Proper Order

Proper Order

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Spirit. Soul. Body. The Word of God tells us to be kept blameless in all three of these areas of life. It seems many times due to imbalance that one will fall short or be neglected. The God of Peace will sanctify us and make us completely whole. It is up to us to engage in the process of wholeness and oneness with the Lord. I went for a physical the other day. I am in good health other than a good case of menopause. Menopause is part of a woman’s transition in life to a new season. It is welcomed by many but rebuked due to the symptoms accompanying it. I have friends who have endured it yet was still unprepared. To sum it up lightly, it is as if your mind and body begin to misfire completely. The thermostat goes up and down constantly. Mood changes with the wind. Sitting with the doctor, she added to the burden that I should lose about 15 pounds and that exercise would benefit not only my body but my mind. Not what I wanted to hear but nevertheless exactly what I needed to hear. How do we get out of order? Shifting sand? Changing seasons? The Lord promises to order our life and accompany us along the way even in dark valley or illuminated mountaintops – He is always working the details for our good. Am I working with Him?

There are seasonal changes in our life all the time. New relationships. New jobs. New people. New opportunities. Unexpected events. Aging. Life presents change on a regular basis. The constancy of our life is Jesus Christ. To prepare for His Coming is our purpose. Distractions keep us from destiny when our spirit, soul and body are not controlled by the Lord but given to overtures of the flesh. It is important to evaluate these three elements in our life on a continual basis. An imbalance can cause us to fall. One definitely impacts the other. My doctor explained that exercise is more important than dieting because of the endorphins released in such activities. Our body is designed by God to work in unison – spirit, soul and body. An unhealthy lifestyle will definitely impact other areas of spiritual and mental health.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV) Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

It’s funny how reading the Bible, it is human nature to pull from it what we are after and ignore the rest. I know I am the only one who does it….not all the super Christians out there. (Insert chuckle) It is very important to examine our heart and mind for unity with the Lord. We must evaluate our walk with Christ to maintain proper direction. All of the spiritual essence of faith is absolutely vital. Our health is important, too. Christ would not have taken stripes on His Back without purpose. We are to be healed, healthy and whole in Him. We are Children of the King. First class athletes running the race of faith. Or are we?

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

My body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. Christ lives in me. My entire being should represent that God is Good Father and takes exceptional care of His Children. If my mind is yielded to Jesus, I have the Mind of Christ and make better choices giving sound counsel. I do not react to emotions but respond with the Word. If my soul belongs to Jesus, His Commandments are not burdensome. I can love others from the vast reservoir within me giving grace freely and forgiving unconditionally. I am a Light in dark world. If my body belongs to Jesus, I should be the picture of health from excellent care. I must see the whole picture of oneness and wholeness in Christ. Christ came to make us whole, complete and lacking nothing. What is missing?

I Corinthians 9:26-27 (ESV) So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

My flesh is ridiculous right now as my body undergoes a change. It is up to me to discipline my body and keep it under control. Why? Otherwise my lifestyle preaching to others may be disqualified. Well then…my lifestyle matters. How I live matters? It does. I must not run through life aimlessly but live intentionally striving for wholeness and oneness in Christ. To live up to His Full Standard does not exempt a single element including our spirit (mind), soul and body. All must be fully equipped to serve the Lord and be an example of how great His Love is and what a Good Father He is to those who love and trust Him. As I flourish in the fullness of God’s Love, others will see and be drawn to Him. I have some work to do. How about you? There are changes to be made in my own physical life that will be difficult. Let’s face it – most believers like to fellowship and eat together. My schedule is hectic yet I must still be motivated to move and get my body in line with God’s Word. I am healthy and whole in Jesus Christ. But what about your mind? Are you stressed or anxious? You can have the Mind of Christ but must displace stinking thinking with sound knowledge that will become wisdom when applied to your life. What about your heart and soul? Repentance is not a one-time event but an ongoing lifestyle by continually turning over the contents of our heart and surrendering that which does not reflect the Father’s Great Love. Whatever is imbalanced in our life can be called to order by Christ and fortified by His Spirit who lives in you and me? We must only ask and He will be our Helper. My life in proper order will preach a gospel that my mouth could never speak.

John 14:16-17 (ESV) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

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Commune with Me

Commune with Me

Revelation 3:19-21 (ESV) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Today is Sunday. The day of the week set aside for most churches and organized religions to meet and worship God together. Since before my eyes opened, I have felt a gentle summoning in my spirit. Not the one that requires me to hop out of bed and get the day going but the still small voice of invitation to linger. The Lord loves me. He desires me. He covets my attention. Not the afterthoughts given after I portion my mind out to my family, friends, and the world but the first fruits of this day. He doesn’t want to be my second thought but in this moment the only One on my mind. It is easy to turn it into a working relationship rather than living in a worship experience. Just like in marriages, friendships and partnerships to get caught up in the responsibility to the relationship rather than remembering how it all came together in the first place. The enemy has ordained busyness in our life to compromise time. He has ordered distractions and step traps that keep us tangled in lies rather than continuing in love. He knows exactly what he is doing. Yet, in this moment of alone time with the Lover of my soul, I am aware that He has already overcome the enemy and killed the giants that I face so I can continue in my ponderings and revelations of His Love if only for a few minutes longer before the day begins.

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

The Lord is my shepherd. The authority and direction of my life. Confidence in the Lord to lead me to complete satisfaction is essential in true repentance. The difficulty of the pursuit is not in His Presentation but our perception of His Love, Faithfulness and Intentions. To walk by faith into the unseen realities of hope that cannot be perceived but experienced. I can share my faith with someone else but until you encounter Jesus Christ for yourself there is no possible way to ever fully comprehend what I am talking about.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… Where is comfort in reprove or discipline? Well, for those who are seeking a better way they are the confidence needed to leave this world behind and enter Kingdom living instead. The rod and staff or reprove and discipline are not punishment. When our bodies begin to suffer or gain excessive weight, it is a personal decision to choose a better way so diet and exercise become the focus of change. Our workout may be “punishment” and the sweat a sign of dying fat, but at the end of the day it is our personal choice for a healthy life which causes us to make better choices. This is the essence of repentance. Not to punish us but lead us to the purpose, promise and prosperity that is our inheritance in Jesus Christ – it is a personal choice to turn from the darkness of this world and live in the Light of His Love. Yes, it is not always easy. Sometimes it even hurts, yet in all things it proves to be worth it.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus never intended to overload us with rules and regulations. Religion does that. His Desire and Purpose was to make a way for us to have a thriving relationship with God the Father through Him. Jesus offers to aid us in our labor and remove the heavy burdens. We are to be yoked to Jesus. But in yoking one must give up their way or risk never moving an inch toward purpose. We must give up our way to have the Way, the Truth and the Life that Jesus offers those who come to Him. It means giving up the worries, cares, and fears that doubt constantly hands us wrapped in insecurity. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

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

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The Lord desires an intimate relationship with His People. Each one of us have a place at His Table that cannot be filled by another. There are no favorites because each one of us is His Favorite. There is no partiality because our purpose is individual and characterized specifically for us. The concept of communion with the Lord is not that of a tiny cup of grape juice or wine followed by a thin wafer that tastes like paper. We do this as a religious representation. I believe in communion – corporately, privately and individually. However the relationship that Christ desires with each one of us is to commune together in intimacy. To sit together and talk. To come together and linger. To love each other in every way through each day. It is I Corinthians 13 love mixed with the Blood of Jesus that makes us inseparable even in our imperfection. He is knocking on our heart each day. Asking if we will let Him in. To trust Him just a little more. To let His Love go just a little deeper to stay a little longer. He pursues us with goodness, mercy and unfailing love every day in the hope that our heart will turn the knob of repentance and by faith swing the door wide so He can come closer than ever before.

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.

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ through His Love. In all things, believers have the power, authority and dominion to overcome. It is in our acceptance of His Love that empowerment by grace makes this the reality of our life. When Jesus died, the veil that separated mankind from the Presence of God was torn from top to bottom so that no one could ever put it back together again. God was sending a message through His Son. His Love for you is unstoppable. He created you to pursue you with His Love and will not stop until He has found you. You are the one in the ninety-nine that He left His Throne in Heaven to apprehend. He has a place for you in His Kingdom that no one else can ever dwell in. I think if we understood for a single second the vastness and overwhelming nature of His Love with any kind of confidence things would change for the better in that second. The burdens would be lifted. Chains broken. Worries vaporized. Sin released. Freedom would reign in the Body of Christ because someone chose to open the door and let Jesus in.

Could it be that it is our own fear, doubt and uncertainty of God’s Love for us that keeps the door of Heaven closed from us? Is He knocking but we refuse to open the door? Repentance is not an immediate change but a commitment to keep turning our life over to Christ for more new life. It is the opportunity to let His Glory fill us and overtake us. There is no punishment for God’s Children. Just reprove and discipline, divine guidance to better things and new blessings in every single day. We do not see the Lord like this because we do not know Him intimately. We have not communed with Him outside of communion. He is inviting you today. You! To come and talk with Him. You can hear it in your heart, but have been too afraid to answer. What do you have to lose? Nothing that His Love will not renew, restore or revive. Let Jesus in today! He has secrets to tell you, new things to reveal to you, and a new life that He has prepared just for you!

I John 5:3-5 (ES) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit

John 15:16-17 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items last week. Passing through the produce section, there was sign marked “tree-ripened fresh peaches”. Reaching for them expecting soft and supple fruit, the peaches were still a bit hard and not at all what I expected. However, this did not stop me from filling a bag anyway. An elderly gentleman in a riding wheelchair came up to the table and asked if the fruit was any good. He also felt the peaches and declared them not ripe but firm to the touch. I shared the secret to delicious juicy peaches. If you take some home and put them on the counter for a couple of days, the fruit will ripen and soften to perfection. He chuckled and said that earlier in the week that the employee stocking the fruit told him the same thing. The man is on a fixed budget and was afraid to splurge on the fruit only to be disappointed. He didn’t trust the worker so he didn’t buy any that day. He told me his story as he selected some peaches to take home.

We are called to bear fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. To abide in the Vine so fully and completely that His Fruit begins to blossom and ripen in us. His Spirit cultivates the kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and is worth sharing with others. The man did not buy what the market was selling but he decided to lean on my personal experience that day. People relate to a Gospel that is shared like a good meal. They prefer an authentic relatable experience over a chance encounter that may not go as expected. It is not my “job” to share Christ but my privilege to offer others the abundance of goodness produced by having Him in my life living in me.

It is important to note in John 15 that the Lord has chosen us. We did not handpick him from a plethora of other gods but rather God created us as Children in His Image. Christ in us restores and rebuilds our relationship with God the Father through righteousness. I have seed worth planting and fruit worth bearing inside of me. What I do with the seeds of faith given to me in measure is up to me. Pursuing His Kingdom is a promise of reaching eternity that is already set within my heart but will I consider the cost worth paying for the privilege of the everlasting is truly up to me.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

God’s Word is the seed that produces every good thing in our life. Jesus is the Word. We hear the Word and must decide what to do with it. There are several choices. There are some who hear the story of Jesus and cannot comprehend such a gift or fathom the depths of His Love so they deem it unbelievable and decide to choose this life. The enemy comes and takes the seed easily discarded. There are those who hear the Word of God and believe it…at first. Like the sign on the peaches boasting “tree-ripened fruit”, they are interested until reaching for it and finding it hard. Rather than taking it home and allowing it to ripen on the kitchen counter until it is just right, they pass by the opportunity to taste and see that it is good. We are encouraged to taste and see that God is good yet do not engage in the process because it takes too long or too much energy so we take a shortcut or substitution instead. We must let the Love of God given to us through Jesus Christ take root in our heart so when tests and trials come we overcome the temptation to abandon our effort and let go. There are those who hear the Word and believe it, yet they are too busy to take the time to really meditate on it and allow it to sink in and produce its potential. The Word blossoms and good things start to happen but the process is again abandoned for the good rather than waiting on the God Fruit that is coming. Our seed (the Word) must be sown in fertile broken hearts and given time to grow, develop and mature into the Fruit it is supposed to be. The seed will always produce its potential.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word always produces its potential. The promise will always come. He gives seed to the sower. Those who decide to cultivate God’s Word for themselves will find new promises every single day. The fruit produced in their life becomes enticing to others who will want to know how it happened, where it came from, and how you got it. The influence in our life increases when abundance becomes our experience. The seed always produces its potential in us. It prospers our soul which in turn spills over into our life. Others will want and desire what you have suddenly opportunities will arise to share the good fruit of God’s Spirit with others time and time again because success becomes our experience.

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For Mother’s Day, our church gave all the mom’s succulent plants. I have the orphans sitting in the window in the dining room. I have been honest in my admission that I have a history of plant killing. I am a homicidal horticulturist or at least I was… I have painstakingly cared for the handful of plants and they are beginning to grow and thrive. I am amazed at the miracle before me. I think sometimes we decide who we are and what we will be based on our past experiences and history. God promised to give us new life. He gave us His Word with the promise of an inheritance to those who begin by sowing it in their heart and mind. Those who decide to try it out and trust Him little by little with the broken pieces of our messed up life will begin to see subtle productivity that will one day become our success. His Word is our promise that cannot return to Him without absolute fulfillment. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is not a religious exercise but a daily experience of sowing His Word and sharing its productivity. We have been given the opportunity to bear fruit in every good work even a simple encounter with someone at the grocery store. Many sermons will be preached. Teachings shared. Insight given. It will spread seeds of God’s Word all around but it will be those who take the time to sow it, stay with it, wait for it and then share it that will see its good fruit.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

When I Want to Fight

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A church leader shared this passage in Sunday service last week. It was good then…but this morning, I wasn’t sure I liked it quite so much. The Lord told Moses and the people to fear not…stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord – He will work for you today! The enemy in their sights would be gone forever. This is the good part. Now comes the struggle in certain situations – “the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” There are situations in life when one might prefer to wage war against other people or vilify themselves and seek revenge in order to give the other person what they have coming to them. When facing the giants in this world, it is much easier to let the Lord have His Way and slay them. But when the foe that is faced is of a sizable match – it is up to us to let the battle be the Lord’s and to remain silent.

I Timothy 6:11-13 (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. 

There is only one fight that I am called to as a believer. I am ordained to fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is confidence in the Lord and putting all expectation in Him. It is an act of trust that causes us to stand and wait rather than pursue and overtake. We must fight the battle within our flesh to let the Lord fight our battles, win our wars, and even to be silent while watching and waiting. As believers, the encounters and engagements with the enemy become more and more unjust as our life is aligned to Jesus Christ. To hold on to eternal life rather than prideful rightness is so hard when right. Our good confession in the presence of many witness is always faith in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must stand in victory because Christ lives in us and not fight amongst each other.

As believers, our lifelong pursuit is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Ugh! Sometimes these qualities and characteristics of the Lord that He is attempting to create in me cause a war in the flesh. I must stand on the Word of God and walk in His Ways even when the enemy knocks on the front door, meets me at work or even shows up in the church parking lot. The struggle is real. It is an everyday battle of our mind, will and emotions to remain in partnership with Jesus Christ. To maintain our relationship so that it is thriving, growing, maturing and constantly developing into an inseparable bond both now and forever.

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.

Is it a coincidence that the great cloud of witness are mentioned immediately after the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11? A reminder that faith is not easy. Trusting God is hard. When the enemy comes throwing his weight around, trying to stick sin on us, and attempting to trip us with lies, we must continue to run the race of faith to the prize that waits before us. It will require endurance. You will get tired of turning the other cheek. Standing doesn’t release the adrenaline that fighting for your right will, but righteousness comes from living as one with Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed on our Champion. The One who is the Founder and Perfecter and Author and Finisher of our faith in the first place. The Lord will fight for you today. He will fight for me. I must be silent and wait on the Lord even when it hurts. To know whose I am and who I am in Christ must lead me down a pathway of peace in life so that others will entertain His Presence through my influence. Peace lives in me. The war waged in my mind and heart are against flesh and blood that seeks retribution. My flesh is called to die so new life will take its place. Lord, help me to be confident and silent as you fight my battles today. Help me to stand firm and having done to stand firm. In Jesus Name…

Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

It’s a Setup

It's a Setup 2

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.

The blessing of God in our life is a divine setup. God decided to impart every spiritual blessing to us before He created us. Not only that, God the Father also had already purposed to adopt us into His Family before the realization that sin had orphaned us ever came into play. God knew you and me and yet still had already made the decision to love us no matter what the cost. I don’t think that many Christians know and understand just how profound predestination is and what a great factor it plays in life. When God decided that He would make us holy and blameless, He already knew the cost and was willing to pay it. Jesus Christ was always part of God’s Magnificent and Perfect Plan for us because God knew about our sinful nature from the very beginning. You can have the perfect Will of God because our life is a divine setup.

The Perfection of God is not compromised by His Love for imperfect people but rather He has chosen to secure the debt so there is no penalty. He gives us His Grace instead. Therefore, no matter what a depraved wretch I was before I met Jesus Christ and invited Him into my life, I am still made holy and blameless by the Perfect Will of God that He already planned and paid for. Persistence, patience and perseverance are required by us because of our rebellious nature and raging flesh that must be dealt with and put to death on a regular basis. We must learn to let the Lord’s Grace and Mercy cover our imperfection and live in His Perfect Will. It was never possible for you and me to be perfect but rather step into His Righteousness and be perfected by Christ.

Shame and regret attempt to turn our head from the possibilities of God in our life to the past that once kept us from them. Doubt keeps our neck locked in a backward position when God’s Promises whisper “just turn around”. If we believed in the sufficiency of God’s Grace, it would lead us to conclude that He is always good. We are blessed not because of our personal abilities but completely in the fact that God is good and full of grace. He has a plan that will lead to fulfillment of purpose. He is worthy of my praise simply because His Grace is always enough. It is all because of Jesus so there is no performance pressure or assumption that I can or ever will be perfect – but can fully rest on His Plan, Purpose and Promises just the same.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ alone fulfillment is possible, outside of Him our attempts to have a fully satisfying life are impossible. Jesus fills the void that sin left behind. Habits can be changed. Discipline achieved. Schedules shifted. New life can be demonstrated in human behavior but it must begin in the heart to become the new person who can have fulfillment and prosperity in God’s Perfect Plan. We must accept His Grace by being covered in His Blood, its messy process. Yet God “lavishes” grace upon us in copious amounts knowing full well that our nature is otherwise corrupt and self-seeking.

Keeping our eye on the prize is beneficial. My daughter, who six months ago had her first child, sent me a picture of an extremely healthy woman who was in excellent shape. She claimed this to be her in a few months. She is dieting and exercising. It takes self-control not to indulge in all the good food that is permissible but not beneficial. She looks at the physique she would like to achieve and it inspires her to make better choices and do the workouts on the plan. It is our nature to desire immediate and even constant gratification but what if we could see past the process to the outcome. Looking at the prize certainly justifies the price. Why do we as believers expect God to just wipe away all the consequences of our past and pave a path to our future without the suffering born of transformation? There must be a death to achieve new life.

Ephesians 1:11-14 (ESV)  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I was taught that God had a perfect will but that sin kept us from it. In other words, each sin committed cost us something from God’s Plan. I am convinced now that is impossible. God prerecorded every single moment of our life before our creation. (Psalm 139) He must have considered every single detail including our sin and shortcomings – otherwise God would be considered delusional. He knew beforehand that every person created would sin. Therefore, His Grace is sufficient in the price fully considered and paid completely. It is by His Grace that I am saved through faith. Faith is the confidence and blessed assurance that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in advance as an inheritance. It means that though I fell short – Jesus (precious Jesus) filled the gap and voids in my life that once kept me from God’s Perfect Will. Jesus is enough to secure righteousness for me.

Does this mean that sinning will not keep us from God’s Perfect Will? No. The only way to receive the fulfillment of God is to be united with Christ. What relationship will ever survive if taken for granted? If I am unfaithful to my husband, surely he would want to end our marriage…I know that I would. True love doesn’t seek after itself but perfect unity with its Beloved. Christ died because of my sin. He endured awful torture and horrendous pain to see me completely forgiven and fulfilled. To engage in willful sin and rebellious behavior would clearly show that I was only attempting to use Jesus for my own personal interests without any regard for the relationship of righteousness to be formed so there is no salvation without a personal commitment to Christ deeper than the surface.

Psalm 139:15-18 (ESV) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

I have lived more than 50 years now. Long enough to see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living as prescribed in Psalm 27. I share this with you because it still blows me away when God works all the details of my life for my good and His Glory. The Lord was with me as I was intricately woven. Intricately woven does not imply a careless conception but rather careful creation with divine attention. He saw my substance. Not who I was but who I might become in Him. The Lord recorded every single day of my life before I ever lived it. God’s Thoughts concerning me are precious. He is always looking to perfect my way so I am living the best possible life because His Plan for me leads to full satisfaction and complete fulfillment. He is a Perfect God who loves the most imperfect people. He predestined you for a prospering life that begins in the innermost part of our soul and works its way out. Not because we are perfect, but simply because He is.

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

True Worth

True Worth

Luke 12:6-7 (NLT) “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

The most expensive painting sold to date is “Salvator Mundi” attributed to Leonardo da Vinci which brought a whopping $450.3 million at action in November 2017. A masterpiece no doubt but it is not a familiar piece such as the Mona Lisa. A little-known Saudi prince purchased the painting and then donated it Louvre Abu Dhabi. The worth of the creation is linked back to the creator. Leonardo da Vinci is a widely known famous artist making his work very valuable. I know a man whose mother was rummaging through a yard sale when she came across a pencil etching by none other than Salvador Dali. She immediately purchased it for a few dollars then taking it to an appraiser. It is worth a great deal now that the artist is identified. It has been moved from a garage overflowing with junk to an exquisite frame hanging as a focal point.

There is no one else like you. Created in the Image and Likeness of God, yet completely unique and individual in purpose and form. There are many men and women but if only humanity could comprehend the worth of our composition. The soul of each person ever born has a place of purpose and divine planning in the Kingdom of God. Worth more than any other created thing, God has the hairs of our head numbered. You are an original. There is no competition between you and another for God’s Love. He has no favorites. We are all His Favorites. When Jesus died on the Cross to purchase our life, it defined the true value of each one of us. Priceless and greatly desired by the God of the Universe. Science wants us to believe that human beings are a random act of nature. When two cells collide and explode to form a person, who is no different than any other species. Well, I beg to differ.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

When was the last time you thanked God for making you…you? Don’t feel bad, I don’t do it either. I am thankful for my husband, children, family, friends, church and other people. However, seldom have I ever if I can remember ever saying, “Thank you for making ME so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” If most of us were honest enough to admit it, our prayers are often filled with the qualities coveted. Begging the Lord to change the distinguishing features that make us unique to be like everybody else. My daughter has a younger friend who has recently taken to copying everything she wears. I have shared with her the saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” She wants none of it. The societal trends prove that it is more important to most to fit in rather than stand out. Way makers are not as fashionable as those who follow the trends and gravitate to acceptable norms. Though my youngest will not admit it – she got her tastes in fashion from someone else along the way.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

In Ecclesiastes 1, Solomon writes “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” This is true. Fashion is the same thing in cycles. Music is constantly made over. God didn’t produce you to follow suit. You are a masterpiece. God’s Masterpiece. Created by Him for a purpose and plan far greater than you can comprehend. You are valuable to the Lord. Jesus thought you were worth dying for. He paid the price for your old life and gave it back to you with the promise of a new life. However, most people live far below God’s Standard of rich, satisfying and abundant life settling for what they think they are worth. Until I decide that I am God’s Masterpiece comprised of great value and worth as His Special Treasure, I will not see the true potential of my life.

James 1:18 (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

The end of comparison the worst of all joy killers begins in the revelation of our uniqueness to God. To know and understand living as a precious and prized possession rather than who we think we are or how much we value ourselves changes everything. It is not anything earned or deserved but rather who we are because of God and Christ in us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Lord is taking all our rough edges and broken pieces making it into the new creation that He promised. He sees only the good in us because His Grace is covering the rest. You are chosen. God decided for you to be you. He filled you with purpose, gave you promises, and made the commitment to save you from the very beginning. Your life is not random. You are here for such a time as this – live like it. Remind yourself who God says that you are today. When the enemy casts lies and doubt throwing shade on the Light of His Love, remind Him of what the Lord has already declared about you. You are significant to the Kingdom. There is a place and space only you can fill. People who only you can touch. God loves you. Love you, too. See the awesomeness of your authenticity and walk boldly before His Throne.

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

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.”

Lay Me Down

Lay Me Down

John 15:12-14 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

The more in love with Jesus I become the more evident the loveless places in my life. When invited the Light of His Love shines into the deepest and darkest parts of the human heart and illuminates all the places where love is not definitive. Pride tries to brush it off in the name of self-preservation but the Spirit continues to press on the sorest part to make the change and trust the Lord. Over the years, I have developed the uncanny ability to shut off the switch of my emotions when it comes to hurt, betrayal and devastation. To become indifferent is a dangerous quality that should never be embraced but carefully extracted. Life’s experience give us certain coping abilities that are unhealthy to the spirit man and contraindicative to growth, development and maturity of the new creation. The command is to love each other as Christ has loved us. He establishes that there is no greater love than for one to lay down our life for a friends. The Lord goes on to evoke that those who master this concept will be called and considered His Friends. Faith makes us a friend of God. Love makes us a friend of Jesus. The key to laying our life down properly is love. We must get it in the right order to have the desired effect!

In Revelation 3, the Lord talks about indifference. He calls those who live in it as “lukewarm” and tells us that He will spit such people out. It goes on to say that Jesus will correct and discipline us to love everyone. It comes with the warning to be diligent in pursuing passionate love and turning away from the tendency of humanity to live in indifference. Indifference makes us disinterested, inattentive, uncaring, and self-centered. Intentional Christians cannot be indifferent but must live passionately in love with Jesus Christ. It all begins with our acceptance of His Love and commitment to learn love like our Savior. But this is not always the case. Some will come to Jesus and attempt to lay down an incomplete life for others to follow which will only lead to despair and disappointment. The beginning and end of our faith is the Love of God for us. Lord, teach us to love like you do!

I John 3:16-18 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I must lay down my life for my brothers and sisters. The Kingdom of God is reserved for every man, woman and child who asks Jesus to save them. God’s Desire is to save, heal, deliver and restore them all. Am I working with the Lord? Or working against Him? Friends work together. We give up our time, energy, resources and more to help out those who are called family and friends. But what about the rest? Oh I hear you! I give. I help. I share. I am generous. There are many philanthropists who give away their wealth. The Kingdom Economy called wealth is not measured in such things. It is our capacity to love others and from that love give our life away. We cannot get it out of order. Love is not a compulsion it is a commitment.

John 13:36-38 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter was probably one of the most enthusiastic, passionate and zealous Christians to ever live. He believed it when he told Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” How devastating to discover just hours later that the Lord was right when Peter denied Him the third time and the rooster sounded as promised. Peter already had the revelation of who Jesus was. He knew that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. I know a lot of people but I am still learning to love them. Not everyone is lovable and not everyone understands love. There are many people who have only experienced brokenness and devastation in giving love away so they give their life but withhold their heart.

In I Corinthians 13, it says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” When Peter saw Jesus walking on the shore after the resurrection, he dove in the water and swam all the way to shore to meet Him. Peter was different now. Indifference was now filled with passionate love for the Lord and a willingness to give his life from that love. We must fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus in order to make the laying down of our life meaningful.

John 10:14-18 (NIV)  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Love cannot be forced. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. To love or not to love. It is a personal choice made each day. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not distant but constant. His Sheep know Him and respond to His Voice. Why? Because they love him so. He offered His Life as a sacrifice for our sin so that our relationship with God the Father could be reestablished. He did so out of love. To properly lay our life down for others it must always be from the same love that God gave us through His Son, Jesus. It is in that capacity that our power and authority to lay our life down and pick it back up is possible. No one can take your love from you. You must choose to give it. We have the full power and authority of Jesus Christ – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – on the inside of us. Full dominion is ours because Jesus gave it to us. To lay down my life for others and fulfilling the commandment of Christ means receiving His Love. Allowing Him to teach me to love through correction and discipline. Continue to love until He comes for me or I go to Him. Lord, teach me to lay down my life properly. In Jesus Name!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Overflowing Gratitude

Overflowing Gratitude

Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 

I am blessed with a wonderful work environment. It allows me to bring my grandson and even my dog some days to the office. Both can be therapeutic in their own special way. My daughter had some work duties and asked if my grandson could come spend some time with Grammy. My response – absolutely without a moment’s hesitation. Having worked at home when my kids were young, it is easy to adapt to a little helper for the day though he is quite the distraction. After a morning filled with bouncing, playing, lunch and snuggles, naptime offered a respite for me to catch up on some work. When his nap was abruptly interrupted by some unexpected noises in the lobby, he settled in on my chest to sleep. Since my job is essentially a keyboard and monitors, we all settled in quite nicely as quiet calmed the office again.

Deep in thought and contemplating the project, I became aware that my little chunk was completely relaxed draped across me in a deep sleep. Looking down at the top of his head at the hair quickly covering it, I paused at the sight of him. Overwhelmed with thankfulness, I prayed. Thanking God for this precious gift that He has given me overflowed into overtures that quickly spread in my heart as words began to form on my lips. I am truly blessed. Some days I am more focused on the yet to comes rather than those things that have already arrived. Plagued by the problem, my praise somehow silent in the midst of unfailing love and relentless goodness.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. The peace of Christ is not manmade. We cannot create an image of perfect peace if it is not that which fills our heart and mind. Like rose-colored glasses, gratitude changes our perception in life when we stop and give thanks simply for what grace has already provided. Life is hard. It is unsettling. But I believe that might just be God’s Mercy not allowing us to settle for less or die not knowing Him. Forever is a long time. Much greater than the here and not including the sum total of our life. It is in that quiet moment holding an imperfect little man who sees so perfect for me that I am acutely aware of God’s Love and perception of me…a sinner and depraved wretch who He loves more than anything and chose to set free. Love sets free in the hope of finding it to be true. Yet the longing of God’s Heart is for us to cling to him as my baby grandchild was holding me. At complete peace and total rest in the arms of His Love in the closest possible proximity covered by His Love.

You were called to peace. Our office has been in a bit of turmoil. Our staff experienced the loss of a member to a new opportunity. The company that shares the space with us the same. People problems can disrupt us and cause us to become focused on the wrong thing sometimes. Life unexpected in many ways can be the unsettling reality that draws us out of the peaceful presence of the Love of God until we feel isolated and alone separated from the Lord and the peace that He offers us. This passage in Colossians can also be found in Ephesians. It is a call to unity in the Body of Christ. To be lovers and encouragers of one another and bind together the church that is the Kingdom of God and Bride of Christ. We must experience the perfect peace of God to ready our heart and mind to share in such an experience. Gratitude is overflowing grace too thankful for what is in our heart that we could ever want or desire anything less than Him.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV) You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

I discovered this passage when our son was in the midst of cancer treatment. His body showing obvious signs of the fight, the doctor had just told us that we were in the realm of hope and needed godly intervention as the disease was quite aggressive. Soon after the conversation, I was talking to him with no response. Looking at his face, he was sleeping. Peacefully sleeping moments after his physician had told him that he was running out of options and had to trust the Lord for healing help. Sleeping just like that baby laying on my chest yesterday. His countenance at peace. His breathing steady. His body relaxed. The Lord WILL keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast. Those who decide to seek Him wholeheartedly will always find Him even if that means bringing Him all the broken and messed up pieces. We must learn to trust the Lord in the details of life enough to be thankful.

Gratitude is not a concession. It doesn’t mean that there are not some things that are still to come. It is not a settlement for those things not yet completed or fully satisfactory. Gratitude is a declaration of trust. Praise is our proclamation that no matter what God is in control and we are okay with that. Sometimes I must remind myself in my own heart and mind by simply stopping and beginning to thank God for even the most basic of blessings until it overtakes the negativity and bitterness building in my mind. The lie of the enemy is subtle in its penetration but lethal once inside. Faith in God requires our total trust. We cannot see Him. Faith comes by hearing and deciding to believe it. It is being consciously aware of God’s Intervention and Interaction in our life including the most simple blessing that is often taken for granted like a roof over our head, food in our belly, a job, or even the dysfunctional people surrounding us with love.

Colossians 4:2-3 (NIV) Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

Paul writes the letter to the church in Colossae while in chains. A prisoner of the Gospel, he still takes the time to say, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Lord help us when we lose sight of the true freedom offered by grace. The opportunity to be thankful in all circumstances knowing that You are working all the details together for our good. Help us to recognize that Your Love is always for us, surrounding us with us, and pursuing us. Nothing can separate us from it. When I feel alone, isolated, abused, betrayed, discouraged or even just discontent, remind me Holy Spirit to be thankful. To engage in the close proximity of Your Presence by letting my praise open the door. We must learn to devote ourselves to prayer. But not only prayer, we must learn to be watchful and thankful for what we see, hear and know about the Lord. His Purpose, Plan and Promises belong to us and are secured by faith. Not our ability to be faithful but His Faithfulness to us. That alone is enough to make the believer shout… or should be. Find a way to wander off this morning, to enter a quiet place and begin to thank God for everything around you. Let gratitude overflow and cover your heart and mind with more grace until it abounds. Let His Perfect Peace fill you at the sound of praise as you enter into His Presence. Crawling on His Lap, like a child, let His Love cover you today. This is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.