Adopted

Adopted

Romans 8:14-16 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

When my husband and I married, I gave him the gift of three children. In fact, they were with us in the wedding and rode home to begin our new life together right from the church. He was made by God for his new role in our blended family. It was as though God predestined him for the job. Our daughter expressed a desire from the start that she wanted to be adopted. She wanted have the same name and security of the official process. Her dream would become a reality. There were papers to be signed and filed. A price to be paid. A process to follow. But I can remember how exciting it was to go before the court and finalize the adoption. Not long after – the official documents arrived including a birth certificate with her new name and her dad’s name on it. With these important papers in hand, we began to change her name in school, at the social security office, and every other place necessary to assume her new identity.

I am no longer a slave to sin. I am a Child of God. How often this is the declaration of a people who still live as orphans. Those who have Jesus Christ inside of them have been sealed by the Spirit of the Living God. You are a son or daughter of God in that moment. It is up to us to assume our new identity in Him. He adopted us to be His Own Children. We have the privilege of calling Him, “Abba, Father.” His Spirit joins with our spirit to become the confidence needed to enter boldly to Him and live in a loving and abiding relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 1, it tells us that God “has identified us as His Own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.” Why do sons and daughters of the Living God live in lack? Lack of confidence, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, provisions and prosperity are all signs of orphan syndrome as I would call it. If we are not confident in our adoption by God through Jesus Christ and His Spirit who seals and entitles us to every blessing and promise, how can we ever convince others of the same? It is our purpose to be fully convinced of our spiritual adoption and live out the process of showing our identity to the watching world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) 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. 

Before… I wish it was possible for the finite human mind to fully wrap itself around the concept of God’s Omnipresence. He is everywhere all the time. He always has been and always will be. The constancy of God is the stability of His Plan. He is. He was. He will be. God is the Great I Am. Jesus, His Son, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He goes before us, falls in behind us, and is right there with us living on the inside of us. Conceptually, it is easy to repeat this but to fully understand it is crazy. Yet even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. I read it. I understand the meaning of the words. I know that it is true. Yet, I still cannot fathom knowing me how God would desire me as He does. He does because God already decided to love you. He was ready to adopt us into His Family knowing full well the sin that would plague us. He provided all the grace necessary to cover our sin and build a pathway to Him. All because He decided to love us and desired to adopt us.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NLT) But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”

The Bible tells us that God placed eternity in our hearts along with a measure of faith. I believe at the right time the two will become one and our life will prosper when Jesus comes to reside in us. His Spirit cultivates good fruit and changes the appetite of our soul. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind healing the past experiences and working all details for our good. The Holy Spirit prompts us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Why not? I believe that if you polled your congregation asking the question, “Who have always had a good relationship with their birth father?” You would find very few who shared such an experience. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, which is more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. These kids are more likely to live in poverty, develop behavioral problems, become pregnant as teenager, to face abuse or neglect, go to prison, to abuse alcohol or drugs, suffer obesity, commit a crime or drop out of high school. Fatherhood is a necessary role..

With this in mind, there is a fatherless generation who cannot experience the fullness of God’s Love because they do not understand His Role as Father. They cannot love or trust Him because their experience is absence, abandonment, or abuse. They do not cry out to Him for fear that He will not come because their natural fathers were not around. As the enemy works to destroy the home, he has successfully caused a separation between God and His Children based on experience. Many foreign orphanages are silent halls lined with cribs of babies who do not cry out because they know that no one will come. We must learn to lean on the Father again. Call out His Name. Allow our heart and mind to receive the adoptive spirit and live in His Love completely as sons and daughters of the Living God.

Acts 2:16-18 (NLT) No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

I do not believe that revival will come until the sons and daughters become confident in their identity. To fully assume our position in the Kingdom of God with confidence that nothing will ever separate us from the Father’s Love. To remind our heart, mind and soul that He is a Good Father and oh so faithful to His Children. We need to learn to recognize the Father’s Voice as He whispers His Love, Affirmation and Acceptance of us. To realize the full benefits of all His Promises and understand that they are not by chance but the rights of an inheritance. They belong to us because our Father has given them to us. God has poured His Spirit in us. We are free. Free to live. Free to love. Free to dream. Free to prophesy good things and God things in our life. It is only by achieving confidence that overcomes the experience of our past. To fully assume our place in the Kingdom is to complete the process of adoption by fully receiving our rights as the sons and daughters of God. He will not force you to come home but the Lord will welcome you every time. His Love for you and me established before the creation of the world. His Grace made sufficient because He knew us and desired us before time began. He is a good Father. He calls you His Child. Isn’t it time we lived like it?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT) And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

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Sincere Love

Sincere Love

Romans 12:9 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Have you ever heard the phrase “I love them but I don’t like them” or maybe “love the sinner but hate the sin.” “But” represents a contradiction. Our love for the Lord must be sincere. We must hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. It is a dissecting of sorts that begins in our own heart. I am challenged today to take the fruit of my heart hopefully born of His Spirit called “love” and cut it open to see if its contents are good and fit for consumption. Love is the driving force of God in His Pursuit of us. It is the very thing that held Jesus on the Cross until He gave His Very Last Breath. It is the force that rolled the stone away to reveal a risen Savior and forever Lord. Christ lives in me. His Spirit at work feeding my soul and nourishing my spirit to create a new person from the depraved wretch that I am. His Word is alive. It cuts through every lie and insignificant detail to reveal the hidden truth and potential hidden in layers of sin and darkness.

I have been “saved” since I was eleven years old. Through my teenage years into adulthood, I toyed with Christianity before finally turning over a messed up existence for a new way of life in my early thirties. Complete surrender is the only way to begin the full transformation process. It is a lengthy battle of the heart and mind. Jesus at the center of it all means there is a whole lot of “me” to get out of the way. It seems so simple when we come to Jesus. Why not? We have nothing to give but our faults and failures in exchange for a new life and forever in His Kingdom. Yet the striving and settlement of the terms of this covenant seem to continually cut away at my heart and mind as I discover it is an act of endurance that keeps us steadfast in Christ. It is not a footrace to the finish but a good fight for our faith. Could it be so simple and yet we make it complex? Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.

I have been married for almost twenty years. I chose to give my heart to a man. He is just like me – imperfect and yet perfect for me. I love him. I am committed to loving him for the rest of my natural life. It is from this commitment or covenant that sincere love is born. It is not fancy or pretty. Sometimes it can be very raw and broken yet in all the beauty and ugliness mixed together – God has made good of every detail of our life. It just gets better and better all the time. In our marriage to Christ, it can be very much the same. Over time, I may take Him for granted. Not show Him true affection or affirm Him. There are even days that I don’t trust Jesus. Oh, I say that I do but my actions speak louder than words. Our marriage to Christ is a choice to love. In the good times and bad, when things are wonderful or wretched, and even when love is cold and insincere – this is a relationship to be worked through just like anyone else. It is my commitment to Christ that is the relationship worth having because from it comes remarkable relationships with ordinary people.

The word sincere means free of deceit, hypocrisy or falseness. It is earnest, authentic, genuine and real. It is pure, unadulterated and unmixed. This is the kind of love that the Spirit of God produces in us. It is the brand of love that is designated to bind God’s Kingdom together. Once tainted always tainted unless carried through His Blood. If we do not repent from our lack of love and return to our first love, it is impossible to love others the same way we love Jesus. He has to transform our perception and expectation of love and purify us again. Our passion for the Lord will burn away the impurities of human love and cut through the most callous heart to circumcise it consecrating it to the Lord again.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

This warning from Jesus is not for the lost or those who are seeking. This message is to the modern day Christian and believers who are giving their very life to the work of the Lord. It is for preachers, teachers, elders, and every other servant in the House of God serving the Body of Christ. Are you going through the motions today? Doing what has become a habit? Has service become the social circle you move in? It’s crazy that think that doing good things can sometimes take the place of doing God’s Thing for you. It happens. Church is made up of imperfect people. It has a hierarchy all its own. Carefully constructed doctrine meant for godly order becomes the rules and regulations of judgment and a kangaroo court of Pharisees born from it. I wonder if God is saying, “Stop…just stop for a minute.” The merry-go-round that hints at revival yet passes by it never stopping is not because you aren’t “doing” all the right things but you have forgotten for Who you are doing it? Have you forgotten to love Jesus today? Every attitude, action and reaction should be born of our true love for Him.

A couple things come to mind in closing today. First, you cannot fake agape love. It is born of something supernatural by giving our heart, mind, body, spirit and soul to Jesus Christ. When I had each one of my children, there was an instant connection and overpowering love the moment that they were born. At each birth, I instantly and completely loved them. They are my children. This is exactly how Christ loves us. The moment of creation was powerful in that His Love completely surrounded us in that moment and it never stopped but has perpetuated through life. When our daughter had our grandson, I was by her side to witness his arrival. I loved him with the same ferocity and completeness that I did his mother when she arrived. The heart of Jesus explodes the moment a new Christian is born and all Heaven celebrates. Our new life and the continual rebirths of others should reciprocate love that connects the Kingdom similar to the kind of love when a new baby arrives. After all – we are all members of the same body.

Second thought before I go, after all these years of marriage I have learned playing the part of wife, life partner, best friend and soul mate is not enough. I can do all the right things. I can serve my husband completely. I can “do” everything that is expected of me and he can still feel unloved and unwanted. There are times when he doesn’t want me to do anything but sit with him, talk to him and be with him. Life is busy. Humans are subject to emotions and feeling. We all have bad days. If I feel like I am not connecting with my husband, I must determine what is lacking. Generally, it is that I have become consumed in the tasks of marriage and not given time or attention to my true love. Jesus is no different. He doesn’t need us to do His Work – He has legions of angels who tend to be way more obedient then humans. He wants us. He desires us. Yes, there is work for the Kingdom that is our purpose and destiny in life. Yes, we are to work together and build the Kingdom and connect the Body of Christ. Yes, yes, yes to every excuse you can think of as to why you haven’t been at His Feet listening, seeking and finding His Face. All He wants and has ever wanted is you. He loves you wholeheartedly and completely just as you were the day you came to Him asking for salvation and surrendering your life. He loves that you. The same you that is searching for Him today will be met with the same profound grace and perfect love that you found back then.

Sincere love. God desires our sincere love. Jesus deserves our sincere love. Allow His Spirit to renew love in you today. Let His Love be made more perfect as you seek to know Him more. I cannot love another from a well that is dry and without loving the One who first loved me – I have nothing to offer the dry and thirsty world.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Humbled By Grace

Humbled by Grace

I Peter 5:6-10 (NIV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 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.

I am a consummate over thinker. It doesn’t matter what the subject – it must be dissected and thoroughly digested before it is allowed to settle in my mind. Details. Life is in the details for me. So upon leaving our church service yesterday when I grew quiet, it was a que to my husband that my mind was at work. God’s Word is the mirror of our soul. When it is heard, it should always be considered and compared to our heart, soul and mind for validity in our life. It always applies to me and to you. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword that will sever the worthless things attached to us and continue to prepare us for proper grafting to Jesus Christ and His Body. Our pastor is teaching about Kingdom culture including what does it look like and how does it apply to the church. What does grace look like? How is it applied? Do we welcome others by faith into grace? Is that something that I must do? Or is it possible for me to give grace that was sufficient for me? See how it works. Thoughts spiraling deeper into a vortex of complex contemplation. Lord, help me understand.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The subject of my introspection is grace and its application. Romans 12 tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God calling it true and proper worship. How does it work? In the very next verse, it tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our mind is a powerful thing. It is the place where faith becomes confident hope. We must be able to test and approve what God’s Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will is for our life which means our thought process must be fully set on knowing and understanding God’s Love and the Gift that He has given us. Oh the Gift of God’s Grace that through faith changes everything.

The comment was made that when people who are not like us enter the church corridor that we are to give them grace. This is true but first one must consider our own thoughts concerning them. People who come in that look different than we do are not subject to our judgment yet they are judged just the same. The moment that I consider myself (a mere recipient of a grace so overwhelming that I still do not fully understand it decades after accepting it) on some higher level with the right to determine their condition based on appearance – I have fallen farther than the one who I chose to judge.

The consideration of my heart today is not the actions of the corporate body called church but my own heart and mind. Mercy comes to meet me every morning just like everyone else. Rain falls on the just and unjust reminding me that God’s Love and Care are for all whether accepted or rejected. Grace is received by faith and there is not a thing that I can do to earn or deserve it. I cannot repay God for His Loving Kindness exemplified in my life by the distribution of grace at the expense of the Blood of His Son. I cannot reciprocate the favor because all I have to give is the empty shell left after sin has been sent into remission. It is never fully gone. At any time, it can return like a cancerous cell gone rogue in an otherwise fully functioning body. What is the cancer of the church? Pride.

Romans 12:3-5 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Grace is given to us in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to us. We cannot save ourselves and did not even have the faith to receive it. God did it all. I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me. There is nothing good about me other than the Living God chose to make my heart His Dwelling Place. The moment that I consider my life worth something outside of the grace given to me by the Lord than pride has regained a foothold and is moving in on Christ’s Throne. We must be very careful to not think of ourselves more highly than others – all others even the most broken and lost is the same depraved wretch as me. Jesus is forming a Body that one day will be His Bride. Every single person who I come in contact with is essential to its formation. I must see past whatever insecurity that I may have allowed to manifest in the form of pride to see that grace is for the humble. Grace is for me.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV) The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

There is a cancerous pride in the midst of many churches. Pride will always find someone to exalt itself over. God is looking for the humble. Those who have a servant’s heart not just in doing but being truly in love with other people. It cannot be determined by appearance or even one’s attitude and actions. Fake humility cannot hide on its knees very long. True humility is found in the revelation that I am as sinful and broken as any other living breathing person wrecked by sin. I am a survivor saved by the mercy and grace of the Living God through faith and there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve it. I must accept this truth with all humility on a daily and ongoing basis in order to live in love with God and others. He must increase and I must decrease means pride must die in the overflowing grace of God.

Romans 12:9-18 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Love must be sincere. It is such a simple statement but we miss it all the time. Love must be sincere. The description of love is extensively covered in I Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” It is this kind of love that must be sincere. To love others like this must be our full-time pursuit once in love with God the Father through His Son and filled by His Spirit. If we cannot love sincerely, there may be an inconsistency in character that is keeping us from receiving the fullest reward of grace and favor given to us by the Lord. To have His Perfect Will only requires complete submission to His Plan that begins by accepting His Grace through faith and understanding that without sincere love our life is lived in fake humility. It is cancer for our soul. Cancer in our churches and a constant danger to the Body of Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

I may be right sometimes but it is my life’s mission to live in righteousness always. The Grace of God given to me must be the passion of my heart and persuader of my mind. I must understand that God’s Grace is for all of us. It took the same amount to save my soul and set me free that it did for everyone else. Anyone who enters the doors of my church deserves it as much as I did which is not at all. They have the same potential of earning it as well. The Lord may be transforming my life but it all starts the same. A humble heart remembers its beginnings. It is able to love the least of these because it knows I am one, too. The Kingdom that I am called to is not small or limited. It is massive and ever expanding. The people who I come in contact with have a very special place in the Kingdom that is theirs for the taking. I must not allow my pride to stop them from securing salvation or experiencing divine security because of my own insecurity. God is always looking much deeper than that. He looks at our heart, motives and intentions. He is looking for love. Sincere love. Will He find it?

The culture of God’s Kingdom is love. It is defined by His Grace that is freely given yet hard to obtain. His Love is not human and therefore not the same. We cannot love with condition or pardon any sin. It is not our responsibility to define a new or different culture but engage in the one set forth. It says, “Whosoever will come.” When they do come, who will be exalted in their midst. Religious people or the Righteous One? Jesus said, If I be lifted up – I will draw all men to me!”

Ephesians 28:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Full Communion

Full Communion

John 15:4-5 (ESV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Abide in me. A personal invitation of intimacy from Jesus to us. He invites us to come closer, go deeper and live in the overflowing abundance called fruitfulness. To consider our creation is by God the Father. To remember that our purpose is for Him. To know that without full communion there is no fulfillment in the Lord. All these things are essential in achieving our purpose and acquiring all of God’s Promises for us. We must learn to abide in Him. We must learn to live in full communion with Jesus Christ.

I am the vine. You are the branches. Everything that Jesus has can be filtered to us and through us in life through virtue of relationship. To live in love with the Lord and remember to constantly pay attention to this relationship will make it thrive. Like a marriage, it must be nurtured each day and endure the storms of life through a steadfast commitment to love regardless of our feelings in that moment. The Lord has a purpose and plan to cultivate in you and me. It is only attainable by abiding in Christ on a daily basis. Those who endure for a lifetime will be saved.

The word “communion” makes many Christians think of the tiny glasses of grape juice and little wafers that taste like paper. This religious act is done in remembrance of Christ and His Sacrifice. However, I do not believe that this is the sum total of what the Lord was demonstrating to us. Communion means an act or instance of sharing. It is an interchange. It is also described as an intimate fellowship or rapport. The word “rapport” is a friendly and harmonious relationship characterized by agreement and mutual understanding that makes communication possible and easy. This is the kind of communion that Jesus desires – to live in a harmonious and intimate relationship with us. To abide in Him is an act of intimacy reserved for just two with the purpose of becoming one.

Matthew 26:26-28 (ESV) Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Before Jesus, the acts of religious duty were external. The sacrifice was on the altar. The blood was not to be consumed. The relationship between mankind and Creator at a distance due to sin. All that was about to change and Jesus symbolizes such a change of culture in the institution of communion. He took the bread and blessed it. Then it was broken to be consumed. He took the cup giving thanks for it and instructed them to drink the blood of the covenant. As one might imagine, the religious folks of the day were appalled this defied the rules and regulations set forth by God given to Moses. The Lord was suggesting a new relationship and new level of intimacy that would shatter religion making way for a righteous relationship between God and His People.

I Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)  For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

While I am a firm believer in the institution of communion and taking the symbolic sacraments in remembrance of Christ corporately, I believe that Paul is suggesting a much deeper form of service in I Corinthians. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Eat the bread. Drink the cup. The Bread of Life is Jesus Christ. (John 6) He is the Word. We must daily break the bread and consume it to continue in our covenant relationship with Him. He feeds our soul. He seeds our spirit. The purpose inside of me must be broken to my way to fully claim His Way. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. Every time the bread was blessed and broken, it did abundantly more than as a whole loaf. (Matthew 14 & 15) One boy’s lunch became a banquet for thousands from this very effort. Imagine our life in the Hands of the Creator becoming the masterpiece that He promised it would be. Jesus tells us that those who partake of the Bread of Life will never hunger again. In other words, satisfaction comes in daily feasting on the Word of God and digesting each truth to allow it to nourish our soul and bring us fulfillment as only He can do.

One cannot forsake the Blood of Jesus Christ. I know the Cross was a tragic, grotesque occurrence. To see an innocent man beaten, bloodied and bruised dying a horrific avoidable death. However, to demean the Cross is to devalue our life. Jesus was on the Cross for you and me. There was no other way but the way that He took to save us. How can we who are the recipients of His Grace forego a daily sojourn to the foot of the Old Rugged Cross? I cannot. I do not plead the Blood of Jesus over my life as a beggar but proclaim it as a victor. I have victory in Jesus and He won it on the Cross, walking through death and the grave until He arose in all His Glory on the third day. I need the Blood of Jesus.

I do not find the Cross offensive, but it is my objective. To be crucified with Jesus Christ means I must go to the Cross to make to resurrection power and life. I have not arrived until I stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ. Until then, I need every single drop of the Blood shed for me. I need to crucify my flesh daily. I must receive a washing of His Word. I must experience the renewal of His Spirit. I have a purpose that required payment of a penalty that I could not afford. I must remind myself daily that my life is not my own. True repentance always turns back to the Cross. Communion is where I find fulfillment. Without it, I am empty and void. Without the Blood, there is no communion.

I Corinthians 11:28-32 (ESV) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Self-examination begins with a standard. God’s Standard of living and loving is set forth in the Word of God and demonstrated by His Son – Jesus. To understand fully the ramifications of righteousness require a standard. Communion with the Lord is not possible apart from obedience and discipline. God is constant. We must be the flexible variables reconciling our life daily to His Word, His Way and His Will to live the rich and satisfying life available through Jesus Christ. We can act out many religious rites and rituals but apart from true communion with Jesus Christ it will mean nothing in the end. Until we allow this Gospel to be fully digested and become a way of life there really is no point to following certain actions or activities because they are all labors done in vain. God is looking at our heart. He wants to see Jesus. To see the seal of His Spirit marking us as His Children. This is accomplished through a life of communion with Christ.

Galatians 2:19-21 (ESV) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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 do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

I was made by You. I was made for You. I am unfilled without full communion. (Since Your Love – United Pursuit)

Lord, Help Me

Lord Help Me 2

Psalm 121 (ESV) I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Did you know that broccoli can cure cancer? No seriously there is a study that there are properties in this amazing veggie that can end these rogue cells attack. Lord, help me. Help me to see that people are trying to help when offering advice and articles such as this one to my son or even me. Our son has been in remission for almost four years now. People still send us information about diets that help aid in the fight against this horrible disease. I value their concern. I appreciate their good intentions. Really, I do…at least I try to.

There was a point in time about five years ago that every avenue of treatment was being explored. Our son was living in the realm of hope. Doctors were desperate for something…anything to save our son’s life. Not only were physical doors slammed in his face but financial wells of insurance dried up completely. We were living in a season of extreme drought and famine. Sitting in the hospital praying for God to help us – I would open emails or get texts about dietary changes that would heal our son. I would get so angry and frustrated in my desperation for a “real” solution. Our prayers were answered by none other than the Lord. There is no other explanation. He is alive when there was a 98% chance that he would die. He is well despite the fact that “if” he survived they only expected it to be for a couple of years at the most. God is my helper. The Lord helped our son. He is ready to help you, too.

People generally have good intentions. So it is only natural that when trouble comes or tragedy strikes – our eyes wander looking for a helper. Someone who will listen or give a hand. What happens when no one comes? What does one do when forgotten? How do we handle loads too much to be borne alone? Where is our help? What does it look like? The Lord has promised not to leave us or forsake us so why do we feel all alone sometimes? Maybe a more fitting word might be…helpless.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Perspective and perception determine our position in life. We must decide where our help will come from by where we look for it. I can turn to people and they will help as much as they are able. I remember in the beginning of our son’s battle and our journey of faith – people brought food to our family every single day for months while I was away taking care of him. Not just take-out – no friends – they cooked spreads of delicious meals for them. Our son’s friends who were attending college in the same town as his treatment would come by to visit and maybe play some cards or video games. In the beginning, we were literally surrounded. Facing a disease such as cancer can be a long arduous journey. It is hard to watch a friend endure the treatments or loved one with anxiety. It’s hard to watch another face what we fear the most. The enemy wants us to feel isolated, alone, and abandoned. It makes us easy pickings for his lies.

From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord. You will never gain such insight until every leaves you. I wish it were different but our eyes lead us most of the time. It is only when we cannot see any other assistance or exit from our current situation that we tend to cry out to the Lord. Yet, He is always ready, willing and able to help us. In fact, it is His Prime Objective and Innermost Intention to save, heal, deliver, and prosper our life. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. The faithfulness of the Lord keeps Him on high alert and always attentive. He doesn’t fall sleep on the job. He never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So if it’s not the Trinity’s fault we feel helpless and alone…who is it then?

Psalm 40:1-3 (ESV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

When our son was diagnosed, I sought the Lord concerning this turn of events. Recounting my allegiance to Him and then reciting His Word to Him as if He somehow forgot, I stormed the gates of Heaven and marched right up to His Throne. He told me, “Your son will live and not die.” I took that word and tucked in my heart and mind for safekeeping. I began to build my faith around it. There came a point in time that those words given to me by the Lord were all I had left to hang on to. Nothing…NOTHING pointed to a future only a funeral. Yet sitting in the darkness, I dared whisper them just one more time. God is our helper. If He says it – it will come to pass. His Word never ever returns to Him void. It is us. We are the problematic variable in this life of faith and believing. We do not wait on God. God is not into temporary fixes but triumphant recoveries. Jesus did not come for ties – He promised you the WIN! The Holy Spirit was placed in us to remind us of His Word and accompany us in our wait time. What has the Lord promised? Are you still waiting? Waiting and wandering are very different things. God is not diversified. He calls it double-mindedness. God is faithful to His Word…are you? Am I?

Mark 9:22-24 (ESV) And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

But if you can do anything…

How many times is this our prayer to the Lord? Rather than coming to Him with boldness and confidence in His Word as the Truth that governs our life and guides us to destiny – we come to him like a homeless and helpless beggar? God if you can do this one thing. Jesus if you can heal me. Lord if you can help me. Well, it is obvious in his response, Jesus was a bit irritated with the man’s lack of belief. All things are possible for one who believes. Do you believe today? Before you answer think about it. It is disheartening to think how many Christians do not believe and have no idea. Vacillating between yes He can to maybe He will to can He – as believers it is important to stand on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ knowing that He will do exactly as He promised to those who believe. He is faithful even when our faith is flailing about.

Psalm 118:6-7 (ESV) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Please do not misinterpret these words today. People are important. Everyone who is in our life is there for a reason. God orders our steps and encounters along the way. He puts certain personalities in our path. There is purpose and meaning in every human connection in our life. We must come to know and understand that the Lord is on our side. He is always with us. No matter where we go, what we do, and even how badly we mess us. He is right there – on the inside of us. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit who is our HELPER. He lives in us now. It is up to us to develop a partnership with His Spirit inside of us. We must become friends of God through faith and believing that He will never leave us or forsake us. Just one impossibility turned into a miracle will change your perspective forever. Just one instance when God’s Word comes to pass will change your heart and mind. Faith begins to grow in the fertility of a broken heart. Jesus knows and understands our feelings, emotions and pain because He experienced them all. He knows our weaknesses. He carried our burden. Let Him be your helper today. Lord, help me.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 54:4 (ESV) Behold God is my helper. The Lord is the upholder of my life.

Read the Instructions

Read the Instructions

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Raising five children, I am somewhat familiar with some assembly required. Many Christmas’ have taught me to dig through each box and find the manual ahead of time as there are just some things that Walmart doesn’t carry after midnight on such an important night. I realize that to some people that these are simply the manufacturer’s suggestions for construction. However, I ere on the side of caution in most things. Not all retailers provide clear instructions so sometimes I must rely on an occasional YouTube video or bloggers insight to complete the project. My advice for life – read the instructions. All of them. Count the pieces. Make sure all the parts are included. Lay it all out and patiently inspect it. Make a plan. Then, put it all together. In most cases, this will lead to your success.

It amazes me how many Christians (even pastors in recent studies) who do not read the Bible every day. It is our instruction manual for life. It tells us what to expect in a new life not based on this world but the Kingdom. It carefully outlines pathways of prosperity that lead to His Promises. It is our strategy guide to winning the battle against the enemy and even our flesh. There are so many good things in the Word for me that I cannot imagine not having it as part of my daily sustenance. It was not always like that. Like most people I did not understand how the Law could benefit me when all it did was convict me. I didn’t measure up. I fell way short of God’s Glorious Standard and the harder I tried to follow His Instructions the more inadequate I felt. God’s Instructions are for your good. He is leading you from the past into your future. He is making good of every detail in due time. The seeds sown by His Word always produce a good harvest of great abundance in our life. We must read the instructions.

All Scripture is breathed out by God. We must believe that the Word of God is from the mouth of God. To fully understand its potential is to know that it came straight from the Father through the Son to us. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh. (John 1) He came to demonstrate the story that mankind simply could not comprehend. God pursued the people with unfailing love – but they chose other lovers. He continually showered them with His Goodness – but they craved substitutions and counterfeits. He begged them to wait on Him – but they all wandered off. God is offering you today the opportunity to prosper in every promise and to benefit from every blessing. It is in His Word. It is all part of His Careful Instruction.

Profitable for teaching… We must read the instruction manual to understand the structure of God’s Kingdom. To know and realize how it works and comes together because it is not logical. Faith is illogical apart from the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. We cannot teach a truth that is not known. It is important to lean on God for understanding rather than relying on his teachers all the time. Why? God’s Divine Inspiration can be convoluted by man. Man’s interpretation of God’s Word may not work for you in your life. God wants to speak directly to you and your purpose. Teachers are good. Mentors are good. Pastors, leaders and the like – all good and beneficial but if God’s Word is not known to us – we cannot rightly discern if the one teaching us is credible. There are many half-truths taught each day readily consumed by people who are gullible. The Word is clear. People perish from a lack of knowledge. I don’t want to be that person. The profit of the Word of God is wisdom and discernment. These are especially important in the present day and age.

Now the part we don’t like so much – reproof, correction, and training. Ugh! All part of discipline. The life of a disciple is impossible apart from discipline. You cannot live apart from reproof, correction and training yet still be a follower of Christ. God is Sovereign. He is perfect. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t change His Mind. God is constant. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the Word of God and never changes. If this is true (and it is), we are the ones who must change and be transformed. The Word of God is what recreates us from the inside out. His Word is reproves His Love for us each day. It is reminds us that His Grace is enough when we mess up which we will. It tells us over and over again that His Love never ends. It is steadfast that nothing can ever separate us from His Love.

Pride hates correction. Correction demands a response. To err is human but to continually commit the same mistake is sin. We cannot have God’s Best our way. God corrects us through His Word. We read it and are convicted. I have been in the Word daily for almost a year now. I have found that there are some habits that changed. There are some choices that are different. The heart absorbs the seed of the Word and things are produced in us that will begin to sustain our spirit and starve the flesh. Pride will always reject the Word because it demands a soulful engagement that leads to godly transformation that will always be the death of our flesh.

Training in righteousness. The goal of salvation is that believers would like in a right relationship with God. The Word tells us exactly how to do it. A daily manual of instruction to remind us who we are and what we are here to do. When we starve our soul, the flesh arises. It takes over with rationale rather than radical faith in the Living God. We must live in a constant state of training. Our heart is a muscle. If I go to the gym on a regular basis, I strengthen my muscles. When I stop going, I begin to get soft and weak again. The Word works our heart muscle into shape for the Kingdom. When we stop our training, we will become lax.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (ESV)  “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

God’s Word is the teaching needed that you may live and take possession of all that the Lord has for you. He gave it to you. You have to reach out and take hold of it. To love Jesus is to love the Word. To know Jesus is to know the Word. To live for Jesus is to live the Word. You cannot find a teacher who will add a new spin because the Word never changes. It holds secrets and truths to your purpose, promise and potential that no one else will understand but you. To try to live a godly life without God’s Truth about things is foolishness. To blindly walk in flailing faith is also foolish. You have a light that shines through all darkness inside you that is fanned into flame and fueled by His Word and its constant consumption.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

When Jesus left to sit at the right hand of the Father, He did not leave us alone. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit is our helper. He teaches us God’s Word. He helps us understand the Word. He produces the Fruit of the Spirit with it. Above all things – the Spirit takes God’s Word and uses it to give us peace. Not worldly peace – but when the earth shakes, normal falls apart or our heart breaks in a million pieces – there is still hope. We must learn to read the instructions. Build a firm foundation of faith. Continue in constant hope. Experience peace that passes all understanding.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

The Sword of God’s Spirit is the Word of God. It is the weapon that deliver us from evil and illuminates the lie of the enemy set against us. To be a disciple or approved worker never ashamed by ignorance requires knowing and believing the Word of God. It is important to read the instructions. How can you be mad if you choose to forego them and things don’t turn out like the picture? How can you have God’s Way doing it your way? The meditation of my mouth and heart must agree. To speak the Word over my life means I must know what it says. To take the land I must know the plan. God has a plan. It is carefully outlined and detailed in His Word. The Word is not a mystery to those who choose to read it, study it, think about it, know it and believe it. It becomes a life source.

Psalm 119:28-34 (ESV) My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.

 

No Longer Orphans

No Longer Orphans

John 14:18 (ESV) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

On this Father’s Day, many will celebrate the men in their life who have filled the prestigious role of dad. Dad comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The natural father given the title by sheer contribution would be the likely candidate for celebration. However, there are guardians, grandfathers and step-fathers that have become the bonus dad for many. Men who stepped up to fill the void or simply added to the enrichment of children who were not their biological children but their kids just the same. Some may even honor the spiritual fathers and mentors who have guided each one with love and divine discipline along the way. Dads will be honored on earth and in heaven today. Today is all about dad!

I am quite certain the song, “Good Father” will resonate in our churches in honor of God our Father. Sons and daughters of God will sing it out among those who remain orphans. Those who have not met the Father in person or allowed Him to manifest in their heart and mind will not understand the grace and goodness of unconditional love from our Father in Heaven who came to us in His Son. We can relate to the story of the prodigal son because most of us identify with his person. It is difficult to understand the heart of the father who loves without consequence or condition but welcome his son home with open arms and full reconciliation. Oh that we could know the Father’s Love today as it is not as one may perceive it.

John 14:8-11 (ESV) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip thought his request reasonable in his misconception of Christ. He wanted to identify with the Son but needed to “see” the Father to bring it all together. Faith does not come by sight but by hearing. The Word stood right in front of him, but because Jesus did not meet Philip’s earthly expectation – he questioned the identity of Christ. The prodigal was in a pig pen eating with swine when the thought of being a servant in his father’s house seemed like a logical solution to his impending starvation. I will return home and ask my father to allow me to be his slave. He was looking for a consequence. He was convinced there would be a condition. Philip didn’t see the Father in the Son so he doubted. It didn’t matter how much love Jesus demonstrated or how many miracles that He performed. Philip did not believe. The prodigal did not believe that he was worthy of his father’s love so he sought his compassion instead. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to release the Spirit of Adoption for us. The Holy Spirit in us identifies us as sons and daughters of God. He is a good father. We are no longer orphans. The question is – do you believe?

John 14:12-14 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

The Spirit of Adoption gives us the right of receivership. Jesus Christ gave us His Spirit when we first believed. This is the Way Maker that restores a right relationship between God the Father and His Precious Children. Done. Complete. Powerful. Life. See there is nothing in heaven or the earth withheld from us as His Children but we do not live in freedom as His Children when locked in our identity as orphans. The prodigal spirit is that of an orphan.

Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

You have received the Spirit of God. You do not have the spirit of slavery or fear for these are products of sin. You now have been saved from these terrible reminders of your past. The Spirit of Adoption given to us by Christ FULLY RESTORES our relationship with God the Father. Complete. Lacking nothing. You are a Child of the Living God with full access and benefits. We must learn to identify with the Spirit within that bears witness to our true identity. The One that reminds us in the midst of the storm or struggle that we are Children of God. The One who whispers the truth when the enemy is pummeling us with lies. The One who is always ready to receive us because He pursues us each day with unfailing love and goodness. His Goodness is for the land of the living. You are no longer left to feed on the crumbs under the table but have been given a seat AT the table. God will not force you to be His Child or live as part of His Kingdom. He simply has given us access. The rest, my dear friend, is up to you and me.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Your natural father is only a man. Any other father figure, like the one who partnered in your existence, is a human given to faults and failures just like everyone else. As we celebrate dad today, it is important to understand that although the one who is called father in your life may have disappointed you – there is one father who never disappoints. He will meet and exceed the expectation of His Children. Children exercise the rights of relationship. There is no prerequisite for a father’s love. As Children of God, our acceptance or denial of God’s Love does not change the fact that He is love and has chosen to adopt us as His Children. He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ withholding nothing from us that was given to His Son – Jesus. It is easy to judge God by our human parental experience, but so errant and remiss. God is not an earthly father but our Father in Heaven. Nothing can separate us from His Love. He is constantly pursuing us and waiting for us to return to Him without reservation. He is ready to respond to our acceptance of His Spirit of Adoption today and every day!

You are not an orphan. You are not alone. God has not left you to fend for yourself. He is a Good Father.  He loves you and has wonderful promises hidden away just for you. It is discovered by accepting Him as our Father. The Perfect Father. We access Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. He gives us His Spirit which seals our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God. Every day is Father’s Day for those who believe. We celebrate adoption today because we are no longer orphans.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV) And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Easily Distracted

Easily Distracted

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I sat down with the youth of our church last week to talk about distractions. Using these two verses, we discussed some of the distractions in their daily life that keeps them from focusing on time with the Lord. In just a brief thirty minutes, it was as though the Holy Spirit was teaching the lesson. Rabbit trails and squirrel chases had us in fifty different conversations all at once. It took extreme discipline to wrangle everyone back on topic. It’s funny how that works in life. We are so busy running around like chickens with our heads cut off that we lose sight of Jesus unintentionally. He is the founder and perfecter of our faith that is discovered by following Him rather than seeing where exactly He is going. This requires paying attention to every detail such as His Word and communicating through prayer to know and understand what to do and when to do it. The benefit is at the end of the day peace overtakes us and the lie of the enemy causing panic is dissolved in truth. Let us run the race with endurance that is set before us. This indicates a marathon and not a sprint. One must live a life of self-control and discipline to find His Way. We must learn to cast aside the weight of sin, doubt and discouragement to live in righteousness, trust and hope. How do I get there from here?

Song of Solomon 2:15-16 (ESV) Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom. My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.

I find it fascinating that these two verses are coupled together in the Word of God. It is an intentional dialogue and one that can change our focus immediately. Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards. Your life is fertile ground. You have seeds of potential to be planted in faith. The enemy knows that God has promised you a prosperous and abundant life. He is not after the fruit of our life but rather to kill our potential. The distractions of life will cause us to stop plowing, planting, pruning, and preparing for a harvest. The little foxes ate away at the base of the plant and it died. They did not kill it but rather disconnected it from the source of the soil. Our source in life is Jesus Christ. He must be our beloved. We must decide that my beloved is mine and I am His. This commitment called covenant changes everything. It demands our attention. It is a union of one.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (ESV) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

When Jesus Christ died for you and me, He gave us freedom. Real freedom to choose all over again the life that is lived in us and through us. We have life and good or death and evil. Life and good is only obtained when we choose to pursue God through the Love of Jesus Christ. His Grace gets us there. It is a choice to walk in His Ways, keep His Commandments, and to live and prosper in His Love. Bottom line – it is a choice. The life of my choosing is not the result of God’s Lack of Goodness or the Insufficiency of Christ’s Grace but my selection of something else. God does not offer a lower standard of living – it is up to us to choose it instead of abundant life.

Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

To decide to pursue God’s Love is to believe that He is good. His Goodness is for you. It is for right here and right now. Those who believe will wait on the Lord. To be strong is not the absence of weakness but acceptance of amazing grace that affords unconditional love. The lie of the enemy is that God expects something of us other than just us. There is nothing I can do for the Lord – He did it all for me already. I cannot repay Him. I cannot in any way compensate the God, Father, Son or Spirit for the complete work. All I can do is accept it. To fully experience God’s Goodness is to fully believe that His Love for me is complete without my assistance. What a pride killer and ego buster? I am weak and helpless but all I have and all I am – I give to You – Jesus!

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I love this “let your reasonableness be known to everyone”. The problem with our faith is that it is illogical. We are not convinced and so easily distracted from the truth by the lies of the enemy. We settle for less because there is doubt within us. Faith is reasonable when Christ becomes our beloved. When our relationship with Him is the foundation of all other things in our life. Fiction becomes fact when backed by Truth. To decide to pursue the Lord is not enough. We must be fully persuaded that God loves us and His Goodness is for us. Otherwise peace is compromised by rebellion and treason of the heart gives way to compromise because doubt is allowed to exist. We must focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. This will silence complaints, grumblings, arguments and disagreement. When faith becomes a reasonable choose, it will be our choice every time. God’s Love is full of goodness. He is always good. He promises to make good of every detail of our life. It is all about believing enough to wait for Him.

Have you lost sight of the author and finisher of faith today? Have little foxes nibbled at your confidence a bit? He is the vine. We are the branches. Jesus will sustain you if you choose fix your heart and mind on Him today and stop allowing all the distractions whittle away at your faith. You are your beloved’s and He belongs to you. There is nothing that can or will every separate you from the Love of God or Christ in you… but you! Change your confession over your life today. Speak the Word not the world’s perspective. Make your faith reasonable and logical by putting God’s Word in action and living a life of rejoicing in all things. The enemy flees when we resist him. Be strong in the Lord today – He is strong in you!

Lord, I ask you to fill each person’s heart with the peace that passes all understanding. Put Your Mighty Hand over each fragile broken heart and guard it from the fiery darts of the enemy today. You are good! You love us. You pursue us with unfailing love. May each one of us accept your love, grace and mercy today – in Jesus Precious Name!

 

Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

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

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.