Time of Visitation

Time of Visitation

I Chronicles 16:28-31 (ESV) Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Many Christians are preparing to attend a morning church service at the place of worship today. Some dedicated servants are already there turning on the lights, making coffee, and praying over each seat in preparation for the people. God bless them all! Pastors are fine tuning their notes while the musicians do the same all in hope that a visitation of God’s Spirit will precipitate salvation experiences and supernatural encounters with the Living God. What about you? Did you prepare to meet with Jesus this morning? Have you invited His Spirit to have His Way in your heart today? Or like many, are you just trying to get out of bed and figure out what to wear? If I can just make it out of the house, we all have those days.

There is an opportunity today for each one of us who love, desire and seek the Lord. A place in time reserved to usher Him in, invite Him to stay, and give Him space in the place of greatest need in our heart and mind. In fact, if you don’t make it to a church building today, as a “living stone” and part of the Kingdom of God – you have the uncanny ability to unite with His Church right where you are. The Word of God warns us not to forsake our fellowship with others. It is uniquely important and vital to spiritual success. Praise is the weapon of warfare. It is the prophetic voice to the worried heart. It is a reminder to the wandering mind. It is the anchor of truth that secures our soul. We must continually live a life of praise and worship to remain constantly connected to His Kingdom.

To ascribe means to credit to God as our source. It means to attribute everything in our life to His Care and Faithfulness – the things He has done and yet to do. It is the implication of our faith and allegiance to Christ as King Jesus who sits in power and authority over every instance and moment of our life. It is the ultimate declaration of Jesus is Lord. It creates a sense of belonging when applied corporately. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” In Psalm 95, the voice of God united in praise is the full representation of Heaven. All voices crying out as one – “The Lord reigns.” What is your declaration today?

Luke 19:36-40 (ESV)  And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Worship is the opportunity to unite with Heaven in one voice. There is power in the declaration that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The enemy wants to silence the voice of God’s People on earth in yet another attempt to keep us from connecting with the Kingdom. A Kingdom connection will always produce confidence in the faithfulness of God – but to be disconnected allows doubt, fear, and insecurity to take over. Friendships struggle with this sometimes. When one friend feels left out or isolated, and suddenly the person feels helpless and alone because one missed call or invite suddenly becomes an offense because they feel excluded. People long to be connected. They desire relationships even when in denial that they need anyone at all. We are created to be a people united as one body and thus even when our heart and mind says, “No!” our very soul longs for it with a resounding, “Yes!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” This verse has been on my heart for a couple days now. “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” I am a worshipper. I am not a musician or singer or can’t even dance very well. I still love praise and worship. It stirs up my spirit and has become my lifeline when I feel distance between me and my God. It is like breath to my body when I am struggling. It refreshes my soul by reminding me of His Faithfulness. It reminds me who I am and who I belong to! But there is more to the story… the complexity of God’s Word becomes simple when digested I guess.

Luke 19:41-44 (ESV) And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The Pharisees told Jesus to stop the ridiculous uproar surrounding His Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. The very people who He came for rejected his person and in fact were plotting to kill him. God desired peace with His People. He wanted them to accept His Son – the Messiah and be reunited with Him. They chose differently and Jesus wept as He rode into the city. Here are the words penetrating my heart today – “And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Even in the midst of destruction, the stones will cry out worship and praise to the Lord. The city would be destroyed because it did not know the time of His Visitation. As we go to church and participate in services today, it is with the profound and precious opportunity to make a Kingdom connection and declare together in unison that “the Lord reigns” and acknowledge King Jesus as one people in the unity of praise. Don’t miss the time of visitation! Standing in church, sitting in a pew, welcoming visitors at the door, and even preaching a great message means nothing if Jesus is not the King of our life and acknowledged as such. We must seek to stay connected with His Kingdom in full allegiance to our soon coming King and Lord of Lords. I cannot impress the urgency in my heart today that rather than singing songs, waving hands, and participating that we become a people desperate to usher the Presence of God at every opportunity. To recognize that the King is among us and that His Desire is to be with us! You have a place in the heavenly throng to worship the King and invite Him into your midst. Do not miss His Time of Visitation! He is coming for you!

Psalm 95:1-3 (ESV) Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

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Same Old Way

Same Old Way

Psalm 18:30 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Oh how I hate stains. They are my arch nemesis. It’s funny that the older I get the more like my grandmother I become. She was a nurse back when the profession wore bright white uniforms – spotless and starched. She never used bleach yet her uniforms meticulous. She always hung out her clothes and rarely used her clothes dryer. She believed the harsh chemicals and high heat were not good for fabric. I have taken to some of her ways. So when our little grandson stained his onesie with baby food with blueberry and blackberry, I was in a frenzy to get the purple spot out. After a quick treatment and run through the wash still showed a faint mark where the bright colored stain once was – it was time for stronger measures. I tried everything I could think of while in the back of my mind I was telling myself it is probably less than $5.00 to replace it but now it was the point. Standing over the sink, surrounded by modern day cleaning solutions, and staring at my ominous opponent, I remembered my mission trip to Africa. I brought a white skirt and it was soiled in the orange clay indigenous to the area. The ladies who did the missionary’s laundry had my stained garment laying over a rock in the sun while hanging the rest on the line to dry. Applying some baking soda and a bit of lemon juice to the blemished apparel, it was now laying out allowing the sun to finish the work. The skirt was spotless by the end of the day. I tried it on the onesie minus the sun and the spot disappeared. Oh glorious day!

This God – His Way is perfect! Too many times – God’s Instructions for life are disregarded as out-of-date, old-fashioned, and impossible in this world of settlements and substitutions called compromise. We disregard the lessons that seem simple for the much more elaborate plans of society forgetting that normal will change with each turn of the calendar page. God is sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. But that’s not all – He is filled with unfailing love, unending grace, overwhelming thoughts, and forever patient with us. With all this in mind, before our first breath turned into a cry, the Lord predestined us with potential and purpose carefully handwriting the details forming His Plan. (Psalm 139) As I sit here pondering how simple removing the stain and achieving victory was a few moments ago, I cannot help but consider the missed opportunities caused by choosing another way rather than trusting and believing that He is the way! God’s Way is perfect!

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (ESV) For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Is this the declaration of your life today? Is it the dedication and determination of your life? To declare it is just words but when it becomes our dedication and determination which turns into discipline everything changes. Our declaration turns into the prophetic voice that leads us to destiny. To ascribe greatness to God and never move from this season or exceed your current condition is evidence that though your voice says that God is great – your heart, mind and soul are yet to agree. When our soul prospers so does the rest of our life. It is a natural reaction to the supernatural response of those who choose faith and trust to back up their words. God is the immovable rock which is good news for us. We will never have to wander to find Him or wonder if He will be faithful. The Truth is His Word. The Word is His Son. Jesus always leads us from grace to grace and victory to victory.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. Both of these characters will always produce new life. Choosing God’s Way is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was the Word. When He came to the earth as a man, the man obeyed the Word set forth flawlessly. Since sin had separated mankind from God, Jesus died to allow us to enter the Presence of God and become His Children. The Word did not change in order to accommodate our sin but paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God doesn’t change so it is up to us to align our life with God’s Word. I cannot have a fully functioning and flourishing life as a believer outside of obedience to God’s Way. His Word. Jesus.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Could it be that the Lord is calling us to be the “repairer of the breach” or “restore of streets to dwell in”. It is not our mission or the great commission to save the world. God’s Heart and Mind is set on His People. To prepare the way of the return of the Lord to bring us all together as His Kingdom. The unity and harmony called Kingdom starts with agreement to terms. The terms and conditions of our life do not change. God has set them forth in His Word. The Word is a guide to success and prosperity as a direct result of salvation. Obedience is the only requirement. It is our choice thanks to freedom. It is silly to get mad when others are blessed or prospering when it is an opportunity in our life as well. The terms of God’s Word are non-negotiable or He would be like any other man who could lie or change his mind. God is perfect in ALL of His Ways.

I cannot help but examine my heart today for obedience in all things. I must continue to study God’s Word, apply it first to my heart and make it my lifestyle. It is in such agreement that the Power of God who is Christ in me is released to change the atmosphere. I believe that it is his message to us today that it will be simple repentance and obedience to His Word that will cause the radical revival that the modern day church is desperate for. It begins in me. I am the rebuilder. I am the restorer of the breach. I must simply rely on the Rock who is my refuge and Jesus (the Word) who is the foundation of my faith.

Psalm 118:21-13 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Soft Heart

Soft Heart

Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)  So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

In I Corinthians 13, or Love Chapter of the Bible, love is described in lengthy detail. Not the kind of love experienced in this world or through ordinary people but the love consistent with the character of Christ. How many weddings use this text going in yet shortly after embarking in life decide it is not all its cracked up to be? I have been married almost twenty years. While most days are unicorns and rainbows, there are some days when the trolls and storm clouds rule the day. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love doesn’t envy and is never boastful. It is not arrogant. It is not rude. I doesn’t insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. Love doesn’t rejoice when others fall on their face or glory in “I-told-you-so’s.” It rejoices in truth. (Let me just drop the definition of truth in there – it begins with God’s Word.) Love bears ALL things. Love believes ALL things. Love hopes ALL things. Love endures ALL things. Love NEVER ends. So why talk about love when I didn’t even reference it in today’s passage? Well, glad you asked…

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the love described in I Corinthians 13. Love is not a characteristic but a character or real person. It is in His Demonstration of true love that our life is changed both inwardly and outwardly. The same chapter also concludes that if we do not have this kind of love then we have nothing at all. We must all have the same love to achieve Kingdom living. So if there is any encouragement in Christ…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord or one mind.

Unity and harmony are the very channel that God’s Anointing and Blessing flow. Though the most basic Kingdom principle, probably the hardest to achieve. Hard hearts to not bear deep roots. In fact, the harder the heart the less likely that faith will be watered by His Love and emerge into the flourishing life that God has promised and Christ secured for us. In fact, just like the Word of God says, without love there is nothing. Without love, we hold doctrine rather than hope. Without love, it is a religion never a relationship. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the source of love, joy and peace in our life meeting and exceeding every expectation. If this is true, unity and harmony will emerge.

Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

How many times is this promise longed for but never fully achieved? The promise of rest for the weary, labored and heavy laden. Is that you today? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is hope waning in your weary soul? Are you wondering where God is? The Lord is closer than you think. He lives on the inside of you. He invites us to “come to me” so rather than yoking to Him in the morning and partnering with Him through the day – it is human nature to come crawling when we need just a crumb of hope or spoonful of peace to get us through one more day. Where is the victory in surrendering to our feelings? Where is the triumph in doing the same thing every day? He invites us to yoke our life with Him and learn from Him. He is gentle and lowly of heart. A humble heart will receive rest for your soul. A hard heart that refuses to break will ultimately be shattered by life – devastation, disappointment, and the like will crush the one not fully yielded to God. Why would a loving God do such a thing?

My son is a police officer. He works the night shift. While the community is sleeping, my kid is patrolling the streets and keeping them safe. Many mornings I will wake up to text messages of injuries and reports of near misses just to tell me that he is safe nevertheless. Is protecting and serving my first choice for our kid’s career? Do you read the news? Even high profile figures have blatant disregard for law enforcement and incite hatefulness in others yet are celebrated even compensated for it – so the answer is not really. It is his occupational choice. When he was a little boy, he lived in my house. I was able to provide for him and protect him. When he needed assistance or guidance, I was with him. But now, how can I protect him from harm in another city? Or give him guidance in the middle of a pursuit or arrest? I can’t because I am not with him. It is in our proximity and position that God is able to work in us and through us. It is by invitation only that Christ will teach us a better way of life. He would never force it upon us. Love links us to Christ but it is only with a humble heart that the maximum effect of His Love will change our life.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

A humble and soft heart allows the Light of His Love to escape. It is in the cracks and crevices created by giving up those things contrary to His Love that allow His Love to truly penetrate our heart, fill our mind, and make us amenable to unity. The flexibility in our heart is not subject to abuse, offense, or harm from others because are full of Christ. The building of God’s Kingdom is a commitment to love Him first over ALL things. It is a call to step out of our former self and become a new creation in Jesus Christ by allowing Him to change our heart and mind bringing them into agreement and allegiance to His Word. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everything needed, wanted and desired is fully satisfied in Him by humbling our heart and giving the Lord full jurisdiction. Suddenly the things that truly lead to contentment, fulfillment and a flourishing life are within reach or should I say within us making its way out of us. This is the first fruit of God’s Spirit – love. Unconditional and unfailing love found in us and distributing through us for the building of the Kingdom and life in the everlasting. Amen and Amen.

How’s your heart today? It is up to us to examine our heart. Like a loaf of bread in the local market, I am not going to purchase one that is stale and stiff. I want soft bread for my family that is delicious. Such is the task for us as believers, to give our heart and gentle squeeze for softness, the humble heart always remains soft. It is the only way it can be freely given to others like Jesus has asked us to do. Lord, created in us clean (and soft hearts) today. Holy Spirit, renew my spirit and refresh our souls in Jesus Name.

Psalm 51:10 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Identity Lost

identity lost

Romans 8:29-30 (ESV) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

It is easy sometimes to get caught up in what we do and forget who we are. If you are a spouse, parent or employee – it can happen many times. The duties and responsibilities of life drain the time and energy once used to secure self. Maybe it is monotony or mediocrity that robs us of the pursuit of purpose in order to maintain the present. Have you ever asked yourself is this really all there is to life? There has to be more. The inkling inside of us is the Holy Spirit who prods us to the predestined potential of God hidden in our heart. You and I are created in the Image of God. (Genesis 1:27) Yet it seems from the beginning our identity as His Beloved is a problem for us. The fall of mankind came quickly after creation. It did not take us long to lose sight of who we are to settle for lesser things. Has the church lost its identity? Have believers forgotten who they really are? Do Christians truly identify with Christ? Am I one of these?

Throughout the Old Testament, the Children of God carved out images from wood and stone. Some even took gold melting it to molds made to resemble animals and people. They worshipped these images when all along the Living God vied for their attention. Idols are not foreign to us today. Though it may not be in the form of days of old – make no mistake they are still there. I use filters quite a bit on a popular social media app. I love it because it erases the lines and wrinkles of time. I have often commented to friends wouldn’t it be great to live with this filter all the time. Hmmm… Maybe to some extent it is already happening. The profiles reflecting on social media seldom reflect who a person “really” is but rather becomes a personification of who they would like to be. Only “perfect” pictures are posted. Some people have multiple accounts according to the different social circles in life. As I read these words today, I am a bit convicted. How often I forget not only whose I am but who I am according to His Creation! God predestined me to be His Child. To live in a thriving relationship as a Kingdom Kid. To partner with His Son, Jesus and overcome the world. From victory to victory. Yet I spend a great deal of time finding myself all over again.

New season. I have entered a new season of life. Crossing over into my fifties chronologically didn’t present any real challenges. My family and friends threw me a lovely party. However, in the last couple of years, the change has been physical and emotional. It has been relational with the arrival of our first grandchild. It has been spiritual as the Lord coaxes me to step out of my comfort zone into new endeavors. Sometimes I wish that He would just shove me over the edge. But that is not how God works – it is our willingness to acknowledge and accept who we are in Him and do what He has purposed us to do by faith that walks and moves in Him.

John 1:11-13 (ESV) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

I have a friend who was adopted as a toddler. She grew up in a loving family with siblings. Yet in her adulthood she struggled with her identity. She needed to know her birth father and family to find her place in this world. What she found was not pretty? An abuser who lived a life of addiction. Siblings tainted by the generational curse of the father tragically broken. A family who lived in denial enabling and then praising the one who was really the victimizer long after his death. The void left unfilled it would be a difficult pill to swallow. Yet isn’t that what we do in life – paint a pretty picture to cover the ugliness of imperfection.

There is something in us that wants to know where we came from in order to decide where we are going. I believe healing comes when a person knows and understands that our Father God created us to be His Child. When humanity chose something else, the Lord still chose us. He sent His Son to make a way for us to become His Children again. He seals our adoption with the Holy Spirit. There are many fatherless, motherless, and parentless kids in the world seeking for acceptance, affirmation, affection and love. The world will give them a swift substitution and the enemy will soothe their cries with a settlement bent on their destruction. We must know who we are in Jesus Christ to offer them the love and peace that belongs to them. My sister once said every child wants to know that their parent loves them unconditionally and will pursue them relentlessly. When natural parents fall short, God always fills the gap. He created us to be loved by Him.

Daniel 3:13-15 (ESV) Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Are you struggling with identity today? Have you lost your identity? The enemy wants you to believe that there is no God. No Jesus. No anything after today. If that doesn’t work, he will try to mislead you into thinking you are insignificant to the Lord. Or worse yet, that God is punishing you by keeping you in the current position or placement in life. Well…there is more to life than this. We must be very diligent in removing the idols or those things created to improve our image and boost our self-esteem giving us a something we can live up to. Our position in life (naturally, socially, familial, professionally, or spiritually) can all lend to the idols that keep us from living as Children of God. To lose our identity is dangerous because when we forget who we are then we forget whose we are as well. You are a Child of God. He loves you. He is for you. He is with you. The tests, trials and temptations in life are not for your destruction. They are fires of refinement to burn off the superficial and release the supernatural. You may have to go through the fire to reveal the treasure of your heart. It will be worth it. Your hope will never lead to disappointment. You, friend, are a Child of God.

Psalm 139:1-6 (ESV) O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

So We’re Not Giving Up

So We Are Not Giving UP

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

What a great reminder! I need to be reminded often that this life is temporary – it is not permanent yet it is all I know in terms of reality. There are days that I know God is real but wonder where He is. I know you never feel distance from the Lord so please humor my musings with me today. Despite avoiding sin, trying to make better choices, attempting to live according to God’s Word, trying to love with regard for His Command, and serving continually in church – there are still days when giving up seems like a good idea. I wonder today if for just a moment one might peer inside with quiet introspect to evaluate life from a forever standpoint. How are you today? No really strip away the façade of who the world thinks you are, what you do, and how others expect you to act and look into the mirror of your soul – who do you see? What does your life really look like to you? The authenticity of faith is the complete conviction that what is hoped for is the reality of our life. However, as Christians who often pretend, it is important to soul search and heart seek to see the truth behind our convictions.

Going with the flow can carry us away. In any pursuit, it is easy to get swept away by the current of culture or society even church. It is important that faith be the forefront of our life but not in just idea but complete conviction. To know Christ by name is not enough, it is only in our relationship with Him that there is fulfillment to be found at the end of this troublesome journey called life. Unfortunately, human nature generally only seeks the Face of God and salvation from His Son when tragedy strikes and suffering ensues. An emotional overture leads us to Him but the process is abandoned when the pressure of change and transformation begins. Fear of the unknown take the place of faith in the unseen God and suddenly what seemed like a great idea is abandoned as a fruitless endeavor. Most will give up on the verge of breakthrough because they do not believe that God is good or completely head over heels in love with them.

I Peter 2:11-12 (Message) Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

People without an identity have no residency. However, God has given us His Identity and full residency in His Kingdom. Our ability to know and understand this is important in the exercising of our rights and responsibilities as Kingdom residents. I Peter 2:10 says, “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s People. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s Mercy.” You have it all but must decide to claim it, receive it and walk it in it day by day. The Lord will not force His Love and Goodness on us but promises to pursue us without day by day. (Psalm 23) He meets us each morning with new mercy and the promise that joy comes with it. The potential of our life is in our recognition of who we are, whose we are and to become determined to live that life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (Message) If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! 

The ordinary life that you are currently living is not your future. There is an extraordinary one waiting for those who fully recognize that Christ is in them. The transformation process is well under way. It will take time. Time has meaning – every single second appointed by God with purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3) There is also a promise attached – “Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time.” Timing is important to God. So much so that He recorded every single moment of your life before a second was lived or a breath even taken. (Psalm 139) Why would you give up now? You are pressed but not crushed. You may be persecuted but never abandoned. You may be struck down but never destroyed. You are blessed far beyond any curse because His Promise for you is etched in time. It is your history. It is your inheritance. Let go of fear, doubt and worry today. Do not let anxious thoughts coax you from the hiding place that is our refuge. God’s Presence will keep you until His Promise overtakes you.

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” (Lance Armstrong) How true! When discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance, betrayal or even pain overtake us – what is the response? It depends on the foundation of faith and the conviction in our heart that makes the difference. To believe that there is nothing more to life than this would be a sad revelation to live by. If you believe deep down in your heart that there is more to life than this, you must decide to know what exactly that is or risk giving up on your passion and purpose. Life without meaning seems fruitless. Your faith will pull you through if it is credible. If when we take the time to look past the layers of self-imposed identity to our soul – we must see Jesus. He is our new identity. The life giver who can take the messed up pieces of broken hearts to make a masterpiece. He resurrects dead dreams to become our reality. He has already predestined you to live with Him forever. Jesus is waiting on you to become committed and convicted to engage in the process of building a relationship and then a Kingdom together.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Message) So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Like an Arrow

Like an Arrow

Isaiah 49:1-4 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

I had this vision of an arrow sailing through the air. I could not see the archer who shot it. The target was not clear. It was simply whistling by. It was for me. Not intended to harm me but to pierce my heart. I knew that there was a message for those who are far from the beginning but cannot see the end. Endurance is a quality that God instills in us to win. Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” The beginning of a thing is excited with a rush all its own. The end is triumphant and often a welcome relief from the journey. However, the battle is won and target achieved in the middle. The ones who decide to continue when nothing is clear. Like an arrow, the archer has a target in sight.  A mark that is aimed for. He releases the arrow to cover the distance and when it arrives at the destination fulfill its purpose. The arrow does make a sound it just does what it was created to do. What about you? Are you in the middle of something? Wondering if you will ever make the mark or maybe feeling as though you missed it altogether? Does your life seem to be a perpetual flight with no landing in sight? Oh friend, there is purpose in your destination too wonderful to miss.

He made me a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. Persistence, perseverance, patience, endurance, discipline and the like are contrary to human nature. To wait on the Lord and trust in His Purpose and Plan are difficult to an untrusting people who have been tainted by disappointment, betrayal, pain, and a lack of fulfillment. How do I know that the designated purpose delineated for me will bring me the full satisfaction that is promised? Well, there is only one way to find out. A polished arrow has been through some refinement or perhaps a great deal of fires and forging to prepare it for the moment of release. It is carefully hidden in the archer’s quiver for an appointed time and destination. The waiting can be the hardest part. We miss the peacefulness of His Rest eager to see if He will be faithful. If we could only learn to overcome doubt and fear in order to embrace the Faithfulness of God – who is the mighty archer ready to release us at any moment.

But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”  Can I encourage you today that God is not finished with you yet? Perhaps, He has not even begun to show you the reward set aside for you at the end. We must stop saying that our labor is in vain just because it has not hit the mark yet. Discouragement laced with the lie of the enemy tells us that our strength is spent with nothing to show for it. Grace says that in my weakness I will have His Power as my own. To place our life in God’s Hand completely is the only way to reach the mark and claim the prize. However, it is not in our doing anything but rather submitting our life to His Hand, remaining in His Presence and going where He sends us.

Isaiah 49:5-6 (NIV) And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him    and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

How often the words in Psalm 139 escape us! The part where the Lord reveals that every single day of our life is carefully recorded before a moment lived. The promise of Romans 8 that He works every detail of our life for good simply because of our love for Him. No matter what happens in life or what I do – nothing will ever separate me from His Love. His Grace offers power in my complete weakness. To trust Him and know Him releases the full potential in my life to achieve God’s Purpose and Plan. Not because I am worthy of any of it – but because He is good and does not lie or change His Mind. He is faithful. Someone needs to hear that today. Stop beating yourself up because of faults and failures. Don’t look back – keep your eyes fixed on the future. Reclaim your joy and peace again by positioning yourself in His Presence and waiting for the Lord to do what He promised. All things will work together when we stop trying to work it all out and figure it out as well. God has a plan. He has a purpose just for you. He will do exactly as He promised.

Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV) I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

What is your mark today? Goal? Prize? Desire? Purpose? We all have one. The primary purpose of our life is to know Christ and be united with God the Father to become part of His Kingdom. The benefits and blessings of such a pursuit are the potential of our life and purpose. In Hebrews 12, there is insight to something that I never noticed before. “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Did you see it? It says, “The race marked out for us”. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t believe it! We must fix our eyes on Jesus. He must be and remain our primary focus to persevere in the pressing for the mark. Your destination is divine. The pathway secure. You just have to keep on keeping on to make it.

There are some other things that the arrow reminds us to do. We must aim for something. (I Corinthians 9:26-27) It is said that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. This is true in trying to experience Kingdom life lived without expectation. We must aim for consistency. (2 Corinthians 5:8-9) We must aim for honor. (2 Corinthians 8:20-21) Honoring God in all we do will keep us steady on course. People are not the problem but each one holds potential. However, the enemy will send fiery darts towards us to cause our arrow to lose course. (Ephesians 6:16) Do not be distracted. Keep the faith. Aim to remain faithful and focused in the flight. (2 Timothy 2:4) There are many arrows in God’s Quiver each with its own purpose – we must aim for unity. (2 Corinthians 13:11-12) We are in this together. Fighting for the same faith. Trusting in the same Lord. Members of the same body. Residents of His Kingdom not at war with each other but all that comes against it.

I Timothy 1:5 (NIV) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

The aim of our charge or tip of the arrow must always be a deep and penetrating love that cuts through our heart to produce a good conscience and sincere faith. The only good in me is Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him as He is the “pioneer and perfecter” of it. On those days when it feels like we just keep on keeping on, it’s easy to lose sight of where we came from or where we are going. These are the days when our eyes must go back to the archer. The arrow that honors the archer stays on course and hits the target every time. It may seem like you are flying aimlessly to nowhere but if God is the One who released you – I promise that you are going places. Amazing and wonderful destinations of prosperity and fulfillment. Have faith in the Archer today. Stay the course. Hit the mark. You will be found faithful in the end and have the rich and satisfying life that He has sent you after.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Humbled By Grace

Humbled by Grace

I Peter 5:6-10 (NIV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I am a consummate over thinker. It doesn’t matter what the subject – it must be dissected and thoroughly digested before it is allowed to settle in my mind. Details. Life is in the details for me. So upon leaving our church service yesterday when I grew quiet, it was a que to my husband that my mind was at work. God’s Word is the mirror of our soul. When it is heard, it should always be considered and compared to our heart, soul and mind for validity in our life. It always applies to me and to you. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword that will sever the worthless things attached to us and continue to prepare us for proper grafting to Jesus Christ and His Body. Our pastor is teaching about Kingdom culture including what does it look like and how does it apply to the church. What does grace look like? How is it applied? Do we welcome others by faith into grace? Is that something that I must do? Or is it possible for me to give grace that was sufficient for me? See how it works. Thoughts spiraling deeper into a vortex of complex contemplation. Lord, help me understand.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The subject of my introspection is grace and its application. Romans 12 tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God calling it true and proper worship. How does it work? In the very next verse, it tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our mind is a powerful thing. It is the place where faith becomes confident hope. We must be able to test and approve what God’s Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will is for our life which means our thought process must be fully set on knowing and understanding God’s Love and the Gift that He has given us. Oh the Gift of God’s Grace that through faith changes everything.

The comment was made that when people who are not like us enter the church corridor that we are to give them grace. This is true but first one must consider our own thoughts concerning them. People who come in that look different than we do are not subject to our judgment yet they are judged just the same. The moment that I consider myself (a mere recipient of a grace so overwhelming that I still do not fully understand it decades after accepting it) on some higher level with the right to determine their condition based on appearance – I have fallen farther than the one who I chose to judge.

The consideration of my heart today is not the actions of the corporate body called church but my own heart and mind. Mercy comes to meet me every morning just like everyone else. Rain falls on the just and unjust reminding me that God’s Love and Care are for all whether accepted or rejected. Grace is received by faith and there is not a thing that I can do to earn or deserve it. I cannot repay God for His Loving Kindness exemplified in my life by the distribution of grace at the expense of the Blood of His Son. I cannot reciprocate the favor because all I have to give is the empty shell left after sin has been sent into remission. It is never fully gone. At any time, it can return like a cancerous cell gone rogue in an otherwise fully functioning body. What is the cancer of the church? Pride.

Romans 12:3-5 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Grace is given to us in accordance with the faith that God has distributed to us. We cannot save ourselves and did not even have the faith to receive it. God did it all. I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me. There is nothing good about me other than the Living God chose to make my heart His Dwelling Place. The moment that I consider my life worth something outside of the grace given to me by the Lord than pride has regained a foothold and is moving in on Christ’s Throne. We must be very careful to not think of ourselves more highly than others – all others even the most broken and lost is the same depraved wretch as me. Jesus is forming a Body that one day will be His Bride. Every single person who I come in contact with is essential to its formation. I must see past whatever insecurity that I may have allowed to manifest in the form of pride to see that grace is for the humble. Grace is for me.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV) The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

There is a cancerous pride in the midst of many churches. Pride will always find someone to exalt itself over. God is looking for the humble. Those who have a servant’s heart not just in doing but being truly in love with other people. It cannot be determined by appearance or even one’s attitude and actions. Fake humility cannot hide on its knees very long. True humility is found in the revelation that I am as sinful and broken as any other living breathing person wrecked by sin. I am a survivor saved by the mercy and grace of the Living God through faith and there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve it. I must accept this truth with all humility on a daily and ongoing basis in order to live in love with God and others. He must increase and I must decrease means pride must die in the overflowing grace of God.

Romans 12:9-18 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Love must be sincere. It is such a simple statement but we miss it all the time. Love must be sincere. The description of love is extensively covered in I Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” It is this kind of love that must be sincere. To love others like this must be our full-time pursuit once in love with God the Father through His Son and filled by His Spirit. If we cannot love sincerely, there may be an inconsistency in character that is keeping us from receiving the fullest reward of grace and favor given to us by the Lord. To have His Perfect Will only requires complete submission to His Plan that begins by accepting His Grace through faith and understanding that without sincere love our life is lived in fake humility. It is cancer for our soul. Cancer in our churches and a constant danger to the Body of Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

I may be right sometimes but it is my life’s mission to live in righteousness always. The Grace of God given to me must be the passion of my heart and persuader of my mind. I must understand that God’s Grace is for all of us. It took the same amount to save my soul and set me free that it did for everyone else. Anyone who enters the doors of my church deserves it as much as I did which is not at all. They have the same potential of earning it as well. The Lord may be transforming my life but it all starts the same. A humble heart remembers its beginnings. It is able to love the least of these because it knows I am one, too. The Kingdom that I am called to is not small or limited. It is massive and ever expanding. The people who I come in contact with have a very special place in the Kingdom that is theirs for the taking. I must not allow my pride to stop them from securing salvation or experiencing divine security because of my own insecurity. God is always looking much deeper than that. He looks at our heart, motives and intentions. He is looking for love. Sincere love. Will He find it?

The culture of God’s Kingdom is love. It is defined by His Grace that is freely given yet hard to obtain. His Love is not human and therefore not the same. We cannot love with condition or pardon any sin. It is not our responsibility to define a new or different culture but engage in the one set forth. It says, “Whosoever will come.” When they do come, who will be exalted in their midst. Religious people or the Righteous One? Jesus said, If I be lifted up – I will draw all men to me!”

Ephesians 28:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

United We Stand

United We Stand

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

I loved scrolling through all the social media feeds to see red, white and blue. The celebration of the 4th of July with family and friends. Firework displays lit up the story line of each outlet. Though this was a quiet day for us – we did eat with some of our kids and the littlest firecracker – our sweet grandson. Facetiming with other family members who are out of town. We exercised our right to “Netflix and chill” as some might say which is totally out of character for me but a welcome respite for the midweek holiday.

Social media would give the illusion of unity yesterday as everyone seemed to be doing the exact same thing in America. The same feeds usually filled with political opinions and tirades were instead filled with images of family and food all in red, white and blue. Unity paints a beautiful picture. I believe it warms the heart of God when people put aside their differences sliding the soapbox under the bed to celebrate life together. Yes, I know that important causes exists and there are some things really wrong with the world. I am not delusional enough to think that ignoring them will fix them. However, I do believe that unless we come together nothing will ever change.

In Romans 12, it reminds us that we are one body with many members. It is clear that not everyone serves the same function yet still vitally important to proper operation. We are one body in Christ. Individually we are still corporately responsible for each other. The binding factor is love. Not our ability to love each other unconditionally and without fail but God’s Love demonstrated in His Son – Jesus Christ. In John 12, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The common factor in Christianity is Jesus Christ. He has called for all people to come to Him. Also in Romans 12, it begins by describing our life as a “living sacrifice” which is “holy and acceptable to God” and considered spiritual worship. It means not conforming to the social circles of the world but allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our mind into the fully formed and functional Body of Jesus Christ. This is the Will of God that is good, acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

God loves unity. He blesses such a life offering. Unity requires giving up ourselves in order to become one. The completion of Christ is established in the unity and oneness of His People. He is not coming for many brides but one bride. The Bride of Christ must be complete. The Spirit and the Bride (singular) say, “Come.” I believe that if the church could tap into the real potential of unity rather than calling for diversity and doctrine – it might just experience revival. We focus on the wrong thing. The great commission of Jesus Christ was to love and be loved as one – to come together into completeness. The Lord commands His Blessing on unity and life forevermore.

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The individuality of churches and institution set forth by doctrine may be the very thing limiting revival today. The religious world is not demonstrating the relationship of Kingdom. Until we grow in perfect unity, the Bride of Christ may resemble the Bride of Frankenstein. The human soul is not clothed in race, color, gender or any other physical quality. The Lord is looking at our heart and soul. I know no coroner or medical examiner that can determine any of the physical characteristics of a person by just looking at the heart. Yet God is most interested in our heart and soul. Who we love? How we love? These are the fulfillment of the Great Commission set forth by Jesus Christ. Leading someone to Jesus is not the same as loving them like Jesus.

The basics of unity are one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all. That’s it. No matter how we paint it, carpet it, light it up, or make it loud – this is the basis of the Body of Christ known as the church. Religion creates diversity. Relationship says, “Whosoever will come” and lets figure this out together. It is simple. It is real. It has feelings but lives in a commitment called love. Not worldly affection or temporary lust but rather love that is “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” It is a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (and) endures all things. Love (that) never ends.” To immerse ourselves so completely in the Love of Christ that loving others is no longer optional but the very condition that unites us.

What can I do to unite the church?

The character of Christians must be changed, transformed, and renewed by God’s Love. Repentance, true repentance, is a turning from our way of living to totally exist in the shadow and example of Jesus Christ. I cannot love like Christ until He is the One who I am following and imitating. People are not easy to love but it is each personality that comprises the Kingdom. I cannot make them love me. But I can allow God and His Spirit to make me more lovable. The Fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This is the kind of spiritual food that feeds hungry souls and waters thirsty hearts. It is to put “me” aside and allow Christ to flow through me. Religion allows us to maintain pride and position. However, to fully assume our place in the Body of Christ – we must become like Paul who declared himself to be “a prisoner of the Lord.” We must carefully put our mind, will and emotions under the careful guard of the Holy Spirit at all times. We must daily crucify any rebellious thought in contention with Christ and put it in the grave to die. We must remain prostrate in a posture of prayer and humility before the Lord daily and even on some days moment by moment. We must walk by faith and not by sight. Unity blesses God’s Heart and I believe if we get it right – it will bless us, too as united we stand.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The Ripple Effect is based on the understanding that all of humanity is connected. The interwoven tapestry of persons is complicated. Each individual has a place in the entirety of existence. Thoughts and actions are like peddles tossed across a once still pond that create ripples which travel outward. The choices made in our daily life create such an event in the atmosphere. It is our decision what kind of influence and impact our attitude and actions will produce in this world. As believer, the Ripple Effect does not stop in this realm but resonates into the Heavenlies. God made us with eternity in our heart because our destiny is to be eternal with Him. Therefore, our residence in the earth is not limited by death but given a doorway into forever. Our influence on the earth carries over into eternity. What is the impact of your life? What are the implications of your actions? What is the impartation made in your words? All of these things create ripples and waves that will either draw people to Jesus Christ or drive them away.

God in Jesus Christ has called us upward. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is important. It makes the promise that God will make good of the details of our life – past, present and future because He was already there. We cannot hold on to the past, live for the moment or forget the future. Every moment of our existence holds great potential according to God. He knows the number of hairs on our head which changes with each movement. God is detailed in His Thoughts concerning us. He has given us all power and authority to live a life in full pursuit of His Kingdom unhindered by sin, shame, regret, doubt, or fear.

It is important to know and fully understand what is on the inside of us. Each movement, word, and breath hold the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Our rightful place is dominion. Therefore, whether it is our intent or not every action produces a reaction. It is vital to the Body of Christ that each member determine the influence and impact of everything done and said to become intentional about the ripples created by us. The pursuit of purpose begins internally and produces an external effect. If our purpose is to know Christ and live for Him, then the ripples in our life will draw all to Him. All other pursuits outside of Christ risk driving others from Him.

Consideration. We must consider our place in the Body of Christ…in the Kingdom and in this world. The Bible calls us temporary residents or a sojourners who are just passing through. It also calls us a peculiar people. Out of place. Not impacted by normal reactions and social cues – but those who are governed by a different set of rules as Ambassadors of Christ. My life has meaning instilled by God during my creation that requires a change of heart and mind to fully obtain. Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” What are you doing to change the world?

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (ESV) For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Sigh. Yes, sigh. It is all for your sake that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the Glory of God. Opening a door for someone. A greeting with a mile does wonders. Saying, “Thank you.” I could go on and on with endless gestures which are like pebbles that create positive ripples. Random acts of kindness are always good. God loves them. But then there are those things that are not so pleasant like forgiveness and forbearance. To love those who use, abuse and accuse you. Really love them regardless of the offense nevertheless extending grace. It is but light and momentary affliction but our reaction to it will determine the overflow. The more and more I am aware of the commission of Jesus Christ – the more cognizant I must become of my life in relationship to others. All others. Everyone else. To listen to the still small voice that says to be quiet for righteousness sake when the mind screams, “Fight for what is right!” Ripping up bitterness before it takes root. Offering apologies when not at fault. Accepting “I’m sorry” when you know they are not. To love like Jesus creates a ripple that leads to revival but leaves self behind. It is the undoing of our way to fully embrace His Way.

Romans 12:3-5 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 

I am part of a body. Just as if I stub my toe or smash a finger it impacts other areas of my body, so it is with the Body of Christ. We cannot ignore our left hand just because our right hand is dominant. The left hand is useful and must work with the right hand to get the job done. If blindness strikes one eye, the other eye must do double. If one foot becomes lame, it is almost impossible to walk without assistance. You cannot ignore the ramifications of a broken body part on the function of the whole person nor can one decide to go their own way, live their own life and do their own thing and remain in unity with the Body of Christ. It is in Christ that we are bonded together and engrafted in love. We can do nothing good apart from our connection to Christ who connects us together as one.

Paul points out that this is a form of pride. To separate our life from the Body of Jesus Christ expresses a lack of dependence on the Cross, Grace and Power of our Savior and Lord. It is an act of rebellion. It defies our imperfection and need for Him. Paul reminds us to “think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” so we do not think more highly of ourselves than others. Furthermore, the higher the call the greater the measure of faith so the more grace is needed to finish the race and be found faithful in the end. Every single action and attitude creates a ripple. It has an impact. It makes a movement. It is up to me to carefully consider each one in relation to Jesus Christ. Once it is released, a ripple must continue to the end. Apologies and forgiveness are the waves that overtake little ripples of hurt and offense. We must learn to administer them graciously. Every day and in every way I must carefully examine my heart and mind for honorable intentions that will keep me connected to Christ. Considering each movement. Will it draw others to Him or drive them from Him? Lord, help me to be conscious of every move I make and its impact on forever! Let every move that I make create a ripple of love and grace in Jesus Name!

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (ESV) Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.