Level Paths

Level Paths

Isaiah 26:7-8 (NIV) The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.

There is a popular Christian saying that “God is greater than our highs and lows.” Originating from Romans 8:39 – it is a reminder that neither height nor depth or anything in all creation can ever separate us from the Love of God. The certainty of our faith and confident hope in Christ is the fact that His Unconditional Love and Unfathomable Grace belongs to us. No matter how chaotic our conditions or crazy the circumstances of life become making it possible to keep our eyes on Him and our feet traveling in His Direction. The acquisition and full possession God’s Love personally and intimately allows us to walk on level paths. It says so in Isaiah 26 that “the path of the righteous is level.” He makes “the way of the righteous smooth.” The journey of life is full of bumps, barricades and road blocks. We can overcome them all in the Name of Jesus. But how?

Glad you asked. When we walk in the way of the Word, waiting on the Lord, and make His Name and Glory our deepest desire – a union is formed between us. In Matthew 11, Jesus offers to yoke with us or become partners. Intimacy with the Lord requires many of the same things that a personal relationship in the natural would. We must learn to pay attention, invest energy, and give up our way in order to move closer to Him and become one with Christ. Christ lives in us. His Spirit is evidence of the consummation and desire of the Lord to be one with us. However, just as two people can live in the same home or be married for decades, sometimes intimacy is not achieved. Any relationship that is ignored will die over time.

With this in mind, are you walking with Jesus today? Are you aware of His Presence in you and around you right now? He goes before us, stands right there with us, lives in us and hedges us in from behind. I am just like you and cannot fully comprehend the omnipresence of God but by faith I accept it and choose to engage in a relationship because I have confident hope. The Lord has made the Way for us. He has ordered our steps and leveled our path. How do I find it?

Psalm 119:103-105 (NIV) How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

As a teenager, I was challenged by a Sunday school teacher to learn and memorize scripture verses. She gifted me with a little packet of cards. Psalm 119:105 was one of the first verses. Why do we need God’s Word? I have heard many people express difficulty in reading, understanding and continuing in the Word of God. I get it because I used to feel the exact same way. However, the Word of God is absolutely essential to walking on level paths through life. You must know the Word to know Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word of God is our instruction book and map to the promises and blessings that the Lord has hidden in this life for our natural and spiritual success. It points us in the right direction. It helps us to decide at the crossroads of life and valleys of indecision. The Word of God is our weapon against the lie of the enemy which is the only thing that he has in his arsenal to use against us. The Bible tells us that people perish for a lack of knowledge. It points out that in the end times – the Word will help people identify false teaching. It is absolutely the lamp and compass for our life.

Psalm 119:103 describes the Word as “sweet” to the taste. It’s funny that sometimes it seems like a bitter pill going down but as we begin to feast on His Word, chew it up, and fully digest it something remarkable happens. The Holy Spirit takes the Truth and begins to feed and nourish our soul with it. He uses it to combat all our rebellious thoughts and contrary nature. As we grow stronger in the Word, it develops and matures us from the inside out. When I eat a green bean, I do not immediately feel full. I do not experience the process going on inside of me as my body takes all the nutrients out of the vegetable. It begins a digestion process with in me. I also don’t immediately feel the effects of white chocolate macadamia cookies when I eat them – I just know I really like them until I cannot button my jeans. The Word of God is not always a quick fix. It is an ongoing investment in intimacy with Christ as we get to know Him more and more. We eat (or at least are supposed to) three meals a day. Some of us may do a little snacking, too. This keeps our body strong and healthy. The Word must be partaken just the same to build a strong and healthy soul that will prosper.

Psalm 18:32-36 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

David killed a lion and a bear before facing the giant that day. God ordered his steps to train him for one of the biggest challenges of his life. He spent countless hours tending sheep. During that time, it is clear that he spent time with the Lord. David is called a man after God’s Own Heart. His Love for us unquestionable in the giving of His Son, Jesus. His Commitment undeniable as evidenced by His Spirit entrusted us. God gave us the Word to make our paths level, but that doesn’t mean to smooth out all the bumps in the roadway of life. It is not about making this life and the world a better place. He has given us His Word and provided the way for level paths by faith and confidence. God is greater than the highs and lows because He carries us high above them.

The Lord has provided a wide path, a spacious place, an open heaven in our midst. Walking in it doesn’t always mean there will not be challenges, struggles or battles otherwise there would be no need to train us or give us a shield. We wouldn’t need His Help if perfection possible. He causes me to stand on the heights but that means I am going to travel up some mountains out of some pretty low valleys. BUT…it says He keeps my way secure…whatever that way is…God has already been there to make a way where there was no way, provide everything I need to get through it and most assuredly will give me victory in due time.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Make level paths for your feet. Our active participation and dedication to intimacy with Jesus Christ is to pursue Him in the Word. By doing so, we level the way before us because our life is no longer defined by words, opinions or lies. It is bound by Truth. Truth will produce more faith and confidence in the Lord. Confidence that will keep on keeping on even when the mountain seems high or the valley too low. His Love will carry you above your situation to see things as He sees them and give you hope that keeps you in the good fight of faith. Be encouraged today. God loves you. No height or depth or anything in all creation will ever separate you from His Love whether naturally occurring or self-imposed. His Grace is ALWAYS enough. The Lord will never ever let you down. You have to believe that to receive it otherwise your life will be wasted reacting to the change of scenery rather than responding to His Promises and flourishing in faith. You have His Word. You have His Spirit. Christ is in you. Make level your path today. Fill your insufficient faith with the Word and watch it grow into all the good things He promised.

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

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Peaceful Partner

Peaceful Partner

John 14:26-27 (NIV)  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Oh the Peace of God, I wouldn’t trade it for anything this world has to offer. Those precious moments when something clicks and I remember to give my cares and worries mixed with all those heavy burdens to the Lord. We have been given a partner, advocate, and indwelling Presence of the Living God to go with us. Wherever I choose to allow my feet to wander today, the Lord is with me. Sometimes I do not feel Him, acknowledge Him or even remember this precious gift that I have been given. So today if it is one of those days for you – let this be your reminder – you have a life partner who is with you even to the ends of the earth.

Luke 4:1 (NIV) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…

There is a common misconception that salvation is perfection which is simply not true. The moment of repentance is the turning and embarking on an incredible life journey of transformation. To become something new just like Jesus promised requires change. It means losing control sometimes. It is uncomfortable as our dead dreams become handfuls of hope. The Presence of God in us does not necessarily change the footsteps of our life but definitely gives them hope in the outcome.

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, immediately after being filled with the Spirit – the same Spirit led Him into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days and nights. Just as he always does, the enemy would come to tempt Jesus in his humanity. Jesus answered the enemy of his soul with the Word of God – the Truth called to his remembrance by none other than the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? John 14:26 tells us that is exactly what the Spirit does. He teaches us and reminds us of everything Jesus said to us. He then guides us to opportunities of obedience that lead to great blessing for Children of God.

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Spiritual acceptance by the Lord and steps to maturity are all facilitated by God’s Spirit living in you and me. He is our guarantee that God has heard our heart cry out in true repentance and has responded with His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Adoption that gives us a new name. He establishes our peace with God through Jesus Christ. Now at peace with God, though our circumstances and conditions may not change radically, our choices and consequences begin to change as we decide to avoid sin and seek the Savior day by day. Not only on the good days, but in our sufferings the Holy Spirit takes seeds of faith planting into the crevices of our broken heart. He cultivates love, joy, peace and more in the hearts of those who remain broken before the Lord. I wonder today with a new insight and perspective of usefulness of this partnership that maybe we might capitalize on the commitment Christ made to us when He invested His Spirit in us. The Spirit of God produces intimacy with God that is only possible by living at peace with Him.

Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

I wonder what would happen if we believed that God has partnered with us in such an intimate and radical way. To give us the very essence of His Identity in order to teach us and remind us that as love grows cold and sin more rampant to have confidence in the unconditional love and overwhelming grace of a good, good Father. A Father so recklessly in love with us that He would send His Perfect and Undefiled Spirit to live in such a sin-ridden state of a human. See if we could understand the value, worth and potential of the Spirit of God enough to acknowledge Him, accept His Guidance, and affirm Him as He does us our life would suddenly and dramatically prosper in the Fruit of His Spirit. Peace would define our existence even in the most violent storm. Love would prevail as we fully accept the grace given to us as more than enough.

The Spirit washes us as a newborn baby is tenderly and gently cleaned and then He renews us from the inside out. He sees our broken heart and heals it. He sees our unmet expectation and redirects it to the One who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than ask, think or imagine. He would lead us from confident to wide open spaces full of opportunities. The Spirit encourages us to release lesser things to embrace fulfillment as only God could give it. When our faith in God and partnership with His Spirit begin to flourish – our natural life will follow suit.

Jude 1:20-21 (NIV) But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Christians have made the Spirit so spooky and unrealistic with crazy claims and even crazier behaviors. My experience with the Holy Spirit is a little different. Growing up as a Christian different religions gave the Spirit of God varying and differing personalities, qualities and characteristics. I had to become acquainted with His Spirit on my own. Intimacy is not a public event but a private matter. If you do not have a partnership with God’s Spirit, I encourage you to form one. To seek an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit that is personal. I have discovered the most valuable asset that keeps me from wandering and that is peace. When things are going great, I know God is good and live in peace. When everything is falling apart, I still know God is good and can remain in the same restful peace. Peace is the defining of God’s Spirit as He teaches us to remain constant in our faith and confident in our hope personally and individually. We can form opinions about certain people based on the account and perception of others but it is only in a real relationship or encounter that we experience who they really are and who they will be to me. With this in mind, ask the Lord to reveal Himself through His Spirit to you today. The Lord told the woman at the well that true worshippers must do so in Spirit and Truth. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a true worshipper of the Living God. Discover the life-giving, life-changing and love-altering purpose of partnering with the Living, Breathing Spirit of God – the Christ in you.

There’s nothing worth more that could ever come close no thing can compare You’re our living hope
Your presence, Lord… I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone, Your presence, Lord… Holy Spirit, You are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for to be overcome by Your presence, Lord…

Tight Spot

Tight spot

Psalm 18:1-2 (NIV) I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Ever find yourself in a tight spot, me too. It seems like sometimes our freedom in Christ is compromised – hedged in by conditions, limited by situations, and overwhelmed by problems – where are the wide open spaces that God promised His People in Psalm 18:19 or the spacious place. In Psalm 16:6 – it is called the pleasant place. Life is not always pleasant even after accepting Jesus Christ. He promises us victory in the outcome but not necessarily triumph in every moment. Life can be hard. It can bring the unexpected. Life is not fair. It can be brutal as a believer to live for Christ every day, to be the light, and remain salty nevertheless that is our call.

Who the Son sets free is free indeed? But with that comes the wisdom that though are things are now permissible – not all things are beneficial. We have a new set of standards for our choices in life. How will I respond to problems? What is my reaction to pressure? The Lord is my strength. He will help me. Right? Well, why do I feel weak and powerless? I am hemmed in and it seems as though the evidence of my life is contradictory to strength and power. These two qualities have changed since receiving Christ, now my strength must fail in order for His Power called Grace to prevail in my life. I am no longer confident in me, my abilities, my surroundings or even the people around me. The Lord is calling me to the rock so He can be my Rock. He is calling me into his fortress so He can become my Fortress. He is allowing me to wander into dangerous territory so that He can be my Deliverer. Otherwise, I would continue to settle for less and do things in my own power. Where is the glory in that?

Exodus 33:21-23 (NIV) Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Moses was uncertain of God’s Command to “lead these people” as I am sure many men and women in ministry struggle with from time to time. Leading people is tough. People are problematic, prideful and stubborn. Just managing my own brood is challenging enough, I cannot imagine trying to lead an entire congregation in the same vision and mission. Ugh! He goes before the Lord to discuss the matter. I wonder what would happen if we became conversational with God. If we entered His Presence to hash things out and discuss the issues that bring us concern. What if we just decided to have an intimate conversation with Him even on the good days when trouble is not pounding on our door and chaos calm for the moment? The Lord tells Moses – paraphrased – “No worries. I will go with you! I will do what you are asking. I am pleased with you and know you by name.” So Moses presses further – “Now show me your glory.” There is something about God’s Glory – His Manifest Presence that may not change our environment but changes our heart washing away doubt and fear and filling us with confident hope. Are you confident in the Lord today? Or do you feel restricted, limited or hindered by the circumstances surrounding your life? I wonder today if the Lord is pressing you into the “cleft of the rock and covering you with His Hand”? Could it be that He is about to show you His Glory?

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

Elijah had just killed all the prophets of Baal arousing the anger of Jezebel. Now one would assume that the prophet would be basking in victory but instead he is hiding in a cave. Her threat had penetrated his human heart and now he was in a cave second guessing his destiny. He told the Lord, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” in this statement we find that the man of God feels far from God as He addresses the Lord formally. He recounts his good works and then the pity party begins…”I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me.”

Fear and doubt are powerful motivators and sneaky attackers. They come in when we are tired, drained or running low in faith. They pounce on us like helpless prey and devour the little bit of confidence remaining after tests and trials have taken their toll. I never really understood this until our son went into remission. For almost a year, I was broken, empty and on the verge of depression. The victory was great. God is good. His Word did not fail us. Our son is alive and well. However, I am still human and given over to emotionalism from time to time. I couldn’t see the Light of His Glory in that moment as my humanness overtook me. I had exhausted my faith and needed renewal. God passed by me in His Goodness and swept His Glory over me. I was instantly refreshed and renewed. It is not uncommon for us to give in to human weakness. In fact, it is absolutely necessary for His Grace to empower our life.

Song of Solomon 2:14-16 (NIV) My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. My beloved is mine and I am his…

The tight spots, limitations, hindrances and times of being stuck between a rock and hard place have meaning and purpose. They are an invitation. An opportunity to press into the Presence of God and spend time with Him. He is the One who tells us who we really are, what we are called to do, and how to do it yet we get caught up in busyness, the opinions of others and the rat race chasing some elusive American Dream forgetting that He is the God is Good in the land of the living. We see God futuristically and seek Him so when He desires intimacy and communion with us now – today. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. Will we stop long enough to experience His Love today and encounter His Glory?

From the very beginning, it has been God’s Greatest Desire to walk with us, talk with us, and live life with us. He desires us. He loves us. The Lord chases after us with His Love, Mercy, Grace and Goodness every day, all day from beginning to end. Could it be that the challenges you are facing is merely the Lord carefully constructing a cleft to catch you in? A place where He can lavish His Love on you, make a way for you, shower His Goodness on you or even just let you know that He is right there with you. See the Power of God does not limit our life but removes every limitation. We are free indeed.

Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV) Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Are you in a tight spot today? Do you feel limited? Is your confidence waning and faith running low? I wonder your limitation is really an invitation? Could it be that your Beloved is wooing you to come closer and move deeper in His Presence? He makes all things new. He makes way where there is no way. He gives life and love to those who dare to trust Him. The Lord is good. He is always good. He will never let you down but until you trust Him that will remain an opinion of others rather than your personal experience. God allows us to run into dead ends in order to show us a better way. He waits for us to run out of energy and excuses to illuminate the Plan and Purpose found only in His Presence. When His Glory passes by, you will take notice and be changed. He loves you. He is faithful. He is your righteousness and justice all wrapped in one. His love for you is without condition but you must be convinced enough to receive it today. Those who take refuge in the cleft of His Love will live in the shadow of his wings – safe and secure in all situations. They live in abundance beginning with confident hope. They drink from a river so deep that drought cannot reach it. It is a river of delights including joy and peace even in the tough times and tight spots. He is a fountain of life and light in the dark. He is Jesus. He is all you ever need.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Fan Your Flame

Fan Your Flame

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT)  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

“You cannot put out a fire that burns on the inside.” (Bethel Worship) I am reminded today of the spiritual gift that God has given me. I have been challenged in the last few days to test the temperature of the water boiling into passion for Christ. Have I become tepid? Is the river of life flowing inside of me lukewarm? God has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity – but have I taken it anyway? He is given me power overflowing from amazing and abundant grace – am I doused in it? Is love my passionate motivation in all things? I have self-discipline. It is produced by the Holy Spirit who tends the fire that burns within me. The passionate pursuit of Christ that began with just a spark of faith turned into confident hope.

Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

I am back at the furnace of the three Hebrew boys. I can feel the flame of refinement. The purification process designed to produce gold in our life. The heat that burns away all impurity to reveal the faith that is hidden within. I wonder if that is not the purpose of our life. To go through the same trials, troubles, and tragedies or to face the same temptations (rise or fall) that will demonstrate the Glory of God to all who are a witness. The church has painted a pretty picture. Religion erases the need for grace to give way to a façade of perfection not yet manifested until the return of Christ. We hide our broken hearts. Shield are scraped knees. Hide our dirty hands. When what the world really needs to see is a relationship so authentic that nothing can separate us. The Light of the Word was not lit up hiding in an upper room – but rather on a Cross for all the world to see in His Suffering. A city on a hilltop must be a reference to us. Given credibility in the Kingdom by our witness, but not to be tucked away in time. We are the reflection of His Love in its bloody, messy form. It may not be pretty but it’s the thing that we hold on to.

It’s time to fan the flame of His Spirit invested in us. To blow fresh wind on the passion growing dim within us. See when the fire is within us – the stormy winds cannot put it out. The waves of conflict or controversy will not overtake it. Trials will only make it hotter. Fearless faith rises from the ashes of burned pride as God makes beauty from them just as He promised. Our confidence becomes our conviction. Impossibilities will be the fields where faith is planted confidently and boldly knowing miracles will come up through the fertile soil.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

The holy inhabitation of the Spirit of the Living God within us is the opportunity to experience true intimacy with Him. Jesus lives in us. Successful relationships thrive on intimacy. Intimacy is often considered in a physical sense but truly it is in the most spiritual sense that it is accomplished. Physical and material things change in life for they are in a constant and perpetual state of decay. Our body is born dying. Of course, we may try to maintain our appearance but truthfully the only advantage given to us is believers is new life that begins in our soul. As our soul prospers, so does our life externally. Intimacy is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship. It is the product of love and should encapsulate all of its characteristics. (I Corinthians 13) Those engaged in an intimate relationship know the other by close association with deep understanding and detailed knowledge of the other person. Intimacy requires openness by both individuals. It is an act of engagement that speaks, listens, knows and understands far deeper than words. Our intimacy with Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to experience a passionate love so perfect it burns away every other perception of the word.

Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Is my love and commitment to Christ born of an intimate relationship filled with passion possessing the brightest kind of flame? It was the desire of Jesus to love us and live in complete intimacy with us that provoked Him to exhibit “love as strong as death” and “jealousy as enduring as the grave”. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love now. We are more than conquerors and confident overcomers in Christ. If believers truly believed that then there would be nothing that would keep us from the fire. We would jump in feet first in hopes to grow deeper in love with Christ.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

For everyone will be tested with fire. (Mark 9:49) What if your present trial is actually an invitation to greater intimacy with the Lord? Could it be that He is trying to demonstrate His Love for you yet again with an outcome that is miraculous? Fiery trials will happen according to the Lord. We should be glad because it is through these incidents that we become partners with Christ. It is in His Suffering that our joy is made complete and dispensed in our life through passionate and fearless faith that will not back down from the fight or the fire but valiantly and victoriously fights for love. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you investing in your partnership with the Lord? Fan your flame. Stir the fire deep within. Let your light shine. You will not be consumed but fully connected. A flame introduces to a fire becomes one with it making it burn stronger and brighter than ever before. You are part of something bigger than yourself – become one with Jesus. Jesus came to start a fire in us producing a light so bright it burns away darkness all around us. The Light is produced by His Great Love. How bright is your light day?

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

Life Unveiled

Life Unveiled

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

It was a game-changing, plot-twisting, and script-flipping moment in the history of humanity. Some would later come to realize the true potential of the moment Jesus released His Spirit that day on the Cross while many would go back to life as usual. On the Day of Pentecost, the same Spirit that reached out and tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom would come and have His Way in us. Do those words make you a bit uncomfortable? Does intimacy sound like a forbidden word in your Christian conversation? The Holy Inhabitation of Jesus Christ in us and the consummation of His Covenant with us is conceived in just one place – beyond the veil in His Presence. I believe I just might write a book one day to try to express the impact of God’s Presence, His Perfect Peace that defies logic and understanding and His Inexpressible Joy that finds has made His Way to me in the most difficult times. I cannot help tell you again, if but for a moment I could take apart my broken heart and show you the Light that lives there. You would never be the same. You would be changed. You would know in an instant that anything good in my life is the Jesus Christ inside of me. One experience. One encounter and your life can never be the same. For generations, many would desire God but fear of sin and death would keep them just outside the curtain. The High Priest would come and go on their behalf. Where is the hope in a covenant that does not offer life? Where is the potential of a relationship with a man in the middle? It is hard enough to stay married in a partnership of two. Could you imagine if you had to go through a third party to settle disagreements or to apologize? It is difficulty to create intimacy in a crowd. Jesus wanted more. He wanted us. He provided a way for us to step into His Presence and live in a place of constant unity with Him. In return, Jesus came to live in us.

I am a logical person. Things must make sense for me to believe they are true. Until the details add up and the bottom line is balanced, the jury remains out. I am not a person who lives in blind trust. Serving a God who I cannot see, being filled with a Spirit who I cannot touch and to live as part of a Kingdom that I cannot yet enter used to be challenging. Truly, reading God’s Word was a bust for me – I would fall fast asleep. The Holy Spirit was a silent partner locked away in a box. I knew He was in me but had no idea what to do with Him other than respond to the gentle nudges offered from time to time. Prayer. Not the conversation that I expected, but then again the Lord couldn’t get a word in edgewise in the midst of my endless banter. I read a book called “Beyond the Veil” which introduced me to this place called Presence, but I will be darned if I could find my way in despite the “OPEN” sign hanging on the door. Intrigued by the thought and determined in my heart to find this place, I decided to do whatever it took to find my way there.

Exodus 26:31-34 (NLT) “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place.

2 Chronicles 3:14 (NLT) Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and embroidered with figures of cherubim.

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, the curtain was hung across the Most Holy Place. This was where the Ark of the Covenant that held the Presence of God – God-In-A-Box. Why was God in the box? The repayment of our sin had not been made. God’s Goodness and Glory would consume any human with sin if released to dwell among the people. Only those who truly lived holy and righteous lives could enter – Moses and the men who were consecrated to be high priests and serve the Lord there. Anyone else would die according to the sin within them. Yikes. The high priests mediated God’s Relationship with humanity going back and forth between them.

When Jesus died on the Cross, the veil was torn from top to bottom. God accepted His Payment for our sin and grace was fully dispensed. His Spirit was not free to come and go spreading life wherever He flowed. Life. Continuously death-overpowering and defeat-overwhelming life. Glorious life. Abundant life. Life everlasting. Life of increase. Life-giving harvest. Life. I think you get the point. Death was defeated. The grave overcome. Life was released and the covenant between God and His People complete. No need for a middle man our Mediator now Jesus Christ.

Exodus 34:34-35 (NLT) But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.

I love this part, I really do! When Moses would go into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord…stop right here for just a second. Moses didn’t go into the Tent of Meeting to “pray” like some people do. You know…you go on and on to God about your problems, troubles, needs, wants, and desires. No, Moses had a relationship with God. When he entered the Presence of God it was with the intent to “speak with the Lord.” I wonder if this is the limitation on our prayer life. We do all the talking with no intent to hear the Voice of God. Let me just leave that right there and keep going.

When Moses left the Tent of Meeting after conversing with the Lord in His Presence, the radiance of God’s Glory on his countenance was visible. You could literally see him glowing. This completely freaked people out for lack of better words. They didn’t understand it. Could not conceive it. Feared God. Feared the man of God. So, Moses put a veil over his face until he entered God’s Presence again. Do we do the same thing? I mean really. Do you live from God experience to experience? Did you know that thanks to Jesus Christ that you can live IN THE PRESENCE every single day?

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

Spoiler Alert! I am about to flood you with 2 Corinthians 3. Why is our life not radiating God’s Glory? If our life as believers shined in a tangible way as Moses face did just from basking in the Presence of God – our words might mean more. Infused with life our message begins to make a difference. Confidence in our covenant with God begins by our willingness and desire to seek His Presence. I pass by businesses all the time with “OPEN” signs and even “WELCOME” signs but I do not go inside. Churches open their doors with free admission and come-as-you-are invitations yet many seats remain empty and altars unused. Why? Where is the radiance of God? If this new way given to us in Jesus Christ is that much better, why isn’t our life any better? If He offers new life, new creations, new anything at all then why are we living the same old way?

2 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

The new way gives us such confidence that we can be very bold. Does it? Are you confident today? Confident in what? Confident in God’s Love, His Goodness, and His Faithfulness. See becoming truly confident in this hope that is given to us will make faith rise up out of us as a tangible substance in our life. This confidence never leads to disappointment as it is the hope that anchors our soul. These are just words on a page to some but that can all change with an encounter with the Lord today. Not in a church full of people, sobbing and wailing at an altar but simply grabbing a cup of coffee, opening God’s Word, and sitting in His Presence. Yes, turn off all the noise, put away the cellphone, and lock the door. This is His Time. It is an intimate experience for those who decide the Lord is worth having. To strip off the veil requires confidence. It will require trust. Giving our heart, mind, body, soul, time, talent and treasure to Jesus Christ is an offering not a requirement. The decision to do so produces a relationship that has nothing to do with religion or ritual. It is personal. It is private. It is perfection.

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

The Spirit of the Lord gives us freedom. As believers, we choose the depth of our intimacy with the Lord. It is not a requirement to live in His Presence or shine with His Glory. He gives us the opportunity. I write insurance policies for a living. I do not sell them but help develop the contracts. The insurance business is regulated by the state government. If an insurer wants to change anything in the contract, it must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Insurance. After beginning this new adventure, I realized there was more to my homeowners insurance than I realized so I pulled out the contract and read all the provisions again. What if we are missing important benefits of our new covenant? What if there are blessings and promises that belong to me that I am not taking full advantage of? I have the Word of God but it doesn’t always make sense or seem real. I have the Holy Spirit, too. However, what might happen if I pursued Presence?

What if I stepped through the veil now torn in two and decided to spend quality time with Jesus rather than random stolen or leftover moments from my day? What if I gave a consistent offering of my life? What are the possibilities? Nothing would be possible if you believed enough to try it. You cannot reflect a Glory you have not experienced. Like a solar light must soak in the sun to give light in the dark, I cannot effectively reflect a Light that has not saturated my life. How can I love others without His Love? How can I live for Him without knowing Him? How can I share a message that I have not heard or do not believe? I can’t. God is offering us a place in His Presence again today. New mercy will open the door again tomorrow, but wait to do tomorrow what could be done today. The Lord, His Spirit, will make us into the new creation as He makes us more like Him. We will have all the Fruit of His Spirit. We will have a rich and satisfying life here in the land of the living just like He said. It all begins with the decision to live a life unveiled and step into His Presence.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

An Open Conversation

an-open-coversation

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT) Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

My husband loves football. It is his favorite “season” of the year. For many years, our family enjoyed season tickets to the local hometown team collegiate games. He loves his team and follows them passionately. Not a man of many hobbies, when attending the events he is all business. Never should the words be uttered, “It’s just a game.” I enjoy the games but must admit there are times when I have done some online shopping, social media and texting with friends rather than really paying attention to the game and the score. One thing that I have noticed over the many years of football and my husband is that in the noisy stadium with the crazed crowd, blaring band, bright lights and gridiron action IS NOT the time to attempt in meaningful conversation. Important talks are not to be held in such an environment. Personal and intimate communication is not engaged while yelling over the drunk guy behind you if you know what I mean. My husband is not giving me his full attention and for me to assume that he is would be ridiculous. If I would like to spend quality time with my husband and engage in meaningful conversation and connect with him, it will be one on one without distractions. It will be a time set aside when we can talk one on one without other people around or “things” to do. We must put down our cellphones, turn off the television and stop looking around to really hear each other. I believe most people have the talking part of a conversation down pat especially women. It is the listening part that challenges so many. To humble ourselves and even our opinion to open one’s heart and mind to carefully consider and hear what the other person is saying to us.

Many years ago, I set out on a journey to hear the Voice of God. I wanted to go beyond what the Word of God offered, engage more than with just His Spirit, but I desired to actually listen for His Voice when He speaks directly to me. I know this will blow some of you away at my deep devotion and complete commitment to this but I set my alarm for fifteen minutes earlier than before. That’s right a whopping whole fifteen minutes for the Lord to expand my knowledge, deepen my understanding and share all of His Many Secrets with me.

We pray to the Lord for things the majority of time. Maturity in Christ may even produce thankfulness that begins to manifest in our prayer time. To stop there is not enough, when God offers us so much more. I love Psalm 27:8, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk WITH me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming!’” God is used to people talking about Him. Jesus is used to people talking TO Him. But the Holy Spirit within us connects with the Lord of Lords when a believer decides to talk with Him instead.

John 10:3-5 (NLT) The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

God speaks to His People. Jesus is speaking to us today. Why can’t I hear the Voice of God clearly? Well, do you listen? We pour our hearts out to the Lord but how many times are you willing to sit in silence until He answers? I believe that God has important details to share with us but most often His People are too busy to stop and listen or uncomfortable with the silence that proceeds it. We must know, recognize and follow the Voice of the Lord. It must be familiar to us in order to distinguish between a truth and a lie. Do you recognize when God is speaking to you? Do you know His Voice? This is an important part of our relationship with the Lord. God speaks to His People. Jesus calls out to us each day. We call out, cry out and speak out to Him. We must wait for Him to respond. He is waiting for us to listen.

I Kings 19:11-13 (NLT) “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

To set the scene for those who may be unfamiliar, Elijah had made fools of the prophets of Baal. The prophets were all killed and Jezebel was furious. She threatened to kill Elijah so he ran to hide. There is more to the story that I encourage you to read but the underlying truth at this point in the story is that Elijah had been driven into fear and hiding by the lie of the enemy. He is hiding in a cave on a mountain. The Lord tells him to “go out and stand before me on the mountain.” So he does and it is there Elijah encounters a windstorm, avalanche, earthquake and fire falling from the sky and then after all hell breaks loose around him…he hears it. The still small voice that can only be the Lord. The gentle whisper that brings new life to us. When Elijah heard God’s Voice, he went out and stood at the entrance of the cave to have a personal and intimate conversation with the Most High God.

Problems, troubles and trauma cause us to seek the Lord and even cry out to Him. However, it is in our complete and utter failure that most of us will actually listen to what God is saying to us. We must run out of options and opportunities before fully relinquishing the controls of our life to His Capable Hands. We lie to ourselves and God by implying a complete turnover of our life to His Care. Only to discover, that our hands are firmly attached to the wheel. So when all hell breaks loose in our life and the atmosphere around us explodes, suddenly we become speechless in our own fear and doubt. We stop fighting and become resolved to our situation.

When I was about eight years old, there was a “bully” at school who used to “threaten” to kiss me. I was appalled at the thought of it. One day as I got off the bus looking back for my offender, he pointed at me and said, “Today is the day. I am going to catch you.” I jumped off the bus and ran all the way home never looking back. Bursting through the door, my mom was immediately concerned. As I began to tell her of my awful ordeal, a smile crept across her face. I grew even more frustrated. When I ran out of words and breath, my mom in all her infinite wisdom told me exactly what I should do. “Turn around and kiss him first.” WHAT?!? I was outraged. I think God our Father does the same thing for us. He waits. The Lord waits until His Children finally come to Him pouring out all their heart, using all their words down to their very last breath. Then He whispers love and truth to them, now that they are ready to listen.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Reading Matthew 7, have you ever wondered what might be waiting on the other side of the door prayer is knocking on? I know one might assume it is that very thing for which we are asking or praying but I don’t think so any more. God promises that for those who keep knocking that the door will be opened. Everyone who seeks will find. Keep knocking. Everyone who asks will receive. But what? I don’t believe the answer to every prayer and petition is “yes” so that invalidates the possibility that it is always what I want or think I need. Behind the door on which prayer knocks is this…

Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

We knock on God’s Door to meet our immediate need, heal a disease, solve a problem, ease our minds, fill our hearts, and every other dream and desire that comes along when all along Jesus is on the other side just waiting for an invitation to enter an open conversation. We are given the will to choose whether or not to engage in a meaningful and heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ. He desires a friendship not acquaintance with us. Friends talk about everything. Communicate often. Spend time together regularly. Listen to each other. Help one another. The Lord desires to communicate with you today. He is talking to me. Are we listening?

Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT) Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

It is up to me the amount of attention I give to the relationships in my life. I give my job about 8 or 9 hours a day and in exchange I get a paycheck each month. This is the terms of our relationship. I have five children – two live at home so I communicate with them daily and effortlessly because they live in my presence. It is a bit more of a challenge to keep up with the others who are busy adulting. We must all put forth an effort to communicate and build our relationship apart. I have some close friends who I speak to just about every day through texting or calling. My besties, if you will, and I have ongoing conversations that stop today and may resume right where we left off the day after tomorrow when things slow down. My husband is my life partner. He is my soul mate on the earth. I talk to him every single day. I listen to what he says and even what he doesn’t say directly because I love him, care for him and am his helper in life. We spend time each day talking and listening to maintain our marriage and uphold our covenant. This is the kind of relationship that the Lord desires with you and me. An intimate and ongoing conversation that contains both talking and listening on both our parts. He is a good listener. If you think about it, people tend to do all the talking. We must become good listeners, too.

To be a good listener requires a few things. We must stop talking. We must stop thinking about our response and concentrate on the one speaking. We must believe that they have something worth hearing to invest our time, energy and concentration. We must remove all distractions. Prayer is communication with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must learn to communicate effectively and listen for His Voice. Do you hear the Lord saying in your heart today, “Come and talk with me!” It will be a still small voice or gentle whisper that only the one who know His Voice will hear and follow. He desires to spend quality time with you His Beloved today. How will you respond?

John 5:24-25 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.”

 

 

Oneness

Oneness Pic

John 10:30 (NIV) I and the Father are one.

“All I want is just to know Your Heart so will you keep me here until we are one.”

My flesh is exhausted. My body is bruised and hurting from days of endless exertion with very little rest to recovery. My mind has been fixated on moving from our past to the future for months now and as I sit in our new house, in this new place, there is but one thought circling in my head. I just want to know His Heart today. I want to be one with the Father. I almost didn’t go to church last night. In selfish consideration, I thought about staying home and curling up on the couch with the Word of God all to myself. Or would I? Truth be told I probably would have continued to nest – unpacking the few things left, repositioning pictures, and making this new house our home. But I couldn’t something in my compelled me to get the House of God. So I went…

Walking in halfway through the worship set, I was drawn immediately into worship. I don’t even remember laying my belongings down in the chair or the people around me. I was captivated in a moment by the Love of God too wonderful to care about anything other than He was there. As the words to the song, “My Soul Sings” began something in my heart began rise up. “My soul sings…how I love You!” I love when I encounter God like that because nothing else matters in that moment. When the evidence of His Love overtakes every thought, idea, notion, problem, pain, worry, care and any other thing that has entertained us – it is complete and utter peace with full satisfaction seldom seen in this world that we live. It is the very thing that I live for it seems. To take one step farther from reality into the thing called faith. To come just one inch closer to the One I love so that He will be with me more than ever before. The longing of my heart is to know the Heart of God which often means keeping me right where I am until we are one.

John 17:20 (NIV) My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus desires oneness today. He is one with the Father. Our Savior longs to be one with us. He prayed for such unity in John 17 just before venturing to the Cross. In His Final Moments, His Heart and Mind were set on us. Those who had not come yet but would hear the Message and be saved. Salvation is not the end of our experience with God through His Son, Jesus. It is only the beginning as waves of His Glory sweep through life accompanied by His Grace.

“I have given them my glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me.” It is one thing to know someone as an acquaintance. An acquaintance is someone known of. The relationship is formed by opinion and assumption based on limited knowledge. Time is not spent with those labeled as such. They are not a high priority but acknowledged in passing. We have friends. Those associated with more regularly. We communicate with them. There is loyalty and a limited commitment to such a relationship. We have family which has even greater familiarity. The people who share our blood or enter a deeper relationship through covenant (marriage). We have a forced acceptance of such because of this. Blood is indeed thicker than water. If you place all five of my kids in a room, the visit will go well as they have not interacted in some time. However, if left in said room for too long this is prone to change as they individualism takes over. However, mess with one and you have messed with them all.

Intimacy is reserved for marriage. It is to be established with a husband or wife exclusively giving all to become one. It is a relationship of love based on commitment that is unbreakable in the eyes of God. He wants to be One with us. The Lord desires intimacy with us. Too many times, the approach taken to knowing the Lord is like all the other relationships. Lacking full intimacy and a complete giving of our mind, soul, will, emotions and even our body – His Glory is limited in our life.

Jesus wants to live in complete unity with me…and you. He desires such a seamless connection that His Glory emanates through us into the world. Revival will come to this world if we can ever may a unified effort to complete intimacy and total transparency with Jesus. It is not a move of God when a church plans a service, promotes an event or puts on a great show. No, the Move of God that we are after is the one when the majority of people gathered together come with the commitment of “all I want is just to know Your Heart so will you keep me here until we’re one.”

John 17:24 (NIV) Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory You have given me because You loved me before the creation of the world.

True intimacy with the Lord is not going to happen where I am right now. It happens when I decide to forsake my personal comfort, choices, complacency and compromise to go where Jesus is. He wants us to be with (Him) where (He is) to paraphrase. We ask the Lord to come to us, be in us, go with us, and fix us. The truth is the opposite must occur. God did not plan to leave us. Jesus came to save us so that He could one day take us to where He is all in the Name of Love.

John 17:25-26 (NIV) Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and I myself may be in them.

The enemy uses all worldly elements to force believers off track. He offers people to love more than God. He gives us opportunities to have higher priorities than Jesus. The enemy is astute at lying and convinces us to compromise on a so-so life giving up the rich and satisfying life that Christ died for us to have all in the Name of Love. The world does not know God or His Son, Jesus. It knows of Him only. Acquainted with the Name of God yet turned off by His Sovereignty – they choose unbelief over complete surrender. Christians who assume the Name of Christ but do not submit to His Lordship live in frustrated discontentment because they boast of a life that they do not know. Simply calling Jesus our Savior is not enough. He must be our Lord if what we desire is Oneness. He will come close to those who call on Him but He only lives in those who open their heart, mind, soul and body to Him compelled for completion achieved only in absolute intimacy. Love makes you do crazy things. Loving Jesus is not different.

John 15:9-11 (NIV) As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His Love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Today my soul sings. It sings of salvation. It sings of God’s Love. My heart joins the chorus longing to know Him a little bit more today. I am fine with the Lord keeping me right here until I do rather than allowing me to race off ahead or fall behind. I want to be where He is.  The Love of the Father is relentless and it has been my experience that each and every time I find my way into His Glory – I am blessed. Sometimes it His Hand on my head and other times just the profound privilege and opportunity to be used by Him for His Glory. I choose to obey the Lord to the best of my ability and accept His Grace when my flesh fails me which I know it will. Just to know Him gives me complete and absolute joy. What does your soul say today? What does it say of His Love? Have you experienced intimacy with Jesus lately? Have you encountered the Love of God at all? Jesus didn’t die just to be an acquaintance or your friend. He didn’t do it to be in the family. Jesus desires oneness with each one of His Beloved. Hey, that’s us. His Love is worth waiting for. His Glory is worth having. Just to know His Heart and wait to one.

John 15:4-5 (NIV) Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Never A Dull Moment

Never a Dull Moment

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NIV) If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

My life in Christ has proven to be anything but dull. It has been one wild ride after another. In my younger days, I was quite impetuous. I was willing to take chances. Early on, faith jumping brought great exhilaration to my otherwise less than spontaneous nature. Survival was my goal and learning to adapt well to my surroundings created a chameleon effect. I met Jesus at an early age but did not come to know Him until much later. One might image that when things went well to God be the glory and when things went less than opportunely, I wondered where the Lord was and why did He leave me? Jesus came to give us life abundantly. His Love is extravagant in nature. However, it is only in an intimate and ongoing relationship that such intimacy affords the luxury of His Amazing Love. I cannot think of any true loving relationship that does not require a sacrifice of some sort. Yet we approach the Lord expecting all He is for just some of us. This will never result in the life that is promised in God’s Word because it is only achieved when we truly connect to Jesus Christ – body, mind and spirit.

Life on the edge. We live on the verge of something greater each new day when we choose to take God’s Mercy and live in His Love. It is a choice. We are not forced into servitude but give our life freely. It is a love affair not a forced slavery. Yet, when we approach our relationship with Jesus based on the do’s and do not’s of His Word rather than responding to His Love, it feels like a burden rather than a blessing. I guess the real question is do I want His Hand or His Heart. Nevertheless approaching the Word of God this morning it was with the thought in mind that it seems the closer I get to the Lord, the more life seems like the ledge of a tall building and I am carefully navigating along the edge. I wonder if it is the same feeling Elijah felt after the wind, earthquake and fire when he stood at the mouth of the cave in response to the gentle whisper of His Beloved, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13)

I am not sure what you have experienced in your walk with Jesus but for me it has been far from dull. In fact, it seems like just about the time things quiet down a new adventure in this journey called life dawns. Though it looks like an ordinary life with ups and downs and all-arounds, it feels in my heart like an Indian Jones movie or Temple Run game. My heart beats wildly with expectation. New challenges for my faith await. My hope becomes heavier with new experience. The end usually produces complete and total weakness but when He whispers to me again, I cannot help but say, “Yes!” As a divorced mother of three young, vivacious children, I had decided that this would be the end of my brood. They were perfectly wonderful and thoroughly exhausting all at the same time. That is until I met my husband. Before we married and were dating, he asked me if I would consider having more children. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes!” Knowing in my heart that had not been my declaration, but face-to-face with my earthly beloved, I could not resist so three turned to five wonderful blessings. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is to be one of complete love and surrender like our favorite fairytale but rather than happily-ever-after, we live from everlasting to everlasting.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Our relationship with the Lord is more difficult and experiences opposition when it meets with hardness and callousness in our heart. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says that if the ax is dull and unsharpened, it requires more strength or effort. It goes on to say that skill will bring success. Skill is achieved through knowledge turned to wisdom and lots of practice. Our commitment to Jesus Christ is compared to engrafting. Grafting requires that each side be cut to make a connection for the graft to take hold. Jesus made the sacrifice on the Cross to establish this connection, it is up to us to satisfy our side of covenant. Covenant requires the letting of blood. We must respond with our heart before the Lord. His Word allows us to be cut to the heart. It circumcises us in our soul and spirit so we can become connected to Christ completely. This is referred to in Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6, as well as Jeremiah 4:4. God’s Word is the two-edge sword that penetrates us dividing soul and spirit. It is how we can daily move closer to the Lord.

Why is the Word of God essential to our life? To be labeled as “dull” means one that is slow to think or understand; lacking in interest; lacking in perception; and lack of ability to respond. All these characteristics are lethal to natural relationships so why not to our supernatural connection to Jesus? Love is a commitment. Lust is just about every other emotion humans call “love”. True love never fails. It is constant no matter what the others condition, circumstance or situation. There is no greater love than when one lays down their life for a friend. All of this is clearly defined in God’s Word. Why is it the most credible source? Well, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:14) In Revelation 1:12-16 when John sees Jesus, he refers to the words of his mouth as a “double-edged” sword. In Hosea 4:6, God warns us that people are destroyed by what? A lack of knowledge. We can gain the highest degree of education with all the merits of a scholar but if we do not truly know and love Jesus Christ everything else is worthless.

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

My greatest desire is to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises.” Everything that God created in me and for me comes to life in Jesus Christ. Every opportunity, advantage and prosperity is developed in my attempts to love Him more. As I move closer to Jesus, I rely less on myself which is a scary proposition. I usually press and press for the promise and just like Peter who looked at the wind and waves, my natural sight terrifies me just before it becomes a reality. Love requires a full investment if we desire a relationship. Faith is how we connect to Jesus Christ. It is our trust and dependency on the Lord that creates an urgency to move closer. The closer we get the more our heart exposes its desperate and overwhelming need for His Love, Grace and Mercy so hope begins to drag us deeper into the depths of His Love that is too wide, long, deep and high for us to every fully comprehend – all that we know is we are drowning in it and no longer wish to be saved because now we are fully invested and surrendered to this love affair with Christ. I just want to be where He is. I desire to do what He says so that I can move closer. I want to hear that still small whisper of His Words just for me. I want to please Him in all things more than anything or anyone else. It challenges me. It scares me sometimes this life on the edge of reality.

Mark 9:20-22 (NIV) Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Many years ago, a famous preacher was coming to our church. I respected this person greatly and highly anticipated their arrival. As part of the woman’s ministry of our church, I participated in the preparations and activities of the conference. I prayed and fasted leading up to the conference. I praised and worshiped the Lord because I knew what was coming that weekend. My desperation for the Lord pressed me deeper in the Word of God those preceding days and I was determined to get my blessing out of the three days. Friday night and Saturday morning there were three separate speakers who truly were a blessing but my heart was set on hearing from my favorite one. Arriving back on the church grounds, I literally had goosebumps. When praise and worship began, it was like Heaven or at least I thought so. In the quiet moments, just before the praise team stopped, in a room full of women worshiping and basking in His Presence I realized that what I came for I already had received. Before the one I highly anticipated breathed a word, I was completely in awe that the One I was truly after had already come.

Are you the woman with an issue today? Or maybe you feel plagued by many issues? Do you feel desperate for the Lord, but don’t know where to find Him? His Word is the best place to start. It is His Love Language just for you and me. We look for love in all the wrong places. Yet to open God’s Word and fully pursue Him will change our life in far better ways that just telling us what to do. It is to unlock the door to the Promises of God including His Plan and Purpose for our life. It is the place to find healing, deliverance and full satisfaction. It will break your heart. Cut you to your very soul in exchange for a beautiful love story with Your Beloved.

Life doesn’t have to be dull. You can live on the edge of impossible every day if your heart is up to the challenge. The woman was desperate for change and knew that if she could just touch the edge of his robe that she would be healed. When we turn our desperation over to the Lord, we can trust Him to do just what He promised. You don’t know what you are missing. This thing called faith is indeed a wild ride. Hope is to live the impossible on the edge of reality. There is never a dull moment when trusting God. It is so worth it. To know and live in the greatest love that I have ever known.

John 4:23-24 (NIV) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Turn the Cup

Turn the Cup

2 Timothy 2:19-21 (NKJV)

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

In most restaurants, a standard place setting includes an array of utensils with silverware, napkin, plates, etc. Many times this includes a cup turned upside down on a saucer reserving a place for coffee after the meal. The older generation may even be so bold as to turn the cup up when they sit down for a bit of invigorating java. My parents were all-day coffee consumers. A fresh pot in the morning followed by an afternoon brew and maybe even to be as bold as quick one before bed. It’s funny how each person has a distinct taste it. Some like it black, others cream and sugar, or some half and half to cut back on caffeine. Coffee comes hot or cold nowadays with entire stores devoted to its consumption. Let’s go back in the day of the diner or maybe the all-day breakfast joint, the place that still places a cup and saucer at each table ready for use. Now let’s take a look at that cup and just what it means.

 

If you leave the cup in its original position, it sends the message to the waitress that you do not care for any coffee and many times she will remove it from the table. If you turn the coffee up, it is a sign that you do want a fresh filling of the good stuff. Why all this imagery? Well, the Lord wants to fill our cup today. He doesn’t just want to fill it but make it run over with His Love, Mercy and Grace that results in His Favor and Goodness overtaking our life. We want it too. We ask for it. Pray about it. Sing of it. Hope for it. Yet many times life sucks the spirit right out of us. We become weary in well doing and wonder why life is so hard. Could it be so simple? Are we not sending the right message to the Lord? Do we desire a fresh anointing and renewal from Jesus but alas our cup is turned over not ready to use?

 

It’s funny how my mind works because honestly I have never drank a cup of hot coffee in a restaurant. I am a coffee snob who only likes the designer brand that is a treat because it is too dang expensive to become a daily habit. Yet if a cup was in front of me right now, upside down on a saucer, I would have to turn it up. I want the Lord to renew me, restore me and revive me. I desire a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. I desire a cup that runs over in all God has for me so that my life can effectively witness and minister of the love that I have found to be my source of life.

 

“The Lord knows who are His…” Does God know that you desire Him? Do you actively pursue Jesus? I love the smell of coffee but it is an acquired taste. At first it may be bitter but for many that is overcome by the rush of energy from the shock to one’s system of the stimulant hidden in each bean. They desire the substance because of the rush so the more they taste it and experience it – the more they like it and desire it. Taste and see that the Lord is good. We have to want the fulfillment of God and rush of His Spirit enough to what it takes to have it. Our covenant with the Lord is a relationship of participation. In surrendering our life, we must do certain things to maintain a position of submission or our flesh will most assuredly rise up. It is that act of turning, repentance, redirection, and the process of renewal day by day that allows us to discover full satisfaction and complete contentment with our Lord.

 

There are many vessels in the House of the Lord. Some are ready for everyday while others are only for special occasions. One may look at long for the bright and shiny ones but they reach for the well-used. I want to be a clay vessel. Like the jar of clay that is fragile yet hold’s God’s Glory and Power. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

 

Psalm 23

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

 

My cup runs over. Does your cup run over today? Are you overwhelmed by the constancy and persistence of God on your behalf? Do you desire Him? Desire is that which drives our passion and pursuit. During our annual Daniel Fast, it is the number one complaint and longing I hear from those around me. I don’t drink coffee enough for it to impact me like that. Fatigue, headache, lethargy, and some are even driving to physical illness due to the withdrawal. Are we impacted the same when we are away from the Lord? If we miss our routine quiet time or visit to the prayer closet? Do we fell it? Long for Him? Miss Him at all? When our life consists of daily consumption of God’s Word, refreshing repentance, and He is our Source of Life, yes we will. Until that time, our cup is dry. Not because He will not fill it, we have turned it over and said, “No, thank you.”

 

Psalm 23 is life. It is the journey of life with all of its ups and down. The anointing on us is eternal. We are born with a purpose and plan that includes first and foremost salvation. Just as all are given a cup at the table, only those who turn it up will get the infilling they desire. Salvation is a gift. You only receive it you want it. God will not force Himself on you. He will not make you accept the wonderful gift of life that He has for you. That being said, disbelief does not change the fact that God loves you, Jesus died for you and He will continue to offer to fill our life with His Goodness until He comes.

 

Psalm 16:5-8 (NKJV)

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

 

To desire the Lord is to claim Him as our inheritance and cup. Those who do are promised that their life will “fall in pleasant places”. How will you know if you never try Him? Those who enter a covenant with Jesus are surrendering their life to His Holy Inhabitation. They desire Him in all seasons and place Him ever before themselves. This is not always a desirable position. I may enter a restaurant with a strong desire and full intentions to enjoy a steaming hot beverage. I can hold a menu and flip through the pages. I can order a full meal including all courses. I can look at the waiter and fully engage in conversation. I can do all this and never get a cup of coffee. Until I reach down and turn my cup up to receive that which I desire, it will not be poured out. There are many frustrated Christians who think that God is a farce. They do not believe in signs, wonders and miracles because they have not seen them. They came to the Lord with strong desires and expectations that have not been met. Many feel as though that they have tested and tried the Lord but come up lacking. To test the Lord and try Him at His Word is an obedience factor. If you desire the outcomes in God’s Word, you must do it God’s Way. But when it comes to desire, hunger and thirsting after God, this means we must taste and see that the Lord is good. This is when our relationship with the Lord moves from external to internal. This is a cry of intimacy. It requires surrender. We must turn our cup over.

 

I Corinthians 11:25-29 (NKJV)

In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner[b]eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

 

An attentive server will not fill a dirty cup. If they notice that it is not pristine, they will quickly get a new cup for their patron. For ground up beans steeped in hot water, that surely could sterilize the vessel and even put hair on your chest, yet it must be clean and proper to be served. How much more would our God desire a clean cup? He is giving us all of His Goodness with the promise of full satisfaction. Repentance is turning from our sin to accept the Gift of Grace. One cannot fully grab hold of God’s Grace without relinquishing sin. The Lord told the Pharisees to clean their cups. They were nothing more than whitewashed tombs. (Matthew 23:25-27) It is clear in this passage that to drink from the cup in remembrance of Christ “unworthily” without repentance brings about judgment. Soak that in for a moment. Are why trying to fill dirty cups? Are we not paying any attention to the contents in the cup but asking the Lord to just do it anyway? Light and darkness do not mix. You will never experience a full outpouring from God including miracles, signs, wonders or revival with a dirty, unclean cup. It is just not going to happen. He is a Good God who only gives His Best to His Children. We must give up sin to receive from the Lord.

 

I Corinthians 10:21 (NKJV)

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord ’s Table and of the table of demons.

 

My level of expectation of service is according to the establishment that I frequent. If I am starving and need something to eat with limited choices, naturally I am going to pick from what I have available with cleanliness being my number one concern. But if I go to a fine dining restaurant, my level of expectation is heightened. The bar is moved up. When we come to the Lord’s Table yet try to drag all our junk to the table, the Lord says no. This is a fine dining establishment. Though a coat and tie may not be required, a robe of righteousness is. When we dine with the world, we must expect to be fed by it. Living in the Presence of God allows us to change our expectations for the better. The Lord fills us with the Holy Spirit so we will desire Him more. We can learn how to properly partake. He gives a heart for the Lord and all these things that really matter. As we turn our life over to Jesus and surrender our heart to Him, He fills us with all those things we really wanted and deeply desired but went after the wrong way.

 

Psalm 107:5-8 (NKJV)

Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.  And He led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

 

Today the Lord invites us to come to His Table and be filled with His Goodness. What is our response? It is up to us if we will be satisfied with all these things added by our pursuit of the Kingdom. Our vessel must be ready. We must be surrendered to His Spirit. We must turn from our sin. Clean our cup daily and ask for that which we desire more than anything else. His Presence. Yes, the Word of God says to taste and see that the Lord is good. I have. He is. Now I long for more of Him daily, no longer fearing that His Overflow will be messy or embarrassing but only trusting Him more. I desire more of Jesus today. Do you? Let’s turn our cup over again and say, “Fill me up Lord.” Here I give you my cup, my life, my all – I desire all of You today!

 

Psalm 34:8-10 (NKJV)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

 

Will He Weep?

Wedding-605

Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

 

It has almost been a year since our daughter married her true love. The day marked the end of a crazy year for our family. When our son-in-love came to tell us that it was his desire to marry our daughter later that year, I pleaded for more time. It was not a matter of concern for her father and I both knew in our heart and confirmed by the Spirit that this was God’s Man for our sweet girl, but rather a matter of timing. Our son was about to receive a bone marrow transplant which would require most of our attention and time. Our daughter deserved a fairytale day that focused on her and nothing else. Well, he is a persistent one moved right ahead with the engagement. Over the course of the next few months, the insurance company denied our son’s transplant and a fight ensued to save his life. Meanwhile, she happily pinned wedding ideas and planned her big day. When the procedure was finally approved, it became clear that prudence would suggest postponing the wedding at least a month or two for her brother to recover. Oh the tears that flowed even though it was always a possibility. But as the Lord always seems to do, our son sailed through his transplant and recovered at a remarkable rate. I made it home just in time to finish the final preparations and attend all the activities I feared I would miss. Everything was perfect. Looking at the Reception Hall right before leaving to get ready, the sigh of relief was the deepest I ever felt and with a quick prayer I thanked the Lord for pulling it all together.

Our daughter was a breathtaking that day. Her flawless beauty that prevails on the inside gushed out of her. Her dress perfect. Her countenance impeccable. As they escorted me down to the front row, I looked up to see my two sons standing up front. Thank you Jesus! As the music began, our younger daughters were now standing before me both beauties all by themselves. As I stood to welcome my husband and daughter the blushing and beautiful bride to meet her beloved, I glanced back at my soon-to-be new son. As she rounded the corner smiling a radiant smile, he hung his head and began to sob uncontrollably. He was marrying the love of his life. All the waiting and stress of getting to this moment finally over. Here she comes. All he could do in this moment was weep.

As I replayed the memory this week, a thought occurred to me. Will Jesus weep when I stand before Him as the Bride of Christ? Will my beauty overtake Him? Will my presence please Him? Will He be overcome that I made it? What will the Lord’s Response be to His Bride when she comes? What bride doesn’t want her true love to be shaken the moment she arrives? Look at all the time and resources put into preparing for that moment? My daughter prepared her whole lifetime. At a very young age, she decided what would be appropriate to give of herself and what was precious enough to keep for her unknown groom. She kept those things safe and sacred preparing for the day yet to be determined. I cannot help believe that her radiance that day was from the priceless treasure withheld that she could now give to her beloved unashamedly. What do we have for our Bridegroom? He died for us to make it to our Wedding Day. What will we offer Him in that moment?

Jeremiah 2:32 (NLT)

Does a young woman forget her jewelry, or a bride her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.

 

Have we forgotten our groom? Jesus is coming for His Bride one day. The Bride that He made without spot or blemish in preparation for His Return. Where is she now? What is she doing? Did she grow tired of waiting? Has she stopped believing He will come? Has her love been compromised? Is she pure? My heart aches today for the many ways in a single day that I choose to ignore the fact that Jesus is coming for a spotless bride. All the little sins and tiny indiscretions that I have decided are okay. The compromises that I make for immediate comfort and substitutions for easy gratification. When the Holy Spirit says do, but I don’t. What does that have to do with the Lord or the fact that we are His Bride? Everything, my friend, everything.

Not a waking moment during the time of their engagement was I not thinking about our daughter’s wedding, sitting in a hospital room with our son sleeping, I would make plans and arrangements long distance. She would text me and I would text her back sending pictures, ideas and making decisions on the go. It was our focus from February to November second only to our son’s journey. My bridegroom is coming for me. I am His Bride. You are, too. Are you preparing? Are we even thinking about that day? Is it a priority to be ready? If not, it should be. I will admit there are days that I forget what my life is all about. Times when the worries and cares of life takeover the timing of His Return, but that is not the way that I want it to be. His Grace is sufficient for me but it is reserved for the Bride. The one who waits for, longs for and desires His Return.

Matthew 25:28-34 (NLT)

“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 

There is an order to our intimacy with the Lord that begins something like this. We ask Him to be our Savior and Lord so we begin to do the things that He tells us to do. Obedience is essential to living in the Presence of God or we drift back into darkness. We read His Word and begin to do what He says. We are given His Spirit and begin to follow His Lead. In doing so we experience the Blessings of God hidden in our life all along just waiting our return. It makes an impact. As the Holy Spirit produces His Fruit in our spirit, we feel better, live better and begin to thrive rather than merely survive. I think that God will honor those who put their heart into honoring Him with their life in such a way. Jesus will point out His Sheep and they will be whisked into Eternity to live forever with the Lord. But that is not how I want it to be when He sees me. I don’t want to fall into the category of “sheep” on that day. Just another face in the crowd of those who gave “doing” their all but never achieved true intimacy with Christ.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NLT)

 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’  “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’  “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’  “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’  “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

I find the story of the ten virgins to be the most telling and most unsettling concerning the Kingdom of God. Half of the ladies were actually ready and waiting for the Lord’s Return while the other half thought they were but were not. I want to know that I am ready when Jesus returns. I want the Lord to welcome me to His Side and desire my company forever. What did the foolish bridesmaids waste their oil on? Why were they not ready? Did they think that he wasn’t coming so they began entertaining the world? Did they think they had more time to get ready? I am not certain what they thought but it is disturbing to me in the midst of their company that they did not know. The bridegroom promised to return. Did they not believe Him?

In this day and age, it is easy to become wrapped up in this life and put off forever until one is perched precariously on the edge. Not everyone goes through an experience as our family did treading between life and death and experiencing the reality that tomorrow is not promised and morning may never come. It definitely changes attitudes and motivations in life and the reality of life beyond this world. Are we living looking and anticipating the return of Christ or hoping for just one more day? To be conscious of Christ’s Return requires a change of heart that precipitates new attitudes and actions in our life if we want to be more than a sheep or servant but desire to be His Bride. A bride is an invitation to intimacy. It is an offer to be consumed by His Love. It is reserved for those who desire this and live this life in preparation for the moment He invites us to come.

Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

 

John 17:18-19 (NLT)

Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

 

God’s Will for us is to be holy. Jesus came specifically to make us holy again and fit to be His Bride. There are many levels of followers in the Body of Christ. I think each has its own merit, but to truly fulfill God’s Will for our life is holiness. The Blood of Jesus washes us clean and makes us holy again. We are set free from the bondage of sin and now free to live apart from it in the Presence of God. Not everyone chooses to live that way, even some people who call Him Savior and Lord. This is not a condemning word but simple observation. I can love the Lord with my body and become obedient. I can love Him with my mind and become a servant. But what the Lord is after are those who choose to love Him with their heart completely including body, mind and spirit. To be fully consumed by such love demands our full attention. Trust is required in true intimacy. To open our body, mind, spirit and heart to Jesus Christ means we must trust Him completely. Holiness means living apart from sin … all sin. It is striving to remain free of darkness. Those who are holy do not entertain the world or things of the world that try to take the place of Jesus our Bridegroom. Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial to our relationship with the Lord. To be His Bride is to not only know how He feels about certain things in our life but also respect Him enough to step away completely.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT)

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

 

Colossians 1:21-22 (NLT)

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NLT)

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

 

Blameless. To be spotless and without blemish on the day of Christ’s Return. Sounds impossible. In our flesh, it is. But for those who decide to live in daily preparation for the day of Christ Return, wrapped in His Love, guided by His Truth and living life in the Spirit, it is possible. When I stand before God on that day – I want Him to see Jesus. Just, Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less which requires complete and total intimacy as my Savior and I become one. Just one. I must leave my life behind and follow Him. I must love Him with my body, mind, spirit and all of my heart. I don’t want the Lord to accept me for obedience or service, but I want His Love to cause His Heart to weep when I come home. I want to please my Savior and Lord like that which requires intimacy that my humanity is not capable of and only achieved by His Spirit living in me and His Truth becoming the compass of my life in all things. His Return may not have a mark on the calendar but it is the thing that seals my heart whether He comes for me or I go to Him – it really doesn’t matter as long as when they ask do you know her – He says, “I do!”

No bride wants her groom to be unaffected when he sees her for the first time in her wedding dress. She wants to take his breath away and make his heart beat wildly. She spends every moment leading up to that day preparing for his reaction. How will he respond? Her greatest desire is for him to want her above anyone else. She wants to be his one and only for the rest of her life. She wants to give her all to him in exchange for all of him. And if she is lucky on that day, when he sees her for the first time, he will weep. We are the bride of Christ. Why would we desire anything less?

Revelation 22:17-20 (NLT)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!