Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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Call to Rest

Call to Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Rest is important in the life of a believer. To take a step out of the busyness of life to physically and mentally rest and be rejuvenated. The enemy uses overloaded schedules, rigid routines, and mounting pressures to perform as a means of distraction until people become so overwhelmed by the persistent pull of responsibility that faith in God forgets He is in control of our life. A couple of months ago, I felt the gentle whisper of a loving Savior confirmed by the voice of my husband the call to rest. Life has been hectic. Chaotic. Crazy. It is time to get away. The beach is our favorite place to unwind and getaway. Today we leave for a respite.

Of course, this morning the dog woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. My brain then refused to go back to sleep so I packed and repacked the car in my head. I woke up grumpy. Worried a little about work and other things circling my thoughts. I need to rest. Not just rest my body and mind but my soul. So do you… It is important to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ more than serving Him physically. We must connect our heart and mind with Him. Just like a natural marriage requires such attention to continue to thrive, it is important to spend time with the Lord away from the cares, worries and burdens of life. I plan to do just that…

Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are not naturally occurring in a world that demands all our time. They call it a rat race for a reason with hurrying and scurrying all around. The Kingdom of God is not based the pursuit of such things. All that we need, want and desire are fulfilled when we come to Him. He gives us rest. Rest is from the word “anapauo” – ana meaning “up” and pauo meaning cessation from toil and refreshment.

Prosperity begins in the soul. To prosper in our soul impacts our natural life. Prosperity in our natural life that does not reach our soul can do nothing to bring satisfaction. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) Those who live in Christ find full satisfaction not in what they have but who He is. Only those who taste and see His Goodness will understand the value of such peace. Just like any food in life, you have to try it to see if you like it.

Matthew 6:25-32 (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.”

What are you worried about today? What burdens your heart and mind? Robs you of sleep. Steals your attention. Keeps you weary. Tells you to give up. What causes fear to overtake your confidence? What is keeping your faith small? It is important to examine our heart and mind to answer these difficult questions. It will identify the areas of our life not entrusted to the Lord giving us the opportunity to surrender each burden and care to Him. Worry, anxiety, stress and fear evaporate when faith grows in us. Total trust in God’s Goodness and Greatness in our life. Confident hope that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to release of His Power and Authority in every situation. These are the qualities that allow us to release every burden to the Lord and yoke our life to Christ.

God knows exactly what you need. I used to tell the young girls in our youth group that women are natural gathers. Born with little baskets on each arm designed to nurture and care for future families. The enemy wants to fill them with unnecessary things. It is important to empty our baskets on a regular basis and continue to carry only those things given to us by Christ. We can discern such things in His Word and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Living in His Presence gives us the peace and confidence to say, “No” to lesser and unnecessary things because our faith is in God alone because man cannot fill our expectation.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Perfect peace. There is nothing like it. It comes when our life is yoked to Christ. Partnered with Him, the waves of the storm cannot remove us from the anchor called hope. Together – we are unstoppable because He overcame the world and handed us victory – Jesus is our champion. He has given us every spiritual blessing, provides all that we need, and promises to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. We have it all but settle for less when working for things already given. Trusting the Lord means resting in Him. It means releasing cares, worries, burdens, anxieties, fears and insecurities to take on the yoke called righteousness that by faith makes all things possible in Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is the place of perfect peace.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

The Lord calls us to rest and leads us as well. He is a good shepherd who cares for his sheep. He will leave the 99 just to find the one who is missing. Distractions lead us off course. The lie of the enemy is that God is not enough and His Grace insufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine our own heart and mind today. Find all the burdens, cares, concerns and worries. Take captive fear and doubt that are adversaries of faith. Go to Jesus and give them “up” and to be refreshed, restored and renewed. His Love for you will never let you down. We must trust and believe that God is good. Good to us. He is for us. He fights our battles and wins our wars. To step into partnership and presence allows us to let go of the lead and follow the Lord to love, joy and perfect peace. This is the place called rest. Well, I am off to the beach. I am stepping out of life to find solace with my family and seek the Face of Jesus at the sea. My prayer for you today is rest. May God apprehend your heart all over again and fill it with His Love, Joy and Peace. Amen and amen.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Life’s Greatest Liability

Life's Greatest Liability

Luke 6:36-38 (NKJV) Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

The greatest liability in the life of a believer is unforgiveness. To restrict the mercy, compassion, love and grace given to us is the source of limitation and lack that often goes unnoticed creating frustration and unmet expectation. It binds and restricts the one who holds it tightly. Joyce Meyer said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.” T.D Jakes tells it like this – “unforgiveness denies the victim the possibility of parole and leaves them stuck in the prison of what was, incarcerating them in their trauma and relinquishing the change to escape beyond the pain.” And finally “forgiving someone may cost you your pride but not forgiving them will coast you your freedom.”

Mercy is not only characteristic of God the Father, but the overflow of His Existence. (Deuteronomy 7:9) His Mercy endures forever. (Psalm 106:1) It is freely given to us each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) The Lord is our portion. The One in whom our hope is secure. Mercy is defined as compassion and kind forbearance shown toward an offender. Sin is offensive to God. Pride resides in the human heart producing rebellion against God when given the opportunity. Unforgiveness is one of its most effective traits. The decision to harbor unforgiveness in our heart is to sow seeds of bitterness that will take root and choke out the relationship being restored in us producing new life, new love and new creations. How many times has Luke 6:36-38 been attributed to lesser things? Prosperity of our soul begins with the forgiveness of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It continues to grow and develop in us when we choose to extend the same grace, love and mercy to others.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV) “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus emphasizes the importance of a right relationship with God. He does not stop there but also right relationships with people. Building and maintaining right relationships is the development and advancement of God’s Kingdom and strengthens the Body of Christ. To know God is the highest pursuit of righteousness. To be in an ongoing and thriving relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of forbearance or forgiveness in us which is evidence of our relationship with the Triune God. Understanding the importance of forgiveness to vitality in Christ is essential in our spiritual growth and development which is soul prosperity. The Lord even put in the model of daily prayer. (Matthew 6:11-13) We must live in a constant state of mercy and forgiveness to maintain a constant connection to God and His Kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus did not give some mathematical formula but instead “seventy times seven” is used to imply limitless forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a liability and misuse of the binding power and authority given to us by Christ. It is forgetfulness on our part of God’s Grace towards us or to somehow imply ourselves more deserving than another. It restricts and binds. It is dangerous to our body, mind and spirit working like a cancer eating away at us. It is mishandling Kingdom power. It limits our prayer life. (Mark 11:25-26) It is sin retention in our life. (John 20:22-23) Unforgiveness is a liability to the believer creating limitation and lack while restricting the abundance that God has for those who live in a right relationship with Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He is intimately aware of our sin as it is the very thing that nailed His Precious Son to the Cross. God’s expectation of His People is love and forgiveness as described in I Corinthians 13. Love never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.”

Psalm 52:8-9 (NKJV) But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good.

We have been given the love, grace and mercy of God. It is released in all fullness to the believer as seed to do with it what we choose. Freedom is established in the Son, the Word of God. The very first benefit given to us that makes way for every other blessing. (Psalm 103) To overstep forgiveness is to restrict abundance in our life. All blessings are contingent on the Grace of God that allows His Goodness to be poured out on the unworthy and imperfect chosen by adoption. When we decide to not forgive another person for their offense, it is to refuse God’s Blessings in our life and choose our own portion. Pride chooses its own way bypassing righteousness found in the Grace of God by way of humility. Is there lack in your life? Are you limited? Does your prayer life seem stagnant? Do you lack love, joy or peace? Search your heart with me today. Look for any seed of unforgiveness or bitterness. God’s Grace will cover it as you rip it out by the root. Freedom is poured out the moment we choose to forgive. It may not mean a mended relationship but it will restore righteousness when heartfelt and sincere. Do not let it be a liability but let grace and mercy by an asset as you thrive in the Presence of God today.

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

Praying for Prosperity

Praying for Prosperity

I Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV) And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

Several years ago, Dr. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book titled “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was a huge hit. Based on just two verses of in the Old Testament, it would become a mainstay of prayer for many. It also would be turned into a “prosperity gospel” of sorts which many mega ministries. I am not against prosperity gospel at all. I believe that God wants to bless His People…as their souls prosper putting natural resources in proper order and focusing on the spiritual blessings and fruit of His Spirit. It is our goal to seek the Kingdom of God first, then God will add other things. I can personally attest that as the Kingdom becomes your focus all that glitters is no longer gold and those simple fruits will become the substance of satisfaction for our daily life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

God is good. He is a gracious Father. He is an excellent provider for His Children. He loves to bless us. What parent doesn’t like to bless their children? To give them better than what they had. To make their life comfort and complete in every way possible. The selflessness of parenthood is definitely a trait handed down by the Father who would give His Son to provide access to those who were once lost to Him. The Fruit of the Spirit consisting of love, joy, and peace are the three things people long for the most. We want to experience kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control. These are not naturally occurring qualities in humanity. However, spiritually they are all overflowing from God’s Kingdom as the Holy Spirit looks for fertile places in our hard hearts to plant them deep within, watering them with the Word of God, protecting them, nurturing them, giving them time to grow, develop and mature. This is soul prosperity. A soul that is able to produce such things no matter how things are going all around us. To experience love, joy and peace on the most challenging day, diverse conditions and overwhelming circumstances knowing, trusting and believing that God is good, His Love Constant and our life secure in the Father’s Hand.

Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Before taking one more step, I just have to say to all the parents and guardians of children, consider every single word spoken to them carefully. The power of death and life are in our tongues. The future is seeded by the words sown into these little ones. Every word counts. Words sown that cannot be taken back can be removed by repentance. It is okay to tell our kids when we are wrong or harsh. It doesn’t make us a bad parent or show weakness. It teaches them to be humble and apologize as well. We must lead by example. Now back to Jabez…

His mother named him Jabez because an excruciating and overwhelming experience. He was innocent. An infant in the womb on his way out. Yet his mother, in her pain, hurt and frustration, labeled her precious baby – “He will cause pain.” Jabez was not a label of the past but a terrible prediction and prophesy of his life in general. Evil oaths, angry words, and verbal confusion cause negativity to distill into human reality. Whether spoken by others about you or it is by our own declaration, curses concentrate on our soul like a cancer silently growing into a dysfunctional determination of our destiny. God wants to change all that today. He is providing us an example of changing the course of time and inevitability of our future to align it with what He has called us and become who He created us to be. New creations are born of the context and content of our conversation. Will I be who the world says that I am or who God created and called me to be?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed…”

The first thing to note in this passage is that Jabez was a believer. He believed in God enough to converse with him. I Chronicles 4:9 tells us that he was honorable. Access to God the Father comes through His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot come to the Father but through the Son. There is no other way. God loves you. He hears you. But He cannot grant your petition outside of faith in Jesus Christ. To come close to us would be the end of us as His Goodness consumed the sin within us. By grace we are saved through faith, the Grace of God is provided in the Blood of the Son. I know the Cross was messy, violent and overwhelming but it is absolutely necessary to identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to have eternal life and access to God. Through Jesus, we can come boldly and ask anything in His Name and God’s Will is granted to us which as is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think or ask.

Jabez asked God to “bless me indeed.” The word “indeed” is important. It means in fact, in reality, in truth, truly. It is added for emphasis to confirm and amplify the previous statement. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Jabez asked God to bless him indeed. God desires to bless His Children. Those who desire a life that prospers in the fullness of God. I believe this prayer is born of the revelation of God’s Love for us. To suddenly realize through divine interaction that there is more to life than this for God’s People accessed through the intimate relationship apart from the world’s influence. The more I love the Lord the less appealing sin becomes because it causes a breach between us. I want to please God simply because I love Him.

Jabez believed opening his heart to the possibility of supernatural increase in his life. You have been promised provision from the surplus supply of Heaven. God has given us every spiritual blessing. We are provided an inheritance. More than enough. Surrendering our life and every natural resource of our life to His Word, His Work and His Will precipitates prosperity. Divine prosperity begins in our heart, mind, and soul as we give God more and more of the property of our life including time, talent and treasure investing in the Kingdom.

“Enlarge my territory…”

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God cannot be contained in the finite area of our life. The sheer capacity of His Goodness requires room to expand and grow in us. Jabez asked God to take the boundaries and borders off of his life. He invited the Lord to stretch him beyond comfort, convenience and control. He was allowing God to break every chain, remove every hindrance, tear down every wall even those self-constructed, and erase every lie.  The endless possibility of God is overwhelming outside of trust and reliance on the Lord. The shaking and moving of life once settled to “enlarge” our territory can be very frightening. Like Peter jumping out of the boat was thrilling and exciting until he saw how big the waves and powerful the wind were, then his faith ran out and he was drowning in doubt. When you ask for more, increase and enlargement it produces an unsettling of our heart, mind and soul so that God can release the full potential of our life.

John 12:24-25 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

To enlarge our territory is to destroy human expectation altogether. To step into the unknown regions of God’s Providence including provision and promises which is to walk entirely by faith and not by sight or human rationalization. Miracles happen in the impossible. If you can do it, God’s Plan is bigger. I wonder how many truly can pray this prayer with an open and honest heart willing to accept the challenges of enlargement required for fulfillment. To jump fearlessly into the depths of God’s Love even we cannot feet cannot touch the solid ground of logic to bask in the deeper things and hidden places of blessing and prosperity. A seed must go in the ground to be fruitful. It must die to self and give way to change in substance and form in order to fulfill its potential. We must be willing to do the same.

“That Your hand would be with me…”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God is ready to empower all who invite His Works and Resources of Power. God’s Power is released by His Authority to those who humbly accept His Grace as enough. Grace is provided to us and must be accepted in humility. We must give up control in order to be satisfied by grace. Is God’s Grace enough for you today? Ask yourself the question, do I have regrets? Do I live in shame? Do I doubt God based on my ability? To ask God to place His Hand upon us is complete surrender to His Authority, Power and Grace in our life. To say, I am not enough but You are my everything. To accept human weakness, release it to Presence and let His Spirit fill you with exactly what you need experience resurrection power. Jabez knew his limitations. He was well aware of his imperfections. He asked the Lord put your Hand upon me. He didn’t ask the Lord to open His Hand before Him. To desire the Heart of God we accept the Grace of God and invite His Power and Authority to operate in our weakness humbly. We must live a life of humility before the Lord to access His Power in our life.

“That You would keep me from evil…”

Psalm 119:10-12 (NKJV) With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.

God gives us everything needed to part ways with sin in our life. We have His Word. Jesus is the Word of God that came wrapped in flesh and bones to demonstrate God’s Love. The Word of God is the Truth concerning us and must become the logic for faith to grow and prosper in our life. It feeds our Spirit. It builds the foundation to stand on when nothing in our life is going right. It is the waiting place of trust that soothes our heart and mind while patience in God’s Timing is developed. The Lord wants to keep us from evil. We partner in the process by continually consuming the Word of God to feed our soul.

John 14:26 (NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The seed of the Spirit is God’s Word. He plants it in our heart, nurtures it, and protects it while it becomes His Fruit reaching its full potential in our life. Sin usually is prefaced by an unfulfilled desire or unmet expectation. We must fill the voids in our life or the enemy will offer substitutions and counterfeits. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Jesus gave us His Spirit to facilitate a productive and prosperous life. We must maintain our relationship with God through His Son Jesus to have that. The Word of God and His Spirit creates an environment within us that produces a new heart and new mind that desires more than status quo. Partnering with God means running from evil and pursuing that which is good. Jabez asked the Lord to partner with him in this process.

“That I may not cause pain!”

Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV) Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Children possess a certain innocence and helplessness when they come into the world. Like soft clay, moldable by those around them and what they experience. We have been studying childlike faith in a series at church. Coming to the Father as a child with the natural expectancy of our innocent youth. However, being born to imperfect people, there is a solid chance that your expectations may not have been met. Perhaps your family, like mine, is clearly dysfunctional. Disappointment, betraying, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and more cause children to become broken adults with unmet expectation, bitterness, boundaries, walls and insecurities that cause them to approach God with caution. They are reluctant to trust. Fearful of surrender. Too broken to give too much. Generational curses plague us. Word curses spoken over entire bloodlines cause a people in bondage who want God’s Blessings, His Promises and to prosper but cannot even dare to believe a single word is true, trustworthy or for them when it comes to the Lord. Friend, God is good. He is a Good Father. It doesn’t matter how you got here, what you went through, or how many times you have fallen – His Heart yearns for you. He loves you and desires you above all things. His Grace is enough to lift you up into His Arms, wash you with His Word, wrap you up in righteousness, and fully revive, restore and renew your life. You have to come to Him like a child. Jabez did just that. Uttering the one thing that he thought was unsolvable, unfixable, and unthinkable. God – that I may not cause pain. His mother’s label was erased in that moment as “God granted Him what He requested.”

Psalm 1:3 (NKJV) He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

It has been 17 years since I read I Chronicles 4:9-10 for the first time. I have it hanging on the wall in my house. I have read it in passing a number of times and prayed the same prayer. I believe the seed planted by it has finally begun to bear fruit. I don’t see the prosperity gospel in the net worth of my life or what I have but the fact that when I wake up – the Lord is with me. When I go through the day, He is still with me. When I lose my way, He is right there waiting for me. When I lose it, He still listens. The Presence of God has caused my life to prosper with in my heart and soul. God wants to bless us. He desires nothing more than to give us His Absolute Best. But God will release nothing to me that will destroy me, distract me or detour me from His Purpose. My heart is His First Priority. My salvation is His Purpose. To seek the Kingdom of God first allows everything in His Storehouses to be released to me without changing the condition of my heart or ability to trust Him. If I have all that I need, want and desire outside of my relationship with Christ, I would leave Him and so would you. It is human nature. It is in my need for Jesus that I have found true prosperity. The kind that Paul describes when he says, “I know how to be abased and how to abound.” The secret is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If I have live apart from Jesus to have it, I don’t want it. The prayer of Jabez is about so much more than filling our bank account with funds, our homes with stuff, and expanding our influence. It is about becoming a new creation and claiming the future and hope God promised no matter how it impacts our existence today. He must increase. I must decrease. To live is Christ and die is gain. When our soul truly prospers the seed of faith hidden inside of it, you will prosper in all seasons and all ways.

3 John 1:2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Gaining Perspective

gaining perspective

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Perspective is relative to position. The vantage point dictates vision. For example, if there are many witness to a car accident, each person may have a different account of the cause based on their placement in relation to the event. As believers called to walk by faith and not by sight, it is our personal challenge to gain perspective according to the Word of God in order to see our life as God plans it and not according to random events. We must fix our thoughts and align them with God’s Perspective and leave behind our human viewpoint. Faith is only logical when perceived from such a position. God’s Word details our life. Without it, there is no possible way to perceive a future outside of our current condition or circumstances.

Fix your thoughts on these things – what is true, honorable (respect or upright), right, pure, lovely, and admirable (excellent). What sounds like optimism to the world is so much more when faith produces hope in our life. To change our perspective from death to life means moving from a temporary being to an eternal creation. Desperation becomes determination when our eye is on the prize. Confidence overtakes our insecurity when Jesus becomes our Champion. Faith without the word is not faith at all. Jesus who is the Word is the basis of faith that produces forever in our life. To change the natural into supernatural requires a new vantage point for living.

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

The evidence of God’s Goodness and His Glory are all around us. However, distractions easily overtake discipline for those who have no concept of faithful reality. Christ is with us. He lives in us. To see Him is to align our heart and mind with the Lord and prosper soulfully in life. God’s Grace gives us access to His Love and Peace. Believing does not make our life easier. We remain in this world but are no longer of it. However, it takes time to change our heart and mind and become confident and disciplined in our Christian walk.

Grace is enough to do it. Grace is made perfect in our weakness when God’s Powerful Peaceful Persuasion take over and His Love comforts us while His Timing beautifies the brokenness in life. There must be brokenness to receive the fullness of His Power. I must give up my way to have His Way. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus. He is the Champion who “initiates” and “perfects” our faith. Initiates means that Jesus is the beginning of faith. He is Alpha. He introduces us to the knowledge of faith. It is up to us to turn it into wisdom by putting into practice what the Word of God tells us. He sets faith into motion. He also “perfects” our faith which means conforming to an absolute standard. The proposed standard is God’s Glorious Standard which is exceedingly abundantly more than we could think, ask or imagine. God is good and His Way is perfect. Jesus leads us into a place of excellence according to the future and hope prescribed by God for you and me. It is the time between what Jesus initiates until He fully perfects it that we must put in some effort. The renewing of our heart and mind is essential in gaining a new perspective of the purpose and plan the Lord has mapped out that will never lead to disappointment but always the fulfillment of hope.

“Keeping our eyes on” or “looking” as used in other translations in the Hebrew means to look away from to see. Life happens in living color. Eternal life is achieved not by sight but fully relying on the Living God who is within us. Our natural inclination is to follow our vision in the natural but faith requires staying focused on Jesus Christ who is yet to be seen. We must give Jesus undivided attention in our life to successfully find Him by investing our wholehearted effort in seeing life from His Perspective and not our current position.

Proverbs 4:25 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

The enemy uses distractions to keep us from focusing on Jesus. Daily diversions that are meant to keep us from fixing our eyes on what lies before us and becoming consumed with life happening all around us. It takes extreme discipline to keep our eyes from being diverted by the enemy’s tactics. He uses lies. He offers us fear in place of faith. As passionate as the Lord is to see us victorious in life all the way to the everlasting, the same passion is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy God’s People. Discipline overcomes distraction. It requires our full attention and daily motivation to keep our eyes on Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Our first grandbaby is on the way! We could not be more overjoyed about the little person who is currently residing in mama. I cannot see the baby, but I still love them. I cannot wait to hold and love the baby. I have great joy each day while sharing this experience with our daughter. We talk about the baby. Shop for the baby. Listen to its heartbeat. There are plans to celebrate the day we find out the gender, showers to celebrate the arrival, and even a developing birth plan. Our daughter is reading, studying and talking to other moms about important decisions that will need to be made. All this for a person who is taller than an inch and really doesn’t even look human yet. The promise is real and developing.

What about God’s Promises for you and me? God gives us a future and hope that comes with the package. Just as by faith I fully anticipate the safe arrival of our first grand, we must highly anticipate and expect God’s Promises. Prepare for them. Not just by our conversation, but how we live our life. It is the active changing of our heart and mind to fully accept and believe that His Promises are a reality in our life that will change us from the inside out to fully perceive the reality of faith in our life. Just as I know that I will get a call one day or night to come to the hospital and our little one will become a tangible and touchable blessing in our life – we must meet God’s Promises with the same expectancy.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you…” Sitting by our son while he received chemotherapy, I remember watching him sleep. The pumps were coursing pure poison through his veins to kill cancer. His hair long gone. His fair skin so pale from all the treatment. Yet as he slept, he looked so peaceful. Other than his physical appearance, the peace in his countenance and the position of his body was at complete and total rest. I couldn’t help but think of God’s Perfect Peace.

The realm of hope offered to us as believers make this the reality of our life if we choose to live there. The exercise of faith achieved through the trial and testing of having a child on the verge of death completely changed my perspective on life and peace. The moment of realization that all my trying to be the perfect parent can still end in such a situation stripped me of the concept of control. We do not control our life. God has a plan. It is a good one. It is filled with purpose and promises that far outweigh our ability. When our eyes are focused on Jesus and He is our Champion our lives become confident in His Ability. It focuses on everything that He did for us on the Cross and keeps us in peace until it becomes the reality in our life. We must guard our hearts and keep them fixed on Jesus to have these things. To live in the reality of God’s Love and His Constant Care is up to us. We must desire to be where He is enough to look away from ordinary life and focus on the Extraordinary God. This is the place of peace that gives way to waiting and patience until God completes the work within us. The Peace of God (shalom) emphasizes its greatness and perfection. You cannot express it to someone. They must experience it to know it is real.

2 Corinthians 4:18(NLT) 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.

Life happens. The details are not in our control. There are many variables. God is working every detail for our good and His Glory. In the meantime, we must stop focusing on temporary problems and fix our heart, mind and eyes on Jesus Christ. I believe in practical faith. Sometimes religion makes it hard to see the simplicity of a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Study the Word of God every day. Mediate on it. Memorize it. Force your mind to accept the reality of faith. The continual sowing of God’s Word will begin to produce the Fruit of His Spirit in us. Love, joy, peace, and the rest of the vital sustenance that feeds our faith not fear. Pray. Talk to the Lord. Listen for His Response. God still talks to people. We must listen for the still small voice. Get into a quiet place every day and share your thoughts, fears and hopes with the One who loves you most. The Lord will not shout over all the noise in your life. He waits for us to enter His Presence. Turn off the noise. Be aware of what you watch and listen to. The things that feed your mind can poison your soul. Fellowship with other believers and like-minded people. Praise God. If you have a long commute to work, listen to your favorite preacher or crank up some good worship music. To worship God is not an event in our life it is how we live it. Those who do will gain a new perspective as faith turns to confident hope and daily expectation. You will find peace that passes understanding. Freedom allows us to choose our vantage point in life – Jesus I choose You!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 34:4-8 (NLT) I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

The word “joy” is often confused with happiness. Happiness is a feeling based on the current condition of our life but joy is confidence in the God of our life. Our youngest child’s middle name is “Joy”. It wasn’t our first thought. I was convinced she was a boy. When the ultrasound tech told us she was a girl and not a boy, I asked if she was sure. She was confident enough to bet her paycheck on it. My husband clearly in shock muttered, “We don’t even have a girl name.” The name selection process started all over again. Shortly after our surprise came the devastating news that my grandfather was ill. It would soon be his time to join Jesus. It was a devastating time. I began to contemplate a namesake. His name was Isaac. His namesake was Isaac in the Bible. Isaac was given his name when his mother laughed upon hearing she would bear a child in her nineties. I would have laughed, too…all the way to the looney bin. Joy was noted as the female version with the same meaning so it would become our youngest daughter’s name. Joy came in the midst of devastation. It’s funny how that works sometimes…I never really thought about it until today.

As Ecclesiastes 3 clearly delineates there are many seasons in life – both good and bad. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” All of them. I think it is important to remember that sin was not God’s idea but mankind’s rebellion against God’s Perfect Plan and Glorious Standard of Living. Yet God in His Unfailing Love and Infinite Grace STILL loves and desires His Children. God preordained our life with a future and hope that is attainable if so desired but gives us the freedom to choose who we will serve. This is important as one will soon see in the Word of God. As always, God includes a promise of recovery, renewal, restoration and rebirth in all seasons – “yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the scope of God’s Work from beginning to end.”

While happiness is temporary coming and going according to each season, the joy of the Lord remains constant for those who put their trust in Him. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. Those who look to him for help can only mean that there will be times of need, fear, desperation and desire in our life that turn us from the lesser things to grab hold of hope. Impossible precedes every miracle. Trials are an opportunity to trust. Even in the darkest night, the Light of His Love surrounds us. He sings over us a joyful song. Joy is coming in the morning when His Mercy comes and offers us a better way. Finding joy is not an outward pursuit but an inward mission.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (NLT) If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.

We choose each day who to serve. Will I serve the Lord today? Or will I serve something else? There are really only two choices. Our feelings and emotions are linked to rebellious flesh. We can choose to give into our feelings or serve the God who is greater than our feelings (I John 3:20)! To serve the Lord with joy and enthusiasm in the midst of trial or trauma is evidence that His Spirit lives inside of us and has been given control. He produces “love, joy, peace” and so much more. He does it. I cannot produce joy for myself. I cannot serve the Lord apart from the love, grace and mercy of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and my acceptance of His Gift. I call Him Savior. I must also call Him Lord to reap the benefits and blessings of pure joy. I cannot find it on the earth. It lives in depravity. Love grows colder each day as it is dying plant. Sin is rampant as the departure from God is evident. But…the Light of His Love shines in the darkness as a beacon for those who love and desire Him. One promise of many is joy. We must choose joy each day.

I do not discuss politics. I will not be lured into an argument with anyone about elections or presidents. No matter who is in the White House, the Word of God says that God chose them whether I did or not. The one thing I do tell people all the time is that if you do not vote then you forfeit your right to complain. If you do not choose, then you do not have a right to be mad about it. We have been given the right to choose who we serve in this life and beyond. To choose Jesus is to choose a life of joy. It is not an exemption from every problem but a promise that in every situation you will overcome and have victory according to the Champion that lives inside of you. You must choose one or the other. To Jesus is to have consistent and constant joy as a product of the faith and hope as the unseen reality that produces such power in our life.

Ezra 3:11-13 (NLT) With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.

The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance. The rebuilding of the temple was a big deal. It represented a place to house the Presence of the Lord. When the foundation was laid, the young praised God, shouted to Him, and celebrated openly. The older leaders began to weep aloud. Such a mixture of emotions filled the air, it could be heard far away. When I read this today, it struck a chord in me. My life is filled with much happiness. God is doing so many good things. But there are struggles and challenges, too. Things that are not as they should be. Situations that require the Lord’s Attention beyond my own ability. Mountains and valleys with definite highs and lows that take human emotions on a rollercoaster ride to nowhere but insanity if allowed to run its course. Isn’t that really what life is all about? We have highs and lows every day. Great things, good things, not-so-good things and then those things that just are not good at all. God promises to work it all out for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) How do I find joy in such a mixture? How do I allow it to be the place where I live?

Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT) And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

To summarize Nehemiah chapter 8, the wall of Jerusalem was finally finished after much adversity. The people gathered together to dedicate the new wall and celebrate their success together by having church. As the Word of God was read in the form of the Law of Moses, the people were overwhelmed and began to weep. Nehemiah exhorted the people, “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I think sometimes our feelings get in the way of our joy…okay all the time. These people lived before the dispensation of God’s Grace, but we live a new free life in Jesus Christ. If I look at my life through my choices, decisions, and errors – I am clearly unfit and unworthy of any good thing God does in my life. However, if I decide to look at my life through Jesus Christ deciding that His Grace is the power driving my life and learn to love and trust Him then I will have joy in that place of surrender.

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.

Joy is found in the Presence of God. To live in His Presence is to find a way of life not defined by current affairs but a constant love affair with Jesus. We find peace in this place that nothing else can ever provide because it is on the inside working its way out. (Psalm 4:6-8) To live in the prevailing Presence of God gives us more joy than tangible things or natural success. His Joy gives a place of peace to rest our head and heard each day. The world cannot comprehend it or understand it because they cannot experience it outside of Jesus. The Temple build in the Old Testament was the place where the people could experience His Presence but they could not enter into it only the priest could after offering substantial sacrifices for sin. When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit and tore the veil from top to bottom as an open invitation to step into His Presence and live there. He put His Spirit inside of us so love, joy and peace can be the productivity of our life. We have His Presence therefore we have found our joy. It is up to you and me if we choose to enter in and live there. It is a daily decision to allow His Spirit to produce good fruit or continue to try to control our emotions and feelings by pursuing happiness rather than hope.

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

God promises to grant our heart’s desire when He is the treasure we seek. He promises to make our life rich and satisfying. Full of abundance. Who doesn’t want that kind of success? Praise Him today. Not because everything is going great and every problem has been solved, but because you have victory. You win. We win! Christ lives in us. He is working it all out for our good. In the meantime, His Presence is our waiting place until the final score is posted. We must raise the banner in the Name of Jesus and decide that He is our Father, Healer, Provider, Protector, Prosperity, and Confident Hope. To believe that He has it under control gives us peace that produces joy in us. Joy comes from the desperate times, broken hearts, and the impossible because usually that is the only time one truly turns to God. Don’t let that be you. Let His Presence fill you with peace and produce joy in your life today. Finding Joy is simply finding Jesus. Grabbing hold of hope with both hands and letting go of control. To constant plant faith in every barren situation and waiting until new things grow. God loves you. He is for you. He is as desperate for your turnaround as you are. Find joy in the Lord today. He is waiting for those who seek Him. They will find their joy.

Psalm 30:11 (NLT) You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy…

Called To Ministry

Called To Ministry

2 Corinthians 5:10-14 (NLT) Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

I am called to ministry. You are called to ministry as well. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from – God has ordained you. He has called you to be His Ambassador. I do not take this call lightly nor do I associate it with a certain position. It is human nature to be a hierarchy to certain positions. A company has a president, chief operating officer, managers, supervisors and employees. Different levels of authority to establish order and a form of functioning. However, when it comes to God’s Way of doing things, every single living breathing person who possesses His Spirit is called to be a minister of God through Jesus Christ. Have you accepted God’s Call to Ministry yet?

Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.

The most powerful form of ministry does not always come from the pulpit of a dynamic church with great worship and a flawless performance. Most often it is from the unsuspecting saint of God who comes to pray one-on-one with the broken, to continue to pray in their prayer closet for the one forgotten in the crowd, to continually sow seeds of faith and encouragement to others and to give wisdom from their time in the Word. I believe it is like the hand of one farmer placing seeds in the ground. The one who takes God’s Word to heart and decides to reproduce it in others. One by one. Day by day. Season to season. The humble at heart who chooses to remain in the background rather than racing for the platform. The one so moved by the Presence of God after He has come time and time again that they are still dissolved to tears just at the thought of His Nearness. Those who are covered in grace and gratitude just because Jesus still saves, heals and delivers people so convinced of His Great Love that they may even seem a little crazy sometimes.

The one God desires to use the most is the one with the sincere heart. The one who is in love with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The one broken to self and flourishing in the humble knowledge that weakness allows His Power to work. Those who seek the Lord with all their heart and do not lean on their own understanding. “Spectacular ministry” is not a spectator sport. It is lack luster if the total premise is not loving the Lord and loving others. My life is complete when I bring glory to God. How do I do that? By telling, showing and giving to others what the Lord has done for me.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT) So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

As ambassadors of Christ, it is our goal in life as an authorized messenger of God to establish peace between the Lord and other people. The invitation “Come back to God!” must be covered in love and grace in order to be accurate and appealing to others. To minister is a position that gives service, care or aid. It is one who attends to need. It is to contribute as to comfort or happiness. We do not have the power to snatch another person from hell. However, it is our opportunity to offer them a better way. The Way, the Truth and the Life while earnestly reaching for them in an effort to lead and assist them in gaining freedom through Jesus Christ. Still not convinced you are called?

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NLT) You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches. Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ to be your personal Savior and Lord, then you have the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord living inside of you. Jesus released His Spirit to be our Holy Inhabitant and help us on the earth. He lives in our heart producing the fruit of the Spirit in abundance, not just for us, but to facilitate our ministry. He has placed a Light in our hearts to shine brightly like a city on a hill. As salt of the earth with an antiseptic quality of healing, it comes packaged as the flavorful and flamboyant Favor of the Living God. It bubbles up within our bellies until living water comes flowing out. You are prewired, prepackaged and fully prepared to be God’s Ministers.

The Lord also gives a promise to those who decide to be His Minister in this life. It is called double. You will receive a double share of honor and possess a double portion of prosperity accompanied by everlasting joy if you fill the position the Lord has called and equipped you to. Comparison is the confidence wrecking weapon of the enemy that makes people think God cannot and will not use them. God caught Moses attention in a burning bush. Moses was in hiding as he tended sheep belonging to his father-in-law. He was saved from immediate death at his birth. He was rescued and grew up in the house of Pharaoh. He killed a man. He fled into hiding. God had other plans for Moses. He spoke to him in the dark of night. Yet Moses, like so many of us, did not have confidence in His Calling but was convinced by his condition that he was not the right one for this mission. He said to the Lord, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” Who is going to listen to me? I know my faults and failures. How will I ever accurately or effectively minister to another person? God answered Moses just like He is working to squelch all of our doubt and fear – God answered, “I will be with you.”

Before discrediting yourself let God confirm your credibility – Jesus lives in you. His Spirit is inside of you. He has predestined you to be the light of the world and salt of the earth because of the God inside of you. In order to fulfill God’s Call on our life – we must love one another. There is no greater gift than for one to lay down his life for another following the example of Jesus Christ. The Word of God says that who He calls is the one who God also equips. You are called to be God’s Minister and Christ’s Ambassador to the world. You have been given this assignment and empowered to do it. So what’s next?

Romans 12:6-10 (NLT) In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Romans 12:1-2 is the passage about giving our life as a living sacrifice to the Lord. To decide to worship the Lord by choosing not to be like the world or conforming to its standard but being transformed into a “new person” by changing the way you think. A pastor, minister, or preacher is still tasked with being an ambassador to the Lord outside of their paid position. If man repays you for something, it is up to us to find a place of offering. If you receive a paycheck to serve God, then to be a living sacrifice and present an offering to the Lord means serving Him off the timeclock. To be a living sacrifice is to love sacrificially. There are many different gifts that people are given. Romans 12 talks about those gifts and motivations but if you read it – love is the purpose to find an outlet for God’s Love in our life. Love is an emotion to this world. But to God love is a sacrificial commitment which He has empowered us to portray. Just because you are not called to be a pastor, preacher, teacher, elder, or serve in the local church building doesn’t mean God hasn’t called you to ministry. The ministry of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What if the miracle in you is not a mass service with thousands saved but the one who sits in the back all alone. Hiding in their insecurity bound by barriers built by hurt and betrayal – those who come across arrogant but really are just broken people trying to survive and never enter a church? You are the one who shows them kindness, grace and even encouragement. You are the one who listens when no one else can get past the persona to the person. Perhaps what the Lord has brought you through they are now going…what if…is not really what if but will you?

2 Corinthians 6:3-4 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. 

Will you get past what you are going through to let God use you today? Will you stop evaluating who you are not and accept who you are? If you are waiting for the right time, I assure you it is now. The right place is not in a fancy building but the place you are right now. These verses are followed by a telling reality. Paul goes on to talk about all he has endured for ministry including troubles, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, angry mobs of people, exhaustion, sleepless nights, extreme hunger, harsh conditions and some even killed. For what? To share the love of God given through Jesus Christ with the rest of the world. Living in a way that causes no one to stumble because of us. God has called us to be his ministers. Christ calls us his ambassadors. The rest is up to you and me. The Spirit gives life and freedom. To be like Christ means to give our life as a living sacrifice and personal offering to others. Grace is fulfilled when in spite of our weaknesses – we allow the Power of Christ to flow through us. Brokenness is inevitable as the Seeds of His Spirit sprout into the new creation you are called to be as God makes His Masterpiece out of your life…and your ministry.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (NLT) It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

Those Who Wait

Those Who Wait

Lamentations 3:25-26 (ESV) The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Sitting in the doctor’s office with our son, I was looking at apartments and sharing my discoveries with him. Newly graduated from college, he will be moving back to our home town to pursue a career. Look what the Lord has done! The waiting room was overcrowded and it took him longer than usual to get checked in. As I continued to scroll through listings, he shifted back and forth in his chair until finally announcing it had been 38 minutes since his appointment time. I laughed. He should be used to waiting by now and told him the same. After years of appointments, testing, procedures and treatments surely this came as no surprise. Flashback to my grandmother in her kitchen with blue linoleum floors and rooster wallpaper. “Lori, you must learn to be patient.” A short passage of time into my teenage years sitting in Sunday school, the teacher giving us a staunch warning to never pray for patience for it is born of trials, trouble and produced by waiting. I will be the first to admit I am impatient. Just when I think I have acquired a little bit of patience and longsuffering, I realize it is usually not enough. I still get frustrated when something takes too long. Those times when my expectations are not met according to my own personal time table. Then there are other times like at the visit with our kid that I realize I have learned to wait a little.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…can we just stop there? Galatians 5 clearly details the productivity of His Spirit in us. He plants seeds of love, joy and peace but then there is patience. I guess there is no need to pray for patience because God already commanded the Holy Spirit. The pathway to patience is waiting. Not to wait, complain and grumble but to live in the love, joy and peace of God fully trusting that His Timing will produce only the best for us. It is good for us to wait. It is good for us to wait “quietly” for the Lord. You know the old saying, “I’ll do it but I don’t have to like it.” Well, I don’t think this is true of waiting for the Lord. I believe that trust comforts us so that waiting quietly is the most productive. What are you waiting for today? What is it that you can do nothing about but must wait solely and completely on God to do? Maybe you have done everything you know to do and still the desired result has not come. You have prayed until you are blue in the face. You have tried every door only to find it locked. You have done it all now you must wait on the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (ESV) I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

At the end of the appointment, the doctor promised to call next week with the results. I knew that would more than likely be the outcome of our visit. It didn’t really sink in until the long two-hour drive back home as I shared the information with my husband. Ugh! I feel the wrings of the watchtower ladder in the calluses of my hands. I can feel my feet curving around them as I climb to the top. It used to be a hard climb but now I scale it effortless for I know the way. Yet, even in this time of waiting, I am still feeling the angst of impatience and overwhelming desire to complain. My nerves rise to the top and frustration becomes evident in my responses to everyday inconveniences. The Lord whispers words of encouragement. He reminds me of His Word. He tells me He loves me. My spirit is a petulant child who balks at the attention of the loving and doting yet unyielding nature of the One who loves me best and the most. Honestly God I am tired of waiting. He responds – “You find me in the waiting.”

Psalm 37:3-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

About six years ago, the Lord asked me point blank, “Do you trust me?” I immediately and without hesitation said, “Yes, of course I do.” He then asked me again. “Do you trust me?” From that point to this very morning, I am still in the midst of the testing of trust in my life. We all are if you want to know the truth. Trust is a word that is overused and misplaced in this life. We give it away only to have it betrayed and shattered. By the time the Lord inquires of it, there really isn’t much left unbroken or untainted, yet still He outstretches His Hand to ours and invites us to try again. Do you trust the Lord today? Trust in the Lord allows us to do good, our best, what we can, and wait for Him to do all that He promised. It is a foundation of love, joy and peace that keeps us steady during long droughts and famines in our life. Without trust, there will be no production of faith. It is impossible to please God without faith and even more impossible to know its validity without trust. Trust is made evident in how one waits. Those who do and continue to dwell in the “land” of His Presence in the midst of circumstances while befriending faithfulness and choose to delight in the Lord will have the desires of their heart. God knows every secret desire hidden in the deepest recesses of your heart. Even those dead dreams and barren visions that have died in the waiting. You may have given up on a future and hope but not the Lord for He is intent on giving it to you. I can wait on people. I can wait on things. I can wait for earthly solutions. I can wait for what I want. OR I can wait on the Lord…Those who wait on the Lord trusting Him will see Him act.

Psalm 37:7-9 (ESV) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land

Be still in the Lord. On those days, you feel caged and trapped pacing back and forth to find your way out of the watch tower of waiting, be still. Just as Jesus calmed the storm and raging sea, He is perfectly able to calm you and me. Waiting works out impatience, but if must be carefully supervised as not to produce bitterness in us. When a woman gives birth and sees her promise arrive, suddenly all the inconvenience, sickness and pain of pregnancy and childbirth disappear. She remembers all the unpleasantness but does not bear the scar of suffering. Why? Her promise has arrived. As she falls in love with the little person, grace falls like soft waves over her. But during the process, she felt all these feelings, emotions, and even tremendous pain. Yet in fulfillment it is all forgotten. God is birthing promises in each of us today. Yes, the journey to victory is often paved with problems, pain, inconveniences and change. But to cross the finish line, those who win forget the journey and bask in the glory. God has a purpose for your life that will produce prosperity and abundance in you, through you and for you. It requires total trust and complete faith that keeps us in the waiting. As the mother of five, I can testify that it was worth the wait every single time. To birth a promise too soon is spiritual abortion. To wait on it, trusting the Lord and to do so quietly is to have the Peace of God that passes all understanding as He leads us from victory to victory and glory to glory.

Isaiah 30:15-18 (ESV) For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

The fatal error of fallen prey in the plains of Africa is the moment they become separated from the herd. How many times does it happen? The predator will not take on the entire group but waits for the one who is weak, wanders off course, or becomes separated. It is in that moment the error of their way is realized as the sharp teeth sink into their flesh and they are brought down hard. God has promised to do exactly what He promised to do. He has proclaimed Himself to be the God who does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord has offered each one of us a future and hope. The only way to miss out on God’s Plan is by being unwilling to wait for Him. Trust is required to wait on the Lord. We must walk by faith and not by sight to stay in a place of waiting safe and secure.

Psalm 40:27-31 (ESV) Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Can I encourage you as I encourage myself through God’s Word today? God knows exactly where you are today. He knows that you are growing weary in the waiting room. He understands that your heart and flesh are crying out for relief. He has not forgotten you or given up on you. The Lord is going to do exactly as He planned to do from the beginning. Every promise and blessing secure with your name on it. You just have to trust Him even on the days when impatience becomes unbearable and your mind argues the logic of faith that is produced by endurance. Will you wait with me just a little longer? Will you wait for the Lord just one more day? He promises that those who wait on the Lord will be given power. He will increase their strength. He will renew them and they will soar above circumstances, situations and problems to live in His Presence now and forevermore. He is an everlasting God with a much greater perspective of our life including every step from here to Eternity. He knows the desires of our heart. When we delight in Him, the Lord gives us that which is desired most. Usually the very things we gave up in the waiting. He didn’t give up but dug in so that we could have His Very Best in spite our bad attitude and impatience. Will you wait one more day? One more minute? One more breath…just breathe in. Exhale. This one act signifies a moment of waiting that has passed as the Lord renews every cell in your body with oxygen. Why not breathe in His Spirit the same way and let Him produce love, joy and peace in this place marked “still waiting”?

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

The Promise of the Living God designated for your life is worth having. Remind yourself today. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the Lord in the LAND OF THE LIVING. Don’t be like Martha pushing all those things she couldn’t do or comprehend into the afterlife. Instead, take hold of Jesus who is the Resurrection and Life. He is breathing life into all the dead things around you. He is life to every promise, hope, dream and desire hidden in your heart. He is faithful whether we are or not. He is always working for us even when we grow weary and give up. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit sows seeds in us each day. It is our job only to have a soft and fertile heart. Are you willing to wait on God’s Promise? You must believe. You must trust Him at His Word until it comes. He promises those who wait will not be disappointed. Hope cannot lead to disappointment. God has only good things for our life. It is all found in the waiting. Those who wait for the Lord become strong. Those who wait on the Lord rise above the momentary, temporary trials of this place to live in His Presence now and forever.

We find Him in the waiting not in the wandering. We find Him faithful when our own faithfulness is wavering. It is the moment of giving up or giving in that His Outstretched Hand is evident. When we become weak and His Power takes over. Don’t give in to the thought of quitting today but take hold of your hope with both hands. Get down on those weak knees and ask Him to wait with you today. To fill your life with the love, joy and peace that ease our heart and mind while waiting for patience to yield its prosperous fruit. Those who wait on the Lord will be blessed.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

More Life

More Life.jpg

John 7:37-39 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Are you satisfied today? Truly satisfied with your life, your love and your lot? What do you want? Do you have a specific need or desire unfulfilled? Contentment is not a product of comfort or compromise but evidence of hope. Thankfulness is not always a result but sometimes a resolution. Outwardly our hands reach for the things in life that are often thought to bring security only to find that it does nothing to offer satisfaction. Satisfaction is fulfillment. It is gratification that leads to contentment. The acceptance of something as satisfactory, dependable and true. To be fully compensated. To discharge a debt and live freely from it. The word “satisfaction” is from the Latin word meaning to make enough. Jesus came to give us life and have it abundantly. (ESV) The New Living Translation of the same verse says, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” How do I find satisfaction in the midst of dissatisfaction? Where is abundance when it is not in my hand? The enemy has a purpose clearly defined as well. The thief’s desire is to steal and kill and destroy ever good thing God is doing for His Children. Night and day it is his mission to stop us from having a rich and satisfying life in Jesus Christ.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

Dissatisfaction fuels desire in the heart of man. It creates desperation that draws out the inner flesh and rallies our pride to take over and make do. To hunger is a desire. To thirst is desperation. Without food, our body can survive for about three weeks. However, without water, the body will only make it about three days. Desire is one thing, but desperation is another. Jesus said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Life is full of fluff. Distractions that make us desperate for things that really only are desires. Jesus promised those who thirst and drink from Him will be filled with Living Water that will overflow from our heart. A heart full of His Love will not desire anything else – it becomes satisfied.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The Words of Jesus tell us directly from His Mouth that His Purpose is to give us life and that it would be abundant. This defies human logic when the details of our existence do not produce soul satisfaction. I have several buckets around the house used to carry water. If the bucket has a hole in it and I turn on the facet to fill it – it doesn’t matter how long the water runs it will never be satisfied. It can run and run but until I fill find the breach and patch it – it will never be satisfied. My heart has holes in it. Broken places. Open wounds. Insufficiencies. To have life abundantly – they must be satisfied first. I came that they may have life…and have it abundantly.

Satisfaction is a two-step process it seems. I must give Jesus my heart. He then can fill my life with good things that used to run right through me. My heart can be full. Expectation met and exceeded. My soul must be satisfied for my life to prosper. I must be made whole and complete to become the vessel where abundance flows.

Matthew 15:32-38 (ESV) Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 

It’s funny how fellowship with church folks usually involves food. I wonder if this is where we got the idea from. We live in a small, rural community with only about four restaurants to choose from. After church on Sunday, they are full of congregants. All the churches are fully represented. Sitting in their designated groups, wearing Sunday best, smiling and waving yet I wonder if they are satisfied. Are they filled to overflowing from the Word of God they just received? Did the Spirit of the Living God saturate their heart and soul in His Presence? Jesus had been teaching the people for three days. There were no restaurants to serve the people. It was quite a crowd. More than four thousand men, women and children. Tasked to feed the people, the disciples applied human logic and quickly came to the conclusion it would be impossible to feed them all. The disciples were looking for an outward solution to an obvious problem. Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” What do you have today? What is in your hand right now? Elisha asked the woman with enormous debt the same question, “Tell me; what do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4) The abundance in our life is limited by perception. Our nature is to hold on to what we have. Fear of lack grips the superficial when God wants to do something supernatural.

Jesus told the crowd to sit down and took what his men had brought – seven loaves and some a few small fish. He gave thanks for it and blessed it. He then gave them back to his disciples who distributed it among the people. They all ate and were satisfied. How is this even possible? “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Now here is the important piece to the puzzle – when everyone was satisfied there was an abundance left over. Our life is filled with the substance of abundance. There are times when desire and desperation are necessary to experience the promise of abundance. Times of extreme hunger and thirst that drives us beyond ourselves to Jesus. In Matthew 14, Jesus fed more than five thousand with the lunch of a little boy. It tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people. Jesus wants to satisfy you today. He wants you to experience life and abundance. It will require being blessed and broken. It always does.

Proverbs 19:20-24 (ESV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

God has a plan for your life. It contains a future and hope. The purpose of God is never to our detriment. It is always for our good. This is wisdom for your life today that must become fully engrained in our brains to overcome the fear of lack that keeps us holding on to what God gives us rather than using it to prosper in abundance. Releasing seed to soil gives increase, while holding it tightly in our hand does nothing. The potential of every seed is a plant. The purpose of our life is to live and do so abundantly. We need godly advice and instruction to continually sow the seeds of faith and hope in our heart and mind until total trust takes over. It doesn’t matter how many times I get it wrong, fall short, give up, or quit – the purpose of God for my life will stand.

What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar.

The desire of every heart is steadfast love. It doesn’t matter how cold or callus the exterior or hard the human heart becomes it still beats to find love, connect with it, and become one with it. God has placed eternity in our heart for that very purpose. So that our desire cannot and will not ever be satisfied with lesser things. That it will not be content in the things of this world or find fulfillment in compromise. We are Children of the Living God blessed with an inheritance of abundance that the Father desires to give us and will stop at nothing to produce “in” us. The Love of God satisfies our heart, mind, and soul. It is the plug for the bucket of blessing that we think has run dry. The blessing is pouring in. As Jesus binds our broken heart with love and grace, finally our life begins to increase in abundance because there is no longer a breach between God’s Kingdom and His Children.

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

There are two kinds of fear. Fear meaning distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain and then there is the kind that is reverential awe, respect and admiration. In our sinful condition, fear of the Lord is that of distress and rightfully so. When Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord, fear becomes respect and admiration or at least it should. Old habits die hard. Our life in Christ makes us new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  It is a transformation process. All of me for all of Him. I decrease while Christ increases in me. (John 3:30) To fear the Lord leads to life. A life of peace in the Presence of God that offers us true satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment through this process called transformation.

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

The truth in this small statement weighs heavily on my heart today. There are times when the abundance of God is in our grasp but our unwillingness to bring it back to our “mouth” limits us. We falter in obedience. We stop engaging in the process. We give up on the promise due to a lack of faith or commitment then blame God for not doing His Part. Where is the satisfaction the Lord has promised? It is well within our reach. It is just outside of our grasp. It is right there before us maybe just a step or two in the distance. We bury our “hand” in His Presence but do not reach for God’s Heart. When our heart is sealed with His Love, holding on to hope is no longer pointless but essential. We will not only reach out for the Lord but pull Him tightly to our chest. To breathe in His Love and breathe out prosperity. Christ lives in us. His Life is engrained in our being. But until we allow our hearts to be broken and blessed – healed and restored – satisfaction remains elusive and contentment out of reach. Fulfillment is only possible when we become one with Jesus Christ. To reach for Him but not grab hold of Him leaves us empty handed and brokenhearted. Abundance cannot flow from such a place. Increase is not possible where seeds are not sown. God is calling to us. He holds satisfaction in one hand and is ready to give us a brand new heart. As our soul prospers, so will we. It is never Christ’s intention to leaven anyone hungry or thirsty but that all will be fully satisfied by His Great Love.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Rejoicing Together Always

Rejoicing Together Always

Philippians 1:18-21 (ESV) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

The text came in long after I was sleeping from our daughter at summer camp. She shared her experience and all the enthusiasm that I have come to expect from the “mountaintop” times hidden away with God and a bunch of young people. I cannot imagine a place in time without cellphones but they don’t need them there. I am getting only bits and pieces of what is happening in this gathering. Did you ever go to church camp as a kid? Our family moved from Georgia to Florida when I was a teenager. My mom reconnected with some church friends and decided that I was going to camp that summer. Pulling up to the church, I had never seen so many young people in my life. It was a large congregation of more than 25,000 so you can only imagine the number of children. My mom stopped the car and I immediately protested. I didn’t know any of the kids. I was an outsider looking in. She quickly found her friend who was a youth leader and deposited me along with my suitcase before heading off. My only expectation for that week was to survive, but God had other plans. It was my first journey to the mountaintop experience. Like when Moses entered the Presence of God, he came out all aglow. Then life and all the Israelites became the crushing reality that surrounded him. When kids come back they are pumped up, ready to live every moment for Jesus Christ, and fully immersed in the Presence and Power of God for days. Kids come back with full intentions to walk with the Lord. Then life happens all over again.

I prayed for our girls before they left and have continued to do so. However, after reading her text, I began evaluating her experience. As much as I hate to admit it, I became a bit cynical. Cynicism is not my natural inclination. I am more skeptical over their spiritual diet then what they feed their natural body. I want to know that every word invested to them is God’s Word straight from His Throne. This is the place from which my cross examination and close scrutiny arises. The Holy Spirit immediately rushed in with a simple request, “Rejoice with her.” She is on the mountain. I am in reality. How can I evaluate a work so far removed? Trust me. I do not doubt that our kids are encountering the Lord in a whole new way. However, sometimes when we are living in reality it is easy to over evaluate what God is doing. As her parent, I want this to change her from the inside out and empower her to live a holy and righteous life that continues long after she returns. She is on the mountain surrounded by the Glory of God and my desire for success in her spiritual life tries to build a net at the bottom of her mountain top experience rather than rejoicing with her there.

Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

It was not hard to pick a topic for my Bible Study today. I must learn to rejoice always. Philippians 1 leads us to a new understanding of what it means to rejoice. To rejoice, whether in pretense or in truth, that Christ is proclaimed. The word “pretense” means pretending, feigning, make believe or a false showing of something. How could this even be written in God’s Word? We rejoice in the Truth right? I Corinthians 13:4-7 describes love and all its best qualities. “Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing (sin) but rejoices in the Truth (God’s Love is greater). Truth is that sin overtook us but His Grace overwhelms us. In Christ, I am more than a conqueror because He loves me and gives me victory. The proclamation of Jesus Christ is to tell of His Great Love, His Gift and His Power. When the Name of Jesus is spoken it evokes all of these qualities. Full understanding is not required. His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. The Lord is doing more than we can think, ask or imagine. Therefore, it is not up to me to fully evaluate His Work but rejoice in the fact His Name is proclaimed.

To proclaim the Name of Jesus. Not fancy preaching or intellectual teaching, but to cry out, call out, and confess His Name. It is simple. It doesn’t have to be backed by human wisdom or theological dialogue. To say the Name of Jesus releases Power into the atmosphere. It promotes change in the present. When a person comes to the altar whispers His Name it doesn’t matter what the intention of their heart is in that moment, there is an opening or a crack in which Christ fits.

Romans 12:8-16 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

When everything is going wrong, and nothing is going right – it is tough to rejoice with others. When you get passed over for the promotion, but someone seemingly undeserving gets it. Or your child is still sick while another one healed. To pilfer through life while others prosper. The enemy wants us to compare our life with other people. His goal is to make us all the prodigal’s brother comparing and contrasting our blessings, promises and purpose with another. God has no favorites. He doesn’t have step-children but fully adopted sons and daughters. We are of the same bloodline through Christ. Our inheritance is secure. To desire another’s belongings and destiny in life is to forfeit our own. We seek that which our heart desires. It takes confidence in Christ’s Love for me to rejoice in the blessing and good fortune of another. It is the shield that keeps envy and bitterness from building barriers between us and a rich, satisfying life.

To celebrate with another creates unity in the Body of Christ. Let love be genuine. If my child is promoted in their job, I celebrate their accomplishment. We are not in competition. It should be the same with other people as well. If God’s Plan for me is for me and no one else, it cannot be compromised or claimed by another. I have nothing to worry about so I am free to rejoice with those who rejoice. To put all of our energy and effort into love and harmony with Jesus and other people creates a bond that the enemy cannot break. A body of fully moving parts who do their own work together.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

The hope that I have found in Jesus Christ never ever leads to disappointment. God is not a man therefore He cannot lie or change His Mind. Once the commandment to bless you is released, His Word cannot return to Him void. It must do what God released it to do. This means there will be days when happiness seems elusive so it is inexpressible joy of knowing Jesus must be what is clung to. Trials and tribulation are inevitable. Patience is a fruit from His Spirit that keeps us company in the waiting. Constant prayer is nothing more than maintaining confident, constant, and conscious conversation with the Lord. Intimacy with Jesus Christ comes when we stop looking for Him in other people and find Him in us.

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Rejoice always.

Is it even possible? Saul met Jesus just going about normal life. He was a religious man. He thought he was upholding his belief in God by persecuting the Christians. Saul was not evil. His intentions were not bad. He just didn’t know the Lord. Jesus made a formal introduction that day. Saul became Paul when his eyes were dimmed to this world and focused on Christ. One experienced changed his heart forever. I wonder sometimes if we become like Saul unknowingly and certainly unwillingly. Persecuting verbally the Work of God in others because our eyes are set on this life and not Jesus Christ. A lack of understanding is enough to evoke doubt from even the most believing and unsuspecting heart. I believe that in that moment when everything becomes clear to us in the Presence of Jesus it will bring us some dismay to find out God didn’t do it all our way. The way we worship, choose to serve, or interpret the Word of God may be different than what it really is. I am human and so are you. We do not know everything even though our pride might argue the point. It is cloudy at best. Challenged to love beyond self and serve outside of comfort – the struggle is real. When we are in the valley or just immersed in reality, it is easy to question, speculate or over analyze what is happening on the mountains in the Presence of God. We must learn to rejoice in every move of God until it reaches us.

Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

God is a Good Father. He doesn’t leave us without options. If we learn to pray without ceasing, be thankful in all circumstances, and stop quenching the flow of His Spirit in us, through us and among us – we will accomplish His Will for us. He has prescribed a plan and purpose for us with a future and hope individually that is not dependent or any way impacted by what He is doing in others. God calls us His Masterpiece. He is molding and shaping our life into something unique and wonderful. Focus on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith and access point to all that is within God’s Presence with our name on it. God loves you. Jesus died for you. His Spirit lives in you. His Desire is for you. It is all individually secure but corporately enhanced when we learn to rejoice with others. Don’t overanalyze what God is doing. Outside of faith found in His Word nothing will ever be completely logical. It takes the impossible to release the supernatural. It is a choice to rejoice in all things by faith in Jesus Christ and confident hope that He knows exactly what He is doing. Confidence in Christ causes us to rejoice. It is a reason to shout and give Him praise rather than worrying about every little doctrine and theology. Lord, help us get love, faith, and hope right so we can rejoice in all things. It is all about you Jesus nothing more and nothing less.

Lord, thank you for moving in and through our young people at camp. Thank you Jesus for reaching down and touching our daughters. You are an awesome God. Prepare me to receive them when they come home. Lord, to keep the passionate ember you are kindling in them burning brightly. May it spread like wildfire everywhere they go and in every word they speak. Lord, teach me to rejoice with all who rejoice…always. I ask your Spirit to quench any cynicism that rises up and fill it with confident hope. Thank you for Your Presence always open and available to me even in the valley. Thank you for joy and the ability to rejoice always. Amen.

Psalm 70:4 (ESV) May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”