Be My Vision

Be My Vision

Habakkuk 2:2-4 (ESV) And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

I ventured out with my daughters and grands for lunch and a shopping trip to their favorite – you know the place with the big red bullseye. My oldest daughter needed an eye exam so while I entertained our newest addition she popped in to make an appointment. Of course, who can resist looking at eyeglass frames when presented with so many options? I have been considering new eyeglasses. I have contacts and love the convenience of them. However, my eyes require bifocals. In order to wear contacts, I must give up some of my distance vision in order to see up close. Because I proofread and edit for a living, seeing the computer monitor clearly is a priority. Eyeglasses would allow me to have the best of both worlds – but it requires wearing them. I must choose between 20/20 vision and vanity. The struggle is real.

There is a message here. A valid point that requires our attention. Do you struggle with discontentment? Disappointment? Discouragement? Do you lack vision in your life? Do you see the temporary but not the eternal? Are you stuck in your past or struggling with today but oblivious of the future? See it is human nature to get distracted. The enemy uses it to keep us from moving past the lie that is set before us. He uses the impossible to thwart our thinking and cause us to forget that our future is set. What is your vision today? How do you perceive your life and existence? Can you see the Father or the Son or His Spirit at work around you or in you? The Light of His Love will illuminate the way but Jesus must be our vision.

My littlest grandson is a newborn who cannot clearly see the fully formed images around him but he loves to look at lights. As we walked through the store, his little head bobbled to see the illumination above him. We are attracted to light. However, if you look at the sun it is blinding and impossible to make out the fully formed image of its flaming shape. Little man is growing and developing each day. As he matures, names will be given to those images and he will form thoughts and ideas about life all around him. My prayer is that my little grandson will only have eyes for the Lord and all that He has for him. These are the words I speak and pray over him as I have his mother and her siblings their whole lives.

The Vision

A complaint has been registered and the Lord is responding. I know this seems obvious yet still a question worth asking. Have you let the Lord know your complaints? Dissatisfactions? The things that you share readily with family, friends, coworkers and anyone else who will listen. Have you gone to the Throne of God, your father, boldly and with confidence that He will answer? So many times we take everyday problems to ordinary people and expect that to offer guidance and wisdom. We put our expectation in others rather than leaving them at the feet of Jesus in exchange for perfect peace and victory that only He can give us.

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie…”

How seriously do you take God’s Word for your life? Do you read it? Study it. Pray it. Do you have daily conversations with the Living God who loves you? Do you discuss the things that concern you or details left undone? Do you take this relationship serious enough to trust Him with your innermost thoughts, longings, weaknesses, desires, and yes, your complaints? See if your life is reaching its full potential – the Lord is the only One who can change that. He prerecorded our entire life from creation to completion. (Psalm 139) He promises to make every detail turn out for our good for those who love Him. (Romans 8) Do you love the Lord? Is He your Savior? Is He your Lord? The Lord will be our vision when we look to Him evaluating life through Him, His Word and His Spirit. It changes how we see things. We must take Him at His Word.

Write the vision. Make it plain. I am the world’s worst about hearing the Lord concerning a matter then grabbing the paintbrush from His Hand to make my own masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10) In other words, the Lord gives me a vision and I try to make it happen. Why? I like control, comfort and convenience just as much as the next person. I hate to wait and am naturally impatient. The vision of God for your life and mine is specific including the timing. We must learn to write down these thoughts, aspirations and impossible images. Study them by exploring them in God’s Word. Praying about them allowing His Spirit inside of us to instruct us and guide us to completion and full realization. Do you believe that God can do the impossible? Most of the time the vision for our life seems to be just that impossible but please note Habakkuk 2:4 for the secret of fulfillment – “but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Faith gives life to godly vision. It is the factor that overcomes fear and makes the impossible absolutely possible in our life.

“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; thou my best Thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” (Eleanor H. Hull – 1912)

Acts 2:16-18 (ESV)  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:  “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

God predestined us with a purpose. He filled us with great potential to live a prosperous life. This life is realized by faith. Joel prophesied that the Lord would pour out His Spirit and there would be visions and dreams that would accompany that outpouring. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us which is what happened in Acts 2 and continues today. The Spirit of God identifies us as His Children thereby granting us our Kingdom residence and heavenly inheritance. God speaks to people through His Word, His Spirit, audibly, prayerfully, in dreams and visions. This is not debatable – it’s His Word. If I choose to discredit or disregard any part of God’s Word as ineffective or impractical – the whole thing is worthless to me. God does not lie. He does not change His Mind. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. We must recognize God’s Voice in our life in order to make room for His Vision.

“I will dare to believe, anything is possible. I throw caution to the wind, it’s time to risk again! I will dare to believe anything is possible in Jesus…my Jesus!” (Lindy Conant – Bethel Worship)

Luke 1:37 (ESV) For nothing will be impossible with God.

Do you believe that today? Do you believe that NOTHING is impossible with God? In Ezekiel 37, there is a valley of dry bones. It is full of drought and death. God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” The Lord instructs him to speak life into those dry bones and they indeed come to life. What is dead in your life? What is left in the valley of dead dreams, disappointments, and discouragements? Did the Lord give you a vision but it took too long so you left it behind? Maybe you made some mistakes and feel like that thing God had for you is lost forever. I have wonderful news for you today. God doesn’t honor death and always has new life for us. Just because things didn’t turn out the way “we” wanted them to or He didn’t do it the way “we” thought that He would doesn’t mean that we have missed God’s Purpose for us. Remember, Psalm 139, every day of our life is handwritten. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. Nothing is lost or wasted. God even collects our tears. His Love for us is far greater than our love and commitment for Him. We must simply gain a clear perspective of His Word, His Purpose and His Plan. Grabbing it, writing it down, studying it, claiming it, speaking it and waiting for it until it comes. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

God is faithful. Even when our faithfulness and commitment to Him wanes, He still pursues us with unfailing love and faithfulness. Our job in all of this is to simply believe that God loves us unconditionally and live in His Love. When we decide to believe that God’s Love has no boundaries, obstacles begin to topple over as our rebellious thoughts are taken captive and His Word given a place to grow. It will require endurance and perseverance. The enemy doesn’t want you to believe God or His Truth concerning you because at that very moment you will become unstoppable and fully satisfied. Lord, I ask you today to be our vision. May we only have eyes for you Jesus and what you have for us! In your precious and holy name – we ask and receive. Amen and amen.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (ESV) For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

 

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Love Always

CV-LA-LOGO

2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV) May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

The word “love” is cast about so flippantly. “Love you” ends our texts and talks but do we really love the person who we just claimed to? Do we love them with the same definition of love set forth in God’s Word? Do we love others patiently, kindly, without envy or boasting, and never with arrogance, pride or rudely? Love gives up its own way with disregard for our own plans and personal agendas. It is not irritable and does not hold resentment in the basement of its heart. It doesn’t rejoice in anyone’s failure and always rejoices in the truth which displaces vengeance and malice from us. The Truth is that God is love and to be one with Christ means to embrace His Steadfast Love and extend it to everyone who is in our sphere of influence. The hula hoop around us that touches the edge of others within arm’s length are the ones I am called to love. Love like God and Jesus. Lord, help me most days to find it within me to do so. Finally the steadfastness of love is that it bears all things, believes all things, hoes all things and endures all things. Love is hard. Love is God. It is our position in Christ to love always.

I Corinthians 13:8 (ESV) Love never ends.

Love never ends. If you really love someone, there is not end to it. Ugh! So many times love is an emotion not a commitment. The staggering divorce rate is proof that the overture of feelings never got through to the center of our heart. Love is commitment. It is messy. It is hard. It takes advantage of our pride. It hurts our feelings. It is not always easy to really love other people but it is only from a heart set on the Father following the steadfastness of the Son that can carry on the family tradition of true love. To love like God and Jesus is a difficult process but worth it to be one with the Lord and His Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Love is produced by the Holy Spirit. I have wonderful news for believers today. Even though agape love doesn’t come naturally, the Lord has given us His Spirit to produce it supernaturally. The more invested our faith becomes in pursing the Kingdom the greater the production of love in our life. We learn to love from the Holy Spirit who takes seeds of faith placed in us at creation and cultivates love in us that is from the Father. It doesn’t come naturally. Love is not an emotion. Love is a commitment. By committing our life including our heart, mind and soul to Jesus Christ, it allows love – His Love – to grow in us. If anyone has every planted a garden, then you know it may take a season or two or ten for good fruit to grow but if we are patient it will come.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV)  But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Love is a pursuit. To fight the good fight of faith often means fighting our feelings and emotions to believe. The starting point of believing for a Christian is to believe that God is love. To believe that He loves us no matter what. To believe that Christ is the Way, Truth and Life of love in us and through us. To put all of our expectation in God’s Love allows us to love others without the need for reciprocation because we are fully invested in the Kingdom and producing enough love to sustain us. Taking hold of eternal life means accepting that His Love is unconditional which means I am indebted to the Lord always and forever. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow added. He says the only thing we owe anything is love.

Philemon 4-6 (ESV) I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

Paul wrote to Philemon, his sister, Archippus (our fellow soldier) and the church in your house. Paul commended them on their love and faith toward Jesus and for all the saints. How do you share your faith in Christ? There is no more effective gospel than the one that is written. The one that tells of a God who loved us so much that He gave His Only Son, to live in love with us. What is the love letter of your life? The Gospel spoken will never have the impact of good news lived. A life of unconditional love is not our natural. But as I learn to lay down my life and let Christ make a new creation it includes a capacity to love that I did not have before. To release human expectation to fulfillment and satisfaction that only can be established in faith and confident hope. It is worth it. It takes time. I must ask myself is the “church in my house” like a city on the hill that beacons others to Christ when I am not “in” church or around other Christians. There is not greater love than to lay one’s life down for a friend. In Christ, we have only one enemy. The one who tries to destroy every relationship in our life. Love always. It is the ultimate example of God’s Love in us and the steadfastness of Christ working in us to change us from the inside out. A prospering soul learns to love always.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I John 4:9-11 (ESV)  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

What If…

what if

Romans 5: 5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

What if it’s true? What if the Bible is the absolute and unequivocal Truth about God? What if it really is inspired by the Holy Spirit? What if it is more than a story but a covenant written for us? What if there really is a Living God who loves us? What if He really did give His Son to have a relationship with us? Is it even possible to fully fathom such crazy love? Unconditional love is not possible when love is based on emotions and feelings. God is greater than our feelings but must be given precedent over them for us to change our mind about Who He is and How He love us. He is not a man who lies or changes His Mind. His Character is Love. His Nature – Love. Everything about God is love. We must simply choose to accept the unfailing love that pursues us in each moment of every single day.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. Are you disappointed today? Suffering from depression, anxiety, fear or even unmet expectation that has left you doubting? Our feelings and emotions wreak havoc on our brain as it tries to make faith logical and a legitimate driving force in our life. Miracles require the impossible. Supernatural outcomes defy nature. Yet, in that moment of trials and testing, it is hard to see past what is right in front of us. Our instructions are clear. Walk by faith and not by sight. We must exchange the “what ifs” that keep us from stepping out in faith and make it the very reason that we do! How do I get there from here?

People like options. Opportunities are built on options. However, when presented with a choice one must make a decision. The decisions made in life are usually based on education, experience or emotions. These are the things that govern our thoughts when making rationalizations leading to what our action becomes. The dilemma comes in the heart of a person who wants to take a spiritual stand on a natural foundation. It’s tough to overcome intellect to rely on the inhabitation of God’s Spirit living in us. We must change the way we think and decide that God has a plan and purpose that is real and relevant for us.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NLT) We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

The battle in our mind wars against us. Human reasoning is a tough barrier to God’s Thoughts which are so much different than our own. We make estimations and approximations based on the rules of relativity but do not trust the Word of God enough to make radical choices of simple obedience. Without God’s Word to guide us as a light in the darkness, it is impossible to find Him and remove every obstacle between us. Why? Why would we want to give up our way to follow the Way? Oh friend, what if the Word of God really is true. What if everything it says about us is possible? What if…

Psalm 139:13-15 (NLT) Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

What if you are really marvelously complex made of God’s wonderful workmanship. What if He really did fashion and form you so you are not a random science experiment that accidentally created a human? What if He saw you before you were born? What if every day of your life is prerecorded? Every single minute already laid out. What if?

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What if your prerecorded life is filled with purpose? What if it is a good plan of success and not disaster? What if it is filled with hope…yes that hope that never leads to disappointment? What if God is listening? What if He can be found? What if it’s true and His Unfailing Love has been chasing after you? (Psalm 23)

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

What if God through Jesus really has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms? Psalm 103 reminds us of some of those blessings – forgives my sins, heals ALL my diseases, redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. What if God really isn’t mad at me? What if He isn’t trying to punish me but bless me indeed? Where am I in all this? God made all decision to adopt me. He wanted me. He chose me. He made the Way (Jesus) for me. And what about His Glorious Grace?

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Perhaps the craziest part of this to comprehend is God’s Grace. How can He love me when He knows me so well? When He can see right through me to every motive and emotion that drives me to disobedience, yet still freely bestows His Grace to me. I know me. I know what I’ve done and those I have hurt. I know my faults, failures and many weaknesses. What if God’s Power works best in all of them just like He says?

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

What if the Lord really does cause EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love Him? It doesn’t say the one who does everything He says or the one who lives a perfect life…it says those who love Him. Loving God is enough. It has always been enough. His Grace is the sufficiency of our restored relationship no matter what religion says. God put a purpose in you. It is firmly established. He even gave you faith to make it grow from tiny potential to a massive promise. He gave you His Spirit to teach you and cultivate good fruit to feed your soul and nourish your heart and mind. He promises to perfect all that concerns you and even encourages us not to waste a single moment worrying about anything but just bring it to Him with bold confidence. But you know what the greatest “what if” is to me?

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What if there really is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God given to us through Christ Jesus? What if to live in Christ filled with His Spirit really makes us a Child of the Living and Loving God? What if it’s all true? What if our life of disappointment is not the result of God’s Incompetence but our disobedience? Could it be possible that the only reason our life is not prospering from our soul outward is that we do not believe that God’s Love for us is constant? Every condition, limitation and restriction set on our life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

Have you ever read the story of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? I have read it hundreds of times. The moral of the story is to try new things. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am.” Finally by the end of the book, he tries them and likes them. How many pages of excuses before finally just tasting them. Oh what a wonderful truth in childlike fashion…

What if God really is good? What if His Love unconditional? What if His Grace enough? What if His Plan for you is prerecorded so you haven’t missed a thing? What are your benefits and blessings? What are you possibly missing out on? Why not try Him? Why not give it a chance? The what ifs of obedience are words Christians might be familiar with including supernatural breakthrough, signs, wonders, miracles and even revival. God is for you. He loves you. He gave His All for you. It’s all true. I believe it. Do you? The greatness of God is His Love for you and it releases every bit of potential locked inside of you by simply decided to trust Him, take Him at His Word, and seek Him day by day.

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.

Water on a Rock

Water on a rock

John 7:37-38 (NLT) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

“I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark and I leave my mark in many people’s hearts.” These are the words of Guatemalan Human Rights Activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. It is a declaration of persistence. A canyon is not formed by the hands of man but by persistence water flowing through it. What mark am I leaving on the hearts around me? Do I speak life to them consistently? Do I use word to confirm God’s Love and Affirmation of them in order to show them the Light? What is my impact on others?

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and about a mile deep. It is the result of the Colorado River running through it. Man did not design it or carve it from the rock masses but a constant flow of water slowly and persistently eroding the hard surface. It is majestic. It is flocked to by many visitors each year attracting tourists to Arizona just to behold its breathtaking beauty. A national attraction of unintentional creation by the Hand of God carved from rocks with a simple flow of water.

Do you feel like the Word you share with others is like water on a rock? You try to share the Love of God through His Word and according to His Spirit, but you are just not seeing any results. Jesus told those celebrating that day, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! And, “Rivers of Living Water will flow from their heart!” The power of God’s Word is not by force but by persistence. God does not force us to accept His Love and Grace but offers it daily. In the morning, there is new mercies not according to our faithfulness but the Lord’s Faithfulness. Every promise is “yes” and “amen” for us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us no matter where our feet may wander. His Grace is enough. Always sufficient. Christ gives me overwhelming victory just because He loves me so. Calling me “more than a conqueror” as He completes the good work started in me. He manages to use every detail of my life for good and His Glory. It just doesn’t make sense and it is very simple. Maybe that is why people have a hard time accepting it.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NLT) I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

“Dripping water hollows out a stone, not by force but persistence. (Ovid) Some translations of this passage say, “Be ready in season and out of season” to speak the Word of God. It seems that in times of drought and famine in our life that the highest platform is given. What will flow from me when my feelings take over? When pressed? When angry, sad, hurt, betrayed or offended? What will be the words that flow from the depths of my heart? It is from the abundance of the heart our mouth forms thoughts, ideas and words.

We must carefully consider the contents of our conversation. The Word of God is the water and the Spirit gives it life. In John 7, the rivers of living water are a mixture of Word and Spirit that will flow from the heart through the mouth making our witness productive in promoting the Kingdom. We must find truth in the Word and allow the Spirit to teach us God’s Wisdom to share His Love effectively and communicate it to the world. Jesus told the woman at the well about living water. He encouraged her to worship in Spirit and in Truth. In that moment, she forget those she was avoiding and the people who shunned her with boldness she went to them and shared her encounter with the Messiah.

Our message to the world will never be effective if put on reserve. Waiting for the right moment to sow seeds is not advantageous. We sow seeds in every season so there will be a harvest for the next. Withholding God’s Word and His Love from others promotes seasons of drought and famine. God will prosper those who continuously sow in season and out of season including the seeds of His Word into others. Husbands are encouraged to love their wives as Christ loved the church even “having cleansed her (His Bride) with the washing of water with the word.” I wonder what would happen if rather than forcing our convictions on others and withholding the grace given to us by Christ – we chose to carefully bathe and dress the wounds of the broken and lost what might happen? If our vocabulary was a constant drip of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy for us to others who need it as much as we do. Sin becomes less palatable when love is properly seasoned.

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT) The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

There is life and death in our words. The depth of our soul is revealed in our daily conversation. The Fruit of God’s Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness AND self-control. Our words should bear heavy fruit of the Spirit’s cultivation in our heart and mind. Such words end famine in human hearts and begin spiritual reproduction in others. The first fruit is love. The Word defines love as patient and kind. It says that love is not jealous or boastful never rude or demanding its own way. Love is not irritable and always forgiving while not keeping record of any wrongs. Love rejoices in the Truth. The Truth concerning us is the Word. The Word is Jesus. Love does not desire vengeance but thrives on mercy. Love never ever gives up. It never loses faith. Always hopeful, it endures through every circumstance. Without love, I have nothing to offer and nothing to gain.

Luke 6:45 (NLT) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Jesus didn’t change the world standing on a platform. He did not do it through a megaphone. He did it by walking, talking, living and breathing God’s Love. Jesus did not come to do His Will. He came to express the Father’s Love to us and make a way for us to come back into the family. It worked. Our heart is the treasury that contains His Word and His Spirit. A hard heart cannot flow living water. A stony exterior will stop its overflow. Our words hold the secret of what the contents of our heart may be. To express Christ’s Love effectively our heart must not only contain the Word and His Spirit but be soft enough to let it flow from our lips. We cannot give what has not been received. What are the words of my mouth today? Do they express God’s Love? Are they full of His Fruit? Do they satisfy those who hunger, thirst and desire a better way? Are they light that draw others from darkness? Are they salty enough to add flavor but not ruin the whole meal?

There is an urgency in our collection of water from the Word. Amos 8 warns that the Word of God will not be found in the future. Men will look for it and it will not be found. We must hide God’s Word in our heart so He is with us always. Moses experienced heartbreak when God told him to speak to the rock so water might flow from it, but he decided to strike the rock twice instead. The Word of God is to make a way from death to life and darkness to light. I must always use the Word of God and His Spirit according to His Purpose – not my own agenda. God’s Word is the water that washes away sin and heals broken hearts. His Spirit is the Living Flow that finishes the Good Work God has begun in us. Persistence is my pleasure. Not that I would see immediate results but that the constant drip of obedience to the Lord will make it through my stony exterior to the depths of my heart.

John 4:10 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Conquered By Love

Conquered By Love

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Everyone wants to be a winner but not everyone believes they are a winner. Desire must become dedication. It begins with a thought. A dream of a destination exciting and elusive all at the same time. It will take a level of commitment that exceeds our own strength reaching down to the depths of our soul afraid to give up and never achieve the desire and dream that set our life in motion. The runner must go the extra step. The boxer must lift his weary arm for the knock out. The players must rally for the final minute. How far are you willing to go to be “more than conquerors”?

Reading all the trials and tribulations listed in Romans 8, “what then shall we say about these things? If God be for us who can be against us? Do you believe that there is victory in Jesus? We say it and sing about it but without believing it there is no real investment. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Shall tribulation (we have a few), or distress (hello, worriers and anxiety ridden friends), or persecution (feeling isolated today), or famine (anyone experiencing lack), or nakedness (insecurity) or danger (sickness, disease or bad choices), or sword (what is your best defense)…we must decide that the Love of God is greater than any problem or perplexity in life. The Love of God for us is always with us carrying us from glory to glory and victory to victory if it is our vehicle of choice.

Living in America, Christians do not face the same problems of early Christians. The struggle to fully embrace the unconditional love and overwhelming victory making us more than conquerors in Christ is still problematic. To become confident in God’s Love is the very thing that makes us more than conquerors. To desire Christ is not enough, but true dedication in pursuing Him is the pathway to victory many desire but few will reach.

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

God loves you. He loves me. From the moment of creation until today throughout forever, God’s Love for us is constant. Unending. Unyielding. Unconditional. It is love in the truest and purest form which causes us to stumble in consideration of all our faults and failures. The enemy doesn’t have to beat you. In fact, it is impossible for him to do so. He just has to convince you that you will not win so that you give up and quit. He can only claim victory by forfeiture. With this in mind, how many times have you quit? Given up? Given in to the thought – this will never happen? Why even try? Even in all our wanderings and wonderings about the validity of God’s Love including the insecurity that fuels doubt…God still and always will love us.

Jesus Christ is all about relationship. A loving and productive reconciliation of God and His Children. It is not contingent on anything I do, but completely on Jesus Christ. He is the Only Way to the Father. I have to go through Him by establishing intimacy with Him. Christ lives in me. His Spirit fills my heart with the Love of God for me so that the faith invested in me can grow in confident hope of His Love. The only justification of God’s Love that I have is absolute and concrete faith that Jesus Christ is enough. The Grace of God fully sufficient to cover my sins. Religion puts mandates on God’s Love and provisions of conviction that do not apply. God’s Love for me has nothing to do with what I do or how I do it. It has everything to do with His Son’s Life given for me. The payment was made in full. I am now given the opportunity to live a victorious and prosperous life in Jesus Christ. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The hope given to us in Christ never ever leads to disappointment but from victory to victory.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

How can I be sure that I haven’t missed it? The church I grew up in taught that God’s Will was perfect. It was detailed as a straight line and there would be blessings and promises left behind if one wandered off course. It was very rigid. It was quite strict because after all God is Sovereign. How can imperfect people have God’s Perfect Will? How many times can I miss the mark and still reach my destiny? My heart believed that because I wandered that I could no longer have God’s “Perfect” Will so overwrought by discouragement – I decided there was no point in trying. God’s Love taught without the sufficiency of God’s Grace is pure religion apart from relationship. It’s not true.

You can have God’s Perfect Will. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how far you have wandered. God’s Will for you is perfect because His Love is constant and His Grace is complete. Let’s go back to Psalm 139. Verses 1-6 tell us that God knows us inside out. He knows everything about us. The Lord has gone before you and hems you in from behind. His Hand is upon you. Verses 7 – 12 remind us that there is no place too far or too abased that will separate us from Him. Verse 13 – 18 now this is the text that helps us understand God’s Perfect Will. Every single day of my life was prerecorded by the Lord. He laid out a plan so that I would attain a future and hope in Him. He knew every mistake I would make, every place I would wander and every sin that I would commit BEFORE I was born. Makes sense when coupled with the verse His Grace is sufficient. The plan containing a future and hope is not some impersonal guideline for our life but a very intricate and detailed purpose for each individual specifically. It also says that His Thoughts about me are precious. God’s Love for me is tender and kind. He sees me for me. Thanks to Jesus – He sees me perfectly. Now jump over to Romans 8:28 – what does it say?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” The complexity of God’s Love is its simplicity. God is love. He loves us. He set His Heart on us and made the Way for us to come back to Him. Our life is a detailed plan of prosperity, promises, dreams, visions, and every good thing possible. It is not found in our abilities, but in our affection and affinity for Him. Quite simply to know Him is to love Him and to love Him is enough. If we could just become confident in the Love of God that leads us to victory, we would all be winners. When you love God, He brings all those broken pieces of our life together making a beautiful masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If only believers could truly know and understand the Love of God. It’s purity, validity and completeness. There is freedom in the Truth. The Spirit of the Living God in us is that of liberty. It is by grace through faith that salvation is established. I can do nothing to save myself or turn my life around. It is true repentance when religion becomes a relationship. When works turn into worship knowing full well that my value and victory is found in Christ alone. Apart from Him I am nothing. Outside of His Love I have nothing. I am God’s Workmanship. He made me. He knows me. And yes, He still loves me in spite of me. I am created for good works in Christ Jesus. God prepared this life for me. Just me. His Plan – to do justice (I am justified in Christ) – to love kindness (I am a new creation born of love and made to love), and to walk humbly with God. He leads me to victory. (Micah 6:8) My confidence today is that God loves me. Through Christ, His Love now can make me a winner in all things victorious. I am more than a conqueror just because He loves me! I am conquered by His Love to be more than a conqueror walking in victory every step of the way.

I Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

New Heart

New Heaert

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

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

The Heart of Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening

Proverbs 8:32-35 (NIV) “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.

My husband and I were having a normal conversation on an ordinary day. He kept saying, “What?” I would repeat the previous statement. This continued until I insisted on a visit to the doctor and hearing test concerned that he may have hearing issue. He laughed and said, “Or at least they can tell me if it is selective hearing loss!” Oh my goodness! Always the jokester. I read on social media recently that a husband told his wife that scientists have found that men say about 10,000 words a day while women say about 20,000. His wife shouts back from the kitchen, “It’s because we have to repeat everything twice to you blockheads.” The husband responds, “What?” And there you have it, what science deems a response to “higher level of protein” is really just a need to be heard…

Psalm 50 tells us that “the Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.” Who is He speaking to? You. Me. All of us. God still speaks today. Whispering to those He calls beloved in an effort to illicit a response and release the instruction that leads to abundance in all things as God has ordained and predestined for us. Are you listening? Am I listening? When we hear His Voice is it easily recognized and discerned from all the other influences in our life? The Lord has called the listeners “blessed”. Those who watch and wait at His Doorway. Those who do will find life everlasting and overflowing with His Abundance.

Psalm 78:1-3 (NIV) My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.

God speaks to us. The truth is that He speaks to us every day from the rising of the sun until it sets. God is encouraging us, teaching us, leading us, and guiding us to better things by better ways. We choose the voice who guides us each day. However, His Thoughts are not my (natural) thoughts and inclinations. (Isaiah 55:8) His Ways are not my instinctual ways, attitude or actions but much higher altogether. God leads us to the narrow road less followed and the higher way not always perceived in our humanity. There are two keys things necessary to discern God’s Voice from the other influences.

John 14:26 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to discern the Voice of God. The Advocate who weighs earthly logic and Heavenly Knowledge to give us the upper hand. Faith is not logical in our present state of mind. It is only by continually allowing His Spirit to mold and shape us that we adopt the mindset of Christ that allows us to follow through with His Actions.

Matthew 4:4 (NIV) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The Word of God is essential. If I may paint a picture, the Holy Spirit lives in you and me. He is the advocate and our personal warrior who enables us to overcome the enemy. The only weapon the enemy can use against us is the lie. The Shield of Faith protects us from those fiery darts. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit that cuts to the Truth. When you know the Truth, you will not accept the lie. Matthew 4:4 is the response of Jesus to the lie of the enemy. What is yours?

I have been to many churches and found them all unique. There are churches that emphasis the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. However, the Word is often overlooked. I grew up in a Bible-based church that focused solely on studying scripture and silenced the Holy Spirit. The church I believe that will be the “remnant” church of the end times will worship in Spirit and Truth just as Jesus tells the woman at the well in the Book of John. We must be filled by the Spirit and the Word in order to rightly divide the Truth from the lie even in our churches and small groups.

Proverbs 1:20-23 (NIV) Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

The Lord is relentless in His Pursuit of us. Psalm 23 tells us that His Goodness and Unfailing Love follow us all the days of our lives. God desires us to dwell in His Presence. He wants to communicate with us. Commune with us. He lives inside of us as a holy consummation of the covenant of love that He has made with us. He wants to pour His Thoughts in us so we will overcome the lie of the enemy and stop living in lack. Lack comes in many forms. It is not a material or monetary term. The Fruit of God’s Spirit grows in the vacated spaces occupied by substitutions and compromise. As our soul prospers in Spirit and Truth, so will we. We must be listening for God’s Voice in every moment of every day to have all that He has promised and ordained to bless us with in this life leading to eternity.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah left Mount Carmel victorious over the prophets of Baal. God accepted his sacrifice proving their religion a farce and 450 were killed that day. Jezebel was infuriated and in her rage leveled a death threat against God’s Man, Elijah. He fled to a cave high atop a mountain. It’s funny how easy a lie can ensnare us. Just when everything seemed to be going so well, and then our feet get tangled in a half-truth or subtle suggestion. The enemy of our soul knows the Word of God personally. Jesus is the Word of God. He saw satan fall from Heaven. Who better to twist and taint the Truth but one who knows it intimately inside and out? With this in mind, the best defense is a good offense. You can prepare for the lie of the enemy by engaging in the Truth. Faith is credible and logical when rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

God did not yell at His Servant or berate him for falling for the oldest trick in the Book. No, he came to him in a gentle whisper and called him by name. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is intent on the one. He will leave the 99 just to find you in the midst of delays, detours or distractions. He understands our vulnerability when it comes to believing the lie. He has empowered us to overcome yet in our weakness – His Grace is always enough.

Have you fallen for the lie of the enemy? Have you stopped listening? There is a difference between ignoring God and ignorance. If you know the Word and are filled by the Spirit and choose to do what you want to do – there is a sin problem in your heart today. Repent and let Him lead to the better way. The problem is most likely fostered by a faith plagued by fear, doubt and insecurity creating disbelief. He is not mad at you but still insists on communicating His Love to you one-on-one.

If you have never heard the Voice of God, you are in for a real treat. There is nothing more relevant in your life than to hear the Words of the One who created you. Your Father in Heaven who loves you perfectly and completely. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Word of God hidden in our heart begins to cut through the lie to expose the Truth. The Holy Spirit holds firmly the Shield of Faith to protect the tender, broken heart that has repented and presented itself to the Lord. God is speaking to you today. He has secrets just for you. Thoughts that will blow your mind with possibility. He desires a personal relationship with you that will bring you together as one. God is speaking to you. Are you listening?

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

Flawless

Flawless

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

God’s Way is perfect. The Lord’s Word is flawless. Do you believe it? Do I? Our words indicate a confidence that our way does not always reflect. If God’s Way is perfect, why do we choose our way most of the time? If His Word is flawless, why do not we pursue His Wisdom on a daily basis or listen for Him each new day? His Way is perfect. The Word is flawless. It is our insecurity and imperfection that challenge our heart and mind when it comes to confidently and boldly living in agreement with His Way, His Will and the Word.

We have five children. Each one with their own individual personalities. Our family rules have not changed over the years. Yet as they have grown into adulthood, our adulting kids have the right to live their life as they see fit. Once accountable to us, they are now responsible for the choices made and pathways pursued. As their parent, I love and support them but cannot change the impact of their actions or consequences of decisions. I may offer advice or opinion but it is purely suggestive.

God has given us a perfect way. From the beginning, it is human nature to choose our own way. Jesus offers us access to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life by which we can be reunited with the Father once again. All of heaven rejoices when one lost soul returns to the fold. He forgives us, loves us and immediately begins to revive, renew and restore us. It is reconciliation to Christ that begins to radically change our life. To be reconciled to Christ is to choose His Way rather than continuing to seek our own way.

How can I have God’s Perfect way when I am imperfect? How can perfection be possible once I have messed up and made countless mistakes? Shame? Regrets? Weaknesses? Is it possible to become flawless once flawed? Flawlessness is defined as having no defects or faults especially none that diminish value or worth. Or to have no discernable blemishes or imperfections. To be perfect. The word “discernable” is important to the definition of flawlessness in Jesus Christ. Sin will always be the blemish and imperfection that keeps us from oneness with God the Father. The Blood of Jesus Christ covers the sin and washes it away. I am flawless in Christ. However, when I look in the mirror – I see me staring back. To change my perception of self – I must find my identity in Christ. The identity of Christ is the Word of God.

John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. The Word became flesh to come be with us. To show us the Way back to the Father. He made the way to become the Sons and Daughters of God once again. To know our true identity including who we are, what we can do, what we are given and where we are going requires knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word (Jesus) to our life. In Hosea 6:8, it warns that people die because of a lack of knowledge. The Spirit comes to live inside of us. A holy inhabitation from on high that is given to us and accepted without action only willingness. It is the Word of God that deals with our flesh and its doubt, fear, anxiety and insecurity. The flesh is a much more challenging beast to tame.

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

Be perfect. Be flawless. How is it possible? It is. You can live in the perfect will of God without being perfect.

Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Who better to explain the process of reconciliation than the man who persecuted early Christians than Paul? He was a murderer. He was an enemy of the Cross? When he met Jesus it changed everything including his identity as Saul becomes Paul. You have a new identity in Christ that is flawless. The process of reconciliation takes knowledge and understanding of the Word to integrate it in our heart and mind. This allows us to become living sacrifices by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) Our identity is not established by what we think but in Who Christ is. It us up to us to allow the Word and Spirit to solidify our identity by faith and confidence in Who we are becoming rather than the world’s perception of us. To become a new creation means I must change my mind about who or rather whose I am.

Romans 5:9-10 (NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14) It is important to understand that reconciliation is fully accomplished through Christ, who is the Word. Reconciling my life to the Word allows the blessings and promises of Heaven to flow into my natural life. It is not a requirement but definitely my privilege. I can only accomplish this by giving up my way to pursue His Way completely. It is evident in Matthew 19:21 that something simple becomes complicated when we must choose between this life and Kingdom living. Jesus is the author and finisher of faith in us. He is called the “Perfecter” of faith. It is the Christ in us that permits flawless in the imperfect being called mankind. However, I must reconcile or accept and bring into agreement my life with the Word. This is the beginning of abundant life. This is consummation of worship when Jesus ordained it be in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4)

Philippians 1:6 (NIV) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Over the next few days, we will continue to study the impact of the Word in our life. It is often easier to accept the Spirit of God who is in us because our emotions and feelings are often impacted by the Gifts and Fruits that He produces. However, if the Spirit of God in us is not properly armed with the Word of God then the lie of the enemy will win every time. The Shield of Faith gains strength from the Word and a shield protects while the sword brings victory. The Word is our sword. It is effective in circumcising our heart to expose doubt, fear, insecurity and disbelief to be routed out so that God’s Love can take root in its place. To live confidently and boldly in Christ requires a relationship with the Word. You cannot fully know Christ apart from the Word because He is the Word. Christ began a good work in us. It is by His Spirit and the Word that it becomes the Masterpiece that He promised. Christ is flawless and brings His Character to those who desire it. Who are willing to allow the Word be the map and compass of their life? To assume His Identity and let go of any other label or title. Be confident. You can be perfect even with all your imperfections. You can do, have and be all the Word promised because the Word cannot and will not return to God void of completion. To live a flawless life is to live in the sufficiency of God’s Grace fully surrendered to the Spirit and Truth. The Word is the Truth that makes us perfect!

James 1:22-25 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Courage of Conviction

Courage of Convictions

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

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

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

Word of God

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

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

Holy Spirit

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

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

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

My Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Count It All…

Count It All

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Count it all…when you meet various trials. The past month has been a blur. With the holiday rush, the virus that plagued our family, preparations for our grandson, interrupted schedules, crazy weather (snowing in Florida…seriously), unexpected dental procedure and all the other details of life mixed in – it was wonderful waking up feeling good with nothing pressing on the agenda. Hiding in the refuge of my study, I am overwhelmed with gratitude today. We are in the midst of our annual January fast. Though it has been a strenuous and exhausting turning of years, I am no less motivated for more. God is good! He has been good to us in so many ways. More than I could express in this little blog without blowing it up to a full blown book.

Reading James 1 today, these words are stuck in my mind. “Count it all.” So many times this passage is interpreted as a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of thing. Laughing in the face of adversity is not a natural response. In fact, it is not an honest response. I believe that God is inviting us to experience true joy not in a superficial sense. It is to take an account of our life. If Romans 8:28 is absolutely true, and it has to be or the all of God’s Word becomes invalid, then every detail of my life has the potential to produce something good. If not, God is a liar. This passage specifically says, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” This statement does not require much interpretation as it is straightforward and to the point. Every detail in our life, good and bad, has godly potential.

Goodness brings joy. When something good happens, we smile. It makes us happy. We are satisfied with the results. If every detail of our life will turn out for the good, then in each moment there is joy to be discovered. So in order to “count it all joy”, our life must align itself with God’s Word, His Purpose and His Plan so that the potential of good in each moment will produce the joy within it. To align our life with God’s Word means we must be accountable. To consider every detail even those that seem small and insignificant in comparison to God’s Word. His Word reveals the promise, potential and plan for a good life of abundance, success, prosperity and fulfillment. It’s all in there. It is all in me. The two must simply agree and be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

In Amos 3:3, the Lord is speaking to His People through the prophet asking, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” Any who is in Christ has the true potential to become a new creation. Staying the same is not possible in the midst of change. Transformation is a reformation that cannot continue in the midst of unchangeability. Salvation is complete in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. Transformation is the direct result of Jesus Christ becoming the Lord of our life. We cannot yoke our life to Him without giving up our way to fully accept His Way of life. This is not a religious mandate but an opportunity to engage in a full-blown relationship with the Living God that gives us full access to His Kingdom and every benefit that He ordained for us.

We must reconcile ourselves to Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is an accounting term. It means to make one account consistent with another (especially allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed). It means to bring to agreement and harmony. Our life in Christ is a work in progress. There are “transactions” complete, in process and yet to come. All these things must be considered to reconcile our life with Christ. To live in harmony with Jesus Christ produces harmony that allows anointing to flow that the oil through Aaron’s beard. (Psalm 133)

God’s Grace is sufficient. It is enough to cover our sin. Grace gives us the opportunity to live in right standing with God the Father through Jesus the Son. Alignment that produces prosperity in life comes from a relationship with Jesus. It is our personal responsibility to enlist the aid of the Holy Spirit and align our heart and mind with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word who came in the flesh. You cannot know Him or follow Him without the Word because He is the Word. It is very easy to misconstrue spiritual alignment as a religious act rather than a relationship. To know the difference is to know the common denominator which is love. My motivation in Christ must always be love. I love God. I love Jesus. I love others. This is the first step of spiritual alignment and reconciliation to Christ.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV) For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

The Word of God tells us the benefits and blessings that the Lord has in store for us. It details the Kingdom and all the benefits available to those who choose to seek after it. The only weapon that the enemy can use against us is a lie. Ignorance allow lies to seem truthful and logical. Faith relies on the logic found in the Word of God and reinforced by the Spirit of God. Psalm 103 warns the believer – “oh my soul, and forget not all my benefits…” When we do not know God’s Word – we do not know His Will. When we do not know what He will do – doubt turns to disbelief limiting our life.

We must not every forget that we are accountable to God. Even with the dispensation of grace given to God’s Children, we are still accountable to Him. (Romans 14:11-12) Every knee will bow before Jesus one day. God sees us from the inside out. He knows us. He knows things about us that we do not even know. He sees the potential of His Creation not the mess that we have made of it. He says, “It’s all good. Keep going. I have a plan.”

James 1:5-8 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

My prayer is that the Lord will give me wisdom and discernment. The kind that comes from the Word and pierces the hardest parts of my heart to water the seeds of faith hidden within me. As I strive to seek God wholeheartedly, it will require accountability including reconciliation to Christ in every area of my life. I cannot forget the blessings and benefits that His Goodness has already promised me even when it is not evident in my natural life it must be the prosperity of my soul that makes me steadfast.

When steadfastness is full effect, we begin to experience God’s Perfection in the full consummation of His Plan and Purpose for our life. We begin to experience Heaven on earth. His Goodness reserved for the Land of the Living permeates our everyday life. It is then that our life becomes complete in Christ and we lack no good thing. To be steadfast, fixed in direction, steadily directed, firm in faith, firm in purpose, unwavering, adherently, firmly established, and firmly fixed in place until the Word of God comes to pass just like He said it would. That’s where I want to be. So today I will count it all…

I challenge you as this Word has challenge myself today. Consider every area of your life. Examine your heart. Get into God’s Word. Reconcile ever area of your existence to God’s Word and His Will for you. In the areas that do not line up, seek to align them. Pray. Make some changes. Spread your faith around generously over those areas. Allow God to mold and shape your life into the masterpiece that He promised. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. You have a purpose. The plan contains a future and hope. Every detail has good hidden inside of it. Full accountability requires reconciliation. Spend some time with your First Love. Let Him show you how much He loves you all over again.

James 1:12 (ESV)Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.