Get Out of the Way

Get Out of the Way

Isaiah 43:18-21 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Things get a little crazy around here early in the morning and when I arrive home from work. The fur babies know that it is time to eat. A frenzy ensues as they try to feverishly to be right where the action is. Each morning it is like the running of the bulls as our newest addition bolts through the house to go outside, because she knows as soon as she is finished – she gets to eat. Once back inside the house, she whines, cries, jumps and runs. She is known to stand on top of the food bin so I wait until she sits back down to open it and feed her. Her world circulates around meal time. If the pantry door opens, she takes off to see if a puppy snack might be available. In the evenings, it happens all over again. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried over the 20-pound mass of fur, legs and slobber trying to give her exactly what she wants. I am teaching her to sit and wait. She is only three months old, but she is learning quickly. I wish was as teachable as she is sometimes.

I wonder if I am the one in the way to the new things God is doing in my life. All the promises and plans that He has that I want yet I am running off, jumping around and pitching a fit in the waiting. I guess for dogs and other creatures it is more simplistic because they just want us to meet their basic needs of food and shelter with the occasional pat on the head or toss of the toy. It’s kind of funny right now that our dog is a puppy when she is impatient or even overzealous in her excitement over mealtime. However, as she grows to the 100-pound dog that she is anticipated to be. It won’t be funny anymore. As we grow in the Lord, it should be in the fruit of His Spirit that include love, joy, peace, and then everyone gets tripped up on the fourth fruit called patience. It all slows down as kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and ugh the dreaded self-control are born in us. Who doesn’t want to be loved? Who would reject joy? Who isn’t searching for peace on a daily and ongoing basis? We are human beings created in the Image of God. God promises that He has provided for us the basic needs of our life. He also has a projected plan to prosper those who desire a life according to His Plan. Is that you today? It is definitely me. I want my life to be all that God planned and purposed it to be. I must ask myself the question today, “Am I the one in the way?”

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.

This is the hope available to us in Jesus Christ. The kind of hope that requires faith beyond what we can see that delves into the depths of dependence on God whose thoughts and ways are much higher than our own. Forget all that – oh sometimes I wish I could erase my brain of all the times I have fallen and failed just like God does when I repent. When I say that I am sorry and truly strive to live apart from my bad decisions – the Lord puts it all in a sea of forgetfulness but I don’t always find myself so successful. The accuser comes to remind me of all the reasons why I do not deserve the love, joy and peace promised to me by the Lord. So I give up on the rest of the spiritual fruit that God has seeded in my life. Forget all that…

We are given some precious promises and encouraging words that include the word “forget”. God will never forget His Children. Like a mother cannot forget her newborn, but gives up her life to care for them. How much more does the Lord care for us – His Children? (Isaiah 49:15-16) In those times of silence and waiting for God to move or act as we think He should it is easy to think He has somehow as if even possible forgotten us. Nothing is further from the truth. God hasn’t forgotten a single thing about us. He knows the very number of hairs on our head. He feels the weight of our tears as He collects them. He knows the desires of our heart. He even knows dreams and visions that we have long given up on as dead and gone. God doesn’t miss a thing concerning us His Children. He does not forget. We do.

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

We have a fur baby who has been with us a couple of years. Rescued when she was about nine months old, Izzy is a four pound Chihuahua. A force to be reckoned with no doubt. She came with fire in her veins and the perception that she is ferocious. When she first came to us, it was clear that she had food anxiety. When she ate each meal, it was as if she had not eaten in a month or did not know where her next meal might come from. I used a separated bowl that required her to slow down. She almost knocked herself unconscious the first few times she tried to eat from it. She learned through time and patience on our part with lots of love and affirmation that she could depend on us to feed her twice a day. Now, at meal times, she sits patiently and quietly on the rug by her bowl. She knows that I am going to take care of her. She is confident.

We must purpose in our heart and mind to remember God’s Promises for us and never to forget them. God is teaching us to trust Him. To depend on Him, my ability to do so is my willingness to depend on the Lord and trust Him at His Word. It takes time to see the Goodness and Greatness of God in our life because too often my hands and even my mouth get in the way. I want to believe but it takes a long time to deal with the disbelief of an untrusting nature and fickle heart enough to not forget that God loves me and cares for me unconditionally. I must learn to pray and praise rather than grumble and complain all the time. God is able. I am not. I cannot produce the prosperity and increase that lead to an abundance of His Blessings in my life. Just plant seeds of faith and tend to them as the Lord gives them growth and increase.

Finally, I must forget the past. I tell people all the time. God will bring to your future the fruit of the past. We don’t have to wallow in it or go back to find it. Grace says there is nothing to make up or recover. His Grace is enough to unleash His Power no matter how dark the past may be. God is enough. Jesus is enough. He lives in me so I am enough. We must learn to forget the past and press for the future as Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:13.

“See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.”

During a recent Bible study, I was faced with the reality of my age. I do not really think about it too much. Never really have. I can tell the face in the mirror is aging and gravity is having its way with my body, but truly just never really worried about it too much. The writer quantified our days equal to seeds. When I counted the seeds based on the Biblical reference of life expectancy of 70 years, I realized I had less than 7,000 seeds left. This caught my attention. If all I have are 6,906 days left on the earth, there is a lot to be accomplished in that time. Thank you Lord that you have already started on the fruition of my life.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Psalm 139:16 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

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

These three verses should make us all leap and shout for joy. It means no matter where you are today, right now, and in this moment. The potential and purpose for your life designed by God is still intact and going according to plan. His Grace is enough because He knew just how much you needed in advance. Mercy is premeasured because this day is fully scripted. You have everything you need because He already knows exactly what you need. Your best days are to come. You wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t true. The Lord would take you home. Life has purpose. Life has meaning. Life is being made new according to God slowly but surely taking over every area of our life given to Him wholeheartedly. It is not what we do that changes things but rather our ability to put all our trust, hope and belief in the God who is able to carry out His Plans for us.

“The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

Expectancy is critical to the outcomes in our life. Unmet expectation breeds discontentment. Dissatisfaction feeds bitterness and disbelief in our life. Thankfulness will refresh us if God’s People would thank the Lord for His Blessings rather than rallying in disbelief. God is not finished with you yet. He is taking you on a journey to a place in life where love, joy and peace will give way to the rest of His Abundant Fruit that will make your life rich and satisfying. However, there are peaks and valleys. There is rushing and rest. There is a time for everything under the sun. It is filled with good times and bad. But what does God promise us…He will make all things beautiful in His Time. The Valley of Weeping will produce refreshing springs in our soul. (Psalm 84:5-7) The Lord is building your strength. He is clearing your life of those things that will potentially rob you of blessing when it comes. God is preparing you – His Masterpiece. It doesn’t matter what the atmosphere of your life is like – attitude is everything. Our constant and unwavering belief in the Power of God, His Purpose for us and His Promise in us – will allow us to hold fast to the hope given to us in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Not a single moment of my life is by chance. Not a single struggle is a waste of my time. God causes EVERYTHING to work together for my good and His Glory. EVERYTHING. ALL OF IT. The Lord will PERFECT that which concerns me. These promises …precious …precious …promises are for us. They belong to me because Jesus (the Word) has given them to me. I must only accept the reality of them and believe for God’s Best to be the product of my life.

And finally…

Isaiah 43:21 (NLT) I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Let me tell you about our new puppy, Scout. I knew her puppy parents. We have been friends for a long time. Their children were part of our youth group way back when and I consider their kids to be part my own. When I heard that their dogs were having puppies, I couldn’t wait to see them. They have two purebred labs that are gorgeous. Our puppy’s dad is a massive blond lab. When the puppies were born, I came across a picture of Scout and fell in love with her. However, these were not ordinary puppies but very expensive purebred dogs. I watched her grow and change but knew they were not in our budget. I was on a trip when I got the text. The Lord had laid it on the owner’s heart to bless us with Scout. He knew how much we loved her and wanted her. He also knew that she would have a good home. I was blown away by God. I know what you are thinking it is just a dog. No, it was a desire in my heart. God gave me the desire of my heart. He has done this time and time again. Things many times no one knows about but the Lord – He just does it. Why?

God doesn’t have to do things like that for me anymore. My need, love and desire for Him is far greater than superficial things in a temporary world. I am desperate for the Lord to be in every facet of my life like my body needs breath. I cannot live without Him anymore. He is my everything yet in all of His God-ness – He still blesses me for no good reason at all. I don’t know if you understand what I am saying to you today – I pray that you hear my heart. God loves me. He loves you. We give Him pleasure. He created us for His Pleasure. That’s it. The sum total of my existence gives pleasure to God. All He wants is a relationship with me. To provide for me. Bless me. Prosper me. All I am created to do is give Him Glory. That’s it. Pressure off. I can do nothing outside of my faith to please Him. He calls us His Special Possession and His Treasure. (Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, Deuteronomy 14:2, and Deuteronomy 26:18) God doesn’t need us but desires us. He loves us because He chooses to love, provide and care for us. There is nothing I can do to earn it just receive it.

Little Scout will learn in time that her food will get in the bowl quicker if she sits and waits patiently. She will not be so rambunctious once her trust in us is established. Lord, let me learn to be patient and still in You as well. The Lord promises to show me the way of life. He promises to grant me the joy of His Presence. He offers me the pleasure of living with Him forever. Am I the one standing in the way of that today? Is it my stubbornness? Impatience? Unwillingness? Immaturity? Lord, create in me a new heart today and renew my spirit. God I want to experience your goodness in the land of the living just as you promised. May my life bring honor and glory to Your Great Name!

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

It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Like Rain

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Psalm 143:5-6 (NLT) I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

April showers bring May flowers. A short rhyme given as a reminder that in life rain must fall but that there is potential in every storm. The flowers are blooming yet the pollen comes with it. Life is all about perception. Everything worth having usually is precipitated by a season of challenges – otherwise there would be no joy or celebration in the outcome. The seeds in the ground from the previous season long for rain. When the rain falls, the thirsty and dry soil drinks it in deeply until moisture reaches its potential. The struggle does not stop there as the dead shell of its former state begins to change and develop to reveal its purpose. The little seedling must then push through all the soil surrounding it to break through the surface. Its goal is to reach the sun glorious sun.

The Lord has hidden a tiny measure of seed in our heart called faith. It is encased by a hope called eternity. A Kingdom of our own making each one has a position and place as God’s Child with a room just for them. How Lord do I get there from here? Through all the wind, rain and storms – is it possible to keep going and constantly growing through seasons of drought and dryness? When the drought is in my heart and not atmospheric conditions, there is only one rain that will make it inside of me. The Voice of God. His Word. His Presence offers intimacy to have such conversations. The ones that refresh us like an April shower ready to produce May flowers.

I Corinthians 15:37 (NLT) And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.

Never doubt the potential the Lord has hidden inside of you. It is the purpose given to you when He formed you in your mother’s woman. He has a plan for our life that is most definitely set in stone activated when the stone that sealed the tomb of His Precious Son rolled away. No, longer held back by sin, death or the grave – we are like tiny seeds planted in the earth with great harvest hidden in fragile vessels and broken hearts. God is ready to grow us. Develop us. Increase us. Fill our life with all that His Grace and Goodness promised thanks to unconditional and uncompromised love. But first our seed must die to self and give way to become a new creation… What does that mean exactly? Rain must fall in our life to reach the seed so it will grow. Lord, come like the rain today. 

My husband and I were texting the other day. It was a nasty, rainy day fit only to stay home in pajamas on the couch or wade your way to work. We both made it to the office. I asked how his day was going and he shared that “the rain is killing” my business. I replied something like “I thought you said we needed some rain.” He responded, “Well, praise the Lord.” Sometimes life leaves us dry and thirsty. We want rain and even need it but when it comes find it messy and inconvenient. I hate getting my feet wet but insist on walking on water. Oh Lord help me to see the necessity of rain, showers and even storms you send to give life to our hidden promise to reach full potential.

Micah 5:7 (NLT) Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations.
They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain.

I believe that God is in the final stages of pulling together the remnant. A body of believers who have finally let go of religion and taken hold of a real and authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who desire a connection so deep and strong in the Lord anchored by deep and abiding hope. The church is going through some growing pains. Mega churches have been broken down to small groups. People are pursuing a personal God on an intimate level. Rain is falling. Storms blow through. God is preparing His Sons and Daughters to engage in eternity with Him forever. He is coming like the rain. Are you ready to receive Him? I hate when I hear rhetoric in the words I share. Church language with negative and empty connotations. The Lord desires you. He doesn’t want to fall around us but flow through us. He doesn’t require me to change to receive Him but promises His Presence in my life will change me into the person and purpose I was created to be. It is not a doctrine but a decision to live in love with Jesus that allows living water to reach my hard heart and make it soft again.

Psalm 65:9-13 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!

Are we mission minded or mercy filled today? What is the message resounding from my life? Do my words fall on others like refreshing rain or am I pounding them to death? Moving past the fundamentals of loving our neighbors as ourselves, it is our life calling to share a message of unfailing love and overwhelming goodness that causes seeds of faith, hope and love to begin to grow in others. I may be on a mission to tell others about the Lord but if I am not living by the great commission which is to share the love of Jesus rather than the Law of God I am failing. So into my life a little rain must fall…the kind in Psalm 65:10 that in an effort to produce a bountiful harvest must drench the plowed rows of indifference and melt the clods of harsh unforgiveness and even level my heart with humility to see that my need for Jesus never ends. The same grace given to me is provided for others. I cannot earn it or in any way aspire to deserve it but only open every area of my life to receive it.

Deuteronomy 32:1-3 (NLT) “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!”

The blessings of God pour from Heaven each day arriving with His Mercy…always right on time. I wonder if in an effort to avoid the rain or build other shelters that it doesn’t reach us. Like water on a rock, our heart is hardened by trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land. His Word will soften our heart when allowed to penetrate the surface. His Voice will blow just the right amount of refreshment needed to make it through one more day to victory. His Grace and Mercy are enough for me to release all human expectation and desire to receive what He has planned and prepared for me. All of His Promises are good. His Purpose in me secure. I have to let the rain reach me in order to be changed into the New Creation that God has chosen me to be. There must be April rain to bring May flowers. The kings rain must reach me in order for His Favor to be my portion. Abundant harvests are the product of many seasons. What season are you in? They all have the potential for rain. Jesus is our Source. He will be our supply. He will send the rain. God is faithful. Jesus is enough. Every good and perfect gift is poised on the edge of Heaven and you are on the verge of breakthrough. You just need a little rain!

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT) What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

It’s funny that people will say that they love the sound of rain. They find it peaceful minus crashing thunder and flashing lightning. But when we have plans, it suddenly is inconvenient. If it impacts our business, it is no longer wanted but the source of contention. See rain falls on the wicked and the righteous every single day. The Lord longs to bless us. All of us. Those who know Him and those who don’t. To know Jesus is to love Him. He is always whispering to us, inviting us to spend time in His Presence, and even knocking on every closed chamber of our heart. When the Word is able to access every part of our broken and hard heart, like rain, the blessings, prosperity, increase and abundance of God begin to grow in our life. Valleys of Weeping become a refreshing place in the Presence of the Lord. Rain even hard, beating storms become a place of blessing for those who know and love Jesus. Through every storm, God’s Grace promises to make us strong even if we stumble, fall or fail. God is so good! He is that good! In every shower, He will bloom us right where we are planted. His Word is life. Lord, saturate me with fresh rain and new beginnings in Jesus Name.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Ecclesiastes 11:4-8 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. 

Saturdays are precious in our family. Five work days and one day of church worship leave only one for my husband and I to do spend time with our children and do some chores around the house. To wake up when we want to and dawdle through the day is quite nice rushing through the week. The alarm this morning did not greet a happy and expectant employee ready to jump up and seize the day. With a sigh, I immediately began to pray and thank the Lord for the opportunity I have in the workplace and the great weekend that we had. Gratitude seems to change my attitude. It is a great help when the dark cloud of drudgery tries to overshadow God’s Goodness, His Grace and His Glory in our life.

This Saturday an industrious spirit took over as Spring Fever was in the air. Our neglected front porch is right outside the windows of the study where I write. As the morning sun beamed brightly through the windows, I decided to wash away the residue of a long winter and pollen that collected as spring arrived. Armed with all my supplies, I tackled the windows inside and out. The front porch of our house was barren. There really was no point upon our arrival and many other areas of our “new” home that needed our attention, but an image filled my head of two porch rockers. Well, you know the old saying, if mama ain’t happy then… well you know the rest. My husband and I headed to our favorite date place or the home improvement store. Loading a hand cart with two black rocking chairs, a couple small palms and a can of black paint along with a couple other “necessary” items – we headed home. After some assembly required, the two rockers were just as I imagined. We sat down to overlook our work for the day. The yard was manicured, the windows washed and porch cleaned – all the details in place. Sitting in the cool breeze, just rocking along, I realized that the newest chapter in our life had finally arrive. Our littlest girls are almost grown. The three older ones all in their twenties and living their lives. Me and my best friend rocking on the porch in the chairs that will be the place to rock our grandchildren, visit with friends, or maybe even share the greatest love story ever told with someone who is hurting. I have named the two chairs – one is satisfaction and the other will be contentment.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.” If a perfect life were possible, grace would not be necessary. Since people are not perfect, the ability to live such an existence escapes them. To live this live pursuing our dreams and working for our goals outside of satisfaction and contentment is chasing the wind. I believe this is the meaning behind 3 John 1:2. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Funny that it comes in 3 John and not 1 John. The prosperity of our soul is satisfaction. The confidence in Christ born of faith is called contentment. Both are qualities birthed by trust, yet hard to grasp much less hold on to in a world that lives according to immediate gratification and a constantly changing perception of what will bring these two qualities. If it were power and wealth by the world’s standards, there would not be so many people who end their life in the height of success because of dissatisfaction and disappointment feeding a disease called depression or fueling the fire of anxiety buffered by mood altering drugs and pain killers. So many talented people who no matter how successful could not catch the conditions they desired most – the peaceful stillness found in two rocking chairs on a front porch in the county.

“Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Balance is the art of both hard work and peace of mind that is very hard to achieve outside of Jesus Christ. Striving becomes thriving when this balance is achieved. God gave us goals, dreams and desires when He placed eternity in our heart. Without a perspective of heaven or His Kingdom including the blessings and benefits that His Children have there, the joy and peace marked satisfaction and contentment are impossible. The Lord planted a seed in you and I called faith. It is the substance of all that we hope for. Unless this seed is cultivated in every area of our life – it will only bloom where it is planted. A diversified life will only contribute to stress and worry increasing our burdens but Jesus invites us to “yoke our life with Him” and He will partner with us in all our endeavors sharing the heavy load of responsibility that weighs us down in life giving us a precious promise called rest. (Matthew 11) You have the potential of prosperity in you. It will yield the two things you desire most but we must work into the fields and furrows of our heart to be incorporated in every endeavor of life or we are just chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11-12;17 (NLT) Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

The Lord has a plan for our life. Recorded before our birth (Psalm 139), it is a good one with a future and hope. God didn’t design our life for disaster. God promises to hear our prayers. He will be found by those who look for Him wholeheartedly. This is an important detail often missed in a world that cries “what is in it for me.” Life. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) All of us. He didn’t go to the Cross just so you and I could just make it but that in Him find live a prosperous life according to God’s Riches in Glory. To restore the glorious standard of living that sin had taken from us but Jesus came back from the grave to give us. He didn’t force us to take the Keys to the Kingdom but rather offers them to us each day. Our willful disposition fostered by the old Elvis anthem, “I Did It My Way” will find many in the same position that the world renowned “king of rock and roll” did. A man who could have had anything he wanted, denied himself nothing, reaped a huge reward for all his labors and fully accomplished in his industry died in addiction. We must seek soul satisfaction or risk putting all our efforts into a success that will never reach the innermost part of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God – without faith there is no satisfaction and contentment continues to wave in the wind at those who pass it by.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 (NLT)  So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1) The realization that every good thing in our life is from the Hand of God can change one’s perspective. The greatest revelation is that of Romans 8:28 in the promise that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” To find truth in the words and apply trust to them will change our lives forever. To believe that every good thing in our life is a product of God and not self or random fate is one thing, but to also see the potential of God in every situation and know that He will work it in our favor – now that my friend is life changing and soul altering. Soul satisfaction comes from faith that trusts God and believes in His Goodness even on our worst day.

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT) Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Comparison is a joy killer. It comprises faith because it plants a seed of envy that will bloom into bitterness. God has no favorites. Before declaring the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, perhaps one might ask what fertilizer they use. See God uses every detail of our life for our good. Before comparing our life journey to another, one might decide if it is worth the cost. We are a masterpiece – each one of us an individual work of God with his or her own process of completion. The end result is the same. The process is different. To be jealous of another displays disbelief in God’s Purpose and Plan for us. It destroys satisfaction. It corrupts contentment. A seed demonstrates the growth process in God – one must first die to self. Our present form must be completely undone to incorporate His Goodness in every facet of our life until His Love completely overtakes us and trust allows all good things to grow hidden in our new heart – new life – new creation. To prosper without satisfaction and contentment is not to a blessing. Any form of prosperity does not change our heart but simply magnifies what is already in it. The Lord offers us the Mind of Christ. We must know Him, trust Him and believe Him to have perfect peace that is not challenged by condition or circumstance but leads us to safe harbor every time. The truest blessing of prosperity is a satisfied soul resting in the Peace of God even in a stormy situation.

Ecclesiastes 5:15-20 (NLT) We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

I love our new rocking chairs. I love the front porch. The wind feels good blowing on my face. I love the promise represented called satisfaction and contentment. I know they are a product of age and maturity. There is no need to chase the wind for it will blow where it will. Looking back, I do not see the broken life that I have lived and all the bad things that have happened. I do not look ahead with fear, worry or stress but I sit there rocking and thinking of all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Our youngest daughter sits at our feet with playing with our little dog laughing at her antics. She is the last of our children who is growing up so quickly before us. But I am not afraid my role as mom will soon be over. Sitting next to me is my best friend and soul mate given to me by a gracious God. Our journey has not been easy but it has been worth it. From the beginning, we decided to be yoked with the Lord. He has carried us to this point. As I continue to rock envisioning children running around the yard as the days turn into years, I ask the Lord not for more of anything but to continue this work in my heart. Give me a wealth of satisfaction and rich contentment to fill every nook and cranny of my heart. There is nothing in this world worth more than a prospering soul. It shines a new light on an ordinary life magnifying far greater potential then hard work and motivation could ever afford. To find satisfaction is really what we are after no matter how hard we try to seem confident and uncaring. We want to be loved just as we are in a world that cries to take – maybe God wants us to give. You cannot give to others what you do not possess yourself. It is common sense. You cannot share the fathomless love and endless grace of God with others until it is found within ourselves. You cannot faith it until you make it. Faith is a solid footstep in God’s Direction. Real love and true faith produce satisfaction in life because they are the seeds that God planted in us and faith in Jesus will begin to grow. Once our soul is satisfied, the sky is the limit literally as the windows of Heaven open and His Light reveals all the blessings in our life and sends down all every promise day by day.

I Timothy 6:6 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great worth.

Radiate

radiate

Isaiah 60:19 (NLT) No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

As the sun slowly rises, its rays fall on the study floor. Catching my attention, I look away from this study to see its radiant brilliance shining through dirty windows. Yes, I need to clean my windows. Put that on the list today. Just outside the window bushes have risen above the handrail, obstructing the view. Maybe Big Daddy will cut them back a bit for me, so that I can add those black rocking chairs that I have been waiting for spring to buy. Spring is here. Life is bursting forth after a long winter. We are full of life. Each day the Lord is working on the inside to make His Light shine outside of us. After all, He has called us to be His Light to this world. He placed His Spirit in us to produce His Glory through us. Is this the life we live? New life. Bursting from every facet of our life like a brilliant diamond under direct light. Or have a windows become cloudy and the cracks of brokenness subtly filled, so that the image is slightly askew, maybe a bit dimmed or has it grown dark altogether? The Light that shines from our inside must reflect the true radiance of God. It is not a light that flickers or impacted by any other source. It is a fiery passionate burning flame that consumes all that lies between us to emit light glorious unfiltered light. Is your light brightly shining today? Is it breaking through the darkness that surrounds you?

To radiate means to extend, spread and moving outward from the center. To project or cast forward. Light changes the atmosphere around it. Darkness cannot remain where light is present. Light is attractive. The emission draws and things to it. Is my life attractive? Is it engaging? Do I project and cast a true image of God and His Great Love? Isn’t that the most attractive thing about our Savior and Lord? The fact that His Love for us is unchanged by condition or weakness. He loves us. Case closed. He promises to fill us with His Love and release His Glory in us. It all begins with grace. Amazing grace. It sounds so sweet but is so easily mistaken. Grace is not a doorway to enter God’s Favor but the Source of the life. We live in God’s Grace which allows to be in right standing and live in the Presence of God. I cannot earn it but only receive it. I cannot ever exchange grace for entitlement but must live humbly before Jesus who is the Source of Grace.

I believe Isaiah 60 is not a futuristic place yet to come but the very opportunity Christ gives us now. It is for today. This very moment called opportunity. God’s Glory covers us in radiance that cannot be altered, filtered or covered by this world. It is the favor of God that allows us to be blessed and prosperous no matter how many clouds fill our sky or how long the night may seem. It begins “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!” Throughout the chapter, it tells of powerful influence as “everyone is coming home” drawn to the light. Not just ordinary people but kings are attracted as well. The radiance will also direct prosperity into our life as “they bring you the wealth of many lands.” As the Light of His Glory shines in us making its way through us until the substance of our faith is made into absolute trust with confident hope that allows us to be the light rather than groping in darkness any longer. The Lord will be your everlasting light. The events outlined in Isaiah 60 are not for eternity. The Favor of God for life is found in His Presence. To trust the Lord with our natural life allows His Light to shine through us. His Light is His Love. His Love makes the way. As His Love grows complete in us an extravagant exchange is made, our feeble attempts to earn His Grace become a willingness to accept His Grace as sufficient alone.

Isaiah 60:20-21 (NLT) “Your sun will never set; your moon will never go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.”

If just for a moment, try to forget about the church culture familiar to you. No matter what denomination chosen or the doctrine that is subscribed to – for this second just focus on you and Jesus. Let the weight of service, the next offering, or even the sin that you struggle with evaporate from your thoughts and fall like heavy chains pooling at your feet. Say to yourself, “Jesus loves me.” The beginning and end of every bit of hope that I have as a believer is the credibility of this statement in my life evidence by my ability to believe it. Is Jesus enough? If I truly believe that then the things of this life no longer affect the light of His Love radiating from me. My ability to project the perfect life does nothing for those who feel helpless, worthless and defeated. My acceptance of God’s Love through the Grace of Jesus Christ that shines bright even on the worst days of my life is attractive to others. Grace is completed in our willingness to say, “I am weak. He is my strength.” This is not fake faith. I will never say the words “faith it until you make it.” It is of the same concept as fake it until you make it. Nobody wants to come closer only to find our love is not real, joy superficial, and peace a façade. We have eternity in our heart. The substance of our faith provided in a measure must grow into an abundant overflow of trust. Trust is the radiance of our life that makes others come closer to see what it is all about. An authentic life bears fruit not a leafy cover that gives nothing of worth. Is the Lord your everlasting light?

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Part of our son’s cancer treatment included radiation. After a series of scans and images were taken to precisely pinpoint the location and dimensions of the tumor growing in his nasopharyngeal cavity, a mathematical engineer studied the coordinates to make direct the radiation beam to hit the tumor and avoid other areas. The tumor in his head was millimeters from his brain stem so it was imperative that they not miss the mark. Before the next treatment, a new scan was taken and the coordinates reevaluated for accuracy. With all this precision, there was still a fair amount of radiation that was in the aura that projected to surrounding tissue. I share this to say that as God’s Love begins to chip away at our heart to find its way in – certain things in our life will begin to change. As His Grace, the source of our hope, begins to penetrate the thick walls and hard sides of our heart – it begins to fill us with inexpressible joy and perfect peace that is unexplainable. Though it may be painful in the brokenness as His Love overthrows the insufficiencies in our life with His Grace, the power that takes over changes us from the inside out. As it makes its way out – God’s Glory fills our life. We must experience God’s Love by trusting Him and encountering the Lord one-on-one in an intimate and personal relationship before the radiance of His Love can shine through us. Do not take for granted your alone time with Jesus. Do not stop striving to make more time to spend in His Word and prayer. The Light emanating from our life will only be as strong as the source in us. The radiation was painful. It was damaging. It broke our son’s saliva glands. They don’t work anymore. It burned his skin but the Lord has healed him. It was a painful process that eradicated the tumor called cancer from his body. The Lord removes all impurity so the purity of His Love, Life and Light can show through us.

In her book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shares “cancer is what refuses to die to self.” You know the part of you, as do I which seems to be the source of our struggle when it comes to trusting the Lord. It can be many things. Insecurity, doubt, fear, or even unforgiveness. All of these things are the point of unwillingness to change and may be the very thing that are keeping God’s Glory from radiating from our life. Total trust in the Lord and His Love which is defined by His Grace is the thing that causes us to shine the brightest. It requires an inspection of the heart where He lives. Are the windows a little cloudy? Have some weeds popped up? What is it that keeps God’s Glory from bursting forth in our life? Wake up Jerusalem. Wake up church. Wake up friend. Wake up me. Nothing I “do” or “don’t do” for the Lord amounts to anything without first being covered in His Love and Grace. I cannot project a clear picture of God and His Grace outside of unconditional love for all people. The culmination of faith and hope evidenced in my ability to trust the Lord begins with believing His Love is complete. To know the Lord and His Love is to break the notion that anything I am or ever hope to be is worthwhile unless His Love fills me to overflowing. It is the Christ in me that is attractive. It is the Love of God that captures the attention of people. His Glory will come when His Love finds its place in my very human heart.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 

God’s Love is on the horizon shining on us. Jesus is the Source. He wants to shine through us. His Glory is for us. His Favor is ours for the taking. His Love never ends. It never fails. It is more than enough. We don’t add to it or take from it. It is there for us always to step in, live in, and radiate every day. Jesus is the Source of Hope. His hope never leads to disappointment. I will never know that for sure until I am willing to love and trust Him with my whole life. It is a process. It is going to take some time. Why not start today? I am off to clean some windows. To let the light shine in. My desire is to radiate God’s Love, His Light and His Glory in my life. How about you? By allowing the Lord to penetrate my heart with pinpoint precision to the part I am withholding and eradicate it with His Love and change me from the inside out produces a spark inside me. It is then and only then that the radiance of His Love will break through the earthen vessel and be fully expressed as light glorious light that leads to life glorious life.

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

What Is “This”?

what-is-this

I Peter 1:6-9 (AMP) In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy, receiving as the result [the outcome, the consummation] of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

“In this you rejoice greatly…” What is “this”? When tragedy, trauma, trials, temptations or tests come into our life – what is the point? Why me? Why, God? I have been asked point blank, “How can you love and serve a God who gave your son cancer?” Well, first and foremost, God did not “give” our son cancer. If God had His Way, sickness and disease would not have ever been a part of human design. It was our choice to have our way that introduced sickness, disease, and hardship into life. It began with Adam and Eve in the garden and has perpetuated through reproduction. Yes, our son had cancer. Not once, but a total of five times. No, I do not rejoice in the suffering he experienced during his sickness. I can attest to the thing called “inexpressible joy”. It comes from a well dug long before the trial of life hits us. It is a reserve that is cultivated through our relationship with Jesus Christ and our desire to know Him more. But it did not stop the pain, suffering, or brokenness marked by buckets of tears at the reality our son, his life, and wellbeing was completely out of our control and rested solely in the Father’s Hands. Death was a reality but Truth defined it as a crossover moment from death to life. “This” is the source of our joy. “This” is the point of our faith. “This” is the deciding factor when it comes to our salvation.

The “even though” moments comprised of temporary (for a little while), if necessary (yes, there is a purpose to your distress) have a meaning in our life. They illuminate the genuineness of faith. Faith that produces “praise, glory and honor” of the Father for you His Child at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation is when what I truly believe is made known, revealed or uncovered in my life. It is the moment that the notion of faith and reality of what is truly believed becomes the foundation of our life and the promise that is stood upon. It is marked by the defining “thoughs” that no longer bear the “even”. The world produces instances when our life does not look like, feel like or bear resemblance to the purpose, promise or potential of God in it. These are the moments when faith is essential and what is believed truly relevant to our life. Will I continue to believe “even though” I lost my job? Will I continued to believe “even though” my child is sick? Will I continue to have faith “even though” my spouse has passed away? Will I continue to believe “even though” my life appears to be falling apart filled only with dead dreams and disappointment? Will I dare to still hope as the psalmist writes? Faith says, “Yes!” “This” is our faith made a reality.

Hebrews 11:1 (AMP) Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

I attended a one-night only women’s event. While making new friends, I met a woman who attended church with an amazing lady who would be honored during the service. This sweet soul was a single mom who lost her husband to a heart attack four years ago. It was just seven months after welcoming their precious daughter into the world. Last December, she was experiencing some dizziness, blurry vision and headaches so she went to the doctor. After a series of tests, she was diagnosed with Stage II brain cancer. The more her friend told me about her, I knew I had to meet her. She is being treated by one of the same doctors our son was treated by. The moment I introduced myself and shook her hand, I could feel it. The absolute confidence and power exuding from this lady. We began to share experiences and testify to the Goodness and Greatness of God. She had “this”. The “this” of faith that oversteps the limitations of this life and reaches into the supernatural drawing it to the earth. Faith is assurance. It is the title deed to our place in the Kingdom of God. It is confirmation so greatly engrained in us that no matter what happens now, forever is secure. The things which we hope for are divinely guaranteed. Hope is based on the evidence of things not seen. All those “impossibles” ready to be made possible simply because by faith we choose to believe in the Power of Jesus Christ rather that the impact of tragedy, trauma, trials, temptations or tests come into our life.

John 20:26-29 (AMP) Eight days later His disciples were again inside the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though the doors had been barred, and stood among them and said, “Peace to you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in My side. Do not be unbelieving, but [stop doubting and] believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me].”

Thomas walked with Jesus throughout His Ministry here on earth. When Jesus died, Thomas’s faith went into the grave with Him. He could not believe without seeing the Resurrected Lord. Jesus came and presented Himself to Thomas for thorough inspection of His Scars. Jesus asked him, “Do you believe me now?” Jesus went on to prophesy that those who believe without seeing Him are blessed, happy, spiritually secure and favored by God. Do you believe? How do you know? Faith not tested is not certain.

Faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. If you can see it, feel it, touch it, hear it or do it – faith is not required. It is when the outcome is impossible that faith becomes necessary. The popular song “Oceans” is a prayer plea to “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me, take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger, in the Presence of my Savior.” I wonder if you would still sing this song if you understood what exactly you are requesting from the Lord. A life beyond your control. Circumstances overwhelmingly more than you can possibly hand. This is an invitation for an impossible situation to arise before you. It is a call that challenges our faith and belief system down to its foundation. Do you really mean it? Do you really want to know the genuineness of faith? Do you want to know the true reality of what you believe?

Hebrews 11:6 (AMP) But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.

Yes, you do need to know what you believe. Yes, you do need to pay close attention to the cultivation of faith in your life. Why? Without faith, it is impossible to please God. It is absolutely essential to believe not only that He exists but that His Love is real and valid. You will seek Him if you believe that He rewards those who earnestly and diligently seek Him. Even in those dark times, especially through the Valley of the Shadow of death accepting His Invitation to the banquet before the enemy. Faith is the “this” that we are after and must attain to step out of this life and into forever.

Romans 5:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power].

Romans 5:1-2 explains the process of faith called justification. Justification is the act of God whereby humanity is made just or free from guilt and the penalty of sin. To justify is to be “just as if” you never sinned. Faith is the catalyst by which this is achieved. Faith declares us to be justified. Now we have peace with God which is reconciliation just like the prodigal son when he returned to his earthly father. It is a cause of celebration. Let’s be real. A journey to the altar and encounter with God does not produce an Enoch experience. We are not instantly swept away but must walk out and work out our salvation. Our faith must be credible. It must be real and valid. It must be proven. Salvation is the access point of faith. It is up to us whether we cultivate it and facilitate its growth, development and maturity or not. Every test, trial and trauma even those deemed tragedies by the world have great potential in our ability to remain firm, safe and secure in our faith, His Word, the Promise, and our place in the Presence of God no matter how big the storm, how high the waves, powerful the earthquake, or uncertain the future. We have forever and by faith it will be enough to endure any of the travesties of this temporary life. He is enough. Jesus is more than enough. Faith adds weight to the anchor of hope holding us safe and secure until He comes to take us home.

Jude 20-21; 24-25 (AMP)

But you, beloved, build yourselves up on [the foundation of] your most holy faith [continually progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], pray in the Holy Spirit, and keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [which will bring you] to eternal life.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling or falling into sin, and to present you unblemished [blameless and faultless] in the presence of His glory with triumphant joy and unspeakable delight, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Faith is non-negotiable. It must be found to be genuine and valid or all of our best effort to be found holy, godly or righteous are just dead works. It is the starting place of productivity where potential finds its purpose for those who believe. I thought I had faith. I thought I believed. I prayed for more faith. I deeply longed to trust Him more. When the test came, and after three long hard years to victory – I did not run across the finish line victoriously waving my arms in the air and fist pumping across. No friend, I crawled across and collapsed on the other side. My faith intact but I suddenly became aware that all I was doing didn’t matter, all the serving was just works, and everything I thought pleasing to God in my life worthless compared to “this” – the mustard seed of faith that I clutched in my hand. Faith is the hardest to attain yet worth every trial that we ever face. I know that now. If I had known what it would take going in to the test, I would not have done it. I would not have put my son’s life in jeopardy. However, until forever becomes a reality – faith does not seem necessary. Now, it is the one thing, the only thing – the very thing that is most important in life. This is faith and it is what we must live for.

John 6:29 (AMP) Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.” 

Love You More

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Romans 6:15-18 (NLT) Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

As I began reading God’s Word this morning, two words weighed heavily on my heart. “Free will.” God has given us a free will and truthfully not many people are quite sure what it means and how to use it. Can I get an “AMEN” from those who have fallen and failed along the way? Why is freedom a good thing when I have no idea how to use it properly or what to do with it on a regular basis? It feels like a loaded gun in the hand of a toddler sometimes. Paul sums it up in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Every Christian wants to please God. Every believer sins. It is our human nature’s desperate attempt to remain alive as it is crucified daily with Christ. How do I move from sinning more to godly living more? You must love Him more.

God’s Grace set us free from the Law. The Law set forth as rules and regulations of righteousness that our sinful nature balked at and quickly rebelled against. It came with measures of sacrifice and offerings to repent and make concession for our inability to remain righteous. We still keep falling short so Jesus came and sacrificed His Life. The reward was our absolute and total freedom from sin. All we have to do is accept it according to His Grace. Jesus did not come to condemn people but to set them free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Our suspect mind wants to know what the catch is. The offer is simply too good to be true. Well friend, that’s the God I serve. He is always better than I deserve. Doing more than I think possible. Loving me more than I could ever fathom. I have been set free to discover the capacity of God’s Love.

The choice is made evident in God’s Word. We can choose to be slaves or Children of God. It seems so clear cut, if only it were that easy. We become slaves to that which we choose to obey. What do you respond to more frequently, flesh or spirit? What we respond to most is the driving force of our life – knowingly or unknowingly. We must understand this covenant entered with God when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. To see that the Law has been satisfied and love is all that matters. Truly love is the only thing that matters once a soul is set free. No strings attached. No new set of laws, rules or regulations no matter how convincing religion may seem. Our sin was great but His Love much greater. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus so now what? We must learn to love Him wholeheartedly…to love Him more.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus used the representation of a gate to illustrate our new life in Him. Those who enter through Him will be saved. Not can be, but will be! “They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” Whoa! Wait a minute. They will come and go freely. Jesus was clear if He set us free than we are free indeed. What about all the guidelines and restrictions? They are still their but the “penalty” that takes us captive has been paid in full. By His Grace, I am saved through faith not anything else. I just have to believe. Do you believe today? Do you believe that you are free from the penalty of sin in Jesus Christ? We must understand what freedom is. Because Jesus came into the world to set us free, so that we could make a choice – there is no condemnation in our Savior. People condemn, convict and judge. Jesus came with one thing in mind – freedom.

When Jesus left the wilderness at being tempted by the enemy, He went to the synagogue as He was accustomed to doing on the Sabbath. The scroll was handed to Him and He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom. If we use our freedom to exchange one captivity for another – we remain slaves. If we use our freedom to love, we become God’s Children. The choice belongs to us because in Christ there is freedom. The power of that freedom is love. To accept the unconditional love of the Father as true and valid though we cannot see Him it is completely attained by faith. Just as my husband cannot show me the love in his heart by taking the beating, throbbing mass out of his chest to hand it to me – my beloved does so by daily attempting to show me that he loves me more… More than any other woman, more than any other person, more than any other thing, more than any other pursuit or passion in his life – his whole heart belongs to me. What if that is what our freedom is all about? That is our freedom. When I decide to love Jesus more than anything else, and live like it.

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

When Isaac was speaking his blessing over his son, Jacob, he said, “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Jacob had tricked his brother stealing his birthright and blessing. Taking advantage of the bond of brotherhood to the point of bondage, he was forced to flee from Esau’s wrath. Isaac gave his son sound wisdom. “When you decide to break free…” Are you ready to experience freedom? The kind of freedom promised in God’s Word. We do not have to force the door open or wrestle against the chains that have us bound. We must simple desire to be truly free. Jesus did the rest. We are free to come and go through the gate. We must only believe in Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:14-16) We choose to follow Him or stray away. Those who choose to walk with Him benefit from His Care and Protection. If we choose our own way, much like Jacob, we also decide when we will break free from the oppressive yoke of sin and shame.”

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Plan for our life is good containing a future and hope that is not defined by my goodness or ability to live a sinless life. It is secure in my decision to live by faith and to trust Him more and more as I pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. It is giving Him my love without coercion but a strong desire and commitment to know the Lover of my soul and love Him more. More than sin. More than this world. More than my rights. More than my pride. More than promotions. More than anything else. When I use my freedom to love Jesus and others – I will enjoy every spiritual blessing and the rich satisfying life that He promised. Love makes avoiding sin reasonable because we are not in bondage to our flesh. Our love for Jesus makes it possible. I am satisfied with my marriage. I am content with my husband’s love. It makes me want to honor him, respect him and love him more. How much more does this apply to Jesus?

What is your struggle today? Is it a person? Is it a recurring temptation that always leads to a bad choice? Is it disappointment? Is it lost hope? Is it pride? We all have daily struggles, temptations and tests to endure. God wants us to know how much He loves us. He has set us free by showing us far greater love so that we would learn to love Him more than all those other things in life. The Holy Spirit woos us with the choice fruit of righteousness so that it feeds our spirit along the way with things like love, joy, and peace that cannot be found in this life but well up in us from the inside. He prospers our soul which was once headed for death with new life day by day, season by season, until we reach the end and step into forever with Jesus. I have to believe that God’s Love is greater for me than that which I currently show love, affection and attention to more. The thing that compromises my love and trust in Jesus is that which is robbing me of my blessing. The Lord withholds no good thing from us. Our inability to accept, live in and thrive in freedom keeps blessings and promises just out of reach. Jesus loves us more. When the first priority of our life is to love Him more – those dreams and desires will become attainable by faith and confident hope in His Great Love.

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

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. True love gives it’s all. Withholding nothing. All of me for all of you. We cannot be one with the Lord if we do not commit all of our love, faith and hope to Him in exchange for all that He is. His Love seals our heart to His Own Heart. Love is freedom to choose who we love and how it is expressed. I want my husband to know that I love him more. I want my children to know I love them more. I want my friends and church to know I love them, too. But does Jesus know that I love Him more… that is the secret of success as a believer. When I love Jesus more than sin, I will stop doing those things I do not want to do. When I have experienced God’s Love testing all of its parameters it is clear that it never runs out for me. I cannot overstep it, outlast it, or move far away from it. It is pursuing me. Unfailing love that I am incapable of but am offered every day with the new mercy when it arrives. Nothing can separate me from God’s Love other than my decision to reject it. Even in bad choices, God’s Love remains, His Grace sufficient and His Power available to me. I cannot shake off, sin way or kill God’s Love for me. How about my love for Him? Do I love Jesus more today? It is the very thing that empowers our choice called freedom. When we use our freedom to love Him more, we will have the rich and satisfying that the Lord has purposed for us!

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Holiday Blues

holiday-blues

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

Today. It is a gift unwrapped when your eyes opened and you drew in the first breath of what has become a new day. It is clear that you have purpose otherwise your eyes would have beheld Jesus this morning, but instead it was the darkness, the spouse, the kids, the dog or maybe some coffee. Last night, a good old-fashioned case of the holiday blues overtook me. Not really sure why or how just like a light blanket tossed over my head. Do you ever get that way? The feeling of “so this is how life is going to be” kind of feeling. Not really satisfied or dissatisfied – you just feel like you are here. My routine has been disrupted for about a week. My schedule is not finely tuned as usual. My to-do list is finally almost caught up but my things I wanted to do list has been pared down significantly. Mama said that there would be days like this…or even if she didn’t I am going to say it and I am a mama myself. There will be days like this.

The most important step you take is the next one. Not the one that is coming two miles down the road, up the mountain or in the valley. Those are not certain. The only one that is completely possible is the next one. Think about it for a minute. Let it sink in. This holiday season is like all the rest that suck us into a vortex of doing and overdoing, scheduling and overscheduling, and producing expectations far beyond what is humanly possible. Our attempt to make memories waste moments that are precious. Traditions quickly overtake opportunity. Our spirits are to be renewed day by day but cannot be if we live in the past. Are you with me? Are you experiencing a bit of the holiday blues today? Maybe life in general is just too overwhelming and you want to give up?

To pick your mind at ease and your heart at rest, the perfect Christmas already happened. No matter how many events, pageants, services, parties, and festivities there may be what could match a sky full of angels heralding the birth of Jesus to the waiting and watching world while our Savior and King lay in a manager next to livestock in stalls on hoof-trodden hay wrapped in animal blankets. Jesus was perfect and He still is today. The first Christmas wasn’t ideal for the birthday of a King, but the King is perfect and still is today.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Why do Christians get the blues? Why do God’s People not always live by faith and confident hope? Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t say that I didn’t have faith or hope but that I was just a little down. Well, generally speaking, when my heart is not satisfied is usually stems from discontentment with the productivity in my life. If the things I see, do not meet my expectations. If the things I don’t see but long for somehow become impossible. When things don’t turn out the way I want them to, when I want them to or how I want them too – my faith is challenged. If not, I would never experience times like this because inexpressible joy would overflow from my life. I would do good to everyone all the time and no one would be impacted by my bad attitude, hurtful words or inability to deal with the stress of any given day. Oh, hang on, I may be the only one subject to my own agitations. If so, please bear with me today.

Nobody is perfect. It doesn’t matter if their house is perfect. Yard immaculate. Decorations on point. Presents exceptionally wrapped positioned uniformly under the tree. Outfits all matching. Menu delicious. Table set with metallic charges. Even if it smells like a fresh cut tree when you walk inside their door, it is probably an air freshener as most people have artificial trees and carefully constructed facades that they hide behind. The truth is that comparison has forced people into hiding. Hiding hurts, disappointments, pain, bitterness, dissatisfaction and the like. Surely I am the only one who gets the holiday blues or feels overwhelming so let’s tie on an apron and spread out some food invite everyone over and sing some Christmas tunes. No one will know and maybe I will feel better. Well…nice try…but it doesn’t work.

The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit released when Jesus died on the Cross. He sent His Spirit to live in us. His Spirit uses each new day to produce new faith and new hope in us. He renews us day by day and season by season. It is when our body, mind and spirit get caught up in the natural and forget about the supernatural that our mind is susceptible to depression, anxiety, and stress. We don’t mean to do it. Life can do it. Holiday pressure. Christmas lists. Menus to plan. Meals to make. Cookies to bake. Mix it all together with holiday traditions and life unexpected. This is the recipe the enemy uses to distract us and keep us from the Presence of our Savior and Lord. Jesus is the reason for the season. Of course, have I taken the time to search for Him and seek Him out in this season?

Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us a new way, we never give up. (2 Corinthians 4:1) Some of you reading this today may think I am crazy, after all it is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing on every radio station. Parties every night. Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Family coming together. Fun and frivolity. But for some, the holiday season only makes them feel worse. I have struggled with the holiday blues my entire life. I am not really sure why but they come uninvited no matter how hard I fight. Some will be celebrating Christmas minus a loved one or significant other this year. They will smile with tears just behind their eyes as they watch others experience the joy they have lost. Some will feel sadness because the budget too tight to fill the stockings and overload the tree just happy to have a home to live in and food to eat. Others have a dark place deep inside their hard, cold heart that has never experienced the Light of Love born in a manger that Christmas so long ago. See everyone is susceptible to having a bad day. Experiencing the blues. Fighting the darkness. Being overtaken with sorrow or a sense of great loss. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Family issues. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begins fresh every morning! Amen and amen!

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

As my mood began to plummet last night, I thought a hot shower might do the trick. A place of solitude to seek the Lord. When I don’t feel like myself or can sense the darkness closing in – I run to Jesus. He is my Hope. His Grace is enough for me. My weakness makes room for Him. His Mercy is new each day and it is the very thing that refreshes me. I have learned the hard way that I need the Lord every single day especially during the holidays. It’s funny that as long as I have read the Bible and studied God’s Word, I always somehow overlook the simplistic wisdom looking for some hidden knowledge or great secret tucked within. God’s Promises always come with instructions of exactly how to attain that which is desired.

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. How dependent am I on the Lord today? How much am I doing myself? What is beyond the limits of my control because that is where God is? What am I hanging on to? Is it worth anything at all until I release it to the Father? The Lord is good to those who search for Him. Have I abandoned my pursuit of my Savior in exchange for busyness? Have I given up seeking for Him to search for the perfect gift? Have I stopped pressing due to exhaustion? New mercy comes in the morning, I really need to maintain rest. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Am I waiting on the Lord? Meditating on His Word. Sitting in my prayer closet silently waiting for Him to answer. Have I stopped long enough to receive what the Lord has for me? Well, there you have it the cure to the holiday blues and Christmas funk that you may be in. Jesus is all that I need to overcome all that ails me. But I won’t find Him if I don’t seek Him every day.

Luke 2:8-15 (NLT) That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The Savior of the world. King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into this world and found no room for Him in the Inn. Though the world did not welcome Him, it did not stop Jesus from coming and completing His Mission. The town hustled and bustled just the same and darkness did not flee when the cries of the infant rippled through the universe shaking the gates of hell. Darkness could not silence the angel’s song as they announced God’s Glory had arrived. The shepherds tending flocks in the field heard the message and went to “see this thing that is happening”. They were not the only ones as the wise men followed the star seeking Jesus. Will we do the same?

In this season of giving, will Jesus receive some time and attention? While seeking out satisfaction, will I let Him satisfy my soul? In just a few short weeks, life returns to normal but will I remain the same. Are you just trying to survive the holidays or celebrating the season? Trust me. I know how hard it can be. As I prayed last night, I asked the Lord to open my heart to see His Light and feel His Love all over again. Have you done the same? Too many of our expectations this time of year are based on worldly precepts and traditions of man, but wise men and women still seek Him. Maybe all you need is the joy that comes in the morning and the mercy that refreshes given to us each new day. The Lord is waiting. He is watching. He came for you to have everlasting life. Jesus came to complete us not to compete. Comparison is a cancer that eats away at contentment. Find a few moments. Take a shower. Go in your closet and shut the door. Seek the Lord. Call on His Name. Let the Light of His Love break through the darkness and remove the heavy holiday burdens. He is the Prince of Peace. Not world peace but our personal peace! Jesus be my peace today! Let me feel the Light of Your Love. Chase away the darkness as I bask in Your Light and new life!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Why Am I Surprised

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Luke 12:24-26 (NLT) Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

As I have shared before, we have two little fur babies in our family. One of the Chihuahuas is thirteen and the other just turned three. Both are rescue puppies. Families took them not realizing the responsibility and now they live with us. Each morning when I get up before I do anything else, I feed them and take them outside. Once outside due to their small size, I watch over them as birds of prey have shown interest in them before. I am their provider and protector. I have not forgotten to feed them or care for them a single day. Yet every morning when I head to the kitchen, they are elated. Exuberant beyond what should be over less than a cup of food between the two and the tiny treat when they come in from outside. They seem so surprised that I do this every day. Today as I did the same thing that I do every day, three ravens circled overhead. I was pretty sure that I heard their call but looked to sky to be certain there was no danger. As the sunshine covered my face and I felt its warmth, I had to shield my eyes from its intensity and brightness. That’s when it hit me, God does for me every single day what I do for his smallest creatures. Do I greet Him as they greet me with enthusiasm and awe in each moment? Am I surprised in His Excellent Caregiving? Do I find it unexpectedly even though it is promised every single day? Do I worry? Do I fret?

God promises to provide for us and supply all of our needs. He has already told us that His Plan is for our good and that He will take every detail of our life working it out for this purpose. His Glory is reserved for us and is reflected by faith that is confident enough in His Love to trust Him. Trust is expressed in peace. Our peace is found in the Lord. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. God desires to sustain us in life. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Why am I so surprised that God is good and when He remains faithful? That’s right – God desires to prosper you and overload you with every good gift Heaven has to over as He throws open the windows of His Dwelling Place allowing it to overflow and flood the life ready and willing to receive. You are dearly loved. Highly favored. Greatly desired. God is caring for you even when you feel lost, alone, disappointed and afraid. Our perspective in life never changes our position in God’s Hand and Heart.

Luke 12:27-31 (NLT)  “Look at the lilies 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 flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else. He will give you everything you need. Do you believe that today? No, do you really, really believe it. I think sometimes people are quick to make confessions that have no place in their heart but have been engrained in their head. In our head, it is simply a reaction. When it comes from our heart, it is a response.

Are you a worrier? I used to be a chronic stress monkey. Having a houseful of children and a handful of a husband, I decided from day one it was my “job” to perform miracles giving them a perfect life. I was to provide for them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was to protect them with my life. I was to “do” everything that I could to fulfill every need, want, desire and dream every expressed. I was to be the constant encourager and motivator. Lead facilitator. I could go on but I think every mom gets the picture and even some dads. (Wink!) Personal performance pressure that even seeps into our church life sometimes but let’s not even go their today. The list is long enough already. The reality of this who sordid mess of details is that all of the “me” stuff I was trying to do did not express my belief in the Lord but rather was emanating my unbelief. Lord, help my unbelief so that I may believe. Be careful what you pray for friend…God is always faithful.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I was floored. Yet still able to get up and “manage” our life accordingly. I was able to work remotely from the hospital and care center. I could run household affairs via internet, cellphone and my little command center. It was all running smoothly and order quickly restored … the first time. But then there was a second time… okay I still managed to get myself up, dust myself off and keep going. And then there was relapse number three less than three months later and without warning we entered the “realm of hope” and now everybody was scrambling a bit unsure of our son’s future anymore. The call came that cancer had spread throughout his entire body. Well, that is when my whole well-constructed life and perfectly planned lifestyle feel completely apart. If you can imagine a fragile vase in all of it brilliant perfection be slammed by a giant hand on your driveway as hard as possible, yep friends that was my very prideful and fully self-consumed heart. There was no going back. I could not put the pieces back together again. Normal would become something completely new. My perspective on life completely changed during the long trial and battle for our son’s life. I realized I have absolutely no control over my life. I cannot give my husband or kids a perfect life. It was that moment or series of moments in time when my quest for God became a passionate pursuit. I had to find Him. I had to find shelter “beneath His Altar” like the sparrow. (Psalm 84:3) When I let out my breath in desperation, His Breath could finally fill me and His Spirit take over. Now I depend solely on the Lord…He is my expectation. He is my confidence. He is the one who I trust! This is how His Grace becomes our strength. Not in our ability to keep it all together, and do things for ourselves but when the reality finally hits us that Jesus is all we need. It took a lot for me to get there. Pride stood in the way. Past hurts kept me prisoner. If no one else would do it (even the Lord) then I would just do it myself. When I got to the end of me, thankfully my Lord was there waiting to help and do everything that He promised.

Luke 12:32 (NLT) “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

The Father wants to give His Kingdom to you. Nothing would make Him happier. Like the father of the prodigal son, the Lord is just patiently with great longing anticipating your return. The moment that you will turn from worry, stress, anxiety, doing and not doing to find Him right there waiting for you. In exchange, His Spirit will fill your life with good fruit like love, joy and peace just to name a few. These things will nourish your heart and soul. It will change your mind, thoughts and perspective on life. It gives God “great happiness” to give you the Kingdom. He gave what was most precious so that you and I would have the opportunity to be righteous again and benefit from every blessing the Kingdom has to offer. He never changed His Mind or stopped loving you. He has been waiting for you with great anticipation and expectation.

The other day our old dog got left outside accidentally alone for more than ten minutes. In the fenced back yard with the back door to our porch open, he was safe but he panicked. Somehow he made his way out of the yard and was wandering down the road when I found him. Why? He was afraid that he could not get in the house where we were so he started looking for another way. He was impatient when he barked and we didn’t immediately respond and open the door. He has cataracts so his vision is not clear. He is very old and feeble so had he encountered any form of opposition from even the smallest creature – he is too weak to fight or even run away. All he had to do was sit on the nice rug by the back door in the enclosed porch on a picture perfect day with great weather and rest until we got around to letting him back in. But no. He began to worry. He became impatient. He started to stress. He got anxious. Y’all better not be judging my dog who has a brain the size of a walnut and an IQ to match when we do EXACTLY the same thing day after day after day. When God doesn’t do it our way or fast enough – we wander. Our thoughts wander and then our feet will follow. So what should we begin doing instead…

Philippians 4:6-10(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

I hear those engines idling high out there. I know the holiday season begins next week. In fact, I just realized it on Wednesday myself. Managed to work all day, grab some paint to refinish a dresser and visit two grocery stores to complete the shopping for one meal that seems to cost a fortune AND STILL forget a couple things. I get it. It is go mode because right after that is the Christmas rush, push and ugh. Stress overload in three, two, one…NO! Not today. Not this year. Not this season. Don’t worry about anything. We must command our mind to stop worrying it will not happen on its own. Dig into the Word and find your peace to make it through a season that promotes pressure and performance not required by our Father to possess the Kingdom.

Tell God what you need. Thank Him for all He has done. Yes, done. It is done. It is finished to quote Jesus. Nothing in this world, life or holiday season is worth relinquishing the peace that the lord offers our heart. His Peace will guard our hearts and minds how? As you live in Christ Jesus just like the sparrow and tiny birds that dwell at His Altar so can you? Faith is the seed the size of a mustard seed meant to grow into a tree that what? “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Let the Peace of God reign in your heart and home this holiday season. Each morning when I get up, those two little fur babies jump and bark overjoyed by my arrival to do just what I promised nothing more or less. Two scoops of food and trip to the yard where I carefully watch over and protect them. It is what I promised to do for them when I adopted them and became their master. God does the same for me and you. How do we greet Him each morning? Do we acknowledge Him at all? Has fear overtaken our faith? Has doubt stolen our trust? God is still providing. He is always pursuing us with His Unfailing Love and Goodness. He is always working on our behalf. Do we even notice? Or are we still trying to “do” it all ourselves? Lord, forgive me for all the days that I have taken your loving kindness, provision, protection, blessing and prosperity for granted. Today will not be that day!

Romans 16:20 (NLT) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

The Perfect Holiday

the-perfect-holiday

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

Is Thanksgiving really next week? How in the world did it sneak up on me this year? Not really sure with all family, church, work and life how it happened but it did. Normally, I would panic that certain preparations have not been made. By now, the list and menu should be fully outlined and detailed on a Pinterest board. Have I mellowed with age? What’s wrong with me? I cannot understand why I am not all worked up right now. Life happens. It changes us. Molds us and shapes us into creatures of habit. For a long time, I had a houseful of kids and a list of personal expectations that kept me on the run. But now, in this new stage of life, my nest is emptying and I cannot find my list or my glasses and sometimes my keys.

Remain in me and I will remain in you. Have you made room for more of Him lately? Before you answer that, I know what it means to be busy, stressed and overwrought not just during the holiday season but all the time. I used to live that way. Constantly moving, never stopping and working harder than I was supposed to by calling or design. The whole idea of resting in the Lord was lost somewhere in my Martha mindset. Mary called from within as the Lord whispered, “Come talk to me.” But rather than responding to His Invitation and opening my heart to His Gentle knocking, I said, “Hang on.” We all do it.  Expectation is a powerful driver. When I was a kid, my parents divorced and there were two of everything for a long time. Two Thanksgiving meals to eat. Two Christmas’s. Two lifestyles. Two families. When my family finally settled, blended to become one, my husband and I decided that holidays would be spent at home. There would be no rushing about…though our traditions changed – my heart did not. I wanted to make the “perfect” holidays for the kids. The kind of memories that I wanted to have. Though my intentions were good, His Plan is always better.

God made a plan for our life. (Jeremiah 29:11) It comes with a future and hope. Sin blocked us from having all the benefits and blessing of God’s Plan which is His Glory for our life. You were created as a marvelous masterpiece by God. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 2) However, the original was tainted and flawed in need of a good cleaning. Jesus came to forgive our sins and died on the Cross so that we could reclaim our predestined life. Don’t get caught up in these details but continue to the place where we are changed. Knowing all of these things does nothing until we apply knowledge and it becomes wisdom. Peter shared the secret of a success in obtaining a new life – “each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is the beginning and ending point of spiritual success. The renewal process of God the best restorer because He is the Creator is all in Jesus Christ. I can do nothing to add to His Plan or take away from it. No matter how close I choose to live to the Lord or how far I wander – God’s Heart and Hand for me is never moved. He does not change. He is constant. I am the one who must change. I must move. I must be renewed.

Let’s take a moment or two to talk about true repentance. Repentance is not just saying that you are sorry. If my husband and I disagree or maybe I hurt his feelings, I will say that I am sorry. However, if I continue to do the same thing over and over again with no real intent to change, what is my apology worth? Nothing at all. Repentance is an admittance of wrong and acceptance of change. It is to “turn” to God. Which is a new direction? An unwillingness to turn from sin is only an apology. In order to repent, one must be apologetic and change directions, attitudes, actions and intentions.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

“Since.” For our purposes today, let’s decide that since represents the moment that I gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ. When I heard the Gospel and responded with my life. I now know the Truth. Truth changes everything. Once you know the truth it is like light that chases away darkness. The lie now is overshadowed by the truth. Choosing to ignore the truth is called denial and leads to disobedience when the truth is disregarded. Jesus Christ is Truth. He is also the Way and Life – no one can get to God except through Him. (John 14:6) This is the truth that now guides my life and hopefully yours. Jesus is the Son of God. I need Him. He is the Way. I must turn from my way and follow His Way.

Now what…”throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life.” Ew. That means the “c” word. It means change. Change is uncomfortable. We want it but do like how it feels or what it requires. To have something new means letting go of what formerly occupied the space. Let’s be real for a moment. My desire to make “perfect” holiday experiences for my children stemmed from dissatisfaction of my own childhood. Feeling pulled in two directions. Always being tugged between two families whether it was intended or not. Anything we do stemming from dissatisfaction is not of God but man. My sinful nature desires its way. Every day. All day. My former life has baggage that occupies the space of new things that the Lord has designed and prepared for me. I must actively seek the new life that I am promised making room for it.

How? God has given us His Spirit to help us. He will renew our thoughts and attitudes. God is not mad at us for our feelings of dissatisfaction, discontentment, devastation or desperation. These are the things that drove us to Him in the first place. However, as a new creation, these dry, dead and rotting things are replaced with fresh fruit prepared by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As His Fruit nourishes all my new life – I will begin to prosper as He prunes away the dead fruits and rotting flesh of sin-infested life.

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The hope given to us in Jesus Christ will not lead to disappointment. Do you believe that today? Do you trust the Lord to make good of the details of your life as promised in Romans 8:28? We confuse God’s Renewal Process sometimes with the world’s way of doing things. Some simply throw out the “garbage” and get something new. Others choose to recycle taking what was old and making it useful some other way. God made us perfectly. Our Creation is flawless. Sin was the problem. Once we turn from sin, the product of our life remains. Our purpose was not changed or influenced by sin simply hidden under it. Through the lifelong process of “working out” our salvation – it is how I come to terms with every single misplaced expectation in my life.

We have purpose. God defined and delineated our purpose as He recorded moment by moment of our existence. (Psalm 139) If salvation to me is a moment when I say sorry to God, but do not turn from some things or turnover some things to Christ there is no exchange. Cutting away the sin that separated me from the Lord, I know must cling to Him. Becoming grafted to Him, I strive to remain close to Jesus. Allowing Him to change me from the inside out. Faith is about the unseen never the seen so my life may look the same. The change in me precipitates the change around me. The conditions of my life may not significantly change but the change in me will create a different outcome. As we cling to Jesus, His Spirit works in us to change our character.

Character change releases our new life and the person who God created us to be from the beginning. Right standing with God realigns us with His Will and Way through His Word so we can have every benefit and blessing ever promised for us. Repentance is a change of position that will impact our character. Our character is molded and shaped by His Spirit when problems come that knock off sharp edges and make us soft and pliable in the Hand of God for His Plan and Purpose. Trials cause discomfort that produces a desire for change. Endurance strengthens our character allowing us to endure the process of change and accept His Work within us. Continued endurance gives way to confident hope that will release our expectation from this life and place them in forever.

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

I have a new nature. I must put it on day by day. It really is simpler than I realized. For a long time, I felt like I had so much to do. Countless changes to make. See what it says…put on your new nature. Then what? Renewal is knowing God and becoming like Him. All that matters to God is that Christ lives in me. Every expectation outside of Jesus Christ is in vain. Every good thing in my life comes from God – I did nothing to produce it. Every blessing I have is from the Hand of God. Every good thing being produced in my heart and mind is fruit of His Spirit. Every single day of my life is planned to perfection by the One who goes before me to make a way. All I have to do is remain in Christ. He renews me. He softens my heart to accept His Word. He changes my mind to live by Truth. He satisfies my soul. It is from there, my life will prosper as my soul does.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Thanksgiving is next week. That’s just crazy. The only thing on my menu as of right now is pumpkin cheesecake. Tried some and liked it so I am going to make it. However, honestly it is just another day. I am given the opportunity to be thankful every day. When I choose thankfulness every day, it produces contentment that solidifies character in my life allowing God to renew me. I am thankful for my life, growing family, and the new things He is doing all around me. I am thankful for the present troubles that are small yet seem so significant because God is working out His Plan for me. I want God’s Glory in my life. It always outweighs the problems. It will last forever.

Yesterday, I heard the news that a young man who I prayed for had received a good report from the doctor. He is still in remission. I literally broke down in tears of thankfulness and awe at the Goodness of God. Our son endured three years and multiple relapses including countless rounds of chemotherapy – in the end to God be the glory – He is in remission, too. Sin is the cancer in our life that too often is held tightly in fear of dissatisfaction, discontentment, desperation, and more. God wants to take that which is killing us and fill our life with His Goodness and Glory today. I think it is in that moment of realization that the renewal of God is not religious or radical but complete reconciliation of our past and present to prepare for a perfect future that we find out it is refreshing and worth having all the small inconveniences that build character along the way. I am thankful today. I am content. Thanksgiving is next week, but the celebration has already begun.

Do not give up? Do you feel like it is just not worth it anymore? I promise it is when we allow God to be God and do His Thing. You cannot create a perfect life but He can and will perfect those who are willing to turn it all over to Him. It is refreshing. It is renewing. It is revival of our heart and soul the joy of the Lord and His Peace flood our life. His Spirit is a happy homemaker who will do it all if given the go ahead. The Lord promises in Psalm 138:8 to perfect all that concerns us. Will you allow Him to do so today? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out. Just trust the Lord to do what He promises. He will work it all out. The Lord is producing glory for us that far surpasses and completely outweighs any burden that is released. Why not give it a try? I am going to get a menu together. Grab some food. Put together a good meal. No need to worry or rush. I no longer expect a perfect life. I cannot do it I tried. Stop worrying about everything next Thursday may or may not be and begin to count your blessing right now. His Goodness is right behind you accompanied by His Unfailing Love. New mercy is waiting on your doorstep why not open the door to your prayer closet and let it in. God is good all the time. His Love is forever. You have all you need to live a glorious life so live it. Make new memories. Do new things. Stop worrying and start celebrating. You are a new creation. He makes all things new including you!

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.