Are you Impressed?

What Impresses You

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

There were many nights that I was called from my bed by a little voice in the night. Carefully assessing the ailment, sometimes it would be a complaint of unexplainable leg discomfort. With the expert knowledge gained from my grandmother and mother far superior to modern science, I would diagnose them with growing pains. With lots of hugs and cuddles and the occasional dose of chamomile to calm or ibuprofen to alleviate persistent aches, they would drift off to sleep again. I miss those days of growing pains. Simple discomforts and inconveniences that give way to far greater growth. Why is it that for our heart to grow it must break? Why must our convenience and comfort be disrupted to fully engage in this new way of life as a new creation? Why does the temporary seem to be so influential? Keeping all this in mind, I am reminded today by the Lord and His Word, we must never give up.

We are born dying. My youngest hates when I say that. People want to live and forget that death is inevitable. Yet the greatest growth of spirit comes when the truth of natural demise is considered. What will be the day after my last breath is taken? The beginning of forever is very important yet falls at the bottom of my priority list buried by the worries and cares of a day already decided, prerecorded in God’s Perfect Plan for me complete with every provision and promise needed for complete success. This is not about dying but living for more than the temporary. Our present troubles are only temporary. Small and not eternal they demand our immediate attention. God uses these moments to break our hearts and reveal the faith hidden inside if He is allowed to do so. The things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. How’s your soul today? It really is the only part of our life that will enter forever. It has the greatest growth potential in our life for as our soul prospers so will we.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

We have a light shining in our fragile heart. It is a great treasure of valuable potential. The Light of His Love must be permitted to shine through us. His Glory inside of us is the Light to be placed on a hill for all to see. The great power of God that is given to us has the possibility of changing an ordinary life to an extraordinary existence in the Presence of God. It will require brokenness because a hard heart cannot beat to God’s Rhythm. It makes things inconvenient. Our comfort will be disrupted. Change must occur. Why? God is Sovereign. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Ways are not like ours and His Thoughts consider every possibility and detail of our life for complete renewal, revival and restoration as a product of His Love, Grace and Mercy given to us by His Son, Jesus.

I Peter 2:10-11 (NLT) Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy. Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

I am a Child of the Living God. I have only one enemy. His only weapon in his arsenal is a lie. I am fully armored by God equipped to be overwhelming victorious in every battle suited in His Love. On the days that I am overburdened by worries, cares and anxieties – I must remember whose I am. I must focus on the potential of my faith and stand on the confident hope that I have. This too shall pass because life according to this world is temporary and it is not my home or permanent residence. Have you forgotten whose you are today? Have you lost sight of eternity and become fixated on today? The faith within you does not lose its potential just because you lost focus. God takes every detail of our life and makes good on every promise according to His Word and not our strength or ability. It is all because of the sufficiency of His Grace at work in us.

Matthew 6:25-33 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

When my children had growing pains in the middle of the night, they would call out to me. They would sometimes even cry in their distress. I immediately would go to them. I love my children. How much more does the Father love us? The only thing that is not temporary in our life is the Love of God. He loves us. He always loved us. He will love us forever. God loves everyone even those who choose not to acknowledge or love Him back. He is a good God who has given each of His Children a valuable inheritance. We claim our inheritance including every blessing and promise by faith. Do you have faith today? All those worries cannot add a single moment to your life but instead steal precious time that can be used cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ that releases our full potential.

The very thing that dominates our thoughts is that which rules over our heart. Fear and doubt are products of disbelief creating a disconnect that keeps Heaven from reaching us here on earth. We do not seek the Kingdom of God above all else simply because of uncertainty and insecurity that God will not come. Or maybe it will be uncomfortable? We make rash temporary compromises to gain daily security yet give up our eternal position which always leads to prosperity. The Favor of God is for His Children. Those who He created and have returned to Him. Everyone has a measure of faith to sow into the Kingdom and harvest its potential. Faith is the opportunity to realize our purpose and live in full satisfaction. Our heart must change to allow faith to grow and prosper in us. This change produces brokenness. New wine cannot fill old wine skins.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Are you worried about something today? Worry is an opportunity to worship. Are you plagued with a problem? Problems bring forth the possibility of praise. Are you experiencing impossibilities? Awesome, you are being set up for the miraculous. The only way our growing pains give way to spiritual cultivation is by the renewing of our mind. To allow the Lord to transform us beginning with the way we think and how we operate under pressure. The enemy wants you to think you are going under, things will never change and a win is impossible. God says, “Walk by faith not by sight.” Don’t allow worry to silence your worship. Don’t allow problems to interrupt your praise.

“Your victory beings the day you stop being impressed by the size of your problem.” (Bill Johnson)

David saw the giant but he knew the Living God. His faith in God killed the giant that day not his stature, strength or ability. He was totally confident in the Word of God acting upon it. Our words tell the story written in our heart. The power of life or death are in our tongue. What impresses you more today? The size of the problem. The weight of your worry. The solidity of your situation. The size of the obstacle. We must become so impressed with the Love of God for us and His Promises that the temporary is no longer a distraction. “The enemy lies to make the problems we face appear larger than the solutions we carry.” (Bill Johnson)

The pressure produced by pain is often faith looking for a place to grow. Let your faith move mountains today. The potential in us must find a way out of us in order to be productive. Change is inevitable. Inconveniences a must. Discomfort always part of growth. Transformation from the natural to supernatural – priceless. Do you need to change your perspective today? If you call the Lord, He will come. The brokenhearted are the ones He rushes to. God is a Good Father. He knows you and still loves you. He sees you and still wants to lavish His Goodness on you. He is impressive. Be impressed with the Love of God for you until the temporary problems become your point of praise. When worries melt off and worship emerges you will experience the breakthrough you longed for.

Acts 16:24-26 (NLT) So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

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Water on a Rock

Water on a rock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conquered By Love

Conquered By Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Light

Flashlight shining light

Luke 11:36 (NLT)  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

A well-known columnist for the local paper passed away from a sudden stroke. There was no warning just here today gone the next. At an undisclosed time, he wrote his own obituary to be published after his death. A portion read, “And if anyone claims at the end of my life that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, know that they are lying. I’ve spend my life as an atheist. That’s the way I’ll die. And hope that hell has been way undersold.” Wow…my heart breaks at his words for now he knows the terrible truth.

Glancing through the outline of his self-constructed obituary, it is clear that this man wanted the world to know him as he decided they should. The need for obvious control details his life from start to finish including a carefully orchestrated funeral. He even delineates what people are to say posthumously about him. Again, a life built on deception lived in darkness. He believed that his life was good and successfully but did not achieve even the seventy years promised in God’s Word. I am sad for him. Truly, my heart is grieved that he chose to be his own light rather than to let God’s Love, His Light, live in him. He made the choice to refute Jesus Christ openly and publicly. He died without faith or hope in a living Lord to save him and rescue him. Hell is not oversold. It is as real as the Heaven I hope for.

John 1:1-5 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The Word

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. It was God. “He” existed in the beginning. Everything was created by God’s Word. Nothing apart from Him. The Word gave life to everything. All of created is fueled by the breath of the Living God – His Word. His Life brought life to everyone. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overtake the Light.

Jesus is the Word of God. If you continue through John 1, you will see that the Word came into the world as a human to make His Home in us. He came to the world that He created in order to reclaim His Created Ones from the sin and darkness of their own selfish choices. To all who believe the Word is life but those who choose darkness will not live apart from the Word. Jesus, the Word, is all about unfailing love and faithfulness. He came to fill us with His Glory so that we could live radiant lives as His Children.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, the Word tells us that God made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in each heart of each person who He created. The Purpose of God in us is to find eternity and live with Him forever. Faith is the seed of potential that must be released to become confident hope in us. However, there are many who will never realize their full potential or achieve great purpose because rather than being eternal beings by faith that will remain in a human condition that leads to nothing but darkness.

Genesis 1:1-3 (NLT) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:31 (NLT)  Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

There are important factors to the Creation account that must not be overlooked. God was, of course, present. This is generally the common thread of all religions – a supreme being. God’s Spirit hovered in the darkness of the unformed earth. Oh, now things start to split and splinter apart with doctrines. God said, “Let there be light.” There was light. Could this be the first birth ever recorded? God spoke and light came pouring out. Life was projected in that moment.

We read the Word of God in increments or portions of preference. We need the Word to be the Bread of Life and Living Water inside of us. The difference between scientists and servants is that those who are committed to science take all the information and form an intellectual hypothesis that is then tested for relativity. Servants of the Living God often live in ignorance. Too many do not know the Word, study it or apply it to their natural life but keep it as a supernatural fantasy. The Word is the substance of our faith and foundation of confident hope yet an untried structure of flimsy ideas and novelties not tried in our life. We must take God’s Word inspected the truth and applying intellectual thought to it. In plain terms, you have to think about it. Meditate on it. Find truth in it. Become confident of it. Faith becomes logical in the Word but no one is willing to take it for a test drive. The vehicle of acquisition in our life is the Word and where it takes us – from darkness into light.

The Light

John 8:12 (NLT) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

If you follow me…living in the Light of God’s Love and following His Word is a choice. You don’t “have” to do it. You have the opportunity to choose eternal life. The Pharisees were appalled at this claim by Jesus. It did not jive with their religious beliefs. Yet, Jesus tells them what we believe does not change who HE is. Our choice to live in light or darkness is a life or death choice that in no one strengthens or weakens God’s Power or Authority that is given to Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fight, argue or bicker to convince others of His Validity because Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever. Our belief in Christ changes us.

Matthew 5:14 tells us that we are “the light of the world.” Christ in us illuminates the darkness giving off the Light of His Glory for others to see. The Word of God produces light in us. It projects the characteristics and qualities of Christ when applied to our heart and mind. As our soul prospers, so will we – In all things pertaining to life and godliness. We have been given every spiritual blessing and it is by allowing His Light to shine in us and through us that these are things are found. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded each day written before our birth. Everything I need for today is already given. I am well-supplied. I am fruit-bearing already. I can be all that the Lord has promised. I can meet my full potential. I cannot get lost because I am already found. I may wonder but am constantly pursued by the unfailing love, faithfulness and goodness of the Living God.

Luke 15:8-9 (NLT) “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’”

What is the Kingdom worth to you today? Is it an option? An opportunity to believe the day after your death yet you live for this moment or today? What profits a person who gains the world and loses his soul? To read the obituary of this man, he was very successful. His prideful account details every accomplishment in detail. Maybe the most honest words of the whole thing are in his final statement, “I really loved life.” God wants us to love our life. To love and be loved are all part of our primary purpose. The real accomplishment is to do so full of His Love. His Light.

The woman who misplaced on of her silver coins felt the pain of her lost. She wanted it back. It says, “Won’t she light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it.” Today while it is today is another opportunity to discover purpose and potential in our life. His Plan is for us to realize the promises set forth in His Plan including a future and hope that extends beyond this life into eternity. It is all worth having but if there is no value in forever for us without Jesus – we should make the most of today. I must value the One who lives in me far more than any other endeavor in order to prosper and succeed in every endeavor and one day reach eternity.

 I still remember the words offered by those at my grandmother’s funeral. She was the one who introduced me to Jesus Christ. They all continued to go on and on about her love and compassion for other people. Her kindness and love for Jesus Christ. This is the same kind of legacy that I would like. For those who one day attend the life celebration service to tell others that my life was a Light in a dark world. To know that I loved them. To know I loved Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the Light that illuminates the darkness within us exposing the true potential of our life making us life bearers in this world. I can give all my money to the pour and live a life of constant selfless service but if I don’t have the Word, the Light and Love of God in me – I have nothing. Give me Jesus. When I leave this world rest assured that it is my profound hope and daily aspiration to be with the Lover of my Soul – Jesus Christ. He is my Savior. He is my Lord.

Lord, I ask you to fill me with more of Your Word today and stir the fire within me to an even brighter light! Let your Word come to pass in me that my “whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling (me) with light.” In Jesus Name!

Song of Solomon 8:6 (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.

His Love Never Quits

His Love Never Quits

Psalm 139:1-3 (MSG) Thank God! He deserves your thanks. His love never quits. Thank the God of all gods, His love never quits. Thank the Lord of all lords. His love never quits.

His Love never quits. The equivalent to “His Love endures forever” in other translations is mentioned 43 times in the Old Testament. From Genesis to Revelation, it is all about an enduring love that never fails. God is love. He loves us. The Father decided to love us when He created us. He was careful and specific in making us calling us “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) and preparing us to become “masterpieces” (Ephesians 2). The plan is complete from inception. No modifications. No do overs. No second thoughts. The Love of God given to us never quits.

Lack of faith and fear from realizing our full potential. We try to “do” all the right things. Live the right way. Make better choices. To be honest, I fail the Lord every single day. Doubt and disbelief live on the doorstep of my heart trying to gain access. Pride doesn’t want to die. My flesh has proven to be a formidable foe. When I am ready to give up rather than enduring, I wonder what might happen if rather than focusing on me, my inabilities, my failures, my feelings, and everything else that comprises my ego, I chose to focus on the fact that His Love NEVER quits.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

It’s not about me. It’s all about the Love of God for me. Me, myself and I were destined for death. When Jesus came to offer me a better way, I chose it. But did I really choose His Way, or did I want the new life without the new way? Do I want new life my way? How is that even possible? It’s not. The Sovereignty of God that works for us in that His Love endures forever means that He cannot change His Mind including His Complete Opposition to sin. It’s what makes Him who He is. His Word is the power and authority in our life because it is infallible. God doesn’t make mistakes and is completely confident in His Love for me. To become less is to accept His More.

Psalm 117 (MSG) Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people! His love has taken over our lives; God’s faithful ways are eternal. Hallelujah!

As God’s Love takes over our life, faith and confident hope are established. Not in my ability to do the right thing and never sin again, but full acceptance and acknowledgement of God’s Amazing Grace. The relationship that I am growing with Jesus makes sin less appealing because union with Him is more appealing. The things of this world fade to black while the Light of His Love attracts us to move in closer and keep surrendering more of our heart to engage in more of His Love.

Galatians 6:9-10 (MSG) So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

The more I know about the Lord, the less I understand the vast potential of His Great and Constant Love for us. Unconditional love is not possible in this world. Expectation creates certain conditions on love and relationships that must be met for the partnership to continue. But imagine this, no matter what you do God’s Love for you never ever fails. It is unending. It is not contingent on our love in return. It was in the beginning and remains until the end. I have seen Christians walk by faith and drift into darkness. I have found myself in the wilderness many times. But when I began to grasp the concept that no matter how far I wander, how deep in the darkness I sink or how crazy my rebellious thoughts may be…God still loves me. Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with me. His Spirit never leaves me even when I don’t want to be with me. It is the moment of realization that His Love never quits that I find new strength. The greatest lie the enemy tries to hand you every day is that there is something too great for grace or a problem too impressive for God, it is simply not true. God is love. His Love for you endures forever.

I Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG) Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.

Ridiculous, radical and reckless love belongs to us. Love stronger than death and the grave that executes the power of sin and drives away even the darkest shadow. Could the problem with church be a lack of confidence today? We can produce services, performances and doctrine, but can we live in love with Jesus. The body of Christ would function properly with one beating heart and one mind set on loving God no matter what. Believing that His Love never gives up so we won’t either. Before charging out to save the world today, let the Love of God surround you. Bring your broken, tired and beat-up heart to the Lord and let His Love put all the pieces back together. You don’t have to be anything you’re not. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. God will complete the good work that He began in us – we just not to give Him our life to work with. Fall in love with Jesus today – He is already head over heels in love with you!

Psalm 18:26-229 (MSG) Blessed are you who enter in God’s name—from God’s house we bless you! God is God, he has bathed us in light. Festoon the shrine with garlands, hang colored banners above the altar! You’re my God, and I thank you. O my God, I lift high your praise. Thank God—he’s so good. His love never quits!

The Best Defense

Best Defense

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

“The best defense is a good offense.” This adage has been carefully applied from military fields to sporting arenas. It is a strategic offensive principle of war. The general concept is it will preoccupy the opposition and hinder them from an opposing counterattack. It takes the enemy off guard. Busy defending their position there is no room for advancement. We have the best offense in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. The Word is the Truth that knocks down strongholds of human reasoning and destroys the false arguments including all the accusations of the enemy of heart and soul. He will stop at nothing to convince us that God is not good and that the grace given to us is not enough; therefore, Christ is not victorious. All lies and not true yet humanity struggles with a perfect God who loves and cares for imperfect people.

The lack of confidence in our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ fuels religious arguments as people try to find a way to the Father some other way. Rationalizing sin and complicating grace creating obstacles of human pride that keeps people from knowing the Living Breathing God. We must capture our “rebellious thoughts” teaching them to obey Christ. To take the Lord at His Word. To decide that He is enough to live a victorious life and repeat daily.

With the arguments and divisions due to preference and pride, the Body of Christ appears as a dysfunction family rather than a thriving unit of believers adding to their numbers daily. (Acts 2) We cannot assess the damage or change church culture until we settle the argument of self. Is God real? Is His Love unconditional? Is grace enough? Will He meet my expectation? What do I have to lose? Christians must have a strategy to become successful.

Our offense was sin. Jesus covered our offense and turning us into faith-fighting force for the world and darkness to contend with. Now our offense is to fight temptation, overcome in trials and defeat the enemy. We have our marching orders. Now we attack every lie set forth by the enemy and overcome the stronghold of self with the Truth of God’s Word concerning us and absolute confidence and trust in Jesus Christ. Easier said than done when one must battle flesh just as much if not more than the enemy. Offense is not to be confused with offense regarding that which offends or causes displeasure. The right to be offended or take offense is to give into emotionalism, feelings and pride when our God is greater than all that.

Romans 3:21-24 (NLT) But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

What is my defense? Righteousness. I live in right standing with the Father because He gave His Son for me. I have absolutely nothing to do with the payment of my penalty other than to lay claim to all that God has given me. Let’s level the playing field making it fair across the board for all believers. Every single one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. No one is immune from the disease of sin or necessity of grace. Not once, but daily. To walk in righteousness requires repentance which leaves no place for pride because let’s face it – we don’t have skin in the game. Pride wants to think it has something to do with salvation or one’s ability to maintain righteousness with God apart from the Son. Religiosity is built on works outside of relationship. The Word of God is clear and the Truth straightforward – Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father but through Him.

Isaiah 1:16-19 (NLT) Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.

“Come now, let’s settle this.” The Lord is inviting us today to have a made up mind. To decide the Word of God is the Truth that governs our life and live in it. The Word is Jesus. He completes us and gives us victory. Arguments arise from self. Division is a product of unrelinquished pride that is killing the modern day church. Cancer is considered a cell that does not conform to natural reproduction. The disease is caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. It is evil and destructive though it is a product of simple reproduction out of control. Is there cancer in the church? If we aggressively pursued the teaching of 2 Corinthians 10, I believe it could be eradicated. To put an end to all division, teardown strongholds and take captive every rebellious thought is not a corporate endeavor but a personal mission. To have a made up mind full of faith and complete confidence in Jesus Christ changes our life from always being defensive to opposing evil and driving out darkness with the Light of His Love with the embers of Truth burning ever so brightly within us.

Freedom is found when we know the Truth and it sets us free through obedience. I have every reason to completely trust the Lord with my life far beyond my own understanding. His Ways and Thoughts are much higher than my own abased thinking. God is always God. He is love. He pursues me with unfailing love and amazing grace. I can have all that He has ordained for my life and accomplish every call apart from any other person or problem. See I have purpose established in my faith – my skin in the game is believing wholeheartedly in the Word of God and following His Way. My relationship with Jesus Christ established my righteousness. All I have to do is show up and I win.

To have a healthy and thriving church means that every believer must have confidence in the Love of God and His Way. To be full of faith without doubt that no matter what our condition or situation – victory is coming. So many times in the Bible, when the children of God were opposed, the Lord caused the enemy to turn on themselves. This is not an every man (or woman) for himself lifestyle that we are called to but harmonious living as a thriving body. I must decide today if I am the rogue cell causing division or will I let life flow through me. It is not about me but becoming a blameless bride and beautiful body for our soon coming Bridegroom. Our family, friends, church and people are not the enemy. We have only one enemy. He is already defeated. It’s time to oppose every rebellious thought telling us otherwise. Settle things within our own heart and mind. The best defense is established in my righteousness through Jesus Christ. I am free to lead the offense in love and generosity to form one body – one mind and with one heart whose purpose is to know and love Jesus Christ.

Matthew 10:38-40 (NLT) If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me.

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

John 8:32 (NLT) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Cutting Edge

cutting edge

Romans 4:16-17 (NIV)  Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

We live in an age of evolving technology. What is new today will quickly be obsolete tomorrow? Advances made each day make supply and demand driven by an every changing market. It’s funny that the very things marketed as new and improved do not seem to stand the test of time any longer. Old appliances lasted forever but the newer more advanced cutting edge technology doesn’t have the longevity of the aged models. It seems like just when we upgrade our cellphone or tablet the next one is released. I believe in many ways church has become the same. Lights, sound and action fill the space of sanctuary and often we miss the root of salvation and position of change. Appealing to our senses and appeasing our pride, living on the cutting edge but never experiencing brokenness before the Living God.

Hebrews 4:12 has been replaying in my head. 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.” God wants us to see that there is a better way. A simple life of faith that leads to everything He has promised. It is entered by the Son. It is lavishly covered in His Grace. He provides all that is needed to live a godly life with every spiritual blessing. The Lord has given us His Spirit and a Mighty Sword to cut through our stubborn sometimes stony heart to get to the promise hidden inside claimed by faith and resilient in confident hope. Where is our confidence in Christ? Too often it is a continued effort to upgrade that drives us from church to church. As if there is some great secret to this new life that can be claimed by a safe shortcut rather than radical obedience. Oh Abraham, the father of faith for the circumcised and uncircumcised has a message for us. Will we listen? Will we allow the Word of God like a double-edged sword to penetrate our hard hearts?

The promise comes by faith. Are you waiting on a promise? A blessing that you know awaits you but cannot seem to find its way into your life. Our world demands immediate action. It requires “fast” everything. But what about the Lord? His Timeframe is not ours with a thousand days like one day. When the minutes turns to hours becoming days and even years what is our response? Do we continue to wait? Watch? Wonder? Wander? Abram was 99 years old when he entered a covenant with the Living God. The Lord changed his name to Abraham. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. For 99 years Abram was a practicing Jew who served the Lord. The promise of a son came after he was circumcised and consecrated his life completely.

We have a new covenant given to us by the Lord. It is our choice the level of relationship that we choose to have with Him. To engage or live on the edge it really is up to us. I am challenged today by the father of faith. The one who lived for the Lord ninety-nine years before entering covenant with him. Abraham and his household were all circumcised according to the Lord’s command. Paul teaches that no longer is circumcision (outward) needed but that God is looking for the circumcised heart. The place where religion meets relationship is not by outward rules and regulations but the inward surrender of our stubborn and selfish heart. To allow Him to cut through the flesh and expose the new creation filled with new life hidden there and to allow the faith deposited in us to reach its full potential.

I looked up the definition of “cutting edge” and found it to mean “the most advanced stage of development of something.” Is this a hint at spiritual maturity? Is becoming a well-developed Christian more about who we are rather than what we do? Yes. Yes it is. I joined the “club” when I was just eleven years old. I got up out of my seat, driven by something inside the pit of my stomach, made my way to an altar and asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. It took decades to begin to scratch the surface of what a life in Christ truly means. It means less of me and more of Him. I cannot remain unchanged in any way and have the full potential of Christ in my life.

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

There is an old story about a chicken and pig who lived in the care of a kind farmer. The chicken approached the pig with a marvelous idea. He suggested doing something for the farmer in exchange for his excellent care. The pig liked the idea listening intently to the chicken’s plan. “Let’s make him a good breakfast!” said the chicken knowing it was the farmer’s favorite meal. The chicken offered fresh eggs. The pig knew the farmer would want more, “What else should we bring?” The chicken thought for a moment and said, “Ham? The farmer loves eggs and ham.” The pig replied, “That’s fine. But while you are making a contribution, I’m making a real commitment. Are you the chicken or the pig? Are you a contributor or committed? How much of you is invested in the Kingdom? To Christ?

Sacrifice is defined as surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable. Sacrifice is a commitment of all while offering only a portion of some. The chicken offered some fresh eggs to please the farmer. The pig would have to sacrifice all to give him fresh ham. The Word of God tells us quite clearly that it is not what we give of our hand but the surrender of our heart that the Lord desires. Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” If we give up our life to serve Christ but do not surrender our heart – we will end up with nothing.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV) And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Psalm 34:18 tells us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The scriptures promise that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In the natural, circumcision is an elective procedure. It is not required but rather many people choose it for their newborn sons. The Jewish culture still recognizes the procedure as a religious rite of passage. I wonder if God is not moving among us because we have withheld our heart. All or in part. Have we surrendered our hearts as a living sacrifice so that His Word can cut through its hard, stubborn and even stony exterior to expose the new life and new creation within us? Those who do will experience a new life in Christ filled with promises and blessings as faith rises from the sacrifice of a circumcised heart. One penetrated by the Spirit and washed in the Word which allows the Light of His Love to shine brightly through its cracks and crevices. Lord, I give you my heart today. Do with it what you will? Have Your Way in me today? I trust that you will not leave me for dead but create new life in me with each cut. I put my expectation in You and give you my permission to fully examine and cut away futile and worthless desires that are hidden within. I give you my heart as a Living Sacrifice today make a masterpiece from its many pieces. Amen and amen.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

New Heart

New Heaert

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

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

The Heart of Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barriers

Barrier

Psalm 119:45 (NLT) I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

There is a young lady in my life who I love dearly. She is a beautiful girl with a sweet heart. Like many people her age, she is struggling to make the right choices and apply her faith to life. She didn’t come to church so I reached out on social media. One of the qualities that I love about her is brutal honesty. She doesn’t hide behind a churchy façade of perfection but admits that her struggle is real. I told her I loved her and missed her this morning. She replied, “I was too ashamed to come.” My heart broke in that moment. I told her that God had her and that His Grace was always enough for her, not to mention that I love her no matter what! I hate that the very thing she needed most was restricted by her distrust. She stayed home rather than facing the hypocrites, mockers and stone throwers. “Whosoever come” limited by the line drawn by Christians of boundaries and barriers that keep the seeking from actually making through the door.

I will walk in freedom.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Gospel is only good news when covered by grace. Outside of God’s Grace given to us through Jesus Christ there is nothing good in us. The new creation is a result of God’s Word coming to live in us. His Name is Jesus. He is the Truth. The Truth always sets you free and never limits you. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. This is the inherent struggle of humanity with the Lord. How do we conceive and birth change in our life without rules, regulations and better choices? Jesus. How often do we try to change our attitude and actions only to fail miserable but then hide behind the things we can do and be by ourselves? Disciples of Christ remain faithful to His Teachings. His Primary Purpose and Motivation in all things is unconditional love and overwhelming grace. These are the qualities that establish our freedom and erase the line of religion drawn in the dust and dirt our flesh is made of.

John 8:36-37 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. I absolutely believe that I am a slave to sin. I cannot help but find a way to fall into it at least once if not a hundred times a day. If you think there is no sin in your life, then you are sadly mistaken. All fall short of God’s Standard for living. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. My way of life is not for anyone else other than me. God recorded every day of my life in advance. (Psalm 139) He predestined me with a purpose only found living as one with Jesus Christ. Within that plan and purpose, the Lord has given me a future and hope (Jeremiah 29) with a provision of love and grace sufficient to empower me in every weakness. He works every detail of my life for my good and His Glory. (Romans 8) I have to believe this includes my mistakes, shortcomings and failures.

John 8 begins with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. I cannot help but wonder where the other person engaged with her was hiding. If she was caught in the act, there had to be another party. Yet, he is absent. If we are all slaves to sin engaged in the same act, why do we not include ourselves when crucifying Christians or calling out their issues. Pride tells us that there is a hierarchy of transgresses not found in the Word. If we can pretend better than others, we win. This is absolutely not true. God’s Love and His Grace are offered to us one way. His Son – the Only Way – to access the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – He is our freedom.

Twice in this account, Jesus stoops to write something in the dirt. Many scholars conclude the Lord may have been listing the sins of her accusers. I wonder if maybe Jesus was erasing the barrier of religion to form a relationship. Perhaps our Savior and Lord was actually wiping away the line between sin and salvation while her accusers left one by one. Guilt and shame form regret that removes us from the Presence of God. His Love and Amazing Grace will lead us to “spacious places” (Psalm 18) but unresolved sin and judgment lead us to deeper darkness than before we knew Christ. He is the Light of the World. What is done in secret will be made public? His Light drives out darkness. It leads us to freedom. True freedom. Free to love Him without shame, remorse, or regret and openly enjoy His Pleasures evermore.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NLT) “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open… Do you believe this passage today? Do you believe that Christ has set you free? What is limiting your life today? Jesus is the Gate. Those who come in through Him will be saved. “They will come and go freely and find good pastures.” The enemy will try to shut the gateway of freedom to our life by putting us back in our sin or at least reminding us of it so guilt and shame tries to shut the door and throw away the key. (John 10) Jesus reminds us today that His “purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” He does not mention our past, present or future shortcomings and promises that His Grace will always be enough for us. Jesus knows how we feel, what we do and yet still loves us unconditionally. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Galatians 5:7-8 (NLT) You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

The religious folks had trouble accepting the matchless and magnificent grace of Jesus Christ. They could not comprehend or accept equality with common sinners. The established order of Jewish culture demanded personal retribution. Pride required a level of accountability. We must be very careful not to become trapped in their culture. The “Saul” in us must become “Paul” through our new life in Jesus Christ or it is a waste of time and energy. God has called us to freedom even providing the Way. It is up to us if we will take it, pursue it and live in Him. Legalism will never produce the kind of change that love will. Faith is in us but must be continually fed and watered the Word of God and cared for by His Spirit to grow and flourish into something reliable in our life. Bad choices do not hinder us. Unwillingness to admit our sin and meet Jesus at the Cross daily does.

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.

Have you drawn a line in the sand? Is there a list of unpardonable sins that keep you from love and forgiveness? The limit in your life is self-imposed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Freedom to engage in a new life and find an inheritance as a Child of the Living God. Sin made us all slaves. Your only way to freedom is sonship. Turning to the Lord means that the veil of human expectation and accountability is irrevocably broken. Expectation placed in people is misplaced. If we set our heart, mind, body, souls and spirit on the Living God our life will be complete. Satisfaction will be found. Abundance of heart will fill our hands with outpouring of generosities beginning with love and grace for all mankind. It removes the barriers and obstacles of faith marked doubt and disbelief so faith can come alive in our life. Remove the restrictions today. Forgive freely. Turn from rules and regulations to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our freedom allows us to grant others the same becoming a beacon in the darkness for those who desperately need the Light. I am a sinner. I am saved by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. This is my story. It is the Truth that allows me to come to the Cross to be set free. To live free. To experience abundance to overflowing for others in need. Lord Jesus – please do not ever let me be the barrier blocking another from coming to the Cross. Forgive me if I have. Remind me if I do. Remove me from their path! In Your Precious Name, AMEN!

Psalm 119:96 (NLT) Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

Perfecting Love

Perfecting Love

I John 4:17-19 (NLT) And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

The local department store is filled with helium heart-shaped balloons. Aisles overflowing with chocolate and conversation hearts expressing “true love”. A jungle of stuffed animals larger than life surround me. The smell of fresh cut flowers and rose bouquets fill the air. It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s all about love. Expressing love with trinkets and tokens. I will admit I am after some of these things for my family as well. The perfect gift to express my deep affection for those I love and cherish.

Our family “went to town” together. My husband joined us. Not because he likes to shop but he loves us and wants to be with us. We meet our oldest daughter and precious new grandson at her favorite store wandering the aisles. There is nothing really that is needed just spending time with them. Together sharing candy hearts and chocolate on our way to the local mall, it is becoming the perfect date. Entering the mall, there is a section filled with sparkles and tulle. It is almost prom season so the girls and I begin looking through racks of newly discounted dresses. Our middle daughter has a big week. She turns 18. Soon, she will go to her last prom and graduate high school. Where has the time gone? She sees a dress and deems it the perfect princess dress. While she is trying on graduation dresses, I pull it off the rack. She is one of our princesses so it only seems fitting that she would try it on. She made her graduation selection and her eyes sparkle as I enter the dressing room with the “princess” dress. As it slipped over her head, and pooled to the floor nothing could wipe the smile from her face as she whispered, “I love it!”

Well, the end of the story, her dad approved and it came home with us. There was no real thought or discussion about the price or the timing of the purchase only that she loved it and we love her. I am a bargain hunter. It is my goal in life to get a good deal. Hence the huge discount signs walking in caught my attention. But when she put on the dress, and her countenance changed – I just wanted to bless her because I love her! We were blessed to spend precious moments together – to be in each other’s presence. That really doesn’t happen very often. Like every other family – we are busy. We all have places to go and things to do. I wonder if that could be called our Valentine’s date. I wonder if that is really what God is after. Precious moments of time together. To love each other and learn to love others with the same commitment as the ones in our earthly family. To be together and enjoy each other with no real agenda. To stop worrying about all the details of life and wander off together.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. I wonder sometimes if we have overcomplicated the perfecting of love. My husband can go buy every box of candy, flower and stuffed animal in the store but if he doesn’t love me the other 364 days of the year – it really doesn’t represent anything other than marketing dominating another holiday. We can get all dressed up and go on a fancy date but if we do not have love for each other – what’s the point? We can follow every rule and regulation in the Bible. Even get dressed up and head on church “dates” every Sunday but if we do not love then what’s the point? I Corinthians 13 tells me I can do all these things even understanding God’s Secrets and have faith that moves mountains but if I don’t have love – “I would have gained nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Are you dating God or devoted to Him? This is the question in my mind. Dating is when the decision to love is made. It is the testing of our partnership that leads to union. But once married, the covenant of love is a commitment. I Corinthians 13 is God’s Definition of Love. It is not limited to our spouse, family and friends because God sees us all as beloved children. Often – our love and commitment to people is not the same as how we approach the Lord. Expectations are put in others that really belong to the Lover of our soul. God’s Love for us is perfect. His Presence in us allows us to perfect our love for Him and others. Love is a discipline not an emotional overture. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must be lovers.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. What keeps us from loving the Lord with all our heart and loving others the same way? Fear. Perfect love expels all fear. However, humans are not trusting souls. Grace is difficult to accept when we know the level of sin and shame once lived with. Does God really love us with unconditional love? Does He really pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every single day? Is He really a good, good Father? The answer is a resounding “yes”. It is impossible to replicate perfect love without first knowing and accepting it. You don’t have to understand it to receive it but you do have to experience it to exemplify it in your life. I cannot give away something I do not have. There is nothing to give if I do not know the Love of God and live in it.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The source of our fears, worries, regret, shame and deepest concerns are not products of God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit in us. He has not given us the spirit of fear or timidity. The Lord has given us His Power which is from a grace that overcomes every weakness. He has given us perfect love in spite of ourselves. He has given us self-discipline to produce change in us from death to life. It is not by anything we do or say but in the truest revelation of a love worth having and worth giving to the world. Fear comes from doubt. It takes the Gospel and turns into religious habits skipping God’s Intent to form a family of perfect lovers and uses discipline to mold and shape others to fit human expectation. For example, we love those who think like we do but if they make bad choices and still manage to come to church on Sunday – they face people who scorn, shun, or shame them rather than the unconditional love of Christ. If I try not to sin, but do not do it out of love for Jesus Christ it is not enough. I must love Jesus so much that I avoid sin because of that love and devotion. I can make better choices. I can do different things. It doesn’t change the fact that I still sin every day and struggle with my flesh. I am no better than the person committing a crime. I have already failed God enough to require every ounce of His Son’s Blood. Friend, we are all in this together. We are all the least of these. The very ones who put Jesus on the Cross. I can change my ways but I can only get to God by His Son – Jesus Christ who is THE WAY.

Romans 8:38 (NLT) And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

What are your fears today? What are you worried about? Do you have things that keep you awake at night? Doubt in God’s Perfect Love causes us to feel that way. To think that there is a limit to the Limitless Love of God given to us through His Son, Jesus. It is the lie of the enemy that keeps us from being overcomers. The greatest barrier in the life of a believer is doubt. The mountain to be moved is not an obstacle in the world but in us. The place where God cannot move is because we do not believe in the God of more than enough, greater than he that is in the world, and the perfect Lover of the less than lovable. I must be completely convinced that there is nothing that can ever separate me from God’s Love in order to live in love with Jesus Christ. To accept God’s Unconditional Love is to admit my weakness and live in His Grace. Pride dies in this place. Human expectation is exchanged for Godly Expectation. Ordinary becomes extraordinary. Natural turns into the supernatural.

I John 4:9-10 (NLT)  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I John 4:15-16 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

I encourage you…no challenge you to read I John 4 today. The love of God is the birthplace of confidence and trust in the Lord. It cannot be skipped or overlooked. It must be undertaken above all things. I cannot become who God has planned and purposed me to be outside of His Unfailing and Unconditional Love. I must be completely confident in the sufficiency of grace at the forsaking of self in order to have all that God has ordained and planned for my life. I must live in His Perfect Love and allow His Love to perfect me. God’s Idea of Perfect is to be completely overtaken by His Love until His Love overflows from us. It requires an honest and forthright examination of our heart, mind and soul for true transparency. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down strongholds built by fear and doubt to protect us with the Sword of His Spirit – the Word of God. Until we understand and believe in God’s Love for us – we can never effectively express it to others. God loves you. He wants to bless your time together. He wants to fill you to overflowing with good things. He will perfect love in us when we choose to put our trust in Him.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.