Life Without Limitation

Life without Limitation

Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When the New Year rolled around this year, it was not met with the same enthusiasm that it usually is for me. I love the calendar roll of fresh pages with new days filled with opportunity and potential. There would be no resolutions. I didn’t join the gym. This is not the norm for me. It immediately caused a gut check. We did not do the Daniel Fast. Oh my goodness, I can hear the huge intake of breath of those who engage it religiously since it became a “thing” in the church. The one thing I did do was put Ephesians 3:20 on the “wallpaper” of my phone so every time I pick it up – it illuminates before me. It must be the Holy Spirit who picked the verse because I have no idea why or how it became the verse for 2017 – but it is.

I will try to say this as gently as possible and it is a truth that many church folks have a really difficult time understanding or even agreeing with but when our relationship becomes traditional, routine driven, and a habit it is in danger of becoming religious versus relational. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not regulated or ruled by the things that I do or do not do but completely and 100% reliant on His Grace and my ability to accept His Love and Mercy each day. Nothing I do is worthy of all that He has done for me. However, what I have finally decided in this third month of the year is that my life has been limited. There are some areas of my existence that I have not fully committed and entrusted to Jesus Christ. Oh please, don’t judge me or decide that I have some big secret. We all have hidden areas and secret places of limitation in our heart and mind when it comes to the love and power of Jesus Christ for our life. Otherwise, every church including every member would be experiencing resurrection power, miracles, signs and wonders in every facet of their life. There is always more of Him for the part of me that is willing to bow down and give Jesus His Rightful Place.

Bear with me today, as I believe this Word is for me. I hope that as I share it transparently it will illuminate an area of limitation in your life so that the Love of God will bust through it and an outpouring of His Power will manifest in your new life in Christ. I think sometimes we expect our life in Christ to be like a bottle of carbonated soda. Sometimes it is, we get shaken up real good and explode for the moment but then the next day life is flat and tasteless. God has given us living water to flow through us. Have you ever shaken up a water bottle? Yep, nothing. It doesn’t get all worked up and shoot out of the bottle everywhere. It also doesn’t make a mess either. Water is consistently pure. It is always the same. You can only adjust the temperature but other than that it is committed to consistency. Maybe that is what this year is doing in me, removing some of the emotion and enthusiastic zeal to be replaced by a supernatural and miraculous life of confident hope that leads to consistent superabundance in my life. Lord, be it unto me.

To elaborate:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (AMP) For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

My daughters and I were discussing an upcoming youth challenge posed by their youth pastor. They will be instructed regarding sharing their testimony and then given the opportunity to do so at the local Wal-Mart. My girls do not know a life outside of church or belief in Jesus Christ. They were born in church, taken to church, drug to church and now go to church their whole life. One of them confided that she doesn’t remember a time of not knowing Jesus – praise God. My heart as a mother is full. However, when it comes to sharing her life with others. What will she tell them? She has little to no experience to compare her new life to her old life to. She has been saved and baptized. It is all that she knows. Jesus Christ is a reality not a revelation to her. Our youngest daughter concurred that she knows she asked Jesus to be her Savior and Lord on my birthday when she was very young. She knows what it means to be saved. She understands the Holy Spirit but giving such a message to someone who has experienced something completely different seems to be impossible to them. All three of our girls have been challenged when engaging with others who have lived a different life with very different experiences.

Let’s flip the script for a moment, I have experienced life from a different perspective. I know what lost looks like. I have traveled the wilderness. I have made countless mistakes that were once regrets until redeemed by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ was fully accepted. I have had the opportunity to share my experience with many people and it is easy. I have experienced Jesus Christ and His Power in my life so I know it is real and valid. The more that we experience the Love of God fully consummated in our life by faith and confident hope that produces supernatural and extraordinary details the easier it is to share this Gospel and be a light to the world. This is and always will be part of our purpose and calling in this world to share a real God and relevant Jesus to the lost and dying in darkness.

I must experience God at every level and Christ completely through me to be a relevant and accurate witness. To be the kind of Christian who is ready in season and out of season to share the Message of God’s Great Love. My relationship with Jesus Christ must be real. It cannot be a routine that I follow or rules that I adhere to. It must be a transparent open book that all can read and understand. It is a love story. It is a miraculous account of a limited life that became filled with unlimited power. My life must live it out to make it a best-seller sought after by others on display for all to see.

For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ],” The purpose for my existence and the reason I am alive is to be a Child of God. To come back to the Father by Way of Jesus Christ and take my place in God’s Family once again. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. How many times though have I ignored the Grace of God thinking that the Lord was calling me to be the strong one? Do be the good person? To be a God-Like Christian rather than a godly woman transmitting God’s Love, Grace and Mercy as it filters through me. See I can pretend like I have it all together, like there are no cares in my world. I can attempt to make it look like I make no mistakes and live a holier-than-thou life. The reality is I am a broken person who Jesus sparked a love affair with and the more I love and trust Him – the more I find that the Light of His Love is revealed through the cracked parts of my life rather than in any religious act I have participated in. God doesn’t need me but I must have Him. For this reason…grasping the greatness of His Plan. (Ephesians 3:14)

It is simple. Really simple. Jeremiah 29:1-13 is the description of this plan, however; the one that makes the difference is this – “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) The beginning of an unlimited life starts with three basic steps – “Repentance. Restoration. Revival.” How did I get that from this verse? I must repent and live in love with Jesus. My love for Him alone will produce the right results. Restoration is the family reunion that causes the Love that Jesus gives me, to be reciprocated in life with others who I do not judge but choose to embrace for mercy’s sake. Finally, revival for those who choose to walk with God is to become His Children and establish our birthright again. We have a new life. It is in us and flows from us. Everywhere we walk in step with the Father has the potential of resurrection life. I am only limited by unwillingness to humble my life and follow the Lord.

Where do you walk? Following Jesus is to allow the Greater that is in you to have priority over the less that tends to drive us. Our daughters don’t know a life outside of Jesus Christ because Christ has been in their life always. What if we made it a point to include Jesus in every facet of our life? If every step had purpose and every work of the hand committed to the Lord, I am not talking about selfless martyrdom but to say, “Jesus come with me to work. Lord, have your way in my commute.” Holy Spirit fill the walls of our home. God put your hand on our bank account.” It is in Him we live, move, breathe and exist according to the Word of God. (Acts 17:28) Or do we? Have you ever said, “It is what it is”? What about calling those things into existence that are in Heaven for now? How about “it’s just who I am”? Where is the new creation? The limitations on my life are self-imposed. I have resurrection life and power inside of me applicable to every single step that I take in this life all the way to eternity. I must learn to walk like Enoch who disappeared in the Presence of the Lord.

From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. Having earthly fathers who may or may not have participated in our life creates a false perception of fatherhood when it comes to our Heavenly Father. We place human expectations on a flawless Father based on the unmet expectations of flawed fathers. I have a great dad. He is a good father yet he still makes mistakes and is imperfect. I trust him yet I trust God more. I love and honor my earthly father but I relentlessly pursue right-standing with God my Father. It is absolutely imperative that we come to know, understand, believe and ultimately choose to trust the perfection of God our Father. He is awesomely wonderful. His Love is absolutely without condition. He is wonderful! He is awesome! God is everything our natural father’s wanted to be and even strive to become – God is all that and more. To access Him by Way of Jesus Christ and live in His Presence is absolute proof of belief. Faith must be evidenced by trust. Do you trust God today? Do you really trust Him? If you do, then your life will become supernatural. You will not experience fear, worry, care, anxiety or doubt when it comes to any and all lifetime situations. His Power will be manifested in you. If you do fear, worry, feel anxious or doubt, hang on…there is more.

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]…” Grace is defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. God is ready to grant you the riches of His Glory. It is not to His Glory that His Children eat from the scraps beneath the table but sit and share meals with Him. To commune with Him. Stop it. Don’t think about communion with a tiny juice cup and sliver of a horrible tasting wafer. No, God wants to prepare a table in the presence of your enemies and demonstrate the extravagance of His Great Love. We are too busy fighting defeated foes than celebrating His Victory. God wants to live your life with you. He wants His Power to manifest His Presence in EVERY SINGLE AREA, EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION. All caps. Yes, I am shouting at you. Every area of our life should be according to His Riches in Glory. From the inside out, as our soul prospers our health, finances, influence and favor will, too. Where we sow the Word in our life, we will reap every blessing, promise and benefit it contains. The problem is not in God’s Capacity to love and care for us but in our ability to comprehend His Love. It is unlimited. Unlimited means not limited, unrestricted, and unconfined. It is boundless, infinite and vast. God’s love is unlimited and without qualification, exception and unconditional. God loves you period. The only way to perceive the boundaries (or lack there of) of God’s Love is to attempt to find them. The more I engage in grounding and rooting my faith in the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ the less I will worry about the problems, situations, conditions and inconveniences of this life highly anticipating what God will do as He works good out of every detail. (Romans 8:28) God is perfecting all that concerns His Children. (Psalm 138:8) When I yoke my life to Christ and He goes where I go and I go where He goes, it will always challenge me to go deeper in God’s Presence and push the boundaries of His Love.

And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].” God’s Love increases the capacity of my life. If I choose to engage in this love affair with Jesus “practically” through personal experience suddenly the God of my ancestors becomes My Lord, My God. We have not because we ask not. We do not believe that God’s Love is for us. The miracles of old are relevant. God’s Word is not logical outside of faith. But with faith all things impossible are now probable. The God of after life must be the God of our natural life, too. The Goodness of God is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) His Unfailing Love, His Mercy when I mess up and Goodness pursues me when? All the days of my life… (Psalm 23:6) All these words found in the Word are empowered by faith in the Word wrapped in flesh – Jesus Christ. They leap to life off the pages when faith is applied. Confident hope releases resurrection power now rather than reserving it for later. Rather than the mentality of “Jesus if you had been here” – we live because Jesus is here with us and in us. I am challenged to release all limitation in my life today by applying God’s Word by faith and believing God at His Word for EVERY area of my life not just those defined by desperation or hinting of death. To make God’s Word the reality that I experience every single day in every single way. This will be the fuel that sets the Light of my life from a small candle flickering in the wind to an all-consuming fire that drives darkness away. I am called to be the Light of the World. It’s time to light this baby up.

The Fullness of God. What does it look like? Is your life extraordinary? Have you experienced moves and waves of God unexplainable naturally but supernaturally defined? If not, you will. If you decide that God’s Love is definitely for you. If you desire it enough to pursue it, yoking your life to Jesus Christ. You will find His Plan, His Purpose and yes, even His Prosperity in every single element of your life. He is a Good Father. Do not sell your birthright for a single meal like Esau. Esau had a vast inheritance. He gave it all up to satisfy a hunger that was temporary. Hear me today as God is speaking to me, I believe He is saying it to you, “Stop settling.” Just because you don’t deserve the current blessings and benefits of God already proven in your life. Just because it is hard to believe God would do more and more when you realize you cannot stop doing what you do – choose to believe anyway. God is ready to do more than you can think or ask, dream or desire – all you must do is choose to accept His Love. (Period.) When I married my husband, there were things that immediately changed. I desired no one else. I pursued no one else. I wanted only to be His Wife forever. Over the years, there are things that we both have changed and grown in to maintain our relationship, He has never forced me to but I choose to because I love him. I want to be his wife. I want a strong marriage that lasts until death do us part. It is by choice. Love is a choice. To choose Jesus as our Savior and make Him Lord is a love choice. It is not by force. With this in mind, Jesus is not going to force you to live in His Presence or take everything He offers you as a part of your partnership. You have to want it, accept it, apply it and desire it, too. We have hidden potential, purpose and promise that only God can bring to pass. My life is unlimited unless I impose limits marked by disbelief, doubt and other desires.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

So back to my verse for 2017, I believe for me that the Lord is pressing me to start believing practically for the superabundance in all areas of my life not just the impossible ones. I know that God is a healer. I know that He gives us the desires of our heart. I have experienced God in so many ways that my life is far more blessed than I ever thought possible. I cannot stop here and have the fullness of God intended for my life. I must continue to press the boundaries of my belief and label each step with purpose as I walk through life until I disappear and all people see is the Christ in me. The life of Enoch is the life for me. When God’s Glory surrounds us completely and all people see when they see us is Light. Light of Love too amazing to not engage in. To complete to not step into. To real to ever forget. Life without limitation. This is the life for me.

Acts 17:26-28 (AMP) And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

To Be Genuine

To Be Genuine

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

What is genuine faith? To be genuine is to possess the claimed or attributed character or quality. It is not a counterfeit but real and authentic. Something genuine is free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy defined by sincerity. The word “faith” is tossed around loosely in the “Christianese” language, but I cannot help but wonder if it bears the mark of authenticity. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourselves” and to “test yourselves” which tells me that you cannot test or evaluate my level of faith. It is not up to anyone else to decide if I have it or not. The contents of my heart and how it impacts my existence in my sole (or soul) responsibility. To allow others to dictate what faith is or how I achieve total trust in the Lord is pointless. It is up to me to examine and test my faith for relevance and substance. I wonder what might happen in believers took responsibility for their own heart rather than trying to judge everyone else and compare others to our own successes and failures as Christians. Those who endure to the end are saved according to Jesus. What is this thing called endurance?

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Endurance is important in this life. We must not stop loving, believing, trusting and following Christ. To keep the course is difficult because there are peaks and valleys along the way. These require us to dig a little deeper, grab hold a little tighter, and remain on our knees a little longer. When things are out of our control and beyond our comfort zone, we must remain consistent. Endurance produces discipline. It works heart muscles that have never been challenged before as the Light of His Love within us pushes its way out of us. Endurance is the ability or strength to last despite pain, stress or adverse conditions in life. When your life does not resemble God’s Word, but you continue to walk humbly with God knowing He is faithful even though you are challenged to be the same.

Hebrews 12 mentions a “huge crowd of witnesses” who are not our main concern. Too many times, they become our primary focus rather than the race of faith which is a marathon. Though friends and teammates may be on the same course, we run for the prize, our prize, and the high calling of Christ. It doesn’t matter what the voice of the witnesses say or do not say. It doesn’t matter what their personal evaluation, estimation or examination of our life reveals. The one who seeks to endure is in verse 2. They are after one thing – Jesus. With eyes fixed and focused, each step is examined for purpose, each breath exhaled in praise, and the next step embraced with potential. Jesus is our Champion. He is the reason faith is essential in the first place. Sometimes it is important to refocus and reprioritize our life to make sure that faith is our goal and Jesus the prime example.

James 1:27 (NLT) Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” (James 1:21) Pure and genuine religion is not what it has been made out to be by mankind. Pure and genuine religion as God intended is a love story. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ so deeply committed and passionate that one cannot help but give their life to Him. We give our life to many things in the name of love, but have we given our heart to Jesus Christ? Jesus is more than an opportunity. He is not just an option other than death. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come before God outside of Christ. We must have communion with the Lord. We must consummate our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The filth and evil in our lives is everything contrary to love. Anything that might separate us from our partner, Jesus Christ. However, outside the boundaries of love, obedience is meaningless acts of self service. Designed to make us feel better and avoid true repentance that leaves no room for anything good or worthwhile coming from me outside of Christ. It is a hard pill to swallow marked humility. His Grace must become enough for me in order for faith to take over my life. This is only possible when all I am is not enough to be where He is. When weakness prevails, even if I don’t fall, but simply stumble into His Arms. Jesus is always ready, willing and able to carry me on.

God’s Love is unconditional. Do you believe that today? Jesus did not come to judge the world or even condemn it. Sin already did. God sent His Son Jesus because before we were created, He loved us and desired us despite our rebellious and impetuous nature. It didn’t matter that our heart was fickle and gravitated toward depravity. Jesus already decided to die for us to make a way for our return. Why do we set conditions and limitations on others? Why do we expect them to be religious? Why do they have to dress a certain way or act a certain way to be accepted by us? Could it be our faith has some hidden fallacies that need to be exposed? Perhaps, our own inability to believe makes it necessary to set other criteria for acceptance?

Mark 10:20-22 (NLT) “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus gives us genuine love. Love without boundaries. Love without conditions. This man had no problem following the rules but when it came to following Jesus – he couldn’t give up this life. He had many possessions. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” The man’s face fall and he went away sad. This is the true test of faith. When Jesus asks us to step out of this life to pursue eternity to seek Him wholeheartedly. Holding nothing back. This man was not surrounded by people, it doesn’t say that his family or friends were close by, just Jesus. We will all come to a place in our life that the line is drawn in the sand. The point of no return. The moment when we must choose commitment or comfort. To pursue purpose or settle for mediocrity. Faith follows Jesus, Anything else will hang its head and go home.

Romans 12:9-18 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

What if this was the true measure of faith and following Jesus? To love one another as Christ loves us. Laying our life down for each other so that we all make it to the end. Would it be your religion? Would you give it the hierarchy of church doctrine with all its rules and regulations to live this life every single day? To really love people. To hate what is wrong and hold tight to what is good. To take delight in blessing others. To work hard. Really hard and not be lazy – giving your absolute best in all areas of life as doing it for the Lord. What about patience? Who needs them? We do. What about helping everyone in need without judging the person, their situation or what got them there in the first place. Blessing our enemies. Forgiving seventy times seven and turning the other cheek. What if we decided rather than building a church and filling it, each person decided to be the church and take their rightful place in the Body of Christ? Is it even possible for people to live in harmony when families can’t even seem to get it together? What if all God really wanted and required of us is in Micah 6:8 – “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.Genuine faith is born of genuine love. Genuine love does not consider self but others first beginning with Jesus Christ and filtering His Love to everyone else. Until I am ready to give my life up to follow Jesus and love others this way – I fail the test of genuine faith every time. Religiosity melts in the midst of a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Fully committed to pursuing Him wholeheartedly and no one else resolves all doubt and disbelief because faith has completed us and we lack no good thing.

I Timothy 1:5 (NLT) The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 

The purpose of my life begins and ends in Jesus Christ. My faith must be genuine. There will be situations in life when I am challenged to examine my heart and mind to determine if the faith I claim to have is real and authentic. I welcome such an opportunity. There has not been a single time that I have not had to call on the Grace of God for His Help because I lack sufficient faith and need His Power to cover my weakness. The Law of God is not intended for those who have decided to follow Jesus yet we use it as a weapon all the time. While it should be directed at the enemy – it is often leveled at family. We are all Children of God loved and desired by our Father just the same. Jesus died for us…all. There are no boundaries to His Love. The only obstacle I face is my ability to believe and live by faith. Lord, help my unbelief today! Teach me to love like you do! Make my faith genuine so it will bring you praise, glory and honor for the whole world to see!

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

Disappear

disappear

Genesis 5:21-24 (NLT) When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

I am completely enthralled and intrigued by the life of Enoch. So little is said about him in the Word of God yet it says…walking in close fellowship with God, then one day he disappeared because God took him.” End of story. Disappearing in the Lord surrounded by His Glory so close that He just sweeps you away. It says that Enoch “disappeared”. How does one achieve such close fellowship with God that their entire life is summed up in walking so close with God that one day he just disappears? I want that life. Such unity with God through Jesus Christ, that my life no longer as important as the Presence of God that overtakes me. To live by faith to the point that no one really knows where I ended and Christ took over. To be one with Jesus Christ that is my goal and aspiration.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch’s life earned him a place in God’s Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11. Enoch’s faith was the thing that united him to God the Father. A bond so tight that when it came time to leave this earth – he would be the only man spared a natural death. His Partnership with God so involved and consuming that there was no definite mark where Enoch’s life on earth ended and forever began. How is that even possible? It was by faith. Enoch lived by faith. He pleased God. It is impossible to please God without faith. Trust is evidence of faith.

Jude 14-15 (NLT) Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

How could Enoch have the kind of faith that leads to salvation before Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus Christ was in Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation of Adam but the genealogy of Adam ends in Jesus Christ. Enoch was a man of God. He was a prophet. His example is noted in Jude’s letter that was intended to share the Good News yet again and encourage the recipients. However, Jude changed the content because “some ungodly people (had) wormed their way into your churches, saying God’s Marvelous Grace allows us to live immoral lives.” Such was the time when Enoch lived and prophesied. So it is even today within the four walls of the church…

I Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT) He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Enoch, I hear you. I see your example. I am convicted to my core. I must decrease, Christ must increase. (John 3:30) I must become so wrapped up in the robe of righteousness that I disappear and Jesus is the Shining Light that resonates. I must live in partnership with Jesus Christ. I must be yoked to Him at all times. My relationship with Christ must dissolve into oneness. I must disappear to have the life that I am after.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. (Period) We must believe that faith is our potential in life and make our purpose to attain it at all cost. We have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and must strive to achieve it again. God decided in advance and made a plan called grace for us to achieve it. Grace is not accomplished by my power but my weakness. It is total surrender of my entire life to live in Jesus Christ. In Him, literally not figuratively. To establish my whole personality and lifestyle including every goal and dream in the Person of Jesus Christ. The trouble is that my flesh wars against such measures. (Romans 7:21-25) I must fight the battle each day to avoid sin and be overtaken by God’s Mercy and Grace. This requires discipline. It will mean going against the flow and defying society’s norm. I know that the struggle is real but so is the Love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

He is offering a partnership that raises my standard of living even if not evident in this life and its conditions. The purpose of our life is to become so united in faith with Jesus and others that our life measures up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Do you have faith? Do you trust the Lord? Can you find the places in your life where Christ is and is not?

It is time to erase the gray area and middle of the roads until the only thing evident in us and around us is Jesus Christ. This will produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit in us as an offering to the world. This offering is the first fruits of trust birthed in us. Without faith it is impossible to please God. We must desire such unity with Jesus Christ and completely consummated partnership so there is no longer evidence of where I end and Christ begins. We must become one.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

We have made something so simple quite complicated with our rules, religion and doctrine. The world has created grace to be a doormat to which all are invited. My life is not dependent on what other people think of me. It doesn’t matter if I attend church, tithe, and serve in ministry every single day for the rest of my life. If I do not have faith and walk in close fellowship with the Lord my life is still compromised. My relationship and proximity to Jesus Christ is up to me. I have eternity in my heart so I have the potential to become a Child of God. I am set to inherit every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that I can live, walk, breathe and be united with my Father God. There is no other way. Grace is sufficient in my weakness when I surrender my life to the Lord choosing to walk in close fellowship. This is the place where new life begins. This is the place where I disappear and Christ takes over. I cannot maintain my pride, my rights or my natural inclinations but fully surrender my way, submit to the Word in order to have God’s Standard of Living. The Kingdom door is open for those who will trust Him. Do you have faith in God today? Do you trust Him? Nothing can separate us from His Love but sin will always get in the way of our fellowship and communion with Him.

I want to know Christ today. I want to be found in Him. The only way to do this is by giving Him my all. My everything. I cannot walk in close fellowship any other way but to disappear in His Presence and His Person until all they see is Jesus. Lord, examine my life. Reveal any hidden sin, compromised faith or delayed trust in me. Have your way Jesus. I don’t want my way but to walk in close fellowship with you until I completely disappear and all they see is YOU!

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[a]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

The Humble Way

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I Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I had the rare pleasure of a telephone conversation with my sister who lives in Missouri. She happened to reach out to me during my commute to work which usually is my extended quiet time, prayer time, and worship session at the beginning of the day. She does not call often so when she popped up on the caller ID, I knew it was important. She had an important prayer request and shared her heart with me. It was serious and intent conversation. As she began to speak, I prayed silently that the Lord would help me hear her heart and offer the encouragement that only His Spirit can give. If you know my sister, she is hilarious. Even in a moment of complete transparency and total relevance, I should have known that she would say something to make me burst out laughing. This would be no exception. She said, “I do not have time to get on someone else’s hamster wheel and let their junk hit me in the head.” Now, you may not think this is funny for a variety of reasons, but I was dissolved into inconsolable laughter and added the immediate disclaimer that I would indeed be using this illustration many times to come. She gave her complete consent. We continued our conversation all the way to my office and as usual my kid sister completely blessed my heart.

“Give all your worries and cares to God for He cares for you.” Are you the hamster on the wheel today? Running fast and hard but getting nowhere day after day? Are you getting hit in the head (and heart) with the same junk over and over again? Are you praying but hearing nothing? Are you petitioning but seeing no change? Are you tired? Are you weary? Do you need rest? Do you need a win? Do you need peace? Though I laughed at the thought, it began to penetrate my heart throughout the day. Are there areas of my life that are lacking because rather than choosing God’s Way, I have chosen my own? Could the very things repeating in my life be evidence of my own doing and not a form of spiritual attack? Is it me, Lord?

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to bring Him all of our cares and concerns in exchange for peace and rest. He calls to the weak and heavy laden carrying burdens. Is that you? “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart.” Take my yoke. It is an exchange of my weakness for His Power as indicated in 2 Corinthians 12:9. The breaking point when I give up my weakness to accept His Grace and He gives me His Power. The Lord does not take our load so we can go find more baggage. Jesus invites us to learn from Him and do as He did. “For my yoke is easy to bear and my burden is light.”

Micah 6:8 breaks it down quite nicely into bite-size pieces for every believer. Do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Your God. That is Christian Living in a nutshell, but we act allergic to nuts. Finding excuses along His Way to do it our way. The very thing that is choking the life out of us is pride. It is a problem. It stops us from doing what is right, loving mercy and worst of all walking with our God.

James 4:5-7 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Satan was once the most beautiful angel in all of heaven. He was the model of perfection. Full of wisdom and exquisite beauty. He was ordained and anointed as the mighty angelic guardian giving him full access to God. What happened? “Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.” (Ezekiel 28) We think about the devil as a beast hard on the eyes and disgustingly evil but consider this. He lived in the Presence of God. He experienced His Glory firsthand. He was right there with a front row seat. He even is permitted to return as seen in the book of Job. Yet his pride told him that he was greater, could do more and be God. How is this possible? I have experienced just a glimpse of the Glory of God in worship, during prayer, and even when studying His Word. It undoes me completely. I melt to my knees totally overwhelmed by His Goodness. Yet the enemy of our souls who lived with God did not feel the same way. I cannot even imagine. What was his problem? Pride. God opposes pride. God is a “yes” or “no” kind of guy. He never says, “Maybe.” He chooses right over wrong and good over evil never entering the gray areas of life or acknowledging the middle of the road. With this in mind, how detrimental pride is even in the smallest portion! It took one sin to require all of the Blood of Jesus Christ. It takes a hint of pride to keep us from moving closer to the Lord.

The enemy decided to exalt self over God. He wanted to be God. This precipitated his great fall to the earth and is the subject of his rage against it. (Isaiah 14) We must be very careful to not assume the position of Satan in our everyday life. We must focus intently on our passion and pursuits in life to determine if pride is a factor. God opposes pride on every level even religiosity which thinks grace is something that can be earned rather than inherited by our Father. To live in the Presence of God we must resist pride. If pride is in us, it will invite the enemy’s pursuit. To live humbly in God’s Presence causes him to flee.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True repentance is characterized by complete humility. It is to be loyal to the Kingdom of God and by grace gaining access to the Father. To share a yoke with Jesus Christ means sacrificing pride completely. What is pride? Pride is self-esteem. It is the idea that I have a level of power and control over my life and ability to change my circumstance or condition. I do, but only in a natural sense. If I desire the resurrection power of God to transform me from death to life, I must give up my life now to gain it. Pride divides our interest between Heaven and earth. How do I know if I am prideful? Do you feel entitled? Do you withhold forgiveness from those who hurt, betray and abuse you? Do you submit to God’s Authority by obeying the Word of God completely? Do you find deep satisfaction in your personal accomplishments or give God all the Glory? Do you believe that pursuing the Lord will promote you in His Kingdom? Do you seek the approval and affirmation of other people? Do you worry? Do you stress? Are you anxious? Do you want to give up? Do you have peace? God has invited us to do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly beside Him. We must be willing to give up our right to be right, choose mercy over judgment and surrender our Way completely to walk His Way. To choose closeness with God is to be humble.

John 5:19-20 (NLT) o Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.”

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” Jesus humbled His Life to the mighty power of His Father when He came into this world. He only did what God instructed Him to do and never strayed from His Father’s Word, Will or Way. He is our example of humility. True humility is evidenced in our ability to trust the Lord fully. It is confidence in God’s Mighty Power that allowed Jesus to endure the Cross and visit the grave knowing that “at the right time” God would “lift him up” which is resurrection life. To humble myself to God and walk in His Way will give me resurrection power in my everyday life. Humility allows us to radically pursue God because there is no longer anything to lose. Once pride gives way to humility, our life is no longer our own but given to the Power of God in us. He is passionate that the Spirit in us faithful to Him. Our passion is worthless enthusiasm and misdirected zeal until pride is eradicated. Humility gives us access to God in full measure. Humility makes faith in God fruitful because our confidence is in hope and not what is visible by the naked eye.

What does this mean? The humble way chooses to step off the hamster wheel and let the junk fall were it may knowing that God promises to make every detail of our life work out for His Glory which is our good. It means that I don’t have to run the rat race to get ahead but to just follow God’s Word, do His Will and choose His Way. Yoked to Christ I have grace that allows me to utilize God’s Power rather than wallowing in human weakness. It gives my life new purpose. It fills my life with promises. It gives me peace. Allows me to rest. My life will prosper because I chose to humble myself before the Lord. To wait until He resurrects my mind, soul and body. God is good. Today I choose to do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

Psalm 25:8-10 (NLT) The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Planting Peace

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Matthew 5:9 (NLT) God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the Children of God.

When my children were all little, there was never a moment’s peace in our life. It seemed they came with only two speeds fast and asleep. There were days collapsing exhausted in the bed when I thought if only I could have a second to myself. Cooking, cleaning, picking up, dropping off, refereeing, homework, and all the other duties in the job description of wife and mother left me complete worn out. This morning the house is quiet. My husband is on a well-deserved and much needed hunting trip with the guys. The three oldest off adulting and creating their own lives in the big world. One daughter house sitting who will soon graduate and do the same. I have one baby in the nest who is not a baby anymore sleeping in a mound of covers with our fur baby. It is that moment I longed for years ago, well at least the quiet anyway.

Just as I was not certain of what I longed for then, I find that peace comes in different forms and fashions. To truly be at peace is not a condition or situation in life. I can work to promote peace and get myself in big messes sometimes especially when it comes to people. Peace is a place found in God. It is the Presence of God permeating our life. It becomes our protection when life doesn’t go as planned or is exactly like it should be but does not yield the satisfaction one expected. There are many people with seemingly perfect lives that never know the contentment and completion of perfect peace.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

How important is peace? Is it relevant in our life or just a gift that some are given? To truly trust the Lord with all our heard produces a harvest of peace in our life. Faith is not blind and one must never be satisfied until it becomes confident. Confident faith is the belief that the Presence of God in our life, our life in Christ and the inhabitation of His Spirit is all that we need to be victorious in any and all situations. Those who “endure” will be saved. It is a fight of mind and matter being crucified with Christ and a retraining of all senses to rely on the unseen reality of God’s Purpose, Plan and Protection over every other influence and power in our life. It is not a one-time fix but constant process of submitting more and more of our life to the Lord each day. Peace is the evidence that faith is working in our life.

Peace depends on God’s Understanding. His Wisdom over my whims, wants and wanderings. Not so easy when the enemy is beating on the door and world crashing down all around you. Peace is found in the Presence of God. It cannot be fully understood with human logic but is achieved fully by faith. It requires a change of heart and mind that leads our feet in new directions. Once it is found, it will bring healing to our souls. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us day by day no matter what our current circumstance or living condition.

James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Faith becomes logical the more God’s Word is planted in us. The Way of God is contradictory to this world. Peace cannot be found in an ordinary life but the pursuit of a supernatural existence in Jesus Christ. It means believing God’s Word not the lie of the enemy for your life. How can you tell the difference? Planting seeds of peace in our life begins by putting good seed in the fertile soil of our heart. How can you know God and not know His Word? Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to demonstrate His Great Love and provide the Way for us to return to Him.

How can I get there from here if I do not take measures to find to track Him down? I know that California is on the West Coast and I live on the East Coast. I know that if I head west that I will make it to the other side of the country but will I make it to California without clear directions? Or what I want to go specifically to Sacramento? Or maybe I know someone there who lives at 123 Main Street? If I am looking for the Presence of God and more specifically the Peace of God, I must seek directions to my destination just as I would when traveling the country.

Psalm 85:8-9 (NLT) I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

God is speaking. Some are listening. Others do not like what they hear so choose not to listen. Even more do not recognize His Voice and cannot discern the Truth from a lie. Busyness causes a deafness in the midst of more pressing matters that will eventually cause us not to hear Him anymore. Or maybe He just becomes just another voice in our head demanding more than can be given in the limited amount of time left after other priorities take over. Nevertheless… God is speaking to us more importantly to YOU each day. What is He saying? The Lord is calling you closer. He asks Your Heart to come near. He hears you crying out for help and calling for relief but because you will not listen and respond – there is nothing the Lord can do but wait.

God speaks to people every single day. You can hear Him when your ears and heart are open and tuned in. Remember Elijah driven to the cave on the mountain by the lie of the enemy hissed by a woman scorned? It was after the calamities of life that the prophet heard the still, small voice. God wants to save you today. He wants to clean you up. He wants to fix your broken heart and heal every wound. His Spirit wants to help you, guide you and teach you to live in the peacefulness of His Presence every single day. Are you listening?

John 14:26-27 (NLT) “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. As a believer, you have the mind of Jesus Christ. The potential of full confidence in the Father because you are one with Him again through the Son. Jesus has left us with His Spirit so we can know His Thoughts concerning us and His Will for us. I have the gifts of peace of mind and peace of heart. I must take control of my thinking in order to take captive those things that are contradictory to God’s Will, Way and Word for my life. I must do that because I am fully equipped to do so according to these verses. Like Moses standing in front of the Red Sea, with the Children of Israel whining and the Egyptians closing in – God told his man to stop crying out to me and do what I have instructed you to do. He has given us everything needed to overcome doubt, fear and anxiety. It is called faith. Faith fortified by His Word, His Spirit and His Mindset. The rest is up to us. Faith means believing when you cannot see a thing. Trusting when there is nothing left to hold on to but the aforementioned faith and riding this thing called life out to the end.

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

Do you praise God seven times a day? When I read this verse, I immediately began to evaluate my life and the confession I make each day. Do I praise God daily just because of Who He is? Do I thank Him when I am not getting my way? Do I praise when I am waiting? Do I praise Him when everyone is watching? Do I praise Him when no one is looking? Do I praise Him without music or someone to lead me to this place? Do I praise Him in the mornings (even though I am not a morning person)? Do I praise at bedtime (even in complete exhaustion and to do list left undone)? Do I praise the Lord when things are good? Can I still manage to praise Him when they are not so good? Can I praise God when nothing in my life measures up to His Standard of Living? Praise is essential to peace. It is the confession of faith over our life that releases our expectation from the natural and grabs hold of the supernatural. Praise is evidence that something inside of us is willing and able to grab hold of the Promise and possibly hang on until the end. Praise plants seeds of peace that yields harvests of abundance in our life. It is an expression of pure faith and trust in the Lord to perfect all the concerns us. When there is nothing else praiseworthy to think of this world, just think about the Gift of Life that Jesus has given us so that there is more to life than this.

Ephesians 4:2-4 (NLT) Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

Perfect peace cannot exist in the presence of pride. Humility and gentleness promotes peace in our life. First with God and then with everyone else. You cannot be at peace with the living God and in constant discord and strife in all other relationships. Submission is not a fashionable word but it is absolutely essential in maintaining peace in our life. What about me? Who is going to take care of me? Total trust means submitting our life to others knowing that God has us in all things. This is not to say that you should be subjected to abuse of any kind but that when it comes to having your way – you will give it up to maintain peace and love in your relationships. It means giving up being right all the time to be righteous.

I have shared many, many times about my friend who taught me about submission. After a long rant about my dissatisfaction with my husband’s attitude and actions, she said, “You must submit.” It made me mad enough to spit. I was offended that she would say such a thing to me. I was ruled by pride and stubbornness that would take years to work on and God is still working on now. But I tried it in my marriage and am happy to report it worked. When two people come together – to walk together one must give in and give up their way. In any relationship this is absolutely necessary. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to satisfy my life. It is not their job to be my perfect partner, friend or whatever role they play in my life. Jesus is my soul mate. He is the One who promises to give me a rich and satisfying life. When I “submit” my way, it is full acceptance of His Way. It is not giving in to another person. It is not losing and certainly not giving up anything of worth. Submission says Lord I trust you more than anyone or anything else to satisfy my soul. We are one body, one spirit and given one hope. Let’s keep our faith in Him and submit our way to His Way – peace is the promise received if I do!

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Plant seeds of peace in your life today. Examine every area to find those places in your heart not at peace. Pray about each one specifically and ask the Lord to give you peace. Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world. He gave it to you and me directly. Our peace will never be understood or acknowledged in the natural. It is a God-given gift. It is a seed of faith that if you plant it in every situation will see its fruit in no time.

God keeps in perfect peace all who trust you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3) I have experienced this kind of peace. It came at the price of self and in a place of complete brokenness. I could not do it my way anymore. My human strength was completely gone. All I could do was trust the Lord so I did. That’s when I felt it, knew it, and believed it. Now I desire it more than anything. Are you willing to sow seeds of peace in your life today? What if it costs you pride? What if is at the price of being right? What if it means giving up your way? What if it does not yield immediate results or gratification? What seed does? Will it be worth it? Absolutely. When His Perfect Peace overtakes you – it will be worth it all to have a satisfied soul.

Colossians 3:14-15 (NLT) Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can We Agree?

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Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

As a mom, there have been many days that I found a referee shirt and whistle would have been more suitable attire. With two boys and three girls, not to mention five very different personalities, it seemed like they just could not get along. Yelling did not work, screaming, begging and pleading didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Putting them in the yard to settle disputes on their own only led to the need for a water hose to separate them. But let someone come against any one of them and watch out, the claws come out and teeth are bared. Abusing one another as siblings is perfectly acceptable, however; no one else may have the pleasure. I love to see my kids when my kids agree. When they can work, play or just be together laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I can only imagine how Father God feels when His Children do the same.

Five individuals were enough for this human heart to contend with. With three grown and on their own, the holidays are wonderful because we are blessed with opportunities to be together. Yet in the midst of such elation, squabbles break out, jealousy rises up and friendly competition has been known to cause a war. I cannot fathom the patience of God with us as His Children. Always pointing fingers, tattling, getting mad, getting offended and disrupting the “family” of God with our petty differences and hurt feelings. I remember a Jim Carrey movie, when he played God for a day. He was answering prayer emails and thinking that he was doing a pretty good job until they started pouring in by the hundreds, thousands and even millions. Why can’t believers agree? We are given such a wonderful promise of power when we do, yet it seems as though Christians just cannot get it together most of the time.

“If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Just two. Agree concerning “anything”. God will do it. It almost sounds like the desperate plea of an exhausted parent for just a moment of peace and harmony. The Lord promises His Presence when two or three gather as His Followers, yet in the midst of them there is usually division and drama. Why is that? How do we overcome it? If we learn to agree, we will see the Glory of God in our midst. I believe that if people, churches, congregations, and Christians learned to agree – revival would come and new life created.

What does it mean to agree? Let’s go to the earthly source. According to the dictionary, to agree means to have the same views and beliefs. It is to give our consent or assent which means to yield or concede. (Oh, I can already see trouble ahead.) To live in one accord without contention. (Aw man, I told you it would be problematic.) To come to one opinion. (I could insert so many analogies about opinions lest I digress.) To have one mind, agreement or settlement. One. Just one. To be consistent. (Stop it already.) To conform. As I read this definition, there are no I’s only we’s in the meaning of agreement. The identity changes in agreement as two or three or more become one. The Power of God will return when His People, His Children choose to agree.

I John 5:6-10 (NLT) And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

According to Jewish law, when two witness agree – their testimony becomes fact. (John 8:17) This confirms what the Lord tells us in Matthew 18. God never contradicts Himself. His Word does not change. God does not have an opinion. Unfortunately, people do and often believe them as the truth that governs their life. Isn’t it just like God to outdo the law time and time again? The Law says only two witness are needed. But in God, there are three: Father, Son and Spirit. If we believe the “testimony” of God to be true, why don’t we strive to maintain the truth about God in our life rather than allowing our pride to disrupt things all the time.

I remember telling my children, it takes two to tango. If you don’t react, there is no argument. Imagine offense, hurt, angry or hurtful words to be like those lightweight balls in a kid’s ball pit. If one is coming at you, it is human nature to catch it or deflect it. But what if it hits you and you never raise your hand to claim it? It will just fall to the ground and roll away. Without a reaction, the one attempting to cause harm or damage will stop because their efforts are fruitless. Isn’t that what Jesus did? His Heart so for the people that He ignored their insults and injury to make His Way to the Cross – to die for such things. We must follow the example of Christ. To unite with the Lord and live in the Triune God – we must give up our way, opinion and right to be insulted in order to agree wholeheartedly with one another. Forgiveness gives up such things to allow love to flow again.

God’s Word is an absolute for my life. (Luke 1:37) Matthew 19:26 reminds me that all things are possible with God. In John 15:5, I am instructed that Jesus is the vine and my attachment to Him allows me to connect with God. John 14:6 already established that no one can gain access to the Father except through Christ. Mark 9:23 says that all things become possible when I believe. Jesus has guaranteed a better covenant with God if I choose to partner with Him or agree. (Hebrews 7:22) Finally, the Lord has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of every single promise. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:14) I am now a Child of God. Not of my doing, but of this complete work. To live as a Child of God means that I must give up my way to follow His Way. Jesus promotes relationship, connection and agreement in the Body of Christ. Am I doing the same?

Luke 9:59-60 (NLT) He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19-21 (NLT) He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.

It is human nature and the desire of our flesh to have our own way. To maintain pride is to kill unity because agreement always requires humility. Each person must ask themselves if they agree with the Word of God, His Will and His Way. It is personal choice to join in building the Kingdom or be one of those tearing it apart. There is no middle ground even if people try to paint it a modern and fashionable gray. There is unity or division. The church has built many fences that must come down until our Kingdom is united again. Jesus’ invitation is simple – “Come and follow me.” This is the gateway to endless possibility in our life. Nothing is impossible any longer. But many will say that they agree, but choose their way.

There are many Judas’ in the church today. They give in to the lie of the enemy that serving God is more important than sacrificing self to forgive and form relationships with people. God is about building a Kingdom. Becoming one body – the Body of Christ. Will we disagree? Of course, just like my kids do time and time again. But let someone come against them, and watch out. We must develop the same conviction and commitment. It must not be okay for one to be lost. Agreement is the cellular level of faith. Faith is formed by our agreement with God. Those who learn to be agreeable will find that their faith begins to do something active in their life rather than just empty words touted as truth.

Philippians 3:14-16 (NLT) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Agreement is a sign of spiritual maturity. If you are in contention with people most of the time, it is time to reevaluate relationships. Relationships are Kingdom builders. Agreement fortifies its walls and allows His Glory to reach us. Arguments are Kingdom destroyers and keep us from the Blessings and Promises of God for His Children. In Matthew 18, the verses before todays’ scripture speak of permission. Freedom allows to choose the course of our life. If we permit things on earth like judgement, division and strife – it impacts the Kingdom because we are God’s Kingdom. If we strive for agreement and unity – it releases the Power of the Kingdom here on earth through us. The verses right after it talk about forgiveness. Infinite and endless forgiveness no matter how many times people hurt, offend or abuse us. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus Christ loves and forgives us. His Power is released in our weakness. When humility takes the place of pride to follow Jesus and connect with His Kingdom simply by believing God and His Word are true. Do you believe all things are possible? If so, you will hear these words today and take them to heart. Can we agree? We must agree. It begins with me. Together, we are His Kingdom.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Eat My Words

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Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

One of the perks of the holidays in our office are the many gift baskets and plethora of food sent to us by our clients. Breakfast is catered. Gift baskets carrying many delicious delicacies. One sent a case of chocolate covered strawberries although I am not sure that we have been that good this year. Digging into the boxes, there were a variety of berries large and small covered in milk chocolate rolled in chocolate chips, white chocolate rolled in sprinkles and more chocolate drizzled in with red and green frosting. The presentation was perfect. Carefully packaged to maintain their appearance. Packed with ice packs to stay fresh and keep their form. Such temptation could not be avoided. Biting into the first one it was so sweet and rich the chocolate melting in your mouth followed by the ripe, sweet strawberry. It was heavenly. So much so that I had to try just one more. The covering just as yummy as the first one, but the berry inside was sour and disgusting. Soft and nasty – it was beginning to rot ruining the experience entirely. I had to get it out of my mouth.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart. What is the production of my heart that is flowing from my mouth? What is the flavor of my lips? When speaking to others, is it life or death? Do I nourish their soul or condemn their life? Our words reflect the cultivation and production of God’s Word in our heart. Barren conversation filled with gossip and bitterness only signifies a lack of growth and prosperity. When I have a tough piece of meat like a London broil, I usually take a meat tenderizer that looks like a torture device and plunge it into the cut of meat over and over again. This separates the muscle from the meat. Those veins of marrow they cause tough gristle to form is torn and severed by the sharp points as they pierce it. Afterwards I take the manhandled piece of beef and I marinate it not only to infuse flavor but to soften the meat so it is edible and delicious. After a while, I cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time and it becomes a delicious meal. Hear me men and women of God. Hear me woman of God. Our words require no less. Our heart must be tenderized and marinated to produce the words that God desires of us. To present the message of the Gospel it must be covered in love and presented with perfection. I wonder could I eat my words today. Would they be palatable?

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Caught up in words, tangled in lies” (Brokenness Aside) I love this song. I can identify with it completely. I AM a sinner. Though I try and try I still sin every single day. I used to think being a Christian and growing in Christ meant rising above sin and living a better life. What it really means in drowning in His Grace every single day in humility at the realization that apart from being totally absorbed in the Lord – I am desperately lost every day. One sin would have nailed Jesus to the Cross just the same. I think this is forgotten by those who know their Savior more than one day. To rid one’s life of certain sins means nothing. You and I are still sinners just as much as the one who comes in to church reeking like the club and accidentally throws a free drink ticket into the offering plate rather than the dollar they were digging for. The only difference is that I believe the one who was out last night is more honest than the prideful one condemning them one row over.

After enduring a season where lies, rumors and hurtful words cut to the heart of one of my children, I should not have been surprised to hear the rumor mill begin to stir about another. One would only hope that in the aftermath of hurt, separation and bitterness – Christians, believers, leaders, teachers, members and congregations would learn that words are power. Words will infuse life in a church or tear it down person by person. Not the case, hurtful words about others who need the Lord and are in the constant prayers of others. Torn apart and judged only because in this particular instance you made a better choice. Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us. The cancer of the church is found in conversations filled with words like “bless their heart” and “I will pray for them” only trying to disguise gossip and insecure people who think Heaven is earned and grace is not enough.

Do the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart reflect the Love I have been given and the Grace that I have received? What makes you or I more deserving of God’s Grace, Love and Favor than anyone else walking on the planet? He loves us all exactly the same. The one who is working and striving to build the Kingdom must never think it is okay to tear a single person down or condemn one of their choices without refuting God’s Word that promises He will work every detail out for those who love Him. The more I know Jesus and spend time in His Word the more I realize that there is nothing that I can do to earn His Love or deserve His Grace. I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Caught up in words. Tangled in lies. Women by virtue of numbers, it is our distinction to speak about 10,000 words a day – some more and seldom less. What am I saying? Do my words build others up? Do they tear them down? It doesn’t matter WHO we tell them to – it is what we release in the atmosphere. Have you heard of acid rain? Water is drawn into the sky and forms rain. If the source is tainted, it becomes acid rain that moves in a cloud and kills whatever it is released upon. We get caught in our words. We get tangled in lies. Have you ever heard the expression “enough rope to hang yourself”? Well…the enemy convinces us that our words don’t matter. Or even that because we add something like “bless their heart” or “I need you to pray for” that it somehow changes gossip to gospel. It doesn’t. I promise you that what is spoken in darkness will make its way into the light.

Proverbs 26:22-26 (NLT) Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart. Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot. People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you. They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them. Their hearts are full of many evils. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.

Have you ever wondered why your ministry is not growing? Why prayers for revival are not answered? Could it be that our words are not cultivating seeds of faith? Maybe it is our overflow of senseless and thoughtless words that is quenching the fire? Rumors kill churches if entertained. People are the Kingdom. Build up the people and churches will grow. Tear down sinners and there will be no one left. I wonder what might happen if we removed all the stages and platforms from church buildings. What if all church leaders and teachers were stripped of titles and there was no one left to cater to their office? What if the pastors in our congregations would be simple shepherds with a rod for instruction and a staff to guide with humility, gentleness, grace and love? Would the Holy Spirit do the rest? Could we trust God’s to take the Word and by His Spirit change hearts and lives?

Our pastors cannot lead churches and build the Kingdom because their schedule is full of appointments mediating members and settling issues with their leaders. Our congregations are caught up in words and tangled in lies. Rumors have sunk into hearts and killed those who came to be saved. Not able to live up to our standards, they thought that Jesus required the same. No love. No problem. I will just sleep in on Sunday. Oh, how I love sleep. Christianese covers the death sentences dealt behind doors and when we think no one else is listening. I do not want to be a glazed pot. Beautiful on the outside but worthless on the inside. I do not want my heart to deceive and my words to deal death. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit. I do not want to be part of the death and destruction of others but offer life in every conversation.

I John 3:1-2 (NLT) See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 

I have five beautiful children. I have some who live to please me and maintain a right relationship with me at all times. I have others who must test every boundary and find their own way. They argue among themselves that I have favorites. I let them think what they want. The truth of the matter is that I love them all the same. I would lay down my life in second for any one of them without a moment’s hesitation. They are my children not because they make good choices or do the right thing. They are my children. (Period) When will we realize as individuals that this is the Heart of God for His People? We cannot build a Kingdom until it is understood that there is absolutely no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace that we are saved by faith in Him alone. We are family. Equals. Brothers and sisters no matter what because it is His Will and His Plan.

Religion is man’s way of seeking after God. God wants us to establish a relationship with His Son, Jesus. Once this is accomplished, Jesus tells us to create the same connection with everyone else. How are we doing? Not very well…no revival means no relationship. Early believers did not have time to tear each other apart because of their relationship and unity revival broke with thousands coming to Christ at a time. It can happen. It will happen. Are you willing to take a long hard look at your heart? Do you think it might be possible to go to those you have condemned with words and ask for forgiveness? Is it even thinkable to exalt another before our pride today and overcome insecurity to establish a bond with others? If we can’t get it right in our families, friendships and congregations…why would He give us nations? Why would He send our community? Why spark revival that will quickly be drowned in worthless words? Where the Spirit of the Lord there is freedom. Don’t get caught up in words and tangled in lies. Speak life today. Speak love. Give them Jesus in every conversation. And for goodness sake, if you have nothing nice to say…say nothing at all.

Colossians 4:6 (NLT)  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a]so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Come and Talk to Me

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I Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) Never stop praying.

Do you pray? Do you set aside time each day to talk to God? With full schedules and busy routines, it is sometimes hard to carve out a moment or two for the still small voice inviting you to come closer. It is the squeaky wheels that get the grease and the enemy is great at throwing monkey wrenches into our plans producing problems and inconveniences that steal precious moments devoted to private conversations with the Living God. As a mom, there have been days a private trip to the water closet was impossible let alone my prayer closet. Even the dog follows me to the bathroom most of the time.

One of the sweetest exchanges I have ever found in the Word of God is in Psalm 27. “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” The Lord is whispering to you today to come and talk with Him. He desires intimate and personal conversation with you – His Beloved. It is important that in each day there is time for such things. It is empowerment for our soul and equipment for the battle faced each day against temptation and through our trials. Without prayer, it is hard to distinguish the Truth from the lies handed off as half-truth and total bewilderments by the enemy each day. If he can only convince you that God does not love us or is disinterested in us then he can distract us from knowing the Will of God and having His Way in our life.

Is it truly possible to “never stop praying”? How will I ever know if I do not start praying at some point in each day? Too often it is the rescue remedy in our life rather than the daily sustenance that maintains our heart and soul. Jesus is the Bread of Life. We consume Him through communion with the Lord. To commune is to engage in intimate communication. It is a quiet conversation. Too often prayer is approached like the drive-thru at McDonalds. We bark our order to God and expect Him to get it right in thirty seconds or less. When He doesn’t respond according to our desires and expectations – we deem prayer unnecessary and not useful spending the rest of our time complaining and grumbling against the Lord in discontentment.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT) Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

“Pray like this…” It doesn’t get any plainer than this now does it. Who is honest enough to admit that this is not how we pray at all most of the time. Jesus talked to us about prayer. He begins by telling us not to pray as hypocrites. Saying things that are not heartfelt and sincere because there of disbelief. To say one thing and do another is hypocritical for those who might be wondering. Prayer is not meant as a public display or even a corporate conversation overheard by God. (Matthew 6:5-6) Prayer is not beating down God’s Door with a bunch of words and relentless begging until He moves on your behalf. Prayer is the key that opens Heavens door because it slides in and makes a connection with His Will not our own. (Matthew 6:7-8)

Prayer is agreement with God’s Will and acceptance of God’s Way. It is an act of humility not an opportunity to demand anything in advance. We pray according to His Word and by faith (confidence) in it. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. No one makes it to the Father except through Him and our prayers are not different. They must be according to His Way, His Truth and New Life not old things that are subject to passing away. Prayer is based on the premise that God knows our needs and has already provided all that we need. It is the acceptance of every spiritual blessing already predestined for our life. It acknowledges God’s Plan fully agreeing with His Terms.

What prayer does not do? Prayer does not change God’s Plan for our life. It does not precipitate the movement of time preset by God’s Timing. Prayer empowers us to overcome the temptation to quit or give up before reaching fulfillment. (Matthew 26:41) Prayer seldom produces immediate external results. It can produce immediate peace and comfort to those who are waiting. It begins an inward change. (Ps. 34:4-7) Prayer is the opportunity to be freed from our fear by casting our burden and releasing our anxiety to Jesus and allowing Him to guard our heart. Prayer is encouragement while we wait on God. (Psalm138:3) It is knowing that He perfects all that concerns me. I can trust Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT)  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Humility is essential in our prayer life. We must continually repent of our sins and forgive others to make them work effectively in our life. I cannot harbor hidden sin and expect the Lord to move into that area of my life. Light and darkness cannot fill the same space. Don’t believe me. Turn on the light in a dark room. What happens? Darkness has to flee. When we decide to restrict certain areas of our life to God’s Will and His Word, they become places of inactivity. Why? God gave each of us the opportunity to choose who to serve. Our faith is our own and may be given to whoever we choose. When I approach prayer with a flurry of requests, it is from a position of false entitlement. I am given a future and hope according to God’s Plan not my own. I must humble myself and accept God’s Plan for me which has nothing to do with my wants, needs and desires in the present moment. All things are working together for my good according to His Plan.

With this in mind, forgiveness of my sins is imperative to having God’s Will. (Matt. 6:14-15) I must repent. This is the first act of humility. I must forgive others. (Mark 11:24-25) I cannot hold grudges in my life because that is a form of misplaced expectation. I must forgive as I have been forgiven. No grudges are allowed. I must give myself back to that person in love just as Christ gave Himself for me. Unforgiveness implies that I expected more from a person than the Living God rather than understanding it is by grace I am saved not of myself. His Grace is enough for me. A lack of forgiveness in my life is evidence that I have decided His Grace is not enough and I am owed something that I have not received. Humility is required to engage in an active and rewarding prayer life. Giving all areas of our life and expectations in our life to Jesus Christ alone.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

The Holy Spirit is our prayer partner for life. He takes the Word hidden in our heart weaving it as Truth in our mind with understanding and facilitating fruit in our spirit that feeds our soul. To pray without His Assistance is foolish because the Spirit knows God’s Own Will and will align our prayer life to match. We are encouraged to pray with the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18) Sometimes I just don’t have the right words to express my heartfelt longings to God so the Spirit speaks on my behalf. He makes my petitions known to God and spreads peace all over my heart. We don’t have to worry about anything. The Lord has us covered. His Spirit is evidence that greater is He who lives in me than the one who lives in this world. His Spirit gives me confidence. I can tell God when I need and thank Him for hearing me. It is God’s Spirit that produces God’s Peace in our heart and mind when given the space to operate in us and through us. He will guard our heart and mind from the lie of the enemy while we wait on God.

James 5:13-16 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

As Daniel prayed the angel of the Lord came to Him and said, Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) I know sometimes prayer seems one-sided. There are times when prayer doesn’t seem to be doing anything but soaking up precious minutes better spent on something else. Prayer is a powerful weapon in our life laid down easily to pick up weapons unworthy of the battles that we face. We exchange our faith to carry weapons not meant for us. David could not wear Saul’s armor to kill the giant. He stepped out with complete faith and confidence in the Living God. I wonder how many conversations that the shepherd boy engaged in tending his father’s flocks? Endless hours alone with no one to talk to but sheep and God. Hmm… Do you feel lonely today? A little bit lost. Could it be that the Lord is whispering to your heart today? Is He saying, “Come and talk to me”? The angel of the Lord told Daniel that the “first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before Your God, your request was heard.” Maybe that thing you stopped praying for was not complete yet. Perhaps the timer on your promise or blessing had not gone off yet and it was partial and incomplete. Just because there was no movement or change in your natural circumstances doesn’t mean that Heaven was not on high alert. God answers the prayers of the righteous.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Do you believe that today? Before you answer, let me ask you, did you pray today? See if we truly believe that prayer has power then we would pray every day. If we believe that every promise belongs to us by faith in Jesus Christ, we would stop conversing with others telling them of our unmet needs and heartfelt desires and take them to Him. I am challenged to pray more than ever before. I am pressed to pray without stopping. I must humble myself in prayer before the Lord. I repent of my sin and choose to forgive. My prayer holds power when I am righteous. His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. It is by His Grace that I am able to have the Promises of God prescribed for my life. Not according to my will, but His Will be done.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

 

Found My Joy

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James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Our family has a very odd way of dealing with discomfort. When trouble comes, it seems to produce laughter in us. At the hospital the night our son was diagnosed with cancer, the nurse came down the hall to see what all the commotion was as the Lord turned our sorrow and immediate devastation to gut wrenching, overflowing laughter. The tears of sorrow were somehow exchanged for those produced by joy. When my mom went in for open heart surgery a few weeks ago, at 6:30 AM in the morning, the surgery waiting area erupted with laughter while our family took selfies in matching tees that said, “God is good, y’all!” After surgery, while mom was resting in ICU, since the militant nurse would not allow us stay with her, my sister and I created Dubsmash videos and reconnected after many years apart in an empty waiting room all night long. Joy. Just joy. Not the kind of joy that the world has but the kind that comes from knowing that God works everything out for the good of those who love Him.

There is a great exchange made when gathering our hopes, dreams and expectations and dumping them at the feet of Jesus Christ. It is the moment that our tears created by sorrow can be turned into joy. It is in that decision that a challenge, hardship or trouble goes from a struggle to an opportunity. When our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. Yay, patience?! It is not the growing pains that are funny but the inexpressible love and peace found in the refuge of Christ offered to those that bring their hurts for healing, disappointments for hope and brokenness for beauty. We decide when joy makes its way to us because it is always streaming down from the Heart of Jesus to His Beloved People.

Let it grow. I believe that joy is evidence that there is another root has made its way into His Foundation, that our lives have transitioned a little more to the Kingdom, and that our faith is a little stronger than before. (Colossians 2:7) The Lord has a plan. It is that you and I will be perfect and complete needing nothing. Is that you today? Are you perfect? Do you feel complete? Are you needing nothing? Yeah, me either. So now what?

James 1:5-8 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

What did people do before Google, YouTube, and Pinterest? No, really. How did we find information without the world’s largest search engine? How did we fix things before YouTube came along? My cooking skills were developed spending hours on Pinterest expanding the menu. In fact, my daughter’s wedding was made completely possible by Pinterest as well. See there is an information highway out there and media that floods our hearts and minds. It is driven by supply and demand as every website and television show is sponsored by a company trying to “sell” us something. It may be a product, service, or idea. When I need true wisdom, there really only is one credible source.

The Word of God is written, spoken and imparted to people. If we do not have joy, it represents a need for faith and trust in the Lord. This is not developed the way it is achieved in the world. Yes, there are resources on the Internet, television, podcasts, and in churches, but the most credible resource that is given to the believer is the Holy Spirit. Do you spend time in the Word of God each day? Do you listen for His Voice? Do you exercise the knowledge that you have attained turning it into wisdom? Only faith and trust in a God who cannot be seen produces the kind of joy that gushes past the troubles of life making its way into the atmosphere. We must know the Word of God and recognize His Voice to have the kind of faith that endures tests and temptations.

James 1:9-11 (NLT) Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God doesn’t really care about your bank account, investments or portfolio. He gave it all to you anyway. It all belongs to Him. The treasure that He is after and desires most is our heart. The love born of commitment, devotion, desire, passion and pursuit. When our life is worthless outside of Christ is when a believer finally invests all their resources including time, talent and treasure into knowing Him more. This kind of life is marked by humility. This is the downfall of the modern day church and the rising of the remnant church all at the same time. The religious congregation says come here let me fix you. You need to look like us, talk like us, act like us and be like us to see Heaven. Then there is the opposite extreme that tells you grace is free so trample it as you may. Do what you want when you want and it really doesn’t matter because God is all about free love. Well that’s not the truth either. Jesus paid the ultimate price to set us free. It was not free but cost Him everything. He freely gave His Life as a sacrifice. This is humbling.

I believe that the Lord is rising up a church that is recounting the cost paid for them and realizing its incredible worth. They are embracing “whosoever come” and “meet this man”. It is filled with imperfect people passionately pursuing a perfect God together. Laying down their life for the Lord and one another. It’s called a remnant because it’s small. God is looking for humble people with heart’s intent on finding Him. Committed to knowing Him. Devoted to following Jesus all the way to the Father. Giving up their life to have Eternity. Is that you? Oh Lord, I want to be that kind of church.

James 1:12-15 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

Having a large family and five children, you think that you will always have a houseful until they begin to grow up and fly away. Our fourth child will be a senior in high school next year – ugh! She brought home her class ring information which made my husband decide to look for his own class ring. I don’t know if he found it or not but he did manage to produce the sappiest love letter I have ever read from a clearly smitten woman – me. How embarrassing! As I read it, I realized that after all these years – I still feel the same way. We have been through many ups and downs. We are blended family which only adds to the commotion. We have had great times, good times and devastating times and the glue of our family has held tightly.

God blesses those who patiently endure the testing and temptation. Life is full of tests. There will always be temptations and easy ways out. At the end of this life will we find our first love? God never tempts us so when a trial comes or hardship arises – we can find refuge in the Lord. Do we? Or do we give into the temptation to react to our circumstances, situation and discomfort? When I am faced with difficulties, I have learned that I can trust the Lord. How did I learn that? Brokenness that lead to complete submission. Absolute loss of control which has been my undoing. It is the trials and temptations of life that drive our faith in the ground like a well-positioned post so as it gets harder the believer gets stronger. The process can be painful. It is hard. But it is always worth it.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

There is a song that I love by Bethel Music called “I Have Found My Joy.” It says, “there’s a line and we’ve crossed it. Some would say that we’ve lost it. But we’ve found our joy, we’ve found our joy, it’s all in knowing You.” Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. The joy in our life is discovered in our relationship of faith and trust in Jesus. We are His Most Prized Possession but how can we know that if we do not come to Him, communicate with Him, and commune with the Lord. It is our relationship with Jesus that allows all the good and perfect things that the Father has for us to make their way to us. This is why when hard times come, true believers laugh through their tears. We can trade every sorrow for joy at His Feet and in His Presence.

Have you found joy today? Do you know what its like to laugh in pain? Find humor in hardship? Jesus wants that for you today. He is calling you to it. There is inexpressible joy in Jesus Christ. I cannot explain it but to say that when I should be crying – I am laughing. Some people may think that I have lost it but I really don’t care what they think – I have found my joy. In every season there will be rain, but He is the Light of my Salvation that reminds me that this season will end producing new seeds to plant, some that are growing and there will be fruit on my vine if I just stay close to Jesus.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Are you in the middle of one of “these trials”? Yeah, me too. The good news is that the Lord will reveal if you have genuine faith. The bad news…well, I can’t seem to find any because where faith is revealed joy is released. The more faith produced in us when we go through trials, overcome temptations and move just a little bit closer to the Lord, the more blessed we become even if we have less in this life – it is abundant life that makes us completely needing nothing. Don’t give up. Trust the Lord. No matter what you are going through He is fighting Your Battle, making a Way, and there is purpose and meaning in our life far beyond human comprehension. Just stand right where you are and He will fight for you. Jesus loves you. You are His Prized Possession. In exchange for your small investment of faith under fire, the Lord will give you glorious, inexpressible joy. This is the reward of trusting Him and it will be the salvation our soul!

I have found my joy!

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

Backseat Lessons

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Proverbs 22:4 (NIV) Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.

If you have more than one child in your family, you have probably heard them yell, “Shotgun!” while running to the car to go somewhere. I am not sure who made riding in the front seat such an exhilarating honor, but it has been the subject of many altercations in our family. It is customary that the oldest child would be the one allowed to ride in the coveted passenger seat unless, of course, both mom and dad are present. Oh the arguments that arise if this rule is ever overturned and a younger child was allowed to take the place of the eldest. What is the big deal about the front seat?

Several years back, I began riding in the backseat allowing one of our children to join dad up front. They love it. I have had many people ask me with perplexed looks, “Why would you sit in the backseat of your own car?” The truth is that I really don’t know when and how it began. It could be that our youngest simply asked me to ride with her so swapping seats with her sister is the beginning of it. But over time, I believe that giving up my seat has allowed me to share a very important message with my children. Humility. That’s right. The thing that gnaws at our flesh the most has somehow made its way into my heart and now is speaking to my children through one simply act. I promise it is not me. I didn’t do it to demonstrate some kind of life lesson but my precious Heavenly Father who loves me and my children so very much has used the simplest act of submission to share the example of His Son to us.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV) Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

“In humility, value others above yours, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others.” People come equipped with selfishness. It is an innate trait born of the sin that is within us. Coming to Christ, we are given the opportunity to lay down the burden of selfishness in exchange for righteousness that allows us to experience fulfillment and complete satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This comes when we lay down our life before Him and become yoked to the Lord. (Matthew 11:29) This connection to Christ called yoking means that He takes our burden of sin so that we share His Burden to love others more than ourselves. Too many times, we (or I) forget that part. The comfort that I have in Christ should allow me to be an encouragement to other people. The commonality of His Spirit living inside of us should fill me with compassion and tenderness for other people. My joy becomes complete when I am completely likeminded with Jesus which can only happen when I submit my way to the Way (John 14:6) and walk humbly with my  God. (Micah 6:8)

There are unspoken lessons being taught to my children each time I humble myself and take the backseat. It teaches them humility. It teaches them submission. It shows them that it is okay to put others first. It makes them feel important and significant in our family. It allows them to connect with their natural father. It puts them right next to him which gives them an opportunity to comminute with him. Even though I have every right to sit in the passenger seat up front, I make the conscious choice to move back so they can be in the seat of “honor.” Though it is my car and my place, I gladly give it to them because they desire it. Isn’t that what Jesus did for me? He laid down His Life so I could live again. He took the backseat to allow me to come closer to the Father again. His Grace gave me the opportunity to reconnect with My Heavenly Father.

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Can I be transparent with you? Sitting in the backseat is not that big of a deal. It really doesn’t matter to me where I sit as long as I am in the car and going with them. But to some people, it is a really big deal. I offered the front seat to a friend of our daughter’s so she could sit by her on the way to a fellowship. This young lady stopped abruptly and asked, “Why?” She went on to tell me that her mom would “never” give up the front seat to anyone especially not a kid. How many people do we encounter in a single day who we could take a backseat to? How many people might benefit from humility in God’s People? It is the example of Jesus Christ on the Cross demonstrated for us to live after He was gone. Jesus, who was in very nature God, made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. Why can’t we? Why won’t we?

Pride is a problem in the church born of religiosity. It is the exaltation of self. For the life of me, I cannot understand why some pastors, apostles and teachers cannot carry their own Bible or IPad to the platform to speak. I cannot fathom the unreachable preachers in our society today who are too important to wallow among the people and reach the common folk so they stand behind a wall of security. The message they carry is not their own. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we honor the vessel more than its contents?

Jesus stayed among the people. He was humble. When the disciples tried to build a wall of protection around Him or keep others out, Jesus removed the obstacle to reach out to the people. Jesus didn’t care what they wore, how they looked, or if they met the guidelines and measures of religion. He loved people – all people. He laid down His Life for everyone. Too many times, we will not give up our favorite seat for a visitor in the House of God yet claim we love Jesus with all our heart. Service to God begins with humility and submission to others as Jesus lived and died for us.

I Peter 3:7-9 (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.

Taking a backseat to others in humility and submission IS the kind of service that honors the Lord. It is exactly what Jesus did. He was not begrudging but willingly laid down His Life for us to give us new life again. He didn’t complain and grumble up Calvary’s Hill but stay focused on His Purpose and Passion which is and always will be His People. Jesus was a blessing to ever person who He encountered. His Power, which is His Grace, constantly flowing out of Him to those who reached out to Him. Throughout the course of a single day, we come in contact with a variety of individuals. At the end of the day, if we polled those people, what would they say? Would our kindness, compassion, and love made an impact on their life. To be like-minded with Christ is to live in a posture of humility. He is the ultimate example of such an existence. Who am I to consider my life worth more than my Lord’s? To lay down my life and take up my cross to follow Jesus means that I must learn the meaning of humility and live it every day.

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.

Humility is not the loudest message we preach but definitely the most significant. Jesus Christ laid down His Life for us. He asks that we lay down our life for our brothers and sisters. Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth. What is the message of your life? If you did not say a single thing, would others experience the Love of God just knowing you? It begins with humility. I have never discussed this with my children before yet I see it evidenced in their journey with Christ. Our purpose is to serve the Lord and glorify Him in our attitudes and actions. Our willingness to humble ourselves ushers us closer and deeper in the Father’s Presence. “The first will be last in the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 20) The mother in this chapter only wanted the best for her boys, but God wanted more. He desired fulfillment and completion in them that would last forever. If I lay down my life now, I have forever to look forward to. What an awesome exchange? Now for eternity. Consider hopping in the backseat and letting someone else ride up front today. This doesn’t have to be literal, but I believe God is going to give each of you (and me) an opportunity to express humility and be a blessing! Take it!

James 4:10 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.