By Grace

By Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I have been heavily contemplating the grace of God. The fathomless ocean of bottomless forgiveness that believers dive into and dwell in. The sea of forgetfulness that allows us to be cleansed of all sin and iniquity so that God only sees a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace so freely given at such a high price without limit. By grace, I am saved through faith. Faith is the access point of grace. Faith that a God so perfect could love and desire a creature so wretched. Given toward rebellion, the sinner who is possesses a wandering and wondering heart that must constantly be reminded to repent and surrender to God’s Love. Grace is the starting point of everything pertaining to life and godliness. I am purposeless, fruitless and lifeless without the gateway of grace that changes me from death to life and rancid to renewed. It is all a gift from God, the Father, to His Undeserving and Undesirable Children.

And this is not your own doing…maybe this should be plastered over our bathroom mirror, labeling every good thing in our life, on the doorpost of our home, over the entrance to our job, and more importantly the church of our choice. I wonder what would happen if for a moment or two, or daily, or weekly, maybe monthly or annually or even every day for the rest of our natural life the people who are called His Body became fixated on living “by grace”. Would our way give in to His Way? Would our control be exchanged for commitment and willing obedience in all things? Would pride finally be crucified and leave the church for good?

The cancer within human DNA is sin. It is an immediate death sentence to the body if not sent into remission. It will slowly or swiftly take over. Cancer is never cured. It is put into remission. In medicine, the word “remission” refers to a diminution of the serious or intensity of disease or pain. It is considered a temporary recovery. Remission also means the cancellation of a debt, charge or penalty. It is the forgiveness of sin and works with both of the previous definitions. Sin is always going to be a battle for believers. Perfection is impossible so we do our best not to but inevitably do so anyway. (Romans 7) The Blood of Jesus Christ is for the remission of sin. (Matthew 26:28) It pays the debt in full, cancels all charges and removes the penalty. We do nothing to facilitate the process of remission. It is all on Jesus. He paid it all. He did all the work. All that you and I can do is accept His Grace by faith, and live in the freedom given to us.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

There is a marked difference between cancer and sin. Cancer comes in stages. Stage 1 cancer is considered treatable up to Stage 5 which is terminal. Sin is terminal. It is immediate death when called to accountability. We were literally dead from the beginning due to sin and trespasses. I think as believers it is possible to forget this very valid and important point. Our perception of grace is the spark that lights the lantern of love hidden in our heart. It is the inconceivable and unthinkable generosity of God toward us. The enemy wants us to compare our sin and find validation and confidence in our ability to change when the Truth is the only way to be made right with God is through Jesus Christ and the remission of sin – not just in the beginning but always. Religion gives us a standard to live by and successfully doing so is not anything to boast about because it does nothing. Grace does it all. I would rather associated with sinners who are constantly falling and repenting as they grope to find their way out of darkness than sit among church folk hiding behind fancy clothes and false communication. We are all sinners saved by grace. Have we forgotten?

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One of them yelled at Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” We can be like this man on many occasions. Forgetting that we were once guilty carrying a death sentence. Yet, in our pride and haughtiness, forget that by grace we are saved through faith and there is not a single thing that makes us worthy of His Sacrifice. Looking down on other sinners, who are just like us, yet thinking ourselves more deserving because we know Christ. I am nothing apart from Christ. He is the sum total of my worth. Without the Lord, I have no future and no purpose. The sin inside of me though in remission is a constant reminder that I will never be able to afford the price paid for my life. The man on the other side of Jesus that day had the right idea. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” He looked at His Savior and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus accepted the man’s plea and told him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Which side of the cross are you on today? Lord, keep me on the by grace side every day. Help me to remember my sin is no less or more than another. Remind me on those days when pride tries to rear its ugly head that I am NOTHING without You.

So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. My mission in this lifetime is to show others the immeasurable riches of God’s Grace and Kindness toward us – each one of us. I am not a fancy trophy to be set on a shelf to be admired by a lost and dying world. I am to be a city on a hill. A broken heart restored with cracks in its fragility to let His Light shine from the inside. Grace is evidence of love. Love that is unconditional. It is a commitment to share God’s Love with sinners just like you and me. People do not need to see a perfect church. They need an authentic representation of God’s Selfless Love. His Pursuit of us requires only acceptance so we have nothing to boast about or become prideful of.

According to God’s Word every good thing in my life is a direct result of the Father’s Mercy and Grace wrapped in unfailing love. Where is condemnation in such a place? Where is judgment? For me to lay a penalty on another that has been removed from me is hypocrisy. I have no right. The only weight in my life to carry is His Love, His Mercy and His Grace. I must give it freely to others – everyone – as it has been freely bestowed on me. How can I withhold forgiveness when I am completely forgiven? How can I have pride that is crucified with Christ? I cannot share immeasurable riches that do not belong to me. By grace, I am saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

John 8:7-11 (ESV) And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

She was caught in the act of adultery and brought before the Pharisees and Jesus. Religion versus relationship played out before us that day and written to return to in stunning detail. According to the Law, she was to be stoned. To die for her sin. (I am still wondering where “he” was.) They continued to challenge the Word with God’s Word. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” I wonder if our Savior and Lord is saying the same to some of us today. Have we taken the side of the Pharisee? Casting judgment and condemnation on “sinners” just like us because we have forgotten that it is by grace we are saved. In the end, there was no one left to execute her. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.”

Oh the Love of Jesus! Do you remember when He stretched His Hand out to you and in your mess and desperation grabbed hold of Him? Do you know what it is like to experience His Overwhelming and Unconditional Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? It is sufficient for salvation and becomes strength and power in our weakness. The beginning of a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace, we are saved and not of ourselves. I have nothing to boast about but my weakness and inabilities. It is the commonplace of humanity where kingdom building begins. When another says, “I was so lost” and you can say, “Me, too.” Let’s figure out faith together. Let’s build our new lives together. The commonality of Christ is only possible when the entrance to our new life, new way of thinking and new destinations begin through doorways marked “by grace”. You will never be successful in your redemption process until you have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is not possible any other way but by grace. Grace makes us righteous not right. Being right doesn’t lead anyone to Jesus but right standing will make our life beacons. Lord, examine my heart today. Find the places that have forfeited grace and renew them again. I repent for times that I have forgotten I am just a sinner saved by grace. Amen!

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Advertisements

Throwing Shade

Throwing Shade

I Peter 5:7-10 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Is the enemy throwing shade today? Telling you lies like things are not going to get better, you are going under, nothing will change and you might as well get used to it. As if the lie was not enough to plant a seed of doubt, he comes behind the lie and waters it with all the reasons why you are not worthy of God’s Love and Goodness to further grow doubt and disbelief until prevailing darkness weighs heavy in our mind.

The Urban Dictionary describes the term “throwing shade” as trash talking about a friend or acquaintance or to publicly denounce or disrespect. I know the term because I am blessed with teenagers. Throwing shade is a subtle insult not necessarily a direct attack. It doesn’t always result in a direct hit but a slight notice or thought – “Hey, is that about me” or “directed at me”. It is in that moment the “what if” begins or even worse offense takes hold that the attacker hits the mark of its prey. The trouble is no one really knows the truth from a lie so inevitably relationships are destroyed by the notion that someone is “throwing shade” whether relevant or not.

These subtle attacks on relationships are working. Young people today are victims of the viral offense of the enemy to destroy relationships the way that God intended them to be. Jesus Christ is a direct result of God’s Desire to have a relationship with us. He sent His Only Son to die so that our right standing could be restored and our relationship with God, our Father, renewed. His Spirit living in us is evidence of the bond formed. Our perception of relationship has become skewed as people text rather than talk, assume rather than engage, and live life in a self-made bubble based on who people want them to be rather than who the Creator designed them to become. The enemy thrives on our insecurities and uncertainties. Even believers struggle within the social circle called church never fully becoming the family of God by developing strong bonds and relationships. Seeking perfection in people and placing our expectation in the imperfection of the same, it is no wonder that we have forgotten the power and authority given to us by Jesus Christ of overcoming the enemy and all of his schemes.

“He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.” There are lions who live in captivity. They engage with humans as house cats. While onlookers wonder if they will turn on their captor one day. The lion is the “king of the jungle.” Created to be a powerful predator. Held by a chain or even nothing at all – the will of the lion is broken. He remains subject to the one who cares for him. His natural instinct conditioned to a life of domestication rather than fierce nobility. Jesus has given us His Power and Authority for here and now, but I wonder how many of us live subject to the lie of the enemy? How often we live in the captivity of fear, doubt, insecurity and disbelief without even knowing it? The enemy is powerless unless we become the one he can devour.

Luke 10:19-20 (NLT) Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Do you believe that you have been given “authority over all the power of the enemy”? Do you believe that “nothing will injure you”? Do you believe…? If we truly believed, it would impact our way of life. It would be evident in how we live, how we react, how we respond, and what we do each day. Our relationship with Jesus Christ and the fact He lives in us gives us all power and authority over the enemy in our life. However, the enemy knows that if he can just convince you of a half-truth and create just a little uncertainty in you – he’s got you right where he wants you. He doesn’t have to beat you – you will give up. He doesn’t have to force you – you will give in. He doesn’t even have to convince you because without confidence you are easily shakable and movable. He just have to throw enough shade to put out the Light that was only a flicker or spark inside of you. See the enemy is not as strong as most give him credit for. He is just a really good liar.

Ephesians 6:12-18 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

God’s Armor is not external. It is the protection of God given for our heart, soul and mind. The enemy doesn’t want our body or physical part of our life. It is dying anyway. He wants to change our heart, mind and soul concerning our faith in God and reliance on the Trinity for life. He wants to throw shade to create obstacles and obscure the vision of God for us. If he can just get in your head, he has access to the control panel of feelings, emotions, and logic. Belt of truth and body armor of righteousness fortify the platform of our existence, though unperceivable with human eyes it is the very foundation of our faith. Peace of God keeps us steady and gives us traction when everything starts moving and shaking. A moving mountain makes quite an earthquake. The shield of faith wards off the barbs of the ingenious lies of the enemy that twist truth into palatable fodder that makes us drift in doubt and disbelief. The helmet of salvation is secured with the chinstrap of grace. The enemy wants you to believe that grace is not enough when the truth is grace is always sufficient and Christ is more than enough. The sword of the Spirit is important. It is the Word of God. Most Christians today have dull swords and do not know the Truth from a lie. Many completely disregard the Spirit of the Living God which means they have nothing of use to ward off the enemy when he comes calling.

Pray. Stay alert. Be persistent. How much time is given to your relationship with Jesus Christ each day? I am not talking about hours of service in organized religion. I am not asking how many generous offerings of time, talent or treasure given to others. I am asking how much time is spent in intimacy with the Lover of Your Soul. The One who died for you. The One who fights for you and hands you the victory. The One who is with you. Never leaves you. Never forsakes you. Never gives up on you. Always waits for you. No matter how you treat the Lord – He is always giving us unfailing love, amazing grace, unending mercy, and great goodness. Him. How much your life is given to cultivating a real and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? It is the strength of our relationship with Jesus Christ that keeps us from believing the lie of the enemy. If we know the Lord, then the lie or half-truth becomes obvious because we know the Word and have chose to believe Him.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus overcame the world. He has been given by God all authority and power over the enemy of this world. In turn, the Lord decided to give us His Power. We have it. But like the lion in captivity, sometimes the enemy persuades to doubt our position in God through Christ. He tells us that freedom is a lie so we will give it back to him. He constantly questions the sufficiency of grace until we give up the fulfillment offered by the Lord to regain control and comfort. Every day as long as the sun rises and sets – the enemy will stop to get you to lay down your cross and pick up the burdens, cares and worries of life. You have the power to overcome. But will you?

The enemy will continue to “throw shade” as the young people say. He cannot put out a light that shines from the inside. He cannot put out a fire that burns from the inside. If we will place an emphasis on cultivating a forever bond and thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not continually fall for his lies and deceptions because we know the Truth. We believe it because we have firsthand intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ through His Word, prayer and intimacy of time spent in His Presence. We pursue the Lord. We desire Him. It is in this relationship that we begin to build lasting and loving relationships with people because now we do not look for their acceptance any longer. We do not expect them to be our fulfillment. Freedom in Christ is to live liberated from every lie the enemy tries to capture us with and throwing it back to the pit of hell. Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ today. Lord, spark a desire for more intimacy with you Jesus. Help us fan the tiny flicker of passion inside of us into a burning light or raging fire that the enemy cannot put out. Let your Spirit guide us from victory to victory leading us from self-dependency to sole reliance in You today! We are overcomes! We are victorious! We have all power and authority over the enemy! We believe, God! Lord, help our unbelief in Jesus Name!

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLT) We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Slow Down

Slow-Down

Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

During the morning commute yesterday, I came upon a car going much slower than my vehicle was traveling. At first, I became agitated. Quite the contradiction from the praise music playing, it shook me from prayerful meditation to using every ounce of self-control not to honk the horn. The longer I followed the car the more worked up I became. Due to oversleeping and pure exhaustion, I was running late. Still fighting a cold and freezing in the unusually cold temperatures for the South, I just wanted them to get out of my way. How do we flip the script so quickly? Moments before, I was settled in for a long commute enjoying time with the Lord and then sudden inconvenience changes my attitude and demeanor. Guilty as charged. About that time, I passed a speed limit sign. The person in front of me was going the designated speed limit. I was frustrated because they were obeying the law while I was trying to speed past them. The Holy Spirit convicted me on the spot. There is a reason the law has mandated speed limits along with every other statute regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. I should know better as not too long ago I paid a hefty fine and attending four hours of traffic school for my bad choice. Yet, thinking about everything “I” had to do, where “I” needed to be, and “my” schedule – this person was actually keeping me from a possible bad choice.

There are many lessons that could be shared from my personal experience in that moment but this is what is relevant for me today. God is inviting me to rest. Slow down. When I woke up this morning, these words are on replay. Slow down. Trust me. Come to me. I will give you rest. I am your refuge. Disobedience is more a knee jerk reaction to impulse rather than the deepest longing of the human heart. Those who know Jesus and love Him want to do what is right yet our flesh is constantly challenging the idea of rest, trust, and refuge in the Lord because so much of it involves waiting.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Trusting the Lord produces rest in our heart and mind. Peace that passes all understanding is found in the Presence of God when He becomes our refuge. I am encouraged today by the psalmist’s thoughts – “pour out your heart before God.” What is your heart full of today? The contents are important as it is the context of our thoughts and motivates our actions. What is your primary motivation? Are you worried, stressed or anxious? Overloaded? Overwhelmed? Desperate? The Lord invites us to literally pour out our life before Him. He will help us. He will give us rest. However, we must be able to trust Him for relief.

Trusting the Lord means believing what the Word of God tells us about Him. Jesus is the Word who came down and was wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Profound Love for us. Here are some truths about the Lord today. God will become our refuge when we believe…

Psalm 36:7 God’s love for me is steadfast.

Psalm 18:30 God’s Way is perfect.

Psalm 31:19 God is always good and His Goodness is for me.

Psalm 34:8 God desires me and I must desire Him.

Psalm 46:1 God is my “very present” help.

Psalm 61:3 God is more powerful than the enemy.

Psalm 91:1 I must choose to live or dwell in God’s Presence.

Psalm 142:1 God wants to release the supernatural in my natural life.

Psalm 144:1 God is always in control.

These are just some of the qualities true of God as demonstrated in His Word. The Word is our compass. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It lights the way. Those who believe God at His Word and choose to trust Him through obedience will find peace that passes understanding and rest in the midst of chaos.

Hebrews 4:11-12 (ESV) Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The state traffic laws are not mandated to inconvenience me. They are put into place because it is determined the safest speed of travel given the conditions of the roadway and surrounding area. I decide whether or not I will obey the law. If I do not travel at the posted speed, I am breaking the law. If I get caught, there will be a consequence. A penalty to pay. The Word of God is God’s Way and Will for our life. Though unbound by the law, it is still the best course of action for our life. It leads to provision, protection and every other promise that God was inscribed in it. If I desire that life, I must follow the instructions that have been given. The law does not hurt me – it is put into place to help me.

We must slow down and carefully consider the contents of our heart and mind each day. It will dictate whether or not I react to the circumstances and conditions of my life creating consequences or I will begin to prosper in the promises of God set forth for me by the Living God. God’s Refuge, His Rest, is the quiet place of faith, trust and careful consideration of the course of life. It is a personal decision to sync my heart each day and align my life with God’s Plan. When I get overwhelmed – it is generally because my pride has begun to takeover and I begin to believe that I must “do” something, “be” somewhere or nothing will get down. Self-importance and pride cannot survive in the refuge of God. Those with diversified trust cannot sustain a restful state. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that the Power of Christ may REST upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast. Be immovable. Be abounding in the work of the Lord. Let your labor not be in vain. God did not call us to life of rushing. He did not anoint us to be “busy”. In fact, He has already promised to complete the work that He has begun in us. We have victory. We are overcomers in Christ. It is finished. Or is it? When our flesh fights for control – it seems to be full of good intentions but does not produce a life of godliness. Godliness is established in us by God alone. There is nothing I can do other than submit to the Holy Spirit’s work and continue to abide in Christ. God is doing exactly as He promised in His Word. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can rest in Him every single day. It is a choice. Is it your choice? I must make it mine.

Hebrews 6:17-20 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed a lovely cruise through the Caribbean. On the last night of our trip, the water was very rough. The large ship was being tossed about and warnings were posted to be very careful. Coming back from dinner, it was difficult to walk down the hallway without bumping into the corridor walls. Once inside our cabin, I collapsed in the big comfy bed and was drifting off to sleep. I was jostled not by the swaying ship but my husband. He was getting very nauseous and woke me in disbelief that I could actually sleep through it. I think of that night when I read this verse. The Peace of God that allows us to rest in Him is trust. Trust is the chain that connects the anchor marked “hope” to the vessel. I am a vessel. I must carefully inspect the contents to determine my connection with faith and hope. To trust the Lord is to live at rest in His Refuge. There are areas of my life still under renovation. The Promise of God still stands as He is patient, loving and kind waiting for me to figure out my salvation and work it through my life. Consider this – forever is not the future but encompasses every detail of our life – past, present and future. It all works together in the redemption plan. There is no falling backward or rushing forward just becoming. Today – I will slow down. Today – I will choose rest. Today – Lord I ask you to be my refuge.

Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV) For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Throne of Grace

Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Grace in the life of a believer is commonly defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in salvation and bestowal of His Blessings” or God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Grace is a widely used term in the church’s social circle but do we know and understand how powerful God’s Grace is and how useful and effective it can be outside of terminology. To understand God’s Grace and apply in our life will change the way we live and love. It empowers our message. It empowers our relationships. It will ultimately change our character into the likeness of God when allowed to manifest in our heart and mind.

The Throne of Grace is the place of accepting God’s Grace and thereby allowing it to work in us and through us. Receiving grace from God is not enough, it must become the life changing and pride killing essence of all we do. God’s Grace is enough. How do you know it’s enough unless you choose to try it out? Test it. The nature of God is love. Love must be defined by grace or our imperfection wrecks it. To live in weakness means to stop relying on our own strength and ability to fully trust and lean on the Lord. We only do that when we exercise His Grace in our life. It is grace that justifies us and allows us access to God’s Presence. (Romans 3:24, Titus 3:7) Grace provides access to God and allows us to fellowship with Him. (Ephesians 1:6) Grace offers intimacy with God that sin once kept us from. Grace disciplines and trains us to live in a way that honors God.

2 Corinthians 8:7 (ESV) But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

How do I excel in grace? Well, the sufficiency of God is ultimately His Grace manifested in us. It is the gift that keeps on giving. True repentance is a daily effort to live in accordance with God’s Will for us and turn from lesser endeavors. Focusing on faith, speech, knowledge and love only is possible when we excel in the act of grace. That means that in accepting God’s Grace – we in turn must become gracious. Grace is a gift. The giver had to forfeit something owned willingly losing what belonged to him in order that the recipient may profit from it. The giver decreases so the recipient thereby increases or benefits from it. We can have faith – God gave it to us. It is by taking the measure of faith and sowing it as seed that the reproduction of confident hope harvests blessing in our life. It is by changing the our words that death becomes life in our life as we begin to declare and announce God’s Blessing rather than cursing each step along the way. Our knowledge of God found in His Word gives the Holy Spirit the Truth needed to change our mind and embrace God’s Thoughts and Higher Ways as our own even when we do not understand teaching us to trust. We cannot love properly without knowing God wholeheartedly. He is love. His Love is not like the world’s love. It is unconditional and relentless. It never gives in or gives up but presses to permeate the heart of people to persevere until a relationship is formed, restored and reconciled. Apart from grace, God’s Unmerited Favor, none of these things will be possible. We must be firmly established in God’s Grace and allow it to complete its work in us. No matter what the cost. How high the price. Or the constantly giving up of our self.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

What is not working in your life today? What is broken? What is dysfunctional? What prayer is unanswered? Promise not yet fulfilled? What if the problem is not in your actions but your attitude? Have you taken it to the Throne of Grace? Pride may have already told you that the problem is not fixable. The promise too far gone. You have fallen too far. It declared your dream to be dead. Pride tells us things like that because it does not want us to find the Grace of God again. It wants us to continue in our own strength and power so it can survive another day. What if God is waiting for you to come to His Throne of Grace to receive more grace to apply it that area of your life? His Grace is sufficient. It is always enough. God’s Promise and Plan are possible only by His Grace for us. He paid a high price for you to have it and the enemy wants nothing more than to make you give it up because he cannot take it from you.

Let the Lord establish or reestablish you in His Grace today. Submit pride to the Throne of Grace to fully accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace that He has for you. Don’t let the enemy take the most powerful force in your life. It means living a life of kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness even when you are hurt, harmed or humiliated. To succumb to our weakness of rightness and fully assume righteousness that is only possible through Jesus Christ. When our grace runs out, there is more for the taking found at the Throne marked Grace. Run to it. Let the Lord fill you again. His Grace is the power that drive us through this life right into eternity. Thank you Jesus for allowing us to access the Grace of God today!

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Tis the season of many deliveries, maybe your deliverer rides in tiny mail truck stuffing packages in the mailbox or comes in a brown truck with matching uniform or perhaps in a white truck with lovely purple accessories. Several years ago, I spent most of the holiday season caring for our son. Visits to the Infusion Room would take up to eight hours, so most of my Christmas shopping was online. Ever since then, I have continued to do so. When the delivery truck stops in front of the house, excitement builds as my kids know that it is the equivalent to Santa’s sleigh with gifts for them onboard. Moving from the city to the county, I have found that it takes the packages an extra day or two to arrive. Thanks to online tracking, it is easy to find out exactly where each one is according to the last checkpoint. However, this year there seemed to be a backup. Things were taking a little longer than usual and one package seemed to go missing altogether. It disappeared in a hub city and no further tracking was available. I called the company and they immediately resent the order. As the days ticked off the calendar, I wondered if the items would arrive in time for Christmas. Last night, I found a pile of packages in my study. Christmas has arrived.

What does this have to do with the Deliverer? The tiny package born to a peasant girl found wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager surrounded by animals. Everything! This is the season of celebration of the greatest gift ever given. While many read the Polar Express and even journey through the book in their city, the first gift of Christmas is not a bell off the big guy’s sleigh but the greatest delivery ever made – our Deliverer – Jesus Christ. His Arrival marked the pronounced end to sin’s power, death and the grave. He walked through life flawlessly to die as the perfect sacrifice and give us His Spirit. The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit living inside of us as believers. The power and authority to be delivered from every bondage – physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me. In the midst of holiday fanfare, parties, baking, shopping and wrapping are we truly celebrating the season when our special delivery arrived? The One who would come to bring good news, heal broken hearts, set captives free, rescue those in darkness by becoming great light. The Way, Truth and Life who connects with the Favor of God to prosper in all things pertaining to life and godliness. The power and authority of Christ lives in us. He is our Deliverer. He is our Rescuer. He is our Redeemer. Each morning He delivers new mercy on our doorstop. Throughout the day pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness. Taking every tattered detail and working it for His Good in us and through us. Grace has given us His power and authority to use. Are we?

Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV) “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

Daniel was given a glimpse of the Messiah before His Arrival. In the awesomeness of this vision, it struck fear in Daniel’s heart. The authority, glory and sovereign power of God’s Own Son in vivid display did something to him. If we could catch a glimpse as Daniel, I wonder if it would change us forever. If we could see the potential of His Power would we invest our life into living through it? The Presence of God changes everything. It is accessed only through His Son, Jesus. This allows us to come “boldly” before His Throne not as cowering minions but the Sons and Daughters of God.

Ephesians 1:18-22 (NIV) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Emmanuel who is God with us. He is our Deliverer. The special delivery who is highly celebrated this time of year came with the potential power of the Kingdom infused in a tiny person. When Jesus died and reclaimed His Life – the Resurrection Power of God was given to all mankind through His Spirit. In fact, before man received the Spirit – Jesus released it when He died on the Cross and immediately started bringing the dead to life again. This amazing potential has been given to us. To walk in the power and authority of God is an act of humbly submitting our life to become one with Christ. In doing so, every weakness becomes empowered by His Grace and our life will begin to change. The Deliverer works body, mind, spirit and soul to makes us complete in Christ. To fill us so full of His Spirit that an abundance of His Fruit becomes the offering of our life to other people to build them up, too. We have a glorious inheritance that will still provide for us after the gifts of this Christmas are forgotten, discarded, or gone.

Ephesians 1:23 (NIV) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

What is keeping the Deliverer from operating His Full Power and Authority in your life? What is the dead dream or forgotten promise that you desperately desire revived? Is your hope waning? Your faith struggling? Your body aching? Your mind reeling? Your spirit sinking? What is it that you need to be delivered from today? There is nothing too big or too small for the Lord concerning you. Just as parents strive to meet the expectations of their children this time of year, Your Father strives to exceedingly abundantly fulfill your life in all ways. We must allow Jesus to not only be our Savior who delivers us from death and the grave but welcome Him as Lord of our life so that His Power and Authority provides and protects for us in the land of the living. Resurrection power and life is not just futuristic. It is not on reserve for the moment you die to bring you back to life. It is here now. It came special delivery in a manger all those years ago. Jesus came to be our Deliverer. Will you accept His Delivery today?

Finding Favor

Finding Favor

Luke 1:30 (NIV) But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

What believer does not want favor with God? Be careful what you wish for, ask for and pray for in life. One must always consider the cost of the request though seldom do. Imagine marry who was a teenager dreaming of her impending nuptials. She was a virgin soon to be bride. The angel of the Lord came to this young girl with wonderful news. She would have a baby. Not just any child – but the One who would be the Savior of the world. The promised Messiah would be her very own. This glorious declaration would come at a tremendous price. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”

Why fear the Favor of God? Extraordinary wrecks ordinary. Supernatural destroys natural. Miracles are marked “impossible”. Healing requires brokenness. I could go on but I think you get the idea. To experience the fullness of God’s Favor means releasing our own expectation to allow His Fulfillment to take its place. God’s Ways are much higher than human simplicity. His Thoughts too complex for man’s understanding. To even consider the potential of a new life in Christ – one must battle fear of change and uncertainty of newness every single day. Many will find the price too high as pride battles to maintain control fueled by doubt and disbelief. How many times do we settle for the fruitlessness of our own hands giving in to the fear that God who He says and grace is not enough? You have found favor with God. What will you do with it?

Luke 1:37 (NIV) “For no word from God will ever fail.”

Mary’s Response was this “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.” She accepted God’s Word. The final words of the angel to Mary prior to this were simply “for no word from God will ever fail.” Do you believe the infallible truth of God’s Word? Is it really possible? You will never know unless you believe. To have faith without doubt requires an effort. It is a thousand “yeses” to as many unknowns. God has a plan. He has created us with a future and hope. The potential of our life is packed in from the moment of creation. It is one’s inability or unwillingness to believe a God who surpasses understanding that limits our life.

Proverbs 3:1-4 (NIV) 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.

Finding the Favor of God is essential to spiritual success and it facilitates death of our flesh at the same time. To have God’s Approval requires acceptance of His Son – Jesus Christ. This is not an arranged marriage such as the covenant entered into between Joseph and Mary as was customary in that time. It is a personal decision to give up this life and accept a new existence in oneness with Christ. To allow His Spirit to come into our broken and devastated heart to begin to remove, rebuild, restore and renew our life into that which He predestined it to be. There are many details to take into consideration so much so that only an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God could ever undertake much less accomplish in bringing it all into one plan for our good and His Glory. It takes time that most do not feel they have. It requires effort that most are unwilling to give. But for those who decide to take God at His Word waiting until He comes, there life will be filled with favor. Not just godly favor, but earthly favor as well.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) 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.

There is a soulful worship chorus that goes “I lean not on my own understanding…my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven…” then it says, “I give it all to You, God…Trusting that You’ll make something beautiful of me.” This must be our daily declaration in the pursuit of God’s Favor. The key to prosperity, success and abundance in all of God’s Promises is accessed by trust. When our doubts and disbelief are overcome by faith, confident hope and total trust – our heart begins to change. True repentance and great turnarounds in life begin with the decision to change directions. Godly wisdom begins with the Word. When we take God at His Word by faith and believe enough to allow His Spirit to change our attitudes and actions to alignment with the Lord everything ordained and commissioned for our life can make it to us. God’s Promises are never in question – the question is do we believe enough to allow change to put us on track to receive them.

Favor with God is always a risky pursuit. It takes our flesh and thoughts destroying all that is contrary to God’s Word. Faith defies human reasoning. It is illogical. However, without faith it is impossible to please God and walk side-by-side with Him. Lord, help our unbelief today that keeps us from saying, “Yes!” each time you whisper, “Come.”

God’s Grace produces favor in our life. Favor is not a fix-all. Noah had favor and still had to go through the flood. Joseph had favor that put him in a pit and prison before he made it to the palace. David had God’s Favor yet still committed murder. Peter had favor with God and still struggled with faith. Paul tried to kill Christianity yet found salvation and joy spending the rest of his life in and out of prison. Mary had God’s Favor at the cost of her reputation given a child who she would watch persecuted, tortured and die. I wonder today if the process of finding God’s Favor is the very reason most people never discover its true potential. Counting the cost – the price found too high or wait too long. The process that produces God’s Favor is giving all of our life to Him. To not be influenced by conditions or circumstances but trust that does not come from human perception. To say when bad times come or the unexpected happens – “I trust you, God”. Reconciling my life to God’s Plan is really quite simple. It is a step-by-step process of building a relationship of total trust through true repentance. It is not enough to be sorry for our sin, but to turn from those lesser things to fully embrace the life given to us through Christ. When we love Jesus more than sin, we will leave it easily to embrace Him fully. As we follow Christ, He leads to greater expectation than people or things but rather satisfies our soul with all the good things He promised. Favor will not reach our hands until it fully takes over our heart!

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

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

When I Fail

When I Fail

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

I entered the role of motherhood just shy of my 24th birthday. Sitting in the empty hospital room, it was the first time I was alone and awake with my tiny son. He was perfect. Though small, he was chubby with a head of thick dark hair. As he lay sleeping, sunlight peeked through the room, beams falling on him and in that moment he looked so angelic. Overcome with emotions, tears began to fall from my face unto his little feet. My imperfection abundantly clear to me in that moment in the fact that I would make mistakes and could not promise him a “perfect” life. I was overwhelmed at the thought of failure. I would fail him. I knew it. I couldn’t stop it or control it. My weaknesses would cause me to mess up time and time again. I felt insecure in that fact that God had entrusted me with him because I wasn’t good enough for the job that lay before me.

Well, my son is now 27 years old. He is engaged and about to become a bonus dad to a precocious six-year-old. How time flies by when you are having fun? An update…I did fail. I failed in parenting time and time again. In fact, I apologized to my son a few years ago. He was the guinea pig. I learned to parent using him to mold and shape my skills for the four that would come later. I believe in discipline and this boy got his fair share. When I told him that I was sorry, he hugged me close and replied, “That’s okay, mama. I know everything I did and you probably didn’t spank me enough.” Plot twist – the perfect baby given to me wasn’t perfect either yet I still felt ultimately responsible. But now I felt my heart at ease for my boy gave me the grace needed to live free from guilt as a mom.

I am a failure. I was born a failure. I will always be a complete and utter failure. From the moment, I arrived due to my innate nature to sin – I fell short of God’s Glorious Standard. This type of failure is fatal. It can only be overcome by God’s Grace in all of its sufficiency. Have you accepted God’s Grace? Have you invited Jesus to save you? To be your Savior and Lord? If the answer is “yes”, then despite the fact you are a failure – you cannot fail God ever again.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

Our success in life as a believer becomes completely dependent on faith in Christ alone. Your prosperity is from Christ in you. The complete takeover of His Spirit filling our life with good fruit that produces good things in us and allows us to take full advantage of God’s Promises. We are made right with God in this one simple gesture. If our rightness ever becomes based on anything that we do, it has become convoluted with religion rather than fully reliant on a relationship with Jesus. A believer is defined as one who believes. What do you believe today? It is important as it is the validity of faith.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.

You cannot fall farther than you already did with a single sin. Someone needs to hear this today because somewhere along the way you gave up on God’s Glorious Standard when the enemy told you that you failed God. You cannot fail God. Failing God would mean He needed us for something. It would compromise the Sovereignty of a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. If this were the case, it would make God’s Grace given through Jesus Christ insufficient. Sin was our failure. It is our daily struggle. But it doesn’t make us a failure. Though we fall, it is not fatal unless choosing to stay there. His Grace is enough for me…and you…and every other person ever created.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Have you imposed a penalty that God has already removed? Yet (already done) God in His Grace (not my ability) freely (without a condition or cost) makes us right in His Sight. He did it through the offering of His Son, Jesus Christ. He freed (past tense) us from the penalty of sin. What you called “lost” has only been “left” behind and can be reclaimed when you stop trying to pay for something already covered completely! The enemy of our soul cannot lay claim to us anymore. Sin had a penalty of death. God’s Grace paid it in full and released us from punishment for our sin. To think that we must somehow pay God back is to cheapen the priceless gift that was given.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus. Oh how I wish someone would believe today with me. Condemnation produces a punishment or penalty. God paid our penalty in full. To impose a penalty or decide that God is punishing us is to live a lie. Self-imposed penalty is a product of pride. Sin’s penalty is paid in full and no longer condemning. When I fail, I fail myself by living beneath God’s Glorious Standard returned to me with redemption. It is to refuse resurrection power and live in the discarded death shroud of guilt, shame and remorse. It restricts and limits us in insecurity and fear that the Blood has lost its power and grace is not enough due to our inability.

According to Romans 5, God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The grace given when accepting Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Not just the ones already committed, but every sin past, present and future. It is only the weight of relinquished that applies weight and heaviness to our life. It is easily removed by repentance. To say, “I’m sorry, Lord” with true repentance and remorse. Our relationship with God is secure in Jesus Christ. Every promise is valid. Our purpose remains intact even when I fall or fail. It is what I believe that changes everything. Do you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Grace to remove the penalty and punishment of sin? Do you believe that you are given life abundantly? Or do you live in condemnation? There is no condemnation in Christ therefore even when I fail – my relationship with God through His Son means nothing is lost. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I failed God. He forgave me and wiped out the penalty of sin that I once carried. The power at work in me is a direct result of His Son, Jesus Christ who died for me and then put His Life Spirit in me. I cannot take credit for anything good that has come of it. To think that I can fail God now that I am saved and filled with His Son renders grace incapable of full satisfaction. In other words, it is me saying, “God – Your Grace is not enough!” Who would ever dare? We do. By accepting the bat of guilt, shame, remorse and insecurity that the enemy has us when we fall short and beating the life out of ourselves with compromise and substitutions for the Gloriousness of His Grace. Pride tells us that we have to do something. Humility accepts that it is in our constant and utter weakness that His Power is fully executed.

Grace is enough. I don’t care what anyone else tells you. His Grace is enough to cover every single sin ever committed and therefore you can never fail God again. When we fall, it is an opportunity to reach up and take our Savior’s Hand again. He continually pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. Each morning mercy is given to us regardless of acceptance or not. His grace is all I need. His power works best in my failure and weaknesses. For it is then that the Glory of God reaches me and is reflected in my life.

Romans 6:1-4 (NLT) Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

There is obviously a difference in willful sin and wandering. Who am I to judge? The wonderful grace that God has given us cannot work in a hard and inflexible heart. To love sin is to reject the Lord. Those who hate sin will still fall into it. It is inevitable. Paul talks about the struggle with sin in Romans 7. Despite our best intentions not to sin, we still do it daily. We are united with Christ and His Spirit lives in us showing us a better and more glorious lifestyle. The sufficiency of God’s Grace is that in my weakness – His Power changes me from the inside out. He prospers my soul in my willingness not ability. When I fail, I must not let pride give me the responsibility but hand it right back to the Lord. We have a right relationship even when I sin based on grace alone. God doesn’t turn his back on me but sees His Son and pulls me closer. We can live a new life. A free existence in choosing what is beneficial to our life in Christ for it is where success and full satisfaction are found. It is a choice. To accept God’s Grace or refuse it.

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

Grace made us right with God from the beginning. One sin was our failure. There is no further falling in the life of a believer. Sin put you at rock bottom. When I fail, it is a personal setback not a supernatural event. God already knew I would fall short of His Glorious Standard and Jesus paid the price already. Do you feel like you failed God? Do you think He is punishing you for something you have done? Are you punishing yourself by believing you cannot have what God promised because you failed? The enemy will give you ever burden that you are willing to accept. We can easily fill are heart and mind with all the reasons why we are not worthy of God’s Grace and they would all be valid except for the simple fact that His Grace is always sufficient. In every setback, fault, failure and wandering, when we thought we were lost – God will show you where you left off. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. We just have to hand Him all the broken pieces. You will fall. You will fail. Your still have a future and hope because His Grace is always enough!

Lord, I ask you to touch the heart of your people today with a new revelation of your amazing grace. We do not deserve it and certainly couldn’t earn it even though many times we try to. Please God take captive every rebellious thought that I must do something more to receive it other than accept it. Lord help my unbelief until I have full confidence that your grace is sufficient for me. It is always enough…even when I fail! Amen and Amen!

Acts 20:32 (NLT) “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.”

A Single Meal

Used Plate

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless Love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. Still You give Yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless Love of God.” – Bethel Music

Have you experienced the Love of God? The overwhelming kind of reckless love that is driven by grace that removes every single sin and fills your heart to capacity with confidence that there is nothing that will ever separate you from Him again (Romans 8) Salvation is a gift that allows us to enter the Presence of the Living God and His Spirit to inhabit our once corrupt and dying flesh. It is not something easily understood but the Truth of those who have chosen Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. Now what? In order to understand the true value and worth of the Gift of God given to us through the sacrifice of His Only Son, we must explore the depth and magnitude of His Love. The foundation of it is His Undeserved Grace too remarkable to understand or even comprehend. It must be received by faith. If forgiveness was easy to give, I wonder if we could identify with the sufficiency of God’s Grace given to us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

The power source of God’s Love is His Grace. Sin separated us from the Love of God. It severed our relationship. The Blood of Jesus Christ made the way for us to reestablish our connection to God and allows us to enter eternity after our life on earth is done. However, the mandate of grace is not given as a resource to be reserved for a later date. It is the power of our life today. Grace is all I need. It works best in my weakness. My pride doesn’t want to accept the fact that I am helpless. It doesn’t glory in my weakness but fights to remain in control. God gives grace to the humble. Humility is only possible in the absence of pride. Grace can only be received by the humble and can only be magnified and/or reflected through the same. (James 4:6)

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

You cannot choose the family you are born into. It is in God’s Grand Scheme of things. He decides who our parents will be and later who our children are. My children may partake of all that belongs to me. They are my kids. I will do anything for them. They do not have to earn my love for I give it to them freely and undeserved. They live in my house. Not one of them has ever had to lay cash on the counter for groceries, electricity or the things provided to them. We expect them to be obedient and loving at all times. However, on the days they choose to misbehave or disagree – they still are given the same meals, electricity and more. We provide for them. When they choose to the right thing and be loving and kind – it brings laughter, joy and community to our family. My point is that no matter what – they are my children. I desire a relationship with them. When my children leave home, they are free to make their own choices. They set up households. They decide whether or not to maintain a close relationship with the family or not. But if they choose not to communicate or visit, it is does not diminish our love for them. They still can join us for family dinner, fellowship and laughter at any time. Our brood did not earn the right to be part of the family or complete some intricate initiation process. God chose them to be our kids just like He chose us to be His Children. God sees us all the same way. He provides for us regardless. He has a plan and purpose that will prosper our life from the inside out. As His Children, we choose whether or not to live in His Presence. His Children chose sin over fellowship with Him, so the Father provided a way for them to return. We cannot earn it. We cannot deserve it. He has given it to us. This gift is called grace every family must rely on it to build strong, sound relationships. We must be receivers and givers of grace to build His Kingdom.

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.

I am God’s Masterpiece. I have heard this message and even taught it myself. Today, I see it a little differently through His Amazing Grace. I am only a piece of the masterpiece. For “WE” are God’s Masterpiece. He makes us a new creation in Christ that is not solitary but united by the choice to receive Jesus and His Grace into our heart. Now we are building a new foundation – the message given to us is love provided by grace. It should build a Kingdom not tear it down. (Acts 20:32) God’s Grace brings every one of His Children together under the authority and power of Jesus Christ. His Power is given by grace. God’s Plan is to bring us all together by His Grace. He is drawing His Children back to Him. The masterpiece has many pieces that complete the beautiful portrait of reconciliation.

Acts 15:10-11 (NLT) So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Am I burdening other people with a yoke that God has not required of me? A penalty I could not pay for. A condition not given in unconditional love. We all sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard. God’s Grace freely makes us right in His Sight. Am I giving others the grace that I have received? Is my love for people unconditional? Because of God’s Grace given to me, I give my life to Him. I am called to be an expert builder and to advance His Kingdom. I must be very careful not to add conditions and mandates to others that have not been put on me. I cannot withhold the generosity of God lavished on me by His Grace. Otherwise, I am building a foundation other than Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) When I require of others something that Christ does not require of me, I have polluted the Good News. I must be careful not to treat the grace of God as meaningless. (Galatians 2:20-21) Christ is my example. He lives in me. His Love should permeate my pride and crucify it with the rest of my flesh so that love always prevails and grace right along with it.

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 (NLT) As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

What is the result of your ministry today? Does it give glory to God? Before you say, I don’t have a ministry as an ambassador of Christ – you have the profound privilege and responsibility to share His Love with everyone you come in contact with. The loudest message is spoken by our attitude and actions not our words. I have been a gift labeled grace that is too wonderful to keep all to myself. It takes time to release others from our expectation as we yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ. His Grace is always enough for our process. His Grace is abounding so that we can generously give it to others without regard or reservation because God’s got us. He will never let us down. He is always working all the details for our good and perfecting all that concerns us. Faith in God begins by fully accepting His Undeserved Grace and Unconditional Love for ourselves. However, once it is accepted it must be sown in our life to produce the Good News others are dying to hear.

Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. Esau was the firstborn son. He didn’t have to do anything other than exist to inherit the blessing of His Father. Esau gave up his birthright. Oh, I know some would say that his brother tricked him. But the truth is – Esau gave it away for a single meal. Is it really worth your birthright to hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness? God cannot extend grace to those who are unwilling to give it away. We are part of a Kingdom. The Body of Christ cannot become one with strife and bitterness. These qualities mean that God’s Grace is not enough for us and we thereby reject our birthright in Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God, our faith is founded on His Love and Grace. If I don’t believe that God’s Love is for me and His Grace flows through me – I am lost. Grace is essential to salvation. I cannot earn it or deserve it. Do I require something more of others than God requires of me today? Lord, show me the areas of stagnant grace that has become roots of bitterness and unforgiveness limiting the harvests in my life. I am building a Kingdom. I am not alone. You are with me. My brothers and sisters are all around me. You do not have favorites. We are all your favorite in Christ alone. May your grace flow through me more and more today until it reaches those around me.

2 Corinthians 4:14-15 (NLT) We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

Stop, Drop and Roll

Stop Drop and Roll

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

I remember as a young child in school learning the technique of “stop, drop and roll” to extinguish a fire. Taught as part of health and safety, a nice fireman dressed in his gear instructed our second grade class on fire awareness. Part of his lesson was what to do if our clothing caught on fire – we were to stop, drop and roll. Consisting of three components as the name suggests, the first step is to stop. Stopping means to cease all movement which may fan the flames or even hamper those coming to one’s aid. Dropping to the ground, lying down and covering the face to avoid further injury. Finally, rolling on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Even wrapping up in a rug if nearby to further put out any flames. I wonder if we might use the same techniques when putting out the fires started with harsh words and misunderstandings. Is it possible that stop, drop and roll might work in such conditions?

James 3:3-6 (NLT) We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.  

Recently, I have watched a beautiful friendship completely destroyed by careless words and misunderstanding. Burned to the ground as it spread through two families. I am praying for restoration, repair and rebuilding yet I cannot believe the absolute devastation. How many times to careless conversations, pointless debates or one-sided tirades destroy the beautiful harmony and unity that God has ordained for His People? Churches have literally split, divided and died from gossip, slander and malice among close friends now misaligned by the lie of the enemy who is the Father of Lies. Is it too late for grace? Oh man, I hope not. The Grace of God is always enough but like any other building the institution of relationship takes time to reconstruct. Trust is probably the hardest structure to build and maintain so once it is compromised it takes a committed effort by all to restore. How can something so small do so much damage? Why can’t we control our tongues? Why is our need to be right or defended so strong that pride keeps us from humbling our tongue and limiting our words to what is kind, necessary and true? Lord, help us today to examine our hearts, thoroughly inspect our thoughts, and completely control our tongue to bring glory to Your Great Name.

James 3:7-12 (NLT) People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

The complexity of human nature and the war against our flesh makes the products of our lips sometimes uncertain. Romans 7 talks about the war between flesh and spirit that wages war within us. We want to do what is right and try to but still do what is wrong on a regular basis. The need for constant grace is clearly definitive in the simple truth that humans are imperfect and our weakness is sin. We can change our habits. We can modify our routine. We can educate our opinion. Yet in the final stages of release our words are on a mission – to give life or pronounce death. (Proverbs 18:21) To be imitators of God and follow the example of Jesus – there will be times to be silent. To stop talking, drop to our knees in humility and roll out the flames set by the harsh words, judgment or gossip of another. Jesus was completely innocent yet in the midst of His Accusers – our Savior and Lord set forth an example that we are to learn from – He said nothing. (Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 8:32) This fulfilled the prophecy about our Lord and did not further fuel arguments. It would not hinder His Walk to the Cross. In order to fulfill God’s Destiny for our life and walk in His Ways, sometimes that means walking away from a fight right to preserve the relationship or to say, “I’m sorry” even when the offense was against you. The point is to continue to follow Jesus and not be detoured by dysfunction by the lie of the enemy. We need each other despite what the liar has said.

Psalm 34:12-14 (NLT) Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Perhaps these verses might be labeled the “stop, drop and roll” instructions when it comes to our words. Do you want to live a long and prosperous life? I dare say no one reading this will say, “No” or “I’ll pass” but rather every day it is our goal to live in the promises and prosperity set forth in God’s Word according to the blessings prescribed for us. The scripture is clear. STOP your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Pretty straight forward but not always easy. It is important to think about what we say and how we say it. Being right doesn’t always result in righteousness. It is up to us to condition our heart and soften it with God’s Word. This will change how we think and respond to other people. We must be quick to forgive and stop the progression of bitterness within us that turns into malicious conversation. DROP – Turn away from evil and do good. Repentance is essential in transforming our communication with others. Sometimes we can do nothing more than make things right with the Lord and pray for a severed relationship until the other party softens and accepts you again. Humility brings agreement to a growing, prospering and thriving relationship. As harmony is established and unity maintained the Lord blesses both parties and creates a living flow between them. Is it really worth limiting our godly potential to allow separation to build walls that block His Prosperity in our heart and life? I don’t think so. Finally, ROLL – grace teaches us how to let things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. We must learn to overlook the careless conversation and decide to love them anyway. We must be the one to extinguish the passionate flames of fear and insecurity that feed our pride. We give power to the words of others in our life and the same words meant to harm us can free us when grace is applied and forgiveness given or received. I want the power of God to be a daily experience all around me. I want love as strong as death to overtake me and filter into every relationship established in my life. To search for peace and maintain it means giving up my way to Christ and others daily. It doesn’t really matter if they hurt my feelings or break my heart. I am called to love them. I am ordained to live in harmony with all my brothers and sisters not just the ones of my choosing.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I am grieved literally sad in my spirit over the friendship recently destroyed by the enemy. I believe in the Resurrection Power of God that gives new life. As I pray for this friendship, maybe there is a family member or friend that you know of where there is distance in what was a close bond. The enemy hates relationships. He hates when people love each other. Daily satan sows seeds of offense and hurt hoping someone will take hold of them. It is up to you and me plant seeds of peace and reap the harvest of righteousness. It will take effort. You cannot sit idly by when it comes to the words used or conversation allowed. We must take the burden of repentance and give grace even when it is not deserved. There is seldom a disagreement where both parties did not hold their ground. Reconciliation takes both sides coming together as one. Our common ground is Jesus Christ. His Grace is enough for me today and you, too. We can live in love with others because His Love completes us. People are not perfect, but they are not the problem either. In fact, they are the key to a prospering, productive and long life. Praying for the full restoration of my broken friendship today. Can I join with you in doing the same? Let’s pray for protection over our relationships today and that the Spirit of God will tame our tongue.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NLT) A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Enduring Love

Enduring Love

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

It probably safe to say that sin is definitely rampant everywhere. Love is lukewarm if not tepid perhaps even cold. BUT…the one who endures to the end will be saved. “But” nullifies that which is stated before. When we see “but God” in a passage, it is the resolve of God’s Sovereignty that changes everything. If a “but” is placed within an apology, it voids the true meaning of forgiveness. Within the epidemic of sin and death of love, there is a “but”. The one who endures to the end will be saved. I am challenged today by this “but” – the one that changes sin and hate to enduring and everlasting love.

What does love have to do with it? Everything. It is our mandate in life to love the Lord God and love others. It sums up our mission as Light and Salt. To illuminate the darkness and flavor the earth so that others will taste and see that He is good. What is the light of our life? What is the flavor of our interactions? Does it make a right relationship and true repentance desirable or palatable? Truly love is the difference maker that binds a Kingdom of diverse people who reconcile their life to Jesus. His Spirit works to produce His First Fruit which is love. Are we cultivating love in our life? In our homes? Churches? Community? Workplace? Everywhere we go there should be a foretaste of the love that saved us, delivered us, healed us, grows us, develops us and prospers in our life.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

What have I gained? I want to know God’s Secrets. I want to hear the voice of His Angels as they sing around His Throne in His Presence. I desire all gifts of His Spirit as promised but if I do not possess His Love – it is all pointless. Love is not just in the receiving but absolutely in the giving. It is reciprocated by the release of it. We give our lives to religion freely. It is something I can do. It is the method of giving over which I have control. But is it enough to be among those who endure to the end. Is it enough to finish the race and be found faithful to Christ? I am not sure doing anything for Christ is worthwhile if it is not packaged with unconditional love and grace as it is given.

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.

“His Love Endures Forever” is given as a reminder 41 times in the Word of God. God defines love as patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude meaning it doesn’t contain any pride or self. Love doesn’t demand its own way but gives up its way to pursue unity. It is not irritable or unforgiving never keeping count of wrongs. It does not rejoice in injustice or the faults and failures of another but rejoices when truth wins out. What truth? God’s Love endures forever and His Grace is enough. Love never gives up. Endures. It never loses faith and so it is always faithful even to the faithless. It is always hopeful never ever giving up on itself or the pursuit of it. It endures through every circumstance.

God’s Love for us is defined by these characteristics. To be imitators of God is to reflect this kind of love to all people. It is noted that there is no greater love than to lay down our life for our friends. We are instructed to lavish it on our enemies as well. Love is important to God because it is who He is. Love defines Him. It must define us to identify with God as His Children. However, love must endure. What does it mean to “endure”? According to Strong’s Concordance, it is to hold one’s ground in conflict, to bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevering under pressure, waiting calmly and courageously. It is not a passive resignation to fate with mere patience, but the active energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance. Why would love require endurance? Because loving everybody all the time is not easy and nearly impossible outside of the Love of God given to us and His Grace that covers us. We must fight for love because the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy it. He is doing a pretty good job at it.

I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Continue to show deep love for each other. The kind of love described is the same kind of love in Romans 5:5. Agape love is a word given new meaning by Christianity. Agape love is an undefeatable well-meaning kindness and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of other people. No matter what the response of the other person to our giving – agape love gives anyway without reservation. It is self-giving love that gives freely asking nothing in return. It does not consider its own object worth but is liberal in its giving. Agape is a love by choice, not love by chance. It is an act of willingness not emotionalism. Agape is the kind of unconditional love God has for all of His Children even those still far away. It is the love that His Spirit tries to produce within us. Agape love is grown from faith in God and as He becomes our confident hope carrying our full expectation it is the overflow of our life to others. Love without condition. Forgiveness without reciprocation. Giving without the expectation of receiving. We must continue to show deep and abiding love in the midst of a world where love has grown quite cold.

Love covers a multitude of sin. Love covers. Love does not expect retribution or recompense but gives up the right to be offended and hurt by the misgivings of another. It is the kind of covering that will lead others to the Light of His Amazing Love. We cannot love others properly until we accept the completely that He first loved us.

I John 4:16-21 (NLT) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

There will always be people around us who seem undeserving of our love, time and attention. People will always let us down, hurt us and not meet our expectation. It is not their job to do so. It is our job to love. My personal responsibility as a Christian fully saved, sanctified and filled with His Spirit is to love. To love first. To love most. To love always. To love without regard. To love without expectation from anyone other than God. His Love is my fulfillment from which I am free to love without need or necessity for reciprocation. Here is where endurance comes in – I don’t always want to love people who hurt me, use me or offend me. I am not always quick to forgive, forget or forge a relationship with those who I do not deem worthy of such things. I don’t always want to give up my way to embrace the journey of another. See I am just as human as you are. I have had my fair share of letdowns. I have been attacked and maligned plenty. But I want to endure to the end. I want to be saved. I cannot spend my time trying to glean a little bit of love from unproductive vessels. The fulfillment of love is to accept fully the Love of God through His Son Jesus Christ and live in that love completely. From this place – there is freedom from fear and insecurity of hurt and betrayal. His Healing Balm of Love covers the misuse and abuse of others with a sufficiency of grace that fulfills us. It is from the Source of Love that never leads to disappointment that I can love others freely with enduring love that makes me known as a Child of God. I must love like the Lord. I must love unconditionally. Lord, help me to develop enduring love in all my relationships past, present and future. Teach me to love others solely on the basis that You, Father have first loved us.

Psalm 136:1 (NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.