Good Fruit

Good Fruit

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

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!”

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

 

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Thankful Heart

Thankful Heart

Psalm138:1-2 (ESV) I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Today is my birthday. It is just an ordinary day to me. I will let you in on a little secret. Taking another year doesn’t really bother me, I believe age is just a number. It is all the extra attention that I find to be the most uncomfortable. I am a giver. I love to bless other people. The position of receiver makes me want the day to pass more quickly. There is vulnerability in being the recipient. It creates a feeling of obligation in the acceptance of a gift. There is humility in the posture of receiving because it creates expectation. This morning as I fed the dogs, started laundry, working on the Mother’s Day plans for church, my heart began to recount all the blessings in my life. I am a grandmother now. Oh how I love that little guy. My life and my home the one that I dreamed of as a little girl. Life has not always been perfectly but now looking back it is turning out beyond anything I could have asked for, considered or imagined. Even though there were times I just knew all my bad choices, horrible habits, years of wandering, and inability to walk in constant obedience would result in a consequence – I just cannot find them now. God has certainly taken all those details making good on His Promise that unfailing love and possibility would be birthed in even the tiniest of details. Today – I am thankful with my whole heart.

I wonder what would happen if we lived each day in such a state. To be thankful with our whole heart would certainly change our mind. It would alter thoughts and reposition our perspective in life completely. Human nature is giving to comparison and complaining that eats away at our confidence in the God who works out all the details and even perfects that which concerns us. To be grateful acknowledges Him and to do so before the rush and radiance of His Glory comforts us in the waiting. I have received much from the Lord and to Him I must return my praise, glory, honor and worship. He takes our whole life and makes a masterpiece of it – can we give Him our whole heart in return?

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

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3) I didn’t ask for anything for my birthday this year despite my husband’s pleadings for some ideas. I was bestowed a crown fitting for a queen or at least my dentist charged me like it was. I really am content. The only thing I wanted today was to be surrounded by my family and closest of friends. To fellowship together and enjoy each other’s company over dinner somewhere. To hug all my kids and squeeze my littlest grand – there is nothing I am more thankful for than this. The Holy Spirit lives in us growing and developing fruit to feed our soul. The first of which is love. Love then joy and peace. These three things are essential. Given to us with a measure of faith to cultivate them fully in our life. Our heart is the fertile soil of new beginnings. I wonder if thankfulness and gratitude is an added nutrient that accelerates growth in us like a good fertilizer on flowers or the lawn. To weed out all the fear, doubt and insecurity sown in us by the enemy to choke out the confident hope that leads to impossibilities and prosperity overtaking us from the inside out. As I call on the Name of the Lord today – it is with two simple word not nearly enough for all He has done – Thank You!

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.

The Lord WILL and DOES perfect all that concerns you and me. It takes a lifetime to produce the miracle inside of us called new life. It takes a lot of planting for our heart and mind to prosper. We facilitate that process only in our “yes”. In the waiting, it is our willingness to praise and worship the Lord for who He is that is essential in tending that which is growing with us to manifest in our life. We can rejoice always. We can pray to a listening God without ceasing. We can give thanks in all circumstances because His Word will not return to Him void. It will accomplish exactly what it set out to do. He does perfect all that concerns us out of His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness in spite of us. This is the Will of God for our life. To prosper as our soul does. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with new life, new love, and new possibilities today. It begins with a simple “yes” watered in thanksgiving.

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever.

What Is Your Passion?

Passion

Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG) Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

What is your passion? Passion is any powerful feeling or compelling emotion in us. It produces a drive for that desire that is the kindling that creates tinder. When such a feeling or emotion is nurtured, it becomes inflamed. What is your drive in life? Is it to love the Lord your God with all your heart? The most important passion in our life is the one that consumes our time and energy. What are you after? What takes over your thoughts? What is that demands your time and is given its worth? Human beings are filled with many emotions, feelings and overtures both of God and not of God. The flesh has a passion all its own. Our heart also has passion that it longs to pursue. We decide what passion is fueled and allowed to exist in our life. So what about you? What is your passion today?

Love. To love God with all our heart. The other translations use the word “heart” instead of passion. The thought provoking Message Bible describes our love for God as passionate. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you pursue Him? Do you long to be filled by Him? Is He truly your beloved? To be passionate means having or compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling. It produces an urgency and fervency within us to overtake that which is desired. It also means to express it. To let it out in some sort of demonstration or portrayal. Purpose without passion is just a plan – it will not produce anything at all because there is no investment. Purpose fueled by passion will create prosperity in our life. The very thing given our time and energy will yield its gain if not abandoned but pursued. It is the law of sowing and reaping. Those with passion do not give up because there as inner drive that overtakes us. Hence, it is important to examine our heart and evaluate our feelings and emotions on a regular basis.

Revelation 2:2-5 (MSG) “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.”

Have you walked away from your first love? Maybe, wandered away unknowingly? It can happen. The church of Ephesus was doing all the “right” things but forgot about fueling their relationship with Christ. Everything we do, say and give our life to must be through our love and passion for Jesus Christ. The pursuit of His Heart must be our drive and desire each day in all things. If we are not careful, our partnership with the Lord becomes a business contract rather than marriage covenant. God will do exactly as He promised apart from love. His Love for us is constant. He passionately pursues us. Making the Way for us to live in right standing as sons and daughters of God. He will not lie. He cannot change His Mind and be God. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He is good even when we are not. God’s Passion and Commitment to us is never in question it is always consistent. It is our love and devotion to the Lord that hangs in the balance.

Recover your dear early love. The start of a love affair is generally a passionate overture of raw emotion. The buildup tremendous but letdown coming. The emotions, feelings and desires of love must become a commitment to be long lasting. The imperfection of people make it impossible to fully live up to the expectation of love without a tremendous amount of grace and submission. Where’s the fun in that? A life of love may not always be fanciful and fun, but godly love will always be fruitful and produce in us a satisfied and fulfilled life. When our first love is Jesus – our expectation of full satisfaction and absolute abundance are secure. If we hold steadfast to the hope given to us in every situation – contentment will be complete. Humanity is all about the “feels”. I wonder what might happen if our passion was turned to the Lord and pursued Him first. What would the possibilities be? I cannot lead others to a place I have never been. I cannot describe an experience that I have never encountered. I cannot share a love that I have not found.

I John 4:1719 (MSG) God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

What is your passion? I asked before and I ask you again. What is the greatest drive and desire in your life today? What if we were completely honest even if only with ourselves? Examining the contents of our heart with transparency, considering our desires and drive, evaluating our time and how it is spent. What if we truly laid out our life and took an account of where it is being spent? Would our greatest pursuit be the Heart of God with a passionate love for Jesus Christ? I can only look into my own life. We are to love others as we love ourselves. Do you love you today? I have found that only through my relationship with Jesus Christ have I established any self-worth. In Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle of life with the selfish and prideful nature of his flesh constantly combatting the goodness and grace of God at work in him. Such is the struggle of every believer to fully invest their heart in pursuing God with passion.

Our heart must fall in love with Jesus Christ. Our passion must become pursuing Him at all cost if His Promise and Prosperity is our deepest longing. Our soul must prosper before anything in our natural life will. Our soul prospers when our heart, mind and body are fully committed to loving Jesus Christ. It will require our careful attention and honest evaluation of the contents and contracts in our life. Jesus came to become our beloved…He calls us beloved. It is from this loving covenant relationship with Christ filled with passion that we can pursue others with perfect love. Desiring nothing from them because our needs and desires are fulfilled by Christ. It is in the sowing of love that we receive it.

Is it time to rekindle passion? Is it time to pursue something new? If your life is fully satisfied or overflowing in abundance, it may be time to return to your first love. To bless the work of our hands without having our heart could result in the death of many who call themselves Christians but do not know Christ or love Him. It is easy to take those we love for granted and Jesus is not exempt. His Grace and Goodness are not doormats but doorways to a rich and satisfying life. We must be passionate in our pursuit of His Love.

Psalm 23:6 (MSG) Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Song of Solomon 5:6-7 (MSG) Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing—it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—it’s not to be found in the marketplace.

It’s A Good Friday

It's A Good Friday

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

After a long and stressful day at work full of deadlines, I was driving home so thankful that it was finally the weekend. I thought about the day filled with too much to do and not enough time to do it thanking the Lord that I made it when it occurred to me that it was only Thursday. I still had to get through Friday. Ugh! Have you ever done that before? What a letdown! As I could feel exhaustion overtake me and complaints begin to rise up in my throat, I remembered it was Good Friday. Why do they call it “Good”? Jesus was about to face the most horrible day of his natural life. He cried out to the Father to take the awful cup of suffering from Him. If there was any other way but to endure the Cross, it had to happen quickly. Well, as Christians we know that Jesus went to the Cross and died for our sins. He would rest in the tomb for three long days. Can you imagine what His Disciples and Followers must have been thinking? None of this met their expectation. When the women arrived to attend the body of the “dead” teacher, master, and Messiah, the angels would meet them and said, “Remember what He said…” It is in the days preceding the victorious emergence of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that probably the best lesson for His People is taught. What do you do in the waiting? What happens when nothing turns out as planned? What happens when our expectancy wavers on the brink of devastation? How can we call such days “good”?

I am not comparing my busy and exhausting week to the suffering of Jesus Christ simply using it as an illustration. When we think the journey is almost over, only to discover a few forgotten steps. When it looks like the walls are coming down, but the Lord says, “Keep walking.” On the edge of breakthrough, when you cannot fathom moving another inch, pressing any harder, or enduring another minute. But you do… That my friend is the Grace of God working in you! Jesus set an example for us. He was focused. His heart set on you and me – those He calls, “Beloved”. He couldn’t go back, yet in the flesh – how could he continue? But He did…

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

What has eternity blossomed in your heart today? What is your most hopeful aspiration? Do you have a dream, goal or vision? Of course, you do! You are a Child of the Living God who is creative in His Ways. He didn’t call you to a mundane or mediocre life. Just as Jesus exemplifies sometimes we must fix our focus on the “joy” that is just on the other side of that which is so difficult. We must keep our heart and mind on guard in perfect peace that God will do exactly as He promised. After all, isn’t Jesus a prime example of the faithfulness of our Father?

Hebrews 12:3 (AMP) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On this Good Friday, we must consider and meditation on Jesus. He endured betrayal, hostility, abandonment and abuse all in a single day and still decided that we were worth dying a brutal and tragic death for. To consider and compare our discomfort and inconveniences to the suffering of Christ should help us gain perspective. He went to the grave and walked in to hell to take back your life from the hand of the enemy. Three long days later, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious in His Efforts. He didn’t only give you the gift of eternal life but every promise that once was withheld due to rejection and rebellion against God are now available in righteousness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came that we might have a rich and satisfying life. He came to give us His Abundance from the coffers of the Kingdom. Surely if Christ could do all that – we can make it another day striving to live apart from sin, walk with Jesus and endure a hard day or rough season. We must set our heart, mind and soul on the joy set before us and secured by our Savior. It is indeed a good Friday!

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

It’s going to be a busy weekend for Christians. It is the biggest weekend with high attendance for churches. There will be many festivities. Shopping for just the right outfit. Running all around. Can we stop for just a moment and fix our eyes on Jesus! When you think about complaining, remember that you have victory in every situation today! If you do not quit or give up but just believe – breakthrough is coming! We serve a risen Lord. Even His Disciples struggled with doubt and disbelief. Can you imagine what was running through their heads waiting for the stone to roll away? What happened? This is not what they expected. Jesus says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” He doesn’t give us the kind of rest the world does. A quick respite from running to and fro. God gives us peace of mind and heart that even on our worst day it is a good day thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 21:25-28 (AMP)  “There will be signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars; and on the earth [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with [transcendent, overwhelming] power [subduing the nations] and with great glory. Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”

Losing Me

LosingMe

Matthew 10:38-39 (MSG) “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

“Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus!” (Bethel Worship)

Woke up with music on my mind today and this line from a worship set I have been listening to. Gotta lose my life to find it, I have to lose my life in You – Jesus! The joy of surrender. Conflicting terms to the world but celebratory for the Christian who gives their life to Jesus. There is joy in surrender because giving up my life allows me to fully embrace who I was created to be. The enemy wants us to think that such an attitude followed by intentional action becomes a regulated life of rules and constant sacrifice. The truth is that in sacrificing what sin made me, I can fully embrace who I was created and called to be by God through Jesus Christ.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.” Seems harsh yet I can attest the humble offering of my broken life has never been less than totally rewarding. I am not who I used to be. Some days, I am comfortable in that and then others it is not so gratifying but always beneficial. To compare our natural life to the supernatural existence offered by the Lord is like a fairytale to some – they want the happily ever after but cannot believe it is possible. I have come to a point where my life is worth nothing outside of Christ. I have come to realize that every good thing in me and around me is straight from Heaven. God is a good father. He has given me a good life. He has stuck with me through thick and thin so the least I can do is oblige Him the same. I don’t want to be like the ten lepers who were healed but only returned to give Jesus glory and gratitude. I wonder if that is a sad statistic hidden in God’s Word. How many come to the Lord yet never go the distance? They take hold of the blessing but never enter a relationship with the One True Blessing. The One who gives and gives and gives to His Children. The One who gave His Life for me and you.

John 12:24-26 (MSG) “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

To make it practical – there is the illustration of a grain of wheat or a mustard seed of faith. It must be planted in the ground to reach its full potential for in its present form it remains just that – potential. Until a seed changes its form, there is no transformation into purpose. You have a purpose. God created a plan with a future and hope just for you. In order to have the full potential and purpose for our life, it must be surrendered by faith to the Creator. He takes what is in us and makes way for fulfillment. We have to make a choice. Natural life or supernatural living – one is limited and the other limitless. One stretches the span of our birthday to the date on our death certificate. Those who want eternal life choose to give up this life in order to have forever. But God doesn’t impose punishment or suffering on those who choose surrender but fulfillment and full satisfaction beginning now. He brings Heaven to connect with us on earth when it is our decision to receive Him now AND forevermore.

Jesus set forth an example. A clear-cut pathway of service called unconditional love and amazing grace. The two will always require a forfeiture of our rights in every capacity. It means forgiving the unforgivable. Giving even when it hurts. Continually laying down our life to serve the most unworthy of characters knowing we once walked in their shoes. Are you surprised? I didn’t mention all the do’s and don’ts of religious doctrine. I didn’t highlight the “seven deadly” sins. I am convinced that those who truly fall in love with Jesus Christ will avoid sin. They will do their best to not sin as to not hurt their beloved. I do not want to hurt my husband, children, family or friends. I have no ill will toward them. I would not take advantage of them knowingly. I try not to take anyone for granted. So why would I ever wish to knowingly harm the Lover of my Soul who laid down their life just to have me with them forever? I tried to be a good Christian. It didn’t work out so well. When I finally crawled to the Cross empty-handed and begged the Lord to take me – everything changed. It continues to change daily. I throw in the towel and pick it back up again. Not for people – I just can’t leave Him. I can’t ignore Him. I can’t live, breathe or move without Jesus Christ. He is my everything!

Philippians 2:16-18 (MSG) Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

I want to be living proof that Jesus Christ is alive and well. I cannot do that on my own. I am a mess just like everyone else. I can pull it together some days with a good night’s sleep and some Maybelline but the truth is that inside I struggle to keep my heart and mind set on Christ. To continue to live by faith and not by sight. To put others before myself especially those who don’t do the same. To do everything readily and cheerfully is a challenge. To be a breath of fresh air to the squalid and polluted society that is going to hell in a handbasket is tough. Some days it is easier to say, “Have it your way! If that’s what you want, go right ahead!” But the Lord reminds me of my worth and that others are just as valuable – every one of us cost Christ every drop of His Blood and breath of His Life to save us. I am living proof that Christ heals, delivers, saves and redeems whether I act like it or not. The only thing I have to be proud of is Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Can we be real for a minute? Completely honest? I get tired. I feel worn out most of the time. I am burned out, fed up and over religion. I just want Jesus – thank you very much! He says, “Come to me.” When I take the time to rest in Him, I find that all the frustration begins to melt away. He encourages me to keep going. He tells me it will be worth it. He prods me to plant more faith. To give more. To learn from unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is easily offered when our full expectation is in Jesus. Disappoint comes when we set our eyes and expectations on lesser things. Human beings are imperfect. They will ALWAYS find a way to let you down. Transitioning all of our life into the Hands of God for His Workmanship to make it into a masterpiece is never easy. We are taught to live each day to the fullest. Go for broke. You only live once. Our faith cannot be based on the ideology and misconceptions of the desperation of this world but fully invested and completely convinced that God is exactly who He says that He is and will do EXACTLY what He promises.

There came a time in my life about halfway through when there were just too many broken pieces to make anything of worth. A normal life became impossible and a good life unpalatable. I was handed fear, anxiety, worry, doubt and anxiety. I carried that basket for a long time. I was broken. Oh, I was a believer and Christian. I had my heart and mind totally set on Jesus Christ but couldn’t see a future rising up from my devastated life. How could this be the life God promised for me? Was it really going to end like that? I remember the night that I slid all my broken pieces across the table into His Nail-Scarred Hands. I can’t fix me Lord. I am lost in my life and struggling. He took it. All of it. Nothing has been the same sense. It seems like just when I think “I” have it all together again. I am reminded by Jesus – “Hey, are you looking for this?” I find my being in Christ. Losing every part of me including all my self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem taught me where to find life. I had to lose control. Life became inconvenient. I had to struggle my way out of my present form to embrace the changes coming. I had to lose my life to find it. I had to lose my life in Him. His Name is Jesus.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG) Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Assumption

Assumption

Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The journey of faith is long and arduous. It requires endurance as that exerted in a marathon. Many will begin but few will finish – the broken road is laden with many who heard the Word of God and wanted all of its benefits but succumbed to one of the many distractions along the way. Some of the seeds falling on a path easily devoured by the lie of the enemy which is his only weapon formed against. It will not prosper when seeds planted deep in the human heart become confident hope. Other seeds were considered and even pondered for a short time but then the busyness of life and need for immediate gratification hindered the roots of trust from grabbing hold of every fear, doubt and insecurity and crushing them in the peace of God through Jesus Christ. Without being rooted and grounded in God’s Love and Goodness through Jesus Christ there is no Living Water to sustain us during times of drought. Other seeds were suffocated by distractions and the thorns of life keep us in the ordinary when all along the new life waits in the extraordinary. You were born in the natural and through Jesus Christ have access to the supernatural. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives? They have the wrong assumptions.

There are two kinds of assumption – 1) there is the assumption that takes for granted, and 2) there is the assumption that takes possession. Let’s talk about assuming. The word jumped off the screen reading Ephesians 4 today. God never lies or changes His Mind. He is Sovereign and Perfect in every way. He loves us. He is good to us. He desires us. His Unconditional Love for us evident in the selfless giving of His Son to obtain our life in its most wretched state. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, He never changes. Our life has a plan and purpose containing a future and hope prerecorded and predestined before our natural birth only awaiting spiritual rebirth. My heart has a measure of faith to begin the growth process. It has a promise – eternity. Jesus came to be the Way, the Truth and Life. To give me access to the Father and become His Child again. All of this belongs to me including every spiritual blessing and the supplies to meet every need. I am promised victory in Jesus Christ. He is the overcomer who will never leave me or forsake me. He has given me His Spirit as a helper. The Spirit provides guidance in applying God’s Word (seed) to my life and making it grow into good fruit that will satisfy me with a prospering soul. If my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is not His Fault but by my own assumption.

Do I assume natural occurrences or supernatural outcomes in Jesus Name? My strongest conviction must be that the Lord is exactly who He says He is and does exactly what He promises to do. Before Christ I took all these benefits and blessings for granted because honestly they were unattainable. Coming to Christ, I must change my assumption by faith fulling believing and adopting the promises of God in every area of my life. It is human nature to doubt. To have fear and anxiety is evidence of insecurity in my heart that Jesus can and will do exactly as promised in His Word. To lack joy, peace and every other fruit born of the Spirit is to accept these things as a way of life rather than giving this life away by faith to trust God at His Word.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

“We all make basic assumptions about things in life, but sometimes those assumptions are WRONG. We must never trust in what we assume, only in what we KNOW.” Darren Shan

Our new life in Christ requires us to make new assumptions. We are prewired by experienced to never assume but always try, test, ask and know. As I have said many times, I do not believe in blind faith. Faith is what we know about God and choose to believe. The assumption of our life as believers is through adoption. To know, trust and believe so that faith becomes logical and hope our confidence. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless before Him. He decided to adopt us to become His Sons and Daughters. It is according to His Will and by His Grace that such a life is even possible. The rest is up to us. The acceptance of Jesus Christ and the new life that is offered is to know His Love and live in it.

We must fully assume our new identity in Jesus Christ in order to obtain every spiritual blessing. The Spirit of God within us is proof of our identity. Faith is His Investment so that when sown in our heart and life that it blossoms into new life. Jack’s mom didn’t believe the beans he received in trade were worth anything and threw them out the window. But the next morning those seeds became a beanstalk connecting earth to the sky. Now we both know this is just a children’s story, but what if the seeds given to us in the form of God’s Word really do have the potential to connect Heaven and earth. To change our normal existence into a supernatural lifestyle. What if our ordinary really is purposed to become extraordinary? What are you waiting for? It’s time to put some seed in the ground by faith and watch it grow in Jesus Name.

Romans 8:14-16 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

“Faith grows when we assume the position of one who can’t do it all by himself. That means we go to God, follow Him, and ask Him for help.” – John Townsend

I am caught up in this thought of assumption today. Are there areas of my life that I have not yielded to Christ and assumption of my new life? Am I living as an adopted daughter of the Living God or do I still lack full assumption of my identity in Christ? How do I know? What do I expect? Do I expect God’s Love and Goodness? Do I live a confident life fully trusting the Lord to meet my need and exceed all expectations? The answer lies in my own heart. I must examine the contents carefully lest I assume without knowing. I must know the Word – not assume it doesn’t apply to me. I must know Jesus Christ through an abiding relationship – not just assume an introduction one day. I must live in a life of power by fully accepting grace that is only magnified in my weakness. Less of me and more of Him allows me to connect with Heaven by faith now rather than wondering when I die if I will enter its gates. There is no greater confidence than faith flourishing in every spiritual blessing given to those who live by faith as an assumption of all God has planned and purposed. To do so, I must assume that I am a Child of God because I know the Word and He lives in me.

I John 4:4 (ESV)  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Cross Examination

Cross Examination

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139 is my favorite of them all. The story of creation in the intimacy of the womb with a loving Creator who considered me thoroughly before He gave me a single breath. To know that God’s thoughts concerning me are precious and precise. This was the mirror of hope that gave me new life. To know that God lovingly and intentionally created me with purpose. To realize that my life is a plan proposed with enough love, mercy and grace to get me from here to everlasting life. I have been a believer for more than forty years now. In my teens, a youth worker introduced me to this simple truth. After years of contemplation, I am still completely in awe of God and His Goodness.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NLT) O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

The complexity of God’s Love revealed in the concept that though He examines my heart and knows everything about me…He insists on being with me every step of the way. On my good days, the Lord celebrates with me. On my not-so-good days, He lends an ear to my tearful ramblings catching each salty one in the palm of His Hand. On my bad days, He sees my rebellion yet still insisting to go with me and ready to respond the instant I turn back. His Love for me is unyielding. It is constant. Persistent. Pervasive. It is perfect yet I am imperfect. If God’s Love never fails me and His Grace is enough, why then would I need to examine my heart? Why the cross examination if He knows my faults, failures and weaknesses from the very start?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

The first and greatest commandment. The one that comes with a promise. The only thing that we must do to keep faith alive and hope confident. To love the Lord God with all my heart, my soul and my mind. The second is equally as simple as the first – to love others the same way. I wonder sometimes if we convolute the commandments with religious doctrine full of dos and don’ts because true love with deep conviction cuts our heart. It penetrates our soul intimately. It changes our mind completely. Flesh dies as the heart, soul and mind prosper. The collateral damage is crucified pride. In this selfless, helpless and weakness, our need to survive overshadows God’s Promise to thrive.

God loved the world by giving His Son to die and pay the price for our sin. My sin demanded every drop of Christ’s Blood so that His Grace would be sufficient for me. I was judged by the Glorious Standard set forth before my birth. God sent the Light of His Love to lead me out of the darkness and live in the Light. There is no judgment against anyone who believes. So why must I challenge myself with cross examination if I have been exonerated by the Blood of Jesus Christ? My faith must be genuine. It must be a valid component of who I am and what I believe. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. How is this possible when Psalm 139 describes a creature made fearfully and wonderfully…it is the potential of my faith revealed in God’s Word that precipitates the process of prosperity. As my soul prospers…so will I.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 

Sin will always offend God. Sin separates me from God’s Plan until surrendered to the Cross. The watered down gospel of grace that many hold tightly to will not produce the kind of life according to God’s Glorious Standard. All things are permissible to the believer. Whom the Son set free is free indeed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But not all things are beneficial. If I want the blessings and promises God imparted to me when I was created, I must examine my heart daily. Sin will always cause division. The unmentionables require cross examination. We cannot live a complacent existence but live in a crucified state. It sounds brutal. It seems harsh. People love options. They like to have an opinion. At the end of the day, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. To know Him is to love Him. I cannot do anything to be saved but daily yield my heart, mind and soul to Christ.

For some this will be a message of love, joy and peace as they enter a rest that they have not known. God is less interested in what we do than who we are becoming. If my love is not the product of faith, then it is impossible for anything I do to please God. We must examine our heart each day. Sift through the thoughts that clutter our mind. Surrender our soul the Sword of the Spirit so He can remove the hard exterior and expose the new life within.

I Corinthians 4:3-4 (NLT) As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

What in me offends God? It is easy to be offended by the things of this world and people in it. But I wonder if I focused my efforts on the pieces of my broken heart that do not resemble the faith, love and confidence I have in Christ – I could love more, forgive more, and be more of who God created me to be. What if I evaluated my energy and efforts more than others placing my full expectation in Jesus Christ? Could it be that in my need to compare I have missed the inexpressible joy and perfect peace promised those who trust the Lord? I can only imagine as I examine my heart today what I will find there. Looking into the Word of God – I can see my reflection. Not of the person I am but the new creation that Christ wants to make of me. The fearfully and wonderfully made creation of Christ who will be a masterpiece if I just give Him my all today and every day. I want my faith to be genuine. I long to have a secure future filled with hope. Faith makes all things possible. I just have to believe. I am who He says that I can be. Lord, cross examine me today. Show me what offends you. I give you permission to remove it. Let your Spirit sow seeds of good fruit in its place. In all things Lord, be glorified in my life. Make my faith genuine and hope confident today and every day as I learn to live every aspect of my life in YOU! Less of me and more of You – Jesus!

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

This Is Only a Test

This is only a test

I Peter 1:6-8 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Have you ever heard this announcement? “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and federal, state, and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. This is only a test.” Followed by a deafening tone and then, “if this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed where to tune in your area for news and information.” Thankfully, I have not experienced an actual emergency – it hasn’t happened in all the years that I have heard this message. In fact, it is easy to tune it out or turn the radio down until the message is over. If there were a state of emergency, the system was developed to allow the President of the United States an expeditious method of communicating with the public in the event of a national emergency such as war or crisis. Wouldn’t it be nice in the chaos and craziness of life if the Lord would break open the clouds, shine down the sun on us, and say, “This is only a test, participation is voluntary and everything will come out for your good and My Glory…this is only a test”?

Do you have faith? Do you believe? Do you have absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ? Maybe the more important question is do you have fears, doubts, worries, and insecurities in life? Are you satisfied? Are you prospering in abundance? Do you have perfect peace? There are many benefits and blessings to this new life in Christ yet to be experienced. A prospering soul overflows into our mind, will and emotions taking captive the lie of the enemy and releasing God’s People to live in liberty. Do you feel free today?

So be truly glad…there is wonderful joy ahead even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

Our youngest is preparing to take her driving test to obtain her learner’s permit. She turned fifteen months ago, she has been studying and worrying about the test ever since. I have encouraged her many times constantly reminding her that she cannot drive for a year after she passes the first test. Yet still she not taken the test. The word “test” is four-letter word that strikes fear in the heart of many students. A test is not terminal but temporary. The weight put upon it by worry, care and anxiety far greater than the outcome. The Emergency Broadcast System was established for preparation and information during a trial or turmoil in our country. The Lord has provided us with similar information so that when our faith is tested it will be proven genuine. Have we tuned Him out? Turned the volume of His Voice down? The best way to pass the test is preparation.

Job 23:10-14 (NLT) “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Tests and trials are a part of every believer’s life. It has nothing to do with our ability to be faithful or not. It is a product of God’s Love for us and His Goodness that is always pursuing us. He made a plan for your life that is better than anything you can think, ask or imagine. Your just enough is supposed to be more than enough. Your near misses were really hidden victories. Job lost everything in a day. Job lived a godly life. The Book of Job is hard to fathom that one man could do seemingly everything right and still have such tragedy befall him. But in the end, Job received a double portion from God. His pride fully crucified left dying in the past – the rest of life would be fulfilled just as the Lord promised.

What is your trial today? Are you in the midst of a test? The test of true faith is not in our success and failure but in our steadfastness and endurance. God is giving you an opportunity to trust Him a little more. Follow Him a bit farther. To experience the abundant and satisfying life that He designed and predestined you to have. We must learn to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the test or trial that is preparing us for it.

I Thessalonians 5:15-22 (NLT) Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

How is it possible to keep our joy in the midst of tragedy? How do we continue to pray when it seems to be falling on deaf ears? How does one maintain thankfulness in poverty or lack? This is God’s Will for you in Jesus Christ. To have joy and peace in every trial and test requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave you His Spirit when you decided to ask Him to be your Savior and make Him Lord of your life. This is a process. Don’t let anyone lie to you. Faith grows daily not overnight. Trust produces confidence in the hope given to us. His Grace is enough for the challenging tests that take more than one try. The promise that He make good of every detail of our life includes the failures of faith.

I Peter 1:8 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.

“This is a test. It is only a test. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Forgive me for the paraphrasing liberty taken with the Word of God. If we could only learn to trust that Jesus truly did overcome the world – we would live in constant victory as the Glory of God overtakes us. To believe that nothing is impossible with God changes everything. Our reaction to ordinary problems becomes extraordinary outcomes when the test is not as impressive as our God. When our response to the impossible is expectation of a miracle – it changes everything from the inside out of us. To know that no matter what comes our way – anything is possible makes life worth living because it gives us hope. Hope that never leads to disappointment no longer how long it takes. Faith is not based on what we see but WHO we know. When we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of faith it changes if every tragedy into a “lived happily ever after” story. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength today. Take what little bit of energy you have left and give Him praise. He is worthy of our worship even on the darkest day. Those who do will pass the test of genuine faith that opens the door to the everlasting.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His Promise, just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Something New

Something New

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

One a couple more days and it will be a brand new year. Where does time go? Like sand running through an hour glass, it waits for no one. One day becomes a week, becomes a month and before you know it another year has passed. Looking back over the past year, it has been a good one. Our blessings far outweigh the struggles. The next year has many good things to look forward to – our first grandbaby will arrive. Our son will marry his love and our family grow some more. These are just the things that are known, there are so many more things that we do not know. Serving a God who chooses to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask, I am full of expectancy.

Today – considering the arrival of the New Year – I am evaluating what to take with me into 2018 and the things I am leaving behind in 2017. The passage of time is beyond our control but each one of us is given 24 hours a day to choose how to use it and the freedom to decide what goes into our future and what is left in the past. Like packing a suitcase for an upcoming trip with airline requirements and security clearances to consider, I must evaluate the baggage that I will carry from this year to the next. I want to become a new creation. I want the new that is coming. I can only have that which I make room for. When going on vacation, I always make sure that there is extra room in my luggage for souvenirs. Will there be room for the “new” that the Lord has for me? Or will I remain weighed down with this year’s junk?

Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Prayerfully I must consider the things that make up my life. The contents of my heart, the substance of my soul and every thought circling in my head. Reconciliation to God is an ongoing effort. Careful inspection of every aspect of my life. I have been given a new covenant to live by called grace. It is important not to lose sight of the terms of this agreement with God. Grace is a gift that can only be accepted. I do so by acknowledging my weakness rather than hiding behind my pride. It is to say, “Lord, here I am.” I must give my all to fully accept the new covenant given to me and allow Christ to change me from the inside out. It is a conscious decision and everyday awareness of the potential of grace to complete my life and release God’s Blessing in it.

Are there some things that I must let go of? Yes. Are there some things that I will bring with me? Of course. The most important thing to remember in the upcoming year is that God is still working on me. The promise of becoming a new creation and given new life is based strictly on my acceptance of His Grace and to live in this new covenant. Nothing in our life is ever wasted. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. This would have to include every mistake, shortcoming and failure to effectively supply enough grace to be called sufficient. It really doesn’t matter how this year is ending – a new one is coming. God’s Promises and Potential for our life is secure in His Covenant.

Psalm 119:35-38 (ESV) Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.

I am truly looking forward to the coming year. With all the wonderful things that I know are coming, I cannot help but be excited. God is doing new things. I do not want my limited expectation keep me from discovering all that the Lord has for 2018. It happens when I stay focused on what I see rather than embracing the unseen by faith. It is important to take some time before the ball drops and the calendar page turns to sit with the Lord and let Him show me what to take into 2018 and what should remain in 2017. To evaluate progress in reconciling my life to Him and decide what needs to be eliminated to move in closer to Him. He will lead me. The Spirit in me can turn my head from worthless things but only the willing will follow His Guidance. Lord, create in me a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit for the coming year. Lord, remove the weight that keeps me from that which you have for me. Thank you for the new life you have given me and new creation that I am becoming. Will 2018 be the year that you let the Lord do something new in you, too?

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Beware of the Thief

Beware of the Thief

Matthew 6:19-21(ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is finally Christmas Eve. To some it is a time of elation while preparing to gather with family and friends to begin a two-day celebration. To others it is a lonely time that will drag on for what seems like forever. If you are the mom and dad, it is show time. Things get a little crazy with all the cooking and preparations to pull off the biggest night of the year for children. Who am I kidding? My adult daughter still expects a full stocking. The demands high and expectations even higher it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed in the midst of it all. I would also like to warn you that there is a thief lurking in our midst.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) The thief wants to steal your joy. He wants to take your peace. Bent on destruction, he does not come through unsecured windows or unlocked doors. He invades our heart and makes his way to our mind. If our attitude can be accessed, it will change our actions. Allowing darkness to take the place of Light.

Matthew 24:43 (ESV)  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

It is written that Jesus will come as a thief in the night. I believe it. However, it also warns us as believers that the thief who is our enemy is prowling around as well. He is seeking the one who he can easily devour. We are to remain alert. Stand guard. Be ready. We do not overcome the enemy by fighting back but standing on faith and confident hope as our platform of trust. It means raising our level of above humanity to heavenly. We must be prepared before the thief comes. Locking the door to our heart. Shutting the windows to our mind. Allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and sustain us with the Fruit that affords us self-control. We have the Power of God in us to keep the thief from robbing us. Will we be ready when he comes?

I Peter 5:8-10 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

In all our busyness, rushing here, running there, and attempts to perfect the final details of Christmas, I am reminded this morning that it is important to be watchful. Your adversary is prowling around seeking someone or something to devour today. Resistance is to reject the lie that is being offered instead of the truth. Firmness in our faith is total reliance of Jesus Christ to meet our needs and exceed our expectations. God’s Grace is for us. It’s in us. It is the generosity of God’s Heart given to us for us to in turn give to others. The Lord will restore you. He will confirm you. He will strengthen and establish you. Do not let the enemy rob you of special moments and blessings over temporary things. Release the idea of perfection and embrace the fullness of His Grace. Let it be your portion. It is enough.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Where is your treasure today? Is it in a safe place untouched by temporary problems or immediate pressure? Is it locked up where the enemy cannot touch it much less take it? You are the keeper of your heart. You determine who resides there. You decide how much control is relinquished in your natural life to Kingdom principles. When Christ set you free, you were free indeed. That means you control your life and destiny. Salvation and true repentance afford us the opportunity to exchange ordinary for extraordinary and natural for supernatural. The enemy pulls out his arsenal of lies the moment someone decides to give their all to Jesus. We must work diligently to let go of worthless things and grab tightly Kingdom Blessings. Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit gifted to us for full satisfaction. We must continually work to maintain the Presence of God in our life so the enemy cannot try to come and take these from us. Are you full of love, peace and joy today? I hope that you are. Now before you get in the kitchen, go to the mall, start wrapping or have your first glass of eggnog, get into His Presence and make a Kingdom Deposit. What is in the Kingdom is inaccessible to the enemy.

Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV) I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

There is a thief diligently seeking to steal, kill, destroy and devour every good thing that the Lord has in store for His People. We must be alert. Sober-minded. Utilizing the Spirit’s Gift of self-control to overcome the enemy. He cannot take what is put securely in the Hand of God by faith. God is our refuge. He is our Strength. He is the Stronghold that keeps the enemy out. Have you called upon the Lord today? He wants to surround you and fill you with love, joy and peace this Christmas. We must only be available and willing to receive.

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