Prosperity for All

Prosperity for All

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

I have a good life. I would even say that I live a God Life. Jesus is everything to me. He has filled gaps and spaces in my existence healing old wounds and exposing old ones that I did not know existed. This year, I have felt this stretching in my heart. God is eluding to the fact that there is more to Him than I am aware of. He keeps telling me and reminding me – don’t stop. I am ready to do more than you can think or ask. Secret things and hidden blessings that you do not even know to ask me for. Isaiah 55:8-9 say, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Depending on one’s perspective, this verse can be comforting or daunting at times. Our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God must include the instruction and guidance of His Spirit and a constant meditation and marination that keeps it soaking and saturating our mind. What we cannot grasp or comprehend will not be applied to or adhered to in life including faith and confident hope that allows us to trust the Lord when it comes to His Thoughts beyond our own understanding and His Ways far greater than our own. His Thoughts for us are so much higher than we think for or of ourselves. Reading this verse today in consideration of Psalm 1, maybe just maybe God is trying to tell me something new. It isn’t new to the Lord but the introduction of a higher level thinking that I could not grab hold of before.

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

I have learned in studying God’s Word to always keep reading. Read what comes before great revelation and what comes next. God’s Word is complete. It is all true. One precept leads to the next new concept. It takes a lifetime of reading, studying, mediating and applying and our humanity still cannot possible extract all of its goodness and wisdom. But at least, one can try. Our life is lived in seasons. We adapt our behavior and lifestyle in preparation of the next natural season. It drives our economy. It fuels our resources. It is the perpetual nature of sowing and reaping. Planting and harvest. As God calls us to new things, bigger thoughts, new ideas, and new innovations in our life, it takes us a step higher in our faith to comprehend and apprehend the unthinkable and once unattainable in life. However, the Goodness of God in our life flows through us to display His Glory. I know that before I experienced the wholeness of God’s Word, His Spirit and His Presence – I struggled at sharing the Gospel or Good News with others. I had not experienced its Power and therefore, I wasn’t completely sold on it or serving God wholeheartedly either. However, once I began applying God’s Word like the seed it is referred to in the Gospels like Matthew 13 – the fruit of my life was worth sharing. This has nothing to do with me or things I do but the things God’s Word is doing in my life. Every time I have pushed a “seed” in the ground, covering it, caring for it, committed to it, and confident in it – it has produced something far greater in my life. Something worth sharing. Something valuable and desirable to others. We were created to prosper here on the earth. Yes, heaven is our destination but it is not God’s Plan for us to struggle and strive all the time – we were made to thrive. Not only in the Fruit of His Spirit, but as a byproduct of it.

Proverbs 16:3-4 (NLT) Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Commit your actions to the Lord. Serve Him wholeheartedly in every effort. The Lord of the Harvest doesn’t live in the local church house. God wants to live in your house. The Holy Spirit lives in our heart. His Purpose is to instruct us and guide us according to the Word of God. It says right here in black and white that if I “commit (my) actions to the Lord” that “(my) plans will succeed.” Once properly aligned with the God’s Word, His Will and His Way – I will be successful. Let’s flip the script for a moment, does that mean that if my life is not successful I am out of alignment or possibly disconnected? Yes. You are in good company because we all have more to do. A life committed to Christ will prosper in all they do. If every attitude and action is committed to Christ likewise our plans will succeed.

Have you ever tried to drive a car whose tires are out of alignment? Essentially each one has a mind of its own and the vehicle will pull in the direction of the misalignment. The faster you go the harder it is to control the direction of the automobile. Is your life pulling to the right or left? Jesus promised to align His Way with you if you will come to Him. Yoking our life to the Lord means yielding our way to His Way. It is to slow down. Evaluate our direction. Examine our heart. Weed out those things keeping us from completely grafting into the vine and becoming His Branches. Those who get it right will prosper “in all they do” and have “plans that succeed.”

Genesis 8:21-22 (NLT) And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

In Genesis 1:28, God blessed mankind with fruitfulness and prosperity. He gave us power and authority basically dominion over the earth. Sin did not separate us from the earthly blessing, but rather separated us from right standing with God. It ended our partnership with the Lord. We could have a good life with a lot of hard work but as far as the Goodness found in His Glory – yeah it was game over. Looking ahead man’s sin took over, so God took the only righteous man and his family to safety while he wiped out the planet with a flood. Noah got off the ark and offered a pleasing sacrifice to God and in exchange God blessed the ground. This is important. Seedtime and harvest is very, very important because it restored man’s ability to prosper on the earth.

In the Garden, prosperity was given to us with God’s Blessing. However, we didn’t need the earth to produce because the blessing in the garden produced everything humanity needed to thrive. Sin separated us from the Presence of God. God gave us goodness in the earth again. He is such a good Father. This would be the beginning of grace for the world and its inhabitants even though “everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil”. Hang on…now where have I heard something like that before. Oh wait a minute, it is in the context of my life verse for 2017. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through the mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might think or ask.” His Goodness produces a Glory that is beyond my comprehension. The Truth is that despite my stinking thinking and sinful recollections that God is still trying to get His Goodness past what I think is possible to the impossible things that He has planned for me. He wants to do more than I think I am capable of. He wants to take me higher than I think possible. He wants to give me the life that Jesus Christ died for me to have rather than the one that I try to settle for day after day.

I Chronicles 4:9-10 (NLT) There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

In 2000, Bruce Wilkinson wrote a little book/commentary called The Prayer of Jabez. Many applauded the writing as pure revelation while others called it just another scripted effort in the prosperity gospel. I read the book. I prayed the prayer. I have seen its fruit bore in my life. Jabez was honorable humbled at birth by difficult circumstances. His mom called him a pain. His name actually means “pain”. I can’t imagine the humiliation others must have projected on Jabez. How insignificant his life must have felt as his mother looked at him in disdain. Childbirth is painful. I get it times five but I wonder what his mother must have been going through in her life. With each birth somehow a mother’s love overcomes the pain of the process, but for his mother it did not. He prayed to God, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain.” If you wish to term this “prosperity gospel” be my guest because it absolutely is just that. God called us to leave the borders of our natural life and step out by faith into the prosperity that He has promised His People – His Children. He is a good father who offers us a rich inheritance. If your mind can only see financial or tangible blessing in that as you pray God will change your heart and mind to see that as your soul prospers so will the rest of your life. To disconnect the blessings of God for our natural life as part of a crucified life silences the Gospel in our life. God blessings His People. By grace you are saved through faith that restores a right relationship with God. What Father withholds goodness from His Children who live with them? Parents bless their children in a right standing relationship. Why wouldn’t God? He tells us over and over that He has planned for our success. He will prosper us in every season. In Leviticus 26:5, it even says that though there are seasons that to Children of God they do not apply negatively but overlap in prosperity. Deuteronomy 28 outlines the blessings of obedience which are intangible and tangible. He also tells us that an impoverished life is in direct correlation with disobedience. Did God lie? No. Did He change his mind? No. Did He mislead us in any way? No not at all. We have set the boundaries of God’s Goodness and overflow in our life. We limit the Gospel because His Grace is only as sufficient as it operates in our life. If I limit my life according to what I can do or will do – it is not God’s Plan but my own in operation.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” The Lord has been good to me. He has been so much better than I deserve. It is easy for people to settle for the Goodness of God. The Word of God opens our eyes to the Truth that His Goodness has surrounded us from the moment that we were born – it is now that we can see it as magnified by His Word.

Through the battle with our son, bits and pieces of my life that I thought really mattered began to break off of me. The idea that I was somehow in control of anything in my life quickly subsided and the reality of my life is worth nothing outside of Jesus Christ. I was born to teenage parents. They struggled but just could not survive the statistics. They both had to find their own way leaving two little kids in the aftermath. God was with us. He gave us godly grandparents who took care of us while our parents sorted their lives out. My father married a wonderful woman who would become my mom, too. The Lord knew I needed her. My birth mother struggled for the rest of her life and died after a long battle with alcoholism that separated her from the ones she loved most. I discovered the love of God at eleven. Gave my life to Christ as a teenager. Rebelled for a decade. Ended up divorced with three kids and no hope for a future in my own eyes. I failed my children, my parents, my God and myself. God had a different plan and presented my soul mate. When I came back to Jesus, I set out to make things right to do all I could to make up for all that I had done wrong and thought I was doing pretty good. God blessed our life. My husband and I had knit together a family, achieved great jobs, built the perfect house, and life was good. Then came the moment that I realized it was all a façade, it came crashing down in October 2011. Could this be my fault? Repayment for a life wasted? No, God is good! Right? I could not save our son. I was helpless. God whispered, “Do you trust me?” I whispered, “Yes.” I meant it but had no idea the journey that I was embarking upon. At the end, I was broken before the Lord. I was empty. It was then everything changed. This was when God’s Grace became truly sufficient for me. You may say, “Well, of course it did! Your son is alive.” To God be the Glory – you are right he is. He had a 2% chance of survival. God did the impossible. However, what you do not know is that the doctors only believe he will live about ten years. The treatment is as deadly as the disease apparently. We are in the third year of remission. He experienced a long list of side effects that we must still believe God to take care of. See trust didn’t end in that moment, it was only beginning. The verse that carried me through treatment right now as he lives in remission is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.”

Your life may not look like you thought. The disappointments might be a list longer than your arm. We get lost in our failures. We get tangled up in the lies the enemy is constantly trying to trap us with. We stop and settle because faith is just too darn hard. God’s Plan, His Future, is never at stake. He will absolutely do more than I can think or ask for. The only thing I must do is decide if I will live in His Presence or stay in the present. God’s Goodness is in your life right now. He blessed you from the beginning and called you to greater things. He ordained you for fruitful increase in every season. The righteous are not supposed to live in lack. Spiritual lack. Physical lack. Financial lack. His Goodness provides more than enough for us. But for those who desire His Glory – the kind that sparks revival – it is up to us whether we will step over the boundary of self and wealth into the place of prosperity called His Presence. Those who do will never experience disappointment again because their expectation is not on people or earthly provision but God’s Glory to fill their life and overflow. God has called you to prosper. He has already blessed the land on which you tread. He has gone before you and cleared the enemy’s camp. Will you go? Will you plant? Will you harvest? Well friend, that is up to you! I break the boundaries of human thinking that have trapped you in just enough in the Name of Jesus. I challenge you to let God do more than you can think or ask but stepping out in faith and trust in the Lord who always wants to do more than we can think, imagine or ask. As your soul prospers, let Him prosper you in all things.

Psalm 27:13 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

Don’t Stop Believing

Don't Stop Believing

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Cue the music, I love 80’s music. Although I tend to gravitate toward mostly Christian music nowadays, my kids hate when an oldie but goodie comes on because I cannot help but crank it up and sing along. “Don’t Stop Believing” is a classic. It’s funny how our mind works. Certain thoughts will filter through the folders of memory and pull out random thoughts and ideas. Lately the Holy Spirit has really been pressing me to evaluate my faith and belief system. Oh, I assure you that I am sold out to Jesus Christ just some spring cleaning meditation and self-examination. I do not want to become comfortable or complacent in my pursuit of Jesus and His Kingdom. But what I am beginning to see and now believe is that like the woman who had but a small jar of oil hidden on a shelf who did not tap into it until she was completely desperate (2 Kings 4), there are things in my life intended for prosperity and blessing that remain hidden. The Lord wants me to be like the woman with the alabaster box who broke the seal pouring her perfume over the head of Jesus. (Matthew 26) Why is it that we wait to believe until death knocks on the door when we should be beating down the door of God’s Kingdom? See the difference. I do, at least I am beginning to.

Keep asking and you will receive. Keep seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks the door is opened. God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11) His Grace is enough – it is sufficient in its ability to turn my weakness into His Power. God’s Gifts and His Call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29) What does that have to do with me? Well in Genesis 1 – the Lord blessed us. He instructed us to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, and subdue it. Purpose, prosperity, generosity and power. It all belongs to us directly from God. But sin came hindered us from fulfilling His Mandate for us. (Romans 3:23) No longer able to live according to God’s Glorious Standard. Jesus came to remove the burden of sin and death so that once again the Kingdom of God and His Call could be fulfilled in our life. It is a free gift. (Romans 6:23) Now we have eternal life, the life that in our heart is our desire. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) When we connect with the Kingdom of God and live according to God’s Standard including His Glory and Grace – we become complete lacking no good thing. (James 1:4) This is all part of the reconciliation process as our life begins to come into alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God, the Father. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) Why am I not asking for every spiritual blessing I have been promised? Why am I not seeking the secrets and hidden things of the Kingdom every day? Why do I not beat down the doors to God’s Presence every single day until the door opens so I may come boldly before His Throne with every need, worry, care, burden and desire? Why? Have I stopped believing? Have I established a limit to the Love of God?

I Corinthians 15:9-10 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

The last rollercoaster I ever rode was at Six Flags over Georgia. I looked up the name so I could share it with you and laughed out loud. It was called Goliath. I have never been so terrified in all my life but gave in to the ridiculing of my children to ride it with them. When I got off the ride, I was mad. I remember walking away, shaking my head and declaring that I would never ever ride another thrill ride again. I haven’t. It was on that ride that our son blacked out. Having a major concussion in middle school, and after speaking to his doctor – it was concluded that because of post-concussion syndrome – he probably should not ride rollercoasters anymore. He was very disappointed but felt so bad agreed. Well, now I cannot help but wonder if it was his brain or the hidden tumor growing in his body next to it. I had no idea the giant that would soon be awakened in our life. After our son’s bone marrow transplant, he was declared in remission after three long years of battling. When I came home, life was far from normal. Within a month, my birth mother passed away unexpectedly and my oldest daughter married. Four months later, she and her husband were called to ministry 21 hours away. All those days to be made up from being apart while I cared for her brother, would have to wait for another day. I walked along that year deciding that I love God but I could not do this “faith” fight anymore. I took the sword that slayed those giants and gently hid it on a shelf. Believing came at a high price. I just couldn’t do it anymore. We can love the Lord and even trust Him but not believe for the Kingdom. We can accept His Daily Provision like manna but not press for the Promised Land of Favor that He has for us. The enemy uses fear and doubt to apprehend us and shut us in a cell with a lockless door. We wait for forever to come. We long for eternity. God has goodness for us in the land of the living. We must ask. We must seek. We must keep knocking. Why don’t we?

When Saul became Paul, he was called to minister to the family and friends of countless people were slaughtered at his hand or by his command. Yet somehow Paul discovered the sufficiency of God’s Grace was enough to stand before them and share of God’s Love, Grace and Favor. He overcame doubt and disbelief to live what He believed. My life must be lived to the Glory of God but what Glory is there to a lamp that is hidden under a basket out of sight. There are things God has called me to do, say and be that are well out of my comfort zone and will require a daily commitment to ask, seek and knock. The only reason that I have the Favor of God is because of the Blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:17-19) The Power of the Blood is for the remission of sins and restoration of the Glorious Standard of Living that is the Kingdom of God. Salvation is a multifaceted gift that takes a lifetime to unfold as God completes the good work that He began before you were born and insists on completing in spite of you.

Romans 14:16-17 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

God supplies everything we need every day. Is that enough for you? Are you okay with just enough? Why, when we serve a God of more than enough? The earth is all about daily provision or what we eat and drink. The Kingdom of God is not a matter of provision but a place of prosperity. We must learn to ask for, seek after and knock on the door of God’s Presence for Kingdom Favor rather than just getting by. You have not because you ask not. (James 4:2-3) We do not ask because we do not believe. We must believe with wholehearted confidence that God has a plan that contains a future and hope for our good. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We must believe that He works every detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must believe and be confident that God’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) To believe is to ask, to believe is to seek, and to believe is to knock – every day.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.  And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[f] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say I am?” Here me today – it doesn’t matter who God is to anyone else or the reality of Jesus for every other person in the world. Who do you say that He is? The life changing moment that you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who died for your sins, rose on the third day, and handed you the Keys to His Kingdom enough to do something with it – is the day heaven and earth become united in your life. The connection is made by faith. Faith shows the reality of what we hope for…your faith is shown not by what you say but what you do with your life. It is the evidence of things not seen soon to be a reality in your life and for the Kingdom. Why did you stop believing? Abraham took his faith all the way to the mountain with a knife poised and ready to plunge right through the beating heart of his 100-year-promise. God called Abraham – His Friend. Why? He believed. He believed in a God who can raise the dead back to life. What about you? If you believe that the moment you die, you will be brought to life in eternity, why can’t you believe God for simply things like favor? Increase? Prosperity? Power and influence? Such simple things offered by an awesome God left on the shelf like the bottle of oil, God has ordained and anointed you for His Glory. Is your life glorious? Maybe if like the woman with the alabaster box – we choose to ask, seek and beat open every door between us and Jesus to pour our life in His Lap, maybe we will discover the pressed down, shaken together and overflowing life that the Lord has promised His People. We must believe again. Believe that God is good. Believe that He is for us. Believe that He is with us. Believe that He desires us. Believe that the Lord will do exactly as He said. Don’t stop believing today! Crank it up and play it loud. Let your life be one of asking, seeking, knocking and believing and watch what the Lord will do!

James 2:21-24 (NLT)  Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

 

Smell Me

smell-me

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

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

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

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.

Constantly Good

constantly-good

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

How confident are you in the goodness of God? Are you confident in His Ability to care for you? Are you confident that He loves you today? Our confidence is the thing that relates trust. Without confidence in God, it is easy to abandon hope altogether. Confidence is not partial but complete trust. It is full assurance. The reliability of God is not based on our confidence in Him as many would believe. If you remove every trace of Him from the things of this world, eliminating His Name from every government building, hushing the use of His Name in every school, and attempting to stop worship in every home and heart – creation will still cry out His Name for His Glory. God is Sovereign. We do not understand such a thing in our society. Authority is challenged on every level to conform to our needs, wants and emotions even if it means lowering the standard of life. The inconsistent nature of human beings has created an unstable world spiraling to destruction. A constant God is not welcome because He will not conform His Standard to our sin. Does this make God bad? When bad things happen to good people, God’s Love and Care for us is not in question. God is still good. How do I know this? He is unmovable. He is unshakeable. His Kingdom is forever unlike the world in which I live. He is true. He is Truth. He does not have the ability to lie and will not change His Mind. The life that God chose for me apart from sin was a good one. It was my choice to sin that caused the problem in the first place.

Where does my hope come from? God is Sovereign. He is Constant. He is the Great I Am. He doesn’t change. Salvation is not that God changed His Mind or Position on anything. Grace came when He sacrificed His All to make a way for me to approach Him again. My confidence is not in me or my ability anymore. It is completely in the fact that God is good and He does not change. I must remain confident in everyday life that God’s Goodness is for me…right now…to effectively discover the new life that is for me and new creation that is rising up with me.

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!”

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was forever changed. It challenged my abilities as a mom. It made me question my purpose in life. Motherhood is my identity. There are many days that I find myself and the maternal instincts engrained in me “mothering” people and things that I did not even give birth to. Nurturing seems to be instinctual. However, when he was sick, I felt like a total and complete failure. Why? My confidence was in me – not completely entrusting Him.

The first test was when our oldest son spent a year in the Middle East. The difference is that our son chose to pursue this path. Our younger son was issued a death sentence. “I will never forget this awful time.” Such times create voids in us that need to be filled. The space of shattered expectation, unexpected trauma, and other places that “awful” things create must be filled by something. Will it be the Goodness of God? Or will it be bitterness and resentment? It is all about the source. You are what you eat. It’s really true. Romans 8:28 became my constant diet. It manifested an appetite for His Goodness in the midst of great trauma and tragedy. What will be on the menu for you today?

Psalm 23:5-6 (NLT) You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Who doesn’t want a fairytale life? But how quickly one forgets that happily ever after is preceded by hardship? There is a very real enemy and ominous threat in our life. Every day the enemy seeks to destroy you. He wants to steal your blessing. He wants to kill your desire to serve God. He roars like a menacing lion waiting to attack. “You prepare a feast for me” where? In the presence of my enemies. The Bible is the greatest love story ever written but it is not without a villain who wants to steal, kill and destroy the dream. Therefore, my confidence must remain in the unfailing love and goodness that pursues me. When I believe and trust in the Sovereignty and Constance of God, I am saying yes to His Unfailing Love and Goodness in spite of my circumstances and conditions because I know that He is preparing a feast in my honor and will soon bestow His Blessing on me. Do you trust in the God’s Goodness today? If not, you should.

Psalm 31:19-20 (NLT) How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.

God’s Goodness is found in His Presence. His Presence is a place of power in this life and refuge of peace that allows us to successfully navigate the trials of life with faith and hope intact. To confidently trust God does not mean that everything in our life will be perfect and without problems. It means that God’s Goodness will make its way to us because we stand in confidence at His Constancy.

Psalm 119:37-40 (NLT) Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

God’s Word is a menu of His Goodness for those who turn from worthless things. Again, you are what you eat. A diet of junk does nothing to nourish the body. It may satisfy our hunger for the moment but adds nothing nutritionally to our life. I have snackers in my family who constantly ruin their appetite for meal time. They eat all afternoon so that when I cook the evening meal they are not hungry. About an hour after dinner is done and the kitchen clean, they are right back in the kitchen and pantry foraging for something to eat. They are not satisfied. Come on, you can see where this is going! The Bible says to taste and see that the Lord is good. He is good. But we do not know that because we do not feast on His Word, and nourish our soul. If I base my life and decisions solely on this moment and how I feel, it will not yield long term results. It is immediate gratification rather than confident hope. However, if I know that God is good. He is faithful. He is unshakable and immovable. He is constant. If I believe that unfailing love and goodness belong to me here and now enough to wait on Him, I will be completely satisfied in my heart and soul. We read the labels on food for content, caloric intake, fat grams and sugars but starve our soul. What’s up with that?

Romans 14:17-19 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

When my children were younger, I would not allow them to eat junk food but provided healthy choices. Okay maybe I have mellowed and my youngest has been known to eat chocolate cake for breakfast on occasion, please don’t judge me. When the meal was set before them, they were given the choice to eat the meal or have no dessert. I was harsh back then just ask the older three. I didn’t do it to be mean but rather to ensure their health through a proper diet and good nutrition. My intentions were good for my kids. God is a way better Father than I am a mother. He is always good. He always sets His Very Best before us but He will not make us eat. It is up to me whether or not I partake of His Goodness. However, that never changes the fact that He is good.

With this in mind, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us discover His Goodness. In fact, the Holy Spirit produces goodness in us along with the other fruits of His Spirit. If I am living in the Goodness of God, it will begin to grow and overflow from my life. My soul will be healthy. My heart will be full. My mind set on Him because my appetite is for God alone.  A healthy soul and fullness of heart comes from a made up mind. When the church decides that God is good and worth having – it is then that Body of Christ will grow and mature fully developed in His Love.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT) For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God…

Do you have a good life? You have a Good God. Are you confident in His Goodness for your life today? Or have certain circumstances, situations and troubles caused you to doubt and wander? We must resign ourselves to the fact that God is Sovereign and will not change to suit our wants and desires. We can rejoice in the revelation that God is Good. It doesn’t matter how life looks now – you can have confidence in the hope you have been given through Jesus Christ. If you are not experiencing His Goodness in your life, it is not a God problem. It is our gut problem. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us each day – will we slow down long to allow it to overtake us. His Mercy is new each morning – will I reach out and take hold of it. I can be confident that God is good but I will not see His Goodness when my eyes are fixed on worthless things that my hands are holding tightly too.

Once you have tasted the Goodness of God’s Word and His Blessings, it is impossible to turn away from God. What about those who wander? They have not truly experienced the Goodness of God for themselves. To step into His Glory and be surrounded by His Goodness creates a hunger and desire that cannot be filled by anything else this world has to offer. It makes a confident heart and made up mind that will settle for nothing less. It creates a strong body that will build the Kingdom. God is good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness belong to you today. They have been chasing you over the mountain, in the valley and through the dark woods. Will you let Him overtake you today? Right now. In this moment, His Goodness is right there for you to have and hold and live in. The rest is up to you. It doesn’t matter what is happening around us the Goodness of God is for us.

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Simple Thanks

Praying woman hands

Ephesians 5:20 (NLT) And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you thankful today? It is not always easy to be thankful. Life happens. People are people. Stress this time of year is high. Anxiety from now until January makes it difficult to see the evidence of God’s Provision and Prosperity in our everyday life. This week has been tough. One of our fur babies went to Heaven. Please don’t tell me that animals especially dogs do not go to Heaven. Let me figure it out when I get there…if I get there. I am not always thankful. There I said it. What about you? Do you float on a cloud with a little harp in a pristine white robe of perfection? Or are like me, and some days it is a challenge just to be civil in the midst of performance pressure and long lists of responsibilities? Love has grown cold and it is emanated in a society that is selfish and self-absorbed. I still do not understand why bad things happen to good people. I can’t wrap my head around senseless violence. I know what its like to get an unexpected bill or a whole pile of them. I have kids. They are teenagers…need I say more. But in the quiet hours of this morning, while my whole house sleeps and I trudge to the kitchen to make the Thanksgiving meal. I may not be thankful for everything in my life or some of the circumstance or current conditions but I am content. I am not thankful for everything in my life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t “give thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here’s why…

Ephesians 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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.

I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I have overwhelming victory because God loves me. And finally, whatever does not line up to God’s Best in my life is not impossible but processing. God has promised to cause everything to work together for my good simply because I love God and He called me to His Purpose. So when I am not thankful for something I can still be thankful because God is working it for my good and I always win. I am a winner because Jesus is my Champion.

Going back to Ephesians 5:20, I made the conscious choice to paint our youngest daughter’s bedroom yesterday and some furniture. I completed the task singlehandedly which usually is a two-person project with my husband. This morning when I got up, my body was as stiff as a board. With each bend and twist something snapped, crackled and popped. I went to get our little dog to feed her and let her out. My heart sank at the reminder her “brother” is gone. I felt a tear rise up. I began to think about our kids who won’t be with us today. My son who will protect and serve today. My daughter and her husband who are serving God in New Hampshire much too far to come home for the day. Sigh… Stepping into the kitchen I became overwhelmed, I know I pared down the menu and tried to simplify some things but I still was overcome by the preparation process. Finally, I realized things were going south fast. So I began to thank God. I thanked Him for my family, home, church and job. Provision. Blessings. The Holy Spirit urged me to be more specific. Naming each blessing right down to the running water in the sink and the disgusting raw turkey I was cleaning. Suddenly, I could feel a change in my heart and the atmosphere around me. Thankfulness gives us contentment. Contentment brings peace.

So to make it simple – I looked up thankfulness in the Word of God and am sharing some tips for those days when it is a challenge to remain thankful. Just to make is easy…

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

The Lord knows that thankfulness is difficult sometimes. He doesn’t condemn us or punish us but waits for us to remember. The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness even when it is that of being unthankful or taking the Blessing of God in our life for granted. It is okay if your thankfulness is a sacrifice. If life is letting you down, circumstances devastating, people disappointing, or problems plague you – just say thank you for whatever it is that is good. There is always something to be grateful for – always.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT)Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Thankfulness that leads to satisfaction can only be found in a deep and abiding connection to Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this life that can satisfy our soul. We need Jesus. Without Him, there is a longing that will never be satisfied. We must strive to know Him. To remain in Him. To commune with the Lord each day. To invite Him into our life and spend time with Him.

Psalm 100:4 (NLT) Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Thanksgiving opens the door to His Presence and as praise pulls back the veil, it allows us to enter His Presence and prepares us for an encounter with the King of Kings. So often we come to Him without acknowledging who He is and dump our mess at His Feet. He is our Lord. We must come with thanksgiving and praise.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

A thankful heart produces a productive prayer life. It creates intimacy between you and your Beloved. The way one enters a conversation often dictates the outcome.

Colossians 3:15-16 (NLT) 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. 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.

When our heart is thankful, it ushers His Presence. Where Christ rules peace is enforced. Always be thankful. When dissatisfaction and discontentment come knocking on the door to our heart, it is up to us if we will let them in. Will I entertain such thoughts? Will I allow this attitude to come between me and my Savior? Will I choose thankfulness? Thankfulness is a choice. We decide to entertain any other concept in our life. We choose who or what is accepted and entertained in our life. We are the gatekeepers of our heart… unless we allow Jesus to be.

I Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The things in our life that bring dissatisfaction, discontentment and unthankfulness are usually the areas that the Lord is attempting to gain access to. He wants us to pray about these things so He can reveal His Will to us. Jesus wants His Best for us even when we are willing to settle for a substitution. Compromise is not in the Covenant of God for our life. It is a provision that humans try to write in there when tired of waiting or fear takes over. All circumstances in our life come with purpose, promise and provision. Be thankful for God’s Commitment and Covenant on those days when you are troubled by circumstances. He is always working on our behalf even when we give up or give in.

I Timothy 6:6-7 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.

Finally, let’s put things into perspective. We brought nothing with us into the world. What do you have right now? Look around you. What do you see? Every “thing” that is good is from God. When we leave this world, we take nothing with us except our soul. About that…

Hebrews 12:28 (NLT) Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

And it is with this thought that I leave you to check the turkey and take a shower to get ready for the rest of this busy day! We have been given life and an unshakeable everlasting Kingdom in Jesus Christ. There is more to life than what we see, how we feel or what we are going through. For this we can be thankful. In each moment of every day, we have Jesus. If you know Him, you know that He is enough. If you have experienced Him, you want more of Him. If you have an encounter, you will never want to leave His Presence again. This life and the things in it will never be as Glorious and Perfect as Heaven. But to see Christ in all things, makes thankfulness simple. Be thankful. In all circumstances friend, for this is the Will of God for us.

Psalm 106:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Show Me Your Glory

show-me-your-glory

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Show me Your Glory, God. The cry of Christians around the world. The revelry for revival is just about the only thing the church agrees on anymore. Wanting Jesus, but having no idea how to produce the overflow and outpouring of years gone by. Why is God keeping His Glory from us? Where is the spiritual blessing promised in the Word of God for believers? Ephesians 1:3 is clear in praising God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY SPIRITUAL blessing in Christ. Where is the spiritual blessing? Are we just not spiritual enough?

Not to change the subject, but to elaborate on it practically. Our new home has an irrigation system. However, the previous owner did not maintain it. Many of the sprinkler heads were buried underground and others broken off completely. The system did not come with instructions. My husband has undertaken the task figuring out how it works and finding each one of the outlets to repair  them so that it will all work as it is supposed to. To find the different sprayers, he turns on the water for a bit and walks around the yard to find where it bubbles the ground from beneath the surface. He then carefully digs around the area until he finds the hidden unit. He evaluates each one and buys a replacement. He will work on that area until it is working properly. This has taken weeks to accomplish and he still works on it today. It is with in mind that I believe is a lesson of expressing God’s Glory in our life.

We have every spiritual blessing that is possible. The Grace of God expressed through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ has produced an outpouring of unfailing love and goodness in our life that is not making it from the Heavenlies to our everyday life for some reason. God’s Word promises that He is my Shepherd and I lack no good thing. (Psalm 23:1) There is a lot of real estate covered in Psalm 23:2-5 including the green pastures, quiet waters, right paths, darkest valleys, evilness, pain, and even in the presence of my enemies. All the tests, trials and travails of life. The psalm ends with the revelation that “Your Goodness and Love follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) From the beginning – we lack no good thing, but then life happens as we journey through this life to eternity. There are days when His Grace is enough for me and other days when I try to do it all myself. Those are the days when He follows me with everything in His Hands waiting for me to turn to Him.

So I had this thought, if God’s Glory is manifesting in our homes, jobs and churches, could it be an “us” thing? Could there be a problem with my connection to Heaven rather than some grand order from God to stop His Blessing from reaching His People. Absolutely. It is a me thing not a God thing. How do I see the Glory of God in my life? In every season, in every situation. Well, it begins by evaluating our connection to Christ in every area of our life much like my husband is working on our sprinkler system. Step by step. The water is flowing. The source is intact. It is in our ability to express it in our life that needs some adjustment. God does not change His Mind. He does not lie. He has ordained His Love, Grace and Goodness to flood our life. We must find out why it is not happening and make the proper adjustment.

John 15:5-8 (NIV) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 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.

The Glory of God is not reserved for a church service or revival. The Glory of God is for you. It is for me. It is available in every dwelling place in our life. His Glory can fill our homes, jobs, and communities. It can reside in our relationships including intimate, personal, acquaintances and even with our perceived enemies. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” Are you grafted to Jesus Christ today? The overflow and outpouring of God for our life once restricted by sin and shame is now washed clean by the Blood of Jesus and grace established a new connection called righteousness. Here is the errant way of most in that righteousness at some point becomes about what we do rather than who Jesus is. Remember in Psalm 23, the initial declaration is that Lord is my Shepherd and I lack nothing but by the end of the chapter His Goodness and Love are following behind.

Life happens. Things happen. To continue in our pursuit of God’s Glory is a constant and ongoing giving up our way and our will to have His Way and His Will. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one will make it to the Father but by Him. Those who remain in His Love will what? Produce much fruit. Prosper as their soul prospers from the connection to Christ. However, grafting requires a cutting process. It is a form of brokenness that must be ongoing. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing. It goes on to say that once I am firmly fixed in Christ that I can ask anything in His Name and He will do it. “This is to my Father’s Glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples.” If my life is not bearing spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) there is a problem with my connection to Jesus Christ. It is definitely a “me” thing and if I do not come back to the Lord examining and evaluating my relationship with Jesus I will never see His Glory in my life again.

2 Corinthians 3:9-11 (NIV) If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

How much greater should the Glory of God be in our life today? The Law brought condemnation along with a long list of things to do that were impossible of ordinary people. Lives committed to a physical worship that never really measured up to God’s Glorious Standard. So God sent His Son with a new covenant bringing new life. However, sometimes our humanity is more comfortable with the old covenant rather than fully accepting the terms of the new agreement that did not do away with the Law but completes it. How is this possible?

God’s Grace is enough for me to have His Glory in my life. It is not to be earned or endured but is fully endowed by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In my previous employment, I supervised multiple departments for a local technical school. It was part of the county. It was said that job security was intact unless you “shoot the Pope”. This produced the mentality that if you made eight hours every day. Came to work and sat in your seat that you would eventually be promoted and get a raise simply because you showed up. There was a particular employee who was transferred into our school when her previous position was terminated and since she had not committed any fatal offenses she was given a job. The task given was overseeing the Financial Aid department which consisted of one person – her. She was to administer millions of dollars in Federal funding and keep our school compliant. She did a great job. Overlooked multiple times for a raise, I went to the administration and fought for her to obtain an increase. It was a battle and she was promoted to a proper position and salary for her duties. Well, this did not sit well with the ones who had held their positions for quite some time and felt entitled. One was bold enough to confront me. She wanted a pay raise. She felt it was her right. So I asked her one question, “What have you done above and beyond your job description that I can share with my supervisor to justify an increase?” She sputtered and shifted in her seat. She indicated that she had good attendance, dressed appropriately and had been in her position for a number of years. She looked me straight in the eye and with complete indignation said, “It is my turn!” I told her I would take her concerns to administration which I did.

In government positions, employees are on contract. Since these offices are generally associated with elected with officials, termination is frowned upon. Everyone wants a state job. It comes with great benefits and a level of security other professions, businesses and employers do not offer. We have a covenant that connects us to Jesus Christ. As long as we show up and do the right thing, we feel entitled to receive the benefits that He offers. But what are we doing to establish a deeper connection with Christ? Are we willing to do anything to have a deeper more meaningful relationship with our Savior and Lord?

The young woman in my story did not once ask for a promotion or pay increase. I knew what the position was worth and aware of her excellent performance so I began interceding for her. She was thankful for her job since the other one was taken from her. She had an advocate that went to the administration and authorities on her behalf. Jesus does this for us every day. He goes to the Father and reminds Him of His Grace and that His Glory can be given to us. I think sometimes as believers we think we are entitled to God’s Glory based on our performance when it has nothing to do with anything we do but everything Christ has done for us. When we strive to love Him more, to know Him, be like Him, and have Him permeate every area of our life – we become properly aligned and that which already belonged to us makes its way to us.

We have an irrigation system on our house. It belongs to us. Water flows into it in abundance. It is up to us to examine and fix every outlet until it works properly. We have everything we need. We own it. All we have to do is make the proper connections. God is outpouring His Love and Goodness to us and the Windows of Heaven are open. If God’s Glory is not reaching us, it is us not Him. The Grace obtained through Jesus Christ is more than enough to prosper the life of every believer.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Glory of God is desired by every church in operation or at least it should be. Why are churches divided, separated and broken? The Glory of God is not in them so without purpose they implode. God is pouring His Love, Grace and Goodness over the bodies formed of believers pursing Him. What happens if we just turned around? What if the each person in each body stopped trying to “do” all the right things and repented right there? Rather than inspecting, evaluating and judging all the people not like us, what if each person decided to inspect, evaluate and examine their connection to Christ independent of the organization so when meeting together collectively there was no barrier of sin, unforgiveness, or condemnation to block His Glory. His Glory is not earned. It is pouring out for us according to the Grace of God every single day. We can do nothing to earn it just clear the way to receive it. Once you experience the Glory of God, you will desire more and more of His Presence in your life. It is that good! Misalignment keeps us from receiving what belongs to us in Jesus Christ.

My husband can go outside and call forth every sprinkler to come on and water his lawn. Probably won’t happen – God bless him. Or he can roll up his sleeves and get to work making the way for the water to reach the atmosphere and let it water the ground. The proper channels are in place. The water is flowing. It is up to us to uncover the places in our life that have taken over the outlet of God’s Overflow for us. Revival will not come until God’s Glory is flowing from heaven into the lives of His People once again. It is up to me to clear the way in my heart and mind for His Glory to makes its way to me and through me first. Friend, we can stand at the altar of every church praying, crying out and even travailing for revival but until we fix our everyday connection to Christ, produce the fruit of His Spirit that makes us His Disciple then they will just be words falling to the cold hard ground. I must want Jesus more than anything else with a willingness to do anything to find Him even it means simply turning around, giving up my way and embracing Him fully – then this is what we must do before we ask Him to show us His Glory. Lord Jesus, let your power work in me today. Wash away everything that is between my life and Your Glory. I want to know the power of your grace. I want to comprehend just how wide, long, high and deep your love is or at least just a little more as I move in closer to YOU! Show me Your Glory, Lord!

Psalm 145:9-16 (NIV) The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Becoming Greater

becoming-greater

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

Turning the pages of my journal – it is quite clear that I have made a mess of things. Whether the pages just stuck together or in my haste I skipped a few, the dates are all out of whack and segments left blank. Not to waste the precious pages, I have begun to fill in the holes each day. It’s really only for my benefit so it really doesn’t matter if it chronologically doesn’t make sense. Maybe the Lord has a reason for ordering it as such, who knows? All I know is that once again I have managed to mess things up.

This is not a browbeating – just a simple reminder from my God, Father and Creator that I am imperfect and He is perfect. A call back to the reality that He orders my steps and has a plan for my life that is much greater than anything I could construct or even imagine for that matter. I forget sometimes allowing distractions to make way for discouragement in certain areas of my life. It can happen to the best of us just about any day. We get up with a heart full of good intentions, our mind made up to follow the Lord and then it happens – this little thing called life. We are called away to fight giants that have already been defeated. To overcome walls that have already been knocked down. Engage in battles already won. How do I keep from falling for such things day after day? I need to conquer the “busy” beast. Tear up the foreboding list of to-do’s so I can shout ta-da. Somehow managing to exchange my “Martha” mentality and adopt “Mary’s” precious spirit. There are greater things hidden in my life. They reside in me. These promises are only possible when I become less and less making way for greater things.

I John 3:19-21 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

To be honest, the whole journal thing did not lead me to John 3:30 this morning. It has been building for about a week. Distractions – lots of them. Once my attention was turned to the lesser things in life including all those little details carefully orchestrated by the Lord yet hugely taken for granted by me – the people around me started in. You know – you get a little tired and overwhelmed and then it seems like that’s just about the time all the “people” around you start acting up. Like salt in an open wound, it gets you all worked up. Your mind begins to contemplate just what you are gonna do or telling the Lord what He needs to do to fix their little red wagons. Suddenly, I have become totally engrossed up to my eyeballs in the lesser things of life and I cannot see the greater that God has for me. Well, I am here to admit that other people are not my problem. I am my own worst enemy sometimes. The Lord has called me and equipped me for greater things but sometimes I decide to be the greater in my life or allow others to take His Place.

My feelings are not as important as my submission to God. What does that mean? It means that on those days that I do not understand the Hand of God or His Thoughts I can know His Heart and that it is set on me. My condition and circumstances do not dictate my outcomes so I should not allow my emotions to either. When I decide that the One who lives in me is truly greater. I can leave all this foolishness behind…what foolishness? Glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 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 are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:16)God made us with purpose. He designed us with a plan including a future and hope. His Greatness was given to us when Jesus Christ released His Spirit and breathed Himself into us. We are now filled with His Greatness and the potential to do greater things. Faith is the seed that allows the greatness of God to be exposed in our life. As we love and trust Him more, this greatness gives way to His Glory which fills our life with His Goodness. The enemy of faith is pride that works its way into the good things God is doing and somehow takes credit for it. We can do nothing to bear fruit apart from Jesus Christ (John 15) and every good and perfect gift in our life is from the Father (James 1). Jesus is the Goodness and Greatness in our life.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 24:10) I am not sure how it happens other than maybe a religious spirit or prideful indignation but sometimes we forget. We forget that it is all about Jesus and not about me. How I feel? What I want? “I” get in the way of Him. These are the times when His Grace is not enough for me or anyone else. It is the moments when I think that the way people treat me is an excuse to react rather than respond with love just the same. I will be honest. Church aggravates me more than anything else. Why? We should know better. Services are offered at least two times a week. God’s Word is taught. The Holy Spirit moves yet there is no brokenness. Our hard hearts are supported by pride that keeps us from releasing the Greatness of God hidden within us. To do so is to suppose that I am more than a vessel of God in this world, which is just not true.

The beauty in this life is brokenness. When our heart and mind is open to all that the Lord is doing and all that God has promised us. It is with such purpose – pride is laid aside and our lives placed on the altar. A commitment to Christ comes with the promise of pressure and pain as the Greatness in us surpasses all the lesser things once held on to.

Psalm 71:19-21 (NLT) Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

The discomfort, distractions and disturbed state of my life is not anyone’s fault but my own. The enemy will offer such things in exchange for God’s Greatness and Glory each day. It is up to me if I choose to take the bait and chase another little fox along the way. People are not and will not ever be the problem. In fact, laying my life down for others is my purpose. This means sacrificing my life for others – all others. Jesus said, that there was no one greater on the earth than John the Baptist yet in prison it was John who asked his followers to go ask the Lord one more time if He really was the Messiah. Our life is full of testing to insure that our faith is genuine. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is through hardship that the rough edges and sharp corners are broken from our life so that the Greatness of God hidden in us will be exposed for His Glory and our Goodness. We must believe that there is such greatness in order to experience it.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

There are greater works in store for us. The Holy Spirit is insurance that God has greater things in store for us than that which could be accomplished outside of His Presence. God will never give us less than His Very Best no matter how many times we try to compromise. The Lord is intent on giving His Children the best of everything. God promised Abraham greater things. Abraham grew tired of waiting and tried to replicate God’s Promise in a child who he called Ishmael. But God had a greater work being prepared who would be named Isaac. Abraham waiting patiently and His Promise arrived. People make promises every day. How can we expect imperfect people to keep their word? But there is a perfect God who loves us with perfect love who has promised that we will do greater things. We can take Him at His Word because He does not lie or change His Mind. (Hebrews 6) His Spirit living in us is evidence of these greater things. We must learn to have great confidence in order to see greater things.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT) 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!

We should expect far greater glory under God’s Grace. We must believe that He who lives in us is greater than the one who lives in this world. Our commitment to Christ will produce His Glory and Greatness in our life if we remain connected to Him. The Greatness of God in us gives us victory every day enlarging our territory and creating influence among others. (Deuteronomy 11:22-24) This is the Promise given to those who devote their life to following Jesus Christ. His Greatness allows us to live in a state of joy, peace and rest no matter what life throws our way. (Psalm 4:6-8) If I am not experiencing or expecting this kind of life and waiting on the Lord to do it, then I am not striving to become less so Christ can be more. I must become less and less. He must become less and less. Things are out of order but thanks to grace can quickly be right back in place. Lord, you must increase and I must decrease today.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Thank you Lord for the gentle and loving reminder that it is not all about me today. It is all about you. My heart and mind must be set on the greater that lives in me than all the distractions around me. Even if my faith is small, it is enough to release your Goodness and Glory in my life today. Thank you for the grace that is always enough to get me back on track. I want more of you today Lord. In fact, I want all of You! Move me out of the way as you become my greater again! I ask you Lord to remove the lesser things that I have settled for to make room for Your Goodness and Glory to fill my life.

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Taste and See

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Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Taste and see. Well I have been tasting for a long time and seeing a change to my body that is unhealthy so it was time to do something about it. I need to make some adjustments to my intake to decrease the load I am carrying if you know what I mean. I need to change my diet. Ugh. I hate the word. It gives way to another word that I loathe even more called exercise. You are what you eat. Whatever you put inside of your mouth and choose to digest is what your body uses to sustain itself. Put junk in. Get junk out. Put fat in. Get fat out. With our move and a plethora of other excuses as long as my arm, my diet went from pretty good to terrible seemingly overnight. With this change some unwanted weight gain. Now I must evaluate the foods I eat and what I drink for caloric intake, sugar content and other important qualities to make my body healthy again.

I start each day at my computer in the Word of God with a banana and protein bar. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium. They also have soluble fiber and natural detoxifying agents that are great for digestion. The bar contains protein which is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is considered a “macronutrient” because the body needs large quantities of it. Since the body cannot store protein, it needs a new supply constantly. In evaluating my diet, I read the protein bar ingredients again to make sure it was a good choice.

Several months ago, balking at the high price of the protein bar that I was eating, I chose a less expensive brand. When I read the packaging comparing it to the old one, I realized that in an effort to save a dollar or two each week – I had definitely sacrificed in the content. Rather than the 12 grams of protein in the expensive brand, I was saving money but only getting 2 grams of protein. I quickly switched back to the one that offered more protein. We do that sometimes in life. You know – like when we set the alarm to get up early to seek God in His Word and pray but quickly turn it off opting for more sleep when morning comes. We need the content but don’t want to give up anything to get it. Taste and see that the Lord is good! The Lord invites us each day to have His Best. Taste His Goodness. See His Glory. Yet too many times we sacrifice quality for quantities of lesser things.

“Oh the joys of those who take refuge in Him!” As we read through Psalm 34, it is a reminder that in our lifetime certain conditions will come like fear(v.4), sin(v.5), desperation(v.6), opposition(v.7), hunger(v.10), temptation(v.13), distractions(v.14), troubles(v.17), and brokenness(v.18) just to name some of them. We must learn to take refuge in the Lord so that in all things – we will overcome. Each condition has a solution. Every time it is the Lord. How do we invest our life with Jesus to the max? How do we maintain a life of victory experiencing His Glory over and over again? We just keep packing Him in. Every day tasting to see that the Lord is good. Even on the days when I am not hungry or feel full, I must keep tasting the Word of God ingesting it over and over again. I must do so with expectation that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I will not live in fear or lack but confidence and fulfillment just as He promised. I must make the change in my diet and appetite to see the changes in my life that God promises. Why? He does not lie, change His Mind or relent in any way. It is up to me if I will taste and see God’s Goodness in my life today.

Psalm 40:11-13 (NLT) Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me.

The Lord does not withhold His Mercy or His Goodness from us. The enemy would like to make us think so though. Trouble comes at us from all sides. Sin overtakes us and we cannot “see” or comprehend a God who loves us in the midst of constant failure and the bondage of bad choices but He does. Our heart will fail without proper nutrition and exercise. Even by trying to maintain a healthy heart, people still end up needing medical intervention as they advance in their years. The Lord invites us to give Him our heart and allow Him to renew us day by day. In Ezekiel 36:26, it says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

The Lord is intent on keeping His Promise. We must only taste and see that the Lord is good. Change our appetite. Continue to feast on His Word to nourish our soul. We will seek the Lord’s Goodness as He begins to change our heart and mind to what pleases Him and our life follows suit. The Lord wants to save us. He loves to heal and deliver us. He desires nothing more than to flood our life with His Goodness and Glory. I must decide that He is what I want and desire to have the new heart and new life that is promised.

Proverbs 3:1-8 (NLT) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

I have long since learned that random and radical dieting does nothing more than put my body on a physical roller coaster. There are two closets in my home filled with different sizes of clothing. Rather than reacting to the changes in my body, I can live a life responsibly instead. I don’t have to deprive myself when I choose a healthy diet every day. Just soak that in and marinate on it for a moment since we are talking about food. God did away with religious tradition when Jesus died on the Cross. His Sacrifice covered all our sin and shame so now I am free to live a righteous life with copious amounts of grace and the promise of everlasting life and complete fulfillment. It belongs to me. All I must do is choose to live in it. Each day comes with enough mercy to get over yesterday’s failures and shortcomings, more than sufficient grace to cover my sin and shame, and the same promises that were mine from the very beginning. It is up to me if I will taste and see that God is good, or choose to remain in the troubles all around me. God’s Word leads to peace and prosperity in life – do I read it, study it and ingest it each day. His Spirit allows us to directly communicate with God the Father and Jesus the Son for direction, guidance and wisdom – am I looking for that kind of relationship? Those who do will “win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” which is a good thing. We must trust the Lord with all our heart and stop leaning on our own understanding and just keep packing in wisdom like a free buffet. This will bring health to our body and nourishment to our bones. It is a good life for those who choose to taste and see the Goodness of God!

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Too Good To Be True

girl with raised hands and broken chains

vector silhouette of a girl with raised hands and broken chains

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. I wonder if as believers how many truly believe that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Not a single condition, restrictive trait, limiting situation, or modifying circumstance in our life that might keep us from complete satisfaction and total fulfillment by God. Is it possible to really live without condemnation? After all according to the Word of God, it takes a just one sin to banish us from forever with God. How can one who is guilty be completely set free? There is a price to pay. A penalty that must be fulfilled. Jesus paid the debt owed for our sin in full yet people continue to put conditions on themselves never intended from that moment on.

John 3 tell us that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus not to judge the world but to save it. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. The judgment on our life is reversed through salvation. Jesus didn’t have to come to point out the problem or imposed penalty. God is Sovereign and it was already done. He came to give us an option. A chance to be free. An invitation for adoption. God’s Light came into the world. All who those who decided they loved the Light more than darkness are given the opportunity to live as Children of God.

Yada. Yada. Yada. Third grade Sunday school teachers have taught this for years. What’s new? Well, those who belong to Christ Jesus are no longer condemned so why do we live with such conditions? Afraid to live for the Lord because we cannot seem to avoid judgment and condemnation even if self-imposed. The current condition or circumstance of your life is not what is limiting you. It is our inability to believe in the Life-Giving Power of God invested by His Spirit in each of us that keeps doors shut, chains on and prevents us from living in the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Romans 8:15-17 (NLT)  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

There is a popular worship song called No Longer Slaves that applies to this situation. Many times “believers” do not utilize God’s Power because the same are merely Christians who have transitioned to true believers just God thinkers. We can recite scripture meticulously but until it becomes seed in our heart that bears fruit of faith, it is not worth more than the paper it was written on. I believe the powerlessness of the Body of Christ goes all the way back to our initial experience with Jesus Christ. If we could accept the terms and conditions of salvation as unconditional love and limitless grace that makes us Children of the Living Breathing God, things in our life might begin to change.

There are many sons and daughters in the penal system who are the children of strong Christians. Is it their parent’s fault that they are subject to such conditions? No, it is a choice. They made a bad decision and must now suffer the consequences. Grace took care of my consequences. I must live under the dispensation of grace, however; to experience a change in my conditions. Do you really think a guest at the local penitentiary would remain locked up and silent if they could prove their innocence? Of course not. They would be telling everyone who they came in contact with and demanding examination of the evidence. Why aren’t true believers doing the same? Could it be that God’s Love just seems too good to be true? Is it easier to give the Lord an out rather than wait for His Word and Will to come to pass?

Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 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.

We are taught from a very young age that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. This mindset is ingrained right along with the fact that with God all things are possible. How do we fix our thoughts to accept God’s Will, Way and Word which contradicts the watchfulness, wariness, and wondering of human intelligence? Life experiences make us cautious, distrustful and disbelieving with all the tragedy, hurt and devastation. No one is really willing to put all their trust and hope in the Lord because they just don’t believe Him. If we believed that Jesus Christ was capable of everything, why would more people serve Him? Why wouldn’t we race to our prayer closet before the doctor, banker, lender, and other people?

“And we know…” Do I really know? Know what? “That God causes EVERYTHING to work together for (my) good…if I truly believed this with my whole heart and invested my entire life miracles would happen. I would live in complete contentment and full satisfaction just as Jesus promised. I just have to believe. It is a process. It can be a tough one because His Power works best in our weakness. Weakness is not a worldly attribute. It is a Kingdom condition that moves me out of the way and allows my faith in God to take over. I must know that God is working for me. I must believe that I am His Child. I cannot do this until I cut the strings tied to my salvation by the world’s ridicule and the church’s religion to allow my relationship to God through Jesus Christ to take over. This is the point when radical change allows the impossible to be possible in my life.

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Despite the condition, circumstances and situations in our life, no matter what they are, we have been given overwhelming victory through Jesus Christ BECAUSE He loves us. Unconditional love is the premise of receivership in the Kingdom of God. If I cannot accept God’s Unconditional, Perfect Love for me, I cannot become His Child. I cannot live in His Kingdom. I cannot have a relationship with the Father without coming through His Son. Grace is not free. Jesus paid the price in full. To accept condemnation that imposes conditions on my salvation, freedom or blessing is to testify with my life that the Blood of Jesus did not satisfy my debt and His Grace is not enough for me. I have overwhelming victory available to me but must fully accept the Love of God to have it.

In Mark 5:24-29, there was a woman with a medical condition. She had an issue, if you will. She sought out professional help, peer intervention and exhausting every effort to find a natural solution, she became desperate. She discovered a tiny seed of faith in her heart one day that moved her to find the Lord. She pushed through the crowd who according to the Law must shun her due to her condition labeling her unclean. She didn’t care what they said about her, how they looked at her or even that they probably moved away as she pressed through. She was on a mission. She wanted to discover God’s Power. She was intent on finding the truth about His Love. When she finally made it to Jesus reaching out just enough to touch the hem of His Garment, she was completely healed and made whole. We live like this woman daily accepting conditions and circumstances contrary to God’s Will because we cannot accept the fact that His Love for us is complete in Christ and not ourselves.

There is another account in I Samuel 11:1-11 about conditions. King Nahash of Ammon led an assault against the town of Jabesh. The citizens asked the king to make a treaty with them and that they would become his servants. He agreed with one condition. He required the right eye of every single person who wished to enter a treaty with him. They offered their life and freedom. The enemy demanded more. The people asked for seven days and if no one came to save them that they would do as he asked. Thankfully Saul came along and the Spirit of the Lord fell powerfully upon him and the people would be saved. The enemy will always offer us conditions that are contrary to God’s Word and His Will. When we give Jesus our life, he will never demand us to suffer or sacrifice for His Glory. The only suffering undergone is to crucify our flesh daily to rid our life of sin that keeps us from victory, fulfillment and abundance. We don’t sin because we love Jesus and accept His Unconditional Love. It is the least that we can do. Yet, we give into worthless conditions because of a lie. May the Holy Spirit come powerfully on us today to remind us that we are no longer slaves to sin but Children of the Living God who have the power to overcome and be victorious in all things. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love anymore. Now if we could only begin to believe that it’s true!

Mark 5:32-34 (NLT)  But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

I can see the Blood Flow of Christ required to cover my sin. I am ashamed and embarrassed that His Death was because of me. I cannot live in shame, regret and guilt and reach the fulfillment of God. To do so would be a tragedy that in His Sacrifice, I fail to receive the gift of Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace that I have been given. I can only take full advantage of it if I choose to believe it. The Power of the Cross erased condemnation that wrote death across my forehead. Now God’s Name is there and I must live as His Child.

I am no longer a slave to anything that I do not allow to captivate or put me in bondage. His Spirit is my freedom in all things especially those conditions that do not belong in me or on my life. It is by faith alone that I accept the terms and conditions of my salvation and there is nothing I can do to make it so. It is my privilege as a Child of the Most High God to walk through life in His Power and Presence just because of Jesus. There is nothing I can do to earn it, deserve it or make it happen just to believe. God’s Love is not too good to be true. It is absolutely for me. I choose to live in it, walk it and believe it in Jesus Name.

John 1:12-13 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

Attracting Opposites

Two opposite magnetic poles attracting

Psalm 133 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Do opposites attract? I think so. While leads to conflict, but tends to thrive in resolution. I see it in the dynamics of our family. My husband and I are dramatically different. Yet somehow when we met there was an instant attraction. I am an extrovert. He is an introvert. I talk all the time. He is the shy, quiet type. Together – I think we are a match made in Heaven…most days anyway. My husband is my life partner. We made a commitment to live and love the rest of our lives together. Most days this commitment is very easy to honor. But there are some days that my selfish, prideful self tries to get in the way of the seamless love that the Lord creates in us as part of this marriage. Days when submission is tough. Times when I think I am right and do not want to relent.

Our children are no different. Each one their own individual with different personalities. As I have watched them grow up and develop their own relationships with each other, each one gravitates toward the sibling who is their opposite, too. The ones who are most like me tend to have closer bonds with their dad. The ones like dad seem to be bound to me most often. But let something go wrong, or someone come against one of us – the connection is clear. Don’t mess with our family. The love that has blended this family together is based on God’s Love. Love is commitment. God desires us to love each other and all others with the same kind of love. The kind of love that lays our heart down for one another. Even in opposition, it is time for us to connect and thrive in all our relations. Though we are opposites, it is clear we attract. We are life partners. We are family.

As I continue to pack our home preparing for the big move, memories are stirred up. I was putting the contents of some shelves in a box and read the sign in my hand. “You call it chaos. We call it family.” Welcome to my world. This group can definitely raise a ruckus. With two teenage girls, there are days I am a referee with a whistle or must resort to a water hose to cease the conflict between them. As we tear apart this house in preparation, I know that it is with great anticipation. This is the only home they have ever known. They are excited about what is coming but the newness brings about some worry and stress. As the mama of this dwindling brood, it is my job to maintain harmony and set the example of love.

Harmony is agreement, accord, or harmonious relations. In music, it is the compilation of sound into a beautiful melody and song. It reflects unity. It is peace. Musicians who play their own notes and choose their own keys create clamor. If they are unwilling to join in with the others, it is clear to the audience. Love is not self-seeking. It is not prideful. People are though. We want our way every day in just about every way. It is clear in our friendships, families, work places and, yes, even in the church that there are many marching to the beat of their own drum rather than listening to the heart beat of God seeking to join His Song.

God loves it when His Children live in harmony joined by peace. Yet the composure of people is a difficult task. Each one must come with their own offering in order to join in one accord. Opposites attract but the coming together can be a struggle when dominated by opinion and pride. The Lord is reminding us today that He loves harmony among us. All of us. It provokes His Blessing in such a place…any place…dominated by unity. The commonality in our life is God’s Love demonstrated in the Sacrifice of His Son that dispensed grace in abounding measure so that we could love, forgive and bind together is His Greatest Desire.

Ephesians 1:4-6 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

After years of craziness of a house filled with kids, now it is quiet as three have left our nest. When they all are together, I watch the older ones care and concern for their younger siblings and it melts my heart. When they love and encourage one another, it gives me such joy and peace. Their interaction with one another, though loud and obnoxious sometimes, clearly demonstrates their dedication to one another. I wonder if that is how the Lord feels when we love and care for one another. It has to be. He chose us to be His Children. God didn’t differentiate. He created us all with the desire for us to join His Family and live in His Kingdom. Human beings are the ones who keep choosing to love and devote themselves to lesser things. He poured out His Grace because it is His Greatest Pleasure to have us with him.

Ephesians 2:14-18 (NLT) For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

My husband and I have been married for seventeen years. For more than a decade, we have worked together to keep this thing together. My number one tip for anyone who desires to be married is this – don’t even bother without Jesus. When two self-centered human begins try to form a partnership – things get messy. We need someone who will come between us giving us knowledge, wisdom and discernment. The person who you are dating will change into someone completely different when you share life with them, live with them, work beside them and have children. The personalities introduced to the mix only adds to the conflict. Commitment is the key. First commitment to Christ and then a commitment to others.

We must reconcile our life to Christ every day in order to find harmony in all other relationships. I am human. I have flesh. I definitely know that there is pride in me that seeks to tear apart the connections that Christ has placed in my life. When Jesus became our Savior, He gives us His Spirit. We become family. The church must learn to blend the family of God into the Body of Jesus Christ. Dominated by grace. Overwhelming love. Abounding in generosity. Giving ourselves completely to be life partners with every other Child of God. This is God’s Desire for us.

I Peter 2:16-17 (NLT) For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.

Jesus Christ laid down His Life for me. He stepped out of His Place seated on a throne to establish the Grace I needed but could not afford so I could live with Him forever. How do we become prideful in such a state? I don’t know but we do. Our relationship to Christ is solely based on what Jesus can do for me. It has nothing to do with anything I can do for Him. Christians exemplify pride in our religion and traditions much like the Pharisees. Church is a secret club one must be initiated into rather than putting out the “Whosoever Will Come” sign and meaning it. Jesus reminds us today that we indeed are free. Who the Son sets free is free is free indeed. How are you using your freedom today?

Don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone. Two words that crumble our resolve in that it is clear human beings do not respect one another let alone everyone. Respect is esteem for the worth of a person. Christ died for everyone. We are told to respect everyone. Why aren’t we doing it? Love the family of believers. This is not just your current congregation but every single person who believes… even if it is not exactly like you do and they do not have the same practices as you. Fear God. To fear the Lord is to avoid sin and darkness at all costs including living a loveless life of self-seeking ventures. Comparing spiritual gifts with one another is no different than being jealous of the neighbor’s new car or boat. It is all from a source of pride. You either want what they have or judge them for having it.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The love suggested in I Corinthians 13 leads to harmony and peace with all mankind. True love has nothing to do with us but everything to do with Who first loved us. My love is tainted. It is skewed. It is imperfect and often has hidden conditions. The Love of God in us has certain attributes that allow us to evaluate our love for one another according to God’s Standard of Loving. If we get it right, we will live in an everlasting covenant that extends our life forever.

Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Pride will destroy relationships and become a barrier of love if we allow it to. Pride crushes other people beneath our glares, opinions, need to be right and desire to be better than the very one that Christ led us to bond with. (Psalm 73:8) Arrogance is the acid that bubbles into conflict. Creating roots of bitterness that will kill the entire creative work that God is doing in us and through us. (Proverbs 13:10) Conflict builds walls while harmony brings them crashing down. Finally and maybe most important to note is that the Word of God clearly states that He will not tolerate those who slander their neighbor due to pride and conceit. (Psalm 101:5)

I John 3:9-10 (NLT) Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are Children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

Righteous living is dominated by love. When our sons became teenagers developing an interest in girls, I was clear that they were to respect these young ladies. Treating them as though they were their own sisters. I believe that this advice applies to all our interactions in life with all people. God desires it of us. To love one another completely and committedly. Our boys are fiercely protective of their sisters. My hope is that when they are in the company of a date that this image comes to their mind that she is a Daughter of God and meant to be treated as such. As their mom, it is my job to lead by example. Do I treat my spouse as a Child of the Living God? Do I treat my own children that way? Do I treat others including my enemies as such? We are all bought with the same blood. Jesus died for us all on the very same day. His Intentions was that all might be saved. When I encounter people today, Lord let me see them as you do. We are all life partners reaching for forever and easing toward Eternity. God didn’t make us all look the same for a reason. Opposites attract because there is comfort in the fulfilment of our weakness by another. Ultimately it is the Grace of God demonstrated by His Son and the outpouring of His Spirit that bind us all together in love. We must strive to be the example of love in all things. Not human love, but amazing love like Jesus. Share your faith with another and introduce them to hope. Be a grace giver not a grudger. Be loving not judgmental. Be good to someone today just like our Father is good. Be sure that no one is left behind for the enemy is real and looking for the one who we forget. (I Peter 5:8-9) Learn to live as life partners with everyone in love with Jesus. There is a harvest of blessing awaiting those who choose to sow in love daily.

Galatians 6:9-10 (NLT) So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.