Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

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Time to Confess

Reverse the Curse

James 5:16-18 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and Heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Elijah prayed and by the power of God it did not rain for three and one-half years. When he prayed again, the Heavens opened releasing rain and prosperity again. Why doesn’t God answer the prayers of man? Why do we not see the power of God in such an obvious and vivid display? His Word says that He will open the windows of Heaven over our life. We do what it says. Try to live right. Be right. Do right. However, the results so lackluster that doubt creeps in and disbelief begins to raise some questions. What’s wrong? What is out of order that is limiting God’s Glory from creating abundance in all areas of my life. If my soul is prospering, why not my life? Well…it is the prayer of a righteous man that has great power. Elijah prayed. He walked in God’s Ways. He had obvious faith – after all look at the miracle of Mount Carmel.

Prayer is our communication with God. God is omnipresent. Wherever you are – God is right there with you. Christ lives in you. The Holy Spirit inhabits you. The words spoken in every conversation is equally as important as those in our prayer closet. I wonder if the problem is not what we say to the Lord but words scattered everywhere else.

James 3:9-11 (ESV) With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?

A spring does not have fresh and salt water just as our words cannot bless and curse at the same time. Blessing is rebuked by the curse. Curse are rebuked by the blessing. The Bible is clear to bless those who curse you and spitefully use you. There are no enemies in the Kingdom just family. The person that causes you the greatest distress is your brother or sister in Christ. To pray for them and then talk about them stops the flow from Heaven in every relationship. The only enemy in our life is satan. He is at the root of every problem. He is the one who offers temptation. He is the one who sows division and discord. But do not discredit the power of God within you and me called self-discipline. Change the words that come from our mouth and our life will change according to what we speak. Life and death are in the tongue. Are you bringing life to the Promises of God by faith or are you causing them to die in the field because of grumbling and gossip? You have the power to speak life into every situation in life. You have divine authority over every demon and even the devil as it tries to take what the Lord has given you by faith. It is up to you and me if we will reverse the curse and establish a life of blessing. God ordained it. Christ died for us to have it. The Holy Spirit fills us with the good fruit needed to produce it. The rest is up to us.

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus asked Peter directly, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” No ifs, ands, or buts. Peter knew Jesus. He believed in Him. He confessed Him as the Messiah right then and there. Then Jesus tells Peter who he really is and reveals the power of his confession. The same mouth that confessed the Lord would soon deny Him, not once but three times. Everyone struggles when the conditions of our life do not line up with the confession of our mouth. We must learn to speak from our heart. A heart full of faith and promise rather than give praise to those things that do not line up or are not yet evident. We must respond to the Presence of God in us and stop reacting to every discomfort, discontentment, inconvenience and chaotic situation in our life. We have the power to change the atmosphere but it is not in our rightness but righteousness found in Christ alone. When our tongue is bridled and led by the Spirit, it will not say what we are thinking but rely on Who we know.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

We have no excuse. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Lord has already seeded our life with the seeds of faith that produce good fruit to satisfy our heart and soul. These same things produce a confident hope that allows us to remain fearless and full even in famine and drought. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Every lifeless situation is subject to the vocabulary of our confession. We give life to those things not of God but giving them precedence in our proverbial overtures making our problem bigger than the promise. We say that right words but then smother them with complaining. Our communication is a confession that gives life to the thing in which our faith resides – what are you talking about? What are you confessing? What is the basis of communication?

Are you satisfied? Are you content? The fruit of our mouth produces the abundance of our life. It is from the abundance of the heart – the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) We may think that there is growing, developing and maturing faith in our life until we carefully begin to listen to what we say. You may be surprised. Though it may be justified by the current condition of your life, the fruit of our mouth can also choke out the new life and new creation being cultivated by Christ.

When our son was undergoing extensive radiation treatment, his skin was burning from the inside out. His tumor was located inside his nasopharynx so the concentration of therapy was his head and neck. To my utter horror despite being warned near the end of his treatment, the burns began to surface. The blisters were awful. I would apply ointment that would cause him great pain and began melting off my hand before I even touched him. On one such morning, as tears ran down my face, I told him God would understand if he complained about this situation. The Lord would understand. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Now what good would that do?” Lesson learned. In the midst of the unthinkable, undergoing a treatment no one should endure along with chemotherapy which is poison coursing through his body – this young man still did not see fruitfulness in complaining when just that morning I griped about the uncomfortable bed as I rolled out of bed with a healthy body and free accommodations graciously provided to us. Perspective can often change our communication when we stop complaining.

James 3:1-5 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Many years ago, I thought being right was all that mattered. It gave you a free license to stand on your soapbox and yell. Things are different now. The journey of faith with our so changed my life forever – in a good way – in a God way. Nothing is normal anymore. Such an ordeal takes highly regarded priorities and completely changes them forever. I am not necessarily a better person but I am definitely humbled at my lifelong disregard for righteousness. That’s right righteousness. I was right in many of my observations. But the power of my life is righteousness given to me by Christ and the access to the Presence of God that I now have – my responsibility is to sow seeds of faith and life into the world. I am to be a Light. Not one that shines on the faults and failures of others, but rather Light that attracts others from darkness to engage in the Light of His Love. My life is not attracted by harsh, bitter words. It is not influential when plagued by complaints. It is not going to cultivate fruit in barren fields of doubt and disbelief. The only hope that I have in this life and eternity is Jesus Christ. My heart and mouth must agree that He is who I boast in.

Before the change in my heart, I used to feel it appropriate to give people a piece of my mind. I did it so frequently that a co-worker made a literal “STOP” sign. When a conversation became heated, she would hold it up as a warning. On the other side, it said, “GO RIGHT AHEAD!” She was more influential than the Holy Spirit at that time. But the sign has been discarded and now I must truly rely on the Holy Spirit. The change of heart was appropriate because now rather than focusing on my pride or being right – the Lord keeps my eye on the prize. The prize and potential of the Kingdom is in people. My response to them and the situations of life is by faith. Faith in the Love of God that I can never be separated from therefore I am free to share without reciprocation because my life is full. The kind of love that is always pursuing me. It is looking for ways to bring His Goodness and Glory in my life. Yet, even now with years, I still find that there are so many areas of my life that need attention. Careless words that need to be redacted. Prayers that need to be released from bondage. Fields of foolishness that need to replanted with faith which produces good fruit. So many idle words that require repentance to be filled with life again. Lord, help me to always be sure that the meditation of my heart is You. May the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth agree! May the greatest confession of my life always be You – Jesus!

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heave

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do you have a treasured possession? My grandmother’s china is very special to me. She kept it in her china cabinet only bringing it out at certain times. I remember looking through the glass at them and how they shown in the golden light of her dining room. Funny, that in the same cabinet, in the midst of all the good stuff, grandma had a plastic salt and pepper shaker in the shape of two hanging grape clusters. These were a gift from me to her. She treasured the artwork and tiny trinkets given to her by her grandchildren. They took a place of honor in her home. My birth mother passed away a few years ago. We had been estranged due to addiction for many years. When her death certificate arrived, it contained two gumball machine rings that belonged to her. Little pieces of cheap metal crafted in to plain bands that were gifts from her grandson. I have tucked them away. Tiny treasures with great significance.

We all have treasures. People or things highly valued and greatly prized in our life. Some of those things may actually be of monetary worth while others provoke precious memories. If a thief were to break in, would he be able to steal your treasure? Could moths or rusts destroy that which is most precious to you? Treasure is defined by the value or worth placed on something. It is the desired content of it that makes it so special and sought after. What do you spend your time pursuing these days? The pursuits in which our time and talent are invested generally will reveal our treasure. Priorities produce busyness but what is the purpose and motivation behind all the rushing back and forth? Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?

It would be quick to interpret this passage to dissuade us from loving things and money too much. While looking ahead, the perception of worth and wealth is based on the perspective of what we see. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The kind of faith that sees the Kingdom must turn its face from worthless substitutions to obtain the treasure stored for them in heaven. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Drives and desires become our masters. To have money, possessions and things is not bad. To love money, possessions and things allowing them to become the master of our life and that which defines our pursuits is the real trouble for believers.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV) My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The hidden treasure of heaven belongs to you and me. We have the Word of God to invest in our life like good seed planted deep in fertile soil. The act of sowing God’s Word in our lie turns knowledge into understanding and wisdom. We must “receive“ His Word. We must “treasure” His Commands. We must be “attentive” to His Voice. We must “incline” our heart to understanding. Treasure is defined by human desire. The thing desired most defines the idea of “treasure” in our life. Who or what gets your time? Who or what gets your talent? Who or what gets your treasure? This is the person or thing valued most in your life. It will show you who or what the desire of the heart is.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is hidden treasure. It is found when Jesus Christ is discovered. The potential of the Kingdom is in us. He has placed eternity in each heart and a measure of faith to cultivate the purpose placed within us. In order to have it, we must pursue it wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The man found treasure and covered it up. We invite Jesus to come live in our heart. What we do with our salvation is completely up to each one of us? To participate in a building a relationship with Jesus Christ means that we must go and “sell” this life to obtain the Kingdom. The man sold everything for “joy”. Less is more in the Kingdom. I must decrease so Christ can increase.

What if this passage represents moving our life from the planet to His Presence? To begin getting rid of lesser things to make room for His Abundance. To work the fields of our heart rather than toiling with our hands all the time. To build a life on faith rather than worrying about the world and its future. We are temporary residents of this place, the Kingdom of God is our forever home.

Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Reading these verses today, I am wondering if there is a message here. The “man” moved his life and existence on the field. He sold everything to dwell in it. Live in it. Take ownership of it. What if these verses represent our personal life with Christ and the next ones our professional life? The merchant bought and sold pearls for a living. But when he found the pearl of great price, he sold all to have it. The treasure of my life is Christ. To have the Kingdom – I must have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is not futuristic. He invites me to open the windows of Heaven and bring it down to the earth.

The deal breaker, game changer is my participation. Will I sell out for the Kingdom? Will I place the highest priority on heaven rather than earthly pursuits? It doesn’t say that they gave everything up for the Lord. They sold everything to acquire the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven offers abundance, full satisfaction and complete contentment. It is not to accept a life of poverty, but to prosper from the inside out. I find that as I continually invest more and more of my time, talent and treasure into the Kingdom – things begin to change as I do. The struggle is real. Faith relies on that which it cannot see as the vivid reality of what is true in our life. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10. He was rich. He was a ruler. He was religious. He was the total package according to the world’s economy. Jesus instructed him to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. To exchange all of his things for righteousness. To have a constant and abiding relationship with the Living God. The man walked away “disheartened” for he had many possessions.

Luke 12:32-34 (ESV) “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If the world didn’t give it to you, then the world cannot take it away. The Treasure of Heaven is Jesus Christ. The Presence of God that wants to dwell in us, live with us, save us, heal us, and deliver us. The Prosperity of God that wants to increase us from the inside out. To create such contentment and godliness that the conditions, circumstances and situations of life cannot impact the love, joy and peace overflowing from us. It says, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We cannot earn the Kingdom with all of its blessings and benefits. We certainly do not deserve it yet each day His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us. “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” God is asking His People simply to prepare a place for the Treasure of Heaven and He will gladly do the rest. What do you treasure? Where is your treasure? Can anyone take it away from you?

God is good! He is an excellent provider. He only gives us good things. He is perfect in all of His Ways. To connect with God’s Economy – one must move into His Presence and learn to operate in godly prosperity. It doesn’t work like the world does. It operates by unconditional love, unending grace and overflowing blessing from the inside out. Tap into the hidden treasures of heaven. Reinvest your life into the potential of faith living in confident hope. He will never ever let you down. It is His GOOD PLEASURE to give us the Kingdom!

Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

When Heaven Opens

When Heaven Opens

Deuteronomy 28:11-14 (ESV) And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Last week, I had this revelation in prayer. An “open heaven” is the prayer of believers. To have the blessings and benefits of heaven make natural life supernatural. Miracles, signs and wonders are the epitome of the concept of an open heaven. Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary life? The open heaven is an existence that defies human reality defined by faith and confident hope that produces God’s Fruit in our life. When the Glory of God pours out, it has a definite purpose prescribed before time began. From beginning to end, the story has been written before it is time to be lived including every provision, promise, and purpose. If an open heaven is our truest desire, than we are asking the Lord to wreak havoc on our natural life.

Why? If God is good, and His Way perfect, then our imperfection and weakness must give way to His Perfection and Strength. God is Sovereign. He does not change to accommodate my flesh, preferences or demands. He is a Good Father. He knows what is best for us. To request alignment with the heavenly realm and open the windows of it, one must be ready for an undoing like never before. The Glory of God interrupts our plan to make way for His Plan to be revealed. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity. This is an absolutely true statement in the covenant made between God and all of his people…even you. God’s Prosperity begins in our soul and makes its way into our natural life. There will be no abundance in our hand until it begins in our heart.

The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

A treasury is the funds or the revenue of a government, corporation or institution. It can be defined as the “place where treasure is stored.” The enemy cannot take a single blessing or promise God has in store for you. Nothing can be taken from God that belongs to you. The only way to access the blessings and benefits is for the Lord to “open to you His Good Treasury.” His Good Treasury is the heavens. What opens the windows of heaven? What gives us open access to come and go? Obedience. Obedience is the next step of salvation. It is when Jesus becomes our Lord. Can I go to heaven if He is only my Savior? Absolutely. You miss all the benefits offered in salvation if He does not become your Lord.

People sow seeds every single day. The productivity of life is time, talent and treasure sown into life. When heaven opens in our life, seeds once dormant will receive new rain. God will bless the work of our hands. Obedience begins in the sowing of our life. To align our planting with God’s Timing and wait for His Season allows abundance and prosperity that worldly timing and expectation will never produce.

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV)  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There are two kinds of obedience in the Kingdom. There is religious obedience and relational obedience. One is driven by love of self and the other is a passion fueled by love for Christ. Religious obedience is based on my ability to follow the regulations set forth in God’s Word. I do it because I want the associated blessing or benefit. God will bless religious obedience. However, this is not the kind of obedience that the Lord is after. He desires a relationship with you. The Love of God for us is unfailing and unconditional therefore it is not impressed with how obedient and faithful we are to rules and regulations. No…Jesus is looking for those who obey because they love Him too much not to. Obedience offered in radical love is the kind that pleases the Lord.

Why did Jesus get baptized? Hmm… I had to think about it. The first thought was because it is what the Word instructs us to do. Well that’s silly, because Jesus IS the Word. When Jesus obeyed God, not because He had to but because He knew it would please the Father, look what happens next – “the heavens were opened.” Could this actually be an illustration of radical obedience based on ridiculous love? Grace has already paid the debt for our life. God’s Favor is upon us. His Spirit lives in us. When we decide to live according to love for God everything changes as obedience opens heaven in our life. Choosing to follow Christ because we love Him leads to a way different existence than that of religious obedience.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

To request an open heaven is to commit to a life of faithful obedience. The Word of God is clear that it is His Intention to overtake us with blessings. Jesus came to give us an abundant life. He will withhold no good thing from those who love Him and seek Him wholeheartedly. Obedience must be a heart choice and not an intellectual decision. It must be a willing surrender of our way to embrace a pursuit of our beloved. Who do you love? Who would you lay your life down for? Would you do the same for Jesus Christ? Logical faith must become practical living if our goal is to align our life with Kingdom Blessing. This means that our treasure is in heaven not on the earth but it is our full intent to open heaven and flood the earth with His Presence.

Matthew 27:50-53 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 

Once again the Spirit of God is poured out. The first time it came to rest upon Jesus. Then after His Death, Jesus released His Spirit to the people. The first time people could not receive His Spirit because of sin. After Jesus died, paying the price for sin, His Spirit was released on the earth. Immediately the temple veil was torn so religion was no longer a requirement and the graves gave up their spoils. Death rendered powerless to life that day. Everything changed because now heaven was accessible to all God’s People.

When heaven opens in our life – things begin to change. The more of our life given to the pursuit of the Glory of God found in His Presence – the more intimacy that is desired. Moving closer to Jesus means a displacement of self to make room for His Spirit. It will begin to change us from the inside. In the meantime, we must continue to sow good seed and wait for His Harvest. It will come. When our obedience is established in relationship – the Kingdom becomes our home.

How do I evaluate obedience? Well, the results of godly obedience that characterize a prospering soul are not selfish. If I can do it and it has no cost, it is not relationship but religion. It is the moment that I cannot give enough of me to Jesus that radical relational obedience is perpetuated. When there is a desperation to give more, do more, and be more that is beyond anything I can give, do or be – transformation begins. Why doesn’t God just open heaven over His People? Because most of the church couldn’t handle it.

The Powerful Force of His Perfection colliding with our imperfection would kill us. When our stubborn rigidity meets with His Overwhelming Grace it would destroy us. God is waiting for our heart to fall in love with Him. Our heart to be full of Him. Our soul to prosperity in Him just so we can survive His Goodness pouring out on us and in us and moving through us. I want an open heaven. To have it begins with the plea – God change me into who I need to be to absorb your Glory when it comes.

Mark 2:21-22 (ESV) “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

The Doorkeepers

Doorkeepers

John 10:9-10 (NKJV) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

It’s the end of summer. Almost time for the kids to head back to school, praise the Lord! My power bill welcomes the relief. It has been steadily climbing. Partly due to the television, lights, and ceiling fans constantly burning up precious kilowatts. However, I could not figure out why it was higher than normal. We have had children in school for more than 20 years now. Down to just two girls at home, I was a bit perplexed. Did I mention that we also acquired a new family member in the form of a fur baby? She is in the midst of housebreaking. She also must be defective because she has a hole in her lip that causes her to slop water all over the place. What does this have to do with my power bill? Well, when our girls take the dog out or to the porch for water, they were leaving the backdoor open. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. The point is that our air conditioner has been servicing the entire neighborhood. Ugh! How many times have I asked, pleaded and even shouted – “Shut the door!” Can anyone else relate? It’s like money flying out the backdoor and floating in the sky.

An open door is an access point. It allows things to come in and go out like the air conditioning of our house. We decide what gains access or is shut out. With heavy locks and deadbolts to keep those unwanted to enter for our protection. I am terrible at locking doors by the way. I am learning to be more diligent about what I allow to have access in my life. It is important that believers become doorkeepers who are diligent, determined and disciplined when it comes to granting access to our life. Jesus declared Himself to be the door! Anyone who enters by me will be saved. He offers freedom to those who enter salvation through Him. He is the Way, Truth and Life who gives us access to the Father. The door that He offers also is the way to have life more abundantly. The threshold is two-fold. Not only does it grant us access but it gives Jesus access to our natural life.

Matthew 16:19 (NKJV) “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Faith is the key that opens the door to Heaven for us. Faith in Jesus Christ (who is the door) opens all of God’s Kingdom to the believer. I can have keys to many places, but if I don’t use them keys are useless. Faith in action creates an access point to the Father through Jesus His Son. We must enter into the place it provides called Presence to have the abundant life that is offered. Jesus has given us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them today?

Revelation 3:20 (NKJV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

The first door to be opened is the one to our heart. Jesus is gently knocking and asking for entrance to us. He promises that if I just open the door that He will come in and live with me. The intimacy of relationship cannot be established with barriers between us. We must give the Lord access to our heart, mind, body and soul. He does not change. He will change us. When the Lord enters – He brings with Him things like Resurrection Power and Life. He is a very attentive lover who always brings good things to His Beloved. His Spirit produces good and lasting fruit that provides fullness of life and true satisfaction. He gives us the knowledge and wisdom. His Favor is full of opportunity and new life that does more than we can think or ask. All this because we chose to open the door and let His Unconditional Love and Overwhelming Grace flood our life. We could stop here but there is so much more to our life with Christ and in Him…why would we?

Revelation 4:1 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

There is a whole lot of life to live in the dash between the dates on the birth certificate to the one on our death certificate. To live in abundance, favor, and victory requires a new perspective. To expand our perception of life from the natural to the supernatural. The Lord wants us to “come up” higher and see our life and ourselves as He does. To fully embrace the new thing that He is doing and become the new creation that is promised. I cannot live in the fulfillment of God in the midst of human logic and rationalization. I need the Spirit and Truth to produce new understanding that becomes knowledge to apply as wisdom. The kind of Truth that steps out of fear, worry, anxiety and insecurity to walk by faith and total trust that produces confidence in the hope I have in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 78:23-24 (NKJV) Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven.

When the doors to Heaven open, something is released. Always. It is by faith that a foundation of expectation is built beneath us. It keeps us focused on the door with expectancy. To believe that there is something behind the door that I need keeps me every before it. Expectancy in God turns our timid knocking praying and hoping that He will answer into a mighty pounding on it knowing the One behind it is faithful and true. Do you believe that Jesus has something behind the door? Is there something in the Presence of God you need? Are you willing to come boldly before His Throne and beat on that door until it opens? Urgency produces expectancy that becomes boldness. How important is the thing you are trusting and believing the Lord for? Is it your health or maybe deliverance? Is it for a loved one? Anything wanted, needed or desired by us according to His Perfect Plan and Divine Fulfillment is behind that door and when we knock He has promised to open it :– something will come rushing out when He does open it so in the meantime…

Proverbs 8:34-35 (NKJV) “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord…”

Thank goodness the Spirit of the Lord produces patience and longsuffering in us because it certainly did not come with this package. We will watch at His Gates and wait at the door when what is behind it is worth having. When Jesus becomes that which is desired most, our willingness to wait is expanded. Whoever finds Jesus finds life and obtains the favor of God. I want eternal life. Isn’t that the whole point? Sometimes we forget when impatience overtakes us and the enemy offers immediate gratification in the form of substitution. I want life AND God’s Favor. The Favor of God will work in our life now. I cannot have His Favor outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the vine and I am a branch unable to produce anything good outside of our connection. Opening the door to my heart and inviting Him will be my salvation. But God doesn’t want to stop with just saving us but He has a plan and purpose to prosper us, to make us successful, and give us abundance in life to fuel generosity and give even more credibility to the Goodness of God, His Grace and for His Glory.

Psalm 84:10-11 (NKJV) For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Are you a doorkeeper in the House of God? The Presence of God is available to all of us thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ. The temporary trials and momentary problems of today do not block us from the Kingdom and its power. We have been given the keys to the Kingdom. Am I using them today? Shaking those keys at the enemy does nothing but make a lot of noise? The devil is not afraid of the keys but that you will use them to open the door to Heaven. It is the job of the doorkeeper to open the door. To use the key marked faith and open the door of Presence is to allow all of God’s Grace, Goodness and Glory to permeate our life. He becomes our sun and shield as His Presence surrounds us, provides for us, empowers us and protects us. He is the Light that leads to all wisdom and truth so we are not tangled in lies or trapped in walls of untruth. He wants to give us more grace and more glory every day. He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly in His Presence. We have the keys. He has already told us in His Word that He will come in. The real question is not whether He is faithful but will I be faith full? When God opens the door to Presence will I step in? His Presence is unsettling and produces change. It makes us uncomfortable. It is often inconvenient. It requires us to relinquish control. Am I willing to live undone in the Presence of God? Yes, I am. There is something I want that is found only in His Presence. I must make the conscious choice to live ever before the door to Heaven knocking and when He opens the door – I must be willing to rush in.

John 10:1-4 (NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

Treasure

treasure

Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

A fisherman was on the water one day when his boat anchor became stuck below the sea. After many attempts to free his vessel, he had no other option but to dive in the water and swim to the bottom to eliminate the problem. He found that the anchor was clinging to a giant clam shell. The man dislodged the anchor and decided to drag the enormous obstacle with him to the surface. He was unaware that a treasure was hidden inside. Upon opening it, he discovered a large pearl. It measured two feet long and one foot thick. He considered this to be a lucky find and stuck his prize under this bed for good luck. The pearl was hidden there for ten years. He was unaware that the pearl was five times larger than the world’s largest pearl ever documented. When he finally decided to share the pearl with the world, it was determined that the giant pearl weighed almost 75 pounds and was worth an estimated 100 million dollars.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” The fisherman had an abundance of wealth hidden under his bed. One hundred million dollars changed his life forever. Yet, he had no idea that the huge misshapen hunk of pearl was worth anyone. Maybe he was looking for one of perfect roundness. Or perhaps he expected a valuable pearl to fit on a necklace, bracelet or earring. People spend most of their life in pursuit of purpose. No one wants to live in vain and think that their life did not matter. It is the cry of every human heart to find its place in the grand scheme of things. God placed eternity in our heart. He also gave us a measure of faith to find the true meaning of our creation. I wonder if because this life doesn’t always turn out as we expect that we hide things of worth away rather than examining them for their real worth and meaning.

The Kingdom of Heaven is our treasure. It is the reward for a life lived in pursuit of the Living God. It is the only thing of worth that we have because it is the only thing there is beyond this life – it is called eternal life. What does it matter if I have the whole world yet lose my soul? My spiritual connection to the Kingdom cannot be separated from my natural life or I will not acquire the treasure that is everlasting.

Spoiler Alert – If you are in the Sunday school class that I am teaching this morning, you may want to read this later. I discovered this week that somehow my pursuit of the Kingdom had been a bit detoured. One of those times when lesser things became greater things and my priorities were misaligned. How can you tell? When agitation overtakes my peace, joy turns to aggravation, and disappointment begins to overshadow hope. The Lord is my satisfaction. He is the only thing worth pursuing in my life. The closer my walk grows with Jesus the more aware I become when something tries to interfere.

To discover Jesus Christ is to find the “pearl” of great price. His Love and Grace causes a heart change that desires to know Him more and seek Him. However, the pursuit of Jesus is difficult in a world filled with distractions, shortcuts, compromises and substitutions. The enemy offers counterfeit blessings every day. Even though we know God has something better, we choose to accept that which is easy and does not require a process.

Matthew 7:6 – (NIV) Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” I have read this scripture many times but feel there is new meaning here to be revealed by God’s Spirit to my heart. We have been given the Kingdom of God. It is part of the salvation package offered by Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is our gift eternal life. We do not experience the reality of eternity until we die. Our whole existence is centered on avoiding death altogether when the reality is that every baby is born dying.

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells us through a parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth the “joy” of complete sacrifice. The man sold all he had just to buy the field it was in. It says that the treasure was hidden there. He bought the field by faith. He would have to go through the process of cultivation to harvest it. There is a process to acquire the Kingdom. It requires sacrifice, commitment, dedication and motivation.

The enemy cannot touch anything bound by the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:19-21, the Word of God tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” Why? Because they cannot be destroyed by the enemy. They cannot be corrupted. No one can steal anything we place there. Our heart follows our treasure. Jesus wants our heart today. He wants our love. Our heart must be bound in Heaven and not set on the earth.

Are we throwing our pearls out to the pigs to be trampled on? A pig eats whatever it is given. It is not discerning and eats whatever is in the slop to fill its insatiable hunger. Could this mean that when we reject the process of God in us set in motion to provide the promise of great value and worth culminating in entrance to the Kingdom, could this be the meaning of throwing out our pearls?

Revelation 21:21-27 (NIV) The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Pearls are formed when a small irritant, like a grain of sand, somehow makes its way into the interior of an oyster shell. Annoyed by this foreign object, the oyster begins coating it in a material it produces called nacre. The oyster slowly coats the foreign irritant in layers upon layers of nacre, eventually forming a pearl. Freshwater pearls take 1 to 6 years to form. Saltwater pearls take 5 to 20 years to form. If the oyster could somehow remove the irritant aborting the process, there would be no pearl.

Relief ends the trial eliminating the problem. Release is enduring the process to produce the promise. What do I do when irritated? How do I react to trials? Do I respond to the promise or react to the problem? It is important to note our behavior in the midst of opposition, irritation or challenges. There is a Kingdom waiting for me. Each gate is made of a giant single pearl. A pearl can only be made one way. Could it be that God placed them there to remind us that this life is a process not a quick fix? Maybe He is telling us that the Kingdom is worth every trial and hardship endured rather than escaped? The Lord is reminding us of the power and glory invested in our fragile jars of flesh today. He is saying don’t give up. It’s going to be worth it.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

On a personal note, the last month or so has been very trying. Everything seemed out of order. Nothing was adding up. I felt agitated all the time. I prayed and prayed. I poured over the Word of God for answers. I begged God to show me what I was doing wrong. Nothing. Midweek – there was a breakthrough. Hallelujah! Thursdays I clean house. It was quiet as my girls were off with friends and my husband cutting the yard. The phone rang. It was my friend. A godly gentleman who I respect as a mighty man of God had a dream regarding my husband and I. It seems to be a prophetic dream about a trial that is coming and a promise that we will overcome. My heart sank. Lord, Lord. See I have been through some stuff, I know that Jesus is faithful and will do exactly as He promised. I am human. My flesh cries out that I just don’t think I can do it again. The Lord whispers to me, “You can’t, but I will.”

I have been given a measure of faith that must become large enough to walk over into eternity. When you study the Word of God, it is clear that it is not an easy or lighthearted acquisition. There are many things from here to there that I would like to walk around and run past without enduring but where is the value and worth? It is the process that produces the promise in me. To forsake the process is to relinquish the promise. We cannot have the pearl without the price. I must decide whether I will use my life to gain forever or to live for this day. It is not forced upon me. God injects that irritant that requires change and I decide if I will receive it or reject it. It is that simple.

Where is your treasure today? The fisherman did not know that the hunk of pearly mass under his bed was worth anything at all. He made it worth what he wanted it to be worth. He called it his good luck charm. I have to chuckle. Do we put God and His Kingdom in the same kind of box? Do we decide His Worth and limit His Wealth in our life? Fear will do that. Doubt can certainly do it too. The faith that the Lord has invested in you is worth something. It will be worth every fight to hold on to it. Jesus will be the firm foundation that He promised but we must build that foundation of faith in our life. We must be committed enough to sacrifice. It will not be easy. It will not be quick. It will be worth it all.

Matthew 16:19 (NIV) – “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Is It Worth It?

Is It Worth It

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When looking for a new home, the buyer may only see a few places or tour hundreds before they find a place that they are willing to invest and live in. They must see the potential if renovation is needed. Envision their life in the new place even if it empty or occupied by another. There are many factors in the decision. When we found our new home, we knew it. We love it. We are ready to move, but first must undergo the process. Our current residence had to put on the market for sale which meant cleaning up and staging it for potential buyers. Our financial information had to be provided to the bank to be fully examined and deemed worthy of loan approval. Savings had to reflect our ability to pay the necessary closing costs and fees after the sale of our home. Of course, a new house had to be found. Inspections and appraisals done for the bank to approve our purchase. All parties now are packing and preparing for closing so that at the right moment on the appointed day all three families will move to new locations. It is a process. The process is facilitated by value and worth. Not only the monetary steps but the dream or vision that made us want to move in the first place. Is it worth packing our life and moving to a new place? Is it worth giving up this life to save our soul? I think its time to take a practical look at pursing God’s Kingdom. If we do not deem His Kingdom worth the sacrifice and investment, what’s the point?

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. Live righteously. He will give you everything you need. Seek the Kingdom of God first, but will it be worth it? We must appraise the Kingdom’s value to us and decide if it is worthy of our life investment. In this world filled with many open doors called religion, one must make the choice to enter and engage in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The world shows us many doors with shining “open” signs and “welcome” mats leading to a hipster coffee shop, padded theater seats, gigantic “jumbotron” screens, elaborate sound systems, and great presentations marked as “the way” as an access point to the Kingdom of God. I wonder sometimes if we get lost in the hype. If we miss the true value and worth of the rich and satisfying life that Christ died for us to have because our economy of life does not change with our movement toward the Living God?

When we moved into our current home over a decade ago, I pledged before God and my husband that I was never moving again. Moving takes work. It is not an easy task. We had five small children at the time. Seven people relocating is exhausting and a bit overwhelming. We have lived a good life in this house even with some of the stress and heartaches along the way. God has filled with this place with love, joy and peace just like He promised. His Holy Spirit has ruled the atmosphere with grace and mercy as we have learned to love the Lord along the way. But now, it’s time to do and the driveway declaration doesn’t mean much knee deep in boxes and packing tape. It is the Lord that pressed our hearts to make this change. I know that He has a plan and purpose in it. My investment is faith that believes it will be worth it. Only by believing in God’s Plan will we invest in it.

Matthew 5:3 (NLT) “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

God blesses those who are poor in spirit. It is in our desperate condition that one seeks to know God more. If we have it all together, all our needs are met, our dreams fulfilled and desires satiated, would we really continue to go after God? Let’s be real. It is in our disease, discomfort, dissatisfaction and displeasure that we seek the life that God has promised. It is when the bank account empty or full cannot pay the full price of freedom that we seek the One who sets the captive free. We must realize our need for Jesus in order to inherit His Kingdom. To decide that it is worthy of inconvenience to step into His Glory forever will change how we live and what we long for. I believe the Lord allows us to become agitated, frustrated and desperate so that we will move our natural life from this world into His Kingdom. Otherwise it would be too late.

Matthew 19:23-25 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

My concept of wealth has changed dramatically over the years. I lived in a single wide mobile home as a very young child. My grandparents lived in a modest home which seemed like Heaven to me so I decided that if I could have a house without wheels, brick walls and wood floors that I would be satisfied. When we bought our first house, I thought that was it. It was wonderful. A lot of late nights and elbow grease went in to preparing that palace as it was a foreclosed property in need of some TLC but we knew it would be worth it so invested our time and energy.

Not long after, the market was booming. We decided to move again. So, we built a house. It was glorious and new. It did not need renovations like the first one. Several years later, we installed a swimming pool. Who would have thought that from modest beginnings there would be a home with a pool? I sure didn’t. However, over time what I discovered is that though wonderfully blessed, everything lost its luster. Don’t get me wrong I am thankful for the things that the Lord has given us, but they are require upkeep and maintenance. They are responsibilities. But if Jesus came to me today and said, “Sell all your possessions and follow me” it would be a struggle. Why? I am rich in the natural. I am blessed with many things. My life is comfortable. Even though people find things to grumble and complain about most of the time it is in vain. We are rich enough to not want to give up what we have to have what is His – that is until we decide it is worth it.

Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”

In Genesis 8:22, the Lord tells Noah that as long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. In other words, there will be consistent sowing and reaping in the seasons of life for all mankind. Our sowing will always dictate the harvest. Sowing in this world will result in earthly harvests subject to the destroying organisms in the natural and deadly forces in the spirit. We must sow in the Kingdom. Also, our life is subject to seasons – a whole lot of them. Here in Genesis 8, natural seasons are described. In our spiritual life, as well as physical life, we will endure other seasons listed in Ecclesiastes 3. Some we encourage and embrace while there are others we might just as well do without. Nevertheless, the Lord is telling us to be alert to the seasons and sow generously throughout.

I wonder today if I am investing my life in the most beneficial way. Am I scattering seeds in the Kingdom sealing them with faith watering them with the spirit so they will grow? Or am I continuing to waste my time by seeking the natural rather than living for the supernatural? There are some days when I am tired of fighting the good fight, the wait on the watchtower seems to long, and the impossible doesn’t seem to budge, that I hear the Holy Spirit whisper – “It’s gonna be worth it. It’s gonna be worth it all.” This is where I am given the opportunity to believe one more day for that which seems elusive and sow more seeds of faith in the Kingdom rather than returning to the world.

Mark 4:30-32 (NLT) Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Heaven will become a priority when it possesses something you want. If there is no hope, then who needs Heaven? In the most simple form of repentance and obedience to the Lord, He comes rushing in and our life is better. Whether He delivers us, heals us, or sets us free each action and attitude that draws us closer to God through Jesus Christ will impact our life in the natural. For example, when my husband and I returned to Christ many, many years ago, we decided to tithe. It was a choice. Not an easy one at first as there were six of us at that time to care for on one meager salary. God blessed us. We never missed a meal. Always had utilities. Clothes to wear. Gas for our automobiles. Automobiles. We sowed in the natural and God produced favor and financial covering in our life. Tithing is obedience. There are many other things in the Word of God that are labeled the same. We transition from the natural blessings of God to the supernatural when we begin to operate in His Commodity. What is God’s Most Valuable Asset? Well, He calls us His Prized Possession. His Treasure. Could it be that we are the very thing that makes Heaven so rich? The most valuable possession to God is the human soul. You are of infinite worth to God because His Son died for you. I am precious in His Sight because when He sees me – it is through His Son.

It is like a mustard seed…that mustard seed of faith planted in our heart will grow into a life of true discipleship if planted in the Kingdom and not this world. You cannot be who God predestined you to be outside of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is where we sow and reap with the greatest reward but seldom immediate gratification. We must endure to the end to be saved. Are you willing to plant seeds of faith along the way? We plant in people. We invest in love. Jesus made a way for us to regain right standing with God. We must come to Him like children. (Mark 10:15-16) It is not an intellectual pursuit but a child’s surrender and subsequent return. For every small investment of the spiritual fruit in our life, it will yield a great return. (Luke 13:20-21) But the Kingdom must be valuable to you. It must be worth everything you have. It must be worth giving up all that you own. It is must be worth giving up your life to save your very soul. (Matthew 16:26)

It must be worthy of finding that which is lost. If I lose a penny in the bottom of my enormous purse, I would not spend much time looking for it. It is only worth a single cent clearly not worth my time or effort. Now if there is a twenty dollar bill lost in my handbag, it would be game on until I discovered its whereabouts. Twenty dollars is worth something to me. The Bible says that Jesus leaves the 99 to find the one. He talks about lost coins and lost sheep to get the point across to us that we are what matters most to the Lord. (Luke 15) In all our rebellious imperfection, God wants us. We are worth it to Him. The truth of the matter is that souls matter to God the most. They are the commodity of the Kingdom. Our soul and every other one every created.

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!

Is God’s Kingdom your treasure today? I am asking myself the same. I must not only examine my heart but evaluate my life to determine where I am investing myself. Is it for personal profit? I am blessed just knowing Jesus. My feeble attempts to walk with Him produce natural and supernatural blessings in our life. His Faithfulness keeps me following Him. Am I fully invested? I want to know for a fact without a shadow of a doubt that my faith is fully vested in Kingdom business not just earthly exchanges. I can have family, friends and coworkers. Do I love them? Do I love God enough to invest my life in the one and only commodity that is worthy of investing in His Kingdom? I am challenged by this thought today.

When our son was sick, it came to a point where there was only a slight glimmer of hope. Reality challenged my faith to one fateful night when I asked myself, “If God chooses to take him home, will I still love and trust Him?” The answer shook me to my core. “Yes.” How could I say such a horrible thing? It’s not horrible. It just means that somewhere in my complete devastation and undoing, the Lord gave me a tiny seed of faith to keep the process of transformation going. Heaven becomes more important when there is something there we want. The Kingdom of God becomes more inviting when the investment yields a favorable return.

The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into civil disobedience by asking whether or not they should pay taxes. Jesus responded, “When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark12:14-18) We have a free will. We are Children of God who live as foreigners in this world. We render to Caesar that which bears his mark. We honor God by living a righteous life filled with faith, hope and love generously given to all mankind. Thus increasing our investment in Heaven, making it totally worth the wait.

Acts 20:24 (NLT) But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

 

Paradise

Paradise

John 14:1-4 (NKJV)

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

What is paradise? What does it look like? What does it sound like? How will I know when I find it? My husband and I have been blessed with a wonderful trip to Cancun, Mexico. His company rewarding his efforts in business has given us an all-expense paid excursion to this loving place. To God be all the glory for being such an excellent provider. It has come at a good time for us. Two or three years ago, we would have declined fully engaged in our son’s battle against cancer. Last year, I would not have been ready to travel so far from home and our children. But now, as we take a deep breath, preparing for our new life and new season – the timing is good! We have been on these trips before to beautiful locations like Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. All wonderful vacations to lavish locations with every need and whim catered to at no expense to us. This time was different. My life was not consumed in preparation. I did not need a new wardrobe or fancy accessories. There was no stress in getting ready just leaving home. It has occurred to me in the midst of all this beauty that I have found paradise. It is not a place. It is not a feeling or emotion that can change as quickly as the oceanic breezes here. It is a state of mind and condition of one’s heart.

The resort is lush and tropical. It is a beautiful and well-kept property. Surrounded by pools and open to the white sands and blue green waves of a private beach, it is quite nice. Enclosed in a compound, it is clear that it is a well-contained and manmade environment. Just outside the gates are impoverished homes with litter filled streets. The road coming in like a paved country road with bumps and dips along the way. If you walk the perimeter, you can see between the rustic fence designed to blend with the trees and the “real world” right outside the gate. It is not paradise here. This is not perfection. It is just the world’s idea of it bought at a human price. Paid in cash with no boundaries of opulence if you have enough money. I would not have come here if it was not a paid vacation. I do not live on that kind of budget at home. I am enjoying my time here, away from routine and schedule, alone with my true love.

People were created to live in paradise. Not to toil and suffer over their life just to produce enough money to maintain some level of comfort. We were designed to rule and reign taking dominion over all creation. We were not content with being Children of God and His People. Somewhere in the short time in Eden – humanity decided that it wanted to be God. Paradise was lost in that moment.

Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV)

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

I have heard it said many times that if money were not an issue, I would (blank) or if I were independently wealthy I could (blank). Well, I hate to point out the obvious but we were born into such a life. The Garden of Eden provided everything humanity needed. It was paradise. Literally. It was like Heaven. When mankind decided to have something different, Adam and Eve were sent from the garden not as punishment but for human preservation. See it is an awesome thing to be the Everlasting Sovereign God. To be completely perfect in all of your ways. To map out each life with a plan, purpose and destiny with so many variable factors, wavering hearts and human tendencies. Yet God did just that. He made it possible that despite all our sin and rebellion – righteousness could still be attained. He paid the ultimate price that no other parent would pay. To give the life of His Innocent Son to be abused, tortured and put to death so we could reclaim paradise. I wouldn’t do that for you. You wouldn’t do that for anyone else most likely. No one is innocent so it is impossible from the start.

People were sent from the garden so sin would not be eternal ending in violent death caused by Judgment. They were banished from a life of torture due to sin when death is not possible. We think God was mad. But it was His Never-Ending Love and Overflowing Love for us that made Him push us from His Presence. He wanted to live with us forever even in our rejection and rebellion so He sent us on our way to find Him again. To be with Him in Heaven. Paradise was lost to be regained because this is grace. God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. We have been offered another shot to live in paradise with God forever. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He did. It is called paradise. It is no place on earth but the eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Luke 23:38-43 (NKJV)

And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

What does paradise look like to you? I asked before. Did you envision something? Has your idea or image changed over the course of your lifetime? When I was a child, I dreamed of certain things in life. In the quiet moments alone with my firstborn, sitting in the sunlight of my first day of motherhood, that idea changed. In my life, I have made many mistakes, experienced failures, and things I am not proud of. I wanted to create a perfect life from an imperfect childhood but replicated many of the same things as an adult. The church I grew up in talked about God’s Grace but religion said that once I messed up that I could never have God’s Perfect Will again. All I could do was call on Jesus and hope for the best. If you’re not first, you’re last as Ricky Bobby fictional racer once said.

But then I met Jesus, face-to-face, for real, on my own. No one had to tell me when it was the Lord speaking to me. It has never been openly and audibly in a church building but in my deepest despair and desperate longing that He has answered. When I cried out to Him in absolute and total weakness holding nothing back ready to accept Him completely at His Word – He always responds. Whispering to my heart, comforting my mind, and deciding for my soul that I will have more than what life has to offer. See this is Jesus. It doesn’t matter how you get to Him, if you come to Him with your heart – He always responds the same – you will be with me in paradise.

There were two different people represented on crosses with Jesus that day. Two individuals pursuing different things – one desired Jesus to make this life better and the other wanted Him forever. Who are you today? There are many churches in these modern times that speak of God making this life better but remember this is paradise lost. The point of Jesus death, burial and resurrection to give us keys to His Kingdom so we can claim paradise once again. It will never be found in this imperfect world or superficial things. There is only one way to enter forever. It is to give our life back to God. To accept His Word, Will and Way over own again. Righteousness with God is faith in God and belief in His Word and Way. Surrendering our life of sin and rebellion to obey Him at all cost to enter His Kingdom forever. Grace is not an excuse or get-outta-hell-free card. It is the opportunity to regain entry to paradise.

Paradise is found in Jesus Christ. Not in what He does, but Who He is. When He lives in our heart and we become rooted and grounded in His Love, paradise fills us with beauty, delight and happiness that becomes inexpressible joy and overwhelming peace not shaken by situations. It is to be content with what we have or have not. It is to be completing engaged in pursuing the Lord day by day and minute by minute no matter where you are – He is with us. This is paradise. It is when Jesus lives in us and His Spirit overtakes us. It is a mind set on pursing God at all costs. Holding nothing back.

Sin separated us from paradise. (Genesis 3:22-24) Sin is the thing that keeps us from re-entry. Sin will never be allowed in paradise for it corrupts perfection and therefore cannot and will not be tolerated by God which would make Him likewise imperfect. He is perfect. Always perfect. Jesus paid the price for our sin so we could be clothed in righteousness and reclaim paradise. You will never have paradise as long as you love sin more than goodness. Thomas Howard said that “Hell is where everyone is doing their own thing. Paradise is where everyone is doing God’s Thing.” So simple yet so true. When we decide that we want to do God’s Thing again, it produces paradise-like conditions bringing heavenly outcomes to ordinary lives. The surrender of sin always allows our soul to prosper. His Intentions for His People has always been a perfect life. He promise to take every detail of our life and make it good. (Romans 8:28) What are you waiting for paradise awaits?

Revelation 2:4-7 (NKJV)

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

Paradise is a passionate pursuit. The man on the cross next to Jesus gained paradise in humility. He could not get down and go preach to people, serve in church, give to the pour or do anything but accept God’s Love in all humility offering nothing in return. We must come to the Cross like that if paradise is what we seek knowing and understanding that if we live the “perfect” Christian life from that day forward there will never be anything we can or will do to gain the Gift that we have received. Paradise must be our passion. The Church of Ephesus is warned in Revelation 2 that in the midst of their zealous and radical obedience, they lost their first love. Paradise was provided according to God’s Love and is accepted only in God’s Love. Everything we do and say must be wrapped tightly and completely in His Love and born of our love for Jesus to be beneficial to the Kingdom of God and worthy of paradise. I chose sin. I decided to rebel. Yet knowing all these things, Christ loved me and died for me so that after this life is over, I can experience paradise forever.

Today I will probably go to the beach, lay by the pool and enjoy some rest and relaxation in a tropical destination. Tomorrow, I will sightsee and gather some trinkets for the kids. But when our day to head home rolls around in a few days, it will be with complete exhilaration as I navigate customs and immigration to wait on a plane crushed with strangers to make our connection and finally be home with our family and friends. See paradise is not a place I go or an adventure but rather paradise exists, lives and breathes in me thanks to Jesus. I live in it wherever I am as long as I pursue only Him. Paradise is the lifestyle of righteousness and obedience to my God. I live in paradise and He lives in me.

Song of Solomon 7:10 (NKJV) I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.

Is That The Planet Shaking? – A Devotion

Isaiah 41:4-9 (NLT)

Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last. I alone am he.” The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war. The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!” The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. “Good,” they say. “It’s coming along fine.” Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over. “But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.”

Our planet is shaking and trembling with the close proximity of Jesus Christ. It is fact, not fiction. With random earthquakes and tsunamis across this planet creating massive devastation while weather patterns are changing in the name of “global warming” and the economy creating widespread poverty and financial crises. Words such as famine are returning to the vocabulary of people. Recently a popular news agency reported the potential for an “invasion of grasshoppers” which are relatives to the locust. All of these hints whisper, “He’s coming!” Meanwhile, the government tries to rebuild hope in our nation and its economy. Self cries out for certainty as it senses that Jesus is coming back! There is a massive shift in the atmosphere warning us that it is almost time!

The prophet Isaiah speaks of God summoning each new generation from the beginning of time and as the First and Last identifies Himself as “I am.” God is saying today, “Hey, it’s me! I am the one calling you! I am the one shaking the planet to awaken my Children!” Do you hear Him? Or are the events of this world causing you to react as the workers written about by Isaiah who are attempting to “fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over.” This world will pass away! The Good News is that all things will become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) People encourage people to hang on because together things will get better. But God says, “I am the only one who knows the beginning and the end so follow me!” Today your Father is calling you back from the “ends of the earth.” Can you hear Him? It is in the shocking events that point to His Word. Is God shaking your world today? Have you pounded your last nail in attempting to hold it all together before your life as you know it falls apart? Let go today! The planet shaking you are experiencing holds the voice of your Father shifting and changing your life to prepare you to meet His Son Jesus face-to-face upon His Return.

Fear is not the cry of God! God calls His People to readiness! When you become ready to meet a challenge, fear has become overcome by confidence and courage. When it comes to the Lord, it is the moment that one decides to take everything they have and invest it in the Truth and validity of God. When God’s Children grab hold of the reality of God’s Word and decide to look at the world and every event through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, it becomes a “summoning.” Like a child playing in the neighborhood who hears his dad’s voice say, “Son, it is time to come home.” In that moment, all is left behind for another day and the child runs to the one he loves! God is calling His Children today! He is calling from Creation to Revelation! It’s time to come home! Where is home? The Presence of God is the only place to experience home prior to our actual arrival to Heaven. It is there that you will understand His Timing and the need for readiness. The stirring of His Kingdom indicates the preparation for the arrival of our King, Jesus Christ! What is stirring in your life today? Could it be that in all that shaking, your Father is calling you back to Him?

Revelation 3:1-5 (Message)

I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

Our future in Jesus Christ is truly amazing! In order for a new Heaven and earth to arrive, the old one must pass away! The sin must be wiped away in order for God to move back in! Imagine dwelling in a perfect world without tears, sorrow, loss, hurt, devastation, pain, imperfection, flaws, handicaps and death. Not a single tear will remain! Everything will be new! The rumbling thunder of the voice that will declare the return of Jesus Christ and Father God is clearing! The time is coming! As the planet shakes understand that your Father has many children, some are close but some are very far away! The Lord is calling them all back today! The time is close and He wants you with Him! Run to the Lord today!