Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

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Power of Agreement

Power of Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

How many churches have you attended in your lifetime? Can you count the number of places you have attended? I posted something on social media. A friend liked the post. Another friend inquired how the person knew me. We had attended church together many years ago. I have had this happen more than a few times. I do it myself. I have a high school friend who teaches another friend’s children. The Body of Christ is to be just that a living, breathing, working, communicating complete unit. It seems like just when a ministry is growing and strengthening into a fully functioning body something happens and it falls apart. It is time to out the enemy and his assault against unity to become the Body of Christ – a strong source to be reckoned with in the world today.

After years of tearing apart Christians, how ironic that Paul would give the rest of his life after coming to Jesus Christ to rebuild the ruins of wreckage left behind. In an almost pleading fashion, He says, “If there is any consolation (comfort, solace) in Christ…if there is any comfort in His Love…if there is any fellowship in His Spirit…if there is any affection or mercy for one another…fulfill my joy…do it for me if no one else…be like-minded…have the same love…be of one accord…be of one mind.” (paraphrased) The tone reminds me of trying to deal with our teenagers. We teach, instruct, discipline, and finally exasperated in effort plead with them.

It’s funny how families work together. Dysfunction is a key trait in families. Our children fuss, fight, pick and disagree on just about everything UNTIL someone dares mess with a sibling. Suddenly there is complete agreement that that person is about to get hurt as they rally together. The church isn’t much different. Rather than walking in love and commitment together, it only happens in the midst of opposition or tragedy. God desires unity in the Body of Christ. He purposed it for us. Jesus even prayed for us to be one. The Holy Spirit identifies us as one family. How do we overcome the natural sense of family to become one as God’s Family? To stop fussing and fighting all the time and begin to function as Christ intended. It may be harder than you think.

Genesis 11:4-6 (NKJV) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 

After the flood, Noah and his family replenished the people of the earth. The whole earth had one language and one speech. Unity. They decided to build a tower all the way to heaven. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Self-preservation and pride decided to make a “name” for itself. The Lord came down to see the city and tower. Immediately, He interrupted the building of such idolatry by confusing their language and ability to communicate ending the unity and stopping their downfall. I wonder sometimes if church communities built on the wrong foundation fall apart for the same reason. False prophets who create a community built on foundations other than faith in God’s Word and an introduction to Jesus Christ.

The point of opportunity in this passage and promise rising from another’s misguidance is that when people become one “nothing they propose will be withheld from them”. The power of agreement works naturally and spiritually. Natural agreement produces favorable results in the world. Supernatural agreement builds a Kingdom. It creates a living, breathing body that will become the Bride who Christ is coming for. We have a long way to go!

Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The early church set the precedent of fellowship. Thinking of fellowship today, I smell fried chicken and a desert table piled high on a special day at church. In the South, there is homecoming or maybe it’s a “Friends and Family Day” to invite or entice new members. This is not the concept set forth in the New Testament. The church broke bread together and prayed together daily. Every day. Not Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Not small groups. Not via texting. No, every single day. The word “fellowship” or koinonia means sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society or contributory help. Every member was a valuable asset to the group. They sold all their possessions and goods dividing up the proceeds evenly among everyone and giving to those in need. They lived in one accord. The early followers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit literally devoted their whole life to unity with God and each other.

John 17:20-21 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

This was the prayer of Jesus Christ for all of us just before going to the Cross. He desired that those who will believe in Him through the message of the disciples and apostles “that they all may be one” like Jesus and God are one. To abide in love and fellowship together in one accord. One heart. One mind. One body. How are we doing?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I wonder if the Lord allows confusion and discord to set in to the church so it doesn’t become built of pride and self-preservation. Is it possible that it is the heart of His People causing the issue and not the enemy to blame? Pride is a human trait overcome by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the spiritual fruit that feeds our soul. As our soul prospers, it overflows those same gifts and characteristics into our natural life. We must live lowly and gently lives. Patient. Bearing one another with love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit who binds us together in peace. There is one body. There is one Spirit. In 2016, there were estimated to be over 300,000 Christian churches in America. Where is the impact and influence of such mass numbers?

We have been called together in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in us all. We must work on the Body before we take on the world. What is lacking?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us united with Christ in full fellowship together according to His Spirit. It is not about building new buildings and erecting new walls – physically, structurally, emotionally, congregationally, or corporately. It is about tearing down every barrier between us and God and everyone else. God doesn’t desire one person over another. Our God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all. His Love is for us all. His Kingdom has a place for us all. His Body has a function specifically for us and no one else. We cannot fulfill our purpose without the other members of the Body no more than my hand can function apart from my arm if detached from my body. We must learn to live in fellowship. We must figure out how it all works. We must strive to live in harmony and unity with all mankind. It is the Will of God for us and the Way to the Father’s Heart. It is to achieve the Mind of Christ.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) 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.”

 

 

 

A Covenant Life

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Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Nothing creates division or conflict faster than politics and religion. I avoid both subjects completely when working and socializing due to the usual outcome. Conflict is not the lifestyle of the godly. Our thoughts, ideas, morals and ethics may not be the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ or the world, it is not important that I am right as that I am Light. Living at peace with God promotes unity and is pleased by harmony among all mankind. We have only one enemy. He comes in many shapes and sizes even using people to do his dirty work. However, righteousness offers freedom that ends arguments and overcomes conflict. I have always told my kids that it takes two to tango. Ending an argument is as easy as walking away and choosing not to engage in it. It is important to pick and choose battles. Conflict must end in covenant for the godly to experience fullness of life. Why is living with others so much work? It is a prerequisite to living a holy life. We must look after each other or risk receiving grace. If I am not gracious and forgiving to others, the same is withheld from me. Bitterness has a price. It robs us of God’s Glory shining bright in us. We must learn to overcome pride and pursue peace at all cost.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT) When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

To set the scene, there is a famine in Gerar, the land of the Philistines like the time of Abraham. (26:1) The Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but remain in the land as a foreigner reminding him of the covenant between God and his father, Abraham. So Isaac stayed. When the men noticed Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, and her beauty fearfully he lied telling them she was his sister. However, King Abimelech called out Isaac on his ruse instructing all the men to stay away from his wife or risk the wrath of God. (26:7-11) So there is already bad blood between Isaac and his neighbors.

The bitterness only grew worse when Isaac planted in famine and harvested abundantly. The Philistines reacted to his sudden wealth and unexplainable prosperity by filling up his wells with dirt. (26:15) The king decided to kick Isaac and his family out of his country. (26:16) So Isaac moved on and reopened the wells his father, Abraham had dug. In addition, he opened a new well discovering fresh water. The shepherds of Gerar claimed it to be their water so Isaac named the well – Esek which means argument. (26:20) So his men went and dug yet another well, but again there was a dispute over it so he named it – Sitnah which means hostility. (26:21) Abandoning that well, he dug another one. There was no dispute over this well so Isaac named it Rehoboth which means open space. He said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” (26:22)

Genesis 26:23-25 (NLT) From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Overcoming conflict, arguments, and hostility maintained the Blessing of Abraham on Isaac’s life. When conflict arose, Isaac simply moved on. Not once, but over and over again. The Lord spoke to Isaac reminding him that there was no reason to fear. God was with him as he remained in right standing with God by overcoming conflict in his life. Isaac had every right to fight for the wells his men dug and defend his righto the water flowing from them. He didn’t. He walked away from conflict choosing covenant over conflict will produce prosperity in our life every time. It is by faith in believing that God our Father will meet and exceed our expectation that allows us to stop fighting for our rights and walk away from conflict to maintain our covenant with Jesus Christ.

Genesis 26:26-29 (NLT) One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.” They replied, “We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!”

Isaac’s commitment to covenant rather than embracing conflict allowed him to have great influence over King Abimelech and the people of Philistine. The same ones who threw his family out of their country came seeking a covenant with him. By choosing to embrace our covenant more than pride offers us influence in this life that bickering and bitterness never allow. “That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”).” (26:32-33)

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Jesus Christ brought us the new covenant. The old covenant made complete by His Sacrifice for sin. We have but one new law to live by. Love. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) How does Christ define love? “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) What is love? “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.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is not lust. Love is not emotional. Love is messy. Love is hard. Love is a commitment. Is the life that I live demonstrative of true, real and authentic love as defined in God’s Word? Does the world know me by my talk, walk or religion? Or are they fascinated by my love and commitment to others? Conflict has no place in covenant. If we are in covenant with Christ, it means the end to all conflict. Pride must be crucified in covenant. Covenant is the end of self to choose a new union. Those who believe have entered a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. This covenant should be evident in every attitude and action in life. The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out. Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:9-10)

2 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

Conflict usually stems from pride. Pride is a faith stealer and joy killer. It tells us that our expectation will not be met if fully reliant on Jesus Christ. It gives us an inner need to be right. God didn’t tell us to change the world. He called us to be Light that shines in the darkness that draws people to the Love of God fully expressed in our life. Conflict leads to dysfunction, division and death. It is not enough to forgive and forget. We must remain in covenant with all mankind to be firmly established as God’s People. This begins at home and also includes friendships, work, and church. Disputes do not honor God. They place our faith in someone or something else to satisfy, bless or prosper our life. Complete unity with Jesus Christ makes Him the Mediator of the new covenant in life. It means when I am wronged, hurt, abused, betrayed, lied about, disregarded, ignored or put out that He is all I need to forgive every offense, hurt and devastation because He is enough. He is more than enough. When I reconcile my life to Jesus Christ the result is peace with God and mankind. All people. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am free to love without expectation because I am fully loved.

Ephesians 4:1-4 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

My husband and I have been married a long, long time. The early years were tough. Marriage is work. It is the commitment to love one another until death. Those years included some knockdown drag out fights, loud arguments, and many disagreements – but our covenant of marriage meant that after the dust settled and tempers cooled coming back together and working it out. You cannot ignore these issues or they become roots of bitterness that rise up and overtime will suffocate love. We chose to honor our covenant more than our feelings or need to be right. There were times when forgiveness was not based on agreement but commitment. Our marriage to Christ partners us with Him and secures our membership in His Body. To live a life worthy of such, we must live a life worthy of our calling. It doesn’t matter how much we do, how loud we preach, how right we are, how committed we seem, or how devout our church life – if we do not learn to love each other choosing covenant relationships over conflicted emotions – our light will go out. A marriage cannot survive when threatened by pride. Each must give up their way to pursue one way. The same is the truth of the Body of Christ. If the members of a church meet in agreement, forgive one another, and establish healthy godly relationships – how can we every become disciples of Christ who love completely, fearlessly, selflessly and sacrificially as Christ first loved us? Thank you Jesus for new mercy that allows me do-overs when I mess up or miss it. Lord, teach me to love like you do. Show me the way. Examine my heart and remove all pride and bitterness by covering it in Your Blood and washing it with Your Word today. Thank you Jesus for this new covenant. Lord, I want to live a covenant life. Teach me to always choose covenant over conflict so Your Spirit may move freely through my life. Show me the way! I want to experience Your Glory and be the Light called Love that attracts others (all others) to You!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Can We Agree?

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Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

As a mom, there have been many days that I found a referee shirt and whistle would have been more suitable attire. With two boys and three girls, not to mention five very different personalities, it seemed like they just could not get along. Yelling did not work, screaming, begging and pleading didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Putting them in the yard to settle disputes on their own only led to the need for a water hose to separate them. But let someone come against any one of them and watch out, the claws come out and teeth are bared. Abusing one another as siblings is perfectly acceptable, however; no one else may have the pleasure. I love to see my kids when my kids agree. When they can work, play or just be together laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I can only imagine how Father God feels when His Children do the same.

Five individuals were enough for this human heart to contend with. With three grown and on their own, the holidays are wonderful because we are blessed with opportunities to be together. Yet in the midst of such elation, squabbles break out, jealousy rises up and friendly competition has been known to cause a war. I cannot fathom the patience of God with us as His Children. Always pointing fingers, tattling, getting mad, getting offended and disrupting the “family” of God with our petty differences and hurt feelings. I remember a Jim Carrey movie, when he played God for a day. He was answering prayer emails and thinking that he was doing a pretty good job until they started pouring in by the hundreds, thousands and even millions. Why can’t believers agree? We are given such a wonderful promise of power when we do, yet it seems as though Christians just cannot get it together most of the time.

“If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Just two. Agree concerning “anything”. God will do it. It almost sounds like the desperate plea of an exhausted parent for just a moment of peace and harmony. The Lord promises His Presence when two or three gather as His Followers, yet in the midst of them there is usually division and drama. Why is that? How do we overcome it? If we learn to agree, we will see the Glory of God in our midst. I believe that if people, churches, congregations, and Christians learned to agree – revival would come and new life created.

What does it mean to agree? Let’s go to the earthly source. According to the dictionary, to agree means to have the same views and beliefs. It is to give our consent or assent which means to yield or concede. (Oh, I can already see trouble ahead.) To live in one accord without contention. (Aw man, I told you it would be problematic.) To come to one opinion. (I could insert so many analogies about opinions lest I digress.) To have one mind, agreement or settlement. One. Just one. To be consistent. (Stop it already.) To conform. As I read this definition, there are no I’s only we’s in the meaning of agreement. The identity changes in agreement as two or three or more become one. The Power of God will return when His People, His Children choose to agree.

I John 5:6-10 (NLT) And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

According to Jewish law, when two witness agree – their testimony becomes fact. (John 8:17) This confirms what the Lord tells us in Matthew 18. God never contradicts Himself. His Word does not change. God does not have an opinion. Unfortunately, people do and often believe them as the truth that governs their life. Isn’t it just like God to outdo the law time and time again? The Law says only two witness are needed. But in God, there are three: Father, Son and Spirit. If we believe the “testimony” of God to be true, why don’t we strive to maintain the truth about God in our life rather than allowing our pride to disrupt things all the time.

I remember telling my children, it takes two to tango. If you don’t react, there is no argument. Imagine offense, hurt, angry or hurtful words to be like those lightweight balls in a kid’s ball pit. If one is coming at you, it is human nature to catch it or deflect it. But what if it hits you and you never raise your hand to claim it? It will just fall to the ground and roll away. Without a reaction, the one attempting to cause harm or damage will stop because their efforts are fruitless. Isn’t that what Jesus did? His Heart so for the people that He ignored their insults and injury to make His Way to the Cross – to die for such things. We must follow the example of Christ. To unite with the Lord and live in the Triune God – we must give up our way, opinion and right to be insulted in order to agree wholeheartedly with one another. Forgiveness gives up such things to allow love to flow again.

God’s Word is an absolute for my life. (Luke 1:37) Matthew 19:26 reminds me that all things are possible with God. In John 15:5, I am instructed that Jesus is the vine and my attachment to Him allows me to connect with God. John 14:6 already established that no one can gain access to the Father except through Christ. Mark 9:23 says that all things become possible when I believe. Jesus has guaranteed a better covenant with God if I choose to partner with Him or agree. (Hebrews 7:22) Finally, the Lord has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of every single promise. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:14) I am now a Child of God. Not of my doing, but of this complete work. To live as a Child of God means that I must give up my way to follow His Way. Jesus promotes relationship, connection and agreement in the Body of Christ. Am I doing the same?

Luke 9:59-60 (NLT) He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19-21 (NLT) He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.

It is human nature and the desire of our flesh to have our own way. To maintain pride is to kill unity because agreement always requires humility. Each person must ask themselves if they agree with the Word of God, His Will and His Way. It is personal choice to join in building the Kingdom or be one of those tearing it apart. There is no middle ground even if people try to paint it a modern and fashionable gray. There is unity or division. The church has built many fences that must come down until our Kingdom is united again. Jesus’ invitation is simple – “Come and follow me.” This is the gateway to endless possibility in our life. Nothing is impossible any longer. But many will say that they agree, but choose their way.

There are many Judas’ in the church today. They give in to the lie of the enemy that serving God is more important than sacrificing self to forgive and form relationships with people. God is about building a Kingdom. Becoming one body – the Body of Christ. Will we disagree? Of course, just like my kids do time and time again. But let someone come against them, and watch out. We must develop the same conviction and commitment. It must not be okay for one to be lost. Agreement is the cellular level of faith. Faith is formed by our agreement with God. Those who learn to be agreeable will find that their faith begins to do something active in their life rather than just empty words touted as truth.

Philippians 3:14-16 (NLT) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Agreement is a sign of spiritual maturity. If you are in contention with people most of the time, it is time to reevaluate relationships. Relationships are Kingdom builders. Agreement fortifies its walls and allows His Glory to reach us. Arguments are Kingdom destroyers and keep us from the Blessings and Promises of God for His Children. In Matthew 18, the verses before todays’ scripture speak of permission. Freedom allows to choose the course of our life. If we permit things on earth like judgement, division and strife – it impacts the Kingdom because we are God’s Kingdom. If we strive for agreement and unity – it releases the Power of the Kingdom here on earth through us. The verses right after it talk about forgiveness. Infinite and endless forgiveness no matter how many times people hurt, offend or abuse us. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus Christ loves and forgives us. His Power is released in our weakness. When humility takes the place of pride to follow Jesus and connect with His Kingdom simply by believing God and His Word are true. Do you believe all things are possible? If so, you will hear these words today and take them to heart. Can we agree? We must agree. It begins with me. Together, we are His Kingdom.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Time to Take the Land

time-to-take-the-land

Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT) “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

What is going to make 2017 any different than 2016? Was 2016 just like 2015? What makes this the time? What if it’s not? Oh, but what if it is. The more my heart and mind stir that this is the year of God’s Favor and that it is time for revival – the more I am aware of the steps leading up to this moment. When God says, “Now!” Will I be ready to go? Have I properly prepared? Will I be lost in the moment? Or will it He speak to me the moment after I have given up, given in or decided to walk away? I can only imagine how Joshua felt in that moment when God spoke to him. Moses was dead. He was named leader of a stiff-necked, rebellious people always pursuing other things and new gods. “I promise you what I have promised Moses…” But Moses was dead. Did the dream die with him? No the promise never dies even if the people who see the vision or have the dream of revelation do. God’s Word must come to pass. It cannot return to Him void. “Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you…” Is it too good to be true? Can I really let my guard down? “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses, I will not fail you or abandon you…” God is speaking to my heart today. The time is close. It is coming. I have been lining you up for this moment. It is time to press in and take the land…obtain the promise…fulfill potential… do you believe?

In Joshua 1:6-9, the Lord encourages Joshua. He tells him three times to “be strong and courageous”. I believe in these three verses lie the secret to success and encouragement needed to step into the Promise of God for each one of us individually and corporately as a Body. This Christmas, it seems that the songs I loved the most spoke of Immanuel or God with us. I find comfort, peace and solace in those words. They have been proven in my life by test, trial and fire. I know that if God is with me – I will not fail. However, I cannot see Him or touch Him as I would like to. I cannot rely on “feeling” Him because human emotions are unreliable. I strive to hear Him but some days the Voice of God is drowned out by the lie of the enemy and other distractions along the way. I want to taste and see that He is good but my circumstances cause me to experience the bad things and forget all His Goodness. The only thing that will see me through to the end of this journey called hope is faith. I must believe that God is with me. He has gone before me. I have a promise worth having enough to be strong and courageous. I must believe.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

Has God given you a dream, vision or Promise too good to be true? Does it defy human logic? It is something that is beyond your natural strength or ability? Does it seem impossible? Awesome! It is definitely God. The promise that the Lord gives us are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus Christ. The only thing standing between me and what God has predestined for my life is His Timing and my faith (or lack thereof). I wait and persevere. I must submit my life as a living sacrifice so that the Lord can remove those hindrances that keep me from completion and fulfillment. If God said it – we must believe it.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011, I burst into the Presence of God demanding some answers. You think I am kidding? No, I was a Christian. A born-again believer of many years. I knew enough of His Word to know that this disease did not line up with what I read or believed so in complete devastation and desperation – I went straight to the source. After yelling, screaming, crying and pleading in a hospital bathroom with an unknown stranger guarding the door, I heard His Voice. It was quiet. It was confident. He was persistent. He asked just one question, “Do you trust me?” I said, “Of course, I do.” Well, in my own “Peter” moment, the Lord asked me again, “Yes Lord, I do!” He said to me, “Your son will live and not die to declare my good works.” Boom! Promise delivered. I would struggle to hold that promise tight until this very day. Our son fought cancer for three long tedious years before entering remission two years ago. Against all odds and overcoming the impossible, he is alive and soon to graduate college. Yet, to this day, I must recall the promise over and over.

Holding on to God’s Promise is not for the weak. It drains you of every ounce of personal strength and causes one’s emotions to run amuck. The enemy takes our weakness and tries to turn it against us so that we accept defeat and give up the glory of God coming to us. Have you given up? I gave up on a lot of things over the course of the last fifty years. When it came to the life or death of our son, it was not an option. Giving up and giving in would not do. I believe that it is with such purpose and drive that God’s People receive those precious and perfect promises. It is never because the Lord gave up on us or gave in to the lie of the enemy. He overcame to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them? Are they jingling in our pocket? Or are they opening the doors to freedom and the gifts God has for His People?

God’s Word will accomplish what He sets it out to do. Will I be ready to receive it? Will I be there when it arrives? Will I allow the enemy to steal it from me? Not this year, I am determined to dig up, dust off and see God deliver all that He has promised me. I must do my part. I must believe recall those promises and recite them in my life. His Word is not only my title deed claimed by faith, but according to Hebrews 4:12 it is my provider and protector. It cuts away those things holding me back and removes the lie of the enemy. A lie can no longer remain in light of truth. With this in mind, be strong and courageous! God’s Word for your life, His Promise is true and valid even when it is buried by time, trial and temptation.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Proverbs 3:1-6 (NLT) My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. 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.

Notice that the second time, the Lord told Joshua to “be strong and VERY courageous.” Trusting and believing God at His Word is not for the timid or weak. To step out of logic and walk by faith is not socially acceptable. It earns labels of “crazy” and “fool”. You cannot know the Way of God or discern the Will of God without the Word of God. It is the seed that His Spirit uses to produce a harvest in our heart. Each day we must sow His Word in us to strengthen our faith in God and His Promises.

Trusting God for “a” promise requires trusting Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:11 is unattainable if one does not seek the Lord “wholeheartedly” (Jeremiah 29:13) Straddling the fence and wading in the gray areas of life is not for those who desire the Promise of God for their life. It is a life of true repentance, go for broke generosity, unconditional love, and extravagant grace that His Promise is revealed to us. Many will call on the Name of the Lord to be saved. Some will call Him Lord. But is that enough for you today? I want to be strong and very courageous. I want to jump out of the boat even if it means getting wet sometimes or nearly drowning in my own doubt and disbelief. I want to know Him as Savior. I want to make Him my Lord. I want every promise God has for my life enough to give Him this life to have it.

In December 2007, I began praying for the coming year. What could I give the Lord? We were preparing to fast but food was no longer enough. I needed to give something more. The Lord impressed it upon me to begin getting up thirty minutes early each day to study His Word. I began to blog about my quiet time as an accountability partner. For years, I attempted a morning quiet time and failed miserably – I am not a morning person. I thought it would be my “offering” to the Lord. It was something that “I” was doing for Him. The reality is that those first few years sowed seed in my heart to carry me through the darkest days of my life. I wasn’t really doing anything for Him, the Lord was doing something in me. This has been my experience time and time again.

Every “little thing” that I submit, surrender or sacrifice to the Lord is used for my good and His Glory. When I read His Word, study it, meditate on it and believe it – the seed produces a harvest in my heart for the future. It may be the very thing that sustains me through great temptation and trial. It makes all the difference in the test. It is the only thing that always produces good in our life. We cannot live without it. We cannot be confident in anything else and succeed.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Are you afraid? Have you become discouraged? Have you wandered from your walk with the Lord? Be strengthened today. It is a known fact according to His Word that when we are weak, His Strength is manifested in our life. We cannot reach Jesus until realizing that it can no longer be accomplished by self. You haven’t failed unless you refuse to get up. You may have fallen but He will lift you up. Your heart may be broken. This is when Jesus is the closest. When no one can do for you what the Lord can do is when we come to Him in complete humility. This hope will not lead to disappointment. You must hold it with all that you are. God is with you! He goes before you and falls in behind you. He is with you every step of the way. He prepared the path before you. Dead dreams can be resurrected. Lost vision can be restored. Your “time away” did not hinder the process of God – it was part of His Plan and Preparation. The Promise God made you belongs to you. It is titled and deeded to you obtained by faith alone. His Grace is enough to overcome every obstacle and boundary between you and God’s Glory for you. God has done His Part and Jesus, too! The rest, my friend, is up to me and you.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

In preparation for the New Year, I am examining my life from God’s Point of View. Before I attempt to “do” one more thing for Him, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me the things He has been trying to do that I have given up on. To reveal every lie that I have given into. This is not about “new things” but dead dreams that need resurrection life. Words spoken to me and over me that have not come to pass but are not impossible by faith. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to completely overtake my life. It will require strength that can only come from the Lord. It will require courage that is born of complete confidence and trust in my Lord.

We need each other. The people took the land together. You are not an island. We are part of a Kingdom. It operates best together. God loves harmony, unity and wholeness that represents fully the embodiment of His Son, Jesus. We must get it together church. Apart from doctrine, religiosity and mission statements to open wide our hearts to every man, woman and child. There is strength in unity. Strength and power needed to take the land and build His Kingdom. We must encourage, build up and fortify one another to be confident and courageous. We must decrease and let Christ increase in our lives. I must decrease, He must increase in me. It is time to take the land!

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

What Is Revival?

what-is-revival

Psalm 85: 4-7 (NLT) Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

Driving home from church last night, my husband and I began talking about the coming New Year. In the midst of our conversation, it turned to revival. The cry of the church seems to be revival. Everyone is preaching it. People are praying for it. The united cry of the church is for God to send revival to us now. But my husband asked a question that cranked the motor of my brain, when he simply inquired…”what is revival?” It is obviously noted in history as Great Movements of God in churches and communities with many names associated with it. However, if we as a church corporately have finally joined our voices in one accord, it would seem that it is important to know what we are asking for so that it will be recognized when it comes. So I ask you today the same question for careful consideration, what is revival?

Going straight to the Word for an accurate description as the only credible source, I find only this passage and one other in the Old Testament that refers to the revival of God’s People. This leads me to believe that revival is a manmade term. It is not actually an “event” to be planned and executed but an experience that carries over somehow. God of our salvation. The cry for revival is an invitation for God to restore us. It is a personal plea for the God of the Universe to come down and touch me. Me, first which will ignite passion to overflow into my family and church. As the Light of His Love spreads among us, it builds momentum. The momentum of the church is unity. Unity is selfless harmony that burns away flesh and pride to expose our heart and mind to more of God’s Spirit than ever before. Let us not be confused. To experience true revival requires true repentance and complete forfeiture of self to be fully consumed by the Lord for His Service and Use in a collective community called the Body of Christ.

Put aside your anger from us once more? Have I drifted? Has the church strayed? Yes and yes. God has put the spark of desire in us for revival BECAUSE He wants grace to cover our fickle heart and wandering mind to be one with Him again. Revival is to desire the Presence of the Living God to come down in our midst. To save, heal and deliver everyone who dares to come near. However, if I think that revival will come to change other but not to do the same for me, I am merely delusional. Revival begins in me and overflows from me. I cannot offer what I have not experienced. I cannot introduce anyone to someone I have not encountered and become acquainted with myself. My message is less than convincing until it radically changes my life.

Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in You? I have attended many churches over the course of my lifetime. I have met many believers, professing Christians, pastors, teachers and leaders. I have served many positions in the church enough to see the business in the building. However, I have rarely experienced such great moves of God that I can recount them to you now. I have experienced the Lord personally but corporately I have not seen the Glory of God called revival in our midst. Why? We cry out for something but not make any attempt to find it within ourselves. People need Jesus. But if I do realize my own desperation and depth of longing for my Savior, Messiah and Lord – I will never be able to meet the need of another by offering them something I do not know. So many starts and stops, makes it apparent that we are missing something along the way.

The woman at the well had a personal experience with Jesus Christ so radical that she had to run back and tell everyone. (John 4) Come and see this man that told me everything… She forgot her guilt and shame including all those things that had isolated her and kept her from the company of others. She didn’t have time for pride, guilt and regret to hold her bondage any longer. No, they had to come and see. There was no other alternative than to come to the well with her to taste and see. When was the last time, your experience with Jesus Christ moved you to push, pull and drag people to church? How many times do you miss meeting together with other believers because there is something, anything more important to do? The want, need and desire for revival from the Lord must begin in each one of us to become the next great move of God. Going into the New Year doing the same thing but expecting different results is deemed insanity. You know the routine. The New Year comes and the church calls for a corporate fast. Everyone becomes focused on new menus, renewed prayers, shaking off the old, and embracing the new. Then by February, it is the same old thing all over again. If I truly want revival, I must decide that in the coming year that I will let God restore, renew and revive me first. I must submit my life including my mind, will and emotions to Jesus Christ to change me from the inside out. Revival did not come this year or the year before despite my cries and pleas. I do not believe that it is because of God’s Timing but the condition of God’s People that has kept it elusive for this long.

Ezra 9:7-9 (NKJV Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.

“And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant of escape, to give us a peg in His Holy Place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” Pride has driven the church back into bondage. Preaching for profit has cluttered our storehouses with lesser things. The modern day church is big business. Don’t get mad at me. I am not judging preachers who live in million dollar mansions. Things are not the problem. Purpose and drive are what is missing. Passion for Jesus turned into passion for other things. Pride of life that has caused us to deviate from building God’s Kingdom to prosper in this world. God is showing us grace. He is positioning our heart for a radical change from idolatry and worldly pursuits to a passion and drive for Jesus Christ that forces a choice to make a decision that is really not that difficult in the Presence of One’s Savior.

Revival is the remnant’s escape. Revival is the doorway that leads from self to selflessness. It is the moment that all I want is Jesus Christ. It is when He truly becomes all that I need to live, breathe and thrive in this lifetime. It is such a radical connection with the Lord that it creates an opening between heaven and earth that when two or more are gathered in the same spirit – His Glory overtakes them all. This is revival. We are not ready. Yet from our bondage and captivity – the church cries out for Him. “To give us a peg in His Holy Place” – I need to study this some more. Many years ago, someone spoke a word over me that God was driving me into the ground like a peg or stake. This passage made it come to my mind again. What if the next great move of God is not random or released on a whim? What if revival is not what we thought it might be but something more overpowering and overwhelming than we have every experienced? What if it changes my lifelong pursuits? What if it takes up too much of my time? What if it means being at church more than I care to? What if? What if revival is not about others but God releasing me first?

Psalm 85:8-9 (NLT) I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

Do I really want revival? Do I want God to restore and revive me which will always roost me from my comfort and convenience right into fiery refinement? Do I want His Glory to fill my life completely? Revival is for the remnant for a reason. Small pockets of people throughout the history of time who dared be pegs driven into His Presence. Refusing to move until He comes near to them. Those who, like Jacob, will wrestle with God until the new man (or woman) and new life emerges. It took a lot for me to forsake myself. I am not the same person with the same beliefs that I had five years ago. The price paid for such revelation is one I would not have paid knowingly or willingly. Everyone talks a good talk. However, when it is our life to be laid on the line everything changes…trust me. When it is time to totally trust the Lord for survival or even your next breath, this is the moment of truth and when only a remnant remains.

The Lord used my husband in a mighty way last night. I am blessed to be partnered with a godly man. I cannot shake the question now. “What is revival?” From now until the New Year comes, I am going to continue to ask this question of God and dig into His Word until I find that one thing I am not doing or surrendering that will allow His Glory to fill me and overflow from my life into my home into my church and into my community. I cannot participate in a move of God until I am moved by God. To cry out for revival is noble, but God knows our heart. He knows who is not serious enough to give their all. No one knows your heart but you. We can all put on our game face when need be, but who is willing to be driven in the ground like a peg to seek and stay in His Presence until His Glory comes. To be uncomfortable. To be inconvenienced. To wait, tarry and stay right here until He comes.

According to man’s interpretation, the dictionary defines revival as restoration to life, consciousness, vigor or strength. It is to restore to use, acceptability and currency (or worth). It is an awakening of interest in and care for matters of religion. God is ready to breathe life back into the Body of Christ which is gasping for air. He longs to restore the joy of salvation so that our hearts and minds will be one with the Lord and passion will produce a persistent pursuit of God and His Ways. Revival will not be the result around us until it is the change in us. If at the end of 2017, I am the same as I am right now, again I have failed. If there is no change in the atmosphere around me as God moves closer and His Glory fills the space around me, He did not fail – I did. There is a reason that revival only comes to the remnant. It is not a manmade feeling or controlled spiritual encounter, revival is to allow God to completely overtake us body, mind and spirit and then letting Him flow out of us to change the surrounding environment. Revival is not an elevated position but a prone posture as pride and self are sacrificed to make room for more of Jesus. It is not fashionable but definitely favorable.

Psalm 85:10-13 (NLT) Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

Many have seen the movie or at least heard the clip of Jack Nicholson yelling to the crowded courtroom, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Maybe just maybe this is what the Lord is whispering to us today. When His Unfailing Love and truth meet together righteousness and peace kiss and truth springs up from the careful consummation. Intimacy with the Father through the Son is at the complete forsaking of self. We must give up our way, wants, whims and wanderings to find our way into His Presence. A total commitment of mind, soul and body is required for God’s Fulfillment to begin restoration, renewal and revival to take place. All that we hold precious and dear in this life is at stake to be burned up with God’s Passion for us and ignite our heart with the Light of His Unfailing Love to be the torch for others. This is when the windows of Heaven will open allowing His Blessings to finally reach us not the meager provision experienced now but an outpouring like never before. Our land will yield a bountiful harvest of souls set free if believers and Christians would just do their part now. Righteousness is the herald before Him. Jesus is coming back. We are not ready. Revival must come. It must begin in me. What is revival? I am not completely sure right now. I intend to find out. I don’t want to waste another year doing the same things hoping for something new and different to emerge. Lord, take this time to start a fire in me.

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

True Reconciliation

true-reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Probably one of the most difficult things to achieve among people is reconciliation. In this day and age, most people don’t reconcile their own bank account let alone anything else in their natural life so to consider spiritual reconciliation is out of the question. As believers, if we do not learn to reconcile our life first to Jesus Christ and then with other people, we miss the point of Kingdom building altogether. Christians and followers of Jesus are called to be the Body of Christ. To reconcile is to bring into agreement or harmony. It means to make compatible and consistent. Reconciliation is to reconsecrate our life to Jesus Christ and build relationships according to that connection. Our expectation is then removed from other people and placed fully in the Lord. Whatever we give to others is from the endless and limitless supply that Christ gives us. But how do we get there from here…

True reconciliation is only possible as the next step after true repentance. Put on your waders people because this is about to get deep. We are called to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. New creation. Not a fancy remodel. Not a Band-Aid fix. No weekend makeover. One or two trips to the altar does not instantly produce new attitudes, actions, thoughts or intentions. Salvation is a process. We must work it out inside of us to share it with the world. The trouble is the human component of pride that will not allow our heart and mind to be fully transformed by God. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are not like ours. The idea of surrender is not acceptable to our flesh. We don’t really want to be crucified with Christ. We want to walk with Him. Talk with Him. Even dine with Him in precious communion but when it comes to laying our whole life down for His Cause – it is a quick no thank you followed by a frigid plunge into denial. Religion makes us feel good about ourselves and what Christ is doing in us. Relationships make us feel good about other people and what Christ do within us together. How do I stop evaluating myself and others from a human point of view? After all I am only human. Oh how I loathe it when people confess this over their life. Just as much as, I am what I am. Stop limiting the potential of your life by remaining human, reconcile your life to Jesus Christ, put all your faith in Him, put all your trust in Him, surrender your whole life to the Lord and let Him make you into a new creation.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

“The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”  You cannot step into a new place without leaving the old place. It requires an exchange of where you are for where you are going. You cannot live in the past and step into the future. Time will pass but nothing will ever change. To be crucified with Christ means that I lay down my old life for a brand new one. No longer living by the same set of standards, I accept God’s Glorious Standard which now belongs to me in Christ. Now I must daily examine my life for those things that do not “reconcile” with what God has promised me according to the New Covenant handed to me when I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” How is that even possible? To be alive in our body yet dead to ourselves. Welcome to the plight of all mankind? We must die to our flesh and live by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God in us. He is our Helper. He is our Advocate. Our Teacher who guides us and instructs us along the way. So how am I reconciled to Christ exactly? The Christ in me is greater than any other force in the world around us. He is the Sovereign Living God in us who has all power and authority in Heaven and earth. I have a free will. I can call Jesus my Savior in Name only but until I call Him Lord and surrender my life – I cannot be reconciled or called a new creation.

Matthew 9:19-21 (NLT) So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

Everyone has issues. Everyone has problems. Everyone has hang ups. Everyone sins. You can dress it up. Clean it up. Pretend. But the truth is that every moment of every day every single one of us need Jesus Christ completely. The woman who bled for 12 years. She sought help from doctors. She expected comfort from her friends. She was shunned by religion. Twelve years of disappointment, hurt and isolation that finally led to desperation. She was desperate for change. She was focused on deliverance. She had heard of Jesus. She saw a glimmer of hope. As her desperation grew she would make one final attempt. The crowd was packed. The road was narrow. The way was blocked. She lunged for the hem of his garment just as Peter did when the waves and wind wrecked his faith. In that instant, the glorious and marvelous moment, she was healed. Set free. Delivered of pain and shame just because she reached out to touch Him. In that second, her body became reconciled to Christ and started working properly again. Her heart took a long time to decide. Twelve years of reconciling her trust to others. She took it back and handed it to Jesus. She was complete.

Jesus can only heal those who admit that they are hurting. The man with the withered hand had to reach out to receive restoration just like the woman who touched the hem of his robe. Are you reaching out today? Or are you still trying to fix it, resolve it or heal it yourself? Afraid of disappointment or worse devastation? Our faith is not worth anything outside of Jesus Christ. If we reaching within for solutions rather than crying out and reaching out – restoration is not possible.

Jesus can only comfort those who are broken. He is close to the brokenhearted. Hearts filled with pride and surrounded by unforgiveness are uninhabitable by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, fear and anxiety make people who live in such strongholds feel safe and secure. Pride bolsters their confidence with the lie that this is a godly position rather than a horrible compromise. We must let our walls be broken down and live openly. Forgiveness is essential to spiritual freedom. It is trusting Jesus to guard our heart, keep us safe, and restore our brokenness with hope that never leads to disappointment.

Jesus can only satisfy those who are empty. We cannot be full of our self and full of His Spirit. The two are like oil and water. They conflict. If what we are doing does not stem from our heart but our hands it is hard to be fulfilled in Christ. Every good thing comes from the Father. It is looking for a place to fill or void to replace. I must lay down my life on earth to inherit the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not something that I can see but must experience. If God’s Glory is not filling my life, it means that I have not given Him room to move or a space to fill.

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

I cannot be an effective minister or ambassador for Christ if I do not submit my weaknesses to Him every single day. I cannot be an effective messenger unless I am willing to share my inabilities with other and point to Christ for the change that people see. We do not glory in our transgressions but to paint a perfect picture is a lie. No one can live up to that. Church is for the hurting, broken and those desperate to reconcile their life to Jesus Christ. For when I am weak, I am strong. God never called me to be the strong one. I am just to have faith. Not a bucket of faith, but a teeny tiny mustard seed because let’s face it that is really all we can muster. It is my total inadequacy to save myself and redeem my life that I am made into a new creation. It is not my ability to serve God with my hands but in full surrender of my heart.

John 15:5-9 (NLT) “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ is an act of surrender. To maintain the constant conviction that apart from Jesus Christ I can do nothing. It’s true. Apart from Him, you can do nothing of worth just random acts of kindness and some generosity. I cannot save a single life, fill an empty void or offer anything of worth outside of Christ in me. If I construct a wall of pride to protect me or a fence of offense to secure my feelings, there is nothing of worth that God can do through me because Christ cannot move in my life. He is with you. He will sit behind that wall with you as long as you want. He will never leave you or forsake you. But if the Glory of God is not manifested all around you – lives changed, people healed, strongholds broken and chains falling as revival breaks out – it might not be a God thing…it might be a you thing or a me thing.

True reconciliation with Jesus Christ means reconciliation with the Body of Christ. God desires that all of humanity to be saved even though He knows full well it is not going to happen. Jesus tells us to “remain in His Love.” His Love is farther, deeper, wider and longer than our human comprehension can ever conceive let alone experience. His Love is big enough for everyone. How big is your love today? If it is your own heart, emotions and feelings, it will only be big enough for the first hurt, insult or let down. It is in Jesus Christ that we can tap into unconditional love and never-ending grace that we as human beings are incapable of.

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

Pride keeps us from renewal and restoration in Jesus Christ. Self-preservation tells us to hold on so we don’t fall apart. The truth is if we do not fall apart and had all those pieces to Jesus Christ there is nothing for Him to work with. He will not take our life from us. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him. Jesus Christ invites us to think about all the possibilities of heaven not the things of this earth. If you are willing to die to this life including all the drama, emotions, feelings, hurts, injustices, unfairness and let Him flood those empty spaces – the Lord will fill  your life with every good and gracious blessing that Heaven has to offer. It belongs to you. True reconciliation is giving up less to acquire Heaven’s All. You are worth it. You may not feel like it. You may even doubt it. The work of Jesus Christ on the Cross says differently. You are worth it all. All of Jesus. Why not give Him your all today? Every disappointment, hurt, shortcoming, downfall, broken piece, letdown, all of it. His Hope never leads to disappointment instead He will fill you up! True repentance must be followed by true reconciliation to seal the deal. Hold tightly to your promise of new life today.

Hebrews 10:20-23 (NLT) By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

Puzzles

puzzles

Ephesians 4:1-5 (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.

I have always enjoyed puzzles. Not everyone enjoys them like I do. In fact, they completely stress my husband out even at the preschool level. I think it is the concept that every piece has a place and if you just work it all everything fits together. There is a solution. I imagine this appeals to my need for order and control. Dumping the contents of the box on the table, sorting through each piece, separating the edges to begin with, it is no surprise that I found one waiting to be done at the Hope Lodge where my son and I stayed during his treatment. Caregivers and patients alike would join each other around the table to sort out and complete something when everything else in their life was turned upside down. Friendships were formed around the puzzle. Tears were shed as well. Time passed slowly yet somehow even on the hard days and darkest hours of the night there seemed to be something being completed and finished in our life.

On the box of every puzzle there is a picture of the completed product. The goal for which we strive in our endeavor to put all the pieces in their proper place. Don’t worry I am not going to continue to bore you with the semantics of puzzles but feel in my heart that it is the premise of unity in its example that we need in our churches today. Within each congregation new pictures and images have been formed of a body clearly defined and a Spirit fully formed. Division and dysfunction take over if we cannot find ways to fit together and find everything is falling apart. The longer a puzzle is spread out and fitted together – the more likely it will lose pieces along the way. Each piece has a place in the big picture that will never be fulfilled in its absence. Oh the Lord is speaking to us today as believers – we must come together. We must find our place.

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” These words are scripted by Paul from a prison most likely with chains on his wrists, he still felt freedom in his heart. He called his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to come together. To unite and be one. It is our calling. How are we have come yet how spread apart also? We are part of one body. We are born of one Spirit. We are called to one hope. We have one Lord. We have one faith. We experience one baptism. We serve only one God. He is our Father. We are His Children. It is time for the family to come together.

When working on a puzzle, we look at the hole and search for the piece that will fit in it. Why are we going back to this? It is time to apply the same philosophy to the Body of Christ. The world in which we live thrives on grouping. I cannot help my kid with her math homework anymore because rather than simple arithmetic, it requires crazy regrouping. We divide people based on sex, race, religion, political views, socioeconomic status, diagnoses, and the list goes on and on. There is no push for unity because if we truly came together personal agendas would be destroyed. Everyone would have to give up something they want to become one with the other. To fulfill our calling in Jesus Christ is to surrender all of our life to become one with Him. We think we want it but does our life relay the same?

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

To create a puzzle an image is chosen and printed. The picture is glued on a board thick enough to fit together. A sharp blade then cuts into pieces which are amassed into the one that is bought and dumped out on the kitchen or card table where it will be put back together. The picture is chosen first. We are chosen. Our lives completely recorded and handcrafted by the Lord before we are born into this world. Before our hearts are broken, the Lord provided the healing needed to keep going. He knew the hardship to be endured so He provided all the grace needed in advance. He understood how much faith would be required to establish hope in our life so He gave it to us up front in the measure required. See all of this is part of a plan, picture, or masterpiece that God predestined before our birth. It is up to us to decide will we become part of the hope that is our future or will we just be a piece with a part of the picture never to be fulfilled.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

God designed the Body. He knows how it fits together and works properly. It would only seem logical to seek His Instruction (His Word) and His Guidance (His Spirit) for everyone to find their proper place. Pride is not a part of God’s Character. He is not arrogant. He is Sovereign. In order to find our place in the Lord, it will require submission and surrender on a level that humanity is not accustomed to. It is our vain glory that allows us to try to define worship, spout out praise, and live a life of service all the while glorifying ourselves rather than humbling, hopefully following the Lord to find our way and proper place in the Body of Christ.

No one can see your heart except the Lord. No one can fulfill your purpose other than a partnership with God the Father. He puts people around us to connect with and as a body we are to connect with those around us in other churches and throughout our community. Church is a living breathing body filled with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:2-4 (NLT) “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…”

I know that when I would sit and work on the “community puzzle” in the Hope Lodge that I would find rest for my mind. It would take my mind off the struggle and fight we were in if only to become lost in a pile of pieces in need of proper placement. While he lay sleeping, fighting, healing and recovering, I would sit with my new friends and talk about life before this tragic set of circumstances befell us. Since that time, I know of others who are now fighting the same fight. They post pictures of their puzzle creations. I look intently at each one. An effort to restore order in the midst of chaos. Busyness that calms the mind and quiets the heart if only for a few moments. I understand completely.

I wonder if rather than working on programs, projects, calendars, and promotions, the church and body of Jesus Christ worked on coming together in complete unity what might happen. What if we took the same diligence and thoughtfulness used in putting together a puzzle? Never quitting until the final one slips in its place and searching high and low for those who missing or lost, what would happen?

The Book of Ephesians is focused on Christianity as a whole. What it means to be a Christian in faith and in practice regardless of circumstance or condition focused fully on Jesus Christ. With this in mind, in the Book of Revelation, their error is made clear. The Lord knew of everything they were “doing” in His Name. Their hard work was no secret. They patiently endured trial and tribulation for being Christians. They did not entertain sin. Showing wisdom, they did not fall for the convoluted word and lies of false prophets but rightly discerned God’s Word. These people were not quitters but kept pushing and pressing no matter what. All of these qualities and characteristics were of God and done for His Glory, yet they were in clear danger of missing it altogether.

You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Many of the people who sat around the puzzle with me at the Lodge are with Jesus now or at least I hope so. As we worked together in that place, there was never an argument or dispute just love, kindness and compassion for each other. Why can’t we come together like that as believers?

Years ago Rubik’s Cubes were popular. Do you remember them? A 3-D puzzle in the form of a plastic cube covered in multicolor squares. Twisting and turning each section, the object was to have all of the same color on one side. I would work that thing for hours until one day I discovered that if I popped one out that they all fell out. I could take each piece and put it in its proper place suddenly the endless process all came together quickly. I never knew the satisfaction of completing it without cheating. I gave up. It was easier to do it that way but over time the cube was not as tightly together and became loose until one day the pieces just fell apart. There is a process in unity that brings satisfaction when the Body of Christ presses through the pain, pushes past their problems, stops defining one another by differences, and puts in the time, twisting and turning until believers come together as a well-formed properly place body. Everyone is necessary.

The only way to work this out is to stop looking for the differences in one another and find our likeness. Likeness will turn into acceptance. As we accept one another as we are applying grace just as God gives it to us a bond is formed called relationships. My shoulder has a relationship with my arm including my elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. My muscles and tendons allow it all to relate and work together so that I can use it. They are doing so as I type the message today. If a tendon is damaged or muscle is torn suddenly my entire arm including all of its parts could be impacted. Why? They were created to work together. God has given us one another for a purpose. We must love one another not just in word or deed but from the heart. Love is our likeness. It is this kind of relationship that will form the Body of Christ creating the masterpiece that God created us to be. Every person in proper placement. Churches without walls that come together to promote the Good News and find another missing person who has fallen out of place. When our purpose forgets people we have missed it altogether. What if we looked at ways to make people fit in rather than exclude them? Imagine the possibilities.

Lord, teach me to see people like you do. Impress upon my heart unity, love, compassion and grace for all people in all things never to drive them away but draw them closer to You. Forgive me for all the times I compared them to my standards rather than embracing them with Your Love as instructed. I want to be part of a fully functionally perfectly constructed masterpiece. Humble me in Your Presence Lord. Teach me Your Gentleness, Love and Kindness again and again until I get it and give it to all people unconditionally. Remind me today and always that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as (I am) called to one hope (with) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Lord teach me unity, bind it with love, so we can come together and be all you have designed us to be!

Psalm 133:1-3 (NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

Make Me Happy

Make Me Happy

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

In our pursuit of happiness, I wonder if it is ever really a consideration of what makes God happy. I believe that the Lord finds joy in His Children. I love my children. I know that I feel complete when they are all together under our roof. I know that when they first come together it is all laughter and love. However, the longer they remain in one place it quickly can turn to bickering. Since there are now six of them counting our son-in-law, it can go from reunion to revolution with just one well-fired potshot at another. They are hard on one another but should you make the mistake of coming against one of their siblings be prepared for a fight. When our son was ill, the dynamics shifted as they circled their wagons around their ailing brother. No longer was their picking on or fighting one another but grave concern over his health. Our oldest son became very conscientious of the younger son and after 19 years of making his life as terrible as possible, he became the doting big brother. His younger counterpart did not know how to handle the newly acquired attention and became very weary. When he was in remission about a year, he voiced relief when his brother began picking on him again as before and the banter of communication began that he was used to. I wonder if the Lord looks at us the same way. He loves for us to be together. Sharing life. Worshipping His Name. Doing what we are called to do together. I wonder if it grieves His Heart as it does mine when His Children wander off, get lost, lose their way, argue, and bicker amongst one another. Of course it does, how could it not?

Psalm 133:1-3(NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s Head. Harmony is refreshing. I wonder if this is why church fellowship is so strained. We do not have harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. We must find a way to come together, not just within congregations but corporately as a body no longer divided by doctrine and religion to take hold of this thing called harmony. The Lord blesses the life of those who strive for harmony and unity among all mankind. Is that you? Do you want harmony? Do you live united? It requires self-sacrifice just like the priesthood of Aaron. They were the ones who lived in the Presence of God tending to the temple. Are we also sacrificing our wants, needs and desires to be One with the Body of Christ and dwell in the Kingdom of God? What makes God happy will inevitably make me happy if I will sacrifice my life to live in His Presence.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? I Thessalonians 4:17-18 levels up our thinking if we consider these words – “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” The encouragement of the church and bride is the return of Christ. To live for the Lord will make our life better. Our fellowship with one another should do the same thing. We are to encourage each other. Not religiously but relationally to be ready for Jesus’ return as we prepare to join Him in the Kingdom of God forever. There is more to life than this. Say it with me – there is more to life than this. We must think higher thoughts. We must assume higher ways in order to be more like Him every day. I cannot think of myself all the time and be a good partner in any relationship that I maintain.

Any comfort from His Love? Anything done outside of love is apart from Jesus Christ. The Lord does everything for us, in us and through us because of His Great Love for us. Therefore, as ministers of the Gospel not by profession but ordination through the Great Commission, it is our profession and privilege in life to love radically. It is to follow Christ’s Example and Mandate on our life. Love one another. If we do not learn to love and accept others unconditionally, expecting Christ to change their heart, mind and life rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will never see the unification of Christ. There is a God who loves us and created a plan for us. Therefore, He does not need me to point the way but rather for me to lead others to THE WAY. The only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus. I cannot do anything to make my way to Him outside of the grace given to me by Jesus. We are to comfort the lost leading them to the Light with love.

Any fellowship with the Spirit? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) This is NOT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But rather when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, He gives you His Spirit which identifies us as Children of God. With this in mind, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as we learn to put our expectation in Jesus Christ and NOT other people. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to relationships, ALL RELATIONSHIPS, my first comment will be that you need the Lord to maintain any relationship long term. Marriage without Jesus is impossible. Two imperfect people with unrealistic expectations and selfish hearts will always need an advocate. Relationships are giving opportunities. A successful relationship requires enough trust to give 100% of ourselves to it or it is not a true relationship.

Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (I Peter 4:8-9)We must love each other with the depth and magnitude of the love given to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Love is complete and unconditional full of grace, tenderness and compassion. It is not harsh and unyielding but completely merciful and forgiving. Have you examined your heart lately? When I feel anger towards another, or find myself pulling away – I find that if I examine my heart I will find things not like the Lord. I must deal with them quickly and efficiently as not to cause bitterness and strife. We must have tender hearts. No matter how many times we have been hurt in this world, by the people, if we cannot remain compassionate the fire inside us will soon go out. Passion will no longer rule us but pride quickly takes over.

“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” I believe if we focused on nothing else but this one concept that we could truly bring pleasure to God. I think that when His Children agree wholeheartedly putting all differences aside and love one another working together to share His Love with one mind and purpose that it puts a smile on His Face. When the King smiles on His People, His Favor comes pouring out along with His Glory. We want God’s Favor. We cry out to see His Glory. Where is the Lord? Is He happy with us? Or has our bickering driven Him away? Has the hardness in our hearts for one another kept us from His Presence? I want to make the Lord happy…don’t you? Lord, it makes me happy to make you happy. Show me the way.

Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Humility is absolutely essential in successfully uniting the Body of Christ. No one is 100% right in their pursuit of God – of that you cannot convince me. I know that I have visited several churches and been members of many congregations. Nobody is perfect in their fellowship because people are involved. I do know this. We are called to put aside our pride and selfishness to take up our cross and follow the example of Jesus Christ. What is that example? Even though He was God, He did not relish in equality with God but decided to give up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as slave and appear in human form. I do not think a single person who has entered Heaven would ever consider coming back. Jesus did.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Have you ever been accused on doing something that you did not do? Or maybe saying something that you never said? Do you remember how that made you feel inside? The wronged feeling of being completely innocent yet falsely accused. Imagine if you were the God of the Universe. Jesus died even for the ones who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He passionately loved those who spit in his face and tore chunks of hair and flesh from his bearded face. So you tell me, does it really matter if we are right or wrong? To be like Jesus means we must put away our own pride and take up our cross. The cross has many marks on it. The first is unconditional love. The second forgiveness and grace. There are others that must define our new life in Jesus. What matters is most is that we are to have the same attitude as Christ.

What did God do for Jesus? He elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all names. Hold that thought.

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

But wait…there is more to this amazing offer…

John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Let me end the confusion if there is any. When we decide to sacrifice our life for harmony in our home, church, work and world – we activate the Keys to the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus in our life. When Jesus laid down His Life – God gave Him all power and authority in Heaven and earth. He obtained them through humility and sacrificing His Life for others. When we follow this example, Jesus hands us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Power of His Name to use to build the Kingdom of God. If our life does not have open doors, the keys are not being used such as faith, hope and most importantly love. If we are using His Name without much results – it is time to reevaluate our pursuit of happiness. Joy and peace that lead to full satisfaction come when we sacrifice our life to Jesus Christ to have the life that He died for us to have. We die to self when we choose to live for others just as He did. It is the moment that their salvation and freedom drives us to avoid be offensive or defensive but to wrap our arms around them in love, speak to them in love, and captivate them with His Love until they come. This is the greatest work we can do is to do and makes God happy. It will make us happy, too. As God’s Love unites us and our differences dissolve in the Sea of Forgetfulness. We can walk together on the Highway of Holiness which is paved in love and sacrifice.

If only for just one day, we could all put aside our differences to walk together into the Presence of God. To stop looking left and right judging those who we find there by appearances and conditions, but just grabbed them to come along to worship God with us. What if we kept our eyes on Jesus instead of other people? What if making the Lord happy with harmony became more important than being right or religious? What if? I believe that if we ever truly discover harmony in the Body of Christ that we will experience favor like never before and His Glory will fill His Temple again. It would produce the rich and satisfying life that seems elusive for now. Love each other today. Forgive one another. Pray fervently for each other. Work for harmony in the House of God and it will pour out into your life. Make God happy and you will be happy, too!

Psalm 89:14-16 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.

Attracting Opposites

Two opposite magnetic poles attracting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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