidence in that which is moving and advancing you to finish the course. You stop “peddling” and let the momentum carry you. When our life seems out of control, fear overtakes us, bondage threatens captivity, people let us down, and chaos is overwhelming us – it is important to remember that as Children of the Living God – we are not drifting but coasting in His Love. God was with us in the beginning, by us through it all and is waiting at the end.

Psalm 107:30 (NLT) What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Let go and let God! It doesn’t mean to just give up, throw the towel in, or quit. It is an act of surrender and submission to the Power of His Love being greater than our feelings and emotions. It doesn’t mean that there will not be storms, deserts, darkness, affliction, pain or the occasional fall but it means that the Father’s Love is always there for us. He is always perfecting that which concerns us. Even in our wandering, things are going as planned. Coasting is really the desired response. When I don’t let the conditions or circumstances of this life pull me from the Truth that God loves me, He is for me, and He will never let me down.

Psalm 107:1-3 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

”So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:17-19)…indeed the anchor for our soul is hope. An anchor does not keep a ship from the storm put it keeps it in place through it. We will go through things in life. There will be many choices and opportunities. It is up to me if I will choose to believe that God loves me. He is good. He is for me enough to grab hold of that anchor and endure to the end. His Blessing is the stillness, peace and confidence that no matter what happens – His Love for me is steadfast and unchanging. I can coast through life knowing that His Love will carry me home.

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