Proper Portion

Proper Portion

Lamentations 3:21-26 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Currently, everyone in the office is on some form of diet or new health regime. A variety of methods to control consumption and improve health – all of them seem to be reasonable and show the potential of great success if adhered to. The methodology of each one is very different but the goal of all participants is to lose a few pounds and develop a healthier lifestyle. I have tried many diets over the years. Even in fasting, I have found that when I reintroduce certain foods have lost their appeal. It’s funny how our tastes, preferences and even appetite changes over time. Impacted by life, food can become a dependency, a habit, a comfort, or even an enemy if allowed. People use it to calm fear, alleviate stress, fill voids, and soothe hurts. Usually obesity is a heart or mental condition more than a physical condition as someone tries to overcome something much deeper than gluttony or obsession with eating. I have found success in portion control more than dieting. To evaluate the food I take in and limit those things that are not healthy and satisfy my hunger with things that are good for me. I must pay careful attention to my appetite and how I appease it. What do your portions look like today? What do you hunger and thirst for? No, I am not just talking about the food in your kitchen but the mainstay in your heart.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

It is important to find balance in life. The place of peaceful satisfaction that begins in our heart and soul. Such an understanding will aid us in changing our mind, will and emotions about certain things. Christ Jesus has set us free. Those who live in Christ are free indeed. The definition of freedom did not change and the Lord means exactly that you are absolutely free. Our inability to live in freedom is the problem. With a fickle heart and fixated mind, it is tough to allow the Spirit to lead, guide and direct us because we ourselves are not trustworthy in properly portioning this new life and living in our freedom. I choose each day whether or not I remain free. Once held captive by sin, shame and regret, I refused to receive the portion of love, grace and mercy offered consistently by Jesus to all who come to Him. In Christ, my covenant says that “I am allowed to do anything.” There is no limitation on my life. I can live free from sin or put the chains right back on. I can live a religious life or choose a relationship with Christ. Life is full of choices that the Lord has given us a free will to decide. Not everything is good for me. I am allowed to do anything but not everything is beneficial. Salvation is not a call to perfection but the possibility of a future and hope even when we do not choose wisely or must live in consequences. The Lord promises to work even those for our good and His Glory. The secret is that Jesus must be our portion.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.”

Romans 12:2 (ESV) Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To make better choices is a mindset. We must call certain things to mind and take captive the rebellious thoughts contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way for us. Transformation is possible by the renewal of our mind. I must call to mind the things God says about me and forget the lie of the enemy. By testing – you may discern what is the Will of God, what is good, and acceptable and perfect.” God has a plan for your life that is good, acceptable and perfect. He does not lie or change His Mind so we must change ours. His Ways are higher just like His Thoughts so to have all God has predestined for our life – our perception of life must change. Hope blossoms in a mind renewed and ready to receive God’s Word and let it grow into exactly what He promised.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.”

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

If only for just a moment, our mind would let go of its preconceived notion of what love is and grab hold of God’s Love for us. God’s Love is steadfast. It never ceases. There is absolutely nothing you or I can do that will EVER separate us from His Love. Disbelief keeps us from experiencing a love so real that the only thing it desires is reciprocation and reproduction. God says love me and love others. This is all that I desire of you. What about sin? What about service? What about selflessness? What about surrender? What about sacrifice? Have you ever fallen in love? Not, like or even lust, but the kind of love that changes your mind about everything. I have. When I met my husband, the hardness around my heart cracked and fell apart. Suddenly, things I thought I would never do – I did again. Trust began to well up from the fortress of insecurity. When a person decides in their heart and mind that NOTHING can separate them from the Love of God – nothing will ever keep them from experiencing His Goodness and Glory again. God’s Love is unconditional. It does not depend on what I do for Him but to place all that I am in covenant with Him. I must love Him with all my heart trusting Him with the same. I have found that change and transformation is birthed in love otherwise it is just a change of habit.

His mercies never come to an end.”

Psalm 23:5-6 (ESV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

It is human nature to decide the limits of God’s Love and mercy. In hard times, the only explanation possible is that God is punishing us or maybe teaching us a lesson. God cannot punish those who live in the dispensation of grace without stripping it of power. The sufficiency of grace is nullified if God decided to punish us so that is a lie of the enemy. I do not believe that the Lord is trying to harm us in any possible way. Even Jesus was tempted by the enemy, God has given us His Spirit to overcome every trial and temptation. It is just part of life. If Jesus encountered it, so will we. This is the promise. Mercy. In the presence of the enemy, I am well provided for and cared for. In fact, there is abundance for me in the battle. Goodness and mercy follow me every single day. New every single morning – I must simply receive it. Is goodness and mercy your portion today? Are you reaching for it and accepting it in your life? Regret and shame stop us from taking what is rightfully ours and promised by the Lord in each new day.

“They are new every morning.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

We live in a carryover society. Allowing things to rollover from day to day until small things become monumental making mountains out of molehills. Think about it. There was a documentary on television the other day, I don’t even know what it was about. In it, the narrator said that in certain low income areas of New Orleans that the average income was $7,000 a year. I remember thinking how can anyone live let alone family on such a small amount. I believe that in Christ – I am a new creation. Do I allow Him to increase my life daily or do I limit Him in my expectation? When I look at my life is it defined by God’s Goodness and Mercy or do I daily live comparing my life to other people? God promises are new each morning because His Mercy is in constant supply. I may judge my potential and future by my current situation or the conditions governing my life but God says, “I have a plan that contains a future and hope” which means that my circumstances today do not dictate my forever. Christ does. With this in mind, when I bring the cares, worries, failures and defeats of yesterday into my today, I limit my own ability to receive all the new things that God is doing in me and through me. Disbelief downgrades my potential and possibility as I try to amend for my inabilities rather than allowing Christ to be more than enough for me.

Great is your faithfulness.”

Hebrews 10:22-23 (ESV) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 

Faith is not our ability to be faithful but our willingness to trust and believe that the Lord is always faithful. Great is God’s Faithfulness. Grace indicates our inability to be faithful always. This does not change the fact that God is always faithful. It is our unwillingness to believe, trust, wait, depend, and hold fast that which we confess that limits our potential. We pray and then do our own thing. Unwavering hope waits on the Lord knowing He is faithful. It finds peace in God accepting the peace of mind given to us by Jesus as blessed assurance. We try to be faithful and fail then think that God’s Faithfulness ends because of our inability. That’s not how this works. God is the One who promised to be faithful. He is the One keeping His Word. The Lord is working out the details for our good. He is the One who perfects all that concerns us. He is the load bearer. The lifter of our heads to see things the way that He does. To see our life and full potential through the Cross and not our circumstances. Human beings try to be faithful but to experience the fullness off the freedom offered in the Son of God is to accept His Grace as more than enough.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Psalm 16:5 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

The Book of Lamentations is filled with expressions of sorrow, regret and grief. In the midst of it all is this declaration. “The Lord is my portion.” Things must be undone to be remade. Hearts must be broken to be rebuilt. Life must change to be better. I share this all to say that the only decision that will ever change our heart, mind and life for the better is to say, “Lord you are my chosen portion.” You have a right to decide what will fill your life today. Will it be regret? Sorrow? Grief? Will you ever experience love, peace and joy again? Yes, when the Lord is our portion the rest of life will find its proper place. As hope arises, it comes with new possibilities. The Fruit of God’s Spirit requires a broken and fertile heart. Faith is the opportunity to invest in God’s Faithfulness. Hope is for a life filled with abundance that is incomprehensible now. God’s Love for you is secure. There is nothing you will do today, tomorrow or the next that can separate you from His Love for you. Let that soak in for a minute. He desires you above all things so much so that He pursues you day after day. He meets you in the morning with gifts too wonderful for some to accept in their state of devastation and disappointment at the thought we cannot please Him. You can. Put your faith in the Lord. Call Him your portion. Make Him your lot. A lot is short for allotted share or portion. The blessings and promises that God has made you are real. They belong to you and no one else. God is not in the business of re-gifting. Once He orders or ordains something for you or in you it remains forever until you accept it. The Word of God cannot return to Him void and must do exactly as He promised because HE IS FAITHFUL. Lord, be my portion today. Help me to see the areas of my life that I have not properly portioned to You so that I may give it all to You today. In Jesus Name!

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

Plot Twist

Plot Twist

Matthew 1:20-23 (ESV) But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Talk about a plot twist. Joseph surely didn’t see it coming. I imagine that Joseph and Mary were the couple everyone knew would one day be betrothed and then married. Good Jewish kids from faithful families, there would be a celebration when they finally were joined to be one. A house full of love, laughter and many children. It was all predicted and carefully planned between their families. God came and messed it all up. Like a made for television movie by Hallmark, who would have thought that Mary would be found pregnant before the union. Who would have ever believed that God would design such an introduction and arrival for His Only Son? God is the master of plot twists, my friend. Life with Him will never be found to boring or mundane. It is thrill ride for those who grab hold of hope refusing to let go. It will take you to the depths and raise you up to the highest hill. Never a dull moment, but always worth it.

One might only imagine the turmoil in Joseph’s heart that night, he wanted desperately to believe the story of his one true love. How can she even whisper that God did this? The Holy Spirit producing a child. Is it even possible? The Word of God predicted it. Yet, how could he believe such an audacious claim? He gave this young lady his heart, and now considered taking whatever part of it he could reclaim prayed to the Lord for help. I do not think Joseph was asking God in that moment if Mary was being truthful but how to get out of this mess alive. He loved her. He had given his heart, life and future to her. But now, he felt embarrassed, betrayed, hurt and confused. The Lord came to his sweet son that night. He told him the truth, his beloved had been true to him. She was carrying the Jesus the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. The baby was Immanuel. He would be God with us. All Joseph had to do was believe.

In the plot twists of life, it is human nature to reevaluate what one believes. When God doesn’t do things as expected, doubt rises up and disbelief tries to erode our trust. “But as he considered these things…” What’s on your mind today? What is the plot twist currently unfolding before you? Take it to the Lord. I say that without hesitation or moving one more step in the Word today. He did not leave us alone or forsaken. Christ lives in us. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

As our worship team sang “Spirit Break Out” in the morning service, I heard the voices of those around me which is unusual. Worship is my escape. Praise is the platform that rises my head above my circumstances to see God is in control. Yet, as they sang, I wondered if they really comprehended the words of the song. “Spirit break out. Break our walls down. Spirit break out. Heaven come down.” To look to the roof, sky or beyond the clouds for His Spirit is not looking for Him at all. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He is with us always. From the moment, one invites Jesus to be their Savior and become the Lord of their life – His Spirit unites with us like a marriage. He is with us always. He guarantees every promise God has made us. When God sees the Spirit – He knows that I am His Child. The Holy Spirit is not coming down from Heaven to be with us and then recede back to the sky. He lives in us and is always trying to find a way out of us. God’s Goodness and His Glory wants to permeate our life from the inside out. The walls that need to come down are of our own making. Heaven joins with earth when our spirit connects with the heavenly realm. It doesn’t happen all around us if nothing is going on inside of us.

Isaiah 7:10-14 (ESV) Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel is introduced in the Book of Isaiah. The Lord offers King Ahaz an amazing offer. “Ask a sign of the Lord your God” not just any sign, but God goes one step further…”let it be as deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” The response of Ahaz may sound shocking to read, but it is very common. “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Drop the mic. The Lord invited Ahaz to ask anything of Him. The All-Powerful, All-Mighty, and All-Knowing God gave this man the opportunity to test Him. He declined the offer. Who would do such a stupid thing? Before you begin to judge Ahaz too harshly, consider the fact that God lives in us. Jesus Christ offers to yoke with us and help us through this life including providing everything we need, carrying every burden and doing more than one might think, ask or imagine, yet we still try to do it ourselves. Until that moment, the plot twist comes and everything seems to be falling apart.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (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.

Ahaz refused to trust the Lord. The sum total of his response was an absolute refusal to allow God to be God, have His Way or do His Will. God was shaking things up and the king’s comfort zone was being unsettled. But rather than trust the Lord, Ahaz was going to try to work out the details in his own power as king. Doubt and fear were his counsel. Lack of faith evident in his words. His heart feeble and shaking at the thought of such a plot twist. No thanks, God. I have everything under control. How many times do we say it? We pray one way with words and do something entirely different.

God’s character is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. The plan that the Lord designed for your life is for your absolute good with a future and hope. The only requirement is faith. Not words, but trust that responds to His Voice and His Word. His Spirit is your guarantee that everything God promised will be yours if you decide to believe. The Spirit of God is in you today. The only limitation on your life is the one placed there when you choose not to believe. God is okay with us testing Him and trying out His Word. He answers our questions. He calms our fears. Immanuel is God with us. Jesus deposited His Spirit in us. It is still full of every bit of power and resurrection life that it contained the moment He released it. If God’s Power is limited in my life, it is me.

Romans 8:5-11 (ESV)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

To further divulge the imagery in my thoughts during worship that day, I saw the Holy Spirit standing with a person looking at a giant wall. They walked around the wall. They shouted at the wall. Together doing everything one might have heard to do in church or a song. Now the man is scratching his head looking up at the wall with one hand on his hip, when the Spirit whispers in his ear with a huge sledgehammer in the other hand. It is clear to me that the Spirit is offering to take the wall out. The man shakes his head putting one hand up as if to say, “Wait a minute, I am thinking this through…” How many times is the Lord ready to take down walls, boundaries and barriers between us and His Blessing that we respectfully decline until we figure it out? What is the chance that God has been pushing on walls that we are holding up?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God has given us His Word. Jesus came as the Word of God wrapped in flesh. He died and released His Spirit to live in us. To give us His Power and Authority on the earth and mark us as residents of Heaven. It is finished. The deal is sealed. Faith is the assurance of the hope we are given. It is evidence of the unseen. Ahaz could not see God’s Plan so he chose his own instead. Gideon did not see the man in the mirror who the Lord did so he asked for a fleece. (Judges 6:37) Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) Impossibilities in our life is the opportunity to expand our faith and trust in the Lord. As a spirit-filled believer any impossibility in our life is the chance to let the Spirit out. We cannot please God without faith so what if the plot twists in our life are really God given us another chance by His Grace to grow in faith and confident hope rather the enemy’s device to take us out. Impossibilities are only impossible for those without the Living God. The moment He came to live in us nothing is impossible anymore…if you believe.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (ESV) By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Set your heart and mind on the Spirit life. Plot twists will happen in every great love story even the one that is written for us in Christ. Without change, it is human nature to become comfortable and complacent right where we are. God has offered us a limitless life with endless possibilities. It is accessible to those who by faith and trust choose to believe Him at His Word and follow live as one with His Spirit. Immanuel. God with us. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross allows the same Spirit in Him that overcame death and the grave to give us overwhelming victory in life. Enoch was a man of faith. He walked so close to God that he just was gone one day. I want that kind of relationship with the Lord where I disappear in His Presence. Enoch pleased God. Enoch put all his faith and trust in the Lord. In order for my faith to be valid, it must grow into trust and confidence. God uses every plot twist in our life as an opportunity. Impossibility is just another reason to test Him at His Word and follow the Guidance of the Holy Spirit. God is in us. God is with us. We cannot fail. God doesn’t fail or fall short. Neither will I if I put my faith and trust in Him today and every day especially those days with a plot twist or two.

I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV) God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Steadfast Love

Steadfast Love

Psalm 118:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Some things remain the same like this morning. My children still like to sleep. The puppy is happy to see me. My breakfast bar still has 12 grams of protein and the banana grew on a tree. My husband is still precious. I love the quiet of morning and Jesus was waiting when I walked in my study. The constancy of my life is Jesus Christ. His Love endures through everything in my life that is not the same today. There is always uncertainty in our future and some days it is just a little more of a reality than others. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His Solid Foundation but it is a challenge to live there every single day especially those that don’t line up with His Word or His Way. That’s why I must know what I believe…it’s simple. The Lord is good. His Steadfast Love endures forever.

I am thankful today that my faithfulness is not a factor when it comes to God’s Constancy in my life. The fact that His Love for me is unshakeable and immovable gives credibility to the foundation of my life called faith. It means that when all hell breaks loose, chaos starts churning and people go on with life that His Love waits on me. It is there for me to hold on to. It is an open and waiting place for those who choose its shelter. It is the thing that holds me together when it feels as though I am falling apart. Grace allows me access even on those days when my belief is shaken, hope elusive, and faithfulness compromised. His Mercy met me that morning to escort me right back to the foundation held in place by the invisible anchor that keeps me safe and secure in the midst of fear and insecurity. It is always there because God is constant.

Psalm 118:5-9 (ESV) Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Distress, distractions, detours, and even delays press and squeeze our confidence in the Lord sometimes. Lack of knowledge, understanding and wisdom threaten what we know to be true about the Lord because our mind has not firmly taken hold of that providential piece of His Character that constantly and overwhelmingly loves us no matter what. No matter what the deterrent may be the Lord is faithful in His Love as He rushes in to rescue those who cry out to Him. It doesn’t matter if my fear is valid or not because God is fearless. There is nothing that can ever overpower God’s Love for me. Nothing I can do. People can do. The enemy can do. His Love for me is constant and unchallenged by life and its many seasons. My love for Him must grow in its capacity to widen the foundation of faith my feet remain firmly planted in to the point that it doesn’t matter what happens around me, in me or at the hands of another – His Love must be the reality of my life. It is my certainty.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 

The very premise of the hope that I hold on to is God’s Love for me. The fact that nothing can or will ever separate me from His Love. This is essential to living a life in love with Jesus. My love for Him is challenged and compromised by the things I see, want or desire every day. But His Love for me remains. It is everything written in I Corinthians 13. He is not a man. God does not lie or change His Mind concerning me even when I fall, fail or forget. His Love is endless. It is boundless. I can wander through this life forever and never find the edge of it. I can swim as deep as breath allows and never ever find the bottom of it. His Love for me is patient. His Love for me is kind. His Envy doesn’t want anything from me just my very human and broken heart. His Love doesn’t boast of being better only desires my best. God is not arrogant and aloof. He is not rude but always responds with loving kindness even when I knew better and did it anyway. He offers me His Way but doesn’t insist on me taking it yet still remains faithful in all things. He doesn’t get irritable when I am stubborn. The Lord never is resentful because His Grace won’t allow it. God never says, “I told you so…” but rather responds with “what are you doing here?” He keeps looking for us when we turn a blind eye to Him. His Father’s Love uncompromised by wandering and rebellion. He rejoices over me singing. My Creator sees His Masterpiece Creation inside this messed up mama. God’s Love bears all things and believe me I have put a lot on that love. His Love believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. His Love puts His Hope in me over and over again even though I am so unworthy. His Love endures my inability to get it right and always showers me in more grace, mercy and love. God is love. His Character will not permit Him to operate outside of it because it is who He is. His Love never ever ends.

Psalm 118:21-28 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us.

What if for just one day rather than trying to act saved or serve God humanly – His People decided just to respond to His Love. Salvation is the Love of God for us that does not lead to condemnation but sweeps us from this life into a realm called hope. It is a new place. It can be a scary transition as what we rely on and build our whole life upon is not seen. The hope that I have in the Lord is that His Love for me never ends. It is not what I can do for Him or how much I can change my life, habits or behaviors but just how fully and completely I am willing to accept His Love as the premise and purpose of my life. Let’s not lose sight today of the fact that religion died on the Cross with Jesus, tearing the veil and offering all mankind the opportunity to live in a relationship with the Living God. To love and be loved by our Creator. The one who designed our heart and knows every strength and weakness hidden inside of it. Can you just thank God for His Love and mean it? You were not saved just by asking Jesus to be Your Savior and Lord! I know what they told you. You didn’t have to join a church or serve every Sunday. We are called to be the church with consummation in our love for Christ to become one with His Body. You can miss a prayer meeting and still be saved. You can sin and still experience the Love of God, otherwise how can His Grace be sufficient? It is love for Jesus that gives us a desire not to sin. Otherwise, it is a habit change not a heart change. All things are permissible just not beneficial. At the end of the day as I recount my successes, failures and yet-to-be-determined – it is with the thought in mind – His Faithful Love endures forever. There is no end to God’s Love for me. He is constant in every season. He is constant in the change and chaos churning all about. He is always in love with me. His Desire is for me. His Heart is for me. God is for me. If only I can respond to His Love today, what are the possibilities? Not because I am right or did a single thing right, but simply because His Love endures forever. Amen.

Psalm 118:28-29 (ESV) You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

The D-Word

Dare To Be Disciplined

 

Philippians 3:12-16 (AMP) Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.

It’s funny as I type this today, that spellcheck on my computer doesn’t care for the word “Christlike”. It has the red squiggly line under it that means it doesn’t recognize it or suggesting that I select an acceptable alternative for it. Isn’t that life most days? Autocorrect and spellcheck are used for grammatical and typographical errors but omit certain legitimate words according to the usual vocabulary. It is even modified as not to offend others. Sigh. Yes, I have inserted a sigh. I am not a runner. I am not built for endurance. Patience are a challenge for me most days. I am cool under pressure… most of the time. But as time goes by, things don’t change, my plans don’t line up, and fatigue sets in – the thought “there has to be more to life than this” brings me to a choice. The valley of decision. It is a low place with many dark corners. It is filled with echoing voices and shadows of doubt and fear that tell me just quit. Stop. Give up. Quit. What’s the point? Life cannot ever be normal again. There will always be problems. Constant pressure. What are you going to do? My head is filled with circling thoughts of why I should give to all these suggestions made valid by my feelings and emotions. But then I hear it…that still small voice inside of me…probably a lot like the one Elijah heard on the mountain after the earthquake, fire, and storm…”What are you doing here?” The Lord spoke these words to the prophet. So many victories in his corner, so many miracles already in his midst, yet still the voice of doubt and fear drove him into hiding. The voice I hear today is just a bit different. The Lord says, “Press on.”

2 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. Timothy, please come as soon as you can.  Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia.

Before you pick up the bat of comparison and begin beating yourself soundly in the head for feeling this way today, let’s look at the Super Christian Paul. Paul fought the good fight. He finished the race. He remained faithful. He knew in his heart that his days were numbered and soon he would claim the prize. The crown of righteousness which the Lord would hand to him. He was ready. Paul was also human. Immediately following this confident statement comes the cry of man struggling and feeling isolated. “Timothy, please come as soon as you can.” Everyone had gone on their way. The only one left with Paul was Luke. He was calling for backup. Paul needed some support. It is only natural in this life of following Christ to have days when the pressure is overwhelming, doubt may kick in, discouragement gets the best of us, our emotions out of whack, and even when throwing in the towel seems like a viable option. It doesn’t mean that you do not love God or desire Him with all of your heart. It means, dear friend and follower of Christ, that you are human.

Matthew 26:36-40 (NLT) Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 

Jesus understands how pressure feels. He knows what it means to want to give up. He also decided to press on. The Last Supper over and the betrayal of his follower, Judas revealed. Our Savior and Lord is well on His Way to the Cross. The hour had come. The end was near. He needed to talk to His Father one more time before this final journey to the Cross. He already knows the one who claims to love him most and the person who professed dying for him would soon deny ever knowing Him. Yet, Jesus asks him to come and keep watch while He prays. Well, Peter, James and John were exhausted from their journey. Still mulling over His Words, they fall asleep. Even after Jesus said to them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” – still they could not keep their eyes open. In those final moments, Jesus petitions His Father in Heaven, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I cannot imagine how the words of the Son must have ravaged the Father’s Heart.

I believe that when in the midst of a trial or plagued by problems that when we pray – the Father’s Heart breaks for us. The Word of God admits that He is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) What a promise? Especially for those who feel abused, violated, betrayed or isolated. The Lord is with you. He is close to you. He is ready to rescue you. You must press on. You cannot give up. It is now when the breakthrough comes because God can easily access the brokenhearted.

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.

Our body works against us. Our thoughts rally to stop this foolishness. Our emotions and feelings press us to give up. Why all the pressure? Why am I so perplexed? Why isn’t following Jesus easy? All the workings of our flesh are enticed by temptation working against us from the inside out. The enemy is aiding it in every way possible. Why? “There is a light shining in the darkness for you today. It invites you to live in the Presence of God. To experience His Glory in your life. To radiate the Favor of God. To become a beacon of hope to those who are lost and dying. To have this great treasure means pressing in rather than giving in to the pressures of life. Sin is not the problem for those who have fully experienced God’s Love, Grace and Mercy responding by faith that says, “Jesus, I want you.” It doesn’t mean my life will look radically different the morning after I ask Him into my heart. It is the starting point of the race to the finish line marked faith. It is going to be a long, tedious journey. My flesh and feelings are going to try to trip me up. The enemy will be shooting fiery darts at me all along the way. Those who cheer me on in the beginning may not make it to the end. But there is a prize worth having and I intend to take it.

2 Corinthians 9:22-27 (NLT) When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

It is a privilege to participate in this race of faith. It is a divine opportunity provided to me by Jesus Christ. I would also like to run the Disney Princess Marathon races. If you must know, I would be thankful just to survive a 5K or 3.1 mile race. I must admit that I am not a runner. I am not sure that I could make it one mile running and not dying. In fact, I will tell you the same thing I tell other people – if you see me running you should too, because something is probably chasing me. Now how in the world can a 51-year-old mom who is out of shape make it to a Disney Princess marathon? I guess first I would have to make up my mind that I wanted to do it and set a goal with certain steps to achieve before the next race. Given the popularity of these events, I should probably go ahead and sign up now. It might be a good idea to invest in some good running shoes. The next is probably the hardest part of all – I would then have to discipline myself to train for the marathon. Ugh! The D-word wreaks havoc in us. It is the boundary and barrier for most people when it comes to achieving even the smallest goal or aspiration. What overcomes the thought of discipline – devotion. What is devotion? It is profound dedication and consecration. An earnest attachment to a person or cause. Devotion is the attachment or assignment to any purpose. In the Biblical sense, devotion is an act of worship including worship for a special use.

Are you dedicated to Jesus Christ? Fully devoted heart and soul to knowing Him fully and having His Way in your life? Me, too. Discipline is the choice to take what we know about the Lord and His Word and apply it to our life. Not just in word, but in every attitude and action much like an athlete eyeing a prize. It is not an endeavor casually undertaken but a full-on effort to make every part of our life conform to that of overwhelming victory. After all, Christ is our Champion according to Hebrews. To those who disciplined, dedicated and fully devoted probably the worst word they will ever hear is disqualified. “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

I do not believe that discipline is the same as punishment. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that through Him that I would be saved. Thank you, Jesus! However, it is human nature to view discipline as punishment. When I go to the gym after missing days, weeks, months or the past year – my muscles scream for relief as I press through the pain and work through the notion that quitting would be so much easier. No one is punishing me. I want more. I desire to be healthy. I pay for the membership to undergo such “torture”. Devoted to Christ, the pressure inside of us is His Way of making us into the masterpiece that He purposed and designed us to be. It is the molding and shaping of character so that endurance will keep us until His Glory is released in our life. I must press past every pain, insecurity, fear and emotion if I am dedicated to this cause called Christ. Anything worth having requires a higher price, I must decide today if I will pay that price. If I will endure tough times, difficult seasons and painstaking processes to let Christ have His Way in my life which will lead to a rich and satisfying life just as He promised. I must press on to have that which the Lord is calling me to. I must not give up or give in but allow the Lord to strengthen my tired hands to life them in worship and my weak knees to seek Him in prayer. The only thing that must not happen is I cannot and will not quit, give up or give in. I am His Prized Possession. No discipline is enjoyable. Can I get an “amen”? It is worth the peaceful harvest that is coming for those who decide to be devoted to right living and following His Way.

Isaiah 38:16-20 (NLT) Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins. For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Living – having life, being alive and not dead.

Sacrifice – to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable.

To consider being a living sacrifice seems to me to be a contradictory term. How can a total sacrifice be alive? If sacrifice is to surrender something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable, how can I give up my life and still be breathing? Just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe that is why it’s easy to breeze over the first two verse of Romans 12:1 and 2. Reading these two powerful verses today, I realize that sacrifice is no longer a death sentence thanks to Jesus Christ. It is no longer a requirement. It have become an optional choice. Though the components of sacrifice have changed the function remains the same. An offering is not enough to have fulfillment of duties. As a true believer, it is our privilege to be a living sacrifice. To dedicate ALL of myself to the Lord and be set apart from sin (notice I did not say the world). Sacrifice should be a rational, logical and intellectual response to salvation and the acceptance of His Amazing Grace. Offering is more comfortable. It is the portion of what one might be willing to give rather than what is required.

Offering is to present something as an act of worship or devotion to God. It is limited in its power and potential according to its worth. It is a thoughtful gift rather than ultimate surrender of our all. An offering makes sense in comparison to rational, logical, and intellectual thinking when our life is compared to the world. Limitation and/or lack will cause one to consider the amount of each gift in comparison to the longevity of life rather than its significance beyond breathing. Today is Memorial Day. It is often confused with Veteran’s Day. This is the day set aside to honor those who offered their life as a sacrifice for freedom and it was accepted. The ones who did not make it home but died for their cause. There is a sacrifice for freedom. Just because you do not agree with it or support Armed Forces, doesn’t mean that innocent men and women didn’t die to maintain your freedom and right to disagree with their mission. Sound familiar?

Galatians 5:1 (AMP) It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross and His Sacrifice for your life is non-negotiable. His Cause called freedom from sin, death and the grave remains intact regardless of whether a single person chooses to accept Him as Savior and Lord or not. His Identity remains the same. Jesus Christ died to set us free from sin and give us the opportunity to reside in the Presence of God forever. He opened a door that no one can shut. There is not a power in hell or on this planet that can hinder or stop the move of God from person to person or heart to heart. Killing every Christian will not stop the fact that God is God, Jesus is His Son, and His Spirit sets people free. It is only the fulfillment of the Gift given to us by Christ. Jesus broke the yoke of slavery. It was removed from you and He offers you to become yoked to Him. To experience a peace and rest in this lifetime that few will ever discover. The word “yoke” means to join, couple, link or unite. Jesus wants to live in relationship and partnership with you to maintain your freedom even if you do not desire Him. I have a friend who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He maintains that there are other ways to the Father. He will many times attempt to lure me into a friendly debate. I have many other friends who might entertain his invitation which would result in a heated conversation or possibly lead to an argument. I choose to state the truth that I believe, but refuse to debate, argue or try to prove the validity of Jesus to anyone. I know what you are thinking…isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Convince other people to follow Christ. To believe and be saved. To save them… No friend, it is not my job to save anyone. Jesus did that on the Cross sufficiently and completely. It is my opportunity and privilege to be a living sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (AMP)  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

The word “emancipation” in Latin means “setting free”. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit which immediately created access for people to step directly in the Presence of God and the same to live in them. The Spirit couldn’t contain its character for a second and immediately began releasing resurrection power across the city. Literally, dead people came back to life and walked out of graves. Again, this happened whether anyone believes it or not. Our thoughts or willingness to believe something doesn’t give it validity or authenticity. The reality of something is in its substance. Hang on to that thought, we care coming back to it. The Lord is progressively changing and transforming those who love and accept Him. The ones who do not are constantly being pursued by His Unfailing Love and Goodness just the same. Liars, adulterers, haters, thieves, murderers, psychopaths, pedophiles, even the most heinous person considered in society today is the subject of God’s Great Love and Desire. He offers them freedom no matter how horrible the sin or depraved the nature because once the Spirit of God was released from Jesus Christ – He had His Assignment. He knew what to do. The Spirit of the Lord offers freedom to everyone just the same and continues to do so day after day and time and time again. He will do so until Jesus comes back.

Romans 6:6-9 (AMP) We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live [together] with Him, because we know [the self-evident truth] that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

There are many churches and even more doctrines that tell us what to do, how to live, and what God requires of us. Many times it forms the thoughts and ideas regarding offering and sacrifice among believers. I do not believe that someone who chooses to live their life as an offering to God has less of a chance entering Heaven. My dad and son both served overseas in the United States Armed Forces. I am a proud daughter and mom. I am a thankful one, too. Their lives were not required of them to maintain our freedom. Thank you, Lord. My dad lived in the days of the draft. He was not drafted but allowed to choose whether or not he would serve. Our son knew in high school that he was called to serve his country. It is the same for many believers. We choose our level of service to the Lord. Some will only offer the Lord a portion of their life and He will most gladly take it and do amazing things in that small space. There are others who will chose to be a living sacrifice. Now had my father or boy given their life for this country, today we would honor their sacrifice. As usual God has offered a better way, thanks to Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price, I have the opportunity to live my life AND give my all to Him as a “living sacrifice”.

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”

I have openly shared that lately I have struggled with a bit of discouragement. I still love Jesus with all of my heart, mind, body and soul. Never a doubt that God is good or that He is faithful. His Love for me is truly overwhelming. Yet, still my humanness gives way to emotions and feelings sometimes just because life is hard. It rains. People get sick. Bad things happen to good people. Senseless and random acts of depravity are in the news every single day. Sin is definitely rampant. Love has gone from lukewarm to frigid cold. This does not change the fact that God, by His Spirit, still is transforming me and progressively changing me. There is no such thing as perfect people. Even by allowing the Lord to take over every area of our life, there will still be hard times and tough battles. God is renewing our mind today with truth.

Freedom belongs to us. We don’t have to offer a portion of our life for it or even sacrifice all of our life for it. Jesus gave it to us. We have the ability to choose the part or portion of freedom that we desire according to how much of our life that we will give up to have it. It is not an even exchange. It is a bonus. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will be presented to us daily with new mercy. Our mind thinks of sacrifice as death. Jesus already satisfied death and the grave. Payment for every sin paid by His Bright Red Blood flowing down the Cross. By accepting this gift labeled freedom in Christ, I am saying, “Yes” to becoming a living sacrifice which defies the logic of mankind. I am surrendering this life and all its problems for completion in Christ. To prove that God’s Will is best. That His Plan and Purpose is good, acceptable and perfect. I do this by experiencing it. Living in His Presence and capitalizing on every single promise that He has made me. Living this life fully in Christ and bearing every single fruit that comes from it. His Spirit will prosper my life as my soul prospers. It begins by sacrificing this life as an offering to God. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. I believe it…do you?

John 8:36 (AMP) So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Today if you are a resident of the United States of America, you have the Armed Forces to thank for preserving your freedom. Now, if you do not believe in the military or war, that is your right and privilege thanks to these brave men and women. You are free to live in this country thanks to the bloodshed of these people and great loss to their families whether you believe it or not – you have accepted it. The only way to truly show that you do not honor their sacrifice is move out of this country and live somewhere else. Jesus Christ died for your sins. All of them. Every single one. You cannot change it or lessen the impact in terms of the earthly and heavenly realm. You simply choose whether or not you will give up this mediocre live to take full advantage of the prosperity born of the freedom Christ has offered us. In other words, when you give up this life, you are merely accepting a Kingdom life. It belongs to you. God created you with a plan. It is a good one with a future and a hope. He gave you grace which is enough to have it all. The Lord even promised to do more than you can even think to ask for. He offers us inexpressible joy. He even accepts the sacrifice of our old life offering us a brand new rich and satisfying life. God is good! Jesus loves you. He sacrificed His Life for you and doesn’t even require a single bit of it back. He offers you freedom to “sacrifice” this life in order to have all that He promised. To be a “living sacrifice” further proves the undeniable love and grace of our Amazing God! It is the only way to honor the Lord – giving up lack for prosperity, giving up defeat for victory, giving up sickness for healing, giving up discouragement for joy, giving up fear for perfect peace. What an exchange! What a Savior!

Hebrews 10:19-23 (AMP)  Therefore, believers, since we have confidence and full freedom to enter the Holy Place [the place where God dwells] by [means of] the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way which He initiated and opened for us through the veil [as in the Holy of Holies], that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great and wonderful Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, let us approach [God] with a true and sincere heart in unqualified assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]… 

 

Greatest Temptation of All

Greatest Temptation of All

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

What is temptation? According to the dictionary, it means anything that entices or allures one to do something regarded as unwise, wrong or immoral. The Latin origin, temptare, means to test. Everyone is tempted in life according to wisdom, knowledge, morals and ethics. Each year around tax time many are tested when it comes to proper income reporting to the government. In church, there is the temptation to withhold the tithe from the Lord. In life, there are corners to cut, gray areas to live in, and little white lies to tell. There is no one who can honestly say that they are not tested on a daily basis with opportunities to live beneath their own values and beliefs.

What about you? What tempts you in the natural each day? Is it to give less than your obligation to your employer? Is it to tear down the person who tweaks your insecurities? Is it to give more time to work than God or your family? Do you struggle with addiction? What is it that tempts you the most on any given day? For some it is obvious and others may not really think too much about it, but the truth is that every person is tempted every day. Temptation comes in our choices. The Son has set us free. As Children of God, we are free indeed. Will I choose God’s Best or settle for the rest? Will I press on or punk out? Am I determined to prosper and succeed according to God’s Promises or is just enough fine with me? Do I love comfort more than confidence? All of these questions are valid in determining our goals and setting our standard for life. The enemy of our soul wants nothing more than for us to settle for something less than what God has for us. To limit the victory of the Cross in our own life by allowing disbelief and doubt to dissuade us from faith and destiny clearly given to us when Jesus said, “It is finished” and released His Spirit to live in us. I have Resurrection Life and Power hidden inside my broken and fragile heart waiting to burst out of me – heal and restore me and wrap its arms around a dark and dying world to revive it as well. What temptation is breaking the back of believers? We are all challenged but one overriding temptation each day – it is the temptation to give up.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Truth be told, most of focus on the celebration of victory filled with emotional adrenaline rather than what it takes to live in it. Victory is not by chance. Champions do not win one game. It is easy to become caught up in the “huge crowd of witnesses” what they think, what they say and what they do. It is only natural to continually try to “strip off the weight that slows us down especially sin that so easily trips us up.” Often our relationship is forsaken for religion in the need to “do” all the right things but never becomes righteous in Christ alone. We look to Jesus. He is our Champion. Then things get a little difficult to understand, initiates and perfects faith. We cannot see faith or even touch it. It is our daily struggle to believe whether willing to admit it or not. Our life would be nothing but love, joy and peace if Christ completely took it over.

Endurance is the critical key to salvation. Don’t take my word for it. Jesus said it – the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13) Sin will be rampant. Love will grow cold. Life is unfair. Those who endure in their faith beyond what they see, feel and touch will be saved. Now where in that is the happy, happy, joy, joy feeling that makes the hair stand up on our neck and goosebumps cover our body? Where is the adrenaline rush in that? While waiting for our son to go into full remission, I thought about what my reaction would be to the news. Would I run, jump, dance or dissolve in a ball of raw emotion? I often fantasized during our fight for insurance coverage what it might be like when they called and said that he was finally approved. It wasn’t at all like I thought it might be. There was no finish line tape to run through, or freshly painted line on the road to cross. We did not dissolve in a cheering crowd or met with a ticket tape parade. To me it felt like I crawled across the finish line of faith and collapsed on the other side – empty and broken.

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Jesus was clear. His Purpose when He came and died for us was to give us a rich and satisfying life. How are you doing with that so far? Is your life rich? Is it fulfilling? Are you content? Are you satisfied? Me either. The only way that the enemy can steal your blessing that God preordained and Christ precipitates in us and through us is to convince us to quit. If he can entice us to give up before the finish line, he can stop our victory. Otherwise, he is powerless in our life. The one thing that keeps Christians going is faith in God. Complete confidence in the fact that God is not only able but willing to do exactly what He said. To be completely convinced that when Jesus said, “It is finished!” that it was done. New life begun. New creation in process. It is not a lack of promise in our life, purpose or potential but a lack of faith in God that keeps lacking.

When tempted to quit, it should be a red flag in our heart and mind that something is coming. God is doing something more than we even could think of or ask for. The unimaginable is on the horizon of hope and the enemy is working overtime to stop you from enduring long enough to obtain it. Do you want to quit? Are you thinking about giving up? Dig in? Press on? Your promise is closer than you think.

What is endurance? I looked it up, of course, I am a word junkie. To endure means to hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding, undergo, to bear without resistance or with patience. To continue to tolerate. To bear. We must learn to endure. It is the secret to overcoming the temptation to quit or give up. Endurance is waiting on God until the very end. It means never letting go or letting up until fulfillment comes. To hold on to hope and all of God’s Promises until He does exactly what He said that He will do. To stay in the field until the harvest comes. To believe when it is impossible because that is when faith makes all things possible. God is faithful. He is always true to His Word. His Word will never return to Him void. It will always bear the fruit it promised. The purpose of endurance is maturity. Full development in our faith that gives us the rich and satisfying life promised to us by God.

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

God isn’t looking for perfect people. He does not expect you to live a sinless life. One sin is enough sin to put Jesus on the Cross for you. His Grace is enough. God’s Grace is the only thing that can make you righteous so give up on religion and fully embrace your relationship to the person of Jesus Christ. Endurance offers us the opportunity to bring God’s Kingdom to the earth. To live from glory to glory like He promised. It is not anything in my natural ability other than my unwillingness to give up on God or stop following Christ but simply to endure. Endurance leads to salvation. Simply saying, “Where you go, I go Jesus”. Endurance never stops following Jesus. It is in the place of His Presence that our life is made complete. Nothing I can do in my natural ability will produce the fruit that the Holy Spirit is holding as seed for me. I must live through each season, tending the field of my heart, planting seeds of faith and waiting for them to grow without giving up or quitting. Endurance produces an exit door from ordinary to extraordinary, natural to supernatural and mediocre to the miraculous. There is no escape door that will offer the same. We must reach the end. Finish the race. Cross over into His Glorious Goodness by His Amazing Grace.

James 1:17-18 (NLT) 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.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift from God. I do not argue this point at all only the perspective for a moment. What if there is an abundance that we are missing by simply settling for God’s Provision in our life. There are many “good” things in my life that I am thankful for, but what about the “perfect” gifts. What if there is more and I am missing it on those days I choose to tap out, give in to the temptation to whine and complain or worse yet give up altogether. If we were honest, every one of us would admit to days like that. Grace is such a wonderful gift. It is the opportunity granted by God to let Him pick us up, dust us off, and put us right back on track again. The beauty of grace is none is wasted and we will never miss what God has for us if we live in it. You are God’s Prized Possession. You! Yes, YOU! He wants nothing more than to flood your life and person with good and perfect gifts each and every day.

Galatians 6:8-9 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

What if there is more to life than this? What if God really is willing and able to do EXACTLY what His Word says about Him? What if I just have to endure? What if? We all can think about what if in the form of doubt and regret but what if I look ahead instead? What if God’s Blessing in my life is real? What if He really is that good? What if the Lord really does want to bless me? Is life so great now that I am willing to forfeit the potential of prosperity? To settle for the known rather than investing my life in the glorious standard of living that only faith and trust in God offers. I can satisfy my sinful nature and preserve my pride. I am free in Jesus Christ to live the life of my own choosing. However, if I want the rich and satisfying life that Jesus has promised – I must endure. I cannot and will not give up. I want the harvest of blessing from each seed of faith planted in my past. I have been sowing in the Lord a long, long time. I know there are harvests coming even though I am tired, weary and struggling to hold tight to the promise. God is Good! He is Faithful! He has never let me down. He does not intend to start now. I know this full well. I must act on my belief investing faith that chooses to endure to the end. I want all that God has for me. Everything Jesus died for me to have. I will trust Him. The greatest temptation in the life of a believer is giving up. The greatest blessing comes for those who endure to the end. Salvation. A Crown marked Life. Not just any life but a rich and satisfied one.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 (NLT) For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Get Out of the Way

Get Out of the Way

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Things get a little crazy around here early in the morning and when I arrive home from work. The fur babies know that it is time to eat. A frenzy ensues as they try to feverishly to be right where the action is. Each morning it is like the running of the bulls as our newest addition bolts through the house to go outside, because she knows as soon as she is finished – she gets to eat. Once back inside the house, she whines, cries, jumps and runs. She is known to stand on top of the food bin so I wait until she sits back down to open it and feed her. Her world circulates around meal time. If the pantry door opens, she takes off to see if a puppy snack might be available. In the evenings, it happens all over again. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried over the 20-pound mass of fur, legs and slobber trying to give her exactly what she wants. I am teaching her to sit and wait. She is only three months old, but she is learning quickly. I wish was as teachable as she is sometimes.

I wonder if I am the one in the way to the new things God is doing in my life. All the promises and plans that He has that I want yet I am running off, jumping around and pitching a fit in the waiting. I guess for dogs and other creatures it is more simplistic because they just want us to meet their basic needs of food and shelter with the occasional pat on the head or toss of the toy. It’s kind of funny right now that our dog is a puppy when she is impatient or even overzealous in her excitement over mealtime. However, as she grows to the 100-pound dog that she is anticipated to be. It won’t be funny anymore. As we grow in the Lord, it should be in the fruit of His Spirit that include love, joy, peace, and then everyone gets tripped up on the fourth fruit called patience. It all slows down as kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and ugh the dreaded self-control are born in us. Who doesn’t want to be loved? Who would reject joy? Who isn’t searching for peace on a daily and ongoing basis? We are human beings created in the Image of God. God promises that He has provided for us the basic needs of our life. He also has a projected plan to prosper those who desire a life according to His Plan. Is that you today? It is definitely me. I want my life to be all that God planned and purposed it to be. I must ask myself the question today, “Am I the one in the way?”

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.

This is the hope available to us in Jesus Christ. The kind of hope that requires faith beyond what we can see that delves into the depths of dependence on God whose thoughts and ways are much higher than our own. Forget all that – oh sometimes I wish I could erase my brain of all the times I have fallen and failed just like God does when I repent. When I say that I am sorry and truly strive to live apart from my bad decisions – the Lord puts it all in a sea of forgetfulness but I don’t always find myself so successful. The accuser comes to remind me of all the reasons why I do not deserve the love, joy and peace promised to me by the Lord. So I give up on the rest of the spiritual fruit that God has seeded in my life. Forget all that…

We are given some precious promises and encouraging words that include the word “forget”. God will never forget His Children. Like a mother cannot forget her newborn, but gives up her life to care for them. How much more does the Lord care for us – His Children? (Isaiah 49:15-16) In those times of silence and waiting for God to move or act as we think He should it is easy to think He has somehow as if even possible forgotten us. Nothing is further from the truth. God hasn’t forgotten a single thing about us. He knows the very number of hairs on our head. He feels the weight of our tears as He collects them. He knows the desires of our heart. He even knows dreams and visions that we have long given up on as dead and gone. God doesn’t miss a thing concerning us His Children. He does not forget. We do.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

We have a fur baby who has been with us a couple of years. Rescued when she was about nine months old, Izzy is a four pound Chihuahua. A force to be reckoned with no doubt. She came with fire in her veins and the perception that she is ferocious. When she first came to us, it was clear that she had food anxiety. When she ate each meal, it was as if she had not eaten in a month or did not know where her next meal might come from. I used a separated bowl that required her to slow down. She almost knocked herself unconscious the first few times she tried to eat from it. She learned through time and patience on our part with lots of love and affirmation that she could depend on us to feed her twice a day. Now, at meal times, she sits patiently and quietly on the rug by her bowl. She knows that I am going to take care of her. She is confident.

We must purpose in our heart and mind to remember God’s Promises for us and never to forget them. God is teaching us to trust Him. To depend on Him, my ability to do so is my willingness to depend on the Lord and trust Him at His Word. It takes time to see the Goodness and Greatness of God in our life because too often my hands and even my mouth get in the way. I want to believe but it takes a long time to deal with the disbelief of an untrusting nature and fickle heart enough to not forget that God loves me and cares for me unconditionally. I must learn to pray and praise rather than grumble and complain all the time. God is able. I am not. I cannot produce the prosperity and increase that lead to an abundance of His Blessings in my life. Just plant seeds of faith and tend to them as the Lord gives them growth and increase.

Finally, I must forget the past. I tell people all the time. God will bring to your future the fruit of the past. We don’t have to wallow in it or go back to find it. Grace says there is nothing to make up or recover. His Grace is enough to unleash His Power no matter how dark the past may be. God is enough. Jesus is enough. He lives in me so I am enough. We must learn to forget the past and press for the future as Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:13.

“See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.”

During a recent Bible study, I was faced with the reality of my age. I do not really think about it too much. Never really have. I can tell the face in the mirror is aging and gravity is having its way with my body, but truly just never really worried about it too much. The writer quantified our days equal to seeds. When I counted the seeds based on the Biblical reference of life expectancy of 70 years, I realized I had less than 7,000 seeds left. This caught my attention. If all I have are 6,906 days left on the earth, there is a lot to be accomplished in that time. Thank you Lord that you have already started on the fruition of my life.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

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.

These three verses should make us all leap and shout for joy. It means no matter where you are today, right now, and in this moment. The potential and purpose for your life designed by God is still intact and going according to plan. His Grace is enough because He knew just how much you needed in advance. Mercy is premeasured because this day is fully scripted. You have everything you need because He already knows exactly what you need. Your best days are to come. You wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t true. The Lord would take you home. Life has purpose. Life has meaning. Life is being made new according to God slowly but surely taking over every area of our life given to Him wholeheartedly. It is not what we do that changes things but rather our ability to put all our trust, hope and belief in the God who is able to carry out His Plans for us.

“The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

Expectancy is critical to the outcomes in our life. Unmet expectation breeds discontentment. Dissatisfaction feeds bitterness and disbelief in our life. Thankfulness will refresh us if God’s People would thank the Lord for His Blessings rather than rallying in disbelief. God is not finished with you yet. He is taking you on a journey to a place in life where love, joy and peace will give way to the rest of His Abundant Fruit that will make your life rich and satisfying. However, there are peaks and valleys. There is rushing and rest. There is a time for everything under the sun. It is filled with good times and bad. But what does God promise us…He will make all things beautiful in His Time. The Valley of Weeping will produce refreshing springs in our soul. (Psalm 84:5-7) The Lord is building your strength. He is clearing your life of those things that will potentially rob you of blessing when it comes. God is preparing you – His Masterpiece. It doesn’t matter what the atmosphere of your life is like – attitude is everything. Our constant and unwavering belief in the Power of God, His Purpose for us and His Promise in us – will allow us to hold fast to the hope given to us in Jesus Christ.

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.

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Not a single moment of my life is by chance. Not a single struggle is a waste of my time. God causes EVERYTHING to work together for my good and His Glory. EVERYTHING. ALL OF IT. The Lord will PERFECT that which concerns me. These promises …precious …precious …promises are for us. They belong to me because Jesus (the Word) has given them to me. I must only accept the reality of them and believe for God’s Best to be the product of my life.

And finally…

Isaiah 43:21 (NLT) I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (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.

Let me tell you about our new puppy, Scout. I knew her puppy parents. We have been friends for a long time. Their children were part of our youth group way back when and I consider their kids to be part my own. When I heard that their dogs were having puppies, I couldn’t wait to see them. They have two purebred labs that are gorgeous. Our puppy’s dad is a massive blond lab. When the puppies were born, I came across a picture of Scout and fell in love with her. However, these were not ordinary puppies but very expensive purebred dogs. I watched her grow and change but knew they were not in our budget. I was on a trip when I got the text. The Lord had laid it on the owner’s heart to bless us with Scout. He knew how much we loved her and wanted her. He also knew that she would have a good home. I was blown away by God. I know what you are thinking it is just a dog. No, it was a desire in my heart. God gave me the desire of my heart. He has done this time and time again. Things many times no one knows about but the Lord – He just does it. Why?

God doesn’t have to do things like that for me anymore. My need, love and desire for Him is far greater than superficial things in a temporary world. I am desperate for the Lord to be in every facet of my life like my body needs breath. I cannot live without Him anymore. He is my everything yet in all of His God-ness – He still blesses me for no good reason at all. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying to you today – I pray that you hear my heart. God loves me. He loves you. We give Him pleasure. He created us for His Pleasure. That’s it. The sum total of my existence gives pleasure to God. All He wants is a relationship with me. To provide for me. Bless me. Prosper me. All I am created to do is give Him Glory. That’s it. Pressure off. I can do nothing outside of my faith to please Him. He calls us His Special Possession and His Treasure. (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, Deuteronomy 14:2, and Deuteronomy 26:18) God doesn’t need us but desires us. He loves us because He chooses to love, provide and care for us. There is nothing I can do to earn it just receive it.

Little Scout will learn in time that her food will get in the bowl quicker if she sits and waits patiently. She will not be so rambunctious once her trust in us is established. Lord, let me learn to be patient and still in You as well. The Lord promises to show me the way of life. He promises to grant me the joy of His Presence. He offers me the pleasure of living with Him forever. Am I the one standing in the way of that today? Is it my stubbornness? Impatience? Unwillingness? Immaturity? Lord, create in me a new heart today and renew my spirit. God I want to experience your goodness in the land of the living just as you promised. May my life bring honor and glory to Your Great Name!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

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

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

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. 

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

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.

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 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.

It Matters

It Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artificial Light

Artificial Light

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG) “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

Light of the world. What does it even me? To be the Light of the world…like Jesus. There are many lights shining in the world. Just one house has countless fixtures, lamps, and a variety of light all turned on by the flip of a switch. Some put dimmer switches on the wall so that the amount of light can be adjusted according to the mood or occasion. It seems that thanks to Thomas Edison – lighting has come a long way since the first light bulb was patented in 1879. Mr. Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.” I wonder if this was the result of testing more than 3,000 prototypes for the light bulb in a span of two years. I understand his attitude. Many times I feel the same way. I try to get this “God-life” right and end of finding out – I was wrong again. Wrong in a good way always.

God has put the Light of His Amazing Love inside of me. It is the Christ in me. He has ordained me to be the Light of the World. There are so many different kinds of light. How do I decide what kind of light I should be? There are stores specifically for lighting homes and businesses. Yet in the grand scheme of life the lighting in my home is not as important as the Light that shines from my heart. Is the Light in my life real or artificial? How can I tell?

Is the Light illuminated in my life effective? Is it attractive? Or is it like a flashlight shining abrasively in the eyes of the lost? Blinding rather than leading? Insulting rather than soothing? God’s Light is His Love invested in our heart and mind given for the purpose of leading others to Him. Too often our misuse of light can drive people away further. It is important to constantly reflect and refine the Light shining from us to see if it is attracting people to Jesus or not. Oh, don’t be offended. If we all got it right the first time, the Lord would whisk us away the moment we asked Him to come live in our heart. However, the purpose and plan scribed by God as He created us is one with divine potential that will bless us if given time to get it right. To become one with the Lord. To shine His Light to the world.

John 8:12 (MSG) Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

I usually do not use The Message Bible but today its straightforwardness is refreshing. Jesus provides plenty of light to live in. He is our Source of Light. He is an abundant God who gives plenty of resources. However, it is up to us to engage with the Lord and have what He offers. I am the world’s light. There is no greater or more satisfying light in our life than that of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, Truth and Life. Everything I need, want and desire can be found in the Lord. Not only that He promises to be doing more than I can think or imagine. Together – the Light shining from my life will be real. It will be authentic. However, for the Light of His Love to get out of me requires an opening. This is not always the pleasant part but the absolutely necessary one. Religion tries to keep us altogether in our doing. A real relationship with Jesus Christ is our complete undoing until all people can see is God’s Love shining from us. What do people in life truly desire above all things? To be loved.

Psalm 89:15 (NLT) Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.

There are many theories as to what attracts a moth to a flame. There is one called transverse orientation. It theorizes that the artificial light throws off the moth’s internal navigation system that is flying at a constant angle relative to a distant light source. The thought is that this will cause the insect to take a kamikaze dive into the light as a result. I wonder… does the same happen to those looking for the Son of God when we put of artificial light? Absolutely. It is not a theory but truth.

I am filled with the Greatest Light ever known to mankind. It is real. It is true. It leads out of darkness into the Presence of God whose Light surrounds us, fills us and overflows from us as light. The kind of light that attracts the world. But when they get close do they find it is not real light? I love the flickering of candlelight. You can buy plastic tea lights with battery-operated tiny light bulbs that shine for a few hours. They work for many occasions but they do not give off the same light or create the real ambience of real candles with the faint smoke line of a burning wick and the smell of liquid wax. We must examine our heart and evaluate our life to be certain that the light of our life is real, true and authentic. Flowing from the Source of Light and not warmed over, recreated artificial light that is not of God.

Are you happy? Is your life filled with joy? Can you laugh when most people are crying? It matters what’s inside of us? Insecurity, fear, doubt and unforgiveness will smother the light inside of us and snuff out the ember of passion God has sparked in us. It is the beginning of doubt that eats at our faith which is the tinder to the flame that attracts others to the Lord. The faith that is constant on matter what the situation. The part of us that believes no matter what we think or feel that God is good. We must work to remove all pretense and hypocrisy from of our life so His Light shines clearly through us. God is love. Grace is real and always enough. We have all we need to be bright and burning lights for Jesus Christ without doing anything for ourselves. Jesus is the Source of every good thing in my life. His Favor shines on me. His Glory will come out of me…when I choose to be real and authentic.

Psalm 112:4 (NLT) Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

Do you attract people in your natural life? Are people drawn to you? Are you comfortable in the midst of many? The Light that shines in you should be attractive. It will produce traits in us like generosity, compassion and righteousness. Righteousness is not piety. It is humility that allows us to give our life away with complete confidence that God has us. We do not need to look out for number one, because He has us in the center of the palm of His Hand and no one can snatch us from Him. It is with such confidence that compassion will give our heart away and generosity will give what we have knowing the Lord always provides for His Children. It is this confidence in Jesus Christ that others find attractive. One’s ability to maintain a life of constant love, joy and peace no matter what the natural conditions of their life because the Light of God’s Love keeps them secure. If I am not secure in the ability of God to light up my life and make it better, how will I ever attract others to Christ?

Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT) I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

We must learn to live transparently. Open lives in the Presence of God so that He can be the Light that shines from us. Here is a mind-bending reality – God sees us in darkness and in light. He loves us no matter what. The Light of Love in us should shine in every situation. Our position on the hill is placement by God not a form of exultation. In fact, our light shines brightest and is most reflective of the Lord in humility. He chose to love you and put you forth as a shining example not because you are Susie-Super-Christian or Johnny-Jesus-Junkie but because His Love has overtaken you and shines from you. It is a product of His Love, Grace and Faithfulness. What we do doesn’t project it unless covered in His Love? What we say is merely conversation if not backed up by His Love? I am nothing outside of Jesus Christ and His Love that has saved me.

In Isaiah 58, I believe it tells us the difference between artificial light (v. 4-5) and real light (v.6-12). The Love of God demonstrated to people is not a religious act or congregational movement but rather how we live day in and day out. It is to take this wonderful gift of amazing grace and spread it all around. It is to love and love some more. It is to be the first one to forgive and the last one to accept offense. It is to love Jesus more than anything this world has to offer. We are in this world but not of it. We are part of society even though only foreigners. Christianity is not an organization of exclusionary elitist – it is a-who-so-ever-will-let-them-come kind of family. It doesn’t matter who you are, how you look, how many times you have tried, how many times you failed or if you think you have it all together! It is all about the Love of God and His Grace which is always enough to hold the door to His Presence open to us and the welcome sign is lit. It is not up to me to save, heal, deliver, restore, renew or revive another person. It is my divine calling and position to be Light that leads people from darkness to the Love of God.

Proverbs 13:9 (NLT) The life of the godly is full of light and joy…

I know a whole lot of people who don’t go to church anymore. When they got to the House of God, they found the light to be artificial, judgmental, overbearing, unloving, and religious. Rather than finding the Source of Light, they are were driven to darkness where they found acceptance and affirmation rather than rejection and hurt. Why is that church? Where is the Love of God? The real and true love that allows people to approach the altar unbiased and unrestricted by an audience of artificial light who pretend to love but really don’t. The altars of such places are empty and the people come once and leave. It is just another set of rules, regulations and expectations that cannot be met so they go back to the life they know and comfort found there. This is such a tragedy when inside of us lives the Life-Giving, Life-Changing God who desires nothing more than to welcome them, love them, help them and accept them just as they are. As believers, we must inspect the Light of our life. Use the Word of God to make sure it is burning bright. To keep the ember alive means continually basking in His Presence so passion remains. I want to be the Light in this world that Christ has called me to be. It means that I must give up my life and my way to shine brightly according to His Plan. The more of my life surrendered to God’s Love the fuller the light and joy overflowing from my life. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? Everyone one would…even if they are not now. I have the ability to make better choices and give more of my life to the Source. It is up to me to decide the Light I choose to shine.

Thomas Edison also said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I love it. To love like Jesus and shine like Him in this world is going to be a lot of hard work. It means giving ourselves away when we don’t really feel like doing anything at all. It is to yield and yoke our life in total dependency to Jesus Christ and allow Him to illuminate our life. It doesn’t matter if you have tried a thousand times…do it again. This may just be the time you get it right and your light shines brighter than ever before. His Love is attractive. It is soft and loving. It never is blinding but always overwhelming. Maybe if we started leading the way rather than pointing fingers – the Kingdom of God might get somewhere. Maybe… Lord, be the Light of my life today. Move me out of the way until all people see is the Light of Your Amazing Love – Jesus!

Psalm 119:130 (NLT) The teaching of your word gives light so even the simple can understand.