Gaining Perspective

gaining perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 4:18(NLT) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

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

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

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Called To Ministry

Called To Ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those Who Wait

Those Who Wait

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Life

More Life.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rejoicing Together Always

Rejoicing Together Always

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

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

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

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

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

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

Rejoice always.

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

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

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

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

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

Finding My Joy

Finding Joy

Psalm 16:5-11 (ESV) The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Do you have joy today? Are you overcome by worry and stress? What is your state of mind as you begin this new day with great possibility? Is the reality you live in just the same old same old again? Psalm 16 tells us that “in Your Presence there is fullness of joy” so why aren’t Christians filled with overflowing joy and happiness each day? Why do churches sing songs of victory without any enthusiasm? How come believers don’t even smile? I have found my joy. Today, can I help you find yours?

Galatians 5:22 outlines the Fruit of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit commissioned to remain in you and I. The first fruit that is produced is love. God loves us. It doesn’t even matter if anyone loves Him back. His Divine Character is love. It defines God from any other god or idol of manmade creation. The second Fruit of the Spirit is joy. Struggling just to live in love, it seems it is hard to move on. Or maybe it is because people approach the Lord like the produce department at the grocery store carefully perusing, picking and choosing which fruits are desirable and passing on the rest. Fresh fruit is expensive. Canned fruit costs much less but doesn’t have the variety or taste of produce fresh from trees, vines or bushes without all the packaging preservatives. What if I told you that for one day only the farmer’s market was offering fresh fruit for free? Many would schedule their day around such an event to partake of costly goods paying nothing at all. Jesus died so that the Holy Spirit would live in us and produce every spiritual blessing that the Lord has already provided AND PAID FOR so why won’t we at least taste and see that He really is good?

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” It begins by our belief. Do you believe that the “lines” in your life have fallen in “pleasant places”? Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe that God is good? He is faithful? Those who do will make Him their chosen portion and their cup. This puts the entirety of our life in God’s Hands. The giving and receiving. The sowing and the reaping. The planting and harvesting in our life becomes God’s Divine Plan. He promises to give us a future and hope. To work every detail of our life for His Glory and our good. He perfects all that concerns me. Christ offers to yoke with us and shoulder the burdens and cares of life while passing through to eternity. Where is our joy? It is in the decision to give every aspect of our life to Jesus Christ. The evidence of such a choice is joy. “I have a beautiful inheritance” that is only accessible if I believe enough to choose the Lord as my portion and offer my cup to Him.

Psalm 43:2-4 (ESV) For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

When our daughter got married, she did a change of address and forwarded her mail. She took her birth certificate, social security card, driver license, and marriage license to change her name on everything. Four months later, she moved to a new state and was tasked with the process all over again. I still get her mail from time to time. Even though she changed residency twice and was diligent in her attempts to notify everyone who may need to contact her, her mail still doesn’t make it to her until I forward it myself. Moving through life, it is possible to lose sight of our residency in Heaven and begin to rely on natural outcomes and human strength. We must make an effort to establish our residency in the Kingdom and remain faithful in our allegiance to Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 13:15)

We are temporary residents of this place. I have a place in heaven with the Lord. As I make my way from here to eternity, it is a challenge and test not to become accustomed to this life but continually seek the character and qualities of those with future hope beyond death and the grave. It’s tough because everything in this place is geared toward living the fullness of life now and avoiding death at all costs. If this is life and there is nothing beyond it, I would completely understand the desperation and devastation of unmet expectation. Disappointment would be defeat in my eyes. A wise person once told me – “do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.” I believe that there is hidden joy in our life that is missed because of distractions that are meaningless to the believer. Perfect love casts out all fear leaving plenty of room for joy and peace. Total trust gives up the right to worry and stress knowing with God all things are possible and He is our Provider.

We must learn to live in the Presence of God. (Psalm 21:6) Take our eyes off the enemy. (Psalm 27:6) Silence his lies with the truth by making a joyful noise to the Lord rather than grumbling and complaining. (Psalm 98:4; 100:1) Transfer the potential in our life from an earthly position to a heavenly inheritance. Rather than sowing seeds in the ground – sow them in the Kingdom. Decide to make finding joy your plight rather than superficial happiness in people, things, and earthly success. It took a terrible tragedy for me to find my joy. Joy is a constant state for the believer if they choose the Lord to be their portion and cup relying on His Inheritance rather than earthly treasure. God’s Favor is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5) This time and place called the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Those who look believe enough to look for God’s Goodness in each day will find it. God’s Steadfast Love never ceases. His Mercies never end and arrive each morning. (Lamentations 3:22) With it comes the opportunity to have joy with it. (Psalm 30:5)

Colossians 1:10-12 (ESV) “…So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Joy is not a naturally occurring commodity of the world. It is not human nature which is selfish and greedy always crying out for more. Soul satisfaction is the key to a rich and satisfying life living in the prosperity of God’s Promises. Joy and peace partner together to produce other fruits of God’s Spirit such as patience. It accompanies us in our waiting when our refuge is the Lord. “I have set the Lord always before me.” We must learn to live with Jesus in every aspect of our natural life. To filter every thought, idea and motivation through our love and commitment to Him will allow joy to rise up in the most unlikely of places. The threat of losing something often will heighten awareness and appreciation of what we have versus what we want. Suddenly all those other things are not as important as the Christ in us and moving through us to be expressed out as life giving light to a dark and dying world. Without Jesus, there is no hope only a life that will lead to disappointment and defeat. But when I decide to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and “fully pleasing Him”, I will begin to bear every fruit in every good work AND with my increasing knowledge of God. Finding joy is not a life venture but a heart vindication. I am justified in Jesus. I am approved for every blessing and promise God has for me because He has given me the Gifts of Grace and Righteousness. When I begin to believe this, I will find joy. When I choose to live as a Child of God trusting and believing He is a Good Father enough to release burden, cares, worries and stress – the Spirit will begin to produce inexpressible joy in my life.

I Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Sitting in a hospital room for the umpteenth time, I was discouraged. In the bed was our son who was undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Three years of trusting, praying and believing – I would put in headphones and join churches on YouTube in the midst of worship. I needed to leave the room if only in spirit. The reality of his health weighing heavily upon me – I came across Kari Jobe singing “Forever” with the Bethel Worship Team. The reality of Heaven finally became clear to me. If he didn’t survive this treatment, it wasn’t over. Jesus was right here and right there. The bridge of the song is “we sing hallelujah – the Lamb has overcome.” I finally got it as the final piece of the puzzle clicked into place. Something changed in me that night. Joy began to flow in my heart and through my tears to realize that in this hopeless and devastating wasteland void of love and covered in darkness that Jesus is my joy. Forever. Nothing the enemy can do to me or my family will ever be able to take victory, love, joy and peace from me because I have found my joy. His Name is Jesus. Have you?

Life is hard. We still have hope. Bad things happen to good people but it is not over yet. Jesus is our victory. Each day brings the mercy we need to sow in tears…we have the opportunity in doing so to come home with shouts of joy and the abundance of God. (Psalm 126:6) We must fully invest our life and love in Jesus Christ to have inexpressible joy that will overcome every trial and trouble ever faced. Faith is the opportunity to live for this new Kingdom and life that is coming. To reap its benefits now as the windows of Heaven open and overflow in our life. Those without hope have no joy but those with hope in Him have fullness of joy. Lord, I ask you to restore the joy of my salvation in any area of my life that I may have allowed fear or doubt to rise up. Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit with its sights set on Heaven today. Cast me not from your Presence, Lord but fill me to overflowing with it. I yield to the productivity of the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to every area of my life. Give me joy today Lord Jesus. Overwhelming and inexpressible Jesus Joy just as You have promised. Lord, I am willing and where I am not uphold me with Your Grace and Tender Mercies. Thank you Jesus for joy!

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

Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 is probably the most popular of all the psalms. It is about the constancy of Christ even though He is called the Shepherd. I could elaborate on the first verse endlessly never moving on to the rest. When Jesus becomes our Provider, Protector and Providence – there is nothing more valuable or desirable to be found. He is constant. He is sovereign. He is faithful. Always good. Forever gracious. His Loving Care and Kindness is endless. He always offers me more, better, fruitful, and productive opportunities in life. However, this knowledge and understanding comes at a price.

It takes trust. It requires time. It is to invest a footstep in following rather than leading the way. It is to submit the most precious commodity given in order to receive forever. It is a risk in the beginning. How do I know? Where will I go? What will I do? Will it be worth it? The second part of verse one is an achievement of soul satisfaction. Jesus promised to give us a rich and satisfying life which the enemy has decide to steal, kill and destroy if at all possible. This is the journey of life. The ebb and flow of our flesh and spirit as one attempts to surrender our only thing of value to a Savior of infinite worth. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want is not one-sided statement but a partnership. The Lord is my Shepherd. He is doing His Part. I do not want because I have invested my life and my soul is satisfied.

The enemy cannot take anything from us that we are not willing to give. Any part of our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is heavily guarded by the One who is victorious and overcame the world. There is nothing invested in the Kingdom that the enemy can lay claim to or take hold of. Someone needed to hear that today. Our eyes keep looking at the giants rather than staying focused on our champion. He is bigger, greater and more powerful. The Shepherd is not meek but a fearless and faithful warrior who will not leave a single one behind who desires to be found.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

The peaks and valleys of life are inevitable. Jesus did not come to save the world. The tumultuous journey and path chosen by darkness is written and confirmed. The earth as we know it will pass away one day despite our stewardship of it. Jesus came for me and you. He loves me and you. His Greatest and Most Earnest Intent on the Cross was to have a relationship with us. The very first thing His Spirit did was to tear the veil that once separated mankind from God’s Presence from top to bottom. It was clear in that moment that our Savior and Lord’s Desire was for us. A personal and intimate journey through life into eternity with us. He is ready to escort us through a world where love has grown cold and sin rampant. Where bad things happen to good people. To a place where sickness and disease snatches innocent children. A place where mental illness plagues many as the tormentor and accuser hisses in their ears. See this world is not going to get better. It has an end. Enoch lived a life pleasing to God immersed in His Presence so one day he just disappeared. I believe Enoch to be just as human as you and I. I am sure some days were great and some a struggle. The consistency of His Life and Love was God.

The last week has been a challenge. The past few months a struggle. However, in the midst of the hardship, hurt and even uncertainty, I have found Psalm 23 to be true all over again. Life with Christ is not always level paths. There will be peaks. There will be valleys. Even plateaus that make some wonder if the Lord really will do as He promised. I have visited all three time and time again. I have a choice in these challenges. I can change and be changed or remain subject to the roller coaster of life. I can remain yoked to Christ or decide to do this on my own. When I remain faithful, I find that His Goodness and mercy are right behind me and overtake me on a regular basis. Not because I have done it all right, or even gotten a single point of the learning experience, but simply because God is faithful. He is constant. He does not change. What if I could for a moment establish such constancy with Christ?

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

About five years ago, I gave up control of my life. It was not a beautiful surrender or sweet submission. It was the moment that I realized I have absolutely no control over the daily outcomes in my life. I cannot provide, protect, or prevent anything in the life of those I love. I cannot fulfill God’s Promises of healing, deliverance or salvation. I am but a mere human being who is dearly loved by the All Mighty. Something in me has changed. At first, I thought it was a survival mode mentality that would surely change when danger passed and disaster was averted. It didn’t change at all. Normal was shattered. New life had begun. It was uncomfortable. It was not convenient. It was my complete undoing. Things are so much better now.

There is a song by Bethel called “All I Know Your Love Endures”. I found it on YouTube this week looking for comfort. A new song. Something to sing walking through the darkness of the valley. The chorus is “all I know is this Your Love endures through every change…I am sure of it Your Love endures it will remain.” Do you believe that today? Can you sing such a love song in the midst of uncertainty, climbing the rough side of the mountain, or on those days when the Light of His Love appears as only a faint flicker in a distance just too far to traverse? The bridge says this “Emmanuel…Your every word sustaining…your nearness is my victory…from summits and in valleys I’ll sing.” I encourage you to find this powerful worship song and listen to it over and over. Our victory in Jesus Christ is not in our ability to make it up the mountain or through the valley but to allow Him to be our constant. To be our song from the highest peak and into the depths of the wildest sea. Deep calls to deep not to wade in the murky and stagnant waters of complacency. God is greater than the highs and lows in life. We say it, wear it, and recite it but when it makes its way into our heart and soul enough to believe it. It is then that our delight will be the Lord and His Unfailing Love, Goodness and Mercy will sweep us into His Presence. As our soul prospers so will we despite the challenges and struggles of life. Not because of our faithfulness but simply because He is faithful. Thank you Lord! You are the Good Shepherd. I do not want but only desire more of You!

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

This is the Day

Field and sun.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

After receiving some challenging news, a friend text me, “Are you okay?” I confirmed that indeed I was just fine. I have been through enough seasons like this to know that “it is what it is”. If I fell apart every time the enemy threw fiery darts at me or dropped smoke bombs in my camp, I would be a worthless wreck right about now. Walking with the Lord can feel like skirting through a land mine field sometimes trying to avoid pitfalls and trip wires, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I would be a liar to say that I am unaffected. It is hard to maintain joy in the midst of adversity. It is our privilege in Christ to live in constant rejoicing but one must find such a place first.

This is the day the LORD has made. Today. This one. The day you woke up in. It has every bit of potential and purpose God saw fit to pack in it just for you. You do not have to just endure it, go through or be held captive by all the things that want to suck you in. This is the day the LORD made for you. He captured each second in handwritten form before you were born. He knew exactly what you needed to make it to the end of it. He prepackaged enough mercy to see you on your way and grace to catch you as you fall into bed tonight seeking rest and refuge from all its worries and cares. The faith in you has room to grow today. Hope can add another link the anchor that holds our soul. God’s Goodness can reach us right here and now. His Glory can surround us if that is what we desire. We have a choice to make today. Will I rejoice and be glad in today?

I know what you are thinking. I hear your sarcastic smirk even though silently crossing your face. What do I have to be happy about? What could there possibly be to rejoice over? I will be honest, I have no idea what it is or how you will do it but I know that joy is always possible in Jesus Christ. The night our son was diagnosed with cancer – I was there with his older brother. In that moment, the carefully constructed and controlled life that I had built came crashing down. However, about an hour later, there was laughter coming from our room. The nurses came down to check on us. Surely their ears were deceiving, as it must have been tears and wailing they were hearing. When they came in the room, it was indeed laughter. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is our refuge. To rejoice is not just words written by a psalmist to make us feel better but the reality is it is a place that will hold us when life is hard and the struggle real. They smiled in awe as they shut the door and allowed us to continue. I wonder if that is what the others thought when Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord from their prison cell. Could it be that our light shines brightest in the dark? How can it shine if there is no joy in the hope we have? Faith is evidence of what we cannot see that manifests in the impossibilities of life. We must learn to take each day and make it a time to rejoice.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 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.

Is it even possible to “always be full of joy in the Lord”? Life is tough. The unexpected hidden in each twist and turn. Disappointment lurking in the dark corners. The struggle real. The thoughts overwhelming. Responsibilities endless. Distractions plentiful. Doubt logical. Fear real. How do I remember that the Lord is coming soon? How do I choose peace over worry? When can I find time to pray about every little thing? God knows what I need, right? He knows my heart and can see all its good intentions. If I want the kind of peace that God provides…the peace that passes understanding it means I must stop trying to figure it all out and choose joy in every situation. Where do I find such a thing? When I decide to rejoice, pray, and let God be the source of my hope again…I will find perfect peace just like He has promised. (Isaiah 26:3) To live in perfect peace – I must trust the Lord and keep my thoughts fixed on Him.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV) 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.

If it is true (which it is) that faith is the reality of what we hope for and evidence of things we cannot see, we must learn to trust what we know rather than what we see, feel and experience in this life. It is to begin to look at things through God’s Word, His Will and His Way. To apply Jesus to every situation in our life is to apply the Word because Jesus is the Word of God. I will not rejoice in my situation or circumstances – my joy comes from the Lord so if I am constantly fixated in what I see rather than living out what I know – I will not grow in my faith but be surrounded by fear. Hope is elusive to the human eye most of the time. If I can see it or imagine it – it is smaller than what the Lord has planned for me. What I can do in each new day is choose to fix my thoughts and eyes on what is true. God’s Word is the Truth concerning my life. To focus on living an honorable, sincere and authentic life. To do what is right. Live what is pure. Devote myself to what is lovely and loving. To fix my thoughts on what is admirable or that which is deserving of respect and approval – I can think of only one thing – Jesus Christ. When I decide to devote my focus and energy on that which is excellent and praiseworthy it always comes back to Him. No matter how hard life is and terrible it seems – the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV) Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Again, I have no idea what you might be facing today. It could just be another day of the same old thing. It could be the day you decided to throw in the towel. Maybe it is the moment you thought things will never change. There is a knock on the door of your heart. It is the Lord. In His Hands, He offers new mercy and the opportunity to turn things around. Why? No matter how bad today is – God is still good. No matter how testing the trial – He has the answer. No matter what comes your way expected or unexpected – He knew it all along and prepared you with everything you need to go around it, through it or to overcome it. Nothing surprises the Lord so He can remain our confident hope. He has provided all that we need and ordained us to have every spiritual blessing. I am well-equipped for victory today. It comes when I set the Peace of God as my priority.

Psalm 16:8-9 (ESV) I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

As I set things in order, ready to face this crazy day, I am encouraged by the Word of God today. If I choose to set the Lord always before me, he is always at my right hand. I must set the Lord always before me. To see life through Him, the future through Him, and make better choices through Him. I will not be shaken in such a position and faith will make me immovable. Therefore…my heart is glad. It begins in our heart. The place where faith grows into confident hope. My whole being rejoices. As my soul prospers, it spreads. And finally…it is important to note that the flesh is the last to be secured. Our flesh will always war against the peace of God in our life. To give up its right to understand all of the “what ifs” and “whys” to fully expect the great I AM in all situations. When I decide to rely on what I know about the Lord and focus on my champion – I will beat my feelings and frustrations today. I will find peace and joy as my refuge. THIS is the day the Lord has made with all its ups and downs, bumps and bruises – I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Philippians 4:4 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Life Unveiled

Life Unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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