To Prosper

To Prosper

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It is God’s Will for you to prosper. He created a plan for you which is to prosper without harm and to give you hope and a future. It is plainly and clearly written and easily discernable in His Word. If you stop with just this one verse in Jeremiah 29, you miss the whole point of the passage. It is God’s Plan for you to prosper but the how of it comes in the next two verses. Prosperity is produced by relationship.

“You will call on me and come and pray to me.” Righteousness is established when one turns from their old way to receive God’s new way. New life comes to us by way of relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word is so bold to say that there is no other way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To prosper body, mind and spirit requires new life given to us by Jesus Christ. As we become a new creation by planting seeds of righteousness in our fertile and broken heart, feed on the Bread of Life and continually bask in Living Water there is an inner transformation performed by the Spirit of God that produces life and life more abundantly. It is all about relationship. Faith turns to trust and the impossible changes to possibility in our life according to the hope we now have.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Relationship is a heart investment that prospers into an overflow from our life. The beginning of any relationship begins with an encounter. The encounter such as repentance creates an experience. The experience impacts of one of two ways. To prosper the experience must produce pursuit. You cannot overtake something you do not decide to pursue. For example, I met my husband through a chance encounter with friends. He caught my attention. I decided that I wanted to know him so I pursued him. We have been married almost two decades and I still pursue him in our relationship. Our relationship has prospered over the years into more than just an encounter. God wants to invest His Kingdom in our life. We must make room for Him and pursue Him with our whole heart. The more of our life given to Christ the more likely abundance will produce an overflow in all of our life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16; 19-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Love is a choice. Pursuit is a choice. Obedience is a choice. These are the choices made by those who desire to prosper in life. God has set it all before us in His Word. The Word became flesh to come and demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love for us and provide the way to prosper in a right relationship with God again. We choose our path. Life and prosperity are options but so are death and destruction. God does not set conditions on us and therefore does not control the consequences of life. It was preset before time began. Sin leads to death. God is life. Jesus gives us eternal life by paying the penalty of sin. God could not exempt His Own Son from the consequence of sin. Jesus bled and died to pay the price. Our choices lead to consequences. Repentance leads to grace and prosperity. New life is created by making a better choice. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ, yoke our life to Him, accept and replicate His Way in our life will make a difference, we will prosper according to His Words and Instructions. You can live under the mandate of grace and never receive the full benefits of His Kingdom. It is all about choices. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) If relationship produces prosperity, our relationship with God will reach our home first. Our union with our spouse and/or children will begin to produce new fruit under God’s Careful Instruction. If our house is out of order, it will be unfruitful or produce bitter fruit. The roles in each home must fall under the guidelines of God’s House in order for the home to prosper. We must serve the Lord and respect His Commands in them. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must submit to their husband’s leadership. Children must honor and respect their parents. There must be sound discipline. Love abounds in God’s Household rules and grace abounds even more. When we invite the Lord, His Presence and His Spirit to dwell in our homes and live in our families, we will prosper in these relationships. The world today defines family as anything goes, but the Lord has set parameters for the household. They are not stringent or regulatory but absolutely necessary to prosper according to God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

If relationship is a product of trust, then prosperity must include trust as well. True repentance is to accept God’s Grace and to turn from sin and darkness to live in love and light. We trust the Lord to do what He promised as we give up the known to pursue the unknowns in God’s Fathomless Grace. The one who gives heed to God’s Instruction and does what they say will be like a tree by streams of living water able to prosper in every season. (Psalm 1:1-3) Some seasons are not favorable, but hard, cold and dry. We live in a loveless world full of sin and darkness. Righteous living is not always welcomed. In fact, the enemy prowls around seeking who he can steal from, kill or destroy. The Light within us is a beacon only riles his anger and draws his attention. We must trust the Lord in those seasons even sowing seeds among our tears knowing that His Joy comes in the morning and we will harvest every seed sown in righteousness no matter how hard the seasons sown in might be.

Proverbs 11:10 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

When the righteous prospers it blesses their community. I wonder if the church of the Living God is not prospering because it is not a generous church. Are we reaching our communities with credible love from tangible offers of time, talent and treasure or meager offerings reluctantly given? The more sown into relationship the greater prosperity the church will experience. The overflow is produced by a current. The current that influences overflow is giving. Prosperity is produced by relationship. The greater the relationship the more prosperous it becomes. The righteous are promised prosperity. It is only accessible through relationship. Relationship with God. In our homes, churches and yes, our community. The limit on prosperity is our willingness to engage in relationships. As our soul prospers, so will we. It begins inside of us and increases in overflow in our obedience to release it. It is the seed that creates new harvests. To prosper begins with relationship. Lord, may the promise of prosperity sown in my heart be a blessing that overflows in every area of my life through unity, harmony and sound relationships that bring honor and glory to your Great Name!

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Advertisements

Fugitive Heart

Fugitive Heart

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I should have seen it coming. You have to practice what you preach. I have been touting forgiveness to my teenager for a week. So why be surprised when I am faced with a situation that requires forgiving someone who is not sorry. Of course, I would be presented with a large portion of crow. Shocked and dismayed…I know in that moment the enemy chuckled. I have to make a choice. One I do not want to make…will I choose to be angry with this person who has offended me so or will I quickly forgive and move on. As I stumble over my flesh realizing that I am not as far in the race of faith as I once thought, I begin to recite all the scripture I know about forgiveness. It is a command not a suggestion. It is beneficial and crucial yet critical to my pride and fatal to my flesh. How can I just let this go? It is wrong. It is hateful. It is mean spirited. It is judgmental. Tears of frustration fill my eyes as I am sitting on the outside while standing on the inside. I must forgive the person as though my life depends upon it or risk becoming who they are in this moment sitting in the same bitterness, caught up in the past, held captive in hatred, and imprisoned by the wrath so wrapped up in their heart. What do you do when you just can’t get over it?

I am “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love.” Oh my goodness, this is so hard sometimes. People are people. We are imperfect yet called by a perfect Savior and flawless God to walk in His Image and live by His Example which is love, mercy and grace in all things towards all people. I would love to fall back on the fact that I am not God or selfless like Jesus but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Jesus lives inside of me. He is my new nature. His Spirit works to nurture, develop, and cultivate good fruit in the barrenness that once possessed me. I want to bear His Fruit. To be a good steward. To be a vessel from which a good harvest overflows…but my heart is angry and emotions all stirred up. I find that the fertile and broken heart is not always void of rocks and hard spots that need my attention. I am called to longsuffering but would like nothing more than to make someone suffer by my harsh words, mad retort, or not so gentle rebuffing. The Spirit of God says, “Let it go!” My flesh says, “Not so fast…” The inner turmoil begins.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How low can you go? It’s not a limbo term anymore but a question for my inner person. The one who wants to be like Christ but struggles with human weakness. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Love them. I do love them or maybe I should say in this moment of anger that I did. Friends can become enemies quickly in the shadow of hurt, harsh words, betrayal or even a simple misunderstanding. I tell my kids to ignore the offenses of others as I trip over my own tongue today. “Don’t make none and there won’t be none” has been my mantra that now hangs like a heavy mantle around my neck as it tightens into a noose.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NKJV) For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Are you harboring unforgiveness in a fugitive heart today? Caught up in anger that is burning into hatred? Do you feel that an injustice has been done and you deserve retribution? Vengeance is mind says the Lord but is your flesh rallying to take the upper hand? Did you know that the enemy of our soul uses such a weapon to take advantage of us because we are ignorant of his devices? Satan wants to trick you into not forgiving so he can steal something from you today. He wants to get you caught up in words or tangled in lies so he can rob you of the love, joy and peace so heavily invested in you by Christ. Is it working?

“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.” It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person was or how right you are, you become an enemy of their soul by choosing unforgiveness over longsuffering. The Light that shines within us grows slightly dimmer until it is snuffed out by our unwillingness to let a trespass go in the same sea of forgetfulness that our sin drifted away on. The Salt of our spirit becomes tasteless and useless when our season brings about hardness in the mine called our heart. I must forgive others simply because I am forgiven. What I bind on the earth is bound in heaven and that which I loose is free to go. (Matthew 18:18) When I shackle someone in their trespass, I am no different than Saul who persecuted Christians and murdered them for their belief. Lord, I must forgive. Teach me to be longsuffering. Help me to remain free and loose others from the expectation I have placed on them.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

There may be a more significant meaning to seventy times seven which many commentaries can elaborate on but for this particular instance let’s say it means 490 times. Can you think of anyone you have forgiven that many times consistently without throwing the towel in or walking away? Truly forgiveness but become an infinite quality in our Christian character be reflect the grace of God given to us. But how do we continually forgive other people and not become a human doormat? That’s the fear isn’t it? The idea of losing our identity in the giving of our life to others. Maybe that is exactly what becoming like Christ is all about? Giving up our identity to be a true reflection of who He is and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus has forgiven me more than 490 times and the count is steadily rising. Forgiveness is a commitment to love others more than ourselves. Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. I don’t think that the Lord intended for us to have any enemies but one. The Kingdom is built of men and women bound together in unity and love. The enemy seeks to destroy the Kingdom beginning with the bitter root marked unforgiveness.

Luke 7:46-48 (NKJV) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As my heart softens in the Lord today, I am reminded of the woman who entered a room to face the judgmental glares of the Sanhedrin because she wanted to anoint Jesus with oil. Jesus forgave her of her sins and named her an example of one who has been forgiven much. To whom little is forgiven the same loves little. I have been forgiven much and sometimes I forget that when faced with an offense. I choose to be offended or hurt and throw up a wall around my heart. But that only limits me, I have been given unconditional and abounding love and grace by Jesus. I can live in it, walk in it and rejoice because of it even when others do not meet my expectation or hurt me because I have taken my expectation from others and placed it fully in Jesus Christ. Those times when unforgiveness rears its ugly head is only a reminder of how much more I need Him than the day before.

It has been established that it is easier to say, “Arise and walk” then “your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness crucifies pride and moves us to our rightful position behind Jesus and others. Isn’t that what they say true joy is all about Jesus, others and you? I have to be reminded sometimes that it is not all about me and maybe just maybe if I choose to love rather than convict – it may make a difference in others. I am called to be Light in this dark world. Of course, the enemy will try to put that light out at every given opportunity. I choose today to forgive. I will have to remind myself of this very thing throughout the day when offered bitterness and anger toward the person who hurt me. I must choose love and grace because that is where I live and breathe. I will walk in freedom and work to keep the other person free not by binding them in my judgment or condemnation but continually praying for their blessing and freedom in Christ. Ugh! It’s a hard one. It’s a choice. It is not about me but my commitment to Christ so I will forgive.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

Until Me Becomes We

Until Me Becomes We

Romans 15:4-6 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taking my usual Sunday morning journey into the dark corridors of our girl’s side of the house, I began taking inventory of the usual chaos created by teenage girls. Blessed with closets full of nothing to wear, and the smell of hot flat and curling irons with lights blazing and music blaring, I pride myself in such trips as my husband is not brave enough to make such bold adventures. Sifting through our youngest daughter’s tangled necklaces, while formulating my request to clean her room for the umpteenth time in a way that she just might hear me, I hear the word’s to the music playing from her abandoned phone. “All I want is for you…for you to be glorified…for you to be lifted high… (Let Praises Rise). Continuing on my mission to make it out of the house on time, I didn’t even realize that I was still singing it under my breath.

Gathering in our church with all the people, it occurs to me that we want the glory of God to meet us in this place. We call out and cry out for revival from the chaos and craziness of life. Yet it doesn’t seem to come. The kind of glory that is talked about long after the service is over. The report of miracles, signs and wonders that happen as His Spirit sweeps through the receptive and resting on their body, mind and spirit.  A collective gathering of people who relinquish their burdens rather than basking in them. Trusting God with trouble who live triumphantly even in uncertainty. Full confidence in the hope we have that never leads to disappointment enough to surrender their complaints to the Lord and sing His Praise instead. We look like the church. But are we really the church who Christ is coming back for? I hear the words of the song playing in my head, “All I want if for you to be glorified for you to be lifted high. I ask myself this morning, “Do I really?”

John 17:1-5 (NKJV) Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

It was time. The hour had come. Jesus would glorify His Father on the Cross. God had given His Son His Power so if Jesus decided not to go to the Cross – He had the power to do so! (John 3:35) Jesus was willing to go to the Cross to do the Will of His Father. This truth alone is enough to dig open, tear apart, and continue to rifle through but maybe another day. What does it mean to glorify? To treat as being more splendid, excellent than would normally be considered. It is an act of worship and a way to praise. To make glorious or invest with glory. To glorify God was Jesus’ express purpose. To point all people to the Father and reflect His Love for them in a tangible means. To show them God’s Love and make a way for them to return to Him. The Father and Son share the same purpose, plan and power. They are a unit of one. It is through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life that we are able to access that love again and become one with His Glory.

Unity is the miracle of oneness offered through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To share God’s Purpose, His Plan and His Power in this life all the way to eternity. Is your life miraculous? Are you experiencing supernatural favor? Is the impossible becoming possible in your life? God will turn ordinary to extraordinary for His Glory. God will not share His Glory but it is through Christ we are able to experience it with Him. Our unity as the Body of Christ and His Church comes from and is completely dependent upon sharing the priority of seeking and doing the Lord’s Will. The equation of oneness is profound yet simple. 1 + 1 = 1. There is the secret to God’s Glory manifesting in our life, church, community and even around the world. How is that possible? Unity is completely possible but it comes at the most high price. The Lord must become our sole priority. To seek Him, know Him and choose to do His Will. It is a matter of total trust and complete commitment. The miracle of unity is only possible by the indwelling of Christ. To prepare and live for revival is to explore and execute God’s Unity among us until He is glorified by our attitude and actions to all people in the name of oneness.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Is my life a light post for Christ? Who sits on the Throne of my life? Is it Jesus? My family? My job? My worries and cares? My own selfish desires? Is it me? For my life to glorify the Lord, I must examine my heart and remove all other gods who threaten His Lordship in my life. I choose who I serve each day. I decide who has complete authority and power in my life. Is it the person who hurt my feelings? Is it the promotion or raise that I didn’t get? Is it the disappointment of yesterday that has become regret? What is that thing that takes priority over my pursuit of Christ today?

I have a desk lamp that burns when I study and write. I ordered it a few months ago because these aging eyes were struggling. It does the job. Lights up the darkness in the room so I can see the Word of God before me. But that’s really all it does… It doesn’t make me feel loved, accepted, confident and secure. In another hour the sun will rise in all its brilliance. It will not only chase the darkness away but it will bring heat. I can feel it radiating on my skin. It produces vitamin D which my body needs to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. It also has been linked to treating depression. Jesus was the Light of the world. He calls us the Light of the world as He gives us His Spirit with all power and authority. The Light invested in us is not small but likened to a city illuminating the side of a hill for all to see. Like the sun, we are to let our light shine so people will see our good works AND glorify the Father in heaven. I quietly must say, “It’s not about me…it’s all about we!”

God receives glory not in our rightness or religious activity but when our relationship with Jesus Christ if full-consummated in a loving, trusting and committed relationship that creates oneness within His Body. I cannot experience the Glory of God in my life if my life is all about me, my family or my adventures. It must be invested fully in the pursuit of oneness with Christ that produces unity in the Body. Christ died for everyone. He didn’t come for one but all. Whosoever will let them come is the call. I wonder if they hear the Lord, feel the Spirit tugging but cannot find the Light because it has grown dim within us and cannot make its way out of us.

John 17:20-23 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

It absolutely melts my heart that Jesus prayed for me. I am one of “those who will believe in Me.” His prayer was simple and straightforward. “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You…that they also may be one in Us. Unity. Complete oneness. The prayer of Jesus Christ for His People. What will happen as a result? “That the world may believe that You sent Me. Jesus goes on to say that the glory God gave Him has been given to us. It is the Light of His Love. We can share this not in our words, messages and teachings from the pulpit but reflect it in every area of our life. Christ wants us to be perfectly one. This leaves no room for insecurity, jealously or pride because there is a place for everyone in His Body and His Church. The world will not see Jesus until we experience the Oneness promised in this prayer. Jesus did His Part and the Father was glorified. It is up to us to reflect this by our unity in Christ and love for others.

“All I want is for you…for you to be glorified…for you to be lifted high…” I have come to the conclusion today that revival will not come until God is glorified by our unity and oneness in Christ on an individual and then corporate basis. Until I put aside the “me” and accept the “we” that is the purpose and plan of God for His People. We must live as a light in the darkness but not a light that can be turned on and off but one that is consistent in its brightness for all the world to see. When God’s Glory becomes our priority, revival will come. Miracles will happen. Signs and wonders will appear but more importantly God the Father and Jesus the Son will be glorified through us. Amen and amen.

Acts 2:44-47 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

WWJD?

WWJD

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Remember the Christian trend several years ago, “What would Jesus do?” The question posed everywhere from colorful silicone bracelets to bumper stickers. I wonder what happened to all the paraphernalia. You don’t see it much anymore. I wonder if anyone still seeks the answer or was it just another fad. The Word of God tells us to imitate Him. To strive to make the same choices and live by the same moral code. Society has made church a culture. Churches have turned to conformity rather than embracing real transformation. There is more to life than just repentance. God did not create us to just get by but to prosper, live in abundance and thrive. His People should be influential with the kind of character that is attractive not reactive. I wonder if the simple question posed decades ago might just be a relevant one today. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would not be religious. He would not live a pious existence of judgement. He would extend His Love just as broad and wide as when he stretched out His Arms to die on the Cross to save us. He would continue to rejoice from every lost one who is found yet still seek to live in love from that day on. He would forgive seventy times seven and once more if needed. The example of Jesus Christ is not defined by doctrine. Religion is not his idea. Relationship is the pursuit of our Lord and Savior. A love as strong as death…jealousy as demanding as the grave…so passionate it is as consuming as a flame. When you love like that it transforms you. It makes your desires and passions one with the object of your attention and affection. You seek to please your true loves. Those who matter most you would stop at nothing to live in love with them.

Do not be conformed to this world…   

How do I know the difference between conformation and transformation? Why is it so important? Religion seeks to conform you. It sets a standard of rules and regulations in place to create order to its body. This is not a bad thing and in fact necessary to create agreement and harmony within a congregation. But it is not enough to complete the transformation process. In fact, it can even hinder or limit the complete work the Lord is attempting in our life.

Religion often leads to conformation. To conform is to act in accordance to or in harmony with or compliance. The doctrine is the prevailing standard, attitude, practice of the group. This is an outward change in actions or appearance. Conformation as a Christian can be fatal. To change outwardly but not be transformed inwardly can create the idea of true repentance without ever truly experiencing such a marvelous encounter with the Living God. Society set the precedence as it is human nature to want to fit in with the group. Unquestioning a soul wanders into church and if able to blend in effectively may never know there is more to life in Christ than a religion and never enter a real relationship with their Savior.

Relationship will transform you. A relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated by His Spirit living in a holy inhabitation of our life. The Lord seeks intimacy with you and me apart from any other human being. It is personal. It requires a willingness to invest all of who we are and accept all of who He is. Redemption provides the provision of power to instill godliness in us. It is the means of transformation. Transformation changes our thoughts which leads to formulating. It changes our purpose which proceeds our actions. It changes our actions which are character determining habits. Salvation is the acceptance of new life. The transformation process is not something that can be faked or replicated. It is a change of heart that is undeniable. As our soul prospers so does our life.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

Willingness is the key to relationship. A true love relationship is willingness of two parties to become one together. This is in all loving relationships such as marriage, family and friends. In Christ, it is extended to all people even our enemies. When a believer tries to live the commands of the Bible in their own power and strength it is impossible. Our conflicting nature is contrary to the Word, Will and Way of God because is the death of flesh. Jesus gave us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit needed to feed our soul, mind and body and nurture our relationship with the Father. He even gives us self-control. This is the power to be transformed. It is not what I do but what Christ does in me. It may not be evident on the outside because it is working its way out of me. I can change bad habits and make better choices. This is conformation. The transformation comes when all my attitudes and actions are based on my love for Jesus Christ and nothing else.

Titus 3:4-6 (NKJV) But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The kindness and love of God demonstrated in the giving of His Son. I can never be righteous apart from Jesus Christ. God’s Mercy and Grace are the power of salvation. The power of transformation is acceptance and willingness to be changed from the inside out by His Love and Kindness. I wonder what impact it would have on the modern day church if we took off the masks of conformation and revealed the work in progress. What if rather than acting like Jesus somebody tried to live like Him? Jesus broke all the rules of religion to have a real relationship with you and me. We prove what is good, acceptable and the Perfect Will of God not in our pious attitudes and rightness but our ability to demonstrate His Love, Grace and Kindness in every situation. To live a higher standard of humility and love that demonstrates the Character of God no matter how we are mistreated or conditions one might be facing. Jesus poured out His Spirit abundantly in us so that His People will be genuinely regenerated and renewed by Him. To effect a change that no one can do on their own. Driven by passion and love that asks in every situation, “What would Jesus do?” because you love Him too much not to do it.

Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… 

To be practical in this application, one might ask so what do I do to facilitate this process. Well, the good news is that Jesus already did it. You must be confident that Christ is doing a good work enough to invest yourself in the process. Study. Pray. Praise. Worship. Everyday. Jesus is the Word and this is how you work on the relationship. Willingness to change is absolutely essential. When you feel the urge or nudge to reach out, give or give grace to another – simply do it. These are the baby steps to allowing Christ to work in us and through us. Allowing what He is doing in us to leak out on others. You must make the commitment to stay in this relationship no matter what. Never back down. Never give up. Never walk away. But if you do, remember His Grace is more than enough to successfully continue the journey. You are greatly and dearly loved and desired by Jesus. He will not stop even if you do.

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For me to live is Christ…

Less than Perfect

Less than Perfect

Matthew 5:48 (NIV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Mom guilt. I struggle with it from time to time. I feel like my kids deserve more of time. Wife guilt. I want to be a good wife. To meet all my spouse’s expectation and earn a good reputation at the gate as the Proverbs 31 woman. Ministry guilt. Why am I struggling to begin this new call on my life? I usually charge in headfirst without a care or fear of failure. What about all those times when I feel insignificant? Unqualified? Undeserving? Am I alone? Do you struggle with imperfection? Do you wonder why your life or ability to perform doesn’t seem to make the cut?

I am not perfect. In fact, so far from it I cannot even perceive it. Yet God’s Word says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How is that even possible? Religious doctrine will give you an out. A carefully constructed list of do’s and don’ts based on the expectation of others who are probably not doing any of the listed items either. My imperfection and flawed character is not a hopeless situation but an opportunity for God to do something miraculous. We must decide what perfection looks like in the eyes of the Father in order to properly examine our own heart and mind for evidence it exists.

Matthew 5:48 (AMP) You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Amplified Bible gives a brief description of what it might mean to “be perfect”. To grow into spiritual maturity both in mind and character while actively integrating godly values into your daily life. God doesn’t have a long list of character traits. The Word of God is careful instruction with a waiver called grace that allows us to be imperfect. We get so caught up sometimes in all the “things” Christians aren’t supposed to do, saying everything Christians are supposed to say, and acting like saved folk should that we miss the real life-changing endeavor that molds and shapes our character to be just like our Father in Heaven.

Ephesians 5:1 (AMP) Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]…

To be perfect is to imitate God. To be like Him. Oh no big deal! I thought it would be much more difficult than being like God…(sarcasm intended). It seems impossible to do so primarily because man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks inside the heart. (I Samuel 16:7) He sees the contents of a man’s heart and decides that’s the one for me. Think of all the failures in the Bible who went on to be mighty men and women of God. Imperfect in their choices, rebellious in their decisions, reckless in their ways, yet in the end God molded and shaped their character into exactly who He created each one to be so they would take their place in history for our benefit.

God is love. “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]” I John 4:8 God has given us perfect love. His Intent is to love us so His Mercy meets us with each coming day. (Lamentations 3:22-24) His Love would not stop at my sin, but overflows with grace that is enough to cover it and allow me to live in close fellowship with Him again. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Even in my weakness, I am given His Power. Perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18) The fear that produces doubt and insecurity about the Love that God has for us is dissolved in the Truth that nothing can separate us from the Love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

The word “perfect” comes from Teleios which means the end or finished product. The presence of Jesus Christ within us completes us. His Spirit works inside of us to produce a finished product. The perfection that God is after is simple – perfection in God is love.

The emphasis in the command to “be perfect” is not on flawless moral nature but to have an all-inclusive love that seeks the good of all. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God with a purpose that no one else can accomplish. (Psalm 139) He has scripted a plan with a future and hope of good and not evil for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) The secret to that life is to seek Him wholeheartedly. It is more about identifying with the Love of God that will not allow us to love others less that matures us from the inside out.

Colossians 4:12 (AMP) Epaphras, who is one of you and a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [He is] always striving for you in his prayers, praying with genuine concern, [pleading] that you may [as people of character and courage] stand firm, [spiritually mature] and fully assured in all the will of God.

Epaphras is noted as someone who was “always striving” for others in his prayer life. He prayed with “genuine concern.” He was pleading for those on the brink of giving up or giving in. He was pulling for them rather than pushing them over the edge. He was noted as spiritually mature and absolutely confident in God’s Love, His Word and His Will. I believe that perfection in Jesus Christ is full acceptance of His Love to the degree that it is enough to lavish on others. His Love becomes who we are.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11) Is there a reason this scripture is in the “love” chapter of the Bible by chance? God is love. His Divine Character manifested and magnified in us is His All-Consuming Passion for us. His Love is endless and unconditional. Perhaps, our inability to be perfect is to keep us in a place of humility. Looking for love and giving love off as a beacon. Brokenness makes room for togetherness. It binds people together. When all the personal agendas are removed, personal interests are set aside, and people start loving people – it makes beauty from ashes.

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

What if the only way to achieve perfection is to become one? What if completion is only possible by incorporating the members of the Body of Christ into one functioning, living, breathing unit rather than the splintered sections it has become? What if to be perfect means loving each and striving for one another?

Love is the constant factor. It is the standard of living that believers are called to. Not just any kind of love, but a love so deep and abiding that it is needed to breathe. God’s Love infiltrates every dark place in us producing light glorious light. The more we accept God’s Love for us – the more we have to draw from. God loves you. He loves me. I am insignificant or small in His Eyes – but complete lacking no good thing. The more confident I become in God’s Love for me the more consistent I will be in loving others. His Love changes us from the inside out. Faith grows fruit that gives us an offering for others contradictory to the “what’s-in-it-for-me” world that we live in. My war against the flesh begins to take a turn when love dictates my life and not my emotions or feelings. God lives in me. The enemy wants me to believe that I am nothing, insignificant, unimportant and most of all unloved. It is simply not true. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down. Jesus did that for me. His Love is for me and it will never let me down. I may be less than perfect but the Love of God is working to perfect me day by day so I will rest in His Promise that He will perfect all that concerns me (Psalm 138:8) starting with love. If perfection in God is defined by love, I have the opportunity in each moment with each encounter to be made perfect when I choose love.

I love my family. My husband, my children and even my grandchild yet to be born. Maybe I am a more perfect wife and mother than I thought. Not because I do not make mistakes but because the presiding factor in these relationships is true love. I would most certainly lay down my life for any of them – in a heartbeat. I have friends who I love, too. What if I am evaluating my worth by the wrong standard? Jesus thought I was to die for. God thought I was worth being so He created me. I am imperfectly perfect in the parameters of God’s Love.

I Corinthians 13:3 (NIV) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Fan Your Flame

Fan Your Flame

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT)  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

“You cannot put out a fire that burns on the inside.” (Bethel Worship) I am reminded today of the spiritual gift that God has given me. I have been challenged in the last few days to test the temperature of the water boiling into passion for Christ. Have I become tepid? Is the river of life flowing inside of me lukewarm? God has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity – but have I taken it anyway? He is given me power overflowing from amazing and abundant grace – am I doused in it? Is love my passionate motivation in all things? I have self-discipline. It is produced by the Holy Spirit who tends the fire that burns within me. The passionate pursuit of Christ that began with just a spark of faith turned into confident hope.

Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

I am back at the furnace of the three Hebrew boys. I can feel the flame of refinement. The purification process designed to produce gold in our life. The heat that burns away all impurity to reveal the faith that is hidden within. I wonder if that is not the purpose of our life. To go through the same trials, troubles, and tragedies or to face the same temptations (rise or fall) that will demonstrate the Glory of God to all who are a witness. The church has painted a pretty picture. Religion erases the need for grace to give way to a façade of perfection not yet manifested until the return of Christ. We hide our broken hearts. Shield are scraped knees. Hide our dirty hands. When what the world really needs to see is a relationship so authentic that nothing can separate us. The Light of the Word was not lit up hiding in an upper room – but rather on a Cross for all the world to see in His Suffering. A city on a hilltop must be a reference to us. Given credibility in the Kingdom by our witness, but not to be tucked away in time. We are the reflection of His Love in its bloody, messy form. It may not be pretty but it’s the thing that we hold on to.

It’s time to fan the flame of His Spirit invested in us. To blow fresh wind on the passion growing dim within us. See when the fire is within us – the stormy winds cannot put it out. The waves of conflict or controversy will not overtake it. Trials will only make it hotter. Fearless faith rises from the ashes of burned pride as God makes beauty from them just as He promised. Our confidence becomes our conviction. Impossibilities will be the fields where faith is planted confidently and boldly knowing miracles will come up through the fertile soil.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

The holy inhabitation of the Spirit of the Living God within us is the opportunity to experience true intimacy with Him. Jesus lives in us. Successful relationships thrive on intimacy. Intimacy is often considered in a physical sense but truly it is in the most spiritual sense that it is accomplished. Physical and material things change in life for they are in a constant and perpetual state of decay. Our body is born dying. Of course, we may try to maintain our appearance but truthfully the only advantage given to us is believers is new life that begins in our soul. As our soul prospers, so does our life externally. Intimacy is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship. It is the product of love and should encapsulate all of its characteristics. (I Corinthians 13) Those engaged in an intimate relationship know the other by close association with deep understanding and detailed knowledge of the other person. Intimacy requires openness by both individuals. It is an act of engagement that speaks, listens, knows and understands far deeper than words. Our intimacy with Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to experience a passionate love so perfect it burns away every other perception of the word.

Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Is my love and commitment to Christ born of an intimate relationship filled with passion possessing the brightest kind of flame? It was the desire of Jesus to love us and live in complete intimacy with us that provoked Him to exhibit “love as strong as death” and “jealousy as enduring as the grave”. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love now. We are more than conquerors and confident overcomers in Christ. If believers truly believed that then there would be nothing that would keep us from the fire. We would jump in feet first in hopes to grow deeper in love with Christ.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

For everyone will be tested with fire. (Mark 9:49) What if your present trial is actually an invitation to greater intimacy with the Lord? Could it be that He is trying to demonstrate His Love for you yet again with an outcome that is miraculous? Fiery trials will happen according to the Lord. We should be glad because it is through these incidents that we become partners with Christ. It is in His Suffering that our joy is made complete and dispensed in our life through passionate and fearless faith that will not back down from the fight or the fire but valiantly and victoriously fights for love. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you investing in your partnership with the Lord? Fan your flame. Stir the fire deep within. Let your light shine. You will not be consumed but fully connected. A flame introduces to a fire becomes one with it making it burn stronger and brighter than ever before. You are part of something bigger than yourself – become one with Jesus. Jesus came to start a fire in us producing a light so bright it burns away darkness all around us. The Light is produced by His Great Love. How bright is your light day?

Luke 12:49 (NLT) “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!

Be Moved

 

Related image

John 20:21-23 (NLT) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Yesterday my daughter came to see me at the office. She had just come from a doctor visit to check the progress of our little grandson growing inside her. The doctor declared him perfect and she had ultrasound pictures to prove it. She had an ultrasound about two weeks ago and already there are so many changes in his little appearance as he grows into the little personal with a big personality that the Lord has planned him to be. Each image more fascinating than the next as the image of a baby become clear from within the hidden place of her womb. I am fascinated, enthralled and totally in love. Whenever she has an ultrasound, this little man already shows his complete displeasure. Sonographers laugh at his immediate attempts to escape their probing. He arches his back and kicks his legs. Twisting, turning and flipping over to avoid the unwanted attention. At first, it could have been a fluke but after three attempts with the same reaction I am convinced this guy has a strong will tucked in the fast beating heart. Still a bit riled from the intrusion, my daughter laid my hand on her stomach and he kicked me. I melted. Pressing a little harder, I could feel him moving around with the occasional kick. My heart was moved. It swelled and the capacity to love became even greater in that moment for a person who I cannot even hold yet.

I remember being pregnant with my own children. Feeling flutters give way to movement then resounding kicks. All the potential, possibility and promise of a new little one to love, nurture and care for. This morning as I was thinking about our little grandbaby, I was touched in the heart by the Holy Spirit. The One who lives within me given to me by Jesus as a precious and useful gift to assist in my pursuit of Him in a dark and dying world. When Jesus came to see the disciples after his death and resurrection, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” There is power in the Spirit that Jesus gave us. He is living, breathing and moving within us. What is our response when He moves? Do we respond? Do we pay attention? Does our heart leap inside our chest? I have felt the movement of other children and grandchildren inside of new mothers. But now it is different, because this grandbaby is mine and lives inside my own child. I wonder what would happen if we perceived the Holy Spirit as our own rather than watching Him move in others?

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Repentance and turning to the Lord including baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ according to grace makes one eligible to receive the Holy Spirit. It is a gift. It is given to us as believers whether we want it or not. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman who will not force himself on anyone but eagerly waits for acceptance to activate God’s Power including the resurrection power that brought Jesus from the grave in our ordinary life. He is the guarantor of every promise that God has made to us. Jesus gave us His Word that He would never leave us or forsake us and the Holy Spirit is evidence of the reality of His Promise to us. What is our response? Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Father’s Love. Do we invite His Spirit to accompany us through our day, instruct us in our actions, soften our attitude, give us direction, listen to His Urgings, and move when He nudges us?

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Conviction is a power revelation of a positive change. Pride gives it a negative connotation. The things that bring sorrow to God’s Spirit are anything contradictory to His Love. The divine nature of God is love. He demonstrates that with His Mercy, Grace, Compassion, Kindness and Goodness that He lavishes on us. The woman at the well was given insight to the powerful combination of worship that would come – true worshippers would do so in Spirit and in Truth. The Holy Spirit is a facilitator of worship in us. He gives us the words, groanings and utterances when we do not have the words to say. In times of great pain, pressure, or persecution – the Holy Spirit expresses our heart, mind and need to the Father even in something as simple as an “oh” granted in a place of prayer and surrender before the Lord. He has the power to change our vocabulary by sifting through the contents of our heart and applying the Word to it. Filling our heart and mind with the love of God that produces all the valuable produce promised in Galatians 5:22-23. In every way, the Holy Spirit is out to benefit our life. I am not sure why Christians would shun or limit the Spirit of God when His Presence in our life offers such powerful potential and the fulfillment of Christ.

Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

When Jesus died on the Cross, he shouted and released His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 27:50) It was the Holy Spirit who tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. The earth shook as an earthquake erupted at the Glory and Power of God poured out that day. Immediately – resurrection power began to bring the dead to life. His Spirit now poured out would soon find its way to His People filling them with the grace provided by His Love and empowering them with it. We are those people. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. I can now fully express the love of God because I have experienced it intimately. When I feel the Spirit of God move within me, I recognize Him. I know who He is. I know what comes next is important and to pay attention. If  you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and truly repented – you have been given the Holy Spirit. Do you feel Him inside of you? Do you know when He is moving, urging or nudging you to better things?

I encourage you today to acknowledge God’s Spirit. Thank the Lord for investing His Spirit full of life and power in you. The Holy Spirit was sent specifically to help you. Let Him do His Job. He is a wonderful friend, teacher, guide and companion. He wants God’s Best for you and does everything possible to make it come to pass. He is intimacy with Christ. He identifies you as a Child of the Living God with full benefits. Utilize them. God promised to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) His Spirit is the fulfillment of the promise. Take advantage of God’s Kindness by inviting the Spirit to have His Way in you today!

God’s Spirit is alive in you. His Presence in the life of a believer is non-negotiable. Those who belong to Christ have His Spirit. The two must become one. I wonder what might happen if our expectancy for His Spirit became as elevated as let’s say my enthusiasm and desire to feel my grandchild moving inside his mom. What would happen if we responded to His Move with the same level of attentiveness and excitement? We must be moved by the Spirit of God to reach fulfillment. He gives life and power to the believer. He is a Gift from God!

John 14:26-27 (Message) “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

And I Know

And I Know

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Do you know? Are you sure? How sure? Certain? Full of confidence? And we know… What do we really know about God and His Plan for us? We have been given His Spirit and Truth to build foundational knowledge for our faith. Faith when sown in our life becomes blessed assurance and confident hope that carries through the ups and downs of life into eternal glory. It all sounds good. Maybe even causes a moment of elation, but then life happens. How can God be good when bad things still happen? How can He be for us when it seems the whole world is against us? Who is this God we serve and what are His True Intentions for us?

And we know…

True confidence in God’s Plan and Purpose for our life will produce a sound relationship built on trust, dependence and reliance. How do I build a relationship with someone who I cannot see, feel or touch? How will I know when I find Him? I have been seeking the Lord for many years now. Truly, diligently and intentionally digging deeper and deeper in His Word while wandering farther out into the depths following His Voice to find more faith. I have failed more times than I can count. I have fallen short of His Glorious Standard time and time again. I want to live His Word, do His Works (the greater ones that He promised) and I want to hear the Lord say, “Well done!” My flesh fights me every step of the way and my pride refuses to be crucified. It just won’t die. The thing that keeps me close and constantly engaged is the desire to know… and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

To be confident in God’s Love, Grace and Goodness will always give way to trust. We must try the Lord. Test the boundlessness of His Word and deepest fathoms of His Grace. To seek Him while He can be found not giving up until the Kingdom is found. He must be our treasure. One highly sought after and daily pursued. The Lord told the woman at the well a day was coming when true worshippers would do so in “Spirit and in Truth.” Friends, today is that day or at least it should be.

Romans 8:29-30 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

God is not surprised by our mistakes. He is not taken back by our blatant disregard. The Lord is well aware of human tendency to rebel and seek its own way. He understands being taken for granted. For whom He foreknew…God knew you before you were anybody at all. He thought about you before you were created and thoughtfully carried out His Creation of you. He molded and shaped you with purpose and a plan to carry it out. He gave you a measure of faith and put eternity in our heart as a primary desire. God, the Father, did not stop at creating you. To only sit back and see how things turned out, but continually pursues you each day. The ones who He predestined…He called. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and decide to make Him our Lord, every barrier between us and the Father is dissolved and immediately melts away. Any perceived hindrance is on our part. Those who He predestined, conformed to Christ, who He is constantly calling to because in the Lord’s Eyes you are justified. His Perception of those who are His People is just as if you never sinned. Those who can somehow find a way to wrap their head around this valuable truth and allow His Spirit to lead you to the everlasting promises paving here to forever will live in His Presence in His Glory.

To know Romans 8:29-30 helps us better understand the verses ahead calling us “more than conquerors” all the way to the perception that nothing can ever separate us from God’s Amazing Love again. If it could, it would render the sacrifice of Jesus and power of His Grace as useless which is simply not the case at all…God’s Love for us is unchangeable. Nothing can stop it from coming after us and completely consuming us. It is our own willful refusal or ignorant dismissal of His Love, Mercy, Grace and Power that keep us from His Promises.

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV) Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. 

The more I know Jesus the less I seem to know at all. His Ways are higher than mine as are His Thoughts. Therefore, I must trust Him when I walk by faith and not by sight. To believe that His Truth sets me free should produce a desire to know what the Word of God says about me. To know Jesus – I must know the Word who He is wrapped in flesh. To understand Him at all requires an intimate and ongoing relationship with His Spirit. I cannot live a separated or differentiated life but totally surrender my body, mind, will and emotions to spiritual development.

On those days when my trials weigh me down, trouble overwhelms me, or the bad report gets the best of me, I come back to Romans 8:28. And I know… the knowing is not found in that moment of tribulation but it is the foundation that keeps us from falling or being buried. Faith in the Word must have some substance. It sandbags my heart keeping it firmly established in God’s Word while I wait for my life to line up with His Plan. Is your heart overwhelmed today? Are you thinking I can’t handle one more thing? Are you weary in well doing? Let the Lord lead you to the Rock that is higher. Access the Presence of God that is a strong tower and shelter for those who seek refuge. God has a plan. All the pieces are falling into place. Everything had to fall apart to become the Glorious New Thing that He promised. It is not your job to do it but simply endure the process. In due time, His Time – it will all come together according to His Plan for our good and His Glory.

Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Set A Guard

broken-gate

Psalm 141:2-3 (NKJV) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

If only the Holy Spirit had a hand to carefully yet firmly put over my mouth day in and day out. To keep me from releasing commands into the atmosphere. Oh the idle words that never need to be spoken. Words hold power. Life and death is in the tongue. It is the most difficult to restrain. Caught in the crosshairs of our mind, will and emotions as our heart tries to edit each one spoken before it is released. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

James 3:4-6 (NKJV) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Everyone has words that they wish they could take back. Tiny sparks released into a dry atmosphere if withheld would have stopped mass destruction. The tongue is such a small part of our body yet the hardest to control. It is important that our tongue remains under our strict control. Each world carefully weighed and contemplated compared to Christ. We must speak His Word. Say what He said. Otherwise, there is a real danger of destroying people or causing them to turn away rather than embrace the Love of God evident in His Word. His Word is sweeter than honey. It is desirable. It is good for you. Communication is for edification. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV) A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The fruit of our mouth feeds our mind, will and emotions. The words that flow from our lips are evident of the abundance of our heart. Our heart must agree with our words and our words should be in alignment with the meditation of our heart. The things spoken in private should be our declaration in public. We must feed our heart and mind good things in order to produce good fruit. The Word of God nourishes our mind. It feeds our thoughts. It produces the kind of speech and communication that God desires of His People. The power of death and life are given to me as Christ lives in me. I bind heaven and earth with the words that I speak and if not carefully chosen they can have a dire effect. Therefore…Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

It is my personal responsibility to filter the contents of my speech. It is my soulful duty to control my tongue. I will be held accountable for every single word released from my person. (Matthew 12:36) The words that come flowing out are for my good or can be to my detriment. The Word of God is clear. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. Lord, forgive me for all the times that rotten fruit came flowing out. People are people. They are just as imperfect as I am. Father forgive them and please Lord forgive me for all my faults and failures. Make me conscious of the words that I speak right down to those I say to myself when no one else is listening. You are always listening. My words are for edification of others and to impart grace. My tongue is not a weapon of mass destruction. It should be used to build others up not tear them down. It should always give freely grace, love, mercy and kindness as a reflection of the same that I have received from you. Lord and on those days when I have nothing nice to say, let me take the advice of my elders who told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NKJV) So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

God has a plan and purpose for our life. One written from the beginning that began with our birth. It is a good one with a future and hope. I wonder how many times it is hindered by unfiltered words and unworthy mandates released in our life fortified by pride or driven by bitterness. His Grace is enough even to cover all the idle, careless or harmful words released each day. It is up to me to apply grace to the words that I speak. Lord, I am undone. I am a woman with unclean lips. I have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, and the King of Glory. Lord, I ask you to cleanse my lips today. Lord, forgive me for idle or angry words released carelessly around me. I long to fulfill your purpose for my life. It is not dependent on other people. It is solely according to living my life in alignment with you, Jesus. My mouth is for your praise and glory. Remind me of that today. Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door to my lips. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 71:8 (NKJV) Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your Glory all the day.

 

The Father’s Glory

The Father's Glory

John 15:7-8 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Yet another unfathomable promise from a good, good God. The Christ in us gives power and authority to our words. This is to my Father’s Glory that you bear much fruit…showing yourselves to be my disciples. The Holy Spirit cultivates the qualities and characteristics of God in our life. To be a disciple is the glorification of God. It is exemplified by the life of Christ in living color. A life of unconditional love and incomparable compassion for all mankind. So often focusing on the Gifts of God rather than His Grace, it is easy to become caught up in the promises of God without paying attention to His Process.

I am the worst of these when it comes to trying to accomplish godly character humanly. Perhaps, you may find yourself in the very same position today. Trying to achieve the spiritual naturally is a common problem facilitated by religious tradition in many cases. Some churches still sing give me that “old-time religion”. The church needs a fresh anointing and new revelation. I need it. The sum total of my effectiveness and efficiency as a Christian is my ability to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Word of God, He invited the twelve to come and follow, but not one time did Jesus invite them to be just a follower or even call them a Christian. He asked them to be My disciple. Following Christ is part of the process of becoming a disciple but it is the positioning of our entire being IN Christ that completes it. So today, let’s talk about bringing glory to the Father. We seek His Glory desiring His Presence and everything that comes when it permeates a church service or even our prayer closet at home. I don’t want just an encounter or even an experience. My heart’s desire is eternity.

God’s Word

Matthew 13:23 (NIV) “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God’s Word is the seed that produces good fruit in our life. It is the particle of faith that the Holy Spirit uses to create the life God promises those who believe. Without God’s Word, there is no point in our faith because it is illogical outside of His Provisionary Plan. The Word of God is the seed that when placed in a broken, fertile and receptive heart begins the spiritual reproductive process within us. Faith germinates the seed and the Fruit of the Spirit comes into existence and beings to grow and develop.

Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit is essential in a believer’s life. He is the essence of Christ in us that identifies us as Children of God. It is the existence of Christ in us that offers power and authority of supernatural impact to live in our words and prayers. The Spirit produces fruit from the Word cultivated by faith. The fruit is clearly defined as love, joy and peace. The three substantial satisfiers of humanity. Everyone wants love, joy and peace. There are other fruits of the Spirit that are necessary for productivity in our ability to fulfill the commandment of Christ to love others. They are forbearance, kindness, goodness and gentleness. We strive for these in our relationships though not born of our natural mind, will or emotions. The Holy Spirit produces these qualities from the love, joy and peace found in Christ. Finally, there is self-control. Oh how this is vital to spiritual success as a disciple. To keep going when no one else is. To continue when quitting seems favorable. To remain uncomfortable when comfortable escapes are offered. To opt for convenience when inconvenience is required. To maintain control when God asks for our complete trust and confidence.

Be My Disciple

John 15:8 (NIV) This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is the Father’s Glory. It exemplifies the power of His Presence to fulfill His Purpose in us. We have no possible means of doing so. It is God’s Word planted in us. The Holy Spirit’s cultivation process. The commitment to be His Disciple… not just a Christian or a follower. To abide in Christ. To live each day for the Kingdom. I am challenged today by this passage. Do I live for the Father’s Glory? Is my life bearing fruit? Spiritual fruit? Sowing and reaping will produce the blessing of God in our life. Doing what the Word says will also create prosperity. Fullness is only accomplished when our life abides in Christ. Abundance is the surplus reserved for His Children.

Discipleship is to continually Jesus Christ. To engraft our life into His Word, His Will and His Way. Every day. Every breath. Every step. Every decision. Every moment. Not everyone will decide this is the life for them. It is not a requirement for Heaven. It is a requirement to glorify the Father. The good Father and gracious God who sends every good gift to us. The One who sent His Only Son to die for us so that we could become His Children in right standing again. God has given us an opportunity to glorify Him. It is the only “thing” we can do. God did everything else. He gave His Son. His Son gave the Spirit. God has provided for us from His Riches in Glory. He has given us the strength to do all things through Christ. The Lord has given us every spiritual blessing. We have it all. We also have the freedom to choose how to use this wonderful gift.

The Promise

John 15:9-11 (NIV) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Jesus offers His Love to us. We have the opportunity to remain in His Love. Keep His Commandments. He told us these things so that “my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Are you satisfied with your life? Are you complete in love, joy and peace? Does your life glorify the Father today? Grace is the open doorway to every bit of fulfillment found in God’s Word. No matter how we lived yesterday. The Holy Spirit wakes us up offering new mercy for the new day with new opportunities to glorify the Father, bear much fruit and be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It means I must decrease and allow Christ to increase and take over. It means fear must give way to faith. It requires doubt drowned by belief. It is the promise of fulfillment to overflowing abundance of love, joy and peace. It is a privilege. It is a promise. It is more than I can think, ask or imagine. God is good! He is a Good Father! He deserves to be glorified.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.