In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

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

Hate is a learned behavior born of insecurity and fear. As believers, the only real and true enemy is satan. Children are born with hearts of acceptance. They do not understand the inherent dangers in life and so God gives them parents to love and protect them. Being of an imperfect nature, it is easy for us to teach our children the morals and ethics of our life molded by our experience rather an encounter with God’s Love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you”. As if that is not enough, we are to pray for those who spitefully or intentionally use us and even those who persecute us becoming a thorn in soft flesh. Why? So we may be Kingdom Kids who live in alignment with their Father and His Kingdom. Tough one. High calling for sure.

How do we love the people who abuse, betray, hurt, and use us? Where do we find the capacity to ward off offenses, ignore bad intentions, and keep the penetrating darts of gossip and slander penetrate a heart softening in the Hand of God? God doesn’t allow us to ignore them. We are to love them. Pray for them. Accept them with forgiveness no matter how many times they continually mistreat us. I know what you are thinking today. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or maybe, it’s God doesn’t want me to be anyone’s doormat. The all-time best is I can forgive them but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me again. Well…

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Evil is not a character trait of human beings. People are born with eternity in every heart. Each given a measure of faith like seeds to sow in life. Everyone. Even the person who is causing you pain and strife. God loves and desires them just as He does you. Evil is cultivated from sin and sinful desires that take over but are like a sickness or disease that can be removed by the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ. Which means every person has potential and God is constantly showering all of us with “fresh rain” in the hope that faith would grow and eternity would break through the hardest of hearts growing into a fruitful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Peter asked the pointed question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I wonder if we ask the Lord the same question. The answer is more than anyone can conceive in the natural. True forgiveness as God forgives us is born of grace. Grace is enough. God’s Grace given to us is the river from which our ability to accept apologies and restore relationships come from. When our expectation is in the Lord, it becomes our profound privilege to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. I didn’t say it was easy only that it is possible. The Kingdom of God is all about relationship. Not only a right relationship with God but all of His People even those still living in sin and darkness.

True love is unconditional. True love waits while others catch on or catch up. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Is this truly the kind of love that is required of Children of God in every situation? Yes…it is. The model of prayer presented by Jesus to His Disciples does not suggest it but requires it in order to be forgiven and fully accepting God’s Grace. God will not give us anything that does not promote generosity in us. Seed reproduces. Good seed produces a harvest of good deeds that give honor and glory to God. Love is the greatest of the Fruit of His Spirit and the first step in achieving our purpose in the Lord and prospering in this life.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

We must sow good seed in our life. Seed produces of the Holy Spirit and not unmet expectation. The Kingdom is comprised of men and women who as daily disciples strive to sow and grow godliness in their life. Any seed not of God is produced from fear, insecurity and doubt that God’s Power is enough and His Authority somehow compromised. It is human nature to experience such emotions. It is the Power of God working in each one of us to remove them.

The enemy will constantly sow weeds in our field. He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that the Lord is producing in our life. He is methodical in his approach. Ruthless in every attack. There is no compassion for his victim. We are God’s People who live in His Love and Compassion for others. His Directive is clear. We are not to uproot the weeds. It is not our job to kill them. We grow right along with them. Why? It is God’s Eternal Hope that one day the rain will touch their heart and the seed of faith and promise of eternity will grow from within in them as it does in you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have recently been studying the differences between followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus. There is a marked difference. Followers are led by their feelings and disciples are led by their future. Public opinion can influence the objective of a follower and offense cause them to be distracted and detoured in life. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, love must be the premise of your life. Not just any kind of love, but the love received from the Father through the Son. Love that sacrifices its feelings for a future hope far greater them temporary circumstances. A fruitful life that continues to cultivate grace when surrounded by weeds. The kind of life that does not walk by sight but faith continually overcoming daily assaults and attacks by the enemy in an effort to kill our faith by producing fear, anxiety, worry and the worst of them insecurity. Love is relational. To love requires interaction. It is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ who tells us to there is no great love than to lay our life down for a friend. To be a friend to all who are around us unaffected by their inability to show love and kindness in return. The only root to be removed is bitterness. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.

I will be honest this is a challenge for me with a handful of people. I am not speaking from a place of innocence but a daily struggle to love others including those who don’t love me. Those who have hurt me. Those who talk about me. I do so with this promise from the Lord – perfect love casts out all fear. God’s Love for me is enough. His Grace is sufficient for me. I must accept His Love and Grace in full measure to extend it to those around me and be His Disciple.

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Advertisements

Fake Plants

Artificial Plants

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

I am a natural born plant killer. When I walk through a garden center or nursery, all the little plants shake in fear that they will be fatefully selected. My thumb is a dark and ominous shade of black. Thank the Lord that I am much better at raising children and pets than the unsuspecting houseplant. About the only safe plant I own would be the one that is planted in our yard where my husband can take care of it. I am not a fan of artificial plants with all the vivid and perfect greenery. I have one little tree in the corner of the house given to me by my mother. It really is beginning to look sad after years of being dusted and vacuumed. Little hands tugging at the fronds. Now a huge puppy who likes to nibble running by. It cannot experience new life and regrowth because it is plastic created in a factory made to look good but produce nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” An illustration of new life, growth, maturity and productivity available by engraftment. The cutting away of our flesh sounds painful and brutal. Engrafting allows us to grow from a new source. In horticulture, it means to insert one tree or plant into another for the purpose of multiplication. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow our life into Jesus Christ. He produces the Kingdom through us. Planting is the pathway of productivity ordained by God. Whatever you plant, you will harvest. You cannot harvest what you do not plant.

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  

The Fruit of the Spirit are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But many times, this is not the natural expectation of new or young believers. They come to Christ desiring the things naturally occurring rather than supernaturally produced. It’s only natural. However, to truly flourish and prosper is to live IN Christ. Give up our way of doing things to live disciplined lives hence He produces self-control in us that allows us to truly repent and turn from our old way of life to fully embrace His Gift of new life.

John 15:1-4 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Walking through the local Ace, looking for my next victim. Just kidding, I was actually trying to find a crepe myrtle tree for the yard so botanist and horticulturists can put their mind at ease. It was hot and humid outside but then a steady midst of cool water made me look up. All around the covered area a PVC irrigation system periodically watered all the potted plants. The plants will survive in this environment until they are rescued and put in the ground. Once in the ground, the fertile soil will begin to give the plant or tree the nutrients it needs to begin to sprout new growth. The roots will anchor it down so wind and rain will not be a threat. It will be watered from the ground to the sky and all around as natural and man cooperate to produce an environment conducive to growth and prosperity. What was once limited to a contained environment will hopefully begin to grow, develop and mature. God is inviting us to enter the prosperity process of growth but it requires being moved out of the limitations of our natural life and planting ourselves in His Presence. I access such a place through His Son, Jesus Christ. He washed us in the Word. The Word made flesh is Jesus. Now we have true growth potential but we must endure the growth process to actually prosper.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Reading some commentary on this passage, I came across a new term. It shook me to my core rattling my roots if you will. Pseudo-believer or false believer. Yikes! How is this even possible? Do I truly believe? Am I growing in Christ or producing a bunch of leaves without fruit? Here is the danger of religion versus relationship exposed as a warning to those who follow Christ. If I do what the Word of God tells me to do, my life will become productive. I will experience increase because I am sowing good seed…God seed. It will do what is sent forth to do in spite of me. God is good. He wants to bless us. Obedience produces blessing and prosperity in our life. Any part of my life partnered with God’s Word will begin to experience a radical change and dramatic shift not because I did anything but when I plant and water with the Word – God gives increase. However, it is possible to walk with Christ but not live in Christ. Prime example – Judas. He was one of the twelve. He heard every word spoken by Jesus, experienced every sign, wonder and miracle with the others and even walked in the Presence of the Living God but did not believe. If I do what the Word says but do not fall in love with Jesus Christ, I can experience a pseudo-relationship called religion. If I fall in love with Jesus Christ and do my best to follow His Teachings and allow His Spirit to produce His Fruit in my life – I am redeemed. I will live in Christ. I will become a true believer worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I will not be separated from Him in the end.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I John 5:2-4 (NKJV) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

The word “yoke” is the device that joins two or more work animals so that they work together. Jesus invites us to take His Yoke upon us and partner with Him in this life. I must give up my way to go His Way. The promise is that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light. This does not mean that life is easy and becoming a new creation is not without its struggles, sorrows and suffering because the death of our flesh and old way of thinking is often painful. But when we love God, live in Christ, and strive to keep His Commandments – His Spirit cultivates growth in our relationship. We do things every day out of responsibility. Some relationships such as that with our co-workers is born of responsibility. There are things we do to maintain that relationship because it is our job, duty or responsibility. However, when we yoke our life to Jesus and decide to live in love with Him first, all other responsibilities become His Responsibilities. He takes the lead. It is His Yoke. His Burden. We can have peace that the process is prosperous without worrying, stressing, or fretting about it. We do not have to fear the outcome but simply wait on it. God gets no glory in our death but His Glory shines in our success.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Are you rooted and grounded in His Love today? Does Christ dwell in your heart? Do you abide in Him today? Fake faith and artificial growth produce nothing but disappointment. It may bring some momentary happiness and temporary blessings but just a fake plant fades with time so will our satisfaction. Sometimes it is easier to take up the responsibilities of religion and do the right thing rather than allowing Jesus to be completely and totally responsible for our life. I cannot become the new creation that He promised and have the rich and satisfying life marked by abundance if I do not surrender my life to Jesus. My heart must bear the Fruit of His Spirit first to live in love with Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Jesus lives in us. We must focus first on cultivating our relationship with the Lord in order to experience the prosperity and success promised as our soul prospers. Without a prospering soul, our flesh will never be satisfied with the productivity of our life. Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Tiny Treasures

Tiny Treasures

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

I have many masterpiece designs made by my little artists over the years. Carefully wrapped in newsprint and bubble wrap, hidden in the guest room, they are precious treasures to me. Preparing for our move last year, I held them in my hand carefully wrapping each one. I labeled each box “fragile” and made sure they were transported in my car. We are fragile clay jars. (Job 33:6) Produced from clay, by the Potter, yet far from finished from completion. (Isaiah 64:8) The work of the potter’s hands begins with a lump of clay thrown unceremoniously on a wheel. Water is added to soften the mound. The potter takes his hands and begins to firmly knead the clay working the water through it and making it pliable in his hands. He presses hard with all his strength to eliminate all the air bubbles inside. It is a rigorous process. But if any of those pockets remain when the final work is placed in the kiln exposed to great heat – it will crack or worse explode. Oh Lord, remind me today that I am only clay. A masterpiece in the potter’s hand who just happens to be my Father.

Ephesians 2:9-10 (NLT) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 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.

There are other little art creations tucked away. The kids and I used to go to the local ceramic store in the summer or when visiting my family. A “pick-and-paint” operation filled with shelves of different items to choose from then with a wide assortment of colorful paint create a bowl, cup or little boxes. Once complete, the shop would put them in the kiln bringing the color to life. I love those little pieces and the memories they hold, yet do not prize them as I do all the little clay pieces. Could it be the time invested? Or maybe because the clay pieces were the individual work of each child rather than one simply painted?

Growth in God may seem like complete destruction. Well, if God’s Plan and Purpose is the true desire of my heart – it will be the complete undoing of my heart. God has a plan and purpose for my life – He promises that it contains a future and hope. It is blessed. It must be broken. I cannot maintain my present form and be the masterpiece that Lord has called me to be. I must become a new creation.  A new person. A seed must die to its present form to become the potential hidden inside. We must die to our present form to become that new creation and let God’s Light shine from us.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) Substance…what is the substance of our life? Our bodies are molded and shaped of clay or so the Bible says. God scooped up some earth and made a human being. Our physical being is terminal. From the day of our arrival – our death is one day closer. This is not a morbid reality just a bit of mortal truth. Our potential is locked inside of us. God put eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He labeled it a “measure of faith”. (Romans 12:3) It comes wrapped in the promise that the Lord will make all things beautiful in its time. Romans 8:28 ensures us that He will use every detail for our good and His Glory. God is working the substance of our life. He is kneading us. Pressing out the impurities, filling us with His Grace, and shaping us into the new creation He promised. He needs only one thing from us. It is not what you may think.

Psalm 37:3-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

The invisible link between faith and hope is trust. We must trust the Lord enough to endure the process of our undoing and remaking in the Potter’s Hands. If our desire is to know Him, serve Him, find Him and live in His Presence – we must do so with the understanding that God does not lie or change His Mind. Though favorable for us, it will not allow us to remain the same while inching closer to Him each day. We must be changed by the grace that saved us into the masterpiece that He calls us. To change in our appearance but not in our substance puts us in danger of becoming like the Pharisees. Doing and saying all the right things, but never becoming the new person changed by faith, trust and confident hope. Instead, we are simply “white-washed tombs”, (Matthew 23) The Blood of the Lamb washes us white from the inside out. Not the other way around, The Lord doesn’t want perfect Christians with hard hearts. No, He wants new creations who are soft and responsive to know and become one with His Heart.

To live for Christ and become one with Him will never allow for me to remain the same. I must submit to the process of applied pressure that works the measure of faith hidden in my heart to become the Light-Conducive vessel that breaks through the darkness of this world. I have a purpose. It is hidden inside my very human heart. The more my heart breaks – the more evident it becomes day by day. I am not called to strong, but completely broken so that the Lord can do what He planned from the beginning before I was born when He recorded it from my mother’s womb as He knit me together there. (Psalm 139) Trust allows me to commit every detail of my life to the Lord and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11) I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the troubles I find in this day or the next. The future is no longer a concern.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT) 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.

I know that I will be pressed, but trust the Lord not to allow me to be crushed. I may be persecuted, but I trust the Lord to never abandon me but stay right beside me. I know that I will not understand it all, but that’s okay because I can trust God at His Word. The enemy can hunt me down and draw a huge target on my back, but the Lord is my strength and shield and I can trust Him. Though struck down by insecurity, fear and even doubt, I trust the Lord to never let me fall and keep me from stumbling. I trust Him at His Word. It is all that I have to go on. It must be enough. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped up in flesh. Trusting His Father through this life, to be tortured and killed on a Cross, but it did not stop there. He marched through the fiery depths of the hottest hell to take my life from the enemy’s hand and deliver it back to me when Jesus came back just three days later. My faith must grow into absolute confidence in the hope that I have been given so that when I am tested and tried by the fire called refinement, I will not be destroyed but exhibit the Power of God given to me by His Grace. Faith, trust and confident hope are essential in becoming the person who God calls His Masterpiece. It is not a pleasant process all the time, but I can find joy in it each day.

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.

Thinking about the tiny treasures tucked away in the box marked “fragile”, I cannot help but wonder if God thinks of us the same way. How precious it must be when we trust Him and submit to the process and pressure as evidence of trust? How happy the Lord must be when we decide to let Him work that measure of faith into a something of substance so that we become the Light of the World no longer hidden in darkness? Oh how the Lord treasures us even in our present broken and imperfect state as He whispers from the potter’s house, “Come and let me finish this great work that is within you.” Let me mold and shape your life into the Masterpieces that I created you to be. Jesus wants to complete me today… and you, too. He longs to work His Love, Grace and Mercy through us so His Love can radiate from us. I hear His Calling and I answer with my heart, “Lord, I am coming.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

 

Dead Seed

dead-seed

Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

When the messengers of the Lord came to visit Abraham, he was an elderly man. Well past the years of successful producing the sons and daughters promised to him by the Lord. Abraham had faith in the Lord but he was also realistic. He knew his wife was well past her childbearing years as well. He even was so bold to joke with God. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is 99 years old?” Abraham even went so far as to give God an out. “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

How many times does this happen to us in life? God gives us a promise like a seed in our hand. We sow it by faith into our heart and wait for it. When the wait is too long and everything dies all around it – it is human nature to give up. Abraham was to be the father of many nations but all he had was an illegitimate son. A son born of compromise not trust. In Abraham’s desperation to achieve God’s Promise, He asked God to go back on His Word and change His Mind, His Plan. He might as well have said, “Your Kingdom come, my will be done in Heaven as it is on earth.”

Dead seeds still contain the full potential that God placed in them. There are some religious doctrines that teach of the Perfect Plan of God. This is true. It deviates from the truth when it implies that sin keeps us from every achieving it. God’s Perfect Plan includes the exact amount of grace needed for every dream to come to pass and our expectation to be fully met. Is there a promise in your life that you have given up on? A dead seed buried in the cold dark ground still yet to grow despite careful nurturing.

Genesis 18:9-14 (NLT) “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

I must be completely honest. If a messenger of the Lord told me that I would have a baby at 50 years of age, it would probably require a visit to the local behavioral health center. My children are almost grown. Three out of the nest, one will graduate next year and our baby almost in high school. I see the finish line in the distance. I cannot imagine a pregnancy at the age of 99. I don’t even really comprehend breathing at that time. Sarah laughed to herself. Her comments were valid. “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure…” The Lord’s Response is valid. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” If nothing is impossible for those who believe it seems that the missing element must be faith.

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT) It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Sarah did have a child when she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His Promise. Do you? What is that thing that you were once so confident would happen that is now a dead dream buried in a wasteland? What is the promise that you have given up on? The seed is not dead. It requires only one thing to grow into the Promise of God. It’s called faith. Faith is the resurrection power that brings dead things to life. One man who was as good as dead produced a nation with so many people that there is no way to count them. Imagine the potential of your seemingly dead but only dormant seed.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Faith is acquired through sacrifice. The sacrificial seed is the hardest to press into the soil and leave in God’s Hands. For many years, I believed that I had faith in God. There were many instances when I tried a little faith here and there. It worked every time. But I was only offering God my faith in pieces. There is a real difference between seeds of sacrifice and seeds of offering. Offerings to God are what we choose to give. Sacrifice is to give Jesus Christ our all. I prayed for more faith. I sang all the worship songs about it. I prayed for it. I pursued it. Oh boy did I find it!

Our life was prospering in just about every way possible. The Favor of God evident in every tangible way and spiritually as well. I felt so blessed. I was thankful. We were obediently following Christ in every conceivable way. Life was good. When our son fell ill, I really didn’t think too much about it. He was a college student in the cesspool called university living. However, as he continued to have symptoms I became concerned. It was time to get in mom mode and get involved in his adult life, the medical team needed a little motivation. This would be the turning point of the “good life”. Within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Stage III – IV cancer.

The night of his diagnosis, I locked myself in a filthy bathroom to go to war for my son. I charged into the Presence of God demanding an answer for such an intrusion and requested a cure. I spouted every word contrary to the attack on his body and reminded God of His Promises for us. I did everything I knew to do until I could barely whisper. God asked just one thing of me, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I did. Where had He been for the last decade of my life? Didn’t He recognize all the changes in our life? Didn’t He consider our commitment to Him? Didn’t He know that I loved Him? Why would He ask such a question? He whispered in that still small voice, “Lori, do you trust me?” “Yes Lord, I do!” He gave me a promise that night that “our son would live and not die.”

When God speaks – it is loud and clear. Through the test and trials of life, it is often human nature to entertain the other voices around us more than the still small voice inside of us. We get caught up in conversation and tangled in useless lies the enemy uses to call us from faith to doubt and disbelief. When the first course of treatment seemed to work, celebration broke out but was short-lived. By the third relapse, things took a turn. The doctors told us that he had entered the realm of hope. They were uncertain if they could cure our son with chemotherapy.

The cancer cells in his body were smart. When chemotherapy was introduced, they would go into a state of dormancy. As soon as chemo cleared his system, they would come raging back stronger and faster than ever before. The cancer formed when he contracted the Epstein-Barre virus but his immune system did not detect it. It formed a tumor. The tumor released cells into his system. These are not dumb cells but can decipher DNA. If one of my children has a virus and it spreads to another family member – such as a sibling – the symptoms and duration are generally worse because the virus picked up on the genetic code and improved its attack. Viruses mutate from carrier to carrier. With this in mind, with each dormancy, his cancer grew stronger as it was learning his DNA growing stronger and more resistant each time.

It was ultimately determined that our last chance would be a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is life threatening to a human who has never had chemotherapy. With each round received prior to transplant, it is more and more dangerous. When our son was finally approved for treatment, he had received five rounds of extensive chemotherapy. The clinical studies only showed a handful of people who survived the transplant. The choice was die from cancer or take the monumental risk of death by transplant to be one of the 2% who survived. I turned to Abraham. I had to put my son on the altar and trust the Lord to save Him. I would have been a fool not to consider the fact that God very well could have taken him, too.

This is when faith is evaluated on the most granular level. When there is nothing else to put our hope in but the Lord. When faith is the only solution offered to the test and trail before us. Faith is never accomplished standing on the dock waiting on the Lord, but when He says come jumping in over our head. I would have never offered my son or any one of my children or even my husband to the Lord willingly. I had to do it faithfully.

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.

The most important factor in sowing and reaping supernaturally is faith. I cannot force the Hand of God or break the Heart of God to bend or shape Him to my will. I must trust Him. I must shove that thing I want to hang on the most into the ground and wait for Him to do the rest. Faith relinquishes control of our life, body, mind, will and emotions to the Power of God to mold it and shape it according to His Plan. Trusting that He is good. His Word is true. His Love is constant. His Grace is sufficient. His Power complete. The price of that is the seed called self. I must plant myself in Jesus Christ. Pride forfeited and heart completely broken is when His Power works the best.

Romans 4:16-24 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 

Have you done everything you know to do to make your dream a reality? Have you tired just about everything to make God’s Promise a reality? Are you tired? Discouraged? Just about to give up? Your dream is not dead. It is dormant. It is waiting for you to introduce faith. God will take every seed entrusted to Him wrapped in faith and carried by confident trust to Him and make to grow into the Promise that He gave you. His Word says so. Abraham and Sarah testify to it. You cannot claim faith if you, your hands or ability have anything at all to do with it. Being right is not the same as righteousness. Nothing “I” do, good or bad, changes the productivity of the potential placed inside me by God. His Grace is enough. But until I realize that His Power works in weakness dreams will lie dormant and all hope seems lost. The moment I decide to entrust my life to Jesus Christ…all of it… and wrap every seed planted in my life in faith…God’s Work begins to produce the good things and great visions that He promised. How’s your faith today? If you think you can still do something to make your dream a reality, you’re not quite there yet? It is the realization that apart from Jesus I can do nothing that His Power is perfected in us. No seed is ever wasted. This is according to God’s Promise in Romans 8:28 that says He makes good of every detail of our life. Those missed opportunities are actually scheduled for the future when faith takes over. Those dead dreams are vivid reality when His Grace is enough. Nothing is wasting when faith becomes our foundation.

Romans 3:22 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

 

 

Life in the Light

life-in-the-light

Psalm 84:10-12 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

According to The American Heritage Science Dictionary, “our living language” is photosynthesis. Almost all life on earth depends on food made by organisms that can perform photosynthesis. These organisms make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light energy from the sun. The energy is captured from different wavelengths of light once absorbed facilitate the process. As a plant reacts to the light, it will use the energy to break down water molecules into oxygen, hydrogen and electrons. This is called cellular respiration. Cellular respiration refers to the metabolic reactions that produce energy. All living creatures must have successful cellular respiration to live. Our blood operates on a similar system.

Although never much of a science fan, I managed retain the process called photosynthesis maybe to use in this reference. Thinking about this process, I wondered if people needed the light in similar fashion as plants, algae and bacteria, etc. Sure enough, science adds humans to the list as well. Plants produce the oxygen used in human respiration. Vitamin D from the sun is needed to absorb calcium for healthy bones. Light allows us to see as it reflects in our eyes. It allows us to differentiate color. Scientists now believe without life there would be no you. Not to mention if there were no sun, the earth would be very cold and uninhabitable. If we do not agree on another point, it is safe to say that everyone concurs that human beings need sunlight to survive.

Genesis 1:1-4 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.

The creation of light was the first recorded words of God, “Let there be light.” There was light. The first miracle recording if you will but nevertheless important even if was only God and His Spirit that witnessed it. God spoke and something happened. Light is important to all growth naturally and spiritually in life. God also thought it important to separate light and darkness. He called the light “good”. There is a clear line drawn in the Word of God between darkness and light. It bears noting. It is worth remembering. As we sow and reap in life, the light is important. It is necessary to grow things in our life. It is essential and the one thing that science and theology agree on. Not necessarily where light originate but that it is vital to growth and survival.

The Lord God is our sun. When a seed is planted into fertile soil and then nurtured, it dies to former state and begins to grow upward. What is it looking for? Light. Even potatoes that grow under the ground, produce leaves above the ground to absorb the sunlight and facilitate photosynthesis. What about seeds sown in the human heart? Do we need the Light to survive? Of course, we do. Light is representative of Jesus Christ. To sow naturally, sun produces a process of cellular respiration that repeats itself. It releases energy or growth potential in every cell of the organism using it to perpetuate life. In spiritual sowing, the Son is the Light vital to producing a new life and making us the new creations that He promised. As we die to self, the Light of His Love becomes our life source.

John 3:19-21 (NLT) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

Judgment, ultimately life or death, is determined by this one thing. God’s Light came into the world. His Name is Jesus Christ. People loved the darkness more than the Light. Those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. Well, there you have it. No splitting hairs or gray areas, just two distinctive choices. Do I live in the Light of God’s Love? Do I prefer darkness and sin? No one can achieve a sinless state. Grace is sufficient for the removal of sin and recreation of our life in Christ. There is no possible way to earn the Gift of Eternal Life. We must choose to live in the Presence of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

The seed planted in our heart is salvation. The saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that starts a process deep under the thick layers of our hard heart breaking new ground. The Holy Spirit waters the Word in our heart enabling it grow within in us. As the Word of God grows roots, it seeks the Light more and more. Faith is convinced that the Light that cannot be seen is worth having so it pushes through the touch spots, dry seasons, and hopeless situations to find more of His Light. The Light is the Presence of God. In order to grow deep roots in Jesus Christ, it must be our full motivation in life.

A plant in a pot is limited to the size of its container. The roots cannot grow beyond the barrier of the pot. It is subject to those who move it around. Others must water it, or give it access to sunlight. If forgotten in the cold, it becomes subject to the natural elements. However, a plant in the ground can grow according to its conditions. The roots are deeper and more secure. It can change according to the seasons. The rain will water it. The sun shines on it. It will grow under the right conditions far larger and stronger than the plant limited to a pot.

You are a new creation. When you decided to love the Light more than darkness, you planted yourself in Jesus Christ. This is not salvation. Salvation is the seed of change. It must be planted in the person of Jesus Christ to have unlimited potential including a future and hope. This is the decision to call Jesus our Lord. No longer calling on Him to come to us, our life is committed to allowing our roots to grow down in Him. To let our lives be built on Him. Our faith will grow as the Truth rises up within us. Christ is the fullness of God available to us when we are committed to life in His Presence. This is not a religious practice, but to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Psalm 37:5-7 (NLT) Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

I am completed by my union with Jesus Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. My union with Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, is essential to spiritual productivity in my life. I must believe that He is the head over every ruler, authority and power. Faith releases trust just as photosynthesis releases oxygen. A plant takes carbon dioxide, the waste of human respiration, using it to produce oxygen which is vital to the survival of all living things. Every cell of a plant must be committed to this process for it to survive. Every cell of the human body must participate in respiration to live. However, our body is still born dying. It is spiritual resuscitation that produces future and hope that delivers us from the natural to become supernatural. It requires commitment to be still in the Presence of the Lord rather than running back and forth into and out of the darkness. We must wait patiently while God through Jesus Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit grows spiritual fruit within us. If a farmer continually plants seeds, digs them up and replants them somewhere else because they failed to grow overnight, he will never have a harvest. To reap requires waiting, watching and believing. Are you willing to wait? It is a must in all growth processes even with God.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Still not convinced? Many believe that the sufficiency of grace allows them to conduct business as usual, but are quickly discouraged when their life does not yield the fruit and favor of God’s Word. You reap what you sow. Sowing God’s Word in our heart without seeking to live in His Presence is to commit robbery. It defies the very law of sowing and reaping. You are planting seeds of faith without a desire or taste for spiritual fruit. We can thank the prosperity gospel and its false teachers for this problem in the church.

Let’s go back to the beginning, in Genesis God, His Spirit and His Word existed. In John 1, they are clearly defined. The Word existed in Genesis 1. The Word was with God, part of God, and in God. God created everything through His Word. The Word gave life to everything. “His” life brought light to everyone. “His” now the word is personified and no longer just a noun. It has taken on a form. The Light shines in the darkness.

John 1:10-14 (NLT) He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

The Word is Jesus Christ. His Presence is all that is needed to become complete lacking no good thing in our life. He was from the beginning. He is the One through which everything and will be in the End. Our life begins and ends in Christ alone. If we do not understand the importance of light in our life and choose to live in it, we choose darkness. Church participation is not required but it enhances our knowledge and allows us to share the Light of His Love with others. Grace is sufficient. Like photosynthesis, every dead thing in our life submitted to Christ and nailed to the Cross will be exchanged for something better even our good. Every detail is subject to change in the Presence of God basking in the Light of His Love. We are free to choose our dwelling place. The Presence of God requires faith, trust, commitment and new mercy every day. Those who choose such a life and devote themselves to living in His Presence will experience God’s Glory.

Ephesians 5:8-14 (NLT) For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Galatians 6:7 tells us,Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” This is not meant to be a threat but it is a biblical Truth to be considered. Every day our life is filled with seeds that are planted for the next day, next year, or coming season. We must carefully consider the seeds sown in our life each day. The Light of His Love in us will cause all seeds to grow because it was ordained by God. The Word never ever contradicts itself. Choices are seeds planted today that yield consequences tomorrow. The end of consequence is to plant and harvest better choices. God will make good every detail of our life but will never interrupt the process of sowing and reaping in our life. It is important to plant the Word in our heart each day, to ask for His Spirit to show us any way that is offensive to God or contradictory to His Plan and act accordingly. Presence is only available by faith through the Grace of Jesus Christ. If I am not “in” Christ, I cannot make my way into the Presence of God. I need the Light of His Love and I desire His Glory to fill my life therefore I must leave darkness behind and do my very best to avoid sin out of love and respect for my Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jesus went to the Cross bearing the weight of our sin and shame. He took the stripes required for our healing. He has all power and authority over death and the grace. The Light of His Love shines for all who choose to enter. It is only in His Presence that change is possible. We choose each day what and where we plant the seeds of potential for our life. If faith is our choice it will always require planting without seeing the product but believing and trusting it will come. This is the hope that anchors our soul like giant roots holding us in the Presence of God until His Power reaches us. No plant can live without sunlight. No person can live without the Light of His Love.

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT) Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Ready for Rain

ready-for-rain

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain,
 melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life some rain must fall.” He is absolutely right. Before planting a single seed in the ground or one’s heart, it is important to understand the importance of rain. Rain is necessary. It has purpose. When the ground is broken or even the heart, it is ready to receive the seed promised by the Lord for grow into its potential and fulfill its purpose, but if we do not understand the relevance of rain in our life – the seed will die. Just as the ground must be plowed or the heart softened to receive, it is equally important to know that into each life some rain must fall.

Looking at the weather for the next week, it indicates rain will fall on five of the seven days. Ugh! Living in the South, we do not experience snow, blizzards or the like but rain glorious not so glorious rain. Rain is essential to the earth but mighty inconvenient when it comes to routine and scheduling. I am convinced that people have no idea how to drive in it so the commute is longer. There is nothing worse than damp clothes, wet feet or mud puddles unless you are five years old playing in the rain. It is just one big discomfort unless you are a farmer watching your field. Suddenly it becomes a blessing. To those without running water, it fills their water barrels and swells the streams from which they drink. See it is all about perspective. There is someone somewhere today praying for rain. We all should be.

Genesis 2:4-7 (NLT) When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Eden was created a civilization completely dependent on God. He created the heavens and earth. Divided land and sea. Springs came up to water the land but there were no crops or grains or people to cultivate the earth. Rather than glancing over the words to make it to the desired text, look closely again. If you ever wonder if God knew people would sin, it says so right here – “there were no people to cultivate the soil.” Cultivation became a requirement outside of Eden after the fall of mankind. God knew. He planned and prepared for our rebellion ahead of time. It was not an afterthought. God did not send rain yet because at this point creation relied solely on Him.

Genesis 6:9-13 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

Well, that didn’t take long before people managed to get evicted from Eden and run the entire world into the ground. What a mess! Only one person could be found in all the earth to be righteous, blameless, and in close fellowship with God – Noah. God revealed a crazy plan. He would flood the earth and wipe it clean all except one man and his family. He would be required to build an ark all on his own. Fill it with two of every kind of animal. Get his family and herd to enter the boat and God would close the door. He would be required to live there for 40 days and nights while it rained. It had never rained before. Mankind’s first experience with rain was destruction. As the water receded, everyone remained on the stinky, smelling ship until the ark came to rest and the door opened.

Genesis 8:20-22 (NLT) Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

There is significance in the events following the flood. Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed a burnt offering. Noah did not fear a lack of provision. He offered an offering from the supply on the ark because the earth and all its contents were destroyed. Noah had faith. He trusted the Lord even in lack. His family and supply would populate and fill the entire earth again. What a responsibility – what an amazing God!

The first thing the Lord did was bless the ground. He promised to never curse it again. He ordained seedtime and harvest so that what is planted will grow. It was not because sin was gone but because grace would abound. He even admitted that “everything they think and imagine is bent toward evil from childhood.” God’s Blessing on the land to be cultivated is not based on our ability to plant and harvest but on His Word. I will bless the land and as long as the earth remains there will be planting and harvest. Potential. Our life always has potential even in the natural.

The second thing the Lord did after the flood was to give us a covenant. Yes, the rain witnessed brought destruction. God didn’t want us to fear the rain, storms or even floods of life. So he placed a rainbow in the clouds. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I had about ten days to prepare for his treatment and make my way back to Gainesville from our hometown. I had to trust God to save him. As I drove the interstate, I cranked up the praise music and worshipped the Lord at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. It was raining off and on which I didn’t mind as it was reminiscent of how I felt. I have never encountered what happened that day before or since that drive. There was rainbow after rainbow after rainbow along the way. By about the fifth or sixth one, I was laughing through my pain and sorrow whispering, “I get it God! I hear you!”

Never again will I destroy all life. God does not send rain, storms, floods, sickness, pain, trials, or tests to destroy us. He wants us to be broken and ready to receive His Blessing. His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace are literally pouring out of heaven each day but am I ready to receive it? God promised in that moment with Noah that He would always remember His Eternal (Forever) Covenant. Jesus was coming. The Lord would come and give us all the opportunity to live. God knew that people were given to rebellion and sin yet still in that moment He prepared them for life eternally. His Covenant that day remains today. Better than before because the Way has been made and now we can be in right standing with God thanks to Jesus!

Psalm 135:6-7 (NLT) The Lord does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths. He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.

Rain is essential to abundance. It comes from abundance. Psalm 135 tells us that these natural elements are released from his “storehouses.” Storehouses are made to hold abundance. No one builds a silo to keep weeds or rocks, but to be full of good things. So it is with God. Rain is good. Rain is needed to produce in our life. The Lord does whatever pleases him. His Good Pleasure and Precious Treasure is His People. When God releases rain the purpose is prosperity. However, you can only reap what is sown in your life. You cannot grow corn from tomato seeds. With this in mind, it is important to note that you rain does not produce a godly crop from a sinful heart. If God’s Abundance is being released, why is there no prosperity in the church today? Why are ministries failing and falling apart? Why is the Body of Christ not growing? We need rain to permeate hard ground and find good seed.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

You reap what you so is evident in the productivity of our life. When rain comes and makes it into our heart to make the seeds found there grow, what is produced? The productivity of our life is not always what God planted in us but most often what we decided to sow instead? Rain falls on the just and unjust alike according to Matthew 5:45. God is watering the potential in our life. God rains down provision in our life every day, but often it is not enough to satisfy the desire of our heart. (Psalm 78:21-29) We place our expectation in this world and the things of this world so when the condition or circumstance of our natural life does not change in an instant – we abandon the field and curse the rain. Freedom allows us to choose our way and the pathway of life. He never leaves us without evidence of His Goodness – he sends rain, gives us good crops, and blesses us each day with new mercy (Acts 14:16-18) but is it enough?

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

My life must be built on a firm foundation of faith. Not proverbial faith that talks a good talk, but logical and literal faith that knows God’s Word and acts upon it. Faith is our future. Rain often is the test. When rain falls on us, do we respond with faith that accepts it as a promise of abundance in the end? Or does it cause everything known and believed about the Lord to wash away so that fear and anxiety takes over? In Deuteronomy 32:1-4, it says, “let my words fall on you like rain.” God is raining His Blessings and Abundance in your life. Are you uncomfortable? Is it inconvenient? Does it interrupt your schedule or prevent our plans? Rain brings change washing away the temporary in our heart and mind to reveal what is permanent. Seeds of faith are small for a reason. They are hard to find and even more difficult to grow because it requires full attention and complete focus on the Author and Finisher of Faith to acquire it.

Job 36:26-28 (NLT) “Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.”

God has given us an internal watering system to irrigate our heart and soul called the Holy Spirit. Just as Eden was well-supplied so are we, but in the meantime as while faith is cultivated it is human nature to rely on the world, too. God is greater than we understand. He takes the offering of our life the “vapor” if you will, and in turn releases abundance. The only thing of worth in my life is Jesus Christ. How much of my life is surrendered to Him? This is the amount of heaven I am able to receive and achieve in my life. God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessing on His People and everyone benefits.

Jeremiah 5:23-25 (NLT) “But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”

Sin will always stop us from receiving the benefits of rain. It creates a hard heart that cannot receive rain to water that seed of faith and potential hidden there. What about grace? Grace is only accepted in true repentance. Grace is not a “get-out-of-hell-free” card. It does not give us permission to sin. It is the understanding that my sin separates me from God and I don’t want anything to keep me from Him. Sin violates our covenant. He gives us new mercy each day to overcome sin each day. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is to not want to sin anymore because it creates separation from the One our heart desires. Falling in love with Jesus Christ is consummated by accepting seeds of faith to be grown for righteousness sake. To give up our wants and desires to receive blessings believing they are better than anything I can produce in my own life. It takes time, it takes tests, and it takes rain to wash away every fear and insecurity and reveal this in our life.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Sowing and reaping in the natural will always produce something. If I put seed in the ground, cover it, nurture it and watch over it – something will be harvested. Rain is essential for seed growth and development in our life. It is the very thing that waters the ground and feeds that seed. However, if we are not sowing for the Kingdom – God’s Abundance is not possible. For example, our family made the decision to tithe according to the Biblical Standard more than a decade ago. God has provided abundantly for us in this area. Dollar for dollar – I cannot figure out the math of obedience. However, I have found that the greatest blessing of tithing has not been found in a dollar figure but rather the favor of God evidenced in our life. There are times when money cannot fix it and I know it is the Favor of God that did it.

When believers decide that the Hand of God is not enough, they will seek His Heart. I was once a very religious person. I had a strict set of rules and regulations that governed my life. I was blessed, but not satisfied. When doctrine did not produce deliverance, I started digging again. There had to be more to this thing called prosperity and blessing in the Lord. When my heart was completely broken and my life torn apart…when I lost control and the world was crashing down around me…it was in that moment of being torn to pieces that His Grace finally reached the seed called faith in my heart. The connection complete something changed in me and is growing through me. True repentance can only be discovered at the end of self. When you have nothing left to give but still choose to come to Your Savior. His Grace is suddenly sufficient in that moment. A place nobody wants to arrive.

Are you living in the abundance of God? Just as sure as the forecast is for rain next week, the windows of Heaven are open over our everyday life. Faith is the seed that produces satisfaction and contentment in our life. It may take our whole life to find it. It may be discovered after the storm. Whatever it takes to get there. God knew people were given to sin. Yet He still sent the rain and marked the sky with a rainbow. He knew our stubborn, rebellious heart and reprobate mind would make us till hard ground for every day blessings. Rain falls on the just and unjust every day as God keeps up His End of the bargain. The Lord is always faithful even when we are not. He waters every seed committed to the ground and gives it increase. What about you? What about me? Am I faithful? Am I willing to really repent? To call Him Savior and make Him the Lord of our life requires true repentance and lifelong change. His Blessings are falling but some are not properly positioned to receive. The next time it rains remember that God is showering the earth with His Goodness including blessings, provision, promises, purposes and power on each of us every single day in each tiny raindrop. Am I ready to receive is the real question?

Joel 2:22-24 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, you animals of the field, for the wilderness pastures will soon be green. The trees will again be filled with fruit; fig trees and grapevines will be loaded down once more. Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil.

 

Fertile Soil

fertile-soil

Matthew 13:3-9 (NLT) He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

As I have shared previously, our family relocated to the rural county just outside the city limits last year. My husband has been diligently cleaning up the property. He discovered an irrigation buried under the sod that he has been restoring. One day while clearing out the flowerbed with him, I discovered that the soil here is much different than that of our old yard. The old house was built on red clay. It is very hard to grow things on. Just digging it up is a chore. With each new addition, bags of top soil must be used to help fortify and feed the new plant. It is very particular about what will grow in its thickness. However, here the soil is dark brown and very rich. It is good soil. There are many bushes thriving already. I had to dig up the rose bushes that had died without proper care. There were some other plants that had taken over the root system and choked it out underground. I tried to pull them out by the roots but with time I can see that they are still down there as they produced to take over again. In preparation of spring, I am deciding what plants to add to our garden outside. Hydrangeas are my favorite. I couldn’t grow them in the other house because it was usually very dry and full sun all day long. But there is a perfect place to root some in the corner. I have been researching all the wonderful varieties of color and choices of new plants to sow in the flowerbed that will greet our visitors and frame our home.

The secret to success is that there is fertile ground. All those other attempts to plant in hard, packed clay only yielded disappointment but now I have hope because the soil is rich and ready for seeds. Jesus shared a parable with his followers about the importance of the ground in which seeds are sown. Our life is a constant cycle of sowing and reaping. The seeds sown in our life react and respond to the soil encountered. When sowing into the earth, one must consider the physical elements. When sowing into the Kingdom, only one surface is considered. The condition of our heart indicates the growth of potential in us. Before I sow a single seed of worth into the Kingdom of God, I must have a fertile heart that is ready to receive from God’s Word, be cultivated by His Spirit, and produce the abundance to share with others. How is your heart today?

There are four heart conditions that indicate our readiness to receive from the Lord. Jesus touched on it in this parable of the farmer sowing seed. There is a heart with no foundation. Seed falls on it but is quickly plucked out by the enemy. The lack of foundation is because there is no hope. Next is the hard heart, it hears the word but doesn’t believe it. It cannot comprehend unconditional love or amazing grace because it has no faith. The Word (or seed) falls on this heart but cannot take root because doubt and disbelief have built a hard wall around it. The surface is fortified with pride packed by experience that causes it to harden. Of course, then there is the racing and busy heart that tries to meet any and all expectation. Trying to please God, mankind and the demands of this life, it becomes overcrowded. Such crowding overpowers the seed God is sowing in us and it can never grow without proper attention. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” They try it all in hopes something anything will satisfy their soul, but the lack of commitment leaves them empty like before. Oh but then there is the fertile heart. Broken by life, and yielded to the Savior – each Word precious, tucked deep in its folds, cared for by His Spirit, given time to grow, releases every promise and fulfills godly potential. This is the desirable soil. This is what we are after. It is the heart ready to receive all God has for them. Built on the firm foundation which is Christ alone, full of faith that is unwavering, giving up Martha to live like Mary, it is a fertile soil ready to receive the impossible and watch it become possible in all things. God prepare my heart today for your Word.

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

Is my heart fertile? I know the condition of the foundation and soil that my earthly home is built on and it is good. What about the foundation of my faith and condition of my heart? My heart is the platform for the Kingdom. God wants to plant seeds in me that by faith will grow into godly potential and produce all of His Promises. My life is not complete yet. Each day is not filled to capacity with the blessings and favor of God which come through true repentance and radical obedience. Not to rules or regulations set forth by religion but the complete and confident surrender of my heart by faith to Jesus Christ in all things. I must make my heart ready through true heart rending repentance to receive all that God has in store for me. What about you? Are you completely satisfied? Lacking nothing, do you awake each morning with total contentment? Are you thankful in all things? Do you praise God more than complain? All questions that test the condition of our heart.

John 12:23-25 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man[a] to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

When Jesus died on the Cross, he gave us the opportunity to harvest righteousness again. He reached out handing us a seed called faith that if planted properly would produce a life of peace with God. The one thing and only thing that will complete us is peace with God through right standing given to us as a Gift from Jesus Christ. That’s it. Nothing I do, say or sacrifice matters if this one seed is not first planted to save my soul and break my heart. Just as I had to move to find good rich soil, we must change our residency from this world to the Kingdom of God. It begins in our heart. John14:6 is clear. No one makes it to God except through His Son, Jesus.

Leviticus 26:3-5 (NLT) “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

The promises of the Old Testament were not nullified by sin or ended by the arrival of grace. Each precious truth is completely possible now by faith. Leviticus 26 begins with these words, “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God.” Who is your god? Or maybe should ask what is god to you? Our heart is wrapped around something or someone. It is intent on a desire that only the person can know. To discover the truth, the real truth, is to break apart our heart and investigate the contents. Who is willing to do that? Yep, didn’t think anyone really wanted heartache or heartbreak. Me, either.

We all allow other gods, idols, carved images, sacred pillars, and sculpted stones in the real estate of our heart and mind from time to time. It is human nature to be driven by our five senses rather than the Holy Spirit. Our sinful, prideful condition demands our constant attention tilling the soil of our heart, examining our thoughts, evaluating our time, and discovering the truth. However, those who are willing to put their “hand to the plow” and stop “looking back” will be fit for Kingdom productivity. (Luke 9:57-62) What is that thing that keeps pulling you back? Is there something in your past you just can’t stop looking at? Are you constantly starting and stopping? If so, spiritual growth is impossible. Perhaps if you could see the advantages to such planting in our heart and life and choose to commit your hand to the plow and live obedient in a right relationship with the Lord you would see its worth.

God promises some things in Leviticus in response to our faithfulness. He promises us seasonal rains that will produce in all seasons of life. You will never be without God’s provision and prosperity if you allow Him to continually soften and mold your heart for more planting. God offers a life of peace in this life. He also empowers us through grace to overcome in all battles for our promise waged daily within us and in the spiritual realms. He grants us His Favor. Favor is better than finance any day. But probably the most wonderful thing that the Lord gives those willing to allow their heart to be broken is Presence. He will live with us. When God steps in everything changes. First of all me. Then those around me. Revival comes through His Presence. When I die, I awake with Jesus. This is not just for forever – it begins today. When I die to self, He lives in me and every seed promised in my heart begins to grow. Read it Leviticus 26.

Isaiah 28:23-26 (NLT) Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention. Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

You cannot grow what you do not know. God gives the farmer understanding when he decides the crop he decides to grow. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is clearly stated in Galatians 5:22-23. It is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” How is that going to bring me contentment or satisfaction? I hear you. The farmer who grows cumin plants seeds to grow into the spice. It becomes a crop that he harvests for himself and to sell for profit. It becomes a source of satisfaction for his own life and benefits others. To say, well I don’t want cumin, I want tacos. Well cumin is the spice used to season beef or chicken to become tasty tacos. God is growing the essentials in you that become the harvest for your future in all things. His Seeds yield perfect promises and the power to overcome. To be victorious in all things but if we do not allow Him to grow the right seeds in us it will never yield the desires of our heart. For example, let’s just start with self-control. It is listed last probably because it is our greatest struggle and highest goal. If the Holy Spirit grows seeds of self-control in me it will benefit every relationship that I have. Anything I season with self-control keeps me engaged in the effort until it produces all that is promised. God is seasoning us for success from the inside out. His Word is wisdom. His Spirit the cultivator of our life. We have everything we need for spiritual success – if our hearts would surrender and break so it will grow.

Isaiah 32:10-16 (NLT) Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief. Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines. For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone. The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtower until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.

“Until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from Heaven…” God poured out His Spirit. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to all mankind. If the Spirit of God is not working within us, it is not because it is not being poured out each day. New mercy comes ready to forgive and restore our right standing with the Lord so His Seed can make its way inside of our heart and release His Potential in our life. The rock in our chest must be broken into a soft and fertile heart. Dissatisfaction produces disappointment that leads to desperation. When our way doesn’t work anymore, we turn our heart and mind back to God who promises the impossible with inexpressible joy, peace of mind and confident hope. When His Spirit makes its way in us, His Fruit surrounds us even in the darkest, driest, and most barren places. He gives us new life. He refreshes us. Revives us and restores us right then, right there even when nothing else changes but we choose to. True repentance makes the way for all spiritual growth.

Psalm 51:7-12 (NLT) Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

If you are not satisfied with your life, love or relationship with the Lord, it is time to examine your heart as I am mine. To determine if it is fertile, soft and ready for good seed. We must remove every growth deterrent from our life to facilitate the growth process again, A lack of growth is evidence of certain death. True repentance means turning. We must allow change to enter and release complete control to the Lord for the abundance He promises. I cannot produce anything of worth or that will last in my life outside of my connection to Christ. He must be the center of it all. He must become the foundation of my life. I must strive to secure more faith in each endeavor. I must be committed to the Lord in all things. I must live humbly repentant before my God. To grow is to know… I want to know Him more.

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

whats-love-got-to-do-with-it

I John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

What has love got to do with it? Tina Turner made millions of dollars asking this question in her famous song. Her life story was one of great pain and sorrow even abuse. Love tainted by the world and its lack of love convolutes the possibility of true love for many who will settle for a lack of it in their life. Love is not emotional. I do believe in love at first sight. I do not believe that any love affair is without its challenges. I know for a fact that even if you marry the person God created for you that there is definitely challenges in coming together as one. Love is professed on so many levels about many things in our life. We love people or at least think so. Love things. Love hobbies. Love sports. Love interests. Love social media. Love shows. We attach the word so flippantly without consideration of its context that many believe that people really do love in life.

I have a friend who a couple of days ago professed her undying love for her partner. She reveled in the love she has found with this person never thinking it possible with someone. I smiled as she relished in it and reveled it even saying she never imagined being this happy. Well, yesterday she confessed that her “true love” had hurt her feelings causing an explosion of sorts. Why do we put godly expectation on human beings? We do it all the time. We expect people to be like god. Fill every void in our life. Meet our needs and expectations. So much so, that when they don’t it is our tendency to lower our expectation, draw back or walk away. The good news is that they eventually talked it out, worked through it and are moving past it… together… in love.

When Jesus warned people about the last days, He clearly indicated that love would grow cold. His Word has come to past with staggering divorce rates and cheap love plastered on everything from people to things. Not to sound like a modern day prophet or old-fashioned preacher, but love has grown cold. We love because He first loved us. We have lost the foundational truth in our life that God is love. He is the Source of Love. He is the Prosperity of Love. He is the Power in love. He is the Provider of Love. We are loving from an unlovable source that cannot produce the kind of passionate love needed to secure our souls to Jesus. Without the Love of God, it is weak and tainted by our sinful condition, prideful nature and propensity for self. God is love. I need to love God to love anyone else including myself.

I John 4:10-16 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

Our eagerness to show God our worthiness of His Love often separates us from His Love. He does not without it from us but our humanness draws away from it. We want God’s Love. Need it. Are desperate to have it? Human awareness produces insecurity and suddenly people decide that God’s Love is not for them unless they earn it. The Pricelessness of God’s Love is that there is no possible way to earn it or achieve outside of the Lord. The enemy tries to convince us that unfailing and unconditional love is impossible. But it’s not, it is exactly how God loves us. We must become invested in the truth about God’s Love to produce anything of worth from our broken hearts and devastated lives. God’s Love fills the void left by all the impersonators of it.

God is love. It is imperative as believes that “we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Doubt and disbelief come when I do not believe that God’s Love for me is complete. The moment I think there is an end to it, my faith evaporates and hope dies with it.

I John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I can remember the first blow up my husband and I had after getting married. It was a doozy. Yelling, screaming, crying, doors slamming and the works. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t need any man and I could do it on my own. I didn’t deserve such treatment. My feelings were hurt and expectation met. Whoa! What does that mean? We know people will let us down and begin to expect it. When something minor happens – the issue is forced into a confrontation because of fear of loss and abandonment. Looking back at most confrontations in our relationships, they are avoidable. The problem is that we expect people to love like God and God to love like people rather than loving each other from the Love God has invested in us. Fear causes us to test and try love every single day even setting others up to fail with unrealistic expectations of perfection and performance. God says simply – I loved you first.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

God knows every single thing done in His Great Name. He sees our works. He knows our perseverance. The Lord sees our desire to live apart from wickedness and how we test the spirits of others around us. He knows that hardships have been endured as faith is maintained. He sees every one of you who have not given up despite harrowing odds. BUT it means nothing if our love for Him is not as it was at first.

What does this mean? Love is easy… at first. Love is fun… at first. Love is true… at first. Love is childlike… at first. Love is forever… at first. Life happens and the one who was boasted about becomes a fading memory in the midst of unmet expectation. Marriage can fall into this rut just as quickly as our relationship with the Lord. When the newness wears off, it is easily taken for granted. When the other does not read our mind and do what we want, we begin to grumble and complain seeking satisfaction elsewhere. The book of Hosea is all about Gomer and her other lovers representing God’s Great Love and Desire for Israel. God loved us first. He loves us best. He loves us forever with the same intensity and passion as He did when He first made the decision to love us at all. Can we say the same?

2 Timothy 3:2-4 (NIV) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

This is the love of the world in which we live. It is cold and uncaring. People have become lovers of themselves. Consumed with self that causes them to turn on others even God. This is the world of the lost and the world of Christians. We have lost our first love. Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing and that includes love. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the Fruit of the Spirit produced in us by the holy inhabitation of Christ in us. The very first fruit is love. Every other fruit produced in our life is a seed from the Love that God has planted in us. Without that seed, the rest of the fruit in our life is spoiled. No good. Worthless. Romans 5:5 tells us that God poured His Love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. The identifier that marks us as Children of God begins cultivating love. No other fruit can be produced in our life unless it comes from the Love God has sown in us first. First love. True love. Everything of God that is good in our life must come from our first love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

God details all the qualities of His Love for us and the kind of love that He produces in us in 1 Corinthians 13. Many marriage ceremonies include this vital chapter in identifying true love for us. But the beginning of the chapter is a warning to those who think they love God, “I may boast, but if I do not have love…I gain nothing.” Hear me today, we must learn to love God again. Like we did at first, before discovering the Gifts of His Spirit or even the productivity of faith. Sowing and reaping is an earthly concept sent to mankind from the heavenly realm. If we do not allow the Spirit to produce love in us and do everything from the vantage point of His Love…we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

What is love?Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8) If this was how Christian believers loved, our churches would be full. Revival would come. The Body of Christ would be united and healthy again. The Kingdom of God would advance. We have lost our first love. Buildings are empty. Revival is not hear. The Body of Christ is unhealthy and dysfunctional. The Kingdom is not advancing. Our love for God is not producing because it is not from the first fruit of His Spirit. We want the prosperity of God’s Love but would rather perform to get it than persevere to have it. What does love have to do with it? Everything. Or we have nothing at all.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is messy. Love is sacrificial. Love doesn’t always feel good. Love requires us to give up our way. Love requires waiting. Love requires forgiveness. Lord, look at all these other nice things that are good I have done for you. God asks us today, “Where is the love?” Love is not reserved for others but begins with God. Maybe our love has grown tired and cold in the waiting. Could it be that brokenness let it all leak out? See our love for God must be the driving force and motivation of every next breath and next step in life. However, there are times when people think God could not possibly love them because of their actions, or that God forgot about them in His Silence, or that maybe God is not for their good because of their current condition or circumstance. Some decide to have faith and hope in God but reserve their heart just in case they are wrong. Every area of my life investing in doing God’s Word and obedience will yield a blessing in my life. Seed in the ground produces a harvest. It will do nothing for my soul condition and salvation unless I choose to stay true to my first love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Our experiences form our expectation. Life is hard. Love is cold. People don’t really love each other but often live lives of codependency. When you came to Jesus, it was with the expectation of unfailing and unconditional love which His Grace readily provided. The moment a person stands up after such an experience – the enemy of your soul wages war against this new love. From that moment forward, passion must burn away doubt and knowledge of God’s Love and how He loves must be the wisdom one lives by. God doesn’t love you like the world does. He loves us perfectly. He loves us completely. He knows every fault, failure and weakness in our life and STILL His Grace is enough for me. With this in mind, it is up to each one of us to examine our heart. Am I passionate about my love affair with Jesus? Do I love Him like I did at first? Am I doing from my own abilities or from what the Holy Spirit is doing in me?

Place me as a seal over your heart. We must seal our heart with God’s Love all over again. Going back to the beginning even if we were young and naïve. God’s Love did not change just our expectation. If we leave our expectation in God’s Love and Grace for us, we will continue to do greater things like Jesus promised. It is when our love grows cold and our pursuit of Him stops that situations and sin overtake our progress, devour our seed, and stifle His Spirit.

I must choose to love God every day. I must decide in my heart that He will be my first love and priority in all things. I must infuse the love that I have been so graciously given into every action and attitude. I cannot concern myself with others and how they love allowing it to dictate my choice to love like Jesus. My love for the Lord must be passionate. It must be my desire.

Lukewarm love is spit out but when God sees that our love for Him consumes us – He pours out Himself even more. Lord, rekindle my love for you today. Not with the simple “you know that I love you” but with the pure intent so everyone will know that I love you, Lord – beginning with YOU!

Proverbs 3:2-4 (NIV) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and

The Garden of My Heart

the-garden-of-my-heart

Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Home renovation central, I guess is what you might call it. This place has become one DIY project after another. Paint is going on the walls. Furniture is moved around. Making a house a home is a process. Ironically it is the house plan that our former house was. Laid out the same even built by the same builder, yet as we settle in it is different. A new location. A change of season, if you will. A month or so ago, I dug up the front flowerbed. I decimated all the dead plants and overgrown weeds even removing a “Christmas” tree. It is now a clean canvas ready for a floral masterpiece.

I find that as I look at that barren area in need of new plants, that I am carefully considering what to plant there. The soil seems good. The sun hits it differently than our old beds at the previous house. It is a new place and should have new things. Our children were younger and in need of more care before so I would just head to the Garden Center and grab a variety of pots to stick in the ground. It didn’t matter what really just needed some ground cover. But now is different so I am contemplating more now than before. I really would love to successfully grow some hydrangeas in the damp corner by the house. Their full blooms are my favorite. I would also like some of those large colorful pots that people lean over to put annuals in each year. I am considering the time it will take to maintain it also. Heading into winter, some of dreams and aspirations will have to wait for the cold to give way to spring again.

As I read today’s passage in Luke, it made me think of my heart. The things that are growing from it. Are they beautiful like the garden I envision for the front of my house? The kind of blooms that when others drive by they notice the array of color and glorious splendor so they slow down just a little. If a tree is identified by its fruit, it matters the seeds that I sow each day for they will be that which I bear in the future. I cannot grow what I do not plant. To be a good person, I must produce good things. Those good things become godly things when born of the precious seed of His Word cultivated by His Spirit in my life. What is growing in my heart today? What do I want to grow?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

The Bible is clear as believers the Holy Spirit should be cultivating this kind of fruit. Love. I stop here because it seems to be the biggest problem that we face. How to cultivate Jesus Love among all people. The love in this world has grown cold and selfish…in many ways so has the church people gone. God grow love in my heart today. There is a variety of other fruit including joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are produced by God’s Spirit in us and often emulated as a means of defense. I can act like I have joy – until I get a bad report. I can believe that I am at peace – until conflict arises. I can say that I have patience right before blasting the offending person who disrupted my day. I can do kind things yet not act in kindness at all. I can accept God’s Goodness and never offer it to anyone else. I can mistake service for faithfulness. Gentleness is displayed in more than our words – it is to be our response to life. Finally self-control, pride is an enemy of self-control. The Spirit cultivates control from love that evaluates and compares our words, actions and intentions according to the Great Love and Amazing Grace that is sown in us through Christ rather than what is given to us by the world.

It is important to see these fruits in our life. Examining the condition of our heart daily to make sure it is good soil. Softened by the Word of God. Watered by it, too. There will be times of brokenness as God plants the new and better fruit in the old and hard heart surrendered to His Hands. Given to His Way. Accepting of His Will. As I evaluate this new place and new season of my life, I am evaluating the condition of my heart and the atmosphere God desires in my life. What kind of fruit will I plant today? What will I get rid of to make room for that which is better?

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The multiplication of the Kingdom is discipleship. Discipleship is the cultivation of human hearts. It is not teaching people to be like other people. It is not religion. It is not rules and regulations. It is love. “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” Got it, Jesus. I’m on it. What did you command us to do, again?

Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

I know what you are thinking. What about all those dos and don’ts that I have been taught? What about our church’s doctrine? What about what my preacher, teacher and mentor said? What about this? Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it. If you act first in love, you will never break a commandment. Not earthly love, but the supernatural love given to us by God through Jesus Christ. If we start planting that kind of love in our hearts, it would begin to multiply the church. Selfless love is not fashionable in a world bent on saving itself. True love. God love. When the avoidance of sin becomes about loving Jesus rather than congregational acceptance – we will be onto something. I don’t really care what people say anymore. If you wait long enough and get close enough from the abundance of their heart – their mouth will speak and tell you what is really growing there. What God is longing for is a church that is set on multiplying His Kingdom not their own buildings. He desires a people so consumed with love that the differences on the exterior of people give way to the potential and promise inside of them. The Lord loves us and wants us to cultivate the same kind of love to all people. How can we ever move down the list of fruits if we cannot become overtaken by the first – love. Love God. Love each other.

Hebrews 6:7-8 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.

Rain falls on the just and unjust or so the Bible tells us. God is watering our heart to see what grows from within us. He knows what is in there but now it’s time for us to see what pops up. When I cleaned out the flowerbeds a while ago, I tried to be sure to dig down deep and remove all the roots of the plants I was excavating. Well, as time has passed some of those unwanted plants are growing up again. I didn’t snatch them out by the root so now they are taking over the places vacated by the old plants now long gone. When I do not properly examine my heart every day and remove certain things I run the risk of them growing and taking over again.

I must get rid of all evil behavior. (I Peter 2:1-3) All evil behavior means everything contrary to God’s Word, Will and Way. That’s a lot of stuff. I must stop judging others until I can clearly see my own shortcomings and take them to the Cross. (Matthew 7:4-5) I cannot judge you until I have rid my own life of all the sin hidden within me. What does that mean? I will never be able to judge anyone else. Good! That’s not what I am called to do! I am made for love. I must get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander. (Ephesians 4:31) Oh Holy Spirit, put your hand over my mouth today. While we are at it, our communication should be rid of all filth and malice so that the words we speak are covered in love and smothered in grace. We are sowing in other people’s hearts when we speak so I must always consider what they will produce from our conversation. My new nature should speak life into other people not drive them away. It should offer everything that God has given me not what I think they need. (Colossians 3:7-10) My opinion doesn’t matter. All that matters is the Word of God that brings dead things to life. Finally, so get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” Here is what I have discovered in this process of growth I am undergoing. The more I know God the less I love me. My opinion is not as important as His Word and Truth. My feelings are emotional but His Word is full satisfaction. If I cultivate anything before love, it is worthless. Every fruit of the Spirit and that of worth in my life is grown from love first.

What is love?

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

This is the kind of love that God produces in us. Just when we think we have it all together, it is clear there is another facet to His Love missing. We never arrive fully at the place of unconditional love because only Jesus knows what that is. The selfless love that gives up perfection for people. There are some days that believers will not give up pride for people let alone their whole life. My garden, my heart – to represent Jesus must be covered in love and grow the fruit that comes from love each day. This is what feeds my soul causing it to prosper. As my soul prospers, so will I. Discipleship is the multiplication of love and commitment to Christ through the Body. It has become disconnected with superficial relationships rather than supernatural love.

James 3:13-18 (NLT) If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

The property our house is built on belongs to us. It is our responsibility to maintain it. The flowerbed out front is no exception. I must decide what I will plant there if anything at all. I get to choose what grows from the earthly black soil all around it. As I care for the plants, it is up to me to water and fertilize them. Each year as the old dies away, I must evaluate their heartiness and whether or not I should plant them again or choose something else that is more suitable to this environment. I am free to pick what grows from my garden. The garden outside and the garden inside my heart. I will not know until Jesus returns or I meet Him face to face if I chose well.

Wisdom from above is all pure. Get in the Word today and compare it to the productivity in your life beginning with your relationships. If envy, bitterness, or strife has created division – pray for resolution and ask the Lord to make His Way through your heart to forgiveness and resolution. Decide what spiritual fruit needs some attention in your life and look for ways to plant it, water it and cultivate it in your life. The Holy Spirit has probably already begun pressing seeds into the brokenness of your heart. Be peace loving – love is peace. Be gentle to every one all the time. It is time for the church to yield to others again rather than molding and shaping Christians to be like us – it is our lifelong serve to get wrapped up in His Love, covered in His Grace and begin to grow that in the fertile ground around us. Will you examine your heart with me today? Removing all the weeds and worries choking out purpose and prosperity. Breaking up all the hard parts making it ready for more seed. Will you stand in the storm so He can water your soul and wash away hidden sin? God wants to grow you so you can grow others. He is looking at our hearts today. What will He find?

Psalm 65:9-11 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

Lacking Nothing

Lacking Nothing

James 1:4-5 (NIV) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

As our family settles into our new-to-us home, a steady list of tasks is being constructed. The handyman came by last week for the first round of repairs and renovations. Before he was out the door, there were more things added to the list. I love home improvement. This house was a foreclosure bought by the family who sold it to us. They did some repairs but it is clear that somewhere in the process, they gave up. I understand as the list gets longer, it can be overwhelming. While I make one for the inside, my husband is mentally making his for the outside. Are we perfectionists? I don’t think so. We just like to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with. We like things done. We strive for completion. No loose ends.

When we come to Christ, it is like a foreclosure. A life lived to its own detriment suddenly surrendered to the King of Fixer Uppers. Foreclosed homes usually come in an abused and neglected state. Perhaps, it was just too much for the owner to maintain. Maybe the price of keeping it was just too high so they gave up and walked away. Perhaps they were forced out. The new owner purchases the home because they see its worth and potential underneath the disrepair and filth. Taking the time to clean it up, fix it, and restore it into a home worth living in. I believe that Jesus knows exactly what we need to be complete lacking nothing. Can you imagine complete satisfaction? Not in one thing, but all things. Such a state of contentment would allow us to live free from the burden of needing or wanting anything which in turn would eliminate the majority of our stress and worries in life. The trouble is sometimes there is a difference of opinion in what we think and what God knows will satisfy our soul. Things will never make us complete. People will never satisfy our full expectation. It is Jesus. Just the Lord who can complete us to the uttermost.

Completion in Christ comes with a price labeled perseverance. Perseverance requires patience. If we are committed to being made complete as Jesus intends us to be, it will take a whole lot of perseverance and patience to get there. Completion is marked by maturity. Wisdom comes from knowledge applied properly to our life in our attitude and actions alike. We read the Word of God but it is in its application that one experiences renewal and restoration by having faith in God. To love the Lord is to follow Jesus. To say we love Him, but live the same way we did yesterday, is not to love Him like we should.

John 15:10-11 (NIV) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

God has jokes. I will let you in on a little secret. This house was not my first pick. I wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch. We looked at one or two. I had this overwhelming unction if you will that we would live in a farmhouse. Well, God has jokes. When we looked at this house, I knew it was the one that God handpicked for us. Walking through the home, it was the same layout as the one we were selling with some changes. Many of the changes were some that we had wished for in the other home and one day dreamed of doing. I remember feeling the peace of God yet still asking “are you sure”? This is not a farmhouse, Lord. I thought that’s what I wanted. Well, it is not a farmhouse but it is a house in a neighborhood called “The Farm”. I guess that makes it a “Farm” house.

His Ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my own. Maturity in Jesus Christ requires a commitment to His Commandments. The Word of God is the beginning of true knowledge. The Word is seed for our heart from which our faith grows in the Lord. In our pursuit of wisdom, we cannot forget to continually read and study the Bible. People perish for a lack of knowledge. God is specific in nature. He does not lie or change His Mind. To be complete in Christ – who was the Word wrapped in flesh – means as believers we must know the Word of God.

It is not enough to know what God says but to do it. If I divided a room into three sections with one area marked as God’s Perfect Will, God’s Permissive Will and Not God’s Will at all, I am sure that if asked where you currently reside most Christians would play it safe and pick God’s Permissive Will. Sadly, there is no such thing really. God has a perfect will for us and then there is the area labeled not God’s Will at all. The world calls for compromise but that is not a welcome word in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is to reject God completely. He vomits lukewarm Christians with a lack of sincere faith and commitment to Christ. John Bevere said it best – “There is absolutely nothing good for my life outside of God.”

Grace is enough to complete us. Grace is applied to our weakness. It is the Lord’s Deliberate Plan for us to take full advantage of His Grace in the process of maturity and completion. Grace and complacency are not the same thing. Grace is not a crutch but a pick-me-up when I fall short of the Glory of God so I can get back at it. It is for those who fall forward not backward. What do I mean? Grace is not a cushion to soften our fall but rather a set of arms that catches us as we learn to walk like a toddler taking their first shaky steps. Following Jesus is not easy. Carrying our cross is not a given. We must learn to walk.

I Corinthians 13:9-11 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Our oldest daughter is grown, married and gone. She and her husband are in full-time ministry. They were called away just a few short months after their wedding. Both had not lived away from home for a year, when they packed up all their belongings and moved 21 hours away. She is experiencing life on her own and some days admits that “adulting” is tough. I must concur because at 50, I am still challenged with “adulting” some days. Maturity is not easy. It is taking responsibility of our life. What we do with it from that point on makes all the difference! If we take our life and hand it over to Jesus Christ, we will be made complete. It will be a process. We must be committed to that process. Since we can only know “in part” what is perfect, it is up to our reliance on Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps with His Understanding. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The more I grow in the Lord, the more that I need to grow. The more understanding that I am given the more I know that I need to be successful in my pursuit of Jesus.

Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

It has taken a lot of hard work to begin making our new house our home. Lots of cleaning and unpacking went into getting us here. Now as we settle in, projects abound and lists seem overwhelming. I believe that as we steadily work through our needs and want for this house that it’s true potential will begin to shine through. It will take time. It requires effort. It is a commitment. There will be things that I want to do on the weekend preempted by the task at hand. I must count the cost. I have to decide it will be worth it. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have decide if I want the Lord to make His Home in my heart or will we just be acquaintances? Will I live a life of true repentance continually being covered in His Blood and washed by His Word? Will I give Him my time? Will I invest energy into our relationship? Will I make a commitment to become fully mature lacking nothing or is mediocre good enough for me? Anything less of God’s Absolute Best is outside His Will for us. I wonder if that makes compromise and substitutions rebellion against God?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

True maturity in our spiritual life is evaluated by unity. Do we live in love with Jesus? Do we do everything in an effort to maintain our relationship with Christ? Unity with Christ allows Him to bear the burdens of our life as we are yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Prior to His Death, Jesus told His Disciples that our bond with Him gives us the right to use His Name. (John 16:22-24) When Jesus arose on the third day, He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom once stolen by sin. He gave us His Power and Authority. Shortly after that, He filled us with His Spirit. His Desire is to be one with us as He is with the Father. Complete unity is Father, Son and Spirit living in us. (John 17:22-23) The sign of a mature church is its connection with each other through their bond with Jesus Christ. No division. No parting of the ways. No opinions. Just Jesus filling every member to overflowing until His Love and Grace unites us all to one another. This is the Will of God. This is the sign of maturity that Christ is looking for in His Bride.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Last night, I dreamed that I put up rolling bamboo blinds on the screened porch to keep out the elements. When I woke up, I thought did I really dream about blinds last night? I have home improvement on the brain it appears. Seriously though, I need to continue my pursuit of Christ more so than any other endeavor in my life until He is at home in my heart. Spiritual maturity cannot be forsaken as the end times are here. We must be aware of our connection to Jesus. We daily maintain our relationship with Him. We must communicate with Christ. His Desire is to complete us. He wants our life to be filled with joy. Joy comes with things like contentment and satisfaction. Maturity comes from knowledge and understanding that becomes wisdom when we take what we know God wants and commit to doing it in our life by faith that He knows exactly what He is doing in us and for us. It is a life of trust. When His Spirit nudges, maturity responds instantly without reservation because it knows God and His Ways choosing to walking in them until we are complete lacking nothing.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.