Too Hard

Too Hard

Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NLT) The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Modeling clay has great potential. It can become whatever the sculptor desires it to be. When it comes out of the package it is hard and cold. Difficult to shape, it must first go through the rigors of plying and kneading in order to soften it. It may be in the strong hands of the artist or thrown on the potter’s wheel. Spinning endlessly as it is worked into something pliable. The cycle of the wheel perpetuated by the steady foot of the potter. Water is mixed in to make it moist and moldable. This process continues until it completely flexible and changeable. It is only then that it can be useful into becoming the very thing it was meant to be.

So he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

We are called to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. The purpose of true repentance is the changing of our heart, mind, spirit and soul into the masterpiece. God planned a good life with a future and hope with the promise that He would work every detail of our life for good. There is a process to transformation that requires a certain flexibility in order for the Spirit of the Living God to do His Work in us. God promised that He would complete the work. We must make the commitment to remain on the potter’s wheel. To be gracefully broken again and again until we become a new creation in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (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.

Anyone who belongs to Jesus Christ has the potential to become a new person. We do so by reconciling our life to Him through an active and abiding relationship with the Lord. In doing so, one must consider that God is Sovereign. He does not change. He is always right and His Way is always better. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to God except through Him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The changing is on our part never the Lord’s. The moment God changes His Mind – we have a problem. It is constancy that keeps our confidence firmly in place.

It is human nature to quit when things get too hard. It is our flesh’s desire to live that keeps us from new life. How do we evaluate our heart and mind properly when that which is in conflict is our very nature? As Paul explains no matter how much we desire to do the right thing, we inevitably do the wrong thing. (Romans 7) Brokenness creates an orifice in our life. Something will fill the void. The flesh wants to fill it with pride in order to sustain itself. The Spirit works to fill it with grace so that our life continues to build a strong bond with Christ. It is our job to live in a pliable state in the Hands of the Creator and battle our fleshly desire to survive the transformation process. Grace is only powerful in my weakness and inability to change myself. God has promised to do all the work. I must only submit and surrender my life to Him.

Luke 5:36-38 (NLT) Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites cried out to God. But rather than a relationship with the Living God they decided to remain in the confines of religion. They wanted the Hand of God but did not seek His Heart. How many times do we do the same thing? Try to be a good person, do the right things, be a hard worker, serve tirelessly, and give generously but missing the point altogether? The Hand of God means nothing unless the Heart of God is our desire. The rain falls on the just and unjust. To receive one must only believe that God is able and not doubt His Power and Ability. However, to be complete in Christ means a full offering of self by true repentance and surrender to His Plan wholeheartedly. To allow the Lord to take all of our broken pieces and make the beautiful life that He promised. Nothing is wasted with the Lord. He uses all of our details not only to produce good in us but to resonate His Glory through us.

If our goal in life to live in the Presence of God, our desire is to be completely broken and reconciled to Him. Hardness in the life of the believer is right before the breakthrough. It is the moment that our spirit encounters unyielding flesh and rebellious thoughts that tell us this is too hard and to give up. The moment our flesh screams out in fear and our heart grows weak is the precise time that reliance on God becomes reality in our life. Faith must be tested to be genuine. Confidence left untried cannot be validated. Hope is for that which cannot be seen but accepted as a reality. Impossible is when something miraculous happens. Do things seem impossible right now? Are you considering giving up? Giving in? Walking away from this God thing? What if that which feels like it is going to break you is your breakthrough?

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT)  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[a] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

I find that when I think things are “too hard” it is usually because I want my way. Living yoked to Christ only creates tension if I am trying to go my own way, do my own thing, or live contrary to His Word (the way). The hardness is produces from a heart that will not allow further change. It is the opposition with the Holy Spirit that creates pressure inside of me to choose. Will I be a living sacrifice today? Will I choose to give my body, mind and spirit to the Lordship, Authority and Power of Christ or concede the throne of self? God will transform those who are willing and weak but waits on those who are hard-hearted and stubborn. As we cry out to the Lord for more, He will respond and in doing so our old life is shattered to make room for something new. God’s Will is not book knowledge but carefully continuing even when we do not understand or fully comprehend His Method. His Ways are so much higher as are His Thoughts. The only thing of worth that I contribute to this process is a broken spirit that is humble and a repentant heart that turns to God daily for restoration.

The Lord is the Ultimate Potter who only creates masterpieces. He uses the broken heart of His People. He makes beauty from ashes. He is faithful and true. His Grace is always enough. Our weakness is the conduit of change. Our willingness to put our life on the altar again and again until there is no sense of self but overflowing evidence of Christ in us. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

Genesis 18:14 (NLT) “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Mark 9:24 (NLT) “I do “believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

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What’s Next?

What's Next

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

What’s next? The holiday season with all the hustling and bustling tends to produce an ongoing list. It is one I adhere to and attempt to follow closely. I must continue line by line or risk becoming completely overwhelmed and dysfunctional. Maintaining a peaceful mind and steady heart during such seasons can be difficult. Keeping ourselves righted in the ups and downs of activity and demands placed on our time and resources is challenging. It is with this in mind and the extra things life has added to the consumption of time that I find myself longing for the New Year. I am ready for what’s next. I am trying desperately to maintain presence and not give in to the whim to flee. Exhaustion is a tactic of the enemy to keep us from peace of mind, heart and body. If he can somehow persuade us to leave this season and time prematurely, it is at risk of leaving a harvest behind. He is bent on trying to steal, kill or destroy you. One or all three are just fine to him. To limit our life with anxiety, stress and fear (products of doubt) left to grow in our hearts and takeover our mind capturing us with our own disbelief.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time… God’s timing is important to His Promise. It is the maturation process that takes a tiny seed of faith, cultivates it in confident hope, and grows it into full satisfaction. To avoid waiting, our flesh gives into the need for relief and so we leave behind that which God is doing to do something that will produce immediate gratification. Sometimes the immediate gratification is not in a substitution but rather settlement. Settling for what we have rather than what the Lord has promised to do by abandoning faith and fruitfulness to just get by without all the pressure.

He has planted eternity in the human heart. Please understand thought you may vacate the possibilities of life the inevitability of God keeps pressing you to release what faith has for you because God is good and always pursues us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. We can never leave Him behind for the Lord is right there with us. It is the eternity in the human heart that creates the longing for more. To be satisfied. To live in fulfillment. The drive and desire to find purpose in our life. It is all God working behind the scenes to give you the future and hope that He planned for you when He created you.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT)  And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

God’s Purpose is that people should fear and worship Him (with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God). God does not give us the spirit of fear but like the Great I Am that He is gives a life worth having that we would seek Him, find Him and know Him – His Grace, Goodness and Glory is always working its way into our life. The recognition of God’s awesome Presence, Power, and Purpose may not change a single situation or cure a condition but it will overwhelm us with persistent peace allowing us to stay in our current season until it yields good fruit. There is nothing more tragic than an abandoned harvest. When the seed in the ground becomes the fruit of our labor and devoured by the enemy in our absence. God will do exactly as He promised in our life. We must be determined to wait for it.

Genesis 18:13-15 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.”

Why did Sarah laugh? I’ll tell you why! At almost 100 years of age, the Lord told her that she would get pregnant, carry and give birth to a son. She had tried to conceive a child her entire life. Now well past the years of natural ability – it was humanly impossible for such a thing to happen. Yet the messenger of the Lord said, “I will return about this time next year and Sarah will have a son.” She waited her whole life. She experienced overwhelming disappointment time and time again. She even tried to help God out with the whole Hagar and Ishmael fiasco. Now, in her old age and barrenness, such a revelation seemed like a cruel joke. Maybe her laughter was nothing more than stagnant bitterness mixed with sarcastic disappointment.

How long have you waited for the promise? The Lord has given us precious promises along with every spiritual blessing. We must strive to respond to God’s Promises and not life’s problems. Abraham and Sarah lived a life of transparency before the Lord. The Lord made them a promise. When it was totally impossible, the miracle happened. Whatever seems impossible in our life is the birthplace of miracles. Are you about to give up? Leave the place of waiting? Accept a compromise? Settle for a substitution? The Word of God including every promise that He has made you cannot and will not return to Him void. It must do exactly what it set out to do. Will you be waiting when it does?

Isaiah 38:19-20 (NLT) Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord.

Only the living can praise you. This made me think. Remember Martha when Lazarus had died. She told Jesus that if He had only been there then her brother would be alive. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and Life.” Martha shrugged it off for eternity and kept going in her funeral preparation. What miracle are you intent on giving a funeral? What dead dream are you mourning as a lost cause? Have we put off for eternity what if for us in the next day or maybe even next hour? Jesus called forth Lazarus from the grave. He is calling to those things you have marked impossible and never. He is trying to breathe new life into your dead dreams today. Are you holding the tomb closed in doubt and disbelief?

The Lord is ready to heal me! He is ready to heal you today? Every broken thing is on the verge of restoration. Every dead thing about to experience new life. Every loss cause is about to unfold into purpose. Where will you be when it’s done? Will you be found waiting and watching for the Lord ready to respond to His Promises? The enemy is always looking for opportunities to tempt us. (Luke 4:13-14) It doesn’t matter how saved or Spirit-filled you may think you are. When he comes – he uses everything not secured by faith and confident hope against you. What will he find in your heart today?

Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT) But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

A prospering heart produces fruit in all seasons. The Lord has promised good things to me. Yet I am tempted just like everyone else to abandon intensively hard or exhaustibly long seasons for something more comfortable, convenient and controllable. I am ready for the next season in my impatience. However, I may not be ready in my heart, mind and soul. There are things I need to sow in this season to prepare the harvest of the next one. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what I need to prosper in every season and produces that fruit in me when I am willing to stay right where I am until He says otherwise.

My to-do list is long. I have learned that if I go line by line – it all gets done somehow. Maybe if we went line by line and built precept upon precept of God’s Word while constantly meditating on what He says about our life and purpose the worthwhileness of our waiting might give us the strength to continue or at least pass the time. Faith planted wisely with confident hope will make the field worthy of waiting until the fruit of our labor comes up. Maybe rather than running off to the next thing, God’s People would realize that He is doing a good thing in us and through us now that is worth waiting for. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. It should incite praise and worship at its arrival because now God can do for us what no man could do. Lord, help me to embrace this season. To sow faithfully and wait patiently on what You will produce in me and through me. Keep your Light burning in my heart. Let me seek you wholeheartedly so I will recognize your arrival. I cannot have what is next until now comes to pass. Help me Lord to be faithful in the waiting and watching for You!

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Mary’s Heart

"Mary holding baby Jesus"

Luke 2:19 (NKJV) But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Our daughter and her husband are moving. After spending the afternoon getting them settled in their new home, we went for a quick taco run. In the midst of conversation, I mentioned that I couldn’t believe no one had asked her to be Mary in a Christmas Program this year. She is “great with child”. Laughing she affirmed that she would have loved to play Mary in her current state. As the conversation continued, I couldn’t help but think of the mother of Jesus. How full her heart would be at the sight of her newborn baby! How in awe should would be at all the attention a newborn baby born in a stable would attract! She had no possible way to know that the fullness of her heart would one day be emptied before an old rugged cross.

The conception of Jesus was miraculous. However, the baby came naturally. He would grow and develop like other children with hints of divinity mixed in. Mary would have other children. It would be an ordinary life filled with extraordinary potential. In the midst of it all from the very beginning, Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. What are the ponderings of our heart today? What is the wonder that lights us from the inside spilling over into the world? What is the tinder for the Light that shines from the inside? Mary’s Heart was full. Mary’s Heart would be emptied. So it is with us all.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Mary was a vessel. She was the one chosen to carry the Savior of the world. Care for him. Protect him. Nurture him. Love him. Surrender him. She knew that Jesus was the Son of God. She knew that He was the Messiah – the Chosen One. Yet, she did not know the mystery of His Life, Death and Resurrection. So her human heart had to come to terms with the reality of faith in order to continue this new journey in life. We do not know or even understand the complex nature of God. Our limited comprehension must allow faith to govern our life rather than what we see, hear, touch or feel. It defies the natural to embrace supernatural living. Jesus was in his thirties when his ministry began. What did Mary do for those years before His True Identity was revealed to the world? She kept God’s Word in her heart. She pondered the Word. Held on to it. She kept all the promises and revelations of God warm in heart meditating on them until that day.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 

Every Promise of God is “yes” in the life of believers. Christ makes the Glory of God possible in our life. His Presence in us identifies us as God’s Dearly Loved Children. It is our faith that connects to that promise and waits for its arrival in confident hope. Our daughter is in her third trimester of pregnancy. She was very sick during the first three months. Stuck at home, glued to the bathroom, and no signs of life to the promise growing in her other than horrible nausea. She was still careful to consider the promise of her pregnancy and do all in her power to protect it as she battled sickness each day. She waited longingly for the first signs of life. She rejoiced in seeing the little one moving inside of her with a strong beating heart long before she could feel anything. She cried the day she found out who he was and gave him his name. She excitedly shared the moment she felt the first flutter to today with his rolls and resounding kicks. She carries the burden of the cumbersome belly and all the inconveniences of pregnancy because she knows that her son will soon arrive. We all have been given promises that are growing inside of us. What are we doing to nurture, grow and develop them while we wait? What do we ponder in our heart?

2 Peter 1:3-5 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 

God has given us everything needed to live a god-like life. We must learn in our natural life to respond to the supernatural within us. Mary knew who the child was inside of her. She was well aware of his potential. She embraced the process. God has placed His Glory and Excellence inside of you. His Spirit cultivates the Fruit that feeds our soul nourishing that potential so it will become the promise. We must make every effort to respond to God’s Promises no matter what the circumstances of life. The Light inside of us has the power to drive away darkness but not if hidden by doubt or snuffed out by disbelief. The promises of God are worth having. They are life-giving. God is good and His Very Nature is to give good gifts to His Children. We must simply respond to the Love of God inside of us to have all those things that He offers freely through Jesus Christ.

Yesterday, in preparation for a little boy who has not arrived, we prepared his room. Little clothes hang in the closet. A new crib has been constructed. A giant gray elephant waits to cuddle. There is a place for him in my daughter’s new home. We must make room for our promise in our heart. Each day preparing a place for the Lord and His Promises in our life. Speaking the Truth concerning us rather than grumbling and complaining about the pains of our labor. God help us to respond to Your Promises today. Give us hearts like Mary who pondered your promise preparing the way for our promise of life and abundance. Lord, I will prepare a place for you in my heart making room for You each day.

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NLT) I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Finding Favor

Finding Favor

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 3:1-4 (NIV) My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

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

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV) Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

What does God require of you? What is it that God desires of you? Does He require a sacrifice? Yes. Does He desire an offering? Yes. It is important to understand exactly what God requires and desires of us to walk in alignment with His Word, Will and Way. Does such a thing mean that there is not freedom in Christ or an obligation for God’s Love? No, God loves you. He definitely desires you and has expressed His Love and Desire through the sacrifice of His Only Son to live in unity with you. However, communion and partnership with the Lord is no different than a bond of friendship or marriage. If there is not a giving of one’s way there cannot be harmony in a relationship. Giving to form a relationship is called grace. We must give up our way in order to form a new way. To surrender wants, needs and desires to be with someone else is commonplace. So why do we struggle so hard when it comes to doing so for God?

God’s Love for us is established in His Identity. God is love. (I John 4:8) To know God is to understand that the Love given to us is complete and unconditional. Our relationship of righteousness offered in the acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows us to return to such a position and enjoy a relationship with God the Father again. Sin separated us from God. Our chosen defiance of His Word and Way caused us to rebel from it and therefore step out of unity with Him. Repentance in the form of pouring our faults and failures before the Lord and admitting to our insufficiencies may not be all that hard, but when it comes to true repentance even strong Christians are at a loss. Picking and choosing the parts of scripture found appealing or doable but bypassing those things that conflict with our flesh including our deepest desires.

Complete confidence in the Love of God will produce true repentance not just lip service. The confession of our heart is our deep desire to serve the Lord but when it comes time to go to the mountain of sacrifice many compromises are offered in lieu of absolute obedience. Why would God summon Abraham to the mountain? Why would He torture a father in such a manner especially one who waited a lifetime for his promised son? Now Abraham is tested by God and sent to the mountain. “Take you son, your ONLY son, whom you love – Isaac…” Why would the Lord even suggest something so cruel? The Lord wasn’t after Abraham’s son, God desired his servant’s heart.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The beauty of brokenness is that it draws us closer to the Lord and He is able to come closer to us. It allows us to live in intimacy with Jesus. His Spirit has freedom within the broken heart that is open and exposed for seeds of faith to be planted and given a place to grow in our life. Abraham was not a madman or out of his mind when he gathered up supplies for sacrifice and took his son to journey to the mountain. He knew exactly what he was doing, but more importantly Abraham absolutely and completely trusted God. He was confident that at the end of the day God would do something miraculous. He believed in the One who brought dead things to life. He believed and his faith saved his son.

You do not delight in sacrifice…

Are humans being truly able to sacrifice their all to the Lord? I believe it is our heart’s desire but follow through the issue. True repentance is turning our natural life over for eternal life. It is to turn from sin and embrace righteousness. Grace does not afford perfection but allows us to experience a thriving relationship with the Father through the giving of His Son. His Grace is enough therefore sacrifice is unnecessary. The sacrifice acceptable to the Lord is a broken spirit. A spirit no longer driven by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. Abraham had one son. It was in the giving of that son that he obtained the many generations of children born of his faith. God does not delight in our sacrifice. He delights in the heart willing to give its all even when giving all is not what we want to do but we use our freedom to do so anyway.

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 (NIV) You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God has recorded our lifetime before we were born. (Psalm 139) We are fearfully and wonderfully made with great potential. His prerecorded order promises future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The Lord promises to make good from the details of our life and nothing will ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8) He also promise to partner with us and help us carry our burdens giving us rest. (Matthew 11) He will perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138) What’s the catch? We must search for Him wholeheartedly. To desire the Lord and His Goodness as our heart’s longing. Those who desire the Lord will seek Him and find Him in the Word. Finding Him they will then pursue Him wholeheartedly. God wants us to desire Him more than the things of this world and more than any human being. In exchange for our faithfulness and obedience, God promises success to His People. He promises to make the work of our hands prosperous. Why then does He require things of us as He did Abraham? A sacrifice and offering much greater than a tangible object or animal of some kind. Why does the Lord require our heart and everything in it?

Faith grows in a fertile and broken heart. Doubt hardens our heart keeping us from finding, following and pursuing the Living God. It tells us that His Word is not for us, His Way may not satisfy us and His Will may kill us. All the while, the Lord whispers come to the mountain and give your all. What am I giving? I am giving God my heart piece by piece – day by day – until my sacrifice is complete and satisfaction fills its void.

Small children will grab hold of things sometimes that are not necessarily good for them to have. As a parent, I had two choices to snatch if from them or to offer them something better in exchange. Either way as their parent the thing they were holding would have to be released. They made the choice to willingly release it or forcefully give it up. Throughout their childhood, I tried to instill the knowledge, wisdom and discipline to make good choices. In fact, many days dropping them off at school, my parting words would be I love you and make good choices. Life is all about choices. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. God gives us choices each day. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Bondage or deliverance. Captivity or freedom. Settling or full satisfaction. Sickness or healing. Poverty or prosperity. We make the choice the realm in which we live – reality or hope. See there is more to life than this but we are given the opportunity to decide which life we live. Faith is the substance of things hope for and evidence of their reality. How we live decides the productivity of our faith. We all have faith. The question is have we provided a place to plant it?

Romans 2:29 (NIV) “Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The spiritual significance of circumcision is to purify spiritually. It is to cut away something. Today I wonder if the sacrifice God is asking of us goes deeper than the things we do or don’t do but is actually a surrender of our heart to the Lord. The mountain of doubt which we seek to overcome keeps us from doing that so when we go to the mountain and give the Lord all we can for that moment or season, He honors it. As our heart breaks open before Him, the Lord pours into us renewal, restoration and revival. A little at a time as we give Him bit by bit and piece by piece. Do not despise small beginnings for the Lord uses them to complete us and fulfill us. To produce purpose begins with a single seed of faith that grows, develops, matures and reproduces in us and through us. The Light of our love must begin as a burning passion for the Lord on the inside before it will ever be bright enough to reach or influence the people around us.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Could it be that the Lord is not calling us to sacrifice anything of worth but everything we have? He desires us. God wants to share His Kingdom with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. His Son, Jesus. When we struggle on the subject of sacrifice it is not because what God has for us and is promised to us is not desirable but rather the overwhelming nagging doubt that keeps us fixated on the mountain not the Mountain Mover. The Lord wants to give us a new heart in exchange for the stony heart that keeps us bound up in tight places with limited resources and chaotic emotions. He wants us to come give Him that heart of no use and allow His Spirit to work in us.

Lord, I give my heart to you again today. With each new day and each new mountain, I ask you to take my heart as a sacrifice and smash it until it is soft, pliable, moldable, and shapeable. I want to give my all. Will You take this small piece today and we will work on the rest tomorrow? Back to the mountain we go…

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 

Those Who Prosper

Those Who Prosper

Psalm 25:12-14 (NKJV) Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.

To dwell in prosperity and good fortune. To be successful. Who doesn’t want to live in such a condition? The Christian life is marked by prosperity. It is found in the teachings of God’s Word and discovered by those who choose it. Who is the man that “fears” the Lord? The Gift of God is eternal life. The Favor of God is prosperity. To prosper is often equated to success financially. Many people believe that money would make them secure. Money is a magnifier. It is a magnifying glass that allows freedom to reflect the inner most longings and desires of the human heart. The Prosperity that God delivers to His Children is different. It begins with a restored relationship that begins to prosper us from the inside out. It doesn’t change our outward condition or current situation but somehow changes us in an incredible and intangible way. Paul put it best when he wrote, “For I have learned in whatever state I am to be content…” (Philippians 4:11)

Genesis 26:12-14 (NKJV) Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.”

“I can’t find my (insert something)!” The shouting begins across the house soon to be amplified by a frustrated teenager convinced that her sister took her beloved something and she wants it back. Most of the time, it is simply misplaced and no injustice has been performed. When the irate one comes to me, I begin to ask them of various places it could be. “Did you look here? Did you check there?” This only seems to incite them more until finally exasperated from trying to deal with an irrational human – I join the hunt searching for misplaced item until it is recovered.

“Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.” The Lord has ordered the steps of our life leading to soulful prosperity which does not mean that God is not going to prosper you externally but that His Primary Motivation and Intention is for you to become one with Him. Therefore, until our soul is in a prosperous state, it would be contraindicated to give us everything under the sun or who would seek the Son. My children come yelling and screaming for what they are missing because they know that if they do – I will find it to keep the peace. I am only human. There comes a point to maintain my relationship with the girls that I must relent and end the strife. I am not God. God will not bend in His Way to relieve our discomfort, restore convenience or in any way, shape or form give us control. We are free. Free to choose the life we live. God calls us blessed. We are favored and have everything needed to prosper. I wonder if like my own children, too many times we don’t want to look for it, work towards it, or be committed to the process because it is uncomfortable, inconvenient and beyond our control?

Isaac prospered. There are lessons to be learned in Genesis 26. There was a famine in the land. God told him not to return to Egypt. Why not? The metropolitan city would have resources. Government assistance to get by during this awful time. The Lord told him to “dwell in this land and I will be with you and bless you. So Isaac stayed put. Isaac was not perfect but perfectly human and even though the Lord was with him sinned. God blessed Isaac in spite of it. I think people struggle with their imperfection more than our heavenly Father does. The fact that despite our best effort – obedience, commitment and avoiding sin are daily if not momentary struggles. Continuing to read Genesis 26 – there is jealousy, opposition, adversity and dysfunctional family issues to round out the fun in this account of prosperity. That’s right. Isaac lived a prosperous life. His life was not perfect. The Lord was perfecting Isaac in the process.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NKJV) In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

There is a farmer who spends days preparing a field for planting. When the time is right, he purchases seeds to fill the straight rows that he has created. Smooth, fertile soil awaits the seed as he has tirelessly removed all the rocks and weeds that might threaten their growth or choke out the potential harvest. He spends all day until his task is complete. The Lord blesses the farmer and a gentle rain follows watering the ground and cooling his sweaty brow. After a good night sleep, the farmer goes to inspect the field the next morning. When he does not find a signal sprout, he sets fire to the field, packs up his family and moves on. Farming is not for him. He decides to try something new. This story sounds ridiculous. What person in their right mind would think a seed would turn into a sprout overnight? There is no more joy than when prosperity comes and harvests are ready. But in the meantime…what do you do? What is your behavior before the harvest? Do you wait or wander? Do you decide this isn’t for me and walk away leaving your harvest for another? Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. The Word of God is direct – you will reap what you sow. How many fields have been left for others?

God’s Perspective of prosperity is not what the world considers it to be. The definition of prosperity is a successful, flourishing and thriving condition. Man usually equates these three things with monetary endeavors and financial success. God defines it as a soulful condition that overflows into our natural life. Prosperity, success, flourishing condition and thriving state are the characteristics of a godly life.

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

Our natural life prospers when our spiritual life does. As our soul prospers, our perspective of life, love and happiness change as well. No longer driven by the things of this world, we become Kingdom Kids reliant on our Father in Heaven and His Resources to bring satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment in our life. As “things” gain their proper placement, our life aligns with God’s Ordained Steps for us. This is not an action that opens God’s Hand but rather we decide to seek His Kingdom and find what it has for us. His Provision, Blessing and Favor already belong to us as believers. We must have to believe enough to seek Him.

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.

Has you grown tired of waiting on God? Perhaps, you have tried everything and nothing good ever seems to happen? Maybe you don’t believe God’s Goodness and Prosperity are for you at all? God forbid you are thinking – this is how it’s been and will always be. God is planting you today to be a tree not a weed. A mighty oak of righteousness able to sustain high force winds and raging storms. A place of refuge for those in need. Your resources flow deep beneath the view of others. You are watered by His Word. Your heart nourished by the Bread of Life. You have everything you need to prosper in every season. Do you believe? To God be the Glory on the good days. To God be the Glory on the not-so-good ones. To say, “It is well with my soul” with complete confidence that it really is will offer the peace that passes understanding. There will be days of opposition and adversity in your trek from here to eternity. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. You are a tree planted by the rivers of living water. You will bring forth fruit in every season if you do not leave the field. Your leaf does not wither but thrives and flourishes in the Son. Whatever you do WILL absolutely prosper when it flows through your heart into your life. You must be willing to wait on the Lord. Trust Him. Depend on Him. Agree with His Word. That’s really all there is to do. Obey the Lord and you will prosper from the inside out.

Deuteronomy 29:9 (NKJV) Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

Proper Portion

portion control 2

Psalm 16:5 (NIV) Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

Over the years, I have tried many dieting methods to control the fluctuation of unwanted pounds and inches. Radical dieting may offer dramatic effects but in the end the weight sneaks back on when giving in to temptation. I have found portion control to be the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off although it requires a little thing called self-control. Eating is a social past time. It is an emotional fix. It can be a whole lot of things in our life. Some use it to fill voids or satisfy impulsive drives even addictions. Currently on vacation, I will be the first to admit that I am not making the best food choices. The fried fish sandwich and crispy fries last night were awesome. The ice cream on the couch watching football was pretty good, too. Once back to the reality of life, I must muster the self-control and mindset to resume healthy eating and making better choices.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup…

Today, as I read Psalm 16, I am reminded that I have the power to control the portions of my life. The Lord is good! His new mercy is provided each morning to fill the voids left by self and even poor choices from the day before. His Love is unconditional. His Love is never ending. It is perfectly reflective of the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13. I have a cup called my life. It is filled with many things both productive and unproductive. I have been given His Spirit to grow and nurture the Fruit of God’s Spirit that will satisfy my soul and fulfill my purpose. I make the choice each day of what fills my cup to overflowing. Will the Lord be my portion today? Will I allow His Love to be the very thing I desire above all things? Will I seek His Face before people? Will I pursue His Way avoiding all other distractions and detours? What do I desire today?

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

My flesh and my heart WILL fail. It is historic. Each new day though I try to do the right thing, make good choices, and do exactly what the Lord tells me to do. I manage to make mistakes and fall short of His Glorious Standard of life every single day. I don’t always do what I am called to do. I don’t always love as I am called to love. I do not forgive as quickly as instructed. I do not always reflect the love and grace that I am given. Yet each new morning, as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Father offers me new mercy and the Son gives me more grace.

God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. This promise is not dependent on me but solely characteristic of the Lord. When my pride tells me “what’s the point”, my soul reminds me that this is the promise. For every boundary removed and broken ground in this hard heart, there is a portion to be poured out for me. My inheritance is secure even when I live in insecurity or fear. God is the One who secures the inheritance of my life or I would have given it away long ago for lesser things. If you are struggling today in any area of your life, let me be the first to remind you that God holds your future securely in His Hand. No one can take it from you. Nothing you can do can remove you from Him. His Love is for you not against you. He must be the portion you choose to have it.

Psalm 119:57-58 (NIV) You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

Life is all about balance. I believe that completely. When it comes to the Lord, I believe He is the one thing that must be sought after with all our heart, mind, body and soul. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. If you are a believer, and you suffer from dissatisfaction or a lack of contentment, it is up to you to find the area of your life not surrendered. If I eat ten chocolate chip cookies before dinner, I will not eat the things that are good for me like meat, vegetables or fruit because I am full of junk food. What is filling the place where the Lord can be your portion today? It is human nature to fill its own void with natural things. God has a supernatural satisfaction for us. He will be our portion. We must provide a place to be filled. His Word is the answer to our problems, but no one reads it anymore. His Presence is a place of refuge, but no one has time to seek Him. His Grace is our power in weakness, but not one is willing to give in. Without a desire for God – there is no hunger and thirst. If we do not hunger and thirst for the Lord, we will not make Him our portion. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” speaks volumes. Are you hungry for the Bread of Life or living just fine on the crumbs beneath His Table? Are you thirsty for living water or getting by on the runoff of religion? God sent His Son to satisfy our soul with righteousness and a relationship that will complete us and lead us to forever.

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Are you satisfied today? Are you filling certain voids with lesser things? The Lord is not offering a life of just enough but more than enough to those who choose Him as their portion. It is not a matter of “if” He will but faith that He will that causes us to stop settling for lesser things. He is our proper portion. It is our inheritance that no one can take from His Children for it is based on our heritage not our history. As I consider my heart and the contents thereof I am challenged to offer more of it to the Lord for His Ample Fulfillment. It begins by saying, “The Lord is my potion; therefore I will wait for Him.” The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy trying to take what belongs to us with subtle lies, substitutions and settlements that no Child of God must take. They often buffer our pride with feelings of comfort, convenience and control that faith does not allow. They rob us of our complete and full satisfaction offered by the Lord because our flesh fails and the human heart is fickle. Let the Lord fill you up today. Let Him by your portion for just a single day. He is ready to respond to the outpoured heart with confidence found only in perfect love. Wait for the Lord with that thing you desire most…He will come. My doing does not fulfill my purpose, it is found in my complete undoing before the Lord. Lord, empty every lesser thing from my life today to make more room for You!

Psalm 142:5 (NIV) I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

Until He Comes

Until He comes

Hosea 10:12 (NIV) Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

What are you waiting for? Is there a prayer or two or three or many that are yet to be answered? Are there problems still in need of solutions? Questions unanswered? Dreams unfilled? Expectations not met? What do you do when the process is not yielding results? Waiting on the Lord today? For what? As I prayed, this verse came to mind. I read it. I read it again. Sow righteousness. God, I think I am pursuing righteousness through Christ. Reap the fruit of unfailing love. I know His Spirit is working on me from the inside out. Lord, my heart is broken into so many pieces – I am amazed that you are able to do anything with it most days. Yet you do, day after day taking each one and fitting into proper placement. It just seems to be taking a really long time. I cannot see the picture on the puzzle box. I do not understand your plan. Am I missing something? I read the verse again. Three words change my perspective completely.

Until He Comes…

Matthew 10:22 (NIV) …But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Would waiting be easier if put into perspective? Impatience is human nature. Our flesh prefers immediate gratification over long-term fulfillment. We do not fight for the Kingdom. We fight our flesh to prefer the Kingdom. What if the problem with the process is not the process at all but finding the patience to stand firm to the end? We try to work for our righteousness. Work to maintain our freedom. Fight for faith. Try to triumph. What if all of that is given? What if all I am required to do is wait? Sometimes doing all the right things does not produce a quick outcome because it is not about doing the right things. It is about knowing, trusting and believing the Right One. Comfort longs to be maintained, convenience cries out for release, and control is based on insecurity and fear. All of these qualities are coveted by our flesh. However, covenant requires a commitment to abandon such things and endure to the end…those who do will be saved.

Psalm 112:6-9 (NIV) Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The righteous will never be shaken…

Sow righteousness. Plant it in your heart. The seeds of righteousness come only from the Father through the Son. I do not want to dissuade you from attempting to make better choices or live a holy life. However, the only way to the Father is through His Son. You cannot be right without God except through the bright red Blood of Christ. Abram believed and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) The righteous live by faith in God through the Grace provided by Jesus, His Son. (Romans 1:17) It only comes through Christ. (Romans 3:22) And we all need it. (Romans 3:23) Sowing seeds of righteousness has nothing to do with what we do. It solely based on what we believe. To continually sow God’s Word in our heart until it takes root and grows into total trust, complete confidence, absolute obedience, and a solid relationship with God. This is the kind of believing the Lord is looking for in us. The devil and all of his demons believe in God. They know Jesus. They are subject to His Authority and Power. We must do the same for righteousness and salvation sake.

Their hearts are steadfast, trusting the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.

Reap the fruit of unfailing love. Jesus released His Spirit upon His Death on the Cross. Immediately the curtain was torn from top to bottom giving people access to God again. The Spirit immediately started giving life. He opened graves right then and there. (Matthew 27) The same exact Spirit released then and imparted at Pentecost lives in us. He is the identity of Christ in us and identifies us as Children of God. He produces fruit in us that is representative of our Father. (Galatians 5:22-23) He changes our character into that of Christ so we may become Christ Imitators. Just as righteousness cannot be obtained any other way than the full assumption of God’s Grace, no good thing comes out us that His Spirit is not producing in us.

Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.

With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that although we submit to God’s Process by faith that there is very little contribution on our part. We must simply believe. Those who do will reap the benefits. Believing by faith is our righteousness. It makes us, like Abraham, friends of God not estranged family or prodigal children but born again believers become Kingdom Kids. Children of God confident that their Father is good. His love faithful. His Purpose fulfilling enough to seek Him all the days of their life…until He comes.

My heart must be broken before the Lord to receive all that He has promised. My heart is already broken by trials and tragedies of life, but this is a different kind of broken. The kind of broken that gives way to humble submission before the Lord so He can take His Word and plant it in us. The seeds grow into every good and perfect thing that He promised. Faith gives God our heart and mind. It says no matter what I will remain broken before the Lord. We begin a list of things to give Him and as that lists grows day by day so does our dependence upon Him. Faith grows into a righteous oak from even the smallest investment. A tiny seed of trust well-placed in the fertile soil of our heart will yield miraculous and supernatural results… if we wait until He comes. It is time to seek the Lord. He promises that those who seek His Kingdom first AND His Righteousness and all these “things” will be given to you as well. Make the Lord your priority today. You may give up on everything else you try but don’t give up on the process that He has placed you in. Wait until He comes.

Revelation 3:10-11 (NIV) Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

 

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.”

 

 

 

Thief Among Us

Open Window

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

There is a thief among us. He tried to climb through the window of my mind this morning and steal the joy rising with the morning sun. He tried the handle to my heart hoping to get his foot in the door. Little lies spread all around like almost unnoticeable traps carefully laid to ensnare my foot or cause me to stumble. His pursuit is relentless. He wants all that is mine. Not for himself because he cannot have it. Jesus has given me a rich and satisfying life. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that God has for me. It is his purpose. It is the onslaught in each moment of every single day that there is breath in my body. Jesus has overcome the world. I have the same power that rose Him from the dead living in me. He is becoming greater as I become less yet in the moments of attack – my thoughts can be misled, deceived and even easily overtaken no matter how far I walk this journey called faith.

I am not generally given to worry. Stress is not something I easily take on. I would not classify my thoughts as anxious. My nature is contrary to such think. I relish in optimism. I believe that when the thief finds his way into my life that it is a bit more difficult to fight back because it is not a battle that I fight every day.

Psalm 127:1-2 (NLT) Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

From time to time, a door may be found unlocked in the morning or the garage door left open the night before and my husband is most unhappy. He is concerned that our carelessness could have allowed an intruder to easily enter and put our family at risk. I, on the other hand, possess a very different perspective on life. I thank God for His Protection and move on. I believe that while both mindsets have strengths and weaknesses that is more prudent to check doors and windows routinely to make sure each one is secure. Many years ago arriving home after a long day, I noticed the door leading from the garage inside the house was cracked open. I did not think too much about it because our little dog sometimes would push on it looking for us and if not closed tightly it would do the same. The children went on high alert immediately. I scoffed at their concern and began give them instructions for the afternoon. Well once inside, it was clear that things were not okay. Thieves had come and helped themselves to valuable contents inside the home and now our children were fearful that they were not safe inside their own house anymore. We must secure not only the doors and windows of our home for safety and security but we must close tightly the entrance to our heart and mind as well.

We become busy and distracted with life and soon the cares and worries of life become burdens to us. Dependency on Christ gives way to insecurity and soon the weight of the world falls squarely on our shoulders. How we feel overtakes what we know and overwhelming fear, worry, stress and anxiety hold us captive. God did not give us the spirit of fear but how many times do we simply take it? The Lord has given us the ability to pursue potential and passion in our natural life. However, it is to remain secure in the Kingdom that gives our potential purpose that is able to become a rich and satisfying life.  

Luke 12:32-34 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

It gives God happiness and exceeding pleasure to give me the Kingdom. He wants to give it to you, too. The Lord promises that He will “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” That is a lot by anyone’s standard. He wants to restore the glorious standard of living that sin and the enemy stole from us. Jesus is giving us back our birthright. It says, “So don’t be afraid…” As believers – there is an opportunity to give up this life and secure the Kingdom. Not just futuristically but practically – even today. It begins with peace of mind. The kind of peace offered in Isaiah 26:3 – perfect peace. The Holy Spirit is our helper who teaches us and instructs us. (John 14:26-27) He takes God’s Word and inscribes its meaning for us on our heart until all that we know is the Love of God and Grace of Jesus Christ which will change how we think about life in general. Do you believe that Jesus Christ overcame the world? (John 16:33) Do you believe that He has given you the Keys to the Kingdom for your security and use? Faith is the first step to perfect peace. It is the gateway to a secure place in life where confident hope leads to complete trust lacking no good thing. With met expectations taking the place of those unmet by other people, it is the freedom to pursue God wholeheartedly without divided interest.

Luke 12:25-26 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

Worry, stress, fear and anxiety are all byproducts of insecurity. I know I don’t like to hear that word any more than you do but it is true. When I worry about a situation or stress over life, it is an immediate red flag or alarm that the thief is attempting to break in. The most precious commodity given in life is time. You cannot replicate or reproduce it. Once a single second is gone, it is gone forever never to be reclaimed. Worry cannot add a moment to our life but rather wastes it completely.

The cares of life – food, shelter and clothing are all covered for the creature by their Creator. Yet, we think that it is up to us to do something when He already did it all. We worry about the minutest details of life especially what we do not have so much that sometimes it keeps us from seeing clearly all things that we do have. To worry, stress and fear over our well-being is characteristic of limited faith. Faith that only goes so far in need of conditioning. The enemy is always willing to offer a lie for the Truth. It is tempting to take it. However, then with his foot in the door, he will quickly fill our heart and mind with countless fears and many worries in an attempt to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy our life. Faith must lead to confidence in God’s Ability and Willingness to do infinitely more than we can think or ask. However, doubt tells us that God’s Promises are not good enough and it is up to us to add to it.

Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT) Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.

The enemy pounced on my thoughts last night, continued in my dreams and I awoke fighting fear and worry this morning. I am willing to admit my humanness. Are you? There are days when faith carries us and other days it is a fight just to keep it. Faith must overcome insecurity every single day. People are at an extreme disadvantage because I have nothing to offer God to reciprocate His Love and Generosity of Grace in my life. Nothing. In fact, before the day is over, I will most certainly fail Him several times. I have no reason other than faith and trust to believe that I am somehow worthy of limitless and unconditional love that leads me from victory to victory and glory to glory. Jesus is the only reason I have any kind of real purpose and potential in my life. With that being said, I cannot help but wonder if it is not always the thief stealing from us but sometimes us. Do we give up our birthright for a single meal as Esau did? In Genesis 25, Esau was “starving” so he offered his brother, Jacob who was an excellent cook, his birthright for one meal. One might think Esau was either really hungry or Jacob an even better cook than described or could it be that Esau did not value his birthright? I know…stung my heart a little (or a lot) to think that rather than the enemy stealing what God has given me that it might just be my own doubt and insecurity giving it away. Leaving the door to my heart open and the windows to my mind unsecure, allowing the enemy to come into my life and steal what God has so graciously given me or promised to come.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is nearing death and giving his final blessing to his children. Esau wept bitterly before him as it is clear Jacob has received the blessing. Jacob duped him again. Or did he? Finally, Isaac, shares these words with his devastated child, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Read that last sentence again with me…”But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” What if it is me? I have been given a birthright. I am a Child of the Living God. I have Christ living in me. He overcame the world. Could it be my own doubt and insecurity causing the limitation of faith and prosperity in my life because I do not believe or understand the value and worth of my birthright so I give it away?

We give ourselves to worrying about people. (Matthew 7:2-4) We stress out about our position in life. (I Corinthians 7:20-22) Fret about what might or might now happen. (I Peter 3:13-15) We allow bitterness to take the place of forgiveness. Our heart is driven with desire for more and a hunger for this world rather than satisfaction and contentment in Christ. Crying out for His Word, Will and Way in our life – we leave the doors and windows of our heart and mind open so the moment God pours it in the enemy quickly snatches it out. I am asking the Lord today to “search my heart – point out anything that offends Him – and to lead me to the everlasting – not temporary and worthless. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord has created and called us to live peace-filled and satisfied lives. If that is not reminiscent of your life today, it doesn’t mean it cannot be. It is up to you and I to take hold of our birthright as Children of God, secure it with faith, fasten it like an anchor called confident hope to our life and decide to trust the Lord each day. Trust is a choice. Faith is an investment in the Kingdom of God not useful in this life. If you can do it, you don’t need faith to have it. We must decide the new life in Christ is worth having and invest our whole being in becoming the new creation that He promised. We must secure the door to our heart and fasten the windows of our mind to ensure that every thought and motivation are subject to the Gate Keeper, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10) There is nothing left for Jesus to do. The rest is up to you and me. Will we choose to let the thief in or shut him out of our life for good? There is a thief among us. He wants to stop us. Our faith is his death and defeat. Jesus has given us the victory now it is up to walk in it confidently and consciously each day. Securing our life with more faith and confidence in God than ever before so every stronghold of insecurity is smashed by it. True freedom in Jesus Christ produces a rich and satisfied life that begins in our heart and mind. It is called peace. Peace leads to everlasting life and hope that will never cause us disappointment.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.