Living a Kingdom Life

Living a Kingdom Life

Luke 12:31-34 (ESV) “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Kingdom of God belongs to the righteous. Our righteousness is founded and established in Christ alone. If Jesus Christ lives in us, then the Kingdom belongs to us equally. Do we live a Kingdom life? Do I live a Kingdom life? What is such an existence? It is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you and me His Kingdom? God wants us to live a rich and satisfied life. In fact, it is the reason that Jesus Christ came to give His Life and reestablish a right relationship between God and His People. We must seek that which is given to us. We must make it our passionate pursuit to receive the fullness of God given to us in His Kingdom. But how? Where? God’s Kingdom is not a house or inhabitable dwelling. God’s Kingdom begins in the human heart, overtaking the soul, changing our mind and engaging in a lifestyle of faith and confident hope not in what we see but completely in Who we believe.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God is His Love. He is our First Love. The Father loves us in our unlovable condition and consumes us with His Love. He does not give us a portion of His Extravagant Love. He gives us all of the all-consuming and completeness of His Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are the fickle hearts and wavering minds that choose to love Him one day and leave Him the next. It is never God’s Will or Way to abandon us to our own devices but He continually pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6) It is His Desire to live in relationship with us so even on our worst days new mercy is waiting for us. (Lamentations 3:22-23) His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. The power within us is the Holy Spirit who is the guarantor of God’s Faithfulness to us. He identifies us as God’s Children. He establishes Kingdom power and authority in us.

To be rooted and grounded in the Love of God is the starting point of a miraculous and prosperous life. To allow Christ to dwell in our heart and mind to the point that through faith nothing is ever impossible again because we are overtaken and consumed by His Love for us. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God again. Do you believe that today? You will never establish a Kingdom lifestyle outside of the complete confidence that God’s Love for you is complete and all-consuming. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) ”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ is life changing. It is the moment – that we decide that Christ is who He said that He is in our heart and mind the keys to the Kingdom are obtained. It is not anything we do but completely based on what we believe. Do you believe? Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” When Peter announced with heartfelt conviction, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, everything changed. Peter would go on to make many mistakes but that did not limit the Kingdom power bestowed in that moment. Jesus did build His Church on Peter – His Rock. The firm foundation of faith that believes that God is for us. The cornerstone of faith – Jesus – provided everything we need as a perfect sacrifice who gave us access to all of God the Father and fills us with His Spirit. The moment of reconciliation when our mind, soul and body agree that He is Christ. Christ in us. This is the point when everything changes for those who believe…truly believe.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:18-20) When the Body of Christ begins to believe with complete confidence that we have Kingdom power, no longer will there be separation. The revelation of Christ is personal. We own it. No one can take it or apportion our faith, blessing or promise for themselves. It belongs to us. It is our inheritance. God’s Investment in us is to be used for us and others. It cannot be taken. Therefore the need for comparison and competition fades in the shadow of complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Agreement brings unity and produces miracles, signs and wonders as Christ is in our midst.

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Every kingdom has a king, ruler or authority in command. Ours is Christ Jesus. Sometimes one must evaluate the heart and mind to resolve conflict. The enemy wants us to unseat Jesus from His Throne inside of us and allow pride to climb back up. There is nothing God wants or needs us to do. He simply wants us. He consumed with passionate love for us that is all-consuming. The conflict of confidence is created by doubt. To disbelieve that God’s Love is complete and His Kingdom within us. We must believe that the Word of God will not fail. We must plant our feet in the foundation of Jesus Christ and take a stand. He must remain on the Throne of our life to be the King of our kingdoms. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to clean house today? To remove the lesser things held on to in fear of the Power and Preeminence of Jesus Christ – our King. To sow seeds in the void left behind and pour healing oil over battle scars and wounds of the past. Let him wash away all fear, stress and anxiety to replace it with confidence in God’s Love and Power today. Speak the Word of God over yourself and situation today. I agree with you in Jesus Name that His Kingdom come – His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV)You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

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Just Plowing

Hand to the Plow

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT) Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Restore us, oh Lord. Has that been the cry of your heart lately? Are you experiencing a dry season? A drought in your life. It can be physical, emotional, spiritual or maybe financial. Where is the abundant life? Where is the satisfaction promised to those who love God and seek to do His Will? Does it seem like the field is barren? The brook has dried up? Are you are barely holding on – weak and weary from well doing? The productivity in each season is directly correlated to the cost. To restore us there must be emptiness. Surrender to the creative power of the Divine Creator to fill us to capacity. New wine cannot fill old wine skins. God’s Mercy will not give us what we ask for until we are ready to receive it. His Glory cannot shower a hard and unwilling heart or risk its complete devastation. See God loves us too much to give us what we want if it will require more than we are willing to give. Sowing and reaping are partners. One must accompany the other. Sowing is a release that precipitates receivership. We cannot receive more of God until willing to release more of self. It is in the ebb and flow of planting, growing and harvesting that the Lord increases every area of our life. Those who sow little will reap little. But those who give their all will gain the Kingdom.

Isaiah 28:24-26 (NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding.

The Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping was established in the days of Noah – known as seedtime and harvest. A covenant between God and His People. The promise that the work of our hands to provide for natural needs and work in our soul to prosper in supernatural blessings. However, it is human nature to limit our giving to maintain comfort, control and convenience rather than giving our all in obedience to God. We diversify our efforts yet expect God to exponentially do more than His Word mandates. We must sow to reap. Sacrificial giving, total surrender, and diligent submission to God’s Word, Will and Way produces the rich and satisfying life promised to us by Jesus Christ. To have it requires more than most are willing to give. The cost of discipleship too high for ordinary people who are not fully convinced in the Living God who dwells among us. A lack of confidence in the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ and the new life promised to those who are willing to give their all to Him.

To serve the Lord is like plowing. We can plow away day and night. We can continue season after season. But when we do not put any seed in the ground – those seasons becomes cycles. Cycles produce the same thing over and over again. They are dry, stale and barren times that cause discouragement, disappointment and doubt. Cycles become seasons when there is new seed put in the ground. The sacrifice is great. The seeds are watered with our tears. God honors the price paid by the righteous who change plowing into planting. They will see a harvest. God tells us what to do – He is always speaking to His People. Obedience is the key. Not just doing what we want to do – but doing exactly what the Lord is telling us to do. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Partial obedience is disobedience, too. Neither will produce the kind of fruit in our life that the Word of God promises.

Galatians 6:7-9 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) If the fruit of the Spirit is love, maybe the sacrifice of self is forgiveness. If the fruit of the Spirit is joy, perhaps the release is sorrow. If the fruit of His Spirit is peace, maybe the cost is surrender. To have the Fruit of the Spirit requires the giving of self. Pride is non-existent in the Presence of God. A flourishing field is covered in the sacrifice of the farmer who rises early. Tends and nurtures it while there is nothing above the ground. The sweat of his brow and even some tears along the way. He stays in that field until the harvest comes no matter how hot the sun or torrential the rain. He considers the cost of the harvest worth having so he pays the price. Is the life that God has promised you in Jesus Christ worth it? If you think it’s worth having – you will pursue it? The Kingdom of God is like a field with hidden treasure. The man sold everything he owned to buy the field. It is like the pearl of great price – the merchant sold everything he owned to have it. (Matthew 13:44-46) You must decide what is the Kingdom worth to you? How much are you willing to give to have it? Is it worth your all? Jesus considered us to be the joy set before Him when enduring the Cross. He thought we were worth His All.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (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.

God is a good father. He is constantly providing good things to His Children. He supplies our life. He is ready to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. He is ready to heal us. He wants to restore us. The Lord is ready to make a masterpiece of all the broken pieces of our messed up life. The prosperity of God is not withheld from us because God doesn’t love us or as an act of punishment of any kind. His Grace is always enough. Rather than plowing through life and doing it our way, God is looking for the one who pursues His Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everything we want, need and desire is complete in Him. He withholds no good thing from us. God doesn’t give seed to those who plows. He gives seed to those who plant. Those who release self. Those who begin to serve from the heart and not the hand. Those who pay the price of obedience freely and willingly even in times of famine and drought knowing that God is faithful and His Harvest in us, through us and to us secure. The Lord will enrich those who sow in every possible way.

Thank you Lord for giving us the seed to sow. Thank you for placing us in proper fields. Let us put our hand to the plow and not turn back. Eyes on You, Jesus! Father, show us areas of our life where we are just plowing and not sowing anything of worth. Give us the strength and grace to give attention to these areas. May we remain diligent in sowing even if all we have to give are salty tears at the end of self. Holding nothing back, Lord – we give our all to You today!

Luke 9:62 (NLT) But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Rejection

Rejection

John 12:47-50 (MSG) “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”

What a different world would we live in if people did not fear rejection? Rejection is the feeling of being refused. Rejection can be delivered from either party. What in the world is Christ saying in this passage? I don’t understand. “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him.” To the organized religion called church that is a preposterous notion. To hear the Word and not do it most certainly must bear a consequence. Not in the face of grace, it can’t. To allow condemnation of any kind is to reject the idea that His Grace is enough to overcome every weakness. God will never reject the repentant heart that makes its way through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Rejection is not a Kingdom principle but an earthly choice made by mankind to choose something else.

Jesus came to save us. He came to heal us, restore us and revive us again as sons and daughters of God. His Purpose was not to judge the world yet it is the heavy mantle of many to not only judge each other but themselves. There is a difference between judgment and accountability. One is terminal the other can be life giving. Throughout my lifetime, the Lord has placed many in my life who hold me accountable to the Word of God. I have also faced many judges and harsh critics. The purpose behind the pain is the determining factor. Was the point of the lesson to tear down or build up? Jesus came to build a Kingdom but in doing so He had to tear some things down and rebuild them.

John 2:18-22 (MSG)  But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.” They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.

The Jews were more than upset – they became downright irate when Jesus said that He could rebuild the Temple it took 46 years to build in three days. Thank you Jesus! That’s exactly what He did. On the Cross, the Jews recounted his words completely ignorant that He was doing just that. He was tearing down religion to make way for a relationship. A love covenant with mankind that could never be destroyed or threatened again. No more condemnation but overflowing grace that could strip down every stronghold and overcome every obstacle between the Father and His Beloved Children. Now God’s Love pursues us. There is no longer rejection but open relationship if we allow it.

So if there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ and no judgment in Him, what about sin? Accountability to the Word of God and reconciliation to Jesus Christ are fulfilled in repentance. Turning from our way to pursue Him. Religion is a change of habit. Repentance is a change of heart. One leads to a good life and a successful church. The other leads to eternal life in the Father’s House. I wonder today if the rejection felt by many is not rejection but a call of repentance. A gentle urging by the Son to come back to the Father and experience His Love. If we experience punishment – it is not of the Father. To experience permission comes when we give up our way to encounter the fullness of the Word and freedom it delivers.

Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

After eating with a friend, have they ever told you that you have something in your teeth? Or maybe just gestured it as not to gain attention? How do you feel in that moment? A little embarrassed. Quickly trying to dislodge the speck, leaf or pepper from your pearly whites? You may ask them, “Did I get it?” Did you get mad at them for pointing it out? Of course not! You didn’t want to go around for the rest of the day smiling and conversing with your meal on full display. How much more embarrassing would that have been?

God has placed people in each other’s lives in the Body of Christ to act as iron sharpening iron. We have many acquaintances in life but then there is that one friend the Lord sends to be our accountability partner. If you do not know who that is, then look for them. The point of our partnerships in life is beneficial. The enemy works night and day to destroy godly relationships especially the sharp and pointed ones that enable us to discover God’s Purpose and encourage us to follow His Plan. Relationship is essential for it is the currency of the Kingdom and its greatest commodity. If we do not learn to hold each other accountable, it will become judgment in our life. Those who celebrate us but never convict us to be more of who Christ created us to be will one day become our critic because the relationship is not based on the Love of God but man’s preferences. The fine line between critical people and committed people rests in their convictions. Do they serve a Savior who always accepts and loves regardless of our willingness to follow Him? Or do we have conditional love that doesn’t believe in the God of all grace? Without true repentance there is only religion. We must learn to love and learn together in the Body of Christ without judgment or condemnation but unconditional love and amazing grace.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (MSG) It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Am I really being rejected, condemned or judged? In most cases, yes. It is human nature. The dangerous game of comparison that feeds our pride to keep it alive. However, it is of vital importance in our spiritual life to evaluate those relationships that are rough around the edges to see if God is actually but an ironclad friend to be an accountability partner. Even the caring friend who points out the debris in our smile offers a slight sting at the revelation that our salad is on display for all to see causes a bristled reaction. It is only human nature, but in the end it produces a change. You work to right the problem and so it is with God. The commitment of our Lord at work in us with the help of the Holy Spirit is to engage in a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and then each other. When we feel rejected, we seek isolation. Remove ourselves from the haters, if you will. But maybe they aren’t haters at all but the true lovers of our soul? Food for thought and learning for life straight from the Word. Lord, show me the people who I have rejected that You have placed in my life with purpose. Examine my heart and illuminate any dark seat of judgment my pride has established. Point me in the way of everlasting life to build your Kingdom one person at a time in Jesus Name! Amen!

Proverbs 27:17 (MSG) You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.

Finding Purpose

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Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

A throne is God’s purpose for you; a cross is God’s path for you; faith is God’s plan for you. (Alan Redpath)

Did you know that you were created on purpose? It doesn’t matter the details of conception or conditions of birth – no baby arrives void of purpose. Your situation may not have been ideal. Your childhood a terrible tragedy. Teenage years a journey of guilt and shame. Adulthood filled with broken relationships and dead dreams yet still deep inside your heart is purpose. God placed eternity in our heart. He gave us a measure of faith to insure our success. He sent His Son – Jesus to take our life back paying the penalty of all sins so a full dispensation of grace might be available. Our life handed back to us labeled “free” and now it is up to us to decide how to use it. The purpose of God within us is far greater than just making it to Heaven. It is the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth.

The woman at the well had no idea that a divine appointment awaited her. She arrived around noon at the peak of the sun. She was shunned by other women and used by many men. Her current master not her husband just one willing to take the broken pieces of a shattered life and capitalize on it. She had no idea that the broken path she followed was leading her straight to redemption. She didn’t think this was a new day of new opportunity – I believe like many women just like her – she was just trying to get by. When she met Jesus, he asked for some water to satisfy a thirst. It would become an invitation for this dry and devastated life to be renewed.

John 4:13-16 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

The purpose in our heart is deep water. We must search for understanding to draw it out. This woman began her conversation in the natural and then encountered the supernatural. She forgot who everyone said she was and ran back to tell them about the Messiah. “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” I wonder today if the well of our hearts get so filled with worthless conversation and other garbage keeping the living water within us from making its way out of us. The opinions, insults and offenses stuck in our heart. The woman found her purpose. His Name – Jesus Christ. The guilt, shame and regret of our past is no match for the unfailing love and unfathomable grace given to us in just one encounter with the Lord. Purpose is a deep water that will only be found by those who are willing to dig a little deeper than the superficial overtures of life to reach the abundance found in new life.

Proverbs 16:4 (ESV) The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.

For you will certainly carry out God’s Purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John. (C.S. Lewis)

Purpose is God-given. It resides in us. God placed eternity in each heart. He also provided us all with a measure of faith to successfully secure us in the Kingdom. He even sacrificed His Son to give us the freedom to choose between good and evil again with new mercy each day and more than enough grace for those days we miss the mark. God has us covered completely. Jesus gives us overwhelming victory as a byproduct of His Love for us. We can overcome in every situation. Why are so many Christians and so-called believers struggling then? Are you serving Jesus like Judas or John? Everyone would be quick to say, “John” but on closer evaluation of a wayward heart may be an indication that Judas is hiding in the darkest part.

Job 42:1-6 (ESV) “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The story of Job is all about pride. Job’s life was prosperous. He was known as a religious man. He lived a righteous life. Yet, in all his goodness, the messengers came one by one as his kingdom fell. His family and finances were devastated. Disease soon infected his body. His own wife told him to give up on God. Yet in all his misery, Job did not give up on the Lord. His friends didn’t understand. They tried to offer comfort but only inflamed his heart and mind. In his complete and utter misery as his flesh was dying, Job came to the Lord and this was his cry. Job still believed. In the midst of all the tragedy, God still lived on the throne of his heart. Job knew that God is sovereign. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Such a profound statement. We hear a lot about the Lord and even adopt a certain language laced with hints of faith and believing. Yet it never reaches their heart or penetrates their thoughts forming a new belief which becomes a new life. As the Truth of God’s Identity and Character began to seep into the brokenness of his heart, something changed. Job was ready for a turnaround. Job repented.

Our purpose in the Lord will never be more than a promise if repentance is not a lifestyle. The Kingdom is not a place to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Hearing the Word of God it is easy to make a list of excuses why it’s not for us. But one encounter with the fullness of God in His Son – Jesus changes everything. The Lord dealt with Job’s accusers disguised as friends. He did not just restore Job but gave him double for his trouble. The renewal of faith in God will fill the gaps left by every tragedy in life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. God already gave us everything we need including the promises so greatly desired. It must be our purpose to discover God’s Purpose and invest our life in Him.

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” These are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if God’s Purpose is for you to give your life away for others? It is. What if you must lose your life to truly find it? You do. What if the eternity in our heart will not escape without brokenness? It won’t. God has placed a purpose in you far greater than your human life can produce or sustain. It will require every bit of faith to achieve. Your heart will be devastated to be redesigned – molded and shaped into the Masterpiece promised by the Lord in Ephesians 2. My heart was forever changed during our son’s battle with cancer. Normal will never be normal again. Once you know the truth, you cannot believe the lie anymore. For years, I prayed for the Lord to increase my faith and He did. It was not in some glorious service when Heaven opened and poured out His Glory. It was in a hospital room when I finally gave up all of me. Pride must die in His Presence for purpose to be properly birthed. It is painful. It can be messy. It is always worth it.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV) The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

The Lord will fulfill His Purpose for you and me regardless of our participation. God will do exactly as He planned and promised to do because of His Steadfast Love for us. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us even when we think we are pursuing Him. The Truth about us is that God created us with a plan containing a future and hope far greater than the life created by randomness. Every step has the potential to be purposeful when committed to the Lord. He is leading us to something far greater and exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine. Do you trust Him today? Do you believe in God’s Steadfast Love? If you do, you will go with Him. Following Him to the ends of the earth just to continue in His Unconditional Love. He will never leave us or forsake us. The Lord invites us to invest our freedom in His Purpose and to prosper in this life. It is up to us whether or not repentance turns us from a worthless life to a radical resurrection of a power-infused supernatural existence filled with God’s Favor.

Is there more to life than this? Yes, there is. His Name is Jesus. He is our Purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV) Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Get It Together

Get It Together

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

One body. One Spirit. One church. Oh, so many members. The human body has many components that somehow can figure out how to work together in one fluid movement. Our brain tells our organs how to function, our limbs to work in unison, and somehow there is a coordinated effort it all work together. A handicap is when there is a component of the body not properly functioning according to its original design. The word “handicap” means a disadvantage. It makes success more difficult. It is considered a disability or burden to the bearer. It creates a challenge to the proper function of that which it impairs. To some this word is considered offensive. I mean nothing of the sort. Our body was designed by God to function a certain way. Sin introduced certain disadvantages that Christ has overcome. The Body of Christ suffers certain handicaps that the Spirit works in us to overcome. I am encouraged today that I serve the Living God who gives resurrection power and life to all His People.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Everything created by God works in the realm of relationships. Even our bodies were designed with many members and one brain that works together. Right down to cellular regeneration within us, everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of our natural bodies. When a part of the body is not fully functioning, it may be considered disabled or handicapped. If our immune system is not successful in overcoming an attack, our body becomes sick or infirmed. If an organ ceases to function, life is compromised by the adverse condition. This is all in the natural AND spiritual realm of relationships. Our body’s ability to coordinate all its members into a fully functioning operation is what perpetuates and propels us through life. We are not only a physical body but a member of the Body of Christ.

Within our participation as a Child of God, believer and even Christian – we are part of a body. We have a purpose and place within the Body of Christ meant specifically for us. I have five children. Two boys and three girls. Each one has a special place in my heart and in our family design. It would be ridiculous to think that if something happened to one of them that it would be okay because we have four other children. There is no such thing as collateral damage in a household. If a family member passes, they will be missed. It will create a void. It should be so in the Body of Christ. He is a Good Shepherd. He will leave the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost. We must learn to place value and worth on the Body of Christ that we belong to. It is vital to our successful prosperity in life. To be a fully functioning member produces the promises of God not only in our life but for those around us in relationship with us, too.

The early church came together. They became a body. A functioning unit that added to the Kingdom daily. They spent every day in close fellowship with one another. None too busy or self-involved, these believers experienced miracles, signs and wonders as God’s Power flowed through them. His Breath is life to us. When we breathe together, it becomes a source of power. God loves unity. Harmony is precious anointing that He is ready to pour out over the Body of Christ. Are we ready to receive it?

Romans 12:9-13 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

In Romans 12, the believer is encouraged to become a living sacrifice. To live a holy and acceptable life that promotes a fully functioning body. It is called worship. We must not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Hence the war of self begins. It is human nature to survive. Yet, we are called to thrive. No one will prosper if they are not willing to invest. There is no return where there is no investment. It’s Biblical for a man cannot reap what he has not sown. With this in mind, to become a living sacrifice means something must be fully surrendered. To say, I surrender all means nothing if not accompanied by change. Sacrifice is not generally a comfortable effort but completely worthwhile endeavor.

I am led a ladies small group the other night. I am challenged to do so. Women are tough when it comes to relationships. I should know… I am one. However, I know that God desires us all to maintain healthy, loving and trusting relationships with those around us. We struggle because of past experiences. Trust forsaken is tough to recover. Yet we must find a way to overcome our differences, and forge strong bonds together to see the Body of Christ become healthy again. To see a Body fit for our soon and coming King!

Let love be genuine.

I Corinthians 13 lays out the guidelines of God-like love and commitment that characterizes genuine. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. This is genuine love. This is the love that God places in us and is the kind of love that He wants us to have for others. Lord, let my love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We must flee from evil. Do not entertain it. Our minds are like sponges the things we permit to remain will assert dominance in us. You cannot love God and love sin at the same time. There is no meeting of the minds when it comes to the Goodness of God and every kind of evil. We must learn from God’s Word what He defines as the sin that defiles us and permit the Holy Spirit to change our mind from loving sin to loving God more than sin. This is how we combat evil in us. Our flesh wants to live. It wages war against the Spirit. There will be no unity in the Body of Christ if each member seeks its own way and allows sin to have dominance in their life. The word “abhor” is a strong verb. It means to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion. To detest and loathe something. Sin is rampant in our world. Violence at an all time high. Love has grown cold and there is complete disregard for others. Lord, show me the sin and evil in me and around me. Teach me to abhor it as much as you do!

Hold fast to what is good.

God is good. He is always good. No matter what is happening around you He is still good and His Goodness is for you. It doesn’t matter your present conditions or situation. God is still good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are pursuing you. On those days when nothing is going right, Lord I challenge me to still sing, “You are good!”

Love one another with true affection.

We are all members of one body. Mic drop. The first commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and body. The only other one is to love others. Loving one another is non-negotiable. By choosing to remain offended and unforgiving, we are the ones who are limited. Love is expendable and thereby expands into full satisfaction and inexpressible joy, not in its reproduction or reciprocation, but as the Lord fills more and more of our heart with His Love.

Outdo one another showing honor.

Comparison is a joy killer. I need my right and left hand equally to type these words to you each day. My left and right hand are both appendages but they do not fight for superiority. They were created with a job to do and they do it seemingly unaware of the other hand doing essentially the exact same thing. The Word of God tells us who we are in Jesus Christ and promises to make us a new creation in our abiding relationship with Him. My purpose and promises are not your purposes and promises – this is not a competition for the Father’s Love. We care brothers and sisters in Christ with an equal proportioned inheritance. It already belongs to us. There is nothing to do but remain in a righteous relationship through Jesus to secure it. Lord, help me to look for my value and worth in Your Word. There is no competition. Hands down! I have victory in You!

Do not be slothful in zeal.

Praise the Lord! No seriously! We have to live in a constant state of praise and worship to maintain life in His Presence. It creates enthusiasm in our spirit person when the Holy Spirit responds to the close proximity of God. The Lord inhabits the praise of His People. Get excited. Stir up the Gift of God within you. You have every reason to celebrate even on your worst day knowing that all things work together for your good!

Be fervent in Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Jesus Christ has given you His Spirit. Resurrection power and life live in you. The Holy Spirit is our helper. Teacher. Mentor. Guide for life. Utilize this power gift imparted to you by God through His Son – Jesus.

Serve the Lord.

Wow! This fell so far down the list. Love. Be loved. Finally, we come to service. Serving God must be precipitated by a deep and abiding relationship of love for Him and other people. We owe no man anything but love. To serve God we must be lovers.

Rejoice in hope.

The hope that has been given to us never leads to disappointment.

Be patient in tribulation.

Tests and trials are temporary. Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. If I break a toe, I am not likely to cut it off.

Be constant in prayer.

Communication with God is essential to maintain a right relationship with Him.

Contribute to the needs of others.

The blessings in my life are not just for me. God provides seed to the sower. He gives to us in the name of generosity so we can pour it out on others. The Body of Christ needs each member to become united. To live looking after one another so the Body will thrive again. The fractured, dysfunctional unit presented to the world today does not offer anything any different than another group of people. Where is the power? Where is the difference? What happened to the Light? Why aren’t we salty anymore? Could it be that rather than considering God and His Purpose to love others – that we have become lost in ourselves?

Seek to show hospitality.

Church of the Living God and Members of the Body of Jesus Christ, I am challenged today. I am moved in my heart and soul that we need to get it together. God has set forth characteristics for Christian believers. One thing is clear. It is not about me. Or you for that matter… It is all about Jesus. His Body is hurting, broken and fragmented. I can do nothing other than be sure that my “member” is ready. I must examine my own heart. I must allow the Holy Spirit to change my mind. I must remove myself from the throne of self and put Jesus back in His Rightful Place. The early church was exciting. Charismatic. There were signs, wonders and miracles. Life was a party in the midst of terrible tribulation. They were murdered for believing back then yet risked it all to be together as one. What will you give up to assemble the Body of Christ again? What am I willing to sacrifice for unity? We have to get this together before Jesus comes for us. We must put aside our differences and find commonality and community in Christ.

I Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

2 Peter 3:10-11 (NLT) But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,

The unexpected can bring joy and distress. An unexpected gift or act of random kindness can fill us with excitement. An unexpected diagnosis can shatter a good life in mere seconds. People choose the known rather than unknown because fear cannot allow hope to shine through. The Light of God’s Love that chases away darkness even in our darkest hour. The day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Sin has made the world unstable at the return of the Lord. His Perfection will melt the earth and only those who choose holy and godly lives will live through it. Daunting I know. Yet on a daily basis, do we truly consider the unexpected arrival of Jesus Christ or live in fear of the timeline of life. Unmet expectation placed in a dying place rather than investing in a reproductive heaven. When Jesus returns for us, there will be great judgment. There are only two sides – light and darkness. The Light drives out all darkness even that hidden in human, fickle hearts. Our focus on this life overshadows our constant and ongoing awareness that the Lord will return unexpectedly.

Regret and remorse are terrible baggage not meant for us to carry once Christ inhabits our life. The permeation of His Spirit gives us constant access to the Father where it is possible to release those things that once kept us bound in our past and present. He gives us a sense of our future and hope that allows us to live bravely and fearlessly. If the perspective of our life could change to that of expectancy, it would impact how we live and the choices made in any given moment. Repentance would be the prayer language of God’s People. The Holy Spirit would be released and His Glory would surround us because we know He is coming for us and desire to be ready. There is more to the Kingdom than simple salvation. Salvation is the handle that opens a door to a storehouse of blessings, promises and the unexpected with the potential to always change our life for the better. We must access it by faith and belief that the Lord is coming like a thief to carry us away.

Matthew 25:10-13 (NLT) “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is a warning. A careful indication of those who know the Lord but do not live in expectancy. Expectancy requires preparation. It is a life of endurance that maintains a state of readiness until the end. Five of these young ladies were ready. They were prepared. When the bridegroom, representative of Jesus Christ, came they were ready and waiting on him. Are we? The others got carried away with life. Rushing out to get more oil as they were not properly prepared or perhaps wasted it on lesser things. While they were wandering and searching for oil, their groom arrived but they were not there. Jesus used this parable to explain the Kingdom and proper preparation for His Unexpected Arrival. Oil is used to represent anointing in many narratives. The anointing in us is the Holy Spirit. He creates desire and discipline to become one with Jesus. His Presence in us should create expectancy that overflows into the life lived each day.

“Believe me, I don’t know you!” It is the certainty of expectancy that initiates preparation. If we believed that Christ is returning with a Kingdom prepared for us, it would impact how we live. What difference would it make? One might think that those who await Christ must be religiously prepared living a life of perfection and absolute adherence to His Commands. Our flesh will not allow it. At constant odds with our spirit, outside of His Grace there is no perfection. So it is in profound humility that absorbs God’s Grace every day that allows us to properly prepare for the return of Christ. To get our house in order is to focus on the Temple of His Spirit and wait in hopeful expectation each day. It means reserving ourselves for Christ, retrieving all the pieces of our life given to lesser things and returning them to Jesus as a careful offering of submission and surrender to His Word, Will and Way. Jesus isn’t come for religious people but those He calls “beloved” and lives in an ongoing relationship with.

I Thessalonians 5:4-11 (NLT) But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Be on your guard, not asleep as others.

When the Lord comes for you, will He know you? Marriages fall apart and couples break up in the shadow of unmet expectation. Relationships taken for granted and starved for attention suddenly crumble under the weight of ignorance. Busyness steals the attention once given to love. Selfishness devours that once surrendered heart. Pride determines it deserves better than this and goes on the hunt for yet another conquest to feed its need. We must guard our heart. It holds our greatest treasure. The very thing that draws us close to the Lord. The flames of our passion for Christ – to know Him and make Him known – cannot be left untended or it will end in divorce. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God. However, we can choose other loves and commit adultery with idols given a greater place in our heart than Jesus.

…Let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.

Believers who choose to live in the Light of His Love must be clearheaded. Our minds must be washed in His Word. Our hearts covered in His Blood. Christ who is the Author and Finisher of faith must be our focus with the rest of our life falling carefully beneath Him into place. When our priorities are out of order, the trap for rebellion and failure are set. The enemy uses many distractions to draw us into an unsafe place. He offers compromises, substitutions and settlements designed to lure us from the place of waiting expectantly for Christ. The urgency of this world is not what we think. It is not in the rat race or chasing the American Dream. The urgent expectancy is the return of Christ. Where will you be when He comes for you? At work, but you left Him at home. Living your life the way you desire, leaving your desire for Him behind. Chasing after lesser things for immediate gratification rather basking in confident hope at His Arrival. Will He even know you? When was the last time you talked to Jesus? Walked with Him? Repented? Desired His Grace? Longed for a closer proximity to your First Love? Do you spend any time with Him at all? How much of your life is given to Christ today? It is an important question to ask if your desire is His Kingdom.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Finally, our purpose in life is to build the Kingdom. Be light in the dark. Be salt. Our life a beacon like a lighthouse on the shore or city on a hill drawing others to the Lord. Encourage each other. To build each other up. We miss this sometimes. Human nature is to focus on self. The Fruit of God’s Spirit that is cultivated within us is for more than meeting our needs, wants and desires. They become our offering to a world starved for attention and affirmation. They are looking for love in a world where it has grown cold. Are we building the Kingdom with love or destroying it with selfish ambition and prideful conquests? Jesus is coming again. He expects us to be prepared living expectant lives of complete confidence that produces humility, honor and absolutely fearless love. To give our lives away in His Name expecting nothing from this world but awaiting His Return. We didn’t bring anything with us and cannot take it with us so why not live completely generous lives in the Name of Jesus. Emulating His Character, sharing His Word, spreading His Love all around, and not worrying about the everyday cares that might keep us from Him in the end.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT) Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

The unexpected doesn’t have to be so scary. It doesn’t have to be fearful at all. In fact, expectancy in Jesus Christ is ALWAYS a good thing. His Love is for us. He has given us His Peace that should create confidence even in the most diverse situation or circumstances. There is always a reason for hope when the Name of Jesus is evident. We must wake up as believers that just because plans, schedules and routines do not add an ounce of certainty to our lives. The inspiration of God’s Spirit and His Leading cannot be ignored – where Jesus comes for us individually or corporately it will be unexpected. We must pay attention to the details of our life. We must surrender our hearts and minds to Him daily. Living moment by moment by the Word of God and for the Glory of God – not religiously but continuing to abide in a deep, loving and committed marriage and partnership with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 3:20-21 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

 

Desire & Destination

Desire and Destination

I Corinthians 12:31 (NIV) Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

Our desire will lead to a destination. Desire defines our drive, dictates our dedication and decides our destination every single time. Desire is not an opinion but an inner force of combined thoughts that become our attitude and actions. Desire is a strong feeling. A feeling of wanting something or wishing for something to happen. God has a desire. His Desire has a face. It is your face and mine. God desires people. To create an everlasting Kingdom of those He loved first and still loves the most.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” (Plato) Our attitude and actions first formed deep within us are motivated and mastered by sin. Our flesh knows no other way until introduced to the better more excellent way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is by way of Jesus that humanity is reconciled to God through His Grace that is always enough. To know the Way is not enough – even demons know the Name of Jesus and tremble at it. However, to the Way and decide to follow Him is a new thing altogether. Our destination is decided by our desire. Desire dictates our drive. Desire is the motivation for dedication. When we desire anything other than Christ, it leads to dissatisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 (NIV)  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

The Lord loved Solomon. In I Kings 3, King Solomon was faithful to the Lord God and so God offered Him anything. Solomon chose wisdom and a discerning heart. I wonder how the same person who was so invested in serving God would come to such a place as Ecclesiastes 2. At this point in his life, “everything was meaningless.” His desire and drive made him successful. He denied himself nothing that his eyes could see. Maybe if he had heard Paul’s warning that all things are permissible not all things are beneficial. When he surveyed his success, all that his hard work had achieved – he found it all meaningless. He had gained the world and lost his soul. Anytime that our life prospers without soulful participation – life becomes meaningless. The purpose and plan of God that leads to fulfillment cannot be achieved apart from Him.

Mark 4:18-20 (NIV)  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Overcoming doubt in our life is accomplished by faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Seeds of faith planted by the Word have various results. Seeds sown among the thorns hear the word and maybe even believe it but quickly the “worries of life”, “deceitfulness of wealth” and “desires for other things” literally choke the word and it does not bear the fruit it was intended to. This was King Solomon’s dilemma. God was true to His Word and gave the king exactly what he asked for. However, his human desires overtook his desire for the Lord and well we see what happened in Ecclesiastes 2. It happens to us all. God blesses us and then our desire overtakes our desire for the Living God and well you know the rest of the story. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:17-19)

Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

We must master our desires and place them fully into Christ. The mountain you are facing marked doubt will not move until the very thing you desire is Jesus Christ. Why would God move a mountain if the everlasting was not waiting on the other side. The Lord has placed His Spirit in us to cultivate the fruit that leads to everlasting life and hope that never disappoints. Are we using these gifts for righteousness sake or do we simply desire the Hand of God? Are we after His Heart in the process? The things of this world will pass away. Our life in Christ is eternal. It is the admission point of eternity. Jesus died to give us access to His Kingdom. His Father will not give us the things that might block our entrance. His Grace is enough to endure our wrath of unmet expectation. “Desire increases when fulfillment is postponed.” Maybe the mountain is not moving because secretly you desire something different than Christ? Is it possible to know the Lord but not desire Him? Absolutely.

The Spirit of the Living God will lead you to life and peace. Feeding our flesh starves our soul. Feeding our soul, likewise, starves the flesh. The Fruit of God’s Spirit changes our appetite for the things of this life as eternal life becomes a reality. Suddenly, all the things we wanted, needed and desire change to one thing – Jesus Christ. As our soul prospers, so will we.

Psalm 145:13-16 (NIV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same. (Unknown) Are you satisfied with your life today? Are you struggling with unmet expectation? King Solomon had it all according to earthly success yet found life to be meaningless. How many of the rich and famous who appear to have it all end their life due to depression, discouragement and distress that the world could not see for the notoriety of fame and influence of wealth? Life outside of Christ is preset and predetermined. Sin produces death. Our life in Christ must become more than just knowing His Name but we must desire the Lord. He desires a relationship with us. His Hand opens with His Heart. His Hand will not open outside of an established relationship or risk losing us forever. His Desire is for us so He will do nothing to keep us from Him even if that means withholding what we ask of Him.

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” You were born to be part of an everlasting kingdom yet arrived in a temporary world. The Lord is trustworthy and true. He created you with purpose. You have a handwritten plan prerecorded for your good. The only investment you make in your future is faith. Faith in God’s Love. Faith in God’s Son. Faith in God’s Grace. Faith in God’s Promises. It is all about living a life of faith that overcomes doubt in every area of our life. This is when the mountain will move and be cast in the sea. The very moment our heart’s desire is for the Lord and Him alone. God will then open His Hand and satisfy our desire.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NIV) With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ

A Single Meal

Used Plate

Hebrews 12:14-16 (NLT) Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless Love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. Still You give Yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless Love of God.” – Bethel Music

Have you experienced the Love of God? The overwhelming kind of reckless love that is driven by grace that removes every single sin and fills your heart to capacity with confidence that there is nothing that will ever separate you from Him again (Romans 8) Salvation is a gift that allows us to enter the Presence of the Living God and His Spirit to inhabit our once corrupt and dying flesh. It is not something easily understood but the Truth of those who have chosen Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. Now what? In order to understand the true value and worth of the Gift of God given to us through the sacrifice of His Only Son, we must explore the depth and magnitude of His Love. The foundation of it is His Undeserved Grace too remarkable to understand or even comprehend. It must be received by faith. If forgiveness was easy to give, I wonder if we could identify with the sufficiency of God’s Grace given to us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

The power source of God’s Love is His Grace. Sin separated us from the Love of God. It severed our relationship. The Blood of Jesus Christ made the way for us to reestablish our connection to God and allows us to enter eternity after our life on earth is done. However, the mandate of grace is not given as a resource to be reserved for a later date. It is the power of our life today. Grace is all I need. It works best in my weakness. My pride doesn’t want to accept the fact that I am helpless. It doesn’t glory in my weakness but fights to remain in control. God gives grace to the humble. Humility is only possible in the absence of pride. Grace can only be received by the humble and can only be magnified and/or reflected through the same. (James 4:6)

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

You cannot choose the family you are born into. It is in God’s Grand Scheme of things. He decides who our parents will be and later who our children are. My children may partake of all that belongs to me. They are my kids. I will do anything for them. They do not have to earn my love for I give it to them freely and undeserved. They live in my house. Not one of them has ever had to lay cash on the counter for groceries, electricity or the things provided to them. We expect them to be obedient and loving at all times. However, on the days they choose to misbehave or disagree – they still are given the same meals, electricity and more. We provide for them. When they choose to the right thing and be loving and kind – it brings laughter, joy and community to our family. My point is that no matter what – they are my children. I desire a relationship with them. When my children leave home, they are free to make their own choices. They set up households. They decide whether or not to maintain a close relationship with the family or not. But if they choose not to communicate or visit, it is does not diminish our love for them. They still can join us for family dinner, fellowship and laughter at any time. Our brood did not earn the right to be part of the family or complete some intricate initiation process. God chose them to be our kids just like He chose us to be His Children. God sees us all the same way. He provides for us regardless. He has a plan and purpose that will prosper our life from the inside out. As His Children, we choose whether or not to live in His Presence. His Children chose sin over fellowship with Him, so the Father provided a way for them to return. We cannot earn it. We cannot deserve it. He has given it to us. This gift is called grace every family must rely on it to build strong, sound relationships. We must be receivers and givers of grace to build His Kingdom.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I am God’s Masterpiece. I have heard this message and even taught it myself. Today, I see it a little differently through His Amazing Grace. I am only a piece of the masterpiece. For “WE” are God’s Masterpiece. He makes us a new creation in Christ that is not solitary but united by the choice to receive Jesus and His Grace into our heart. Now we are building a new foundation – the message given to us is love provided by grace. It should build a Kingdom not tear it down. (Acts 20:32) God’s Grace brings every one of His Children together under the authority and power of Jesus Christ. His Power is given by grace. God’s Plan is to bring us all together by His Grace. He is drawing His Children back to Him. The masterpiece has many pieces that complete the beautiful portrait of reconciliation.

Acts 15:10-11 (NLT) So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

Am I burdening other people with a yoke that God has not required of me? A penalty I could not pay for. A condition not given in unconditional love. We all sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard. God’s Grace freely makes us right in His Sight. Am I giving others the grace that I have received? Is my love for people unconditional? Because of God’s Grace given to me, I give my life to Him. I am called to be an expert builder and to advance His Kingdom. I must be very careful not to add conditions and mandates to others that have not been put on me. I cannot withhold the generosity of God lavished on me by His Grace. Otherwise, I am building a foundation other than Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:10-11) When I require of others something that Christ does not require of me, I have polluted the Good News. I must be careful not to treat the grace of God as meaningless. (Galatians 2:20-21) Christ is my example. He lives in me. His Love should permeate my pride and crucify it with the rest of my flesh so that love always prevails and grace right along with it.

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 (NLT) 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. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

What is the result of your ministry today? Does it give glory to God? Before you say, I don’t have a ministry as an ambassador of Christ – you have the profound privilege and responsibility to share His Love with everyone you come in contact with. The loudest message is spoken by our attitude and actions not our words. I have been a gift labeled grace that is too wonderful to keep all to myself. It takes time to release others from our expectation as we yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ. His Grace is always enough for our process. His Grace is abounding so that we can generously give it to others without regard or reservation because God’s got us. He will never let us down. He is always working all the details for our good and perfecting all that concerns us. Faith in God begins by fully accepting His Undeserved Grace and Unconditional Love for ourselves. However, once it is accepted it must be sown in our life to produce the Good News others are dying to hear.

Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. Esau was the firstborn son. He didn’t have to do anything other than exist to inherit the blessing of His Father. Esau gave up his birthright. Oh, I know some would say that his brother tricked him. But the truth is – Esau gave it away for a single meal. Is it really worth your birthright to hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness? God cannot extend grace to those who are unwilling to give it away. We are part of a Kingdom. The Body of Christ cannot become one with strife and bitterness. These qualities mean that God’s Grace is not enough for us and we thereby reject our birthright in Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God, our faith is founded on His Love and Grace. If I don’t believe that God’s Love is for me and His Grace flows through me – I am lost. Grace is essential to salvation. I cannot earn it or deserve it. Do I require something more of others than God requires of me today? Lord, show me the areas of stagnant grace that has become roots of bitterness and unforgiveness limiting the harvests in my life. I am building a Kingdom. I am not alone. You are with me. My brothers and sisters are all around me. You do not have favorites. We are all your favorite in Christ alone. May your grace flow through me more and more today until it reaches those around me.

2 Corinthians 4:14-15 (NLT) We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

Come Together

Come Together

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

The church. The Body of Christ. The formation of believers and Christians meeting together. For what? Sundays, Wednesdays, and small groups with scheduled meetings and organized plans. What is the benefit to the world in which we live? A bright and shining light that drives our darkness. A salt so flavorful it is desirable. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1 that the church would know the greatness of power that God has invested in them. To understand the Resurrection Power possible to those who believe. Christ is the ruler, authority, power and leader of the church and in Him it is made full and complete. As we come together in corporate congregational meetings is unity and fulfillment the experience taken from it or just another social circle in which to navigate?

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

The power of the church is in love and unity. There should be encouragement from belonging to Christ. There should be comfort found in His Love. We are His Hands and Feet. We should experience God’s Glory as His Spirit joins us in our gatherings and fellowship together. Leaving the cares, worries and burdens of this world at the feet of Jesus as we come together to share one another’s concerns untied in Christ. We are to agree wholeheartedly. The giving of our heart cannot be done any other way than completely. Do we love one another? Really love each other as delineated in I Corinthians 13? Do we work together putting aside our own schedules and agendas? When the Body of Christ figures out how to come together with one mind and purpose – revival will be the result. But until then…

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

What would be the possibilities if rather than always seeking a blessing, believers decided to be a blessing? Sowing seeds of generosity in all things, in all ways and everywhere we go. What might the harvest be? Rather than spouting out religious rhetoric our lives were living demonstrations of the love of God invested in us through Christ Jesus, would witnessing be so hard? If we could trust the church with our families, friends and co-workers, I bet the invitation would flow much easier.

Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT) 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. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

How do I become the church? It’s all about me. That’s right. I must choose to clothe myself in love rather than worrying about my appearance on Sunday, I should maintain a heart covered in love all week long. The kind of love that is described in God’s Word. The kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. I must trust the Lord until His Peace rules in my heart. It means that my conditions and circumstances do not change my conversation and I will bless the Lord at all times. I must remember I am called to live in peace with all believers. If I cannot manage such a life with those I have the most in common (Christ), how will I ever reach a lost and dying world with anything of worth?

Always be thankful. How does it represent our Father when we grumble and complain all the time? If He is our Provider, Healer and more, what is the message of hope in disappointment, discouragement and discontentment? Faith cannot be faked or it is fruitless. Artificial, plastic fruit carefully displayed and occasionally dusted on the dining room table for all to see bears no seeds, fruit or life to those who see it.

Seek wisdom. If you do not choose to partake of the Bread of Life and Living Water, from what resource do you have to give? How can your Spirit man live in starvation? He cannot. The Word of God is Light. It is life. We need it to illuminate the need in us for a Savior and the areas that He is to be Lord in us so that we can manifest His Power and Praise on this planet.

Finally, probably the most important part, “and whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” All this is important striking out in this world as His Disciple, but if it does not begin in the church, we have failed. A dysfunctional church is governed by pride and selfishness. Love does not live there. Without love and grace and generosity, the church is just another religious organization. There are many religions. Only one relationship changes a religion into something more, a living breathing body, and that is Jesus Christ. Have we come together as the Body? Or are we hacking off members and a disfigured representation of what could be? Lord, forgive us for our failure to be fruitful in coming together as one body with one mind, one purpose and one heart.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

In I Corinthians 12, Paul addresses the church in regarding unity. The early church was experiencing growing pains and having some issues no different than the modern church. Paul describes the body of Christ and the need for unity. We are many members who all have a place in the Body of Christ. Too often rather than focusing on who I need to be and what I need to do to effectively and efficiently do my part in the Body, I can become distracted. An effective church is harmonious. An efficient part has fully functioning members. Members are supposed to take care of each other. How is your church doing in maintaining the health of its body? People come and people go…is that okay? I mean if you lost your right arm or left foot would you go on as though nothing happened? Let’s get real for a moment. The pain of others should be our pain. The process of all in the Body should be part of our process. My position does not take from another but should be productive in securing the Body as one. How am I doing? The most important question you can ask yourself today is not what can I do but who am I supposed to be? Our membership in the Body of Christ has purpose and meaning. It cannot function properly without us in place.

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.

As a believer, you have the potential to become part of something much larger than your current position. Your realm of influence is ready to expand breaking down every barrier holding you back from reaching your full potential. Fulfillment in Christ is never a solitary position but unity as a whole. You have a plan that includes a future and hope. Your future and hope is membership in a Body. A complete being called the church or the Body of Christ. You have a position to fill that only you can do. The enemy wants us to believe that we do not need anybody but Jesus. Like every other lie he tells the believer that is only half true. The Body of Christ is built of those who make Jesus Christ their everything. To surrender to the Lord is to give yourself to His Body. There is no way around it. You cannot do it alone. Isolation and separation are the tools of the enemy to destroy His Body. Don’t let him use you like that. Seek unity and harmony in your life above all things with all people including the church you attend. People are people. Grace would not be needed if perfection was possible. If you are not part of a local church, I encourage you to find your place. If you are a member of a church but not involved, I encourage you to find your place, too. If you are involved and fighting the good fight of faith, I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing even if you don’t think you can continue – it’s only because breakthrough is almost there. We must come together as believers to be the Light of the World.

Right before our kids moved back from New England, we visited a salt cellar. The store was actually called the Salt Cellar. Traveling down a steep flight of stairs into a dimly lit store, there were tiny jars of salt everywhere. I have never seen such a variety of different flavors of salt. Salt without flavor is useless – it takes all kinds. Today as I think back, I wonder what might happen if we all lined our lives up in one place as the spice of life others need to overcome a dull and useless existence. To offer a place where others could come to taste and see that the Lord is good! Imagine the potential of a unified church that exemplified the Love of God through Jesus Christ effectively. We would call it revival.

Psalm 133

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

 

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.”