Power of Agreement

Power of Agreement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

How many churches have you attended in your lifetime? Can you count the number of places you have attended? I posted something on social media. A friend liked the post. Another friend inquired how the person knew me. We had attended church together many years ago. I have had this happen more than a few times. I do it myself. I have a high school friend who teaches another friend’s children. The Body of Christ is to be just that a living, breathing, working, communicating complete unit. It seems like just when a ministry is growing and strengthening into a fully functioning body something happens and it falls apart. It is time to out the enemy and his assault against unity to become the Body of Christ – a strong source to be reckoned with in the world today.

After years of tearing apart Christians, how ironic that Paul would give the rest of his life after coming to Jesus Christ to rebuild the ruins of wreckage left behind. In an almost pleading fashion, He says, “If there is any consolation (comfort, solace) in Christ…if there is any comfort in His Love…if there is any fellowship in His Spirit…if there is any affection or mercy for one another…fulfill my joy…do it for me if no one else…be like-minded…have the same love…be of one accord…be of one mind.” (paraphrased) The tone reminds me of trying to deal with our teenagers. We teach, instruct, discipline, and finally exasperated in effort plead with them.

It’s funny how families work together. Dysfunction is a key trait in families. Our children fuss, fight, pick and disagree on just about everything UNTIL someone dares mess with a sibling. Suddenly there is complete agreement that that person is about to get hurt as they rally together. The church isn’t much different. Rather than walking in love and commitment together, it only happens in the midst of opposition or tragedy. God desires unity in the Body of Christ. He purposed it for us. Jesus even prayed for us to be one. The Holy Spirit identifies us as one family. How do we overcome the natural sense of family to become one as God’s Family? To stop fussing and fighting all the time and begin to function as Christ intended. It may be harder than you think.

Genesis 11:4-6 (NKJV) And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 

After the flood, Noah and his family replenished the people of the earth. The whole earth had one language and one speech. Unity. They decided to build a tower all the way to heaven. “Let us make a name for ourselves. Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Self-preservation and pride decided to make a “name” for itself. The Lord came down to see the city and tower. Immediately, He interrupted the building of such idolatry by confusing their language and ability to communicate ending the unity and stopping their downfall. I wonder sometimes if church communities built on the wrong foundation fall apart for the same reason. False prophets who create a community built on foundations other than faith in God’s Word and an introduction to Jesus Christ.

The point of opportunity in this passage and promise rising from another’s misguidance is that when people become one “nothing they propose will be withheld from them”. The power of agreement works naturally and spiritually. Natural agreement produces favorable results in the world. Supernatural agreement builds a Kingdom. It creates a living, breathing body that will become the Bride who Christ is coming for. We have a long way to go!

Acts 2:42-47 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The early church set the precedent of fellowship. Thinking of fellowship today, I smell fried chicken and a desert table piled high on a special day at church. In the South, there is homecoming or maybe it’s a “Friends and Family Day” to invite or entice new members. This is not the concept set forth in the New Testament. The church broke bread together and prayed together daily. Every day. Not Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Not small groups. Not via texting. No, every single day. The word “fellowship” or koinonia means sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society or contributory help. Every member was a valuable asset to the group. They sold all their possessions and goods dividing up the proceeds evenly among everyone and giving to those in need. They lived in one accord. The early followers who were baptized by the Holy Spirit literally devoted their whole life to unity with God and each other.

John 17:20-21 (NKJV)  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

This was the prayer of Jesus Christ for all of us just before going to the Cross. He desired that those who will believe in Him through the message of the disciples and apostles “that they all may be one” like Jesus and God are one. To abide in love and fellowship together in one accord. One heart. One mind. One body. How are we doing?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (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. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

I wonder if the Lord allows confusion and discord to set in to the church so it doesn’t become built of pride and self-preservation. Is it possible that it is the heart of His People causing the issue and not the enemy to blame? Pride is a human trait overcome by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces the spiritual fruit that feeds our soul. As our soul prospers, it overflows those same gifts and characteristics into our natural life. We must live lowly and gently lives. Patient. Bearing one another with love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit who binds us together in peace. There is one body. There is one Spirit. In 2016, there were estimated to be over 300,000 Christian churches in America. Where is the impact and influence of such mass numbers?

We have been called together in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in us all. We must work on the Body before we take on the world. What is lacking?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us united with Christ in full fellowship together according to His Spirit. It is not about building new buildings and erecting new walls – physically, structurally, emotionally, congregationally, or corporately. It is about tearing down every barrier between us and God and everyone else. God doesn’t desire one person over another. Our God doesn’t have favorites. He loves us all. His Love is for us all. His Kingdom has a place for us all. His Body has a function specifically for us and no one else. We cannot fulfill our purpose without the other members of the Body no more than my hand can function apart from my arm if detached from my body. We must learn to live in fellowship. We must figure out how it all works. We must strive to live in harmony and unity with all mankind. It is the Will of God for us and the Way to the Father’s Heart. It is to achieve the Mind of Christ.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

 

 

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Freedom of Forgiveness

Freedom of Forgiveness

Micah 7:18-19 (NKJV) Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His Anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

A woman scorned went to one of the places she and her thought-to-be true love had spent a great deal of time. A quiet park by a lake surrounded with trees. In the dark of night with only the moon for light, she was on a mission. The serenade of crickets and frogs soon disrupted by the objects hitting the water with a variety of loud splashes. The concert grew silent as her mumbled words were followed by the crashing and then sinking tokens of love now lost. She drove to their “secret place” and unloaded every gift that he had ever given her. Hundreds of dollars sunk into the mud and sludge at the bottom of the lake. She wiped her tears and moved on that night.

The latest craze is painted rocks. Rocks with pictures and/or messages placed in hidden and obvious places for unsuspecting people to find. A new kind of pay-it-forward inspiration, the rocks are meant to bring spontaneous joy and express human kindness to the one who is lucky enough to find one. A quick smile at a low cost. But I wonder what might happen, if rather than putting useless images on little rocks, we put the sins, hurts, betrayals and turmoil that create unforgiveness on a rock and threw it into the lake. Attaching all the thoughts and emotions that unforgiveness offers to each stone, and them tossing them away and letting each one sink to the bottom of a lake out of sight, out of mind, and void of emotion forever. Would there be freedom? Would it expand the capacity to love in our life? Would it heal our bodies, minds and emotions?

Insecurities build walls with stones of forgiveness every day. God offers a solution. It is called mercy. Kindness counts. However, water poured on a rock has no point of entry. Our hearts become hard and callous when continually hammered by hurt and disappointment. People will always let us down – most unintentionally yet it still happens. We must become acutely aware of those things living in us in the form of hurt that has produced unforgiveness. A lack of forgiveness is a detriment to the Kingdom of God and limits our life from His Blessings. To offer forgiveness in the absence of the expectation of full restoration is not the kind God exhibits or wants. He is looking for a united and harmonious family. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea. He is asking the very same of me.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The first benefit of God in our life is His Mercy. His Willingness to forgive all of our sin through His Son Jesus Christ. It gives us complete access to Heaven. It is from this standpoint that believers are able to bind and loose things between Heaven and earth. It is from this place of undeserved mercy and copious grace that fills my life with God’s Goodness and Glory in abundant proportions. It is also from this place that I must release the same forgiveness in my life. Forgiveness is a process that is coupled with trusting God. How so?

The more I am able to trust God with the expectations of my life the more willing I will be to release others from this obligation. Unmet expectation is the source of unforgiveness. When another person doesn’t do what we expect them to do, doesn’t act as we expect them to act, doesn’t meet the obligation of relationship that we have put upon them, or fail to meet any other ethical, moral, physical or emotional, and yes, even spiritual obligation – unforgiveness rears its ugly head.

Who forgives all your iniquities…

I believe that forgiveness gives us access to all the benefits of God that come through relationship. Hope meets and exceeds our expectation. It has its own set of standards and timeline for execution that requires absolute and total trust in the Lord…not people. However, to allow unforgiveness to remain is to leave a lock on the door to our blessings and promises in God. The Lord wants to open the doors and windows our life to let Him fill it with all the good things that He has already provided to us.

Daniel 9:9-10 (NKJV) To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness. If He is our portion, the same belongs to us. We have the ability to forgive and offer mercy to others. Am I willing to forgive like the Lord? Psalm 86 says that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. Psalm 99:8 calls God the God-Who-Forgives. It is in His Very Name. Mercy is His Character. To love first. To love confidently. To love completely. God desires mercy. He loves when we love like He does. He moves closer when our heart forgives because it gives Him more room to expand and fulfill our desires apart from limitation. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. I believe that there is not a living breathing human being that cannot find a person who needs their forgiveness. I need to forgive. Forgiveness leads to full restoration.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus offered a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Included in the prayer are these words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” They come right after give us our daily bread. I wonder if we somehow miss the point that the Lord included these words in His Prayer Model. Forgiveness and mercy are not supplements but substance in our life. If my life is lacking this may be the primary source, the blockage, the backup and the wall that must come down. Forgiveness is an opening that allows God’s Mercy and Love to make a way for new relationship. Restoration always makes way for relationship. We are building a Kingdom of Souls that are knit together. The bond must be in place. I must be open, willing, and ready to forgive at all times in order to experience God’s Power in all things. Here are some truths about unforgiveness:

Unforgiveness represents smallness of soul. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Unforgiveness restricts our life. It limits the mobility of God’s Power to work in us and through us as we have deemed His Grace insufficient in our life.

Unforgiveness inflicts suffering in our bodies, minds and emotions. It is literally unhealthy.

Unforgiveness creates isolation with a wall of stones placed day by day with unmet expectation.

Unforgiveness does not promote Kingdom living. To sustain an unforgiving heart is a liability as a believer mishandles Kingdom privileges and power. It is a direct misuse of binding and loosing as ordained in Matthew 18:18-19.

Each of us own a heart and soul. God has offered us mercy, grace and forgiveness as healing balm to fill every void, bind together the broken pieces, and meet every expectation so that we can express the Light of His Love. How am I doing? I am asking myself today. I am asking the Lord to examine my heart and reveal any unforgiven debt that I have been holding on to. I desire fulfillment. Full satisfaction. Completeness in Christ. Every good thing that the Father has for me. It begins with forgiveness. Accepting God’s Mercy and Forgiveness. Paying it forward to everyone who I have left unforgiven. New life, new creation, restoration, renewal and yes, even revival begin in such a place. I want to be there to see it come.

Matthew 9:4-6 (NKJV) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

As the church continues to cry out for revival, I wonder if our heart’s desire must change just a bit. Perhaps if we searched the depths of our heart and continued to pursue full redemption, restoration and renewal from the Lord for ourselves that maybe our heart might change to more like Jesus toward people. People struggle every day accepting the fullness of God’s Mercy and Grace as demonstrated through those representing His Son, Jesus and call themselves Christians. Crusaders of the Cross who have become blood thirsty rather than covered in the Blood of Jesus surrendered to His Spirit. God is love. His Message is Love. His Desire is Love. His Kingdom is Love. Love is impossible outside of forgiveness and full restoration of relationships. We would accept a miracle in our midst faster than to fully live in God’s Love and Forgiveness by placing all our own expectation in Him. Forgiveness begins in me. I must accept that I am fully forgiven and restored in Jesus Christ. Secondly, I must extend the same to all mankind. All of His Wonderful Benefits are produced by this process by His Hand. Forgiveness comes from God those who have fully accepted it will freely give it. So today, maybe its time to grab a handful of smooth stones and begin to write some things on them that need to be forgiven. Take them to a river, lake or even the ocean and throw them as far as possible. It doesn’t stop there. Begin to pray for complete forgiveness and total restoration. Find a way to forgive that person. If possible, let them know. The freedom of forgiveness far outweighs the comfort of isolation.

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.

 

 

 

Hidden Treasure

for sale

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”

Hidden treasure, how exciting! The thought of a chest of gold at the bottom of the ocean. Or maybe beneath the sandy beaches of a shore left long ago. Secret maps encoded by those who never would return to claim their prize left to be discovered in another time. The fodder of fairytales no doubt or is it. Is there really such a thing as hidden treasure and secrets in this life?  In the ruthless reality of life is there really room for fantasy? Or would it just be another set up for failure to expect the unexpected? To truly believe that there is more to life than this and that there is a favor yet to be revealed in a mundane existence of struggle and striving just to get by. Does Cinderella really leave to marry a prince in a castle? Does Snow White find a way of escape? Does Aurora ever truly experience the kiss of her sweet prince? The plight of the princess ends in a rescue by her prince. Such things are not truth but written by fanciful authors to bring hope to the hopeless. What about us? We are believers. We have hope. Hope that promises to never lead us to disappointment. We do not wait for a prince but King Jesus. The One who sits on a throne with every enemy as His Footstool. The reality of hope is dependent on faith. Faith is the substance of what we hope for. It is the matter that keeps us engaged in the pursuit of the impossible day by day.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. When you think about Heaven, what do you see? The envisioning of a place filled with light paved in gold? A gathering of those who are now gone but your heart still longs for? What does it look like to you? The Kingdom must become a reality in our life in order to fully seek it out and discover its true potential. A man discovered a treasure hidden in a field. He was excited. He would not steal it so he hid it again. The man returned to his ordinary existence and sold everything he owned to buy the field. Is Jesus real? Is His Kingdom a true destination? Our life hints at the truth of what one believes. We invest our time, talent and treasure to have what is truly valuable to us. There is treasure hidden in Heaven for me. I have an inheritance and secret blessings that are mine for the taking yet if I do not understand the value and worth enough to desire it above all things – it is as the hidden chest of gold or potential princess in the secret place – it waits for us to believe and therefore search for it.

If my grandmother were alive today, she would confirm that I loved to read about the princesses. The story of Cinderella was my favorite. The pages worn thing in the book from constant reiteration. She would offer to read another account of one of the others, but I pleaded to read Cinderella again. Dreams are something given to us at a young age which often are forfeited to cruel and harsh reality. Visions of a better way, life and journey forsaken to disappointment that causes us to bury our dreams while entering adulthood. The desire of our heart is designed by God. I believe it is the potential that the Lord wrapped with the measure of faith and marked “eternity” that is placed in our heart. Your life today has the priceless potential to be more than you can think, ask or imagine. Have you buried your dead dream today? Deciding that it was just a childhood foolishness called fantasy and moved on to real life. I did, too. However, for some reason, they seem to be coming back. My mind is entertaining them again. My heart quickens at the thought. Could it be that the Light of the World is lighting up inside of me and through a fragile heart marked with cracks and crevices full of flaws and imperfections that He is illuminating the hidden secrets called fulfillment as He works the details of life for goodness and His Glory just like He promised. Is it possible?

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

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

People are quick to judge the rest of their life by its current condition. We make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. There are things that the Lord has hidden in us from the beginning of time when our creation was decided. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Every moment of our life is previously recorded by God. (Psalm 139:16) Our life is predestined to be glorious. (Romans 8:29-30) Jesus changes everything. (Ephesians 1:10-11) Nothing can separate us from God’s Love any longer. (Romans 8:38-39) This is not random fate or good fortune. God planned it from the very beginning that our life would become a masterpiece on display for all the world to see, like a city on a hill that is well lit and inviting. The Glory of God is revealed in His People. What glory is there in a life of poverty, weakness, and ignorance? Faith promotes growth and increase in our life. His Grace gives us the power to overcome every weakness. Knowledge and understanding mean nothing until they become wisdom or applied in our life. Hope never leads to disappointment but if we do not believe hope exists or do anything to pursue it – we will not benefit from it in our natural life. If hope exists only after the expiration date marking the end of our earthly existence – we will miss the glorious life that Jesus Christ offers while alive. Christ lives in me. He is worth having and I am ready to “sell” out to have His Kingdom a reality in my life.

Proverbs 2:1-4 (NLT) My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh to come express God’s Love in a real and tangible way. Even the people closest to Jesus struggled to believe even witnessing great miracles, signs and wonders. Those who believe without seeing are the ones that Jesus called more blessed when showing Thomas His Wounds for credibility. To ask Jesus to be our Savior and call Him Lord gives us keys to His Kingdom to unlock hidden doors and open secret places that are just for God’s Children. My faith in Christ is all that I need to make those dreams and desires a reality now. To know Jesus I must know the Word. To treasure His Commands empowers the process that leads to potential and the realization of my purpose. Ignorance is not bliss. It kills our dreams and the potency in our life. We must listen for God’s Voice and engage in conversation with Him to know the way. Wisdom is applied knowledge. Concentrate on understanding. Cry out for more insight. Ask for understanding. What if all that I am doing is in vain even humbling my life in service to God? What if all the things that I am doing are religious because I do not have a connection or real relationship with Christ? The enemy tells us that Christ requires us to give up everything and live an abased existence because we owe it all to Jesus. Jesus didn’t say that at all. We forfeit the bondage to sin, captivity to the lies of the enemy, and breakthrough every wall of resistance when our faith in the hope that He offers makes us confident enough to pursue Him wholeheartedly. We are adopted by God as His Children. To live in His Kingdom is to experience His Glory now AND forevermore. We must get our faith working for today as it does for the future.

Mark 4:21-23 (NLT) Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

It is human nature to think the worst. How many times have I heard this verse used in conversation concerning people living double lives? “Well…everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open…” said with strong Southern slang followed by the obligatory “bless their heart” or worse the knowing nod of the pious. What if Jesus didn’t mean that at all? What if He was saying as my love burns through your heart igniting a passionate love affair building confident hope that causes you to come boldly before me seeking, knocking and asking that I will show you all the wonderful things that I have hidden in your life? What if it means the windows of Heaven will open flooding your life to overflowing with all my promises so you can lend and not borrow being generous without regard, worry or regret? A lamp draws those in darkness to the light. The Lord is gracious. He doesn’t want to put our sin on display but His Glory. We are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living and continue to do so daily no matter what we do to avoid it. His Grace is enough. His Mercy is new every morning and fuels His Love and Power in us. We have great potential and purpose in life to do more than imaginable simply because Christ is alive in us.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

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

When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. The temple veil torn from the top to the bottom. God was ready to receive His Children and grant them an inheritance. Joel’s prophecy fulfilled. Dreamers could dream again. Visionaries have new visions of the Kingdom. God’s Glory permeated the earth and in Acts 2 came to live in His People. This would be the moment in time that changed everything. God in us. Why is that we bury our dreams? Why do we pass off vision as fantasy? Where is our confidence in hope? It is time to take the measure of faith given to us and unwrap it, inspect it and use it again. God has given us the potential to achieve great purpose and shine His Glory for all to see. We will prosper. We will have success. We will be blessed. We will have influence. We will experience favor. We will see signs, miracles and wonders as His Glory permeates every area of our life. However, none of this is possible until faith is the reality of our passion and persistent pursuit of our life. The reality of His Kingdom is our hope. Hope must have confidence to be of any use today. My forever and future are secure. It is up to me to decide if His Kingdom will impact my today. Dreamer – the Lord invites you to dream. Visionary – the Lord invites you to see new things. Child of God – there is a treasure you have yet to discover. Give up the reality called life to experience the true revelation of hope. A life fully invested in Jesus Christ will bring to light the secret and hidden things that are there just for you! Sell everything to acquire it and it will be yours.

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

More Than a Follower

more-than-a-follower

Luke 14:25-27 (NLT) A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Or are you a disciple of the Lord? I am challenged by this question today that can only be examined and evaluated by one’s commitment to Christ. There were many followers in the days that Jesus walked the earth. Some curiosity seekers while others in need of a cure. If you read the account of the miracle of the fishes and loaves when Jesus made a meal for more than 5,000 out one little boy’s lunch, it is easy to see that people poured out in droves to hear His Message and receive His Word. But when it came down to those committed to serving the Lord, it was only twelve. According to the Bible account, but even all twelve did not fully believe or have true faith. How can I be certain of my commitment level to Christ?

Jesus told the people that day, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else…yes, even your own life.” Well, that seems a little bit harsh, huh. How can I hate those who I am called to love? John 13:35 seems to contradict this: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” If you look closely at Luke 14:26 – it says, “by comparison.” It is natural to love, care for and nurture our family and even some friends. Each day is set forth to make a better life for them, meet their needs and support them any way possible. Every follower of Jesus Christ may remain committed to both serving Jesus and their family as well. However, as His Follower, there are certain things left behind in pursuit of Jesus. We must choose to go His Way and leave our old ways behind. Is this enough? This is completely and totally up to you. Many received signs, wonders and miracles simply because they followed Jesus. There were those who prospered in the natural because they successfully served Jesus with their life. But need I remind you – there were only 12 disciples.

Matthew 9:9 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

All disciples begin as a follower. The invitation is always the same. “Follow me.” Leave the darkness and come into this marvelous Light of Love. He will wash us in His Blood, and soothe us with His Word. Cover us in a Robe of Righteousness. Supply enough grace for every weakness and mercy for every shortcoming. We have all that we need according to His Riches in Glory. To be a follower of Christ and work the Word creates prosperity and goodness as His Favor reaches us. Is God’s Favor enough? Yes, for the follower…but not for a true disciple.

A follower is an imitator. To do what Jesus did. To apply God’s Word to life. To serve the Lord. To identify with His Spirit. It is not a bad gig and yields many spiritual blessings and success. But is it enough for you? To become a true disciple of Jesus Christ is to become a pupil. A pupil does not simply imitate or mimic the instructor. They listen, observe, take notes and prepare for the next examination. The goal is to past the test. Score high in the evaluation. To be found fit and the end of the course – enduring training and assessment. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is a commitment to discipline that radically changes one’s heart and mind putting Him above all things including our family when necessary. It is to carve out the best portions of our time to know Him more, study and become an approved worker.

Luke 14:28-30 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

Before deciding to become a disciple, one must definitely count the cost. The transition from one role to the other will cost you more than something, it is a commitment of everything you are, own and hold dear to know Him, trust Him and seek the Lord wholeheartedly. It is to lay all of our life on the altar in surrender to the Lord and to say, “Have your way, Lord! Here is my life – all of it!” You cannot be a true disciple if you are not willing to give up this life. There is always a cost for anything of worth. Our willingness to pay for it is the only thing that keeps us from our heart’s desires a lot of times. I would like a new couch, for example, but I am not willing to pay the price because there are other things that I feel are more important right now. Where does Jesus fall on your priority list today? This will indicate your chosen role. He must move His Way to the very top to become his disciple.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Busyness is the excuse the enemy gives us to accommodate failure. It is the snare that traps followers who desire to be disciples. Your time, talent and treasure belong to you. You are free to use it as you please. We must learn to tithe these three things and give the Lord our first fruits. Until our time is invested in the Kingdom, our talent given to the thing He called and created us to do, and our treasure in Heaven not the things (or people) of this earth – we can only follow at a distance – held back by the shackles of a need and desire for lesser things. When the Kingdom becomes our treasure – we will be given to discipleship because it becomes worth it all. When God’s Glory is our desire over His Goodness – miracles begin to happen and His Glory will produce a vast revival with the potential to be global in effect. How precious is the Kingdom to you? Enough to reprioritize your schedule? Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ? To carve out the choicest portion of your time, talent and treasure as a tithe and offering to the Lord rather than slinging yesterday’s leftovers like scraps on the floor? We are free to become disciples if we choose to pay the cost. Cost is driven by worth. Is He worth it? Yes, Jesus you are definitely worth all of me AND my life.

Luke 14:31-33 (NLT) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

“Si vis pacem, para bellum” or “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Jesus did not come to bring peace to this world. In fact, He came to set the world on fire. To start a wildlife of love and compassion that would sweep through the world and burn in the hearts of people. He came to empower us with His Power by His Grace to be overcomers. To walk in victory. To live by faith. To give us a place called hope where all things are possible for those who believe. To be a disciple is to believe that Heaven and the Kingdom requires force. (Matthew 11:12) To be willing to invest the time and energy of the “good soldier” who is willing to their families, homes, jobs and life goals to secure freedom for all people. Discipleship is fighting the good fight of faith even when it means forsaking our comfort. “Foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to even lay his head.” They promised to follow Him “wherever you go.” Jesus said, “Follow me now.” They made excuses. (Matthew 8:19-22) Faith is ready to follow. Trust is the first step.

You must be ready to give up the “civilian” life. To fight the good fight called faith. Most of us will never endure suffering such as Jesus and the early Christians did. There are people in the world right now who must endure great oppression and even torture to be disciples of Christ. We are so tied up in civilian affairs and unwilling to give up our personal comfort, pursuits and passions to take up our cross, follow Jesus and become His Disciple. Yet, still have the audacity to demand revival and wonder where it is and why His Glory has not come.

Matthew 16:25-27 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.

Jesus will not make you follow Him. He will simply invite you. He offers you the opportunity to be His Disciple but does not force such a lifestyle on you. He has promised us a place in His Kingdom. He has even given us the keys to unlock it and unleash it here on earth. We have been given everything needed to prosper in faith, promoted by trust, and a hope that is confident. The rest is up to me. If I want to be a disciple, I must be willing to make a difference in the atmosphere of my life by committing it all to Jesus. All of it. The truth is – it all belongs to Him anyway. The test is – do I love my life more than Jesus? We all must evaluate our position – am I a follower or a disciple? If you do not like your current position – it is completely up to you to make the change necessary. He will meet you in that moment, but will never push or pull us into it. Faith. Love. Hope. Trust. Commitment. Discipline. These are the labels on the steps of discipleship. The stairway to the Kingdom is before us. His Glory is ready to descend from the Highest of Heaven to meet us right where we are if we are willing to take the first step. The moment that you and I believe it will be worth it, we will be willing to step up. Lord, make me more than a follower. I want to be your disciple. Here is my life today – take it all. I love you Jesus and want Your Glory to fill my life!

Matthew 28:19 (NLT) Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

The Warrior

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Joel 3:9-11 (NLT) Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors. Let all your fighting men advance for the attack. Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors. Come quickly, all you nations everywhere. Gather together in the valley.” And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

“God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His Toughest Soldiers, He creates the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles.” I believe this is absolutely true. Soldiers are developed in training, but warriors are produced in battle. This is contrary to the popular quote, “God gives His Hardest Battles to His Strongest Soldiers.” Forget this idea. Erase it from your brain. This is simply not true. Close but not quite. God has placed eternity in every human heart. It is our purpose in life to secure the Kingdom and arrive at our destination. It will be a fight to the finish to hang on to our faith and secure confident hope. The enemy is real. He is waging war on God’s Elect from the moment the first breath is taken. To believe that my strength is my own puts me at a great disadvantage. The potential within me is a tiny seed called faith. The one who hates me wants to take it from me and destroy it thereby killing me.

I do not mean to discourage anyone by these words but rather to encourage you. Those who feel like weaklings and failures of faith are usually the mightiest of all God’s Warriors. My strength comes from the Lord. The Power within me is Jesus Christ. His Spirit has been given me along with the potential to overcome. This great power is manifested in my utter weakness and humility before the Lord. He is the Warrior. (Exodus 15:3) His Name is Yahweh. Psalm 144:1-2 tells us that God trains our hands for war. He gives our fingers skill for the battle. He is also our loving ally and fortress who is the tower of safety, as well as our rescuer. He is my shield who makes the nations submit to me. There is really not much room for me in this picture except through submission and surrender to the Lord in the heat of the battle and midst of war.

2 Timothy 2:4-7 (NLT) Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you.” It is important to know what exactly the fight is all about. The enemy is the author of confusion. Many battles in the Old Testament ended abruptly when the enemy camp was thrown into a state of confusion. A military unit is only as strong as the commitment of each soldier to the mission or objection. Each man’s heart set on the same thing. They become so focused on the goal that the danger surrounding them blurs in the mindset of victory. Athletes are known for the same spirit. The battle faced each day is for faith. Will I hold tight to my faith in the Mighty Warrior enough to trust Him in the face of all opposition? Will I overcome in my weakness submitted to His Grace? The only thing worth fighting for on a daily basis is faith. This is the act of endurance that allows us to reach the end of this life and receive victorious redemption through Jesus Christ. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” This is probably our biggest distraction. We get caught up in pointless pursuits rather than purposeful practice. We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. We wage war on the unseen world, against the mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Know your enemy today. It is not the people in life who oppose you but the enemy who uses whatever means necessary to secure your defeat.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ overcame the world. “It is finished” meant it was finished. The battle over the war won for us. Now, we fight to believe it. To believe that the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ secured a place for us in His Kingdom so now we are Sons and Daughters of God. The family of unity formed by the Body of Christ binds us as God’s Army ready to fight until death for our faith. Do you believe? Jesus gave us His Spirit to help our unbelief. He knows the battles we face, the struggles of life, the heartache involved and exactly what is needed to overcome. He offers it to us in the form of His Spirit who trains us for the war of life.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

Jesus promised to send down His Spirit to us. When He said, “It is finished” with His Last Breath on earth – He did just that releasing His Spirit to all mankind. Now we have an Advocate who teaches us and trains those who are willing to become mighty warriors of the Lord. Not every soldier is a warrior. In 2 Samuel 24, there was a census that noted over a million capable warriors, yet in 2 Samuel 23, only 37 make the list of the mighty men. The Presence of the Holy Spirit within us empowers us to be good soldiers and fight for our faith. It is the total development of that soldier through successful engagements that make mighty warriors. We all have such potential but only few will answer the call to grow from simple soldiers to mighty warriors.

In Joel 3, warriors are called forth. Let’s go back a chapter to Joel 2. Who do we find? The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Jesus has given us His Spirit with the intent of intensifying our faith, growing our confidence in God that becomes courage. The Spirit becomes our sword in the heat of battle. His Word our weapon. Faith is the shield that keeps us safe when the enemy attacks with all his fiery darts, lies and betrayal. It keeps us focused from distractions and busyness. We all have the potential to become mighty warriors but must be willing to fight for our faith to become one.

Judges 6:11-13 (NLT) Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

The Lord found Gideon hiding in a wine press threshing wheat so the enemy would not take it. He greeted Gideon, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you?” I imagine Gideon probably sarcastically chuckled a bit like Sarah’s laugh at the thought of pregnancy at 99. My current condition will never limit God’s Potential in my life unless I abandon faith. Faith makes every impossibility potential in my life. Gideon was ripe for productivity. He was about to advance from soldier to warrior even though he did not see it, feel like it, or even believe it. God called Gideon who He created Him to be not who He was.

Too often our circumstances and current condition are the thermometer of our faith rather than basing our life outcomes on the Word of God by faith. No soldier enters a battle or athlete a competition intent on losing. Faith is the mindset that in complete submission to Jesus Christ that we overcome every single time that leads us to victory. Doubt means I believe losing is an option. It implies that the Power of Christ within me is not enough. Confident hope produces courage that no matter what happens my victory is secure in the Lord both now and forever. It is not prideful, boastful or cocky just plain good old confidence that Christ is enough.

Gideon was a man. He was human. He asked the angel of the Lord to paraphrase, if I am so “mighty” why am I hiding in a winepress cowering in fear? Why is this happening to me if I have the Favor of God?” Why is life so hard? This life is temporary. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is taken by force. You must fight for your faith every day in order to enter the Kingdom. Your faith and confident hope becomes the light that leads other to victory. No solider becomes a warrior without acts of engagement and forays on the battlefield. To become a warrior means you must fight the war…and win. Why is this so important? “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.”

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When sharing the wonderful testimony of our son’s victory over cancer thanks be to God, many people say, “I don’t know how you did it” or “I couldn’t have made it through like you”. I immediately stop them. When the cancer diagnosis came it wasn’t the result of a questionnaire given us the choice to opt out of the battle. No it was satan’s best attempt to kill our son and the potential within him. With four relapses, each one threw away every bit of my self-confidence. The thought that I had the power to protect and save my own children destroyed my confidence as a mother. There was little of me left by the time – we entered the realm called hope. But it was there when God’s Grace finally became enough for me that I discovered I am not the strong one at all. My faith is the strength of my life. Faith in Jesus Christ that allows Him to take over when I cannot take another step, breathe another breath, do another thing or hold all the pieces of my broken heart. It is in that very moment that I discover Jesus is all that I need. It is through these times that soldiers become warriors not the other way around. I thought I was strong and self-sufficient along with being faithful. Total surrender to the Power of God is claimed in our absolute weakness apart from Him. This is the potential of the warrior hidden within. When against all odds, our response to the war cry of the enemy is that Christ is enough to overcome and claim victory. To fight for our faith above all other things. To advance the Kingdom at all costs. To care less about our life and more about eternal life.

Nothing can separate you from the Love of God today. He is our overwhelming victory. To engage this life in Christ will create a victorious lifestyle that makes you a warrior rather than just a well-trained soldier. These are the ones who thwart the enemy at every turn. The ones who race out to face the giant. The ones who against all odds persevere not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Living God within them. Are you a soldier or a warrior today? You can choose to advance anything you want to by faith. The Lord is calling His Warriors as He readies His Return. Will you answer the call?

Isaiah 13:2-3 (NLT) “Raise a signal flag on a bare hilltop. Call up an army against Babylon. Wave your hand to encourage them as they march into the palaces of the high and mighty. I, the Lord, have dedicated these soldiers for this task. Yes, I have called mighty warriors to express my anger, and they will rejoice when I am exalted.”

 

Worth the Fight

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Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Focus. I feel the need to refocus today. It happens. Life gets a little chaotic. Storms come rolling in. Bills pile up. Too many plates (responsibilities) spinning in the air. Kids are sick. Too many distractions create a smokescreen of busyness. Time in the Word runs out. Prayer closet is vacant. Presence is lost. Spirit is willing but oh how weak is our flesh. It’s time to refocus. What are we fighting for anyway? The priority list too long and running to the second page. Is it worth it? The things consuming my time, overwhelming my thoughts and causing such crises to steal my joy, rob my time and destroy my dreams. No, it’s not.

Satan must use deception, deceit, distractions and false representations to isolate us from the Lord. He works diligently to build a strong façade of lies, half-truths and traps out of the details of life. It is easy to fall for them sometimes because what we see is always bigger than the faith and hope which is unseen. To believe means trusting in the Lord while remaining focused on the only three things that remain over time. The only things worth fighting for are faith, hope and love.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Why invest our life in temporary things rather than eternal treasure? Simple. Life is hard. Faith is a struggle. The struggle is real. Hope seems elusive when it should bear the weight of an anchor holding our soul steady but our boat is really rocking. The details of making it through a single day successfully seems so important but God is looking for just three things to call this day a win – faith, hope and love. Did you believe in Jesus? Do you trust Him? Do you love Him? See in the end these are the qualities which God is looking for in us. These are the three things that define our purpose and potential in life. When it is all said and done – will we be found full of faith, held by hope and bound by love?

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT) As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Faith is described from the beginning as small. It is referred to as the size of a mustard seed but absolutely essential to having eternal life. It is definitely worth fighting for but the first thing given up when the wind and waves start rocking the boat of life. Peter came out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water, but soon became distracted by the storm and lost his focus on the Savior. Welcome to everyday life. This was a message for us that faith is a fight. It is not easily secured. It cannot be taken for granted. It makes us uncomfortable. It is marked by inconvenience. It challenges insecurity. It always produces change. The conditions and circumstances of our existence are defined by opportunities to learn to depend on the Lord. Otherwise, there would be no pressure to accept these undesirable situations to produce an inward resolve that the Lord is faithful. Who would take the chance? Who would seize the moment? No one would.

Faith is our purpose. It is the point of our life. To obtain a citizenship in the Kingdom of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ is overwhelming victory, not for the battles waged in the world, but the war over death and the grave. To use our faith for temporary things is not faith at all. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) We are tempted to relegate faith to earthy circumstances, conditions and challenges. Faith for healing, deliverance and provision. These are all part of the package. Faith is to believe in Jesus Christ wholeheartedly. It is the very seed that sprouts all these other wonderful benefits in our life. To put God in a box and let him out to make our natural life more comfortable, convenient and stable is not its potential. Faith’s potential is the salvation of our soul. It sets our sights on Heaven. This is the true potential of our life hidden deep in our heart since creation. God put eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is this inner belief that every other good thing or godly prosperity stems from. The enemy is out to take this from you. If he can convince us to forfeit faith for fear – He will steal, kill and destroy the purpose of God within us. Fight for your faith today.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NLT) A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Hope is the anchor for our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) It’s the very thing that holds our faith in place no matter what comes up in life. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we now have this place of undeserved privilege called hope to keep us standing on the firm foundation called faith. Without hope, what’s the point? Hope is our potential. It takes us beyond the natural to the supernatural. Moves us from possible to impossible. It takes us from the seventy or so years called life and gives us eternal life. It is every benefit and blessing that God has promised in His Word and according to His Way. Hope is the mark on the compass that faith sets its sight on. We must focus on securing our faith with confident hope.

Have you ever walked through a dark room making out the shadowy images? Familiarity allows us to navigate the sharp corners and obstacles in the room. However, when we turn on the overhead light – it causes immediate blindness. The radiating globe that was supposed to allow us to see more clearly suddenly makes it impossible to see anything. Our eyes need time to adjust. Darkness is turned to light in God’s Love. It takes time to discern the difference in things when His Love overtakes us and a new place called the Kingdom is obtained. Hope keeps us standing as we seek the Kingdom and clear away the darkness from our life. His Love is amazing. It illuminates our life and begins a process that is sometimes hard to discern because it is unlike the dark world that has been our home for so long. We expect things to turn out a certain way and when they do not most will abandon ship, run from the battle, or give up on the Lord.

We need God’s Armor to surround us. It protects the potential called hope. It reminds us. It fortifies our body, soul and mind in the midst of these trials that lead to perseverance, the tests that produce trust, and the waiting that becomes endurance. We don’t have to fight the enemy. He is already defeated. We must fight for faith and confident hope so that when he wages war against us – we can stand firm without wavering. It is important to fight for hope today it is the potential of our life.

Philippians 1:27 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

Having three daughters who loved the Disney series, High School Musical, when I read this verse I hear the chorus of “We’re All in This Together” playing in my head. I have said it before and I must say it again. People are not the problem. The person who cussed you out, cut you off in traffic, hurt you, betrayed you, abused you, or just plain ticked you off is not the problem. They are not the thorn in our flesh unless we choose to allow them to be such. We are called to love another. We are commanded to love one another. Love defines disciples. Our ability to love even the most unlovable is the mandate of Christ for us. If you cannot love other people, you do not love God. You love people more. To love someone places expectation in them to love you back. The only true love potential is Jesus Christ. He is perfect. The unprecedented lover of people. If you or I decide to put our expectation in people, we should expect to be let down, disappointed, and discouraged time and time again. Grace would not be necessary if  perfection was possible for humanity. The human heart is fickle. We are not capable of perfect love outside the Lord.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-16) People are always part of our purpose and potential in the Lord. They do not impact one’s ability to achieve it. People are where we plant seeds of righteousness as the peacemakers who God has called us together to knit the Kingdom of God and Body of Christ. We must be willing to put all of our expectation in Jesus Christ who allows us to have a right relationship with God the Father. Our faith in Jesus allows us to live in right standing with God and become part of His Kingdom. Hope is what keeps us striving through this temporary life with all its momentary problems to live forever with Him. Love is worth fighting for. It builds the Kingdom. God sacrificed His Son for us. Jesus gave up everything to come for us. He gave up His Rights as King of Kings and Lord of Lords long enough to secure a place for us. People are the Kingdom. All people were created with Eternity in their heart. They are all worth fighting for. To love them as Jesus loves them.

To love God is to love others. To be godly is to love because God is love. The Word of God clearly states that no matter what I “do” for God including giving everything I have to the poor or sacrificing my body – if didn’t love others, I have gained nothing. No love. No faith. No love. No hope. Is love worth fighting for? Absolutely. What is love? Just a reminder – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is not only worth fighting for but the very thing that keeps the Kingdom intact.

I Timothy 6:11-14 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

But you, __________, are a man or woman of God. Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for true faith. Hold tightly to eternal life which God has called you to. Declare it to many witnesses today. It’s time to reprioritize and refocus. Tear up the long to do list of human expectation and ask the Lord what do you have for me to do today. It will all come down to just three things – faith which is our purpose, hope that is our potential and the people who we are called to love. Life is simplified in Jesus Christ. Don’t let the enemy complicate it with unnecessary things. He is constantly trying to sow weeds in the garden of righteousness being sown in our life. He wants to crack our foundation of faith with fear and doubt. He fights to chain us and put us in bondage to other things so we cannot remain securely anchored to hope. The enemy of our soul seeks to destroy love on every level and some people make that a bit easier. Love them anyway. Put all your expectation in Jesus Christ and fight to keep it there. These are definitely the things (faith, hope and love) that are worth fighting to maintain in our everyday life. They define our purpose, release our potential and build the Kingdom. Well worth it!

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

 

You Reap What You Sow

you-reap-what-you-sow

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.’” (Genesis 8:21-22)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7)

There is a truth perpetuated from Genesis to Galatians of sowing and reaping or planting and harvest. This idea, though a basic concept in the natural, has supernatural potential. If believers would tap in to the importance of this promise of God the Kingdom of God would explode. The world had been wiped clean of humanity all except for Moses and his family. A complete do-over by God with this promise “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race.” This is the promise of amazing grace. No matter how sinfully depraved we are, God will always leave us fertile ground for sowing and reaping. This was a promise to the earth, as well as an eternal promise for our soul. God promised that he would not allow His Anger and Wrath to destroy all living things. This was the promise of salvation yet to come. As long as the earth remains, we are guaranteed prosperity.

Prosperity is growth potential. God has provided the platform to grow things. He has mapped out seasons. He has provided the ground for planting, the sun, the rain and even a harvest. All that is left is the act of sowing. Sowing is sacrifice. It is to commit a seed to the ground, care for it until it becomes a harvest…at least that is what good farmers do. We sow seeds of something in our life every single day. Sometimes diligent in our care and concern to wait for the harvest of our attitude or action and then other times losing hope abandoning well plowed fields to eat from other crops. It is important to evaluate the seeds of our life to determine the harvest. Do not be misled, misinformed, or misguided – what you sow you will reap, what you plant you will harvest always.

“You reap what you sow” is a statement with a negative connotation. When rumors and gossip of another’s misfortune, too many times it is used to describe a life bad choices. Though completely true, it is hissed as a curse against those who are broken, burdened, struggling, failing or falling. As Christians, I have seeds planted in me by God cultivated by His Spirit to give to others when they stumble or fall for the lie of the enemy. Do I share them? When God gave us the promise of seedtime and harvest, I do not believe it was a threat but a promise of salvation, deliverance, mercy and grace. A Savior was coming to be our Sacrifice. Like a seed, He died and was buried in the ground. (I Corinthians 15:36-37) Jesus didn’t stay in the ground and the harvest of salvation made available to us through Resurrection Power now offered to us the same way. God has provided all that is need to prosper us. Where is our seed? Have we planted it well? Do we even know what good seed is? Where to get it? How to farm it? How to wait for it to grow? When to harvest it? We are farmers who sow seeds that will become the Kingdom of God? How are we doing so far?

God was pleased with the sacrifice of Noah. It was in that moment that God ordained sowing and reaping. It is a covenant promise not a conventional tool. It is not a financial concept though it works there too. God was giving us hope. He was preparing the ground for Jesus. He was preparing us for His Arrival. Now the Savior has come, He died for our sin, His Sacrifice acceptable to God now we have been handing the seeds and told to plant – are we planting?

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT) To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Beauty for ashes. Who doesn’t want a beautiful life? The quaint little house with the white picket fence. The perfect family who never quarrels or hits hard times. The sun is always shining and the rain never falls. The bills always paid. The unexpected never knocks. No talk of disease, sickness or death. Wouldn’t it be beautiful? Yes, maybe but only temporarily.

Sin is the root of the imperfection of this world. Let’s just say that hypothetically that an apple was the fruit Eve chose from the Tree of Knowledge that day. God created every living thing with the ability to reproduce. This is the same apple that the seeds of every other apple tree is produced from. Even if we do our best to build the perfect life with the perfect family and perfect home and perfect portfolio – the influence of sin will never ever escape us in this lifetime. To sow in this life is not good ground but temporary provision for a certain death.

A beautiful life is eternal life. The point when we step out of what is to what Jesus promised. The promise is not for this life but the hope that I have in forever with the Lord. No more sin. No more shame. No more darkness only Light. No more sorrow. No more sickness. No more pain. Nothing reminiscent of what sin provided in this life but only the fulfilled promise of God in eternity. This is where sowing becomes the harvest that satisfies the soul. It is the place of completion where nothing is lacked. It means sacrificing this life to have forever.

Everyone wants beauty but do not want to endure the fire for the ashes that it takes. Everyone wants abundance but will we sow seeds sacrificially because that is what it takes. My way will never produce the abundant harvest that I am promised. Sacrifice is not giving what I want or can afford to lose but giving my all. Sacrifice is everything. It means giving up this life to have eternal life. For it is the pursuit of righteousness, our seeds become established as mighty, immovable and great oaks.

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

God gives us increase. He gives us growth potential. Grace is the power source of productivity in our life and works the same as planting. We have nothing of worth to give outside of Jesus Christ within us. I have been compelled in this New Year to stop sowing worthless seeds and really evaluate the potential of my productivity. Stop focusing on things that don’t really matter and examine my heart make sure it is set on what really matters. Am I sowing the right seed? Am I watering (and waiting) as it changes into that which God has promised and ordained to happen? Am I depending on God to grow, develop and mature it into what HE decided it should be? Am I sowing into this life or eternity?

Looking back over my life, I have had many experiences. My life is blessed. God has prospered our family and we are well cared for. However, the harvest you see is born of seeds planted long ago. I have finally lived long enough to inspect the fruit of my life. I see the things grown from my mistakes and harvested in bad choices. God has managed in His Unconditional Love, Overwhelming Grace and Mighty Power to turn them out for my good. I have been through the fire of testing and trials too many times to count. Suddenly there is less of me and I am finally okay with that. Brokenness has made a place in my heart to deep and wide for anything to fill but the Love of Jesus Christ. He holds me together now. I have sown many tears and now see their blessings. I have tried to plant when the season cold, ground heart and in drought-like conditions. These are the times when emotions and feelings cannot be our forecaster but commitment the driving force. Looking ahead, to the future called hope, I want to be an expert farmer for the rest of my life. How about you? If you don’t mind, I think I might stay here as long as it takes. I really want to plant to harvest for the Kingdom. I have sown in this life and God has been faithful. Now I want to sow for a future forever with Him.

Today I will sow. Lord, let my seed by of Your Word according to Your Will planted Your Way. Today I will water. Holy Spirit, lead me to the seeds that need nurturing, watering, covering, and care. Today I will harvest – every good and perfect gift comes from You!

Hebrews 6:7-10 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

 

 

Can We Agree?

can-we-agree

Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT) “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

As a mom, there have been many days that I found a referee shirt and whistle would have been more suitable attire. With two boys and three girls, not to mention five very different personalities, it seemed like they just could not get along. Yelling did not work, screaming, begging and pleading didn’t seem to get me anywhere. Putting them in the yard to settle disputes on their own only led to the need for a water hose to separate them. But let someone come against any one of them and watch out, the claws come out and teeth are bared. Abusing one another as siblings is perfectly acceptable, however; no one else may have the pleasure. I love to see my kids when my kids agree. When they can work, play or just be together laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I can only imagine how Father God feels when His Children do the same.

Five individuals were enough for this human heart to contend with. With three grown and on their own, the holidays are wonderful because we are blessed with opportunities to be together. Yet in the midst of such elation, squabbles break out, jealousy rises up and friendly competition has been known to cause a war. I cannot fathom the patience of God with us as His Children. Always pointing fingers, tattling, getting mad, getting offended and disrupting the “family” of God with our petty differences and hurt feelings. I remember a Jim Carrey movie, when he played God for a day. He was answering prayer emails and thinking that he was doing a pretty good job until they started pouring in by the hundreds, thousands and even millions. Why can’t believers agree? We are given such a wonderful promise of power when we do, yet it seems as though Christians just cannot get it together most of the time.

“If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” Just two. Agree concerning “anything”. God will do it. It almost sounds like the desperate plea of an exhausted parent for just a moment of peace and harmony. The Lord promises His Presence when two or three gather as His Followers, yet in the midst of them there is usually division and drama. Why is that? How do we overcome it? If we learn to agree, we will see the Glory of God in our midst. I believe that if people, churches, congregations, and Christians learned to agree – revival would come and new life created.

What does it mean to agree? Let’s go to the earthly source. According to the dictionary, to agree means to have the same views and beliefs. It is to give our consent or assent which means to yield or concede. (Oh, I can already see trouble ahead.) To live in one accord without contention. (Aw man, I told you it would be problematic.) To come to one opinion. (I could insert so many analogies about opinions lest I digress.) To have one mind, agreement or settlement. One. Just one. To be consistent. (Stop it already.) To conform. As I read this definition, there are no I’s only we’s in the meaning of agreement. The identity changes in agreement as two or three or more become one. The Power of God will return when His People, His Children choose to agree.

I John 5:6-10 (NLT) And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses—the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

According to Jewish law, when two witness agree – their testimony becomes fact. (John 8:17) This confirms what the Lord tells us in Matthew 18. God never contradicts Himself. His Word does not change. God does not have an opinion. Unfortunately, people do and often believe them as the truth that governs their life. Isn’t it just like God to outdo the law time and time again? The Law says only two witness are needed. But in God, there are three: Father, Son and Spirit. If we believe the “testimony” of God to be true, why don’t we strive to maintain the truth about God in our life rather than allowing our pride to disrupt things all the time.

I remember telling my children, it takes two to tango. If you don’t react, there is no argument. Imagine offense, hurt, angry or hurtful words to be like those lightweight balls in a kid’s ball pit. If one is coming at you, it is human nature to catch it or deflect it. But what if it hits you and you never raise your hand to claim it? It will just fall to the ground and roll away. Without a reaction, the one attempting to cause harm or damage will stop because their efforts are fruitless. Isn’t that what Jesus did? His Heart so for the people that He ignored their insults and injury to make His Way to the Cross – to die for such things. We must follow the example of Christ. To unite with the Lord and live in the Triune God – we must give up our way, opinion and right to be insulted in order to agree wholeheartedly with one another. Forgiveness gives up such things to allow love to flow again.

God’s Word is an absolute for my life. (Luke 1:37) Matthew 19:26 reminds me that all things are possible with God. In John 15:5, I am instructed that Jesus is the vine and my attachment to Him allows me to connect with God. John 14:6 already established that no one can gain access to the Father except through Christ. Mark 9:23 says that all things become possible when I believe. Jesus has guaranteed a better covenant with God if I choose to partner with Him or agree. (Hebrews 7:22) Finally, the Lord has given us His Spirit as a guarantee of every single promise. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:14) I am now a Child of God. Not of my doing, but of this complete work. To live as a Child of God means that I must give up my way to follow His Way. Jesus promotes relationship, connection and agreement in the Body of Christ. Am I doing the same?

Luke 9:59-60 (NLT) He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19-21 (NLT) He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me.

It is human nature and the desire of our flesh to have our own way. To maintain pride is to kill unity because agreement always requires humility. Each person must ask themselves if they agree with the Word of God, His Will and His Way. It is personal choice to join in building the Kingdom or be one of those tearing it apart. There is no middle ground even if people try to paint it a modern and fashionable gray. There is unity or division. The church has built many fences that must come down until our Kingdom is united again. Jesus’ invitation is simple – “Come and follow me.” This is the gateway to endless possibility in our life. Nothing is impossible any longer. But many will say that they agree, but choose their way.

There are many Judas’ in the church today. They give in to the lie of the enemy that serving God is more important than sacrificing self to forgive and form relationships with people. God is about building a Kingdom. Becoming one body – the Body of Christ. Will we disagree? Of course, just like my kids do time and time again. But let someone come against them, and watch out. We must develop the same conviction and commitment. It must not be okay for one to be lost. Agreement is the cellular level of faith. Faith is formed by our agreement with God. Those who learn to be agreeable will find that their faith begins to do something active in their life rather than just empty words touted as truth.

Philippians 3:14-16 (NLT) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

Agreement is a sign of spiritual maturity. If you are in contention with people most of the time, it is time to reevaluate relationships. Relationships are Kingdom builders. Agreement fortifies its walls and allows His Glory to reach us. Arguments are Kingdom destroyers and keep us from the Blessings and Promises of God for His Children. In Matthew 18, the verses before todays’ scripture speak of permission. Freedom allows to choose the course of our life. If we permit things on earth like judgement, division and strife – it impacts the Kingdom because we are God’s Kingdom. If we strive for agreement and unity – it releases the Power of the Kingdom here on earth through us. The verses right after it talk about forgiveness. Infinite and endless forgiveness no matter how many times people hurt, offend or abuse us. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus Christ loves and forgives us. His Power is released in our weakness. When humility takes the place of pride to follow Jesus and connect with His Kingdom simply by believing God and His Word are true. Do you believe all things are possible? If so, you will hear these words today and take them to heart. Can we agree? We must agree. It begins with me. Together, we are His Kingdom.

Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT) All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Exceedingly

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Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

In a study published in January 2013, it was determined that the annual income of the wealthiest 100 people was enough to end global poverty. Not once, but four times over. These individuals received a net income of $240 billion in 2012. Think about that for a moment, this was their net income not the gross. This is what they received after taxes, interest, depreciation and other expenses. There is more than enough money in the world. The problem is distribution. Knowing there is more than enough wealth to sustain every man, woman and child is not enough. It is to receive the portion needed to survive or even thrive that changes lives and improves one’s quality of life.

Let’s bring this home to the United States. Our country is believed to be #1 in total global personal wealth, according to Fortune magazine, holding a whopping 41.6%. The next country on the list is #2 China who secures only about 10.5%. The problem is not a lack of funds but unequal distribution of the wealth. The rich get richer and the poor only poorer. This is not a political platform but I use this information to reveal a Bible principle. The divide between wealth and poverty holds many people who make the personal choice each day to continue to strive for the American Dream or succumb to their situation, circumstances or condition. If there is in fact a surplus of funds available in the world, why can’t I have it? How do I attain it? Why am I struggling?

The wealth of the Kingdom of God is not money. The Lord warns a love for money can overtake us and become a fleshly drive in our life. So let’s talk about Kingdom inequality. There is none. If you are dissatisfied with your quality of life today, you can change it. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. You can be, too. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. He has the authority and power to remove my sin making me eligible for every blessing once forfeited by it. God chose to bless me when He created me. He set aside a portion of His Kingdom vaster than any other place for me. Upon my adoption and return to Him, it becomes mine again. Where is it? Why do I not have it? Why am I not satisfied or content with my life? God blessed me according to His Good Pleasure so I do not need to earn favor because I have it. I do not need to repay the debt sin created because Jesus said, “It is finished.” I am His Beloved. I am well cared for. So why do I lack?

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Anything is possible if a person believes. Jesus told the father of the tormented son, who asked the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” How many of our own prayers end the same way? Lord, if you can. Well, Jesus answered him directly, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” What will it take for you to believe that God has granted you every spiritual blessing in the Heavenlies? It is that very thing that will increase your quality of life, confidence in God and pursuit of His Kingdom. Our heart allows follows our treasure. Our mouth speaks from the abundance of our heart. If you believe your current life is as good as it will get, well than you are more than likely to remain in the same situation from year to year. But God offers us a life that is transformed from Glory to Glory. Those who receive it are those who believe it. Those who believe it will seek it. Those who seek it will speak it. All the rest will watch from the sidelines – jealous, envious and without.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Every single day men and women gather up their families headed to the United States to pursue the American Dream. To consider the wealth monetarily of our great nation and the poverty of other countries, it is no wonder people literally die trying to find hope for a better future. This nation was established as one nation under God. I cannot help but believe that is why the Hand of God and His Favor have impacted it so heavily. Pressing on to my point, as not to digress, if my life is not representative of the life that God describes in His Word. It is not a God-problem. I bear total responsibility for the lack in my life.

God provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. He will provide and increase your resources. He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. You will be enriched in every way SO THAT you can always be generous. Generosity. Could the lack in my life be two-fold? I am not pursuing the Kingdom and if I do I am doing it only for myself? Yes and yes. What is the point of personal monetary wealth to a Christian who does not give? There are many who give tithes and offerings to be obedient to the Lord, but never experience increase in their life. Why? Seed. Are we using what the Lord blesses us with to plant seed or whisking it away to hoard it for self. This is not about money but every resource in our life – physical and spiritual! Seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping are New Testament principles that carryout through life. You reap what you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God provides all that I need. He is a good Father. If I am not planting, sowing, and giving, I will only have enough to maintain my family. Why? I don’t need anymore. There is no purpose in surplus. You will always have everything you need AND plenty left over to share with others. The Fruit of God’s Spirit produced in us is for others, too. If I want more love, I must give more and so on and so forth. If all I want is God’s Hand and do not possess God’s Heart, I will probably experience lack of satisfaction and discontentment for the rest of my life because my purpose was wasted in surplus.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch walked so close to the Lord that one day the Kingdom simply consumed him and he was gone. God just scooped him up. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith must be progressive releasing us from this world to be overtaken with the hope give in Jesus Christ. This can only happen when our heart longs for God’s Heart rather than His Hand. Too many times God examines human hearts only to discover that they really didn’t want Him but for His Hand to open and release the money, power and influence to make this life better. How can one improve a condemned building marked for destruction? It is uninhabitable. Our faith must grow beyond our natural resources to supernatural living. You cannot save this planet. Take care of it. Maintain it and be a good steward, but one day it will all disappear. Our efforts must be focused on building the Kingdom and finding our way there. Becoming one with God so much so that I am consumed by love for Him and passion for His Kingdom.

We may never end the inequality of wealth on the earth. In fact with love growing colder by the minute and sin rampant, it is highly unlikely if not impossible. But with God all things are possible, if you believe. We can all establish a Kingdom lifestyle when we live according to Kingdom principles rather than the law of the land or the doctrine of each church. We must strive with all our might to seek the Kingdom of God first above all things to have all that God promised which is more than enough. Money and personal wealth will not change your life. It only magnifies that heart that keeps you alive. If money, power and influence is given to a selfish person, it will magnify pride and greed in them. Only those who truly seek the Kingdom will experience an abundance of satisfaction no matter where this life takes them knowing they are on their way to a Kingdom without end.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

I shared a story not too long ago about a fisherman who discovered a gigantic pearl. His fishing net got tangled up on a giant clam which he brought to his boat. When he opened it, he found a hidden treasure. He took it home and put it under his bed where it was hidden for ten years. The pearl is estimated to be worth more than $100 million. Where is your treasure today? Shrouded in doubt? Buried in disbelief? Blinded by disappointment? Left behind for other things? Have we become so consumed with making this life better that believers have lost the Keys to the Kingdom?

Faith will never be evident in what we can see but our constant and steady pursuit of that which cannot be seen but is hoped for. Hope is our future. It is not living in this moment or today. It is about investing every ounce of energy in pursuing God’s Kingdom and building it up. Are you mega minded or mission minded today? Those who are mega minded build store houses to protect their money, feelings, emotions, and self. Those who are mission minded give it all away just to know Jesus more and build His Kingdom. It is up to us if we live a life of full satisfaction. We make the choice how to live and what we are after. Choose well. This is my intent and full motivation for the coming year. To step out of lack and live in fulfillment. This is not necessary a wealthy endeavor but a worthwhile life.

Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

In the New King James version, the last verse is translated “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Exceedingly abundantly. That’s a lot my friend. God can, will and wants to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. You and I cannot comprehend the riches in His Glory ready to be poured out in our life. The Ephesians were members of the Church of Ephesus. The same church that did every “thing” right but for the wrong reasons. (Revelation 2) They had become a loveless ministry full of good works. I don’t want this to be the description of my life. Religion is not for me. I want a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ that insures my entrance into His Kingdom above all else. Christians must evaluate their life, motivation, attitudes and actions for authentic faith that is seeking the God’s Heart and not just His Hand. It is easy to become distracted. The flow of society sucks us in with supply and demand rather than sowing and reaping the blessings of life. What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose my soul? What is it worth to have everything and loved ones in hell? The church should be bridging the gap between earthly inequalities rather than creating a further divide. Where is the generosity of resources and heart? God’s Grace is enough for me…and you… and every other person God ever created. No one is greater or lesser in Heaven. We are all the same. Have I lost my first love? Have I forgotten all that I am and all that I have is by the Grace and Love given to me by Jesus Christ? Sometimes…I do. Do you?

Let’s regain our focus in 2017. This could be the best year of our life. It all depends what you are willing to sow in your life today in 2016. These are the seeds that will grow into our harvest. What are you sowing these last few days of the year? Will it be tears of repentance? Will it be the broken pieces of a contrite heart? Will it be willingness to surrender those parts of life previously withheld? Will it be what you have? Will it be what you don’t have? Will you put all your expectation and energy into knowing Christ more and chasing the world a little less? It is my intention to know, understand and experience this thing called exceedingly abundantly. How about you?

Luke 9:24-25 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 

 

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

whats-love-got-to-do-with-it

I John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

What has love got to do with it? Tina Turner made millions of dollars asking this question in her famous song. Her life story was one of great pain and sorrow even abuse. Love tainted by the world and its lack of love convolutes the possibility of true love for many who will settle for a lack of it in their life. Love is not emotional. I do believe in love at first sight. I do not believe that any love affair is without its challenges. I know for a fact that even if you marry the person God created for you that there is definitely challenges in coming together as one. Love is professed on so many levels about many things in our life. We love people or at least think so. Love things. Love hobbies. Love sports. Love interests. Love social media. Love shows. We attach the word so flippantly without consideration of its context that many believe that people really do love in life.

I have a friend who a couple of days ago professed her undying love for her partner. She reveled in the love she has found with this person never thinking it possible with someone. I smiled as she relished in it and reveled it even saying she never imagined being this happy. Well, yesterday she confessed that her “true love” had hurt her feelings causing an explosion of sorts. Why do we put godly expectation on human beings? We do it all the time. We expect people to be like god. Fill every void in our life. Meet our needs and expectations. So much so, that when they don’t it is our tendency to lower our expectation, draw back or walk away. The good news is that they eventually talked it out, worked through it and are moving past it… together… in love.

When Jesus warned people about the last days, He clearly indicated that love would grow cold. His Word has come to past with staggering divorce rates and cheap love plastered on everything from people to things. Not to sound like a modern day prophet or old-fashioned preacher, but love has grown cold. We love because He first loved us. We have lost the foundational truth in our life that God is love. He is the Source of Love. He is the Prosperity of Love. He is the Power in love. He is the Provider of Love. We are loving from an unlovable source that cannot produce the kind of passionate love needed to secure our souls to Jesus. Without the Love of God, it is weak and tainted by our sinful condition, prideful nature and propensity for self. God is love. I need to love God to love anyone else including myself.

I John 4:10-16 (NIV) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 

Our eagerness to show God our worthiness of His Love often separates us from His Love. He does not without it from us but our humanness draws away from it. We want God’s Love. Need it. Are desperate to have it? Human awareness produces insecurity and suddenly people decide that God’s Love is not for them unless they earn it. The Pricelessness of God’s Love is that there is no possible way to earn it or achieve outside of the Lord. The enemy tries to convince us that unfailing and unconditional love is impossible. But it’s not, it is exactly how God loves us. We must become invested in the truth about God’s Love to produce anything of worth from our broken hearts and devastated lives. God’s Love fills the void left by all the impersonators of it.

God is love. It is imperative as believes that “we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Doubt and disbelief come when I do not believe that God’s Love for me is complete. The moment I think there is an end to it, my faith evaporates and hope dies with it.

I John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I can remember the first blow up my husband and I had after getting married. It was a doozy. Yelling, screaming, crying, doors slamming and the works. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t need any man and I could do it on my own. I didn’t deserve such treatment. My feelings were hurt and expectation met. Whoa! What does that mean? We know people will let us down and begin to expect it. When something minor happens – the issue is forced into a confrontation because of fear of loss and abandonment. Looking back at most confrontations in our relationships, they are avoidable. The problem is that we expect people to love like God and God to love like people rather than loving each other from the Love God has invested in us. Fear causes us to test and try love every single day even setting others up to fail with unrealistic expectations of perfection and performance. God says simply – I loved you first.

Revelation 2:2-5 (NIV) I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

God knows every single thing done in His Great Name. He sees our works. He knows our perseverance. The Lord sees our desire to live apart from wickedness and how we test the spirits of others around us. He knows that hardships have been endured as faith is maintained. He sees every one of you who have not given up despite harrowing odds. BUT it means nothing if our love for Him is not as it was at first.

What does this mean? Love is easy… at first. Love is fun… at first. Love is true… at first. Love is childlike… at first. Love is forever… at first. Life happens and the one who was boasted about becomes a fading memory in the midst of unmet expectation. Marriage can fall into this rut just as quickly as our relationship with the Lord. When the newness wears off, it is easily taken for granted. When the other does not read our mind and do what we want, we begin to grumble and complain seeking satisfaction elsewhere. The book of Hosea is all about Gomer and her other lovers representing God’s Great Love and Desire for Israel. God loved us first. He loves us best. He loves us forever with the same intensity and passion as He did when He first made the decision to love us at all. Can we say the same?

2 Timothy 3:2-4 (NIV) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

This is the love of the world in which we live. It is cold and uncaring. People have become lovers of themselves. Consumed with self that causes them to turn on others even God. This is the world of the lost and the world of Christians. We have lost our first love. Apart from the Lord, we can do nothing and that includes love. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the Fruit of the Spirit produced in us by the holy inhabitation of Christ in us. The very first fruit is love. Every other fruit produced in our life is a seed from the Love that God has planted in us. Without that seed, the rest of the fruit in our life is spoiled. No good. Worthless. Romans 5:5 tells us that God poured His Love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. The identifier that marks us as Children of God begins cultivating love. No other fruit can be produced in our life unless it comes from the Love God has sown in us first. First love. True love. Everything of God that is good in our life must come from our first love.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

God details all the qualities of His Love for us and the kind of love that He produces in us in 1 Corinthians 13. Many marriage ceremonies include this vital chapter in identifying true love for us. But the beginning of the chapter is a warning to those who think they love God, “I may boast, but if I do not have love…I gain nothing.” Hear me today, we must learn to love God again. Like we did at first, before discovering the Gifts of His Spirit or even the productivity of faith. Sowing and reaping is an earthly concept sent to mankind from the heavenly realm. If we do not allow the Spirit to produce love in us and do everything from the vantage point of His Love…we have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

What is love?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, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8) If this was how Christian believers loved, our churches would be full. Revival would come. The Body of Christ would be united and healthy again. The Kingdom of God would advance. We have lost our first love. Buildings are empty. Revival is not hear. The Body of Christ is unhealthy and dysfunctional. The Kingdom is not advancing. Our love for God is not producing because it is not from the first fruit of His Spirit. We want the prosperity of God’s Love but would rather perform to get it than persevere to have it. What does love have to do with it? Everything. Or we have nothing at all.

I Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is messy. Love is sacrificial. Love doesn’t always feel good. Love requires us to give up our way. Love requires waiting. Love requires forgiveness. Lord, look at all these other nice things that are good I have done for you. God asks us today, “Where is the love?” Love is not reserved for others but begins with God. Maybe our love has grown tired and cold in the waiting. Could it be that brokenness let it all leak out? See our love for God must be the driving force and motivation of every next breath and next step in life. However, there are times when people think God could not possibly love them because of their actions, or that God forgot about them in His Silence, or that maybe God is not for their good because of their current condition or circumstance. Some decide to have faith and hope in God but reserve their heart just in case they are wrong. Every area of my life investing in doing God’s Word and obedience will yield a blessing in my life. Seed in the ground produces a harvest. It will do nothing for my soul condition and salvation unless I choose to stay true to my first love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NIV) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Our experiences form our expectation. Life is hard. Love is cold. People don’t really love each other but often live lives of codependency. When you came to Jesus, it was with the expectation of unfailing and unconditional love which His Grace readily provided. The moment a person stands up after such an experience – the enemy of your soul wages war against this new love. From that moment forward, passion must burn away doubt and knowledge of God’s Love and how He loves must be the wisdom one lives by. God doesn’t love you like the world does. He loves us perfectly. He loves us completely. He knows every fault, failure and weakness in our life and STILL His Grace is enough for me. With this in mind, it is up to each one of us to examine our heart. Am I passionate about my love affair with Jesus? Do I love Him like I did at first? Am I doing from my own abilities or from what the Holy Spirit is doing in me?

Place me as a seal over your heart. We must seal our heart with God’s Love all over again. Going back to the beginning even if we were young and naïve. God’s Love did not change just our expectation. If we leave our expectation in God’s Love and Grace for us, we will continue to do greater things like Jesus promised. It is when our love grows cold and our pursuit of Him stops that situations and sin overtake our progress, devour our seed, and stifle His Spirit.

I must choose to love God every day. I must decide in my heart that He will be my first love and priority in all things. I must infuse the love that I have been so graciously given into every action and attitude. I cannot concern myself with others and how they love allowing it to dictate my choice to love like Jesus. My love for the Lord must be passionate. It must be my desire.

Lukewarm love is spit out but when God sees that our love for Him consumes us – He pours out Himself even more. Lord, rekindle my love for you today. Not with the simple “you know that I love you” but with the pure intent so everyone will know that I love you, Lord – beginning with YOU!

Proverbs 3:2-4 (NIV) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and