Just Breathe

Just Breathe

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Here is a thoughtful nugget for today – breathe in, breathe out. Congratulations! You just successfully accomplished something in life. You perpetuated it by simply inspiring and expiring a single breath. Now do it again! Two triumphs in one day…now keep doing it throughout the rest of today. Completely overwhelmed by work, church and life, I sat working on surprises for Mother’s Day for church. After working the second late night, swinging by the grocery store to restock, taking care of our little puppy, nursing our adult fur baby whose tummy is not well, cooking dinner and settling in to prepare for Sunday. I could feel the pressure closing in on me. Tired. Exhausted. Brain not fully functioning. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as my heart pounded in my chest. Another rough day. There have been more than a few lately. More challenges than usual – but that’s just life right? Having gone through much worse and surviving, I still feel might heart yearning to thrive again. The Lord rushed in to comfort me during my unspoken prayer. His Words clear, calm and focused to me – just breathe.

Too often in the name of busyness – it is human nature to breathe shallowing. To keep running from this task to that one using all of our body, mind and spirit to create a better life and meet human expectation. Burn out comes. The wall is hit hard forcing all the breath from our body. Our humanity a heavy weight that burdens us rather than becoming the blessing we are promised. It is certainly not of God. He doesn’t tell us to “do” it all. In fact, He doesn’t need us to do a thing. I exist for God’s Pleasure. He gives me purpose that promotes prosperity by His Grace not because I deserve it. Just like our children do not earn the house they live in, the food they eat, the money I give them or the clothing that overflows from drawers, closets and the laundry hamper – I give it all to them simply because I love them and want to care for them. But I am not the Lord, and I do grow weak and weary. Thankfully, He does not.

Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.  “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

The Unknown God. Do you know the Lord? I have been married to my husband for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him better than any other person in this life. To know him comes from spending almost every single day with him consecutively for more than 18 years. It has meant giving up my way to follow him on many occasions. It requires forgiveness time and time again. It is to put him above other people. To love him. Seek him out. Serve him with love. Day by day getting to know him more. Have I applied the same desire and drive in getting to know the Lord? His Word is the Way, Truth and Life. See if you really know the “unknown” God who Paul speaks of – you can breathe easy.

God doesn’t need us to do anything. He desires us. He wants us. He sent His Son to die for our sins so that there is an opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. That’s it. All the other religious rules and regulations are not of God. Grace has them covered. What will allow the greatest success in our Christian walk and “living for the Lord” is not in our personal ability or dedication to righteousness but one’s ability to slip into the Robe of Righteousness and return home as the prodigal son or daughter. The Father/Child relationship is what the Lord desires. Our family depends on one another. Though from time to time there is rivalry amongst them, let someone come against them or there be a proposed threat – the circle the wagons quickly prepared to fight. There are many days that I forget this truth. The part about God not needing me to do any particular thing or that my success or failure as His Child is not hinged on my performance. God loves me for me. He formed me in my mother’s womb writing a perfect plan and purpose for my life including enough grace to get me through it. He is always for me. He gives me new mercy each morning and is just waiting to for me to breathe Him in deeply. To allow His Presence and His Spirit to work in me and through me giving me peace and inexpressible joy as I do the unthinkable, unimaginable, and absolutely infinitely more than I ever considered possible. There is more to life than this. It is found in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. I just need to remember to keep breathing. It is in Him I live, move and exist. This is all part of inspiration and expiration the breath called life.

Daniel 10:16-18 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

The breath that keeps me breathing is the same air breathed into Adam. It has continued to bear fruit called life from generation to generation. Just as God’s Word will not return void, neither will His First Breath that brought humanity to life. The perpetuation of life will continue until Jesus comes. It is an awesome thought to think that the very mouth that formed the words that created all that we know is continuing its purpose in me today. If I am breathing – I am alive. I have human breath that is given to accomplish natural respiration. However, I have been given the spirit of Jesus Christ when He released His Last Breath on the Cross and saying, “It is finished.” Do you remember what happened next? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Nothing could ever separate me from God again. His Spirit (His Breath) did not stop there but resurrection power brought the dead back to life. His Breath cannot help but produce life in and around us.

Daniel was filled with anguish, overwhelmed by sorrow, and very weak. He was so weary in fact that he said, “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my Lord?” He had seen a vision that drained his faith and overtook his hope so quickly that Daniel was drowning in sorrow unable to catch his breath. “My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Whether you are overcome by physical, emotional or spiritual exhaustion, weakness, weariness or just plain empty – the Lord has what you need today. His Voice is reminding you just breathe in and let it out. Breathe me in – let fear out. Breathe me in – let broken pieces fall where they will. Breathe me in – let worry go. Breathe me in – fall on me in your weakness. Breathe me in – become one with me, yoke your life to me, become one with me. The Lord is offering you His Whole Life – every fiber of who He is and what He is able to do in a single breath. Will you just breathe today? Will your declaration be as Daniel’s when he said, “I felt my strength returning.”

Psalm 33:4-9 (NLT) For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

So…

Psalm 104:30 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

And finally…

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The Burger Joint

The Burger Joint

Psalm 34:8-10 (AMP) O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.

Our girl’s weekend has concluded. It has been a good time. We attended the Beth Moore, Living Proof Ministry Conference and I would highly recommend it to individuals, families, friends and women’s groups. I may or may not have been living under a rock the last ten years, but I have never read one of her books or heard any of her teachings. Her team definitely were game on this weekend. I came hungry and received more than my fill. My hunger and desire for Jesus these days seems insatiable. The turning point is unclear when His Word and His Voice became a vital nutrient and daily requirement for my life but now I cannot seem to make it through a single moment of an ordinary day unless I know that the Lord is right there with me – walking arm-in-arm.

The first night of the conference ended after 9:00 PM and the parking garage was a crush. Glad the victory was won that night, because after hometown football games I have sat in the long line of cards with the bitter taste of defeat and a roaring belly. Sitting in the car packed in like tiny sardines, the most pressing matter in the moment became food. No one had really eaten since breakfast and all were getting hungrier by the minute. The only thing open that late was the usual breakfast clubs and a few burger joints. Votes were cast and due to the early wake-up call everyone decided on the latter. Now, I have not completely purified my diet but in the name of old age and trying to preserve this shell of humanity that covers me, I don’t eat greasy food much anymore, especially not late in the evening right before bed. I prayed a little prayer that the Holy Spirit would but His Hand on my stomach and protect me. Once in the booth, I really didn’t need a menu. We all ordered the same cheesy, greasy, double patty burger loaded with fries and milkshakes, Lord help us – we were now committed.

When the sweet waitress delivered the food, I am sure to other patrons it must have resembled a school of piranha in the Amazon River. My daughter confessed later that she did not even remember consuming the pile of fat and calories. Every person who engaged in the frenzy agreed that the burger was the best they had in a long time. Food was delicious. I had to smile inside. Was the burger really so tasty? The fries cooked to perfection? The milkshake filled with all the creamiest richness? Or was our perception of the food based on our appetite conditioning our desire? Or our hunger that led to desperation? When our appetite was fulfilled and our desperation turned to satisfaction, suddenly the burger was praised. I think you know where this is going so let’s just dive in…

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good; how blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. I have been a Christian since I was eleven years old when I invited Jesus to come inside my heart and live there forever. I did not fully understand what I was asking or how it would happen, I just knew that He is who I desired based on the recommended by others and the little bitty hunger that rose up in my heart that day. It would take hears for me to develop a true desire for Jesus Christ in my life. However, once we do “taste and see” for ourselves – no one can change our mind. No one will convince our group that the burger on our plate and then in our stomachs the night before last was anything less than perfection. However the Truth is that the burger really was not that great for us. Some experienced a bit of gastric distress but deemed it worth it in the end. Hear me today! To taste and see that the Lord is good requires dining at His Table. In fact, Jesus is always knocking on the door to our heart asking to share a meal with us. (Revelation 3:20) Too often, busyness or cares of life or fear of expectation keep us from allowing Him to come and satisfy our heart with His Richness and Goodness so we pop in another microwave, quick-gratification meal to keep us from experiencing those hunger pangs or feelings of desperation just a little bit longer. The Lord has desires. He is desperate to bless you and me. To make us fortunate, prosperous because we are favored by God. Too many times, we choose something less to meet the current need rather than to experience a rich and satisfied life. (John 10:10)

O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones); for to those who fear Him there is no want. Fear is a powerful force. There are two kinds of fear. The first and most understood by people is the feeling. Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by perceived danger, evil or possible pain where it is real or imagined. This is not the fear expressed in Psalm 34:9 yet the reality of faith for most people. They fear God’s judgment and punishment because they have not fully comprehended the authenticity of His Unconditional Love and Amazing Grace offered in the Person of His Only Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus lives in us, and by chance we fall in love with Him. The bond creates a union so that when God sees us – He does not see our sin but the Beautiful Face of His Son and the sacrifice offered to rid us of it. Fear arises from doubt in the sufficiency of God’s Grace and is often shrouded by religion rather than true fear of the Lord arising from confident trust in the relationship offered when we yoke our life with Jesus Christ. The fear that offers us a fully satisfied and completely content life is found in reverence for the Lord. Fear defined as reverential awe. Reverence is the feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe and the outward manifestation of it. It is to have faith and trust the Lord. When He acts upon His Promises as a result of this attitude, it only deepens and widens our capacity to love and trust Him more. Reliance becomes inevitable. Our hunger will grow. Our desire deepen. Our appetite will increase for more of Him. All of this will create people who are desperate for all of Jesus.

The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry, but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Yes, I am convinced that our perception of the hamburger the other night was based on our hunger and need for food rather than the reality that it was that tasty or divine. It just hit the spot. Somebody needs to hear this today. You live from day to day even meal to meal on less than God’s Best driven by natural desire and hunger that force you to compromise and live on less. No experience will do this every time. Young lions lack food and grow hungry. BUT… But God… But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Food is a daily necessity for healthy growth and development. The Lord invites us to His Table today. He is the Bread of Life. Communion is not just for certain Sundays but welcomed in every day of our life with the Lord. It is up to us to make better choices in our consumption. The day after eating the burger and fries guess what I was craving again? You guessed it. I was ready to consume more of it. It is up to me to decide what the best choice including the things I take in to my life naturally, emotionally and spiritually each day. I must choose what I consume based on the desires for each area of my life.

Galatians 5:22-24 (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. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.

I am so thankful today for the Spirit of the Living God who resides inside me. Not only is He an excellent life coach but the Holy Spirit produces fruit in me that will produce complete satisfaction in my hungry heart. He offers things like love, joy, peace, and yes, even patience to wait for the right thing rather than grabbing the first thing that comes along. He offers me kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness in such abundance that I have no other choice than to share it with others. He also provides self-control so I will make better choices in all areas of life. Why do we limit God to the super-spiritual when He offers to bless, prosper, multiply and increase every are of our natural and spiritual existence? All I must do is choose to bring my choices, appetites, desires and even passions to the Cross and hand them over to Christ for inspection. He does not shame me in those things that are not good for me, but rather always offers me something so much better than I might have settled for. His Word instructs me to choose better. His Spirit leads me to those things. I have the opportunity to live a life defined as rich and satisfying. It is up to me if I will choose it.

Psalm 37:3-5 (AMP) Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him also and He will do it.

Our desire for the Lord will turn to delight by tasting and seeing that He is good. To know if a certain food is palatable to us requires tasting or trying it. This is a commitment. I cannot sniff and decide it worthy of consumption but must put it in my mouth, roll it around and swallow it. You will never know or experience the fullness of God available in Christ until your faith tries Him by trusting Him. We must rely on Him some to develop confidence in the Lord. We must “feed on His Faithfulness” to see the remarkable changes produced by such a choice. The Lord wants to give you a rich and satisfied life unaffected by the temporary problems, troubles, trials or even distractions. Once you experience the Goodness of God, you will never be the same. It changes us from the inside until suddenly there is a deep desire that becomes desperation. Now no longer do we want His Hand but all of His Heart. This will lead to the everlasting lifetime of called glory to glory which produces an abundance of love, joy and peace in our life. It raises our standard of living to the God’s Standard again. Right here. Right now. His Love is amazing and overwhelming. The question has been posed – How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple. One bite at a time. You get to choose when and where you will decide to taste and see that the Lord is good. Why not today? Why not now?

Matthew 5:6 (AMP) “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.”

Time to Shine

Time to Shine

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Mama always used to say, “Be careful what you wish for…” I completely agree. Our words hold power and should be released thoughtfully and completely filtered despite my fourteen-year-old who insists that people need to know the truth. I concur. People do need to know the truth. Who am I to give it to them? Do I really know the truth about life, love and happiness? Contentment, peace or joy? I used to tell people that I wished I could break open my heart and let people see the real Jesus who lives inside. Who He is? The Living God who I have experienced. They would have to love Him, too. Well, as I sit here this morning, I still hope that I can share Jesus with others. Tell them of His Love, Goodness and Faithfulness in a believable and acceptable way. However, I can feel the little sting of those words running through the broken pieces of my heart. The hard places of pride and stubbornness now rubble in the Hands of God as He gently and lovingly molds and shapes them into the kind of heart He desires. The tiny shelter where His Glory resides. Did I ask the Lord to break my heart? No, I just invited Jesus into it. Just like old wineskins will burst when filled with new wine, my heart in its previous condition could not contain the fullness that the Lord had for me. He had to make room for His Presence to fill me. I have to be broken for it to come spilling out.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We have the Light of His Love shining inside our hearts. The Presence of God, His Spirit lives in us. He came by invitation but is He truly an honored guest. A question for another day, I guess. I think that the error in our way as believers is the through that the holy inhabitation of God in us is another layer to the armor in our life when it is not like that at all. Yes, we have the full armor of God available to us but it requires leaving the old armor behind. Who can stand in fight in such a condition? The Great Power of God living in us must find its way out of us for the Glory of God to ignite a revival that will wrap around the world.

Exodus 34:29-32 (NLT) When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

One person. Moses. Though His Children were all around Mount Sinai, only one person dared go into the Presence of God. Moses remained their fasting and communing with the Lord for forty days and nights. When he came down, in his arms were the Ten Commandments, and on his face was a tangible radiance so bright that the people were afraid. In Exodus 40, these tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant and hidden behind a heavy curtain or veil in the Tabernacle. No one could come in contact with the Ark except the high priest after undergoing proper repentance and cleansing. The Ark of the Covenant represented the embodiment of God’s Presence among the people. The atonement cover or mercy seat – God’s Throne. (2 Samuel 6:2) God’s Presence was above it. (Leviticus 16:2) If a person approached the Ark, it was entrance into God’s Presence. Sin is consumed in the Presence of God so those who attempted entrance without proper remission of sin would die. Sin prohibits life. (Psalm 5:4-6) In Numbers 11:16-17, it tells us that God administered His Spirit to people individually according to His Will and Purpose for them. It all started with one person. Moses was the only one willing to go into God’s Presence and he came out changed.

Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

I promise this history lesson is almost over. It is vitally important in our understanding and utilization of God’s Power and Presence in us. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, God identified Him as His Son and placed His Spirit in Him. The Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove. Now the Son of God is crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. He is an acceptable sacrifice and so now God releases His Presence (His Spirit) to all mankind. The first thing the Spirit does is rip the curtain from top to bottom so that God’s Presence is available to us all. The Spirit didn’t stop there but then began breathing life into all the dead. Resurrection power released in a moment that immediately perpetuated life.

Acts 2:1-4 (NLT) On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

Here we go! Wee! This is where the Pentecostals start shouting, Baptists are cringing and Catholics are like “what in the world”. For just a few moments, take your doctrine in one hand and the nametag of your church in the other – put them aside. Just listen… The Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. He is the identifier of those who believe. He is the guarantee of all God’s Promises. You cannot experience Christ and not encounter the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that every person will manifest these gifts the same way nor does it mean that we have to. Religion demands the context of doctrine not God. The Presence of God is not some performance or show. It is not defined by certain procedures. Jesus did away with every condition. His Grace is enough to access God’s Presence without my ability to do a single thing.

Now then…moving on.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

In Acts 2:1, “on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Hmm… Believers meeting together in one place. What did they believe? They believed in Jesus Christ. (period) Agreement. Unity. Harmony. Nothing is more pleasing to the Lord. These believers had been through the ringer. They were hiding because the “church” wanted to kill the idea of a risen Savior and missed Messiah by murdering the people. They were praying for their very lives. God’s Presence with all the Power and Majesty of Heaven descended on that place. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in tongues or any other spiritual gift. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Now that everyone here is looking at Jesus Christ. In His Presence, the first manifestation of His Spirit is to love each other. Care for one another. Create a community of communion with God and each other. (period) Signs and wonders are birthed in this connection of believes as they agree and meet together in “one place”. Speaking in tongues is for our own gratification. It is a prayer language. I do very much believe in it but I do not believe that you have to speak in tongues to be saved or live in the Presence of God. What I do believe is that the Glory of God available to us in His Presence has been put behind a curtain and covered in clothes because we fail the first test – to love others like Jesus loves us.

We can share the Gospel, preach the Word of God, and even demonstrate every gift eluded to in the Bible, but the absence of love. Self-sacrificing and pride-killing kind of love that puts everyone else before our need to have, do, or be right. We all have the Presence of the Living God inside of us. He is waiting to be pressed down, shaken together and run over every blessing that He has in store for us. However, if we choose not to let God break our heart enough to love others and care for each as a community of believers – the Word will fall on deaf ears like water on a rock.

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

The very first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22) We do not have the privilege of defining what love really is – it is clearly stated in God’s Word. I Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us all the qualities of true love. Patient, kind, no jealous, boastful or proud, giving and forgiving. It never loses faith or hope. It does not give up. It endures all circumstances. It goes so far as to comment in verse 8 that “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.” Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) I wonder if the Glory of God is not producing revival because the church does not know how to love? I am concerned that His Presence is somehow stifled by our routine and religion hindered by a lack of real relationships among believers including me…

If the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! The only thing that lasts forever according to God is His Love. Love remains when all else fails. It is the glue that holds together the believers as one to make the body of Christ who will be His Bride. To cry out for revival is to ask God to show us how to love. Love will break your heart every time. It will crush rebellious spirits as two become one. With the new covenant, there should be boldness and confidence that is not demonstrated in most churches today. (Verse 8) If the Word is not watered down, it is hidden behind a wall of religious values and doctrine that no one really can endure. Grace removed the sin that kept me from Jesus. Who am I to place a condition on a love so freely given? Who am I to condemn others when Jesus refused to do it? Who am I to withhold my life from anyone else when it is no longer mine at all? Who am I? I am a Child of God. I am filled with His Spirt. His Spirit is the very essence of resurrection power and life that will spark the next revival. The same spirit that lives in me as a believer lives in you. We all must be broken of our prideful, stubborn and selfish ways to let His Glory escape from us and become the radiance in our life that attracts others.

Let me ask you something. Are you frustrated in your walk with the Lord today? Are you disappointed because your ordinary life is not the extraordinary promise you thought He would make it? Has the monotony of your walk and the mundane existence got you thinking that there has to be more to life than this? Friend, sin stole the glorious standard of living from us but Jesus gave it back and more. He promises us a rich and satisfying life. Love produces that life. Plain and simple. The kind of love that builds up community and bonds together people. Religion points out differences. Relationships overcome them. God’s Glory is available to all of us. In fact, it dwells within us. It radiates from our life in our ability to love unconditionally. It’s time to remove the veil and let the Love of God shine through us again. Busting through doubt, fear and insecurity to put our life out there like a city on a hill again. You were meant to be the Light. It begins with love and ends the same way. Let God out of the box today. Take the next step in putting yourself out there. Stop hiding behind the curtain. There is nothing there anymore. His Spirit is alive and well in you! It’s our time to shine! For His Glory…

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

 

To Be Steadfast

To Be Steadfast

Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Oh for the grace of God that gives me a clean and pure heart each day. Mercy provided at the first of each day to cover all the faults and failures before they even come to pass. Such a great God, so loving and compassionate, faithful and true, yet I struggle to remain steadfast. Do you? Are there days when it just doesn’t seem like life is going as expected? Caught in the abyss of waiting and going through the motions of “walking by faith and not by sight” yet still wondering if this is the way? Indulge me, please if I am the only one who finds herself on the edge of reality and verge of faithful possibility teetering on the edge. God’s Word seems so distant and faint as the taunts of the enemy resound in my head. “Did God really tell you that? Are you sure? I think you should go back, step own, or move on.” All lies meant to lure me off course. So in the wee hours of morning, sitting in this place, and asking for a new heart. One that is pure, true and solely devoted to staying the course, finishing the race, and fulfilling my purpose, I wonder if what I need more than that today is to be steadfast. What if my heart is not the problem, but rather the doubt in my head?

Let me be the first to admit that I am impatient. It is one of my greatest character flaws that require more grace than I am willing to admit. Long lines and slow people drive me crazy. Waiting rooms are like prison cells. Waiting is the exercise needed to produce endurance. I must endure to the end. I must remain true to my faith and stay the course. One might think my stubbornness might work in my favor and maybe sometimes it does. However, most of the time it is the very thing I must overcome just to keep moving in this direction. The further you go the less you know. It is the truth about faith. Trust requires me to wait and watch for the Lord and not waver in my trials. Lord, teach me to be steadfast today.

Proverbs 4:23-27 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Visiting Proverbs for some wisdom and insight, simple steps are offered to keep us along the way. Above everything else, I must guard my heart today. How do I do that? I am told to give my life away. To love without expectation or obligation of another human being. To live as Light in this world with His Love shining from the broken crevices of my heart. The heart that I am guarding is broken. God is creating a new heart in me. It will take some time. I am not guarding my heart from being broken more but rather making sure that it stays soft and pliable in the Hands of God today. Not hardened or calloused by doubt, fear or even regret. Why? For everything you do flows from it. Good intentions become godly influence when our life is wrapped up in love.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. From the abundance of the heart, our mouth speaks. So maybe if I listen to what I am saying today, I will find the error of my ways. What is the contents of my communication? Do I speak life, faith and love throughout the days no matter my situation? To be free of perversity is to be willfully determined to remain on the desired and expected course and not contrary to the Word of God. Perversity is to say something other than what is believed to verbally live a contradictory life. Faith produces praise. Truth produces possibility. Hope is relayed in confidence. Confidence is evident in our words. Our conditions should dictate our communication but our faith and hope manifested in trust should make our words fruitful bearing the produce of seeds of truth planted and grown in our heart. What are you saying? Complaining and grumbling is not the kind of talk that demonstrates a heart full of faith but instead implies discontentment and dissatisfaction with God’s Care for us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Comparison is a joy killer. The grass will always seem greener on the other side. Wandering eyes lead to a wondering heart. You cannot see the details leading up to this moment for others so do not evaluate their outcome by what you see now. The price paid may be more than you are willing to give. We must focus. Many days, I must refocus. What did Jesus say? What did the Lord tell me to do? Where did I step off course? The moment I took my eyes off Jesus and starting looking for something to ease my impatience or relieve the pressure of change. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith. I need Him to finish the work that He began in me. He is my Champion. He is my victory. I must remain steadfast in my pursuit of the Lord for all His Promises and His Purpose to come to pass in my life. Have I looked away? Have I wandered off? Is my mind wondering about the Truth? He is a good Shepherd who calls out to sheep and comes looking for the ones who wander off. Here I am Lord – thank you for calling out to me!

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Think about it. In Joshua 1:8, it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? I do. Not only in my spiritual life, but my natural life, too. I want the world to see what a Good and Great God that I serve. He has a plan for my life with a future and hope. One that will produce everything I need to have the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ died to give me. His Word is pivotal to living that life. I cannot hear it a couple times a week at church or on a podcast and think that this will be a roadmap for success. I must meditate on the Word of God every day and find new ways to implement it. The Bible is the Greatest Love Story ever written. If I break it apart and consume it day by day, tiny seeds of His Love will sprout in my worn out, tired and broken heart to produce life and life more abundantly. When my life begins to produce godly fruit, I will become a little more satisfied and a bit more content. This will produce a desire for more. One foot in front of the other in faith is simply planting a seed and waiting for it to grow. To not leave our field but work it real good. It is to know God. We cannot know the Lord without reading, studying, eating and digesting His Word. Why? Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh. To know Jesus – I must know the Word. To know my way – I must know the Word.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steadfast is our staying power. It is the decision to stay on course and maintain our heading even when the storms of life blow like a mighty wind all around us. To be still and know that He is God. He is Good. He is working on my behalf. When everything is falling apart, yet remaining right there because you know He will never let the righteous fall. Steadfastness produces a precious commodity called endurance. It is the moment when our eyes cannot see and our footsteps are simply by faith. Keeping a fixed direction when everything points to running in the other direction. To be firm in our purpose, resolution and faith. An attachment to Christ that is unwavering. Being yoked to the Lord, and refusing to go anywhere that He is not. Lord, make us steadfast today. Give us immovable faith untouched by the wind and rain of life. Let the condition of my heart and spirit reflect Your Faithfulness and Love rather than the conditions or situations that I may be facing right now. This too shall pass…

Lord, make me steadfast in spirit today. When I am about to complain, remind me to rejoice. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my life today. Let be my offering to others. I want to be loving, kind and gentle as You are to me. Do not let my anxiousness turn into anxiety. Lord, remind me that You will carry each care and concern that I am willing to give to you completely. I will be prayerful. I will be thankful. Lord, I will place all my expectation in you and not people. You are faithful and I will try with all my heart to be the same. Jesus, I want to be steadfast and immovable in all things pertaining to life and godliness. Create in me a clean heart today Jesus and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the offering of my life be pleasing and acceptable to You!  Amen and amen.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Dynamis

Dynamis

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

The tweet read “If you want to experience dynamic results, you’ve got to have a dynamic attitude.” It immediately brought the word “dynamis” to mind. Dynamis is the Greek root word of dynamic and also dynamite. According to Strong’s Definitions, it means force both literally and figuratively. Miraculous power including ability and abundance. Digging a bit deeper, in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it is inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature or which a person exerts or puts forth. This power is mentioned 77 times in the King James Version of the Bible, It is also referred to 11 times as mighty work, 7 times both as strength and miracles, 4 times as might, and 3 times as virtue. To summarize the “dynamis” that is referenced in the Word of God – it is strength, power and ability. Inherent power that resides in a person which can be exerted, power to perform miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, power and influence belonging to wealth, power and resource multiplicatively, and power given to armies for victory. Now all of this is referred to as the contents of those who belong to God’s Kingdom because He has given us His Power. Where is the power? Where is the prosperity? What has happened to the potential of God’s People to live in His Glory? Where is it? It is in you. It is in me.

Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The last words of Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. The final remarks of our Savior and Lord would not be void of one last promise. Jesus is full of promises and everyone is associated with power. Power that you and I are incapable of but that He full bestows in our life. He promised the people that the Holy Spirit would come and they would receive power. This word “power” is from the same dynamis explained above. You will be my witnesses. When Jesus came to earth as a man, He was God’s Word wrapped in flesh and bones. God sent His Spirit down descending “like a dove” so people could visually see what God was doing literally in their life through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. God wasn’t giving up on His People by giving them His Grace but rather empowering them to build His Kingdom despite their sin and depraved state. In Joel 2, the Lord tells the people what He will do to release His Power. Through repentance comes His Spirit, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Fast forward to the New Testament, to Acts 2 as Peter introduces His Arrival. When Jesus died on the cross, He released the Spirit that God had placed in him that day He was baptized. Immediately the Temple veil was torn from top to bottom so that no man could take credit or sew it up again. I believe the Holy Spirit did it when He left Jesus’s human body and then immediately after that it went to the grave and started pulling dead bodies out. Resurrection power released into the world and just waiting to be poured into the people which happened on the Day of Pentecost. One of the most noted transferences in the Bible has created the most controversy in the church.

Jesus said, “You will receive my power.” I do not believe that Jesus ever lied or changes His Mind about us. When He told the people, you will receive My Power – He intended to do just that. To say that the Power of God was just for the past, exempts those in the future of all God’s Promises even the one of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the identifier that gives us entrance into eternity. (2 Corinthians 1:22) The Holy Spirit is our guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5) The Holy Spirit is the One who reproduces spiritual life in us (John 3:6) and nourishes our soul while replenishing our reserve to give good fruit to others. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Holy Spirit leads us to truth making God’s Word come to life in our life. (John 14:17) Finally, in the same account in the Book of Luke, Jesus tells the people on His Departure that the Holy Spirit would come and fill them with “the power of heaven.” The Holy Spirits presence in the life of a true believer is non-negotiable. He is the Power that Christ gave us. HE is Christ in us. If this is true, and the Power of Heaven is in us, why is it not evident in our life today?

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

The United States Armed Forces uses an explosive called C-4. It looks a lot like molding clay given to young children for their first introduction to art. My son was attending a C-4 handling during his military training. He sent me a picture and expressed his absolute elation at the exercise. My heart fell to my stomach. My child was absolutely giddy over any form of explosive display. From the youngest memorable age, he loved fireworks and pyrotechnics. I wasn’t sure that even as an adult that he and his buddies were ready to handle one of the most dangerous explosive substances on the planet. We all survived, praise the Lord.

They say that “dynamite comes in small packages.” A single stick of dynamite is estimated to be slightly over an inch in diameter and 8 inches long. The potential for destruction is not evident in its composition. It must be detonated to fulfill its purpose and explode to make an impact. As a believer – this statement applies to me and you. We have potential and power in us that is not evident in the life we live. Dynamite is filled with a highly absorbent material such as clay with some nitroglycerin added. Clay. I am not making it up. Just like our body is made of clay, God has given us the Power of His Spirit to be absorbed and ignited in our life. All areas of our life. We talk a good talk – now it’s time to walk the walk. Dynamite has the power to change the atmosphere, tear down barriers and fill breaches – so do we. However, we have a greater content. We have the Power of Heaven in us.

Just like a seed, planted in the ground must die to self so must I in order to have this power. I must allow God’s Spirit to be absorbed in every fiber of my being and facet of my life to allow His Power to be my strength. Why limit the Lord to the four walls of church? His Spirit is to be incorporated in my daily life. I must identify with the Spirit of God within me. I must believe. Believe in His Power. Believe in His Wisdom. Believe in the Christ in me. Believe He is more than enough. Believe there is abundance to feed my soul. Believe that there is prosperity to seed my life to plant His Word in others. Jesus told the disciples who failed to cast out a demon that it was simply because they did not believe. They said they did. They acted like they did. But when it came time to release His Power, they could not. Religion is often built around what we cannot do. Relationship with Jesus Christ makes all things possible for those who believe.

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

The Holy Spirit in you and I is our greatest potential. We have been given every spiritual blessing necessary to do “even greater works” than Christ did because He is with the Father and has placed it in us. Faith is the measure of resource or the seed placed in us with great promise. The Holy Spirit cultivates the seed of faith and multiplies it in us. As our faith grows it becomes confident hope that allows us to live our life as Children of God rather than slaves to our circumstances. Christ must increase and I must decrease. This is not about following some rules and regulations set forth by a religion, Jesus tore them up and put His Spirit in us to lead us, guide us and teach us. The only way to test the doctrine under which we serve is to know the Word and the Holy Spirit to discern truth from lies. I am not bashing religion just religiosity. It is the Christ in us and our connection to Him that is our source of love, power and hope in this life and forever. To release God’s Potential in our life is not restrictive but radical. Once the wick burns down to the cap penetrating its seal, dynamite explodes into purpose. I believe that is what is happening in us. The Lord is working in us to release our full potential. It may be uncomfortable. Change is not always welcomed. However, if I want to see revival in my life, church, community and the world – the Christ in must find His Way out of me otherwise it will remain unrealized potential. I must believe that the God in me is worth pursuing even to the end of myself. I will be challenged. I will be pressed. Get knocked down and even fall down in the process. God’s Purpose will be worth it when His Glory floods my life and I am able to effectively radiate His Love for all to see. I have God’s Power in me. I have His Word. I have His Spirit. I have all the components for a dynamis life. It is up to me to detonate it. Faith makes it happen. To believe is to receive all the power promised to me. Lord, I believe.

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

 

 

Yes

Yes

Matthew 5:37 (NLT) Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Many Christmas’ ago, our youngest daughter put an IPod Touch at the top of her list. Midway through the holiday season, I received an IPad Mini from a blogging site and thought she would enjoy it even more because it was bigger and had more memory. She could certainly play her games on it and watch videos with ease. When the big day arrived, our littlest was on a mission. She was opening her gifts searching for the shiny new electronics. My heart skipped a beat when she finally selected the package to open. When she realized it was not an IPod Touch, her hands fell in her lap with it in her hands. She whispered, “Thank you” but my heart sank as I realized she was disappointed. We want to give our children the desires of their heart. In this instance, I thought this was a better gift but it did not meet her expectation. She later shared that she wanted the smaller version because it would fit in her pocket like a cellphone. She was too young for her own phone, but since all her siblings had one – it was the next best thing. Our little girl had an expectation and when what she found did not meet her expectation – it was only natural to experience disappointment. A human response that we all have from time to time.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Jesus was hungry. He came across a fig tree covered in leaves. On closer inspection, it did not have any fruit on it. Jesus cursed the tree right then and there, because it was not fulfilling its purpose which was to bear fruit. It put on a glorious show but when it came right down to – it was not fruitful. Who doesn’t want the Lord’s Approval on closer inspection as a Christian? When He moves past the grand show of righteous living, and the performance of service, and peers into our heart – what will the Lord see? Will there be any fruit on the vine which He planted there? “Yes, I will” or “No, I won’t.” These are the only two promises that a person is capable of keeping. The ones pertaining to self and nothing else. I have no control over heaven or the earth. These are the Lord’s domain. He has given me a simple yet great commandment to follow. It is not complicated or overly comprehensive. His Commandment is this:

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I am challenged today with my “Yes, Lord”. The commitment that I have made to Christ based on His Generous Gift of Amazing Grace. I take it in and apply lavishly on my life. I know that God is good because I have experienced His Goodness and Glory firsthand in my life and know that I am undeserving. For many years, I have been committed to the church and even religion if I am completely honest. I love to serve. Yet, in all the running, organizing, teaching and sharing, something was missing. I had the best of intentions but something was missing. Me. The “yes” I have to give the Lord completely is “me”. When He commanded us to love Him, of course it is with exuberant affirmation and acceptance Why not? He offers unconditional love to His People. He removes the weight of sin and fills us with inexpressible joy. However, if I do not effectively express His Love to others – I am not bearing His First Fruit.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. It is so simple. We have made it complex. When Jesus came upon the fig tree, the Lord was hungry. He had an expectation that the fruit on the tree would satisfy His Hunger. It would fulfill His Desire. But when all that He found were leaves covering the tree – it was cursed. When Jesus comes to live inside of a person – truly take over their existence – the first fruit is love. Not the kind of love found in this world but the Kind of Love that has been deposited inside of us.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love has a definition. The Lord went so far as to clearly demonstrate unconditional love for us. In return, Jesus asks us to love Him and love others. He has an expectation of His People based on the seed deposited in us. To accept Jesus as Savior is to believe in His Great Love for us. As one strives to make Him Lord, our great aspiration is to serve Him. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly are saying, “Yes” to live a life of love. He is our First Love. Loving others is our mission. This is how we make disciples. But this kind of love is not a simple “yes”. It is a messy one. It requires a new kind of fasting our life that breaks the tradition of religious fasting. (Isaiah 58:8-12) Our life given to loving others provides the miracles that many search after. We literally must give our life away. How many times has the Lord inspected our tree and like my daughter on that fateful morning felt the disappointment of unmet expectation? No act of service great or small is worth anything unless it comes wrapped in unselfish love.

Love that is patient. Love that is kind. Love that is not jealous. Love that is generous. The love chapter, I Corinthians 13, goes on to say that the edifying gifts of the church such as prophecy will be gone one day and only love will remain. If we do not get love right, our tree is barren and there is nothing to offer the Lord in our life.

Matthew 26:7-9 (NLT) While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

If the giving of time, talent and treasure is not wrapped in love and presented in worship then what good is it? If our “Yes” to the Lord is presented to this world wrapped in religion, tradition and condition – what’s the point? If I try to relay an experience that I have not encountered myself than I am a counterfeit. For example, how can I explain the Grace of God and His Forgiveness when I cannot bear the fruit of forgiveness in my life? How can I share the Jesus who did not come to condemn that world when I pass judgment on them on sight? To love others like Jesus will harvest a life of giving that displays the Gospel in living color. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He did not leave those in need unfilled even when He didn’t tell them who He was or what He was about to do. He met them where they were and loved them on the spot without hesitation, reservation or condemnation. This is true love. The disciples were worried that the worship in the form of expensive perfume could feed the hungry. Noble effort but they missed the point completely. The service performed by the church is community service unless it comes packaged in unconditional and fruitful love born of the great love give to us by Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

Jesus is looking for those who love Him to love others. Not with the kind of love that the world is known for. God’s Love has no requirement. It is by His Grace that we have acquired love. It is to be given freely and cheerfully. Love with condition is a counterfeit. People know the difference between real love and fake love. There are many broken hearts out there that will never don the doors of a church because of the judgment and condemnation that is felt when they enter. To preach a Gospel of words without true and genuine love is to counterfeit the Cross. To give from anything less than a humbled heart changed by God’s Love is a lie. To try to present a message of love with words that hold empty promises is to literally shun those who need Jesus most just like me. The seed of our life is love. Not conditional love, but radical love that meets the need of others not based on prideful religion but the pursuit of each heart as Jesus would. He pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6)

From a very early age, I participated in church visitation. As a teenager loaded in buses and dropped off in neighborhoods to present God’s Message to the lost. Invite them to church. Pray for them. As a young adult, every Tuesday night armed with an atlas and the Bible – we would go visit those who dared to fill out connection cards at church. I remember every awkward encounter. It was after I became the woman at the well, that I finally had something to share. After wandering, I met a man who knew everything about me and still thought I was to die for. His Overwhelming Love rushed in and covered me just as I was not waiting for me to do anything or be anyone other than who I was. It would take years for this truth to finally manifest in my heart and see that God wants us to accept His Grace and grow His Love to give to others. This is what “Yes, Lord” means it is to love extravagantly and overwhelmingly giving our life to others daily even in the seemingly smallest of gestures such as a smile. The Love of God is attractive. It is perfect. I don’t need to add to it a single condition but spread it thick in the world in which I live. Nothing will ever change the heart of a person more than experiencing the Love of Christ. It is love for Christ that empowers us to make better choices and give more to Him. I can never out give the Lover of my soul. So I say, “Yes” today. Today I will love others (or try to) just like Jesus loves me – radically and unconditionally – it will be my act of service. I will call it a fast. Either way… it is the fruit of our life that He desires. I do not want to disappoint Him. Yes really is that simple. Will you do it today?

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Misfit

Misfit

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Forging through life in pursuit of hope led by faith, there are days when I can sit in a room for of believers and still feel like I just don’t fit in. Like a misfit, who is not suited for the environment in which I suddenly find myself yet not given to adaptation. Have you ever felt that way? I have. I do. I don’t like it. In all humility, I will be the first to admit that “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection” because the more I know Christ the less confidence I have in myself. The transition of faith fortifies confidence in hope not a sense of pride to self. I am definitely pressing to possess that thing called “perfection” or purpose that Christ Jesus first possessed me. I am finding that the more I know the Lord, trust Him, seek Him and follow Him – the more out of alignment with people that I find myself. Maybe that is what the pursuit of Jesus is all about. Letting go of fitting in with the world to fully embrace the joy of His Presence.

It is in those moments when I feel like a misfit that I must dig deep inside my heart and pull out the word or seed that God has planted there. Why am I here? How did I get here? God, what is my purpose in this place among these people? Like an ill-fitting garment, slouching over the chair, I know God has placed me exactly where I am. I am confident that the Lord is the One who led me to this place and put me right where I am. Faith is like that leading us out of comfort zone and the complacency found in it to catapult us into divine purpose that changes everything. When I feel like an outcast, out of place and out of alignment, I must ask myself – “what am I doing here?” What led me to this place? For if it is the Lord, I must only maintain alignment with Him to see all the pieces strewn across the table fall dramatically and miraculously in place. Life is like a puzzle with a beautiful picture depicted on the box. It draws us to the challenge. Once the pieces are dumped out unceremoniously on the table, the need for control and order in us begins to sort through each one. Inspecting them carefully, they must be organized all flipped to the right side and corners and edges (boundaries if you will) carefully set. Once in place, it becomes clear that the more pieces in the box and detailed the design that this could take more time than expected or allotted. Now what? Will I wait it out? Will I continue to concentrate on the finished product? Or do I swipe it all back into the box putting it on a shelf for another day perhaps when more patience is developed or someone will come help me finish it? Sometimes Christ must mess everything up to put it all back together.

Growth in anything requires total destruction of the present form to become that which is hidden inside called potential that will one day become purpose. But I am not in the Hand of the Farmer anymore, I am buried in the dirt, the shell of my exterior lies within the foundation called faith waiting for His Glory to draw me to the surface so I can see the Plan coming together and its fruit born in my life. But right now it is dark, I feel my form changing. It is an isolation that is not separation. The enemy longs for us to look in the rear view mirror. To look back and question, if we took a wrong turn or missed the turnpike. It is human nature in the process of life and journeys that take too long or head in a new direction to wonder if we have missed the destination. It is the definition of doubt. The Lord uses these times to stress the importance of true dependency on His Word, His Will and His Way. Where the Lord called you – He will complete you. You are not a misfit or mistake but rather on a mission called fulfillment to be complete in Jesus Christ.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The greatest love story ever written begins with these words. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. It takes an experience to forge God’s Word in our heart. For me it was our son’s illness, when nothing in life could save him but Jesus. When I had absolutely no hope to hold on to in the natural, God’s Word to me the very first night was the end of the rope. I tied a knot in it and held on for dear life. It changed everything. I have seen the Lord perform miracles. I have witnessed signs and wonders that human logic cannot explain. Nothing will ever have the impact that God’s Word holding true will ever have such a profound impact on my faith. The Word is essential. It is the breath of life to every living soul. It is the thing that binds us together and creates commonality in God’s People. It reveals our heritage and birthright. It is sharper than a two-edged sword dividing bone and marrow. It is alive and powerful. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the sword of God’s Spirit that slays every lie that the enemy ever slung at us. (Ephesians 6:17) It is the rod and staff that comforts us with divine direction and discipline. (Psalm 23:4) God’s Word refreshes us like a deep cleansing breath. It reveals the character of God and every promise that He has made us that will become His Purpose and fulfill His Plan. Faith is illogical and impossible without the Word of God to define it. It is but one component of His Alignment that keeps me in place when nothing seems to fit together for my good and His Glory yet it keeps me clinging to hope.

John 14:23-27(NLT) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

Once the Word of God takes hold of our heart, His Spirit comes to “teach you everything and remind you of everything” that the Lord has told you. We need to communicate and commune with God’s Spirit in us. Faith is going to lead us outside the borders marked trust and boundaries called fear to a place far deeper and farther than ever thought possible. As our life is unraveled to form the masterpiece the Lord has ordained it to be, the coming undone reaches our heart and soul releasing every insecurity and doubt there so faith can finally take over. The process is uncomfortable. It is not fun. It is necessary for fulfillment. To do the Will of God – we must align our life with the Spirit. It means when God tells us to go – we go. If we get there and things are not what we expected – the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s Word and tells us to stay put. He is our Partner in the watchtower while we wait on the vision. It has an appointment in our life. If we leave the waiting too soon, we will miss hearing our name being called when the time is right.

Jesus said it plainly and made it overly simple, He said, “All who love me will do what I say.” How can I do what Jesus tells me if I do not know His Voice? He shepherds those who know His Voice and follow Him. The Word of God tells me what to do and the Holy Spirit nudges me in the right direction. He is my Advocate who is my support. (John 15:26) He is my Comforter when life is hard and uncomfortable. He is my Peace. I have the mind of Christ because His Spirit lives in my giving me hidden knowledge and secret understanding that the world and my enemy do not know. (I Corinthians 2:16) He is the Intercessor who prays for me in weakness when words escape me but is enunciated in the groaning and wailing of my soul. (Romans 8:26) I must learn to align my life with God’s Word and His Will to have His Way.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The only way that I can live in agreement with God is through Jesus Christ. He is the Way. He is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” There is a whole lot of mileage between those two words making life a marathon rather than a sprint. We prefer the sprints in life that hint at immediate gratification. Faith is a process defined by endurance. It is a lengthy endeavor requiring a sacrificial commitment of all of me for All of Him. Piece by piece our life is offered to the Lord as He shapes and molds us into who He created us to be. Have you ever watched a potter form a clay pot? It can be a brutal process. First he must begin to squeeze it and press it down hard with both hands to soften it and make it pliable. He may use some water to moisten it. Once on the wheel, it begins to spin all the while his hands creating his vision and bringing purpose to life. But if in the process, something goes awry, he will remove it from the wheel and start all over again. If he places the piece inside the kiln and sets the fire on high, any imperfection may cause the pot to break under the intense heat. God has a plan and purpose for our life defined by His Word. It is written to perfection with a future and hope that He is intent on giving His Children. His Spirit, the very essence of His Presence, accompanies us on the long journey to find the Way. We must follow the Way. He is the Author and Finisher of faith. The Champion who gives us victory. He has gone before us and falls in behind us covering and protecting us along His Path. He will never let the righteous fall. Leveling mountains and straightening our path, we cannot get there without Him.

Philippians 3:15-16 (NLT) Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Back to the crowded room of Christians, believers, and righteous people, where I sit as a misfit. Knowing this is where I belong but feeling completely out of place, it is the Word of God, His Will and His Way that keeps me firmly in planted by faith. Alignment with the Lord including His Word, His Will and His Way keeps us from being distracted by how we feel because God is greater than our feelings. He put me in this place “for such a time as this.” I can choose to walk away and find a place that I am more comfortable or I can remain committed to God’s Word, Will and Way. I am free. Christ has set me free and given me the choice of the life I live. Now it is up to me. This is what the Lord has said to me and He may be whispering to you today – “we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Regret romances the past while hope embraces the future. My hope is in the Lord not this world it’s people or anything else. Hope in Jesus never ever leads to disappointment. These are not just words to me anymore but the experience I live on and lifeline I hold on to. To continue in the race of faith and make the mark of His High Calling means I cannot give up but must wait it out. Waiting is not my favorite and I daresay probably not yours either. It is necessary while the Lord takes all the pieces of our life making good on His Promise that they will be used for our good and His Glory. This life I live for Christ is walked according to faith not by the things that I see or how I feel. Faith is the substance of the things we hope for not naturally evident or occuring. If we do not bear the qualities of faith such as perseverance and endurance – it is not possible to reap the benefits of it called confident hope. Hope is the priceless commodity that only faith can grow in us. It requires aligning our life with Christ and waiting for everything else to fall into place.

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Passion Fruit

First Fruit

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

When taking on large projects or tasks, I usually comprise a “to do” list to keep me focused. I write down everything that needs to be done and then decide on a game plan. I will be the first to admit as a young adult – I was a procrastinator. Chronically late, I lacked conscious respect for other’s time. I would stay up late and wake up later. I live a completely disheveled and disorganized life. I will even admit that there would be days or even a week that I did not make my bed. This chaotic existence was not the fault of my parents who built a structured home and attempted to teach us discipline. When set free into adulthood, I was able to choose how to live my life. What changed? Children. When my first child was born, I discovered this little thing called responsibility in a whole new way. This little perfect person was depending on me for everything. I was to mold him, shape him, and care for him as he was now my responsibility. Suddenly – I wanted to be a better person and the perfect mom. Love produced a change in me.

Purpose is a wonderful thing because it sparks passion in us that burns away things that used to hinder us. It ignites a change inside of us that requires careful attention to build momentum and see the results. As my family grew so did I, old habits gave way to new and improved drive to be organized and skillful in the things “good moms” do. But despite my best intentions, looking back, I realize that even though I tried really hard to be the best mom ever and never make mistakes with my children. I blew it on several occasions. There were days that I took the responsibility of parenting too seriously and needed a little more grace and love. My desire to be perfect overshadowed my purpose which was to love my children with all that I had and give them the life I thought they deserved.

For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Freedom to live a life of full satisfaction apart from perfection but marked by passionate purpose. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image. I am struck by these words today. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my beloved as I am His. As in any partnership, I must learn to find ways to remain faithful to Him even when my flesh doesn’t necessarily agree. The first fruit of God’s Spirit – who is now recognized as Jesus is love. Love produces passion. Passion fuels purpose. How do I take the natural love I have and use my freedom in Christ to expand it and fan it into burning desire? I must live by the Spirit.

I am tiptoeing here. So please bear with me…I am challenged today! I want to live in the Glory of God. I don’t think the church or people who call ourselves Christians really know what that is or how to achieve it on a regular basis. We are to live in the Presence of God. Well, if Christ lives in me doesn’t that mean God is present all of the time? Yes! Am I present all of the time? No! Let me explain – there are times when my husband and I are sitting in the same room and one of us will begin to speak to the other. While lost in thought or completely engrossed in what we are watching or reading, the other may not hear what he or she is saying. Suddenly shaken from our stupor – we will respond to the other with apologies because our attention was elsewhere. God’s Spirit lives in us. His Name is Jesus. He has granted us freedom. Freedom is the opportunity to choose our life and how we live it. To become aware of the Glory of God in us and His Goodness all around us would be the most advantageous use of the gift of freedom – but sometimes we have our heart and mind set on other things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Jesus lives in me. His Spirit has set me free. This freedom is made strong as it is nourished by the Fruit it provides us. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot love anyone else until I fully conceive the Love of God for me and living in me. See God’s Love IS His Glory. When I love like Jesus loves and inspired by the selfless and unconditional Love of God – I reflect His Glory. God gave us freedom to choose a relationship with Him as His Child. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us that allows us to have a rich and satisfying life beginning with love and ending with self-control. Religion gets this all out of order. We attempt self-control outside of love which leads us nowhere. The passion of our love for Jesus Christ will inevitably produce self-control as the final fruit not the first fruit.

Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Those who belong to Jesus must nail their passions and desires associated with their sinful nature to the Cross. Do not think about the seven deadliest sins and most horrible offenses you can think of, but consider this – if our passion promotes anything other than sincere and persistent love for people – we missed the first step of full satisfaction in the Glory of God. Love produces joy. Joy gives us peace. Peace affords us patience and so on. “Since” we are living by the Spirit as God’s Spirit is manifested as Christin us…we must follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Love is the first step of freedom yet the hardest to overcome. Love puts others before our own wants, needs and desires. It is not a me-first position and therefore considered the greatest vulnerability. But if Christ truly lives in me – I am free to do so because greater is He who lives in me. The greatness of God’s Grace is His Love. His Glory is His Presence that is possible by His Love. Everything begins with and ends with love.

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

Have we misplaced our passion? Have we focused heavily on producing fruit from our self and not of the Spirit? I can pretend to have all of God’s Fruit in my life but my life is not surrounded by His Glory and defined by His Love it is just another pointless pursuit. Jesus came to set the world on fire. His Love could not be denied for His Sacrifice complete. He empowered us with His Grace which is totally sufficient to overcome every obstacle and live in His Glory now and forever more. However, this would require giving up our way first.

When I think about the Glory of God, I hear the churches outcry for revival. Revival is new life that will take the place of our old ways. Like the relationship now possible with God through Jesus Christ removed the “veil” that once separated us from God’s Presence. It did not open the curtain so we could step behind it. It tore it right down the middle. When Christians live according to the rules and regulations of the Law, it is not freedom but a foray back into judgment. In Christ there is no condemnation. Christ is alive in me so I am no longer condemned so think about this…

If you come upon a burning building, it would probably be your immediate instinct to call 911. You may decide to be a good Samaritan and get out of the car to offer assistance. If you hear cries from within the inferno, you may try to find a way to get inside and save those who are trapped. Only a few people might risk their life to go inside despite the danger to pull people from inside. However, if the house is your home everything changes. Your love will overcome all fear and insecurity to get your loved ones to safety pulling them out of harm’s way. What if Jesus meant to set the world on fire so we would develop a passion from His Love? What if it is a test of our first fruit to see how willing I am to use my freedom to love people enough to reach them right where they are rather than standing outside calling them out?

Jude 20-25 (NLT) But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

The potential of my life is the Glory of God because Christ lives in me. I have a new love that has given me a whole new purpose. I am a new creation. The law is no longer relevant to me as it has been made complete in Jesus Christ. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. As long as I choose to live free from the Law, I am able to pursue with passion the First Fruit of the Spirit which is love and believe that as every other fruit is born of its seed that I will someday learn self-control. If sin separates me from Jesus, my love for Him will keep me from sin. Apart from God’s Love there is no glory. His Glory is His Love. His Love must be perfected in my life. It does not require me to be a perfect person just perfected by His Love. Passion must be examined and evaluated in our life to determine its origin. It is easy to become religious in our pursuit because habits come and go every day. Love does not. Love is the most difficult to obtain and arduous to keep because it is the constant consummation of self. We must invest all that we are into the Christ living in us so He takes over. Jesus would not think twice about going into whatever hell we wander into and pulling us to freedom if we cry out to Him. My response to others must be the same. Lord, I ask you to examine my heart, my mind, every motive, attitude and action for love. Love is the first fruit produced by Your Spirit, and I want to know I am living a life guided by Your Spirit. Help me to love like You do. Teach me to love like You. Complete me in love as You do. I ask you to grow the first fruit of love in me so I can share it with everyone else and be a true reflection of Your Glory! Fan the flame of love in me until it burns like an all-consuming fire with passion for You, Lord! For without passion – love quickly grows cold!

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I 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.

Fizzy Soda

Fizzy Soda

Psalm 34:8-10 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Have you ever been then grocery getter for your house? You have those thin and useless plastic bags rolling around in the back of the car. When you get home an army of helpers hoping to plunder the new supplies arrive to help carry the hoard in. Some of those big two-liter bottles of soda were on sale so you got them BOGO or to the novice shopper – buy one, get one free. Immediately, my people turn up their nose at them. In my efforts to be a wise consumer, I find that they do not want the surplus of soda and list their complaints. Opening the bottles at the release of pressure, the dark syrupy liquid becomes a foaming bomb shooting soda everywhere creating a huge mess that even the dog is incapable of licking it all up. They don’t like the way that after a day or so they go flat – no matter how tight the lid is kept or how quickly they try to consume it. When the fizz is gone – so is their appetite for the once coveted drink. In all fairness, I bought them for portion control. Tired of pouring their unwanted, forgotten soft drinks down the sink that sounds like change falling in the drain. Yet now, I have a garage full of unwanted bottles but wait what just happened? Suddenly, they are grabbing water bottles instead. How did that happen?

For more than a week, I have had this image of fizzy soda in my head along with the idea that it is just like the zeal a Christian might have at first for the things of God. We come to the Lord full of expectation and excited about the potential of His Spirit’s Inhabitation in life. But once the “fizz” is gone, our life goes flat so we return to our old life and old way of thinking abandoning the potential of faith in God that remains there. Where are we once the excitement is gone? What happens when things take longer than expected? Why is discipline necessary? God is greater than all things. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He supplies all we need but when I ask I must wait. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. We must desire to move from things that are not good for us to those things that benefit our life. It will be a struggle in a world that offers immediate gratification and feeds our emotions. God wants us to be godly people who have joy in Him and those who trust Him will lack no good thing.

For the last month or so, I have been attempting to give up a beloved diet drink. Is it bad for me? Depends on who you ask. Water is better for me. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. When I was young, my birth mom was a “Coke” addict in the soft drink form. She gave it to us freely. As I began to share time between both parents’ homes, my new mom provided sweet tea – the soft drink of the South. Loved it and consumed it freely. However, I became more aware as I grew older that water is a much better choice. However, I don’t necessarily want water. I don’t care for the taste. I don’t really want it or desire it. It is good for me in many ways. It is the best for my body health wise. It is excellent for my skin. It keeps me well-hydrated. But I prefer other things and none of that I desire is illegal or prohibited. I make the choice to drink a gallon of water or at least try to every day. What I have found is the more water I consume the less capacity that I have for those things that are not as good for me. Water is more beneficial. How does this all tie together? I am glad that you asked.

So many times, we try to make a Godly life resemble our good life worldly expectations applying our appetite to the things that the Holy Spirit would like to do in us and through us. Did you know that the primary content in all soft drinks is water? We add the sugar or sugar substitute. We put the carbonation in it that makes it fizzy. Have you ever noticed that conscientious parents do not give their newborns soft drinks or tea? They give them milk. If not straight from mom, they sterilize the bottles. Everything they do is to make sure that their baby grows, develops and matures. God sees us as His Children. He feels the same way.

I Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Pure spiritual milk. What is it? I believe that it is the Word of God. We must know the Word to enter fully into a productive relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. Salvation is not an arranged marriage but a personal choice to engage in an active and committed relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. We make that choice. All things are permissible yet not all things are beneficial. Just as in our relationships naturally, there must be development and growth to mature our relationship so it is no longer superficial. If we are not growing in the Lord, we are growing apart from Him. I find it interesting that in this passage, it says, “Get rid of all evil behavior.” Then it begins to talk about things that destroy relationships first. To cry out for nourishment once we have tasted the Lord’s Kindness is to grow in our knowledge and capacity to love the Lord and other people. We focus on our list of seven deadly sins and regard religious rules and regulations but miss the part about love. God is love. To be godly we must be good lovers.

John 7:38 (NLT) “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

A newborn primarily exists on milk although the newest parenting trend does add water at an early age. When my babies were little, I only gave them milk, some juice and lots of water. Growing in our walk with Christ, spiritual milk gives way to living water. Jesus promised that living water would flow from His Heart to us. He has given us His Spirit. The Word of God works with the Spirit of God to allow us those benefits offered to those who choose the better way over the permissible options in life. We must discipline our body and mind to live a healthy spiritual life. Have you ever tried to take candy from a baby?

The little children at our church flock to “Memaw” a beloved matriarch. She always has a sugary candy treat for them so after service like little ducklings they flock to her. They want the contents of her big bag. They know she has treats for them. However, mom and dad have the opportunity to train their children in healthy habits. Thank God I am headed into “memaw” days! I found with my own children that in order to take something from them, I offered them a better choice. If they did not want the new thing, they would often pitch a fit. As a mom, I hated that they were so upset but my heart was set on giving them the very best start in life. Candy and sugar was limited. I made sure they were given the right food – all the things that were nutritious. Too many times, it is human nature to cave in to emotions rather than stand strong for goodness and so it is with the church.

Romans 10:1-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel to be saved. I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.

To pursue God emotionally but not spiritually is misdirected zeal. To claim to know Him but not take in the spiritual milk and living water is spiritual suicide. You are starving your spirit to feed your flesh. False teachers pave new roads every day and we fall for it because our flesh is strong and our spirit weak. Many years ago, in order to lose some weight, I switched from full-powered soft drinks to diet soda. Ironically or not so much, it was after a Daniel Fast, where for a solid month I only drank water. After becoming addicted to them, I read an article that warned of the high sodium content in diet drinks that they wreaked havoc on weight loss efforts. How is this possible? Well, the sodium that settled in our body soaked up the water and got fat, too to put it in layman’s terms. Bottom line – water retention. Ugh! Darned if you do and darned if you don’t. Is it possible that rather than relying on water – we are substituting things in our life that are not God’s Best and of no benefit. Absolutely.

Zeal is not bad. In fact, the Bible encourages and endorses spiritual fervor for the Living God. Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. See the “but” – it is our warning. It is easy to direct our zeal toward the Lord, and then get detoured, delayed, or distracted. In fact, it is the greatest scheme of the enemy. He challenges our knowledge of God every day in the temptations of life. Religion is the diet soda of the church. Rather than truly loving people somehow church folks get an appetite for judgment and hypocrisy based on false knowledge of God who expects love to be our first and foremost motivation. If I can do it, God is not required. It’s everything I cannot do that is where grace causes His Power to manifest. I am not supposed to be strong but weak and reliant on Jesus Christ for all things every day. The psalmist admits in Psalm 119 that “zeal wears me out” and goes on to admit that his enemies ignore his words. Words must hold power. The power of my words is based on my knowledge of the Truth and its ability to set me free. I am free to choose the life I live.

God is not emotional. Our feelings do not move the heart of God or His Hand, His Focus is set on our future. He is working in us now for forever. Endurance means making it to the end. It is a struggle because usually somewhere around the middle we begin to wonder what were we thinking. Towards the end, everything in us screams quit. Those who endure to the end are honored because not many will. When the zeal is gone and the fizz goes flat in their spiritual life, many become discouraged, discontent and disinterested in Living Water which runs steadily and consistently in us. Water seems boring. It doesn’t seem like anything of worth. Yet 71% of the earth is covered in it, and mankind is made up of about 60% water. It would seem that water is important. Living water is essential to spiritual survival and one’s ability to thrive in Jesus Christ. Maybe there are substitutions in our life that must be filtered out so that we can engage in spiritual growth and development again rather attempting to survive in deprivation.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

People spend a great deal of time on what they consume. Whether deciding what to eat or where to eat. Challenged to consume more or eat less or even just make better food choices. Intake is a primary concern in many households. There are even some that wonder if they will get to eat. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. The first day of the water challenge was horrible for me. I didn’t want to drink one glass of water let alone almost eight. Some days I do great and other days I choke it down. I know that if I stick to it that over time I will develop a taste for it. Why the struggle? Water is good for me. It is good for my body and skin. I hate when my flesh dictates things so the more it fights me – the more I fight back. I want a healthy body.

God is not building a building – He is creating a body. The Body of Christ. The Bride for His Son. It is important that I do my part to be the best member of the Kingdom I can be not for others or even me but to be who I promised to be when I partnered with Jesus. I would become less and He would be more. I would decrease so He could increase. I John 3:20-21 is clear that God is not an emotionally-driven God. Thank you, Lord! His People are emotional enough. When our spiritual life goes flat, maybe God is facilitating an appetite change in us that will produce growth and maturity. He is giving us something better if we will endure the process of refinement. Our flesh wants none of it and will fight it all the way. Until our relationship is not emotional but faithful – the blessings and benefits promised in His Word may seem elusive. Nothing could be further from the truth – they are exclusive. Exclusively for God’s Children, those who decide to use their freedom to become part of the Body of Christ rather than building another church.

To become rooted and grounded in the Love of God through Jesus Christ, we must stop wavering back and forth. Discipline gives way to faithfulness when we decide to engage in the process called endurance. We must move from the emotionalism of infancy into the steadfastness of adulthood – the Body of Christ must mature to become effective. The Holy Spirit and Goodness of God’s Word produce the spiritual growth potential in the lives of those who are committed to its consumption daily. (Hebrews 6:1-6) We must learn to hold on to the progress made in our spiritual life and build upon it. (Philippians 3:14-16) If our goal is to press on and obtain the high calling, we need something to stand on. The firm foundation of faith built in trust is the only way to reach the heavenlies and bring it to earth. God promised that our earthly life and heavenly existence can be connected in heaven and on the earth. We put in the effort.

Discipline is not a warm fuzzy feeling but a tough painful process. Immediate gratification is not part of it but endurance is. There may be some things in our life that although they are permissible are not beneficial to our walk with the Lord. When runners pass a checkpoint, they are not handed coffee or a can of soda. The helpers hand them water or a supplement filled with electrolytes to replace those used while they run. What do we give others when tired, thirsty or weary? When weighted with sin, do we give them yet another set of rules to fail at or the grace that has been so sufficient for me? The first discipline that is to be readily accepted in the modern church is love. Not love for the rules and regulations set forth by religion, but to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ and relaying it to the world including every single person in it. Our language is love and we must not only speak it but live it. You cannot give what you do not have. God’s Word and His Spirit give us new life to give to others. We must taste and see that the Lord is good. Has your spiritual fervor gone flat? Are you growing disinterested in God’s Way? It is time to make a change. Call a fast. Ask the Lord to stir you up. It is up to you to develop a taste for spiritual things rather than feeding full of substitutions. God has given us everything we need to live a godly life – now we just have to tap into it. It’s a choice. Better life or best life. Permissible or beneficial. Good or God! I know what I am after…how about you?

2 Peter 1:3-8 (NLT) His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Know Your Season

know-your-season

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) To everything there is a season, an ordained time of productivity with absolute production of that which has been planted that prospers into a harvest. If there is seed planted, it will grow according to its providential design. Whether wheat or weeds are planted something will surely grow unless uprooted and destroyed or ignored and left to die. People live in seasons and there is a time for every activity under heaven. Do you know what season it is? This winter has been unseasonably warm here in the South, yet our daughter has been buried in blizzards and below zero temperatures up North. Though we are of the same family, our seasons are obviously different. What if people could see the seasons of each other just like that? While I send her pictures of the warm sun shining through the open sunroof in January, in return I get a picture of what she thinks might be her car buried in the snow. Since, I am not accustomed to such conditions it may look kind of fun to stomp around in the powdery white stuff and make a snow angel. But if I lived in it, I would definitely not feel the same way. I cannot compare the season of my life with anyone else’s because they do not live where I do according to the plan handwritten for my life by My God. You have one, too. Just for you with seasons and times completely individualized according to Your Purpose. It is important to know your season. How else will you know what to cultivate in your life during such times?

The commonality for believers is Jesus Christ. From there, our plans and purposes change as dramatically as the parts of our body each with its own works and operations that together form a united physique. The Body of Christ is highly specialized and incorporates all members to work together with one heart, one mind and one purpose. However, if I do not find my place and release my purpose then I cannot prosper and contribute to my part of the Kingdom of God. My prosperity is not dependent on anyone else or any natural element that exists in the world. God made me to prosper and bear fruit in ALL seasons even the harsh ones with extreme conditions. My leaves will never wither and I can prosper in all that I do. How? How is this possible when life falls apart? Drought dries up resources? A bad diagnosis drains my hope. When life doesn’t turn out as expected? How can I know my season when it does not meet my expectation? This is not the case if I learn to delight in the Lord, meditate on His Word, and continuously sow it in my life.

Leviticus 26:1:3-5 (NLT) “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. 

What if God is providing the seasonal rain, but the thought to be fertile ground of our heart is not ready? What if He is absolutely doing what He promised but the hardness and crowded area meant for His Spirit will not absorb it? Our seasons should overlap as Children of God. Each new season should produce new blessing that carries over from yesterday through today and into tomorrow. We live in the security of God, but am I at peace? The Lord promises peace to those who follow His Decrees and obey His Commands. To walk His Way, sowing His Word in our life produces certain advantages that are not tangible but still exist. He offers to rid the land of enemies. In fact, He promises us the power to overcome the enemy. It is the Sword of His Spirit that drives Him away. He promises to make us productive in life. However, if I choose another way. Any other way, even if it is delayed obedience, partial obedience, or even total obedience in the absence of love – well I will not prosper as God intended which is to experience success in all that I do.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NLT) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.

The Blessings of God are not contingent on obedience but conceived in obedience. God prospers our life as our soul prospers. As His Seed, His Word, grows in our heart, the blessings reserved for us grow out of us. The rain falls on the just and unjust. Every living and breathing person can sow and reap in life. Those who sow good seed get a good harvest. Those who sow bad seed will reap what they sow. Those who sow no seed will go hungry and live in famine. It is not because God is good or even bad? Our seed is not contingent on God’s Faithfulness but cultivated in obedience. God is just. He is a Good God who gives to each of His Children exactly the same. Those who sow in the Spirit will reap in the Spirit supernaturally. Those who sow in the flesh will reap of the flesh. Those who sow in the world will reap the things in life. It is a process that is not governed by prejudice. There is no need to look at, inspect, evaluate, or compare our life and its productivity to another because all are given the same advantage. Obedience to God and His Word produces blessings in season and out of season. The seed is the same. His Word is true for everyone. Those who believe enough to trust the Lord, have faith in Him and continue to sow in the Spirit will reap heavenly rewards by bringing heaven to earth.

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (NLT) “If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul,  then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil.

No season is wasted. Nothing is wasted when it comes to the Lord. Even seeds planted in our life that didn’t necessarily grow in our next season may simply dormant in the ground for the time when famine comes. Or maybe that seed that died in the ground fertilized the true harvest that God intended for your life. We must stop evaluating God by the seasons and honoring Him in every season of life. The more that I trust the Lord the longer I will wait for Him. The more I believe God’s Word the less likely I am to dig it up and start again. God has labeled every season of my life as “proper” – it is absolutely the right time to cultivate my purpose, my anointing, my calling and allow His Oil to flow through my life but if all I seek are the tangible blessings of God then I will miss the real harvest in my life called new things, new creation and new life. To seek God for a better life is to miss the blessing reserved for us. Jesus died to give us a satisfying life. If it could be had or accomplished in this life, there would be no need for God. But everything else is garbage compared to knowing Jesus Christ and finding ourselves within Him.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) Our union with Jesus Christ when He becomes our Savior and Lord releases every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Do you believe that today? Jesus Christ called Savior affords me the Grace that is all sufficient in washing away my sins and making me a Child of God. To call Him Lord is demonstrated in my obedience to Him. When He is my Lord, I will do what His Word says to do, speak it and live it every day to the best of my ability because I love Him. When I seek the Lord only to make this life better, easier, and wealthier for human comfort – I will miss the greatest blessing of all. A farmer who plants only a few seeds gets a small crop. If my expectation is limited to my tiny temporary existence on this planet, I have forfeited the spiritual blessings and prosperity available as by faith and trust I make myself available for the Lord to pour every spiritual blessing in me so it can flow through me to those around me.

The generosity of Spirit that creates an overflow of blessing in my life is from the Fruit of His Spirit not the ways of the world. To sow in the Spirit will reap the signs, wonders and miracles that set people free, leading them from darkness to light, and from death to life. What are you sowing in your life today? Is your time taken up with work, worry and stress? Spend some of it the Word today. Where is your talents? Sown for the Kingdom that thing God created you to do, whatever it may be, releases potential to become purpose which always leads to prosperity. What about your treasure? That thing in your storehouse reserved for a rainy day, or that new thing, or even your future, did you give God your first fruit or is it dying in a storehouse rather than given to good ground? We choose how to invest our life. Those who sow in the Kingdom will reap every spiritual blessing that Jesus died for us to have. To plant in this world will always produce less than God’s Best until we invest our life in the Gospel and generously sowing it into the world.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I don’t know what season you are in today. Most days, I am not absolutely sure of my own. What I do know is that God’s Spirit cannot be mocked. He knows what I am planting and the intent of my heart. He knows what my expectation is in that seed that I am sowing. He knows what I hope it will produce. Our heart is fickle. Our pursuit of God sometimes wanders from His Heart to His Hand. It is only natural. We must concentrate daily on sowing for the coming season. We must not allow our giving to be influenced by what we have today but make it the seed for the future. Our words are seeds. They will be worthless until infused with the Life Giving Potential of Jesus Christ and His Word. Choosing to live to please the Spirit is to focus on investing in everlasting life that meets us the moment that we draw our last breath. The seed of my life sown for today is wasted. It is when I choose to sow God’s Word and live His Way no matter what my earthly conditions that I will prosper in each day regardless of the season favorable or not. Are you tired? Weary of well doing? Do you know your season? Every season has potential to produce God’s Purpose when faithful obedience is our choice. It will release spiritual blessings beyond what we can think or imagine. Sometimes we just need to get our eyes off the ground and what is growing, instead looking to the sky from where our help comes!

James 5:7-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.