My Broken Heart

My Broken Heart

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.

My office is located across the street from a hospital. They have an amazing cafeteria with an abundance of choices for an extremely reasonable price. Finding favor with the staff provides heaping portions and an employee discount due to our frequent visits. Standing in line for the fry cook, a group of doctors stream in behind me. While waiting they begin to discuss the afternoon surgery schedule and procedures. I have a background in medical transcription so it is clear within minutes that they are cardiologists. Heart doctors grabbing a quick bite to eat before saving lives and restoring hearts for the rest of the day. Placing  their orders, I had to chuckle under my breath. You would think that someone who fixes broken hearts each day would avoid high carbs and fried, fatty food but quite to the contrary. In fact, none of them want the “veggies” on their double cheeseburgers just meat, cheese and grease. Such a contradiction, but no condemnation as I grab my own burger and fries on the way out.

I have been praying to the Great Physician for my own heart. When things don’t add up in my life, it is the first order of business to do a self-check. Comparing the contents of my heart, mind, will and emotions for anything contrary to God’s Word, His Will or His Way. He doesn’t change. He cannot tell a lie. What He says, He will do every single time. Therefore, when something seems amiss, it is usually in me. It could be my impatience or lack of understanding. Sometimes there are things in my heart taking God’s Place. Other times I have allowed doubt to begin to dull me from the inside out.

As I prayed, I began to see an image unravel in my head. A church full of people holding their hearts in their hands. The music was playing. An altar call given to all the broken to be restored again. No one came but instead held the pieces of their own broken hearts praying for others around them hoping no one else could see their offering withheld. Suddenly, I became aware that those people and I had something in common. How often do we look at others as the problem? Or fail to consider our own condition? To live in depression, discouragement and disappointment because rather than giving the Lord all the broken pieces – we try to hold it all together. What are we holding together? Our brokenness. What does the Lord want to do? Give us a new heart. A responsive heart. A heart that beats in alignment with His Own. A heart burgeoning with life and new possibilities. One that is not stubborn or callous but one that arouses our spirit man with faith and confident hope.

As if that was not enough, the Lord began to drive His Point home. I began to see people I know and love who have sick hearts. Our son, my mom and even my adopted Memaw at church. All with heart conditions that need physical healing. I see the faces of those who have endured broken relationships. Giving all of their heart only to have the holder break it into a million falling pieces. The minister whose season was over grieving the loss of their sheep. The friends with lost children watching and waiting for their return. Those who desire more and are locked in less. So many hurting hearts physical, emotional and spiritual standing all around me. I am not alone. Are you heart sick today? Are you trying to hold all the pieces together in fear something might think you have no faith? Do dark shrouds of depression, despair, disappointment or discouragement hound you day and night? It doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT) O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:11) How true is this scripture? While many feel like the psalmist in Psalm 13, most will never admit to the own struggles in faith. To believe is not natural. To have faith is illogical. Everything about God contradicts nature as we know it due to sin. Sin has flawed that created to be perfect. You are divinely created by the Living God. You are fearfully and marvelously made because God only prepares wonderful masterpieces. Yet in the course of life, even the most righteous believer will struggle to stay focused. The Lord is always thinking about us. Pursuing us with His Love. Offering His Goodness including every provision, blessing and promise that prosperity encompasses. It all belongs to us by the Grace of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. We only need to accept His Love into our heart and mind until we are convinced that this is the Truth concerning us. God has placed eternity in our heart and promises to make everything beautiful in His Time. But until then…

Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT) But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) Faith is not imagined but intentional. To take my confidence out of this world and put it in the Kingdom is not fanciful but focused. I must make every effort to respond to all of God’s Promises by faith. Faith is in our heart. Brokenness gives faith a place to grow, develop and mature into confident hope. Hope that anchors our soul is heavily weighted in the Word of God planted as tiny seeds growing into mighty oaks of righteousness. A broken heart is painful. It doesn’t work properly and there are many things that will contribute to its demise including hidden sin, retained offenses, and bits of bitterness all allowed to take the place of faith. Doubt is the tiny pebble that becomes a mighty mountain in the life of a believer. If the enemy can sell us on just one lie, our feet become tangled and down we go. Those who choose the Lord as rock (immovable) and redeemer (the one who saves, heals and delivers) will see His Goodness in the land of the living just as He promises in Psalm 27.

Psalm 6:1-3 (NLT) O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

Can you relate to David’s plea to the Lord today? Are you beginning to think that God is punishing you for something? Or is this discipline that is unpleasant? Do you think that God doesn’t love you? Or maybe He has forgotten you? Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two very different things. When our body, mind or spirit are plagued with negative thoughts it drags our heart down, too. Are you sick at heart today? Is your heart broken? Are you clinging to the pieces hoping to put your life together again? How long will the Lord wait until He restores you, me, or us?

Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

The cardiologists ordering lunch were filled with vast knowledge. Years of education and experience and yet they still chose foods that might compromise their health and hearts. They made an informed decision to choose unhealthy options. We have been given the Word of God. As we deliberately, read it, study it and meditate on it – we have knowledge of God. Wisdom is gained by applying such knowledge to our life. I can know everything the Word says and do everything according to church doctrine and still live with a broken, lifeless heart. His Commandments bring joy to our heart. (Psalm 19:8) As we resolve the conflict between our flesh and faith something beautiful will emerge from the rock that once residing in our chest. New life comes when we allow the Lord to take our stony heart and give us a new heart. The only confidence I have in this life that is eternal is found in Jesus Christ. God will strengthen the heart given to Him in its complete brokenness. He creates masterpieces out of messes (Ephesians 2:10) and makes every detail of our life part of the magnificent existence found it its place. (Romans 8:28)

If you are heart sick today, I know a healer. A Great Physician who does heart transplants without a single incision just a cut called circumcision. As our stony heart is removed, a new heart emerges full of life. the hope that I have in Jesus Christ is not based on what I see but Who I know. When struggling with doubt, depression, despair, discouragement or desperation – our broken heart will hear His Voice. Why? His Word tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) It is up to me if I will respond to His Call. Come closer He says. Let me give you a new heart. Renew a right spirit. Our response – “Lord, I am coming!”

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.


Here and Now

Here and Now

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

I am confident. I will see the Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. It is certainly easier to serve the Lord of our future salvation than to live as if that promise is for today. Faith is the completely illogical yet credible truth that God will do exactly as He promised here and now. So why aren’t we living in the realm of hope where anything is possible? We lack confidence that God truly is here with us in the land of the living ready to act now. Without confidence, the heart is like a ship without an anchor tossed to and fro. The rudder broken so there is nothing to propel or steer it. Destined for shipwreck, it is quickly abandoned for a much less dangerous route. One that is controllable, convenient and way more comfortable. A wide path that keep our feet from falling. The certainty of arrival much less painstaking as the narrow road of the unknown – we live in a repetitious cycle of defeat while all along victory was at hand.

What will it take to find the kind of hope that is the anchor for our soul? The steadfast confidence that God is who He says that He is and will do exactly as He promised in this life. If only it could be discovered, our heart would become confident in God’s Unconditional Love and His Goodness that daily pursues us. It would give us cause to wait on the Lord rather than forcing the issue and making things happen just to appease our flesh. We would walk by faith and not by sight in complete understanding that this life is temporary. God can do the impossible. He can change everything in a single breath. We must become confident in the God of the here and now. Completely aware of the Christ who lives in us so that His Glory will become our confidence and constant pursuit of the great and precious promises that He has given us along with a valuable inheritance.

Hebrews 6:17-19 (NLT) God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

How strong is your anchor today? Give a tug. Is it holding you securely in hope? Hope is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. It is to believe and trust. How often do we become hopeless drifters when the wait seems too long, the process to hard, or the lie of the enemy to real? God has given you many promises. He has given you every spiritual blessing. He does not lie. It is not possible for Him to change His Mind…no matter what you do or don’t do. He prerecorded our life from beginning to end before a single breath breathed including the sufficiency of grace necessary to turn change our weakness into the absorption of His Power. Our salvation is secure in Jesus Christ alone. He did it all. When He said, “It is finished!” our Savior and Lord meant exactly what He said and released His Spirit to become our life helper and partner every step of the way. The limits on our life are self-imposed. Greater is He who lives in me than he who is in this world.

Romans 4:16-20 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

Back when I lived a normal life, my husband and I went on a cruise. We have a few days of wonderfully calm waters but on the last night a storm stirring in the Gulf of Mexico made the waters very rough. The ship was literally tossed to and fro. Walking down the corridors, everyone staggering like drunks, we made it to our room. I crawled in the big comfy bed with mounds of covers and pillows sinking deep into its folds. I fell asleep almost instantly to be awakened by my husband obviously a sea sick. “Can’t you feel that?” We were on the same ship and in the same room but the effects of the rocking and lurching did not have the same impact on me as it was on him. How do you respond to the storms of life? When faced with the impossible do you hang your head and turn back? The promise of God is received by faith. Faith that is here. Faith in the now. Faith that keeps us in the waiting. Faith that becomes our peace. Faith that doesn’t give in to pressure or give up when processed. Faith beyond human perception that grabs hold of heavenly possibilities as the reality for today.

Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping…this is the secret of faith that becomes our reality. How do we get there from here? How do we see miracles, signs and wonders now? Faith and confident hope will bring courage to our heart. A courageous heart that is not tossed to and fro but remains steadfast and secure in the Father’s Love until He comes all the while completely confident that He will do just as He said that He would do. Abraham believed in the God who creates new things out of nothing. He hoped when his body was as good as dead as was his wife’s womb. The same Abraham who tried the shortcut and failed. He waited 100 years for his promise to reach his hands. How long are you willing to wait for the promise?

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to God. I prefaced my story with “back when I lived a normal life” for a reason. My “normal” was shipwrecked several years ago when our son was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. We lived a good life. We had good kids, good jobs and a good life. When cancer came it seemed to invade every part of our good life. It seemed like a tragedy in the making. The night our son was diagnosed I challenged the Lord. This cannot be possible. This does not line up with your Word. I know the Promises that you have made me and the death of my son is not one of them. The Lord came back with a simple question, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I confirmed that I did. But did I? Over the next three years, my faith and trust in the Lord would be challenged numerous times. But God didn’t just ask me a question, He gave me a promise that night – “Your son will live and not die to declare My Works.” God did exactly as He promised.

Normal life is nonexistent in supernatural living. To live in God’s Promises here and now create a disruption in the atmosphere called life. It is not normal. You cannot have a normal life and live in the abundance of God. These are contradictory concepts. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” If you can see it, do it, achieve it or make it happen – faith is unnecessary. Faith is for the impossible to become possible. With God all things are possible when someone believes. God is ready to do the impossible in us, through us and for us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. To do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask. We must make room for heaven’s overflow in us and around us so that God can release it to us. The starting point is faith. Our faith must become fully invested and completely confident in God’s Promises for today and live for them in the here and now.

A word of caution – faith is illogical to those around us who do not believe. They will think you are crazy. Trust me – I heard it over and over again. When I get a bad report or bad news, I immediately refute it with God’s Word. To those who do not know the Light of His Love, I sound like a lunatic. To those who have forgotten what faith is or wandered off to live life, it becomes the beacon of hope that leads them back again. I cannot be concerned with the world and what they think but must put my full confidence in God’s Faithfulness in the land of the living. To live in His Presence right here and now. This came at the high price of helplessness and utter weakness on the verge of losing it all.

God has given us precious promises. They are for the here and now. Excuses take the place of expectation when our flesh is ready to end the process. I challenge you today to expect the Lord’s Goodness in the here and now. Your life is meant to be glorious. Are you just getting by? Give up the substitutions and settlements for the more than enough promises that are meant to prosper your soul and overflow into everyday life. Make every effort to respond to God’s Promises and not react to the lie of the enemy in an attempt to steal your blessing meant for today. Need I remind you that the power of life and death are in your tongue – call those things that are not as though they are and watch His Resurrection power take over. God is with you. He will build confidence in the heart that trusts Him. Moment by moment, step by step from glory to glory with abounding grace when we fail or fall short so we can quickly engage in faith once again. Jesus said, “He would never leave us or forsake us.” Christ lives in us. I must decrease so He can increase. I will look for Him in the here and now. I must be confident in the here and now. I must believe in the here and now.

2 Peter 1:4-8 (NLT)  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Cutting Edge

cutting edge

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

We live in an age of evolving technology. What is new today will quickly be obsolete tomorrow? Advances made each day make supply and demand driven by an every changing market. It’s funny that the very things marketed as new and improved do not seem to stand the test of time any longer. Old appliances lasted forever but the newer more advanced cutting edge technology doesn’t have the longevity of the aged models. It seems like just when we upgrade our cellphone or tablet the next one is released. I believe in many ways church has become the same. Lights, sound and action fill the space of sanctuary and often we miss the root of salvation and position of change. Appealing to our senses and appeasing our pride, living on the cutting edge but never experiencing brokenness before the Living God.

Hebrews 4:12 has been replaying in my head. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God wants us to see that there is a better way. A simple life of faith that leads to everything He has promised. It is entered by the Son. It is lavishly covered in His Grace. He provides all that is needed to live a godly life with every spiritual blessing. The Lord has given us His Spirit and a Mighty Sword to cut through our stubborn sometimes stony heart to get to the promise hidden inside claimed by faith and resilient in confident hope. Where is our confidence in Christ? Too often it is a continued effort to upgrade that drives us from church to church. As if there is some great secret to this new life that can be claimed by a safe shortcut rather than radical obedience. Oh Abraham, the father of faith for the circumcised and uncircumcised has a message for us. Will we listen? Will we allow the Word of God like a double-edged sword to penetrate our hard hearts?

The promise comes by faith. Are you waiting on a promise? A blessing that you know awaits you but cannot seem to find its way into your life. Our world demands immediate action. It requires “fast” everything. But what about the Lord? His Timeframe is not ours with a thousand days like one day. When the minutes turns to hours becoming days and even years what is our response? Do we continue to wait? Watch? Wonder? Wander? Abram was 99 years old when he entered a covenant with the Living God. The Lord changed his name to Abraham. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. For 99 years Abram was a practicing Jew who served the Lord. The promise of a son came after he was circumcised and consecrated his life completely.

We have a new covenant given to us by the Lord. It is our choice the level of relationship that we choose to have with Him. To engage or live on the edge it really is up to us. I am challenged today by the father of faith. The one who lived for the Lord ninety-nine years before entering covenant with him. Abraham and his household were all circumcised according to the Lord’s command. Paul teaches that no longer is circumcision (outward) needed but that God is looking for the circumcised heart. The place where religion meets relationship is not by outward rules and regulations but the inward surrender of our stubborn and selfish heart. To allow Him to cut through the flesh and expose the new creation filled with new life hidden there and to allow the faith deposited in us to reach its full potential.

I looked up the definition of “cutting edge” and found it to mean “the most advanced stage of development of something.” Is this a hint at spiritual maturity? Is becoming a well-developed Christian more about who we are rather than what we do? Yes. Yes it is. I joined the “club” when I was just eleven years old. I got up out of my seat, driven by something inside the pit of my stomach, made my way to an altar and asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. It took decades to begin to scratch the surface of what a life in Christ truly means. It means less of me and more of Him. I cannot remain unchanged in any way and have the full potential of Christ in my life.

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.

There is an old story about a chicken and pig who lived in the care of a kind farmer. The chicken approached the pig with a marvelous idea. He suggested doing something for the farmer in exchange for his excellent care. The pig liked the idea listening intently to the chicken’s plan. “Let’s make him a good breakfast!” said the chicken knowing it was the farmer’s favorite meal. The chicken offered fresh eggs. The pig knew the farmer would want more, “What else should we bring?” The chicken thought for a moment and said, “Ham? The farmer loves eggs and ham.” The pig replied, “That’s fine. But while you are making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment. Are you the chicken or the pig? Are you a contributor or committed? How much of you is invested in the Kingdom? To Christ?

Sacrifice is defined as surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable. Sacrifice is a commitment of all while offering only a portion of some. The chicken offered some fresh eggs to please the farmer. The pig would have to sacrifice all to give him fresh ham. The Word of God tells us quite clearly that it is not what we give of our hand but the surrender of our heart that the Lord desires. Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” If we give up our life to serve Christ but do not surrender our heart – we will end up with nothing.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV) And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The scriptures promise that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In the natural, circumcision is an elective procedure. It is not required but rather many people choose it for their newborn sons. The Jewish culture still recognizes the procedure as a religious rite of passage. I wonder if God is not moving among us because we have withheld our heart. All or in part. Have we surrendered our hearts as a living sacrifice so that His Word can cut through its hard, stubborn and even stony exterior to expose the new life and new creation within us? Those who do will experience a new life in Christ filled with promises and blessings as faith rises from the sacrifice of a circumcised heart. One penetrated by the Spirit and washed in the Word which allows the Light of His Love to shine brightly through its cracks and crevices. Lord, I give you my heart today. Do with it what you will? Have Your Way in me today? I trust that you will not leave me for dead but create new life in me with each cut. I put my expectation in You and give you my permission to fully examine and cut away futile and worthless desires that are hidden within. I give you my heart as a Living Sacrifice today make a masterpiece from its many pieces. Amen and amen.

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

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

New Heart

New Heaert

Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

The image a vivid reality in my mind. Praying to the Lord to take all of me is a common cry in the church today but do we really understand what we are saying. God begins a good work in us. Holy Inhabitation makes it possible as the Holy Spirit takes over those areas of our life invested in the Kingdom. The fashion of holy consecration is brokenness. It is an act of humility. Sacrifice that demands all of us to produce good fruit and abundant life in all areas. The Lord has promised to give us a new heart and new spirit. The Word of God says, “I will put within you.” When our religion becomes a true relationship with Jesus Christ – our heart cannot be withheld and flesh cannot survive the burning passion and desire to seek Him, know Him and be with Him.

The Heart of Stone

Back to the revelation in my prayer time, I saw a sharp pointed knife cutting through dull gray exterior resembling a rock. As it began to cut with excellent precision – I wondered if it could get through the concrete exterior. What would be inside? As it continued the downward trend, a beautiful beating heart emerged. It took my breath away as in that moment I drew in a cleansing breath. God is this what you want to do in me, my family, my church and my community. Are you trying to take our stony, hard hearts and give them new life? Absolutely.

It’s funny that humanity thinks it can evoke heavenly change in an earthly body. The embodiment of religion is to produce positive change on the exterior, but without the inward change of a circumcised heart – it won’t work. We can build churches but not become the Church. We can resemble broken and handicap bodies but not become the Body of Christ. The prosperity of our hands will not move the Heart of God. He must complete the good work that He has begun in us through His Son, Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) Have you given your heart to Jesus?

Deuteronomy 10:12-16 (ESV) “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

Before moving ahead to obedience, our heart must truly repent before the Lord. Jesus must be the Way, the Truth and Life for us. In that moment, everything changes but unless one engages in the relationship with Christ – it is merely another social venue chosen in which to exist. The miracle of salvation is made complete in the covenant formed as a relationship with Jesus. Without a relationship, it is nothing more than religion. Religious people do not necessarily have eternal life. Without a heart change produced solely by the Lord and His Spirit, we may look different, sound good, and live better but eternal life comes from an intimate and ongoing relationship with the Father through His Son.

Grace is always enough. This is not a call to live a perfect life. Never make mistakes. Always make good choices. Stop sinning completely. Though these are our goals, the battle against our flesh is quite evident and the struggle is real. (Romans 7) What does God require of you? To fear the Lord your God. To walk in all His Ways. To love him. To serve Him with all your heart and soul. To keep His Commandments and Statutes.

Here’s a plot twist for you! Every bit of this is summed up in love. Romans 13 tells us that we are to own no one anything but love. The Message translation puts it like this – “Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.” To love Jesus with all of our heart and soul makes sin unpalatable if it separates us from His Love. When our union with Christ is complete, He becomes our priority over selfishness because He is better than life. You cannot engage in a relationship with Christ without a circumcised heart. It is the sign of covenant. In the Old Testament – an outward sign of a promise. In the New Testament – it is an inward sign of a new heart, mind, soul and body devoted to Jesus Christ.

New Heart

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

This verse has been heavy on my heart. The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword to the division of soul and spirit…Is the Sword of the Spirit for me? Yes. To use on others. To wield against the enemy and every perceived threat. Yes. But first, before all of that, it is for me to allow God to circumcise me and give me a new heart and new soul to serve Him. What if we have been going about this all wrong? What if our first action as a believer is to allow God to use this two-edged sword on our own stony and stubborn hearts…first. Always first. When tempted to lash out can we let His Word cut away the lack of love in us. What if the sword is useless in our defense unless it produces change in us first? Jesus is the Word. He is the Way, Truth and Life. No one gets to the Father but through Him. If God’s Word does not work in me, I cannot become the new creation filled with new life that He promised. I must consecrate my life beginning with my heart and soul before I can make an impact in my home, church and community. Otherwise it is just good works not godly deeds.

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

A stubborn hard heart cannot give the kind of love that it has received from the Lord. God is love. His Love for us comes without condition and immeasurable grace. A heart of stone cannot receive such love and it is like pouring water on a rock. Only a heart broken before the Lord can receive all that He has for us. I wonder today if I might be so bold as to say the heart of the church must be circumcised again. To cut away the callous disregard for “sinners” just like us. To see people where they are instead of expecting them to “act” like us. To see ourselves transparently through the eyes of grace and humbly expect our misfortune apart from Jesus Christ. We have all failed the Lord. We are all sinners just the same. There is none righteous no not one.

Lord, I ask you to take the two-edged sword of your Word and penetrate our stony, stubborn and selfish hearts today. This word is for no one other than me for I am the least of these. Father, renew a right spirit in me. Let Your Presence be my dwelling place as I crawl back to You with my heart in my hands asking you to give me a brand new one! In Jesus Name!

Ezekiel 11:18-20 (ESV) And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Courage of Conviction

Courage of Convictions

I John 3:23-24 (AMP) This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. The one who habitually keeps His commandments [obeying His word and following His precepts, abides and] remains in Him, and He in him. By this we know and have the proof that He [really] abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us [as a gift].

To have the courage of one’s convictions. An idiom meaning to behave according to one’s beliefs. To act in accordance with our personal belief system despite the criticism of others. As Christians, there are certain characteristics in our life that will change as our knowledge grows in His Word, His Spirit continually renews and revives our heart, and our will gives in to His Way. We are the ones who are changed by His Presence. In the midst of His Glory, there is not goodness found in us just a longing to move closer in spite of our deplorable sinful state. In Romans 7, Paul talks about our heart warring with our flesh. The endless battle of pride being nailed to the Cross to make way for fulfillment. It is an ugly skirmish. What are we fighting for? No, really. In order to make the fight worth fighting and courage worth having – it is important to know what conviction is and how to use it.

The courage of our convictions as believers is faith. Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified) says, Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” There are certain aspects of convictions which must be understood in order to make them effective in the life of the believer. Our convictions serve a specific purpose in character development. There are three relevant aspects in the procurement of faith that is our full assurance, title deed, and confirmation that the things we hope for are divinely guaranteed which gives us the courage to continue in the good fight for faith each day. The three things are the Word of God, Holy Spirit and human heart.

Word of God

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP) All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Word of God convicts us of sin. The word conviction means a fixed or firm belief. In order to know and understand the importance of Christ’s Arrival, Ministry, Death and Resurrection, one must note the unpaid debt of sin requiring His Blood. If we remain ignorant of our need for Christ, it will limit our pursuit of Him. The more our heart and mind consume the Word of God the more compelling the need to rid our life of it to be closer to the Lord. Not only does the Word of God convict us but carefully details the rights and rewards of the righteous or those who live in right standing with the Father thanks to His Son. The contract of our covenant with God through Jesus Christ is carefully outlined in great detail in the Word of God. It becomes the sword that split the worthwhile endeavors from worthless wanders so we have direction. It is the map to full satisfaction.

Holy Spirit

John 16:7-11 (AMP) But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin[and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; about judgment [the certainty of it], because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged and condemned.

Growing up, our family attended a denomination that rendered the Holy Spirit a silent partner. Never fully acknowledging His Role in spiritual fulfillment, we studied Hebrews and Revelation each year but never opened the Book of Acts. I was full of God’s Word but had no one to carefully help me take it apart, digest it and apply it appropriately to my life. I knew the Books of the Bible and owned many translations of the Word, but it was not effective. I needed the One who Jesus promised to send to sort out the details and find myself in the plot. The One who would be my Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener and Stand by. The Word of God is a sword to be wielded by the Holy Spirit. He knows God’s Plan and Purpose for my life and executes it to perfection within me.

God’s Plan and purpose for us is personal. No two people have the same purpose in life. Our life is created to be an individual masterpiece completed by Christ in us. God’s Word and His Spirit are the two things that produce conviction in our life. The conviction that God’s Word is absolutely true and the Work of His Process by His Spirit completely worthwhile gives way to reproduction of faith and fortification of confident hope. Too much of either will create imbalance and cause us to lean one way of the other. The Word gives way to legalism. The Spirit gives way to emotionalism. Anything taken out of context with God is convoluted. The personal plan created for my life is not the same as yours. The steps that I need to take to reach my divine destination are not the same. I must have courage in my convictions but not try to persuade others to do the same.

My Heart

Romans 14:22-23 (AMP) The faith which you have [that gives you freedom of choice], have as your own conviction before God [just keep it between yourself and God, seeking His will]. Happy is he who has no reason to condemn himself for what he approves. But he who is uncertain [about eating a particular thing] is condemned if he eats, because he is not acting from faith. Whatever is not from faith is sin [whatever is done with doubt is sinful].

Just keep it between yourself and God seeking to do His Will. This bears repeating. To have courage of one’s convictions does not mean pushing them on other people. The “do’s” and “don’ts” for you may not be the same for every other believer. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. While I agree that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial – it is important to note that your convictions are personal and a heart matter between you and Jesus Christ. As the Lord molds us and shapes us – He uses conviction to guard our heart and mind in the process. In the same way, if I attend a church that has certain beliefs integrated in their doctrine such as woman must wear skirts then I must honor their conviction in order to make sure I don’t cause another to stumble. I cannot use my freedom to take your freedom from you or vice versa.

God has given me His Word. He has filled me with His Spirit now I must give Him my heart. All of it. My personal convictions are a product of this three-leg stool supporting my new life in Jesus Christ. However, if I am not confident in the Word, His Spirit or the commitment of my heart then I will begin to push my convictions on others. Why? Insecurity. Fear. Doubt. Sometimes God will urge, nudge or press us to do that is strictly for our own character development but rather than trusting God to accompany us in the process – we drag others along. I am part of the Body of Christ. It is through intimacy with Christ that this relationship is initiated and developed by faith in Him alone.

I John 3:19-22 (AMP) By this we will know [without any doubt] that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart and quiet our conscience before Him whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands]. Beloved, if our heart does not convict us [of guilt], we have confidence [complete assurance and boldness] before God; and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].

This is His commandment, that we believe [with personal faith and confident trust] in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and [that we unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, just as He commanded us. (I John 3:23) We can find courage in our convictions today. Confident hope is born of steadfast faith, the Spirit of God in us, and establishing our heart on a firm foundation of faith. God has commanded us to love and seek the best for one another. Do not be deceived. Placing personal convictions on anothers is judgment. Spiritual bullies are born of browbeating others to follow because their way is better. Better than God’s or His Way specifically for you or me?

I could not understand or comprehend fully the powerful resource of God’s Word without His Spirit. The Spirit of God weaves His Word into wisdom as it establishes our worth to Him. Freedom in Christ is the removal of all restrictions, hindrances and limitations between us and His Presence. My obstacles are not the same as yours therefore the convictions in my life born of His Word and Spirit are for the piercing of my heart and not anyone else. They were handwritten along with my life plan spoken of in Psalm 139. Likewise, I cannot be tempted to yield to the convictions of others without compromising the Work of God within me.

Our identity is firmly established in the Person of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t need any help. He has given me all the assistance I need. The only thing I have to offer is the rest of my heart. My heart must be firmly established by faith. His Word and His Spirit work together to produce full assurance which becomes my confidence. Take courage in your convictions today. They are the gateway to freedom. They are personal. God loves you. He is good! He will never let you down. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Pursue His Presence. You are not alone and never forsaken. Above all His Grace is always enough!

Colossians 2:2-3 (AMP) [For my hope is] that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the mystery of God, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God].

Too Hard

Too Hard

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

What's Next

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary’s Heart

"Mary holding baby Jesus"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Favor

Finding Favor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain of Sacrifice

Mountain of Sacrifice

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

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

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

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

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

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

You do not delight in sacrifice…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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