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.

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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.

In Just Three Days…

In Just Three Days

Philippians 4:5-7 (ESV) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In just three days, Christmas will be a memory. One for the history books, but as for today, I am pretty sure a mental gunshot was heard as a race to the finish line. Yesterday, we ventured into town to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Just a few items for the girls friends, oh my, what a madhouse. People hustling and bustling with long lines and less than gracious cashiers. Christmas morning is in just two days. A humble beginning made into a chaotic event. Since day one of this month, it has been my desire to reel in those emotions that have overtaken me each year. The holiday blues that inevitably knock on the door to the overwhelming desire to meet and exceed everyone’s expectation. Perfect gifts. Perfect cookies. Perfect everything. I revisit the verse that has been my constant reminder.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. I am happy to report or rather testify that it is working. The power of thanksgiving is tremendous in the life of a believer. Our faith and confident hope is in a God who promises to supply all of our needs, has already given us every spiritual blessing and yet still will do exceedingly abundantly more than I ask or think. To tap into this resource requires careful attention to my attitude. God has already done His Part. It is desire and discipline to become filled with gratitude that can change everything.

This morning, I will be taking my husband to the doctor. I had an emergency trip to the dentist yesterday. Unexpected not on the to-do list, but yet as I am thankful for health insurance that allows us to go seek medical attention. For every opposition to peace and joy, if we could only begin to attach something to be thankful for – an inconvenience is not such a joy killer or peace disrupter. Sometimes it is really difficult to find that one thing that will change our heart and mind. Thankfully we have Jesus as our go to. His Spirit lives in us to be our comforter.

I was feeling sorry for myself on Thursday. The dentist who I have long feared gave me terrible news. Walking through the store grabbing last minute groceries and small gifts, I came across a sale rack with some fluffy blankets at a great bargain. I decided to grab one as a gift. Another woman raced up and grabbed the last one behind me, while a woman in a motorized wheelchair was clearly in distress. Not to be judgmental, but obviously in need, she had her heart set on the blanket as a gift. She could not get it and was waiting for her friend to hand it to her. I started to walk away and the Holy Spirit tugged at my sullen heart. I turned around and offered her mine tucking it in her basket. She declined but I insisted. I offered a “Merry Christmas” with a weak smile due to a throbbing tooth and went to check out. I felt better. I cannot explain the joy in giving other than what I thought was a blessing to me was more of a blessing to others. Sometimes we must only get out of our “feels” in order to deal with discouragement, discontentment and devastation. Gratitude allows grace to change our attitude. Sometimes it means giving something up – including our right to feel sorry for ourselves.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thanksgiving clears our heart and mind of all the clutter that resides there. The enemy will constantly fill us with needs, wants and greed that fuels desire for more. What if we have everything we need to be completely content? What if it is only being hidden behind worthless emotions and feelings? The women in her grief sought out Elisha. The debt collectors coming to take her sons. He asked, “What do you have in your house?” She had oil and as long as she provided a vessel it kept on filling them until she ran out of room to store it. What if you have everything you want, need and desire at home? What if it you only need to take inventory? Give thanks. Instead, of a long list of demands, what if we simply say, “Thank you Lord for this…and that… and this… and that”. I believe that in our gratitude and thanksgiving there is an open vessel for the Lord to pour more love, joy and peace within us.

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV)  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

I would love to stay right here, but I must go. There is a doctor’s visit to go to, cookies to bake and memories to make today. But first, before jetting off in one direction or another, I want to say, “Thank you, Lord!” Everything in my life is filled with great potential. There are good things that I am aware of and details that He is turning into good right now! There are things I don’t understand but that He is making a way for. It is my desire to be filled with gratitude and generosity. Just three days, that’s all it took for Jesus to overcome sin, death and the grave. In just three days, Lord resurrect my heart. Renew me from the inside out. Restore me and make a revival in my heart that only sees the good that You have given me. Lord, make more room in this overcrowded heart so I will every single day. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

Psalm 100:4 (ESV) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

What’s Your Superpower?

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Philippians 4:13 (NLT)  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

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

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

Just For You

Just For You

I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” C.S. Lewis

True godliness mixed with contentment is the catalyst of love, joy and peace that eliminates the need to compare and compromise. True godliness is not something to be attained or achieved but simply accepting our identity in God through Jesus Christ and not subjecting ourselves to a lower standard of living. It is a choice. A daily decision to be thankful and focused on the treasure inside of us that is taking over. In fact, I believe that contentment is great wealth because it cannot be taken away from us. We came into the world naked and afraid and will one day leave it the very same way. Will there be an inheritance left behind for our children? What will it be? To teach our children even ourselves to live a life of godly contentment will do far more than any amount of money, assets or investment left in their name. To be certain that they know and understand their worth outside of the earthly economy will lead them to forever with a future and hope.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Paul let us in on a little secret. We must “learn” how to be content. Contentment is full satisfaction. It is happiness outside the boundaries of acquisition that allows us happiness, joy and peace even when lacking our wants, needs and desires knowing that God is our Provider. He is a Good Father. He will never let us down. Faith in God includes trusting and believing that His Goodness is for us. Right here. Right now in the land of the living. Yet, continuing to preserve unfavorable conditions, live through trying circumstances, and knowing when to wait on the Lord rather than giving into our impulsive nature. Tis the season of giving and getting and giving and getting until it everyone is all given out. Yet the Gift already given in Jesus Christ is enough to fulfill the promise that I can do all everything through Him who give me His Strength. Lord, teach us contentment today. Holy Spirit help us to learn when enough is enough.

“Contentment does not mean that I desire nothing. But rather, it’s the simple decision to be happy with what I have.” Paula Rollo, Author of Beauty through Imperfection

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

How does one find sufficiency in God without ever seeking Him? To seek the Kingdom of God above all else means making thankfulness and contentment a priority in our life. It is to live righteously always pursuing a close proximity to the Lord and not letting stuff (including pride) to get in the way. Pride is the drive and desire for more to somehow exalt us rather than living in subjection and surrender to Jesus Christ who says, “I am enough!” Is He enough for you today? Busyness and business makes us think we need more to be happy and extra to live extravagantly. I find that as my life is simplified that I sleep better. My drive for success has been redirected from this world to the Kingdom. God has been faithful in our partnership. Seeking His Kingdom including our willingness to be faithful to His Word, obedient in tithing, and sowing seeds of faith even some monetary will change our perspective of worldly success. Generosity is born of humility. Trusting God that whatever source chosen to give from will be replenished to overflowing again. Psalm 34:7 is the promise that those who take delight in the Lord will be given their heart’s desire.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

Psalm 21:1-2 (NLT) How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. 

What if the Lord is not withholding anything from us but simply waiting on what we desire to be more on His Scale? What if He desires to give us love, joy, and peace not subject to the things of this world and give us full satisfaction? The Lord has promised good to me. He has been faithful across the board in all things. To trust Him that He will never let me down, provide all I need and do exceedingly abundantly more than I could even think to ask for takes a faith in the unseen reality of what we hope for rather than in the light and momentary trinkets of today. We have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven. The ability to produce and prosper in every season. Foreigners journeying home to a Kingdom. We are sons and daughters of the King. It doesn’t matter what our life looks like here. Our lineage in Jesus Christ is to rule and reign with Him. Confidence in our identity will overcome the need to compare and compromise to someone else’s standard. It allows us to walk boldly before the Throne of God in our time of need and patience to wait as He fulfills our request according to His Perfect Will.

David was not a perfect man. He committed adultery and murder yet the testimony of his life is summed up in the statement that God had given him the desires of his heart and withheld nothing he requested. Our past does not dictate our future. The Lord is ready to make us a new creation and give us new life. We must be willing to accept it. Godliness is to step into the fullness of our identity with bold confidence that God, our Father, will never let us down and thereby produce complete contentment in our body, mind and soul.

I John 2:15-17 (NLT) Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

What is the desire of your heart today? Are there many desires? The world offers many “things” that it believes are necessary to be successful and prosperous. Heaven offers only one. Jesus Christ is the completion of our life. To become one with Christ in this life leads us to the everlasting. There are so many distractions and deceptions as the enemy of our soul feeds our flesh with cravings for lesser than things when God has an abundance for us. We must make room for His Fullness by taking captive rebellious thoughts and guarding our eyes, mind and body from all the substitutions being offered. Are you happy today? Are you content? Love, joy and peace are products of God’s Spirit and can never be taken from us. Happiness is an emotion. It comes and goes like the tide. It can be changed with just one tidbit of bad news or the knock of unexpected trouble. The Lord has something just for you. A gift to be opened. If used it will be the greatest blessing your heart and soul has ever known – it is called contentment. You must learn to be content. Contentment is found only in Jesus Christ as He completes His Work in us. Will you accept this precious and priceless gift just for you today?

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in the ecstasy of love…” C.S. Lewis

Adrenaline for the Soul

Adrenaline for the Soul

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Strip down, start running and never quit! I needed the encouragement this morning. A bit of adrenaline for the soul…if you will. Already ready for the holidays to end, I wonder if this year I can shirk the weight that has kept me from enjoying celebrating Christmas for most of my life. The heaviness that longs to overtake me, pull me back into the past, stop the excitement of tinsel, lights, and treats, steals joy in giving and overall leaves me totally broken and spent. I challenge the lie of the enemy who hangs lies and untruth attempting to attack. Like a lion laying in weight, latching claws into unsuspecting prey and waiting until exhaustion overtakes it and the lion can go for the kill. The enemy works very much the same. If he can just get you to give in or give up – he can take from you what you are willing to surrender. I will not submit.

Strip down…what is burdening you today? Is something weighing heavy on your heart? Examining our heart and mind today for truth is essential in releasing every weight and burden not of the Lord. Some important things to remember especially during the holiday rush will help us overcome the lie of the enemy. First, it is not your personal calling to meet everyone’s expectations. The long list of gift giving should not become a burdensome load like Santa’s sack. The menus and planning should be more about fellowship and less about perfection. Stay present. Remember our dear friend, Martha. She was lost in the preparation and missed the celebration of the Presence of Christ. She became bitter and offended by her sister’s lack of consideration as labored and Mary sat at the feet of 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.”

Are you tired? Worn out? You are called to a life of endurance and perseverance for much greater promises than a perfect tree, abounding gifts, and superb celebration. Unrealistic expectations are the enemy’s offering to keep us tired and worn out trying to make everyone happy and losing our joy in the process. Come to me. Do not let busyness keep you from the feet of Jesus this holiday season. It is His Birthday and Arrival that is to be celebrated not loathed by overwhelming burdens. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch me. What an awesome reminder! We must live in the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is enough to overcome the fact I cannot meet the worldly demands placed upon me but I am enough in Christ. Lord, teach me to live freely and lightly during the most strenuous season of the year.

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG) You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

Start running. Maybe you have been running for a very long time, yet still victory seems elusive. You are still bogged down by fear, worry, stress and anxiety. God did not give you these feelings or emotions – He gave you faith. Faith to fearlessly overcome every burden once thought to be your responsibility but now set free in Christ. Don’t just start running! Everyone runs. You must run to win. It will require discipline, obedience, perseverance and endurance. This means it will be a struggle sometime to continually shed the extra weight along the way. You must be focused. The perspective of your life should be from your higher calling not the constant demands of this world and other people…even your family. The enemy uses guilt and regret to keep people locked into the vicious cycle of unmet expectation. Christ is our fulfillment. To continually pour into a bucket with a whole in it, is fruitless. Without repairing the hole, you are wasting resources. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Without Christ there is no fulfillment, contentment or satisfaction. To show others the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ that gives way to contentment – we must possess it ourselves.

Galatians 5:7-10 (MSG) You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

From the cradle to the cross, Jesus endured everything humanly possible and overcame it all. He hands us His Victory when we choose to follow Him. Are you living victoriously? Are you running the race of faith superbly? Obedience to God including releasing unnecessary burden, unmet expectations, and unrealistic demands. This does not make you a quitter. It makes you a good runner. It makes overcoming and overwhelming victory possible. The one who cut in on you wants you to believe that these burdens, cares and worries belong to you and that if you don’t own up to them – you will let God and others down. The Truth is true repentance and radical obedience turns us from lesser things to attain greater faith, confident hope and full satisfaction.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG) For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over    the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

The gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ has far more potential than any other gift given or received. He has called so many wonderful and powerful things but the one to remember in the midst of the holiday rush is Prince of Peace or Prince of Wholeness. You are complete in Jesus Christ. The need for human acceptance and affirmation creates a drive to meet human expectation. You cannot bring fulfillment to another human being other than to offer them the fullness of Jesus Christ. If you light is dim due to busyness and untended flames of His Spirit, then you really have given them nothing. If you salt loses its flavor or is wasted on preparing fancy meals, then you have not given them a taste of His Splendor. If your words have turned from blessing to cursing due to discontentment, discord, dissatisfaction or just plain exhaustion – they hold no life or hope. We must place limits and boundaries to keep us aligned with Christ during what could prove to be the best Christmas yet – the year heavy burdens of worry and stress are released and blessed peace is accepted.

The Greatest Gift every given was our Savior and Lord, it is easy to let the demands of the holidays take our eyes off of Him and pick up responsibilities that He never gave us. This year make your list simple. Strip down, start running and never quit! The Lord offers to carry those burdens. He will take everything you decide to release. He is faithful. Run the race of faith with complete confidence that victory belongs to you. Above all things, never quit. His Grace is sufficient for those times we fall short, fall down, or just feel like failures. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are always pursuing us. We just have to stop long enough to let Him overtake us, fill us and right our way! Thank you God for your Son Jesus who is the Gift who keeps on giving! Let the Lord refuel you today. Spend some time with the Lord. Let Him help you go through your to-do lists. The Holy Spirit will be your helper this holiday season. Celebrate Jesus! The greatest gift ever given. You cannot top perfection. He is the Perfect Gift.

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

 

My Holiday List

My Holiday List

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s funny how things work. I was visiting a local discount store the other day entering through the Lawn and Garden Department through the automatic doors into a winter wonderland. How did that happen so quickly? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Surveying the Christmas trees and contemplating going back to a fake tree, it hit me. The holidays were here and I was fighting the blues or on the verge of depression. My poor children will attest that I am not very festive during such times. I have had to fight my entire life to find peace during this time. It begins as a mad rush to meet the expectations of so many and time which already seems short so exhausted. As I walked through the Christmas décor as if to challenge my emotions to rise up but nothing. I celebrated my small victory. It would be short-lived. Talking with another ministry leader in our church and our pastor, she began detailing my responsibilities during the holidays. Decorate the church, provide food for a fellowship, host a women’s meeting, and my mind checked out somewhere after that. Suddenly all those emotions came flooding back, I no longer wanted to decorate even our tree, celebrate the season or engage in the holiday rush. I just wanted to disappear and see everyone in January.

Now I could dig into the vast depths of such an emotional shutdown and bore you with details, I love to celebrate the Lord’s Birth. I love to worship Him during this miraculous and wonderful season of hope. But truly we all have our ghosts of Christmas past, just as Ebenezer has heralded. I don’t really care to share these things but rather offer a light given to me from the Word of God today. The Word is the weapon of our Spirit to kill the lie of the enemy, to subdue and take captive rebellious thoughts, and to overcome the bondage of expectations other than those God has for us. His Spirit takes them and uses them to combat our troublesome flesh that longs for control but uses it against us.

I read I Thessalonians 5:18 yesterday and then again today. The overture of emotions and fight for my peace is keeping me locked in this selection of scriptures. I sense that maybe they might be useful for you as well. Setting out to sermonize my symptoms, I found that many people actually suffer from seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression largely from unrealistic expectations, financial pressure, and excessive commitments. Add in to the mix – that there is less sunlight which is known to change human behavior. With less sunlight, people are prone to eat more and sleep more. With such insight – I give you my new holiday list.

This year my holiday goals are simple. I will rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances. I will know and do the Will of God for me which are these three things. End of list. I am challenging myself not to make a list this year and give up control of all the details. I release myself from unrealistic expectations because the Greater is He who lives in me does not make me a super human. He is the Greatest Thing about Christmas. I must keep my focus clearly set on Him. It is His Birthday that we celebrate. He brought hope to a dying people of new life, rebirth, renewal and full restoration. This is God’s Will for me. I am challenged to do His Will this holiday season as I strive to the rest of the year with greater success.

I Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV) Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

The Holy Spirit is our helper. The Lord gave Him to us because of our weakness. To plant seeds of faith deep into the crevices of even the most broken of hearts to grow and prosper our soul according to His Will. God’s Plan for our life does not change or stop because one chooses to disengage. The Lord is always working in us to fulfill His Work in us. I am quite sure it grieves His Spirit when the enemy is able to convince us otherwise.

In a season meant for fellowship and celebration, he pulls out an arsenal of lies, confusion and discord to wreak havoc on God’s People as we celebrate our Savior the annihilator of sin. When Jesus arrived, the enemy was put on notice. When He made it through this life as a sinless man to sacrifice His Life on the Cross, death and the grave were rendered ineffective. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have nothing to lose and everything to gain. During a time when many people go to church for the first, one and only time of the year, what better way to hinder God’s Work than to plague his people with fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and dim the Light of God’s Love that is love, joy, peace and absolute freedom.

We must strive to hold what is good and reject every kind of evil especially that which plays on our mind, will and emotions. It is a personal choice to rejoice always. It is personal commitment to pray continually. It is an absolute necessity to be thankful in all circumstances for that is the Will of God for us.

I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV) May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

In Luke 2:14 the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His Favor rests.” God’s Favor belongs to us. He gave it to us. He also has given us peace. Peace that can silence the demands of the world and give us absolute rest during the busiest most overwhelming season of the year. The secret is found these verses today. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless in the coming of Christ. Sometimes “blame” comes hidden in the expectations of others that we try to carry rather than fully entrusting our spirit, soul and body to Christ. It is the lie that if we do not meet the expectations of those around us to “their” full satisfaction that we somehow have “failed the Lord. God’s Will for my life is listed clearly to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances. I do not read anywhere that it is to make everyone else happy and content but to receive and live in the full satisfaction and contentment of Christ. The Lord is faithful. Our faithfulness in Jesus Christ gives us good fruit to satisfy others much more than a “perfect” holiday that is simply not possible.

John 14:27 (NIV) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I offer you the same gift that I am challenging myself to hold tight to this holiday season. The Peace of God has been given to us. It is His Gift upon his departure so that we can live completely resting on the faithfulness of God and His Promises through Jesus Christ – His Gift to us. Do not let the enemy have your joy. Do not give up your prayer time which is communication with the One who loves us the most and expects the least. Be thankful even when challenged with discontentment, dissatisfaction and unmet expectations that this world will readily offer throughout the next month. Gratitude will always change your attitude. The enemy wants to steal away this season of celebration of our Savior’s Birth. He wants to make you doubt the Hope found in His Arrival. Don’t let him. Use the Spirit of the Lord within you to rally against such thoughts and unfruitful considerations. Greater is He that is in you! You are an overcomer even when it is self that is the adversary. My prayer for us today is this:

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

Fugitive Heart

Fugitive Heart

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I should have seen it coming. You have to practice what you preach. I have been touting forgiveness to my teenager for a week. So why be surprised when I am faced with a situation that requires forgiving someone who is not sorry. Of course, I would be presented with a large portion of crow. Shocked and dismayed…I know in that moment the enemy chuckled. I have to make a choice. One I do not want to make…will I choose to be angry with this person who has offended me so or will I quickly forgive and move on. As I stumble over my flesh realizing that I am not as far in the race of faith as I once thought, I begin to recite all the scripture I know about forgiveness. It is a command not a suggestion. It is beneficial and crucial yet critical to my pride and fatal to my flesh. How can I just let this go? It is wrong. It is hateful. It is mean spirited. It is judgmental. Tears of frustration fill my eyes as I am sitting on the outside while standing on the inside. I must forgive the person as though my life depends upon it or risk becoming who they are in this moment sitting in the same bitterness, caught up in the past, held captive in hatred, and imprisoned by the wrath so wrapped up in their heart. What do you do when you just can’t get over it?

I am “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love.” Oh my goodness, this is so hard sometimes. People are people. We are imperfect yet called by a perfect Savior and flawless God to walk in His Image and live by His Example which is love, mercy and grace in all things towards all people. I would love to fall back on the fact that I am not God or selfless like Jesus but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Jesus lives inside of me. He is my new nature. His Spirit works to nurture, develop, and cultivate good fruit in the barrenness that once possessed me. I want to bear His Fruit. To be a good steward. To be a vessel from which a good harvest overflows…but my heart is angry and emotions all stirred up. I find that the fertile and broken heart is not always void of rocks and hard spots that need my attention. I am called to longsuffering but would like nothing more than to make someone suffer by my harsh words, mad retort, or not so gentle rebuffing. The Spirit of God says, “Let it go!” My flesh says, “Not so fast…” The inner turmoil begins.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How low can you go? It’s not a limbo term anymore but a question for my inner person. The one who wants to be like Christ but struggles with human weakness. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Love them. I do love them or maybe I should say in this moment of anger that I did. Friends can become enemies quickly in the shadow of hurt, harsh words, betrayal or even a simple misunderstanding. I tell my kids to ignore the offenses of others as I trip over my own tongue today. “Don’t make none and there won’t be none” has been my mantra that now hangs like a heavy mantle around my neck as it tightens into a noose.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NKJV) For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Are you harboring unforgiveness in a fugitive heart today? Caught up in anger that is burning into hatred? Do you feel that an injustice has been done and you deserve retribution? Vengeance is mind says the Lord but is your flesh rallying to take the upper hand? Did you know that the enemy of our soul uses such a weapon to take advantage of us because we are ignorant of his devices? Satan wants to trick you into not forgiving so he can steal something from you today. He wants to get you caught up in words or tangled in lies so he can rob you of the love, joy and peace so heavily invested in you by Christ. Is it working?

“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.” It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person was or how right you are, you become an enemy of their soul by choosing unforgiveness over longsuffering. The Light that shines within us grows slightly dimmer until it is snuffed out by our unwillingness to let a trespass go in the same sea of forgetfulness that our sin drifted away on. The Salt of our spirit becomes tasteless and useless when our season brings about hardness in the mine called our heart. I must forgive others simply because I am forgiven. What I bind on the earth is bound in heaven and that which I loose is free to go. (Matthew 18:18) When I shackle someone in their trespass, I am no different than Saul who persecuted Christians and murdered them for their belief. Lord, I must forgive. Teach me to be longsuffering. Help me to remain free and loose others from the expectation I have placed on them.

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

There may be a more significant meaning to seventy times seven which many commentaries can elaborate on but for this particular instance let’s say it means 490 times. Can you think of anyone you have forgiven that many times consistently without throwing the towel in or walking away? Truly forgiveness but become an infinite quality in our Christian character be reflect the grace of God given to us. But how do we continually forgive other people and not become a human doormat? That’s the fear isn’t it? The idea of losing our identity in the giving of our life to others. Maybe that is exactly what becoming like Christ is all about? Giving up our identity to be a true reflection of who He is and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus has forgiven me more than 490 times and the count is steadily rising. Forgiveness is a commitment to love others more than ourselves. Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. I don’t think that the Lord intended for us to have any enemies but one. The Kingdom is built of men and women bound together in unity and love. The enemy seeks to destroy the Kingdom beginning with the bitter root marked unforgiveness.

Luke 7:46-48 (NKJV) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As my heart softens in the Lord today, I am reminded of the woman who entered a room to face the judgmental glares of the Sanhedrin because she wanted to anoint Jesus with oil. Jesus forgave her of her sins and named her an example of one who has been forgiven much. To whom little is forgiven the same loves little. I have been forgiven much and sometimes I forget that when faced with an offense. I choose to be offended or hurt and throw up a wall around my heart. But that only limits me, I have been given unconditional and abounding love and grace by Jesus. I can live in it, walk in it and rejoice because of it even when others do not meet my expectation or hurt me because I have taken my expectation from others and placed it fully in Jesus Christ. Those times when unforgiveness rears its ugly head is only a reminder of how much more I need Him than the day before.

It has been established that it is easier to say, “Arise and walk” then “your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness crucifies pride and moves us to our rightful position behind Jesus and others. Isn’t that what they say true joy is all about Jesus, others and you? I have to be reminded sometimes that it is not all about me and maybe just maybe if I choose to love rather than convict – it may make a difference in others. I am called to be Light in this dark world. Of course, the enemy will try to put that light out at every given opportunity. I choose today to forgive. I will have to remind myself of this very thing throughout the day when offered bitterness and anger toward the person who hurt me. I must choose love and grace because that is where I live and breathe. I will walk in freedom and work to keep the other person free not by binding them in my judgment or condemnation but continually praying for their blessing and freedom in Christ. Ugh! It’s a hard one. It’s a choice. It is not about me but my commitment to Christ so I will forgive.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

Hearts and Hands

Hearts and Hands

Luke 10:38-42 (Message) As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

Balance. Life in balance. God designed and ordered our life with particular steps to fulfillment. Each one has a purpose for our heart and hands. I struggle between the personalities of Martha and Mary. I tend to be more of the Type A personality of the hardworking sister. Driven by labor, responsibilities and working. I find great satisfaction in a clean house and well-ordered life. The concept of control even in the smallest of tasks gives me security. I am learning to live like Mary. The worshipper who did not worry so much about her duties but focused on Christ. In the brief visit of Jesus to their home, Mary understood the importance of sitting at His Feet. Martha was overloaded with worry and stress to please the Lord and make His Visit pleasurable. Both ladies were noble in their efforts. Their actions demonstrating their fondness and admiration of Christ, but then the joy killer called comparison set in.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” (Theodore Roosevelt) How do we admire the beauty and worth of another without questioning ourselves? Comparison with myself and the person who God created me to be as mirrored in His Word will bring improvement as I grow, develop and mature in Christ. However, when I compare myself to others it breeds only discontentment and a lack of fulfillment. I am conforming to a standard other than that purposed for me. Psalm 139 reminds me daily to praise the Lord for who I am because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose all my own. Promises aligned perfectly to fulfill that purpose and not that of another. My perception of life must be through the Father’s Eyes in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I have set the standard too low…less I digress.

Comparisons can make you feel superior and other times inferior. Neither serves a useful purpose in the life of a believer. We are called to build a Kingdom. No two members will be the same. Each has a place, purpose, plan and promise which is in direct correlation with that of another. The enemy uses comparison to tear down the Body of Christ especially women. The media projects images of who we should be and what to believe. It creates a stirring that there is something to prove or improve in all of us. This may or may not be true but the kind of change society promotes is temporary but we are everlasting beings created by a Sovereign and Forever God who far outweighs today or tomorrow living in the vastness of eternity. His Son reserved a place for us there that has our name on it. Will He recognize us when we arrive?

The woman at the well in her conversation with Christ was told that true worshippers will do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) I believe that Martha and Mary demonstrate the two distinct personalities that the Lord carefully molds into this kind of worshipper. The one who does so in spirit and in truth. Mary was the spiritual worshipper. The one who couldn’t get enough of Jesus. She would sit at his feet, ignoring her household task, to “hanging on every word.” Martha, on the other hand, she was the worshipper in truth. She was busy preparing a meal for her guest, overseeing the task at hand, she was getting ready because she knew His Visit would be brief and she wanted to honor Him. At this point in time, Mary chose the essential. But wait there is more…

John 11:20-26 (Message) Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house. Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”  “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Lazarus had died. The sisters were mourning their great loss when Jesus arrived. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet Him while Mary remained in the house. Martha decided to engage the Lord and went to Him. I am sure she had some questions. Where were you? Why didn’t you come sooner? We needed you, Lord. Engaging faith is demonstrated in Martha who took her matter straight to Jesus while Mary stayed in her mourning. See Martha was not the one driven by emotionalism. She was a woman of action. Jesus shared with Martha in that moment just as He had taught Mary at His Feet. Her brother would experience resurrection power and new life right before her eyes that day.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Message) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.

The truth in Deuteronomy is applicable today. Our heart is the place of God’s Perspective. He looks deep inside our heart to determine the changes necessary in fulfilling our purpose. We must do the same. Our attitude and actions must relate to and live in relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. Mary may have been lazy. Martha may have been lax. Their purpose was not defined by personality but rather by the Person of Christ. The Lord did not leave them the same in each encounter. To Martha – He gave her permission to rest. To quietly spend time in His Presence. To the worker, Jesus says, “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…” (Matthew 11:28-30 – MSG) To the others, He says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (Isaiah 35:3-5) To both the Lord says, Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:6-7 – MSG)

Romans 12:4-6 (Message) In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

I wonder news for you today! It doesn’t really mattered if you came wired like Martha or Mary. You are you because God decided you were an important part of the Body of Christ. We must learn to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Knowing the Word of God and doing as He says. It creates unity in the Body and harmony in the Kingdom. God finds great pleasure in harmony. It releases new anointing and opens the windows of Heaven. We need Marthas. We need Marys. We need every other personality the Lord saw fit to create for His Kingdom. The key is aligning our lives to Christ and with each other as one. “Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.” What a wonderful truth! You are the Light of the world – a city on a hill – you will shine in your time! Be the heart of Jesus today. Be His Hands. Be one with each other. It’s His Purpose for our life.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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