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.

Wholeheartedly

wholeheartedly

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

How do I give all the pieces of my heart to Jesus? Wholehearted is to be done, enacted, given with total sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. It means that I am fully and completely committed to that which my heart is given. What is that exactly? I instructed in God’s Word in Deuteronomy and confirmed by Jesus that “I must love the Lord (my) God with all (my) heart, all (my) soul, and all (my) mind.” This is called the first and greatest commandment. In Jeremiah, it is the established way of attaining God’s Plan for our life with the future and hope that comes with it. I wonder sometimes if in our plight to perfect a way easily followed that this is overlooked in the modern day church. Righteousness becomes rightness. My righteousness is found in Christ alone but there is some sense of natural security that is assumed by doing what is right. This misconception is nothing more than a lie of the enemy meant to deceive God’s People. Our sole pursuit in life must be to love God wholeheartedly for that is how to find Him.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NLT) “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Our pursuit of God and His Righteousness begins with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made into flesh to dwell among us. To know, understand and begin to comprehend God’s Love demonstrated in Jesus Christ is to study, meditate and pray the Word of God in our life. God speaks to His People through His Word. It is a foreign language that must be learned and committed to memory. It must be incorporated in everyday life. We must study to show ourselves approved. Ready to share the Gospel in season and out of season. The Word brings wisdom that is more valuable than precious gems or the purest gold. Jesus is the Bread of Life that feeds and nourishes our spirit so the Holy Spirit can cultivate His Fruit in us. We must commit wholeheartedly to the words of God and Jesus Christ. The Word of God is life. It takes all the pieces of our heart no matter how broken, binding them altogether with the promise that everything is going according to His Plan.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT) “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

God has not and will not ever force anyone to serve Him. He does not need servants to attend Him or workers to do His Business. God desires our love. The Spirit of the Lord set us free allowing us to choose who we will serve rather than keeping us captive to sin. He offers us a plan with a future and hope to live and not die. It is a personal choice. We must choose carefully. Amaziah I is noted in 2 Chronicles 25 as one who did what is right in the Lord’s eyes, but did not do it wholeheartedly. Hezekiah is later noted in 2 Chronicles 31 as one who also pleased the Lord but he did it wholeheartedly. The Lord is looking for those who do not just seek to please Him for His Goodness but desire His Glory wholeheartedly. God fills our life with good things because He loves us. The rains falls on the wicked and the righteous because God is good. When I do what is right in His Sight, I will experience more and more of His Blessings because they are already provided for me. It is simply a matter of positioning myself in the right place at the right time doing the right thing as His Word and His Way indicates. But that is not enough for me…not anymore.

To do what God desires will benefit our life. It will expose hidden blessings just because we are honoring Him with our attitude and actions. I want more than that. I want the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ that creates unity of faith and knowledge. (Ephesians 4:13) I don’t want anything left out of the Glorious Standard of Living that sin was kept from me. I can have it now because Christ lives in me. But if I do not have a relationship with Jesus, I cannot be a Child of God. Doing what He wants just makes me a slave to God rather than sin. (Romans 6:16-18) When I decide that I love God wholeheartedly is when I begin to experience the truest freedom that is to become a Child of God.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

God desires a relationship with you today. One that you have not every experienced before and that your flesh rallies against daily. To give up this life in pursuit of forever seems like a risky investment. What if I am wrong? What if there is not a God? What if God is not as good? What if Jesus is not real? I cannot convince you of the existence of God or the vastness of goodness or fathomless depths of His Love. You will have to experience them for yourselves. What I do know is this? No one can convince me otherwise. If I die, I will not be disappointed. My hope in Jesus Christ is secure. But for argument’s sake, what if I am wrong and there is nothing after this life? Well, I can honestly say that loving God and serving Him has only benefited and blessed my life in inexplicable and inconceivable ways. If God were only a myth, it would still have been worth giving my life to Him. I want more. I want to love God with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul and ALL of my mind. Daily I must make it my passionate pursuit to love Him with more of me. God desires an everlasting covenant. He wants to be one with us. We avail ourselves when we seek the Lord wholeheartedly.

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.

Lord, if I have withheld pieces of my heart, my soul or my mind from you – I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas so I can give more of me to You, God! We have been given an opportunity to enter into the greatest love story ever written. To experience a love so great that the boundaries will never be seen. To experience the Glory of God so overwhelming that it melts us in His Presence. What if for a moment – we stopping working so hard and try worshipping the Lord more? Taking time to enter His Presence, sit at His Feet, listen to His Words and hear His Heart. God desires a relationship with us. He wants you. He longs for me to be with Him forever. What if I am trying to impress God with my actions and all He really wants is my heart? My time. My talent. My treasure mean nothing outside of His Power at work in me. Nothing I can ever accomplish on the earth in my power will ever outshine the work of Jesus on the Cross. God simply wants to raise my standard of living so that I can live in His Glorious Standard as any good parent would do. His Love is completely overwhelming but so very simplistic. For God so loved me that He gave His Only Son that I might be saved. There is nothing I can do, say or be to cap that kind of love. All I can give is all that I am for all that He is.

What if God only desired our true love? What if He really is not impressed by what we do for Him but how we love Him? I believe that if we came back to our first love as it tells us in Revelation that becoming the church that the Lord called and created us to be would not be quite so complicated. As believers if we would choose to love God wholeheartedly, there would be a shift in the dynamics of the organization and institution so that it would become the living, breathing and healthy Body of Christ again. No longer would there be politics or personal agendas leaking into the walls of the church but the Power of God called His Glory would emanate from it pouring out into our communities, our country and around the world. The same message would be spoken. It would be all about love. Agreement wholeheartedly would produce a sound message that the world would hear clearly. God is love. God is in love with you! My life is worth nothing until the Love of God overtakes every part it so that I can effectively communicate God’s Love to a lost and dying people in a cold, dark world. Lord, I give you my heart, my soul and my mind. Make it whole according to Your Word, Your Will and Your Way today so that I can give it back to You!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Ezekiel 36:26(NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Fertile Soil

fertile-soil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planting Peace

planting-peace

Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God.

When my children were all little, there was never a moment’s peace in our life. It seemed they came with only two speeds fast and asleep. There were days collapsing exhausted in the bed when I thought if only I could have a second to myself. Cooking, cleaning, picking up, dropping off, refereeing, homework, and all the other duties in the job description of wife and mother left me complete worn out. This morning the house is quiet. My husband is on a well-deserved and much needed hunting trip with the guys. The three oldest off adulting and creating their own lives in the big world. One daughter house sitting who will soon graduate and do the same. I have one baby in the nest who is not a baby anymore sleeping in a mound of covers with our fur baby. It is that moment I longed for years ago, well at least the quiet anyway.

Just as I was not certain of what I longed for then, I find that peace comes in different forms and fashions. To truly be at peace is not a condition or situation in life. I can work to promote peace and get myself in big messes sometimes especially when it comes to people. Peace is a place found in God. It is the Presence of God permeating our life. It becomes our protection when life doesn’t go as planned or is exactly like it should be but does not yield the satisfaction one expected. There are many people with seemingly perfect lives that never know the contentment and completion of perfect peace.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

How important is peace? Is it relevant in our life or just a gift that some are given? To truly trust the Lord with all our heard produces a harvest of peace in our life. Faith is not blind and one must never be satisfied until it becomes confident. Confident faith is the belief that the Presence of God in our life, our life in Christ and the inhabitation of His Spirit is all that we need to be victorious in any and all situations. Those who “endure” will be saved. It is a fight of mind and matter being crucified with Christ and a retraining of all senses to rely on the unseen reality of God’s Purpose, Plan and Protection over every other influence and power in our life. It is not a one-time fix but constant process of submitting more and more of our life to the Lord each day. Peace is the evidence that faith is working in our life.

Peace depends on God’s Understanding. His Wisdom over my whims, wants and wanderings. Not so easy when the enemy is beating on the door and world crashing down all around you. Peace is found in the Presence of God. It cannot be fully understood with human logic but is achieved fully by faith. It requires a change of heart and mind that leads our feet in new directions. Once it is found, it will bring healing to our souls. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us day by day no matter what our current circumstance or living condition.

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

Faith becomes logical the more God’s Word is planted in us. The Way of God is contradictory to this world. Peace cannot be found in an ordinary life but the pursuit of a supernatural existence in Jesus Christ. It means believing God’s Word not the lie of the enemy for your life. How can you tell the difference? Planting seeds of peace in our life begins by putting good seed in the fertile soil of our heart. How can you know God and not know His Word? Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to demonstrate His Great Love and provide the Way for us to return to Him.

How can I get there from here if I do not take measures to find to track Him down? I know that California is on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast. I know that if I head west that I will make it to the other side of the country but will I make it to California without clear directions? Or what I want to go specifically to Sacramento? Or maybe I know someone there who lives at 123 Main Street? If I am looking for the Presence of God and more specifically the Peace of God, I must seek directions to my destination just as I would when traveling the country.

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.

God is speaking. Some are listening. Others do not like what they hear so choose not to listen. Even more do not recognize His Voice and cannot discern the Truth from a lie. Busyness causes a deafness in the midst of more pressing matters that will eventually cause us not to hear Him anymore. Or maybe He just becomes just another voice in our head demanding more than can be given in the limited amount of time left after other priorities take over. Nevertheless… God is speaking to us more importantly to YOU each day. What is He saying? The Lord is calling you closer. He asks Your Heart to come near. He hears you crying out for help and calling for relief but because you will not listen and respond – there is nothing the Lord can do but wait.

God speaks to people every single day. You can hear Him when your ears and heart are open and tuned in. Remember Elijah driven to the cave on the mountain by the lie of the enemy hissed by a woman scorned? It was after the calamities of life that the prophet heard the still, small voice. God wants to save you today. He wants to clean you up. He wants to fix your broken heart and heal every wound. His Spirit wants to help you, guide you and teach you to live in the peacefulness of His Presence every single day. Are you listening?

John 14:26-27 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. As a believer, you have the mind of Jesus Christ. The potential of full confidence in the Father because you are one with Him again through the Son. Jesus has left us with His Spirit so we can know His Thoughts concerning us and His Will for us. I have the gifts of peace of mind and peace of heart. I must take control of my thinking in order to take captive those things that are contradictory to God’s Will, Way and Word for my life. I must do that because I am fully equipped to do so according to these verses. Like Moses standing in front of the Red Sea, with the Children of Israel whining and the Egyptians closing in – God told his man to stop crying out to me and do what I have instructed you to do. He has given us everything needed to overcome doubt, fear and anxiety. It is called faith. Faith fortified by His Word, His Spirit and His Mindset. The rest is up to us. Faith means believing when you cannot see a thing. Trusting when there is nothing left to hold on to but the aforementioned faith and riding this thing called life out to the end.

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Do you praise God seven times a day? When I read this verse, I immediately began to evaluate my life and the confession I make each day. Do I praise God daily just because of Who He is? Do I thank Him when I am not getting my way? Do I praise when I am waiting? Do I praise Him when everyone is watching? Do I praise Him when no one is looking? Do I praise Him without music or someone to lead me to this place? Do I praise Him in the mornings (even though I am not a morning person)? Do I praise at bedtime (even in complete exhaustion and to do list left undone)? Do I praise the Lord when things are good? Can I still manage to praise Him when they are not so good? Can I praise God when nothing in my life measures up to His Standard of Living? Praise is essential to peace. It is the confession of faith over our life that releases our expectation from the natural and grabs hold of the supernatural. Praise is evidence that something inside of us is willing and able to grab hold of the Promise and possibly hang on until the end. Praise plants seeds of peace that yields harvests of abundance in our life. It is an expression of pure faith and trust in the Lord to perfect all the concerns us. When there is nothing else praiseworthy to think of this world, just think about the Gift of Life that Jesus has given us so that there is more to life than this.

Ephesians 4:2-4 (NLT) 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.

Perfect peace cannot exist in the presence of pride. Humility and gentleness promotes peace in our life. First with God and then with everyone else. You cannot be at peace with the living God and in constant discord and strife in all other relationships. Submission is not a fashionable word but it is absolutely essential in maintaining peace in our life. What about me? Who is going to take care of me? Total trust means submitting our life to others knowing that God has us in all things. This is not to say that you should be subjected to abuse of any kind but that when it comes to having your way – you will give it up to maintain peace and love in your relationships. It means giving up being right all the time to be righteous.

I have shared many, many times about my friend who taught me about submission. After a long rant about my dissatisfaction with my husband’s attitude and actions, she said, “You must submit.” It made me mad enough to spit. I was offended that she would say such a thing to me. I was ruled by pride and stubbornness that would take years to work on and God is still working on now. But I tried it in my marriage and am happy to report it worked. When two people come together – to walk together one must give in and give up their way. In any relationship this is absolutely necessary. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to satisfy my life. It is not their job to be my perfect partner, friend or whatever role they play in my life. Jesus is my soul mate. He is the One who promises to give me a rich and satisfying life. When I “submit” my way, it is full acceptance of His Way. It is not giving in to another person. It is not losing and certainly not giving up anything of worth. Submission says Lord I trust you more than anyone or anything else to satisfy my soul. We are one body, one spirit and given one hope. Let’s keep our faith in Him and submit our way to His Way – peace is the promise received if I do!

Philippians 4:6-9 (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. 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.

Plant seeds of peace in your life today. Examine every area to find those places in your heart not at peace. Pray about each one specifically and ask the Lord to give you peace. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world. He gave it to you and me directly. Our peace will never be understood or acknowledged in the natural. It is a God-given gift. It is a seed of faith that if you plant it in every situation will see its fruit in no time.

God keeps in perfect peace all who trust you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3) I have experienced this kind of peace. It came at the price of self and in a place of complete brokenness. I could not do it my way anymore. My human strength was completely gone. All I could do was trust the Lord so I did. That’s when I felt it, knew it, and believed it. Now I desire it more than anything. Are you willing to sow seeds of peace in your life today? What if it costs you pride? What if is at the price of being right? What if it means giving up your way? What if it does not yield immediate results or gratification? What seed does? Will it be worth it? Absolutely. When His Perfect Peace overtakes you – it will be worth it all to have a satisfied soul.

Colossians 3:14-15 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Exceedingly

exceedingly

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 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.

In a study published in January 2013, it was determined that the annual income of the wealthiest 100 people was enough to end global poverty. Not once, but four times over. These individuals received a net income of $240 billion in 2012. Think about that for a moment, this was their net income not the gross. This is what they received after taxes, interest, depreciation and other expenses. There is more than enough money in the world. The problem is distribution. Knowing there is more than enough wealth to sustain every man, woman and child is not enough. It is to receive the portion needed to survive or even thrive that changes lives and improves one’s quality of life.

Let’s bring this home to the United States. Our country is believed to be #1 in total global personal wealth, according to Fortune magazine, holding a whopping 41.6%. The next country on the list is #2 China who secures only about 10.5%. The problem is not a lack of funds but unequal distribution of the wealth. The rich get richer and the poor only poorer. This is not a political platform but I use this information to reveal a Bible principle. The divide between wealth and poverty holds many people who make the personal choice each day to continue to strive for the American Dream or succumb to their situation, circumstances or condition. If there is in fact a surplus of funds available in the world, why can’t I have it? How do I attain it? Why am I struggling?

The wealth of the Kingdom of God is not money. The Lord warns a love for money can overtake us and become a fleshly drive in our life. So let’s talk about Kingdom inequality. There is none. If you are dissatisfied with your quality of life today, you can change it. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. You can be, too. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. He has the authority and power to remove my sin making me eligible for every blessing once forfeited by it. God chose to bless me when He created me. He set aside a portion of His Kingdom vaster than any other place for me. Upon my adoption and return to Him, it becomes mine again. Where is it? Why do I not have it? Why am I not satisfied or content with my life? God blessed me according to His Good Pleasure so I do not need to earn favor because I have it. I do not need to repay the debt sin created because Jesus said, “It is finished.” I am His Beloved. I am well cared for. So why do I lack?

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Anything is possible if a person believes. Jesus told the father of the tormented son, who asked the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” How many of our own prayers end the same way? Lord, if you can. Well, Jesus answered him directly, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” What will it take for you to believe that God has granted you every spiritual blessing in the Heavenlies? It is that very thing that will increase your quality of life, confidence in God and pursuit of His Kingdom. Our heart allows follows our treasure. Our mouth speaks from the abundance of our heart. If you believe your current life is as good as it will get, well than you are more than likely to remain in the same situation from year to year. But God offers us a life that is transformed from Glory to Glory. Those who receive it are those who believe it. Those who believe it will seek it. Those who seek it will speak it. All the rest will watch from the sidelines – jealous, envious and without.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Every single day men and women gather up their families headed to the United States to pursue the American Dream. To consider the wealth monetarily of our great nation and the poverty of other countries, it is no wonder people literally die trying to find hope for a better future. This nation was established as one nation under God. I cannot help but believe that is why the Hand of God and His Favor have impacted it so heavily. Pressing on to my point, as not to digress, if my life is not representative of the life that God describes in His Word. It is not a God-problem. I bear total responsibility for the lack in my life.

God provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. He will provide and increase your resources. He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. You will be enriched in every way SO THAT you can always be generous. Generosity. Could the lack in my life be two-fold? I am not pursuing the Kingdom and if I do I am doing it only for myself? Yes and yes. What is the point of personal monetary wealth to a Christian who does not give? There are many who give tithes and offerings to be obedient to the Lord, but never experience increase in their life. Why? Seed. Are we using what the Lord blesses us with to plant seed or whisking it away to hoard it for self. This is not about money but every resource in our life – physical and spiritual! Seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping are New Testament principles that carryout through life. You reap what you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God provides all that I need. He is a good Father. If I am not planting, sowing, and giving, I will only have enough to maintain my family. Why? I don’t need anymore. There is no purpose in surplus. You will always have everything you need AND plenty left over to share with others. The Fruit of God’s Spirit produced in us is for others, too. If I want more love, I must give more and so on and so forth. If all I want is God’s Hand and do not possess God’s Heart, I will probably experience lack of satisfaction and discontentment for the rest of my life because my purpose was wasted in surplus.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch walked so close to the Lord that one day the Kingdom simply consumed him and he was gone. God just scooped him up. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith must be progressive releasing us from this world to be overtaken with the hope give in Jesus Christ. This can only happen when our heart longs for God’s Heart rather than His Hand. Too many times God examines human hearts only to discover that they really didn’t want Him but for His Hand to open and release the money, power and influence to make this life better. How can one improve a condemned building marked for destruction? It is uninhabitable. Our faith must grow beyond our natural resources to supernatural living. You cannot save this planet. Take care of it. Maintain it and be a good steward, but one day it will all disappear. Our efforts must be focused on building the Kingdom and finding our way there. Becoming one with God so much so that I am consumed by love for Him and passion for His Kingdom.

We may never end the inequality of wealth on the earth. In fact with love growing colder by the minute and sin rampant, it is highly unlikely if not impossible. But with God all things are possible, if you believe. We can all establish a Kingdom lifestyle when we live according to Kingdom principles rather than the law of the land or the doctrine of each church. We must strive with all our might to seek the Kingdom of God first above all things to have all that God promised which is more than enough. Money and personal wealth will not change your life. It only magnifies that heart that keeps you alive. If money, power and influence is given to a selfish person, it will magnify pride and greed in them. Only those who truly seek the Kingdom will experience an abundance of satisfaction no matter where this life takes them knowing they are on their way to a Kingdom without end.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

I shared a story not too long ago about a fisherman who discovered a gigantic pearl. His fishing net got tangled up on a giant clam which he brought to his boat. When he opened it, he found a hidden treasure. He took it home and put it under his bed where it was hidden for ten years. The pearl is estimated to be worth more than $100 million. Where is your treasure today? Shrouded in doubt? Buried in disbelief? Blinded by disappointment? Left behind for other things? Have we become so consumed with making this life better that believers have lost the Keys to the Kingdom?

Faith will never be evident in what we can see but our constant and steady pursuit of that which cannot be seen but is hoped for. Hope is our future. It is not living in this moment or today. It is about investing every ounce of energy in pursuing God’s Kingdom and building it up. Are you mega minded or mission minded today? Those who are mega minded build store houses to protect their money, feelings, emotions, and self. Those who are mission minded give it all away just to know Jesus more and build His Kingdom. It is up to us if we live a life of full satisfaction. We make the choice how to live and what we are after. Choose well. This is my intent and full motivation for the coming year. To step out of lack and live in fulfillment. This is not necessary a wealthy endeavor but a worthwhile life.

Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 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.

In the New King James version, the last verse is translated “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Exceedingly abundantly. That’s a lot my friend. God can, will and wants to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. You and I cannot comprehend the riches in His Glory ready to be poured out in our life. The Ephesians were members of the Church of Ephesus. The same church that did every “thing” right but for the wrong reasons. (Revelation 2) They had become a loveless ministry full of good works. I don’t want this to be the description of my life. Religion is not for me. I want a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ that insures my entrance into His Kingdom above all else. Christians must evaluate their life, motivation, attitudes and actions for authentic faith that is seeking the God’s Heart and not just His Hand. It is easy to become distracted. The flow of society sucks us in with supply and demand rather than sowing and reaping the blessings of life. What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose my soul? What is it worth to have everything and loved ones in hell? The church should be bridging the gap between earthly inequalities rather than creating a further divide. Where is the generosity of resources and heart? God’s Grace is enough for me…and you… and every other person God ever created. No one is greater or lesser in Heaven. We are all the same. Have I lost my first love? Have I forgotten all that I am and all that I have is by the Grace and Love given to me by Jesus Christ? Sometimes…I do. Do you?

Let’s regain our focus in 2017. This could be the best year of our life. It all depends what you are willing to sow in your life today in 2016. These are the seeds that will grow into our harvest. What are you sowing these last few days of the year? Will it be tears of repentance? Will it be the broken pieces of a contrite heart? Will it be willingness to surrender those parts of life previously withheld? Will it be what you have? Will it be what you don’t have? Will you put all your expectation and energy into knowing Christ more and chasing the world a little less? It is my intention to know, understand and experience this thing called exceedingly abundantly. How about you?

Luke 9:24-25 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 

 

Eat My Words

eat-my-words

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

One of the perks of the holidays in our office are the many gift baskets and plethora of food sent to us by our clients. Breakfast is catered. Gift baskets carrying many delicious delicacies. One sent a case of chocolate covered strawberries although I am not sure that we have been that good this year. Digging into the boxes, there were a variety of berries large and small covered in milk chocolate rolled in chocolate chips, white chocolate rolled in sprinkles and more chocolate drizzled in with red and green frosting. The presentation was perfect. Carefully packaged to maintain their appearance. Packed with ice packs to stay fresh and keep their form. Such temptation could not be avoided. Biting into the first one it was so sweet and rich the chocolate melting in your mouth followed by the ripe, sweet strawberry. It was heavenly. So much so that I had to try just one more. The covering just as yummy as the first one, but the berry inside was sour and disgusting. Soft and nasty – it was beginning to rot ruining the experience entirely. I had to get it out of my mouth.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart. What is the production of my heart that is flowing from my mouth? What is the flavor of my lips? When speaking to others, is it life or death? Do I nourish their soul or condemn their life? Our words reflect the cultivation and production of God’s Word in our heart. Barren conversation filled with gossip and bitterness only signifies a lack of growth and prosperity. When I have a tough piece of meat like a London broil, I usually take a meat tenderizer that looks like a torture device and plunge it into the cut of meat over and over again. This separates the muscle from the meat. Those veins of marrow they cause tough gristle to form is torn and severed by the sharp points as they pierce it. Afterwards I take the manhandled piece of beef and I marinate it not only to infuse flavor but to soften the meat so it is edible and delicious. After a while, I cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time and it becomes a delicious meal. Hear me men and women of God. Hear me woman of God. Our words require no less. Our heart must be tenderized and marinated to produce the words that God desires of us. To present the message of the Gospel it must be covered in love and presented with perfection. I wonder could I eat my words today. Would they be palatable?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies” (Brokenness Aside) I love this song. I can identify with it completely. I AM a sinner. Though I try and try I still sin every single day. I used to think being a Christian and growing in Christ meant rising above sin and living a better life. What it really means in drowning in His Grace every single day in humility at the realization that apart from being totally absorbed in the Lord – I am desperately lost every day. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross just the same. I think this is forgotten by those who know their Savior more than one day. To rid one’s life of certain sins means nothing. You and I are still sinners just as much as the one who comes in to church reeking like the club and accidentally throws a free drink ticket into the offering plate rather than the dollar they were digging for. The only difference is that I believe the one who was out last night is more honest than the prideful one condemning them one row over.

After enduring a season where lies, rumors and hurtful words cut to the heart of one of my children, I should not have been surprised to hear the rumor mill begin to stir about another. One would only hope that in the aftermath of hurt, separation and bitterness – Christians, believers, leaders, teachers, members and congregations would learn that words are power. Words will infuse life in a church or tear it down person by person. Not the case, hurtful words about others who need the Lord and are in the constant prayers of others. Torn apart and judged only because in this particular instance you made a better choice. Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us. The cancer of the church is found in conversations filled with words like “bless their heart” and “I will pray for them” only trying to disguise gossip and insecure people who think Heaven is earned and grace is not enough.

Do the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart reflect the Love I have been given and the Grace that I have received? What makes you or I more deserving of God’s Grace, Love and Favor than anyone else walking on the planet? He loves us all exactly the same. The one who is working and striving to build the Kingdom must never think it is okay to tear a single person down or condemn one of their choices without refuting God’s Word that promises He will work every detail out for those who love Him. The more I know Jesus and spend time in His Word the more I realize that there is nothing that I can do to earn His Love or deserve His Grace. I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Caught up in words. Tangled in lies. Women by virtue of numbers, it is our distinction to speak about 10,000 words a day – some more and seldom less. What am I saying? Do my words build others up? Do they tear them down? It doesn’t matter WHO we tell them to – it is what we release in the atmosphere. Have you heard of acid rain? Water is drawn into the sky and forms rain. If the source is tainted, it becomes acid rain that moves in a cloud and kills whatever it is released upon. We get caught in our words. We get tangled in lies. Have you ever heard the expression “enough rope to hang yourself”? Well…the enemy convinces us that our words don’t matter. Or even that because we add something like “bless their heart” or “I need you to pray for” that it somehow changes gossip to gospel. It doesn’t. I promise you that what is spoken in darkness will make its way into the light.

Proverbs 26:22-26 (NLT) Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

Have you ever wondered why your ministry is not growing? Why prayers for revival are not answered? Could it be that our words are not cultivating seeds of faith? Maybe it is our overflow of senseless and thoughtless words that is quenching the fire? Rumors kill churches if entertained. People are the Kingdom. Build up the people and churches will grow. Tear down sinners and there will be no one left. I wonder what might happen if we removed all the stages and platforms from church buildings. What if all church leaders and teachers were stripped of titles and there was no one left to cater to their office? What if the pastors in our congregations would be simple shepherds with a rod for instruction and a staff to guide with humility, gentleness, grace and love? Would the Holy Spirit do the rest? Could we trust God’s to take the Word and by His Spirit change hearts and lives?

Our pastors cannot lead churches and build the Kingdom because their schedule is full of appointments mediating members and settling issues with their leaders. Our congregations are caught up in words and tangled in lies. Rumors have sunk into hearts and killed those who came to be saved. Not able to live up to our standards, they thought that Jesus required the same. No love. No problem. I will just sleep in on Sunday. Oh, how I love sleep. Christianese covers the death sentences dealt behind doors and when we think no one else is listening. I do not want to be a glazed pot. Beautiful on the outside but worthless on the inside. I do not want my heart to deceive and my words to deal death. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit. I do not want to be part of the death and destruction of others but offer life in every conversation.

I John 3:1-2 (NLT) See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 

I have five beautiful children. I have some who live to please me and maintain a right relationship with me at all times. I have others who must test every boundary and find their own way. They argue among themselves that I have favorites. I let them think what they want. The truth of the matter is that I love them all the same. I would lay down my life in second for any one of them without a moment’s hesitation. They are my children not because they make good choices or do the right thing. They are my children. (Period) When will we realize as individuals that this is the Heart of God for His People? We cannot build a Kingdom until it is understood that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace that we are saved by faith in Him alone. We are family. Equals. Brothers and sisters no matter what because it is His Will and His Plan.

Religion is man’s way of seeking after God. God wants us to establish a relationship with His Son, Jesus. Once this is accomplished, Jesus tells us to create the same connection with everyone else. How are we doing? Not very well…no revival means no relationship. Early believers did not have time to tear each other apart because of their relationship and unity revival broke with thousands coming to Christ at a time. It can happen. It will happen. Are you willing to take a long hard look at your heart? Do you think it might be possible to go to those you have condemned with words and ask for forgiveness? Is it even thinkable to exalt another before our pride today and overcome insecurity to establish a bond with others? If we can’t get it right in our families, friendships and congregations…why would He give us nations? Why would He send our community? Why spark revival that will quickly be drowned in worthless words? Where the Spirit of the Lord there is freedom. Don’t get caught up in words and tangled in lies. Speak life today. Speak love. Give them Jesus in every conversation. And for goodness sake, if you have nothing nice to say…say nothing at all.

Colossians 4:6 (NLT)  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a]so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Heart Failure

heart-failure

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Really? Forgive as I forgave you. Come on Lord, you know what they did! Forgive as I have forgiven you…Okay fine. The conversation in my mind continues to go in circles. What happens when you want to forgive but can’t seem to find it in your heart? Or when the offender doesn’t have any remorse and continues in their plight? What then? We must forgive them anyway. I know not as easy as it sounds even to the “best” Christian. There are many perceived enemies and threats all around you in any given day but people are not one of them. We may call them our enemy but really they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Sibling rivalry is raising a ruckus in the Kingdom and will continue to cause division as long as we don’t really dig down in our heart and find the faith to forgive others as God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. I am guilty of unforgiveness. Clothing myself as a Child of the Living God includes compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, of course, but without forgiveness I exempt myself from God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. We cannot withhold that which God so graciously gives us and think to become one of His Kingdom. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

In Matthew 18, Jesus shares a parable with Peter concerning forgiveness to reinforce the importance of forgiveness. A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. A servant was brought to him that owed him a significant amount of gold. The servant begged and pleaded with the kind promising that if he would patient with him that the servant would pay it all back. The king let him go. The servant was wicked and grabbed one of his fellow servants who owed him less than what he owed the king demanding immediate repayment. But when this servant begged to be allowed time to pay it back, the wicked servant refused to do to his peer what the kind had done for him throwing the man in prison. When the king heard the news, he had the wicked servant apprehended, thrown in jail and tortured until the debt was repaid in full. The parable concludes with this verse – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. It has nothing to do with being right or being wrong. It is not contingent on the repentance or repayment of the offender but rather a release of real estate in our heart for the Lord to fill with more of His Grace, Mercy and Love. It is uncomfortable to learn that when you think you have it all together in God that He allows us to be shaken a bit so that voids may be discovered in our life. I am a forgiving person when it comes to me. Maybe it is because I know who I am and what I have done and how much I need God’s Grace. However, there is always more that I need to learn and the Lord is faithful to teach me those things. I share this with you from the bottom of my heart which clearly needs just a little more love.

Recently my mother had open heart surgery, I have spent time with her as she recovered. A home health nurse indicated on a visit that she could hear a slight rattle in mom’s right lower lung. This is of note in a patient especially a heart patient because that could indicate fluid in their chest which can lead to congestive heart failure. If fluid builds up around your heart, it can keep the heart from pumping blood through the body sufficiently. As the pumping power is affected, the body will begin to show symptoms of distress such as shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue which will worsen over time until there is irregular heartbeat and chest pain, etc. The next day I took my mother to get an x-ray. Walking into the clinic, she indicated that she felt weak, tired and a bit short of breath. This would not be alarming if it was part of her continued recovery but up until that day she was slowly increasing her activity so I became alarmed. The radiologist showed her some fluid built up in her chest. The nurse called that evening but did not address the fluid so I asked her about it including running down the symptoms that I was seeing as mom lay in her chair becoming weaker throughout the day. Within minutes, she called back with a whole list of doctor’s orders to address what now appeared to be the early stages of pneumonia. God is so good! Within 24 hours mom was recovering quite nicely.

I share this to story with you today because we must pay careful attention to the signs and symptoms of unforgiveness in our life. It will begin to manifest things in us that are not Christ like. To forgive another person from our heart opens our life up to harm again so it is human nature to forgive but never forget. This impacts our heart and ability to love others as the Lord has instructed us to. I am guilty. During the time with my mom, there was a situation with our daughter that has caused great heartache and division between us and people who we love. Now a week or so later, I am struggling to find forgiveness in my heart. I can forgive and pretend to move on but I must forgive as Jesus has forgiven me to insure that my heart stays healthy and in tune with Him. It’s funny how I can forgive people for hurting me but mess with my kids and mama bear comes out. Well, I cannot live in unforgiveness and in the Kingdom of God as well.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Half of the Lord’s Prayer is about forgiveness. This tells me two things – it is a high priority to God and it is probably one of the number one temptations to His People. Forgiveness is an act of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience because if fully demonstrates the love, grace and mercy demonstrated on the Cross. We are to love one another. More importantly, we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) The world loves its family and friends. It chooses to hate those who are perceived as enemies. Jesus has commanded, not suggested, us to love other people as He has loved us. How are you doing with that? Our heart must grasp the power of loving those who are unlovable and even those who cause hurt, offense, and brokenness just as much as our friends and family. It begins with forgiveness. Who do you ignore? Who have you written off? Who has real estate in your heart today that belongs to Jesus? Just as fluid will cause the heart to stop functioning properly and lead to death, so will unforgiveness if we do not deal with it properly.

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I need, want and desire all of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in full operation in my life. Now that my mom has had her heart “fixed”, she must observe a heart smart diet. She must change certain habits and modify what she eats to keep her heart healthy. We are the same when it comes to love, grace and mercy in our life. If mom goes back to eating a high sodium and high fat diet, she will likely end up in the same condition as before as her heart will not be properly cared for. It is up to my mom to make life changes to accommodate her heart. We must do the same. The world will justify hurt and unforgiveness. After all doesn’t the saying go, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? How many times must I forgive seventy times seven? Really God? Absolutely. The Lord will give me the same amount of love, grace and mercy that I give to others not based on their offenses but compared to His Great Affection for me. I am to love others as He has loved me.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (NIV) If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Has someone caused you grief? Are you offended? Are you done? The closer a person is to you the deeper the cut when they come against you. I understand this completely. Several years ago, I was struggling with unforgiveness toward someone. I wanted to just become indifferent about them. You know act like they did not exist. As I prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and forgive me for my attitude, a question popped into my head. “What if you are the only person praying for them?” Think about that. Could it be that the scheme of the enemy is to get us to write people off in our heart and mind so that we will not pray for them much less love them? The Lord’s Prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation…” The enemy wants to cause bitterness, strife and division in every relationship where a Christian believer is present. It sabotages the Kingdom work and stops revival when relationship are interrupted in such a way. We must live in a surrendered state of forgiveness because it allows His Grace to be sufficient for me. Unforgiveness implies that Christ’s Work on the Cross was not enough to cover every offense. It was enough for me. I must extend to others. All others. I need the overflowing love and mercy of God in my life every single day. I will not allow the enemy to stop it with unforgiveness which always leads to heart failure.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What Am I Thinking?

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Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

It is human nature to have lapses in judgment. Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of life. It is how we learn, grow, develop and mature or at least that’s how I think it is supposed to work. Falls are not failures but opportunities to get up. Failure is futile if one gives up and does not try again. It doesn’t matter how far we have fallen, the Lord is always there to help us up. Bad choices become learning curves when wisdom is acquired. I told one of my children who was soundly beating themselves up over a mistake that it is only wasted if wisdom is not obtained. Trials, temptations, and trouble are all lessons in life. Knowledge discovered in the midst of such things give way to a foundation of truth that can be maintained.

To offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” is not about physical obedience or cleaning up our life. To be holy and pleasing God begins with a change of heart and transformation of our mind. I can come to the altar seeking repentance day after day, but when the Lord looks into my heart it is the thought process called intent that He is after. Grace is sufficient only when it releases the Power of God in our life. If we remain in bondage due to ignorance, what is the point? No really why follow Christ if my life is no better and we are getting nowhere?

Wisdom enables us “to test and approve what God’s will is – His Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will. Knowledge is good but wisdom is better. To know what to do and not do it is futility. To know the Truth and let it set us free is beneficial. Freedom allows us to do anything, but not all things are beneficial. How do we discern?

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NIV) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

There is very real war waged for our thoughts each day. The enemy does not always have to come at us with a bold-faced lie. For the believer, He usually comes at us with twisted truth. The Word of God is turned askew just a bit. Though many are familiar with what think God’s Word says, few take the time to dig in deeper and know it. How much time do you spend in the Word of God each week? The Word of God is a two-edged sword that rightly divides the truth from all the lies that the enemy offers God’s People in exchange for His Precious Truth. (Hebrews 4:12)

No one can know the thoughts of God which are so much higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8) without knowing the Spirit of God. (I Corinthians 2:11) I was a Christian for many years in a denomination heavy in the Truth of God but that ignored His Spirit. I knew the Bible but it didn’t make any sense and I was powerless to do what it says. The biggest stronghold and obstacle in the life of any believer is ignorance. The Lord says that His People will perish when they lack it. Drawn into discouragement, despair, disagreement and dissension by slight deviations of truth their hearts and minds get lost in darkness.

We must use the divine power of God to demolish such strongholds. We must end the arguments and pretension that sets itself up against God. We must take captive every thought in our mind to be obedient to Jesus Christ. We must be ready to punish every act of disobedience. If our mind refuses to forgive, we must seek grace. If pride overtakes us, we must humble ourselves. When prejudice raises its ugly head, we must chop it off at the neck. What is prejudice? Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge thought or reason. We prejudge many things in life based on the knowledge base of our mind. We must change our mind and allow the Lord to renew our thoughts to see the world properly and act obediently.

Ephesians 4:17-21 (NIV)  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

We must no longer give in to futility of thinking. The knowledge of God is His Word and the wisdom of God is His Way. We must make it a point to search the scriptures, meditate on it allowing it to marinate our mind so that it will become our way of life. It is the very thing that indoctrinates us into the Kingdom. It is a new language called love. It is a new way called humility. It is a new life called redemption. We cannot allow ourselves to be compromised by futile and worthless thoughts. We must take the Word of God and seal our hearts with it. When the enemy comes with temptation, it will be easily identified by the heart and mind immersed in Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom of God. But that’s not all…

We must have a relationship with God to know His Intentions. A text message can be read a thousand different ways and given the same amount of emotion. Misunderstandings arise from communication that lacks relationship. We are to relate to one another, exhorting each other and bonding together to become the Body of Christ.

I Corinthians 14:18-20 (NIV) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

How effective is the Gospel of Christ if it is not communicated? Can we truly expect a revival in our midst if the church cannot convey “five intelligible words to instruct others”? When I read this today, I felt convicted. It the message of our life is not “intelligible” can there be any impact? We speak Christianese and others cannot relate. They cannot see the value in our “sacrifice” because the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart do not agree. We cannot communicate the Gospel without wisdom. We must know what we believe and experience the loving transformation of a renewed mind for others to truly understand what it means to be loved by God. When we speak one thing and live another – our words are invalidated.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking? Our thoughts are born of the knowledge in our mind. What we think is influenced by what we know. If our thoughts are anxious about anything, given to things not of God or even simply unforgiving – there is room for improvement. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the renewing of our mind begins now and is not over until we meet Jesus face-to-face. Be careful if you think you have arrived or know more than the next guy, because a fall is just around the corner. Our minds are assaulted by the lie of the enemy day by day. God’s New Mercy allows us to surrender our heart and mind daily to His Transformation process called Grace. As we begin to change our mind, know the Truth and allow wisdom to take over – it is to our benefit and the Gospel will become clear.

2 Peter 3:1-3 (NIV) Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.