The Power of Discernment

The Power of Discernment

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. What is good? What is acceptable? What is perfect? Here’s a hint. People will never lead you to perfection. It is impossible for the imperfect to go where they have not been. Maturity in Christ is an independent mission of finding completion in Him. Discernment takes knowledge of God and as it becomes our understanding it will begin to produce wisdom in our life. Wisdom is nothing more than applied knowledge. To be wise is to make choices based on sound knowledge and good understanding allowing it to change the way we think, live and speak.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) A lack of knowledge in our natural life can cause unwanted consequences. For example, if you are not instructed that if you touch a hot stovetop that you will be burned, then when you come in contact with one that you will likely touch it and pay the consequences. Spiritual instruction is absolutely necessary to change our life from natural to supernatural outcomes. We can present ourselves as “living sacrifices” but it is discernment that keeps us aligned with God and following Jesus Christ. We need knowledge. We need understanding. We need wisdom. We need discernment. What if we have it but are not using it? Well, according to Hosea, people are destroyed because they lack…or reject godly knowledge.

I Kings 3:10-14 (ESV) It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Solomon was the beloved son of David. David was a man after God’s Heart. Solomon following the footsteps of his father offered a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. God came to King Solomon in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” The king could have asked for anything. He could have asked for riches and honor or a variety of natural desires. Solomon asked for wisdom or more importantly “understanding to discern what is right”. His request pleased the Lord and it was granted to him.

Godly wisdom and good discernment does not make us perfect. It is simply good judgment that readily discerns between good and evil. Good people are not always godly. Religious folks aren’t always godly. We are quick to follow preachers and teachers but reluctant to strike out and follow Jesus especially when He leads us out on our own. People are people. God is looking for those who desire Him above all things.

Remember when Jesus met the rich young man. (Mark 10) He called Jesus “Good Teacher” and quickly the Lord replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Discernment. Jesus was questioning the man’s knowledge and wisdom. He knew the commandments and religious rules and regulations. But did this rich young man have a relationship with God? Did he know God? Did he love Him? Did he recognize the Son of God standing before him? Well…when asked to leave this world behind, sell all his possessions and give everything away to follow Christ…he walked away. There are many people with a whole lot of head knowledge about the Lord. We need heart knowledge called discernment to change us and transform us.

I Corinthians 2:14-16 (ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

We have the Mind of Christ. We must decide to adopt His Mindset and gain knowledge of who He is from God’s Word. In fact, John 1:14 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. Without a personal working knowledge, there is no wisdom. Without wisdom, it is impossible to discern between good and evil. God is good! He is always good! His Way is always the best. To know His Way, we must know His Word and allow His Spirit to guide us.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)  Jesus is the Word. He is the only Way to God. We cannot access God through man anymore but must personally enter His Presence. To read the Word is to actively engage in the process of spiritual circumcision as the Lord removes the callous hardness applied by life to break our heart and fill it with the Light of His Love. If Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you have been given His Spirit. The Holy Spirit as you will see in the next scripture is called our “Helper”. He takes the Word of God like a surgeon to cut away the worthless and fruitless desires to give us a new life and make us a new creation just like the Lord promised to do.

John 14:25-27 (ESV) “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Holy Spirit is our guide. He teaches us the meaning of God’s Word. He shows us how to apply it in our life through His Gentle Nudging or not-so-easy conviction. We are free to choose our way but in order to choose THE Way – reliance on the Spirit of God in us is important. The Spirit of God aligns our heart and mind with Him. In doing so, it creates inner peace as our heart is no longer in conflict with eternity. It is in this place that God changes us and transforms us. You were not created to be like anybody. God created you to be you. There is no one else that has your potential. There is no one else that can fulfill your purpose. To know Him is to love Him but aside from His Word (Truth) and His Spirit it is not possible to be a true worshipper. Our faith is planted solely in Christ to harvest the confident hoped needed to endure to the end.

Psalm 119:65-68 (ESV) You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.

I will be the first to admit that I have asked the Lord for specific “things” and detailed outcomes more than I care to mention. All those prayers “instructing” God on what I needed, wanted, desired or thought that He should do. God’s Word tells us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But then, I have had many pastors and teachers instruct me to tell God exactly what I want and to pray in specifics. This is where the power of discernment works in our life.

I find that when I pray for “God’s Will” to be done – I have greater success in accomplishing peace in my life. Thinking of all those times I thought I knew what was best, but the Lord had something better in mind. There is nothing wrong with praying for specific things but it is better to seek the Will and Way of God. His Hope never leads to disappointment. His Way never comes up short. His Promises always produce fulfillment and full satisfaction. His Economy is abundance. God is good. His Love unfailing. His Goodness always pursuing me. I must simply know Him and love Him to have it all.

Today, my prayer is simple. “Lord, teach me good judgment and knowledge. I desire discernment. To see people, situations, and opportunities through Your Eyes and consider each with the Mind of Christ. This is my heart’s desire to be a living sacrifice and live a life acceptable to You, Lord.”

Proverbs 16:20-22 (ESV) Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.

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Treasures in Heaven

Treasures in Heave

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

Do you have a treasured possession? My grandmother’s china is very special to me. She kept it in her china cabinet only bringing it out at certain times. I remember looking through the glass at them and how they shown in the golden light of her dining room. Funny, that in the same cabinet, in the midst of all the good stuff, grandma had a plastic salt and pepper shaker in the shape of two hanging grape clusters. These were a gift from me to her. She treasured the artwork and tiny trinkets given to her by her grandchildren. They took a place of honor in her home. My birth mother passed away a few years ago. We had been estranged due to addiction for many years. When her death certificate arrived, it contained two gumball machine rings that belonged to her. Little pieces of cheap metal crafted in to plain bands that were gifts from her grandson. I have tucked them away. Tiny treasures with great significance.

We all have treasures. People or things highly valued and greatly prized in our life. Some of those things may actually be of monetary worth while others provoke precious memories. If a thief were to break in, would he be able to steal your treasure? Could moths or rusts destroy that which is most precious to you? Treasure is defined by the value or worth placed on something. It is the desired content of it that makes it so special and sought after. What do you spend your time pursuing these days? The pursuits in which our time and talent are invested generally will reveal our treasure. Priorities produce busyness but what is the purpose and motivation behind all the rushing back and forth? Where is my treasure? Where is my heart?

It would be quick to interpret this passage to dissuade us from loving things and money too much. While looking ahead, the perception of worth and wealth is based on the perspective of what we see. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. The kind of faith that sees the Kingdom must turn its face from worthless substitutions to obtain the treasure stored for them in heaven. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Drives and desires become our masters. To have money, possessions and things is not bad. To love money, possessions and things allowing them to become the master of our life and that which defines our pursuits is the real trouble for believers.

Proverbs 2:1-5 (ESV) My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

The hidden treasure of heaven belongs to you and me. We have the Word of God to invest in our life like good seed planted deep in fertile soil. The act of sowing God’s Word in our lie turns knowledge into understanding and wisdom. We must “receive“ His Word. We must “treasure” His Commands. We must be “attentive” to His Voice. We must “incline” our heart to understanding. Treasure is defined by human desire. The thing desired most defines the idea of “treasure” in our life. Who or what gets your time? Who or what gets your talent? Who or what gets your treasure? This is the person or thing valued most in your life. It will show you who or what the desire of the heart is.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is hidden treasure. It is found when Jesus Christ is discovered. The potential of the Kingdom is in us. He has placed eternity in each heart and a measure of faith to cultivate the purpose placed within us. In order to have it, we must pursue it wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) The man found treasure and covered it up. We invite Jesus to come live in our heart. What we do with our salvation is completely up to each one of us? To participate in a building a relationship with Jesus Christ means that we must go and “sell” this life to obtain the Kingdom. The man sold everything for “joy”. Less is more in the Kingdom. I must decrease so Christ can increase.

What if this passage represents moving our life from the planet to His Presence? To begin getting rid of lesser things to make room for His Abundance. To work the fields of our heart rather than toiling with our hands all the time. To build a life on faith rather than worrying about the world and its future. We are temporary residents of this place, the Kingdom of God is our forever home.

Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Reading these verses today, I am wondering if there is a message here. The “man” moved his life and existence on the field. He sold everything to dwell in it. Live in it. Take ownership of it. What if these verses represent our personal life with Christ and the next ones our professional life? The merchant bought and sold pearls for a living. But when he found the pearl of great price, he sold all to have it. The treasure of my life is Christ. To have the Kingdom – I must have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is not futuristic. He invites me to open the windows of Heaven and bring it down to the earth.

The deal breaker, game changer is my participation. Will I sell out for the Kingdom? Will I place the highest priority on heaven rather than earthly pursuits? It doesn’t say that they gave everything up for the Lord. They sold everything to acquire the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven offers abundance, full satisfaction and complete contentment. It is not to accept a life of poverty, but to prosper from the inside out. I find that as I continually invest more and more of my time, talent and treasure into the Kingdom – things begin to change as I do. The struggle is real. Faith relies on that which it cannot see as the vivid reality of what is true in our life. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10. He was rich. He was a ruler. He was religious. He was the total package according to the world’s economy. Jesus instructed him to sell all of his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and to follow Him. To exchange all of his things for righteousness. To have a constant and abiding relationship with the Living God. The man walked away “disheartened” for he had many possessions.

Luke 12:32-34 (ESV) “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.

If the world didn’t give it to you, then the world cannot take it away. The Treasure of Heaven is Jesus Christ. The Presence of God that wants to dwell in us, live with us, save us, heal us, and deliver us. The Prosperity of God that wants to increase us from the inside out. To create such contentment and godliness that the conditions, circumstances and situations of life cannot impact the love, joy and peace overflowing from us. It says, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We cannot earn the Kingdom with all of its blessings and benefits. We certainly do not deserve it yet each day His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues us. “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” God is asking His People simply to prepare a place for the Treasure of Heaven and He will gladly do the rest. What do you treasure? Where is your treasure? Can anyone take it away from you?

God is good! He is an excellent provider. He only gives us good things. He is perfect in all of His Ways. To connect with God’s Economy – one must move into His Presence and learn to operate in godly prosperity. It doesn’t work like the world does. It operates by unconditional love, unending grace and overflowing blessing from the inside out. Tap into the hidden treasures of heaven. Reinvest your life into the potential of faith living in confident hope. He will never ever let you down. It is His GOOD PLEASURE to give us the Kingdom!

Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Beautiful Crown

Beautiful Crown

Proverbs 4:7-9 (ESV) The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

We made it just in time to see the sun inches above the ocean, a stellar sunrise on a clear morning. The beach was full of other folks who had the same idea. She wanted to see the sunrise. Our littlest princess was in awe of the glorious sun. Lingering along the surf, I gathered shells while she walked in the water. Casual conversation turned to a serious discussion very quickly. This one is our thinker. She contemplates life on a regular and ongoing basis rather than the carefree spirit of other young teens. The mystery of life is not good enough for her. She wants all the details now. The unknown does not appeal to her. I assure her that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing in her life and as long as she loves and trusts Him it will work out just fine. Well, that’s not good enough for her…

How many times has an adult said, “If I had known then what I know now…” Would it have made a difference? Considering the details of life and weighing all the good and bad, what would you have done differently? The bad marriage wouldn’t have produced the blessing of your children if it had never happened. The poor choices and challenging consequences may not have given you the sound wisdom you have today. God promises to work every detail of our life for our good and His Glory when we answer His Call. There is no depth too deep or place too dark that His Light will not come to our rescue. Regret does not exist in the one who is fully redeemed. Fear and anxiety are the enemy’s tools to steal, kill and destroy the knowledge and understanding that will soon become confident hope that leads to fulfillment. Is there more to life than this? Absolutely. We must desire it to have it. Pursue it to find it. Believe it for the reality to manifest in our life.

Our little girl doesn’t want to miss what God has for her. She struggles with the uncertainty of not knowing what the Lord is doing and desiring it just the same. Don’t we all yet unwilling to admit it with childlike faith to the listening Father. God has put it in my heart that He is doing a new thing. Looking around at my life, I am pleased with the way things are turning out. God is good. He is giving me the desires of my heart. There is more to this thing called life. I must go after it. Forgoing my comfort, complacency, convenience and control – I want the complete package labeled fulfillment. As we walked on the beach, I did my best to calm the concerns of my little one. She is not so little anymore. Her questions about her future valid. Trust is new to her. She only knows it in a limited sense. But I believe the Lord is calling her deeper. He is asking her to step closer. She is answering His Call and I am challenged to continue to answer mine. Whatever it is? Whatever it looks like? Even if it feels a bit uncertain, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and illogical, faith makes all these things unacceptable.

The wisdom of God is found in His Word. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh to portray the Father’s Love and Desire for His Children. He desires us. He wants us. He made the Way for us. Righteousness is the right path in every situation. It requires wisdom. Knowledge and understanding applied to our daily life not once or twice a week. It is not religious but relational. Instruction is the Gift of the Father to His Children. He longs for us to choose the better way and walk in the blessings and promises that He has already prescribed for our life. He doesn’t force us to choose His Path but offers it to us as a precious and valuable gift. Righteousness is only possible through Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of His Life is the only possible way for God’s Word, His Way and His Will for us to be fully accessed and completed in us. Confident hope is discovered by faith in God’s Word completely.

In the handful of children the Lord has given us, we have both impulsive and intellectual individuals. The spectrum of personalities is uncanny considering they are all from the same brood. Being the mom of such diversity, each one has been raised with a slightly different approach according to their personality. I have some that come directly to me when in need of advice or an opinion. There are others who call in the time of need. The cautious generally communicate more openly in contrast to the reckless for whom I am still here. God is a Good Father. He is pouring His Unconditional Love on the just and unjust. If only all of His Children would take some time to discover the vast potential of limitless love, it would change the church forever. It would bring the Body of Jesus Christ together into a blameless and unblemished bride once and for all. We don’t understand such a concept therefore cannot live in it completely.

Proverbs 4:10-13 (ESV) Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Wisdom in our life is the result of knowledge applied in our life. Many receive instructions every day and ignore them. For example, the speed limit posted on the side of the road is not a suggestion but the law. If an officer catches me speeding, do I really have a right to get mad about it? Choosing to ignore the law creates a consequence. When I was an offender a couple of years ago, I was given a ticket that carried a hefty fine. I was required to pay the fine, but also given the opportunity to attend online traffic school to waive the points which would have resulted in higher insurance rates for the next several years. I chose to attend the class.

Sin is an offense to God. He hates sin. It separates us from him. Given the opportunity of grace, it is hard to say no. But there is more to God’s Divine Character than just getting by. The Lord offers us full restoration. Welcoming us home as the prodigal son is received upon his return, the Father desires to guide us along the right paths that lead to full satisfaction and fulfillment. I choose whether or not I will follow Him. Wisdom is offered to me. Instruction given. Understanding in every word, precept, scripture and verse. Will it be the valuable commodity that I live by? Will I remain under God’s Table scrambling for crumbs? Will I sit at His Table and feast before my enemies? It is all up to me.

Wisdom is a “graceful garland” or a “beautiful crown.” It represents a life lived in the Presence of God – triumphant in Christ and fully redeemed as a Child of God. In order to live such a life requires pursuing knowledge, instruction, and understanding found only in God and His Word then choosing to apply it to our everyday life. Faith only becomes practical when fully exposed to God’s Word. It is illogical compared to human intellect and rationalized by average thoughts. We have been given a precious gift to unwrap, open and use in our life. It begins in His Word and allows us to live in Christ who is the Word.

Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Walking with my daughter on the beach contemplating the rest of her life, our conversation grew quiet and in my heart I longed to be able to tell her every detail of the fairytale written for her. I don’t know what her life will be like. I pray for her every day. God loves her more than I do yet I still cannot comprehend such a thing. I know that God has a plan for her. I know it contains a future and hope. I know that she loves the Lord. She will not live on mountaintops but journey through the valley of the shadow of death as we all do. I know that every day will not be a good day. She will need to learn to trust and depend on Jesus just like I have had to. No one could tell me how to do or when it would happen. Everyone needs the rod of discipline and staff of instruction in their life. They need these two valuable things so that knowledge and understanding will one day be wisdom even our little princess. God is good! His Goodness and Mercy follow us all every day of life just waiting for understanding to kick in and wisdom to be set forth. It is in that moment when we respond to the Lord that the garland of grace and crown of redemption are fully put in place.

I can give my children instruction. I can encourage understanding. I can continually pour the knowledge of my life into them. Wisdom is something that is discovered individually when truth is applied personally to our life. Our life in Christ will begin to prosper by taking the Word of God and applying it daily, step by step and breath by breath to our life. I cannot do it for my own children. God cannot do it for you. Those who choose to do so will be crowned Sons and Daughters of the King.

James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

I Peter 5:4 (ESV) And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Secrets of the Deep

Secrets of the Deep

Psalm 42:7-9 (ESV) Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Life is crazy. Change is inevitable. Becoming a Christian, inviting Jesus to live in our life doesn’t exempt us from such extremes but rather invites us to a place of utter chaos. Religion is man’s attempt to string together all the details and bring people to some form of order. The truth of the matter is that God comes to each of us on an individual basis – Jesus invites us to live in love with Him – the consummation of such an experience is the Holy Spirit. After that buckle your seatbelts as your existence is completely undone. Believers who act like that have it all together project a farce. It is not in the doing that God accomplishes great things but in our undoing. It is not when we have it all together that His Light shines through us but through our broken heart. It is not because He is cruel or controlling but rather because God created us with a plan much bigger than our finite thinking and prepared us for much more than perceived by limited sight. It is in those moments that lack understanding or make no sense at all – our inability to cope or control – that the deep surrounds us.

My husband and I were walking and talking. It would begin like most other nights. Going over the events of the days, activities of children and sharing life experiences. But last night, he dared enter the unknown. Asking the complicated question that most men would avoid – “What are you really thinking about?” I hesitated. The thoughts circulating in my head and swirling through my mind were questioning. Wondering. Contemplating. The details of life overwhelming and chaotic churning through my thoughts. The last week or so an emotional roller coaster of high highs and low lows. I feel like the toy our puppy plays with that has been shaken and pulled apart even frayed. I lay it all before my husband and become only more convinced that God has to be in all these deep places. He is ready to fill voids, level mountains and make a clear path. I have walked through deep waters before and always prevailed by His Mighty Hand and Loving Heart. I hear deep calling again. My spirit says, “Yes!” but my flesh begs “Lord, not again!”

Isaiah 35:3-8 (ESV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

I believe that God is good. I know that His Plan for my life contains a future and hope beyond my comprehension. His Thoughts are higher than my own and so therefore His Ways must be also. It is in my lack of knowledge and understanding that challenge me. The deep is God’s Invitation to grow in these areas. It is not in knowing what or how God works that builds faith and hope but in knowing God that makes all things possible. Faith is what pleases the Lord. Faith is not living by what we see but rather living in constant knowledge of who God is and how much He loves us. It is to put our trust in His Character and not life’s conditions or circumstances but to become fully enveloped in His Love and Grace each day. Strength, courage and fearlessness are not achieved by human sufficiency but when our confidence is completely invested in the Lord and His Process.

The Highway to Holiness unfolding before us is the pathway to victory. Holiness is not anything we do but rather what happens as one becomes the much coveted new creation Christ promised to make us. Religion has attempted to change our appearance but the Lord promises a new heart. A heart set on a pilgrimage to where He is, to do what He is doing, and make the commitment to remain in the deep as long as it takes to enter the Light of His Love.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” What if the deeper things of God are entered into not by our own strength or willpower but rather the moment of letting go and allowing the Lord to do it all. Weak hands let go relinquishing to His Power and Control. Feeble knees stopping trying to do it all and walk it out allowing the Lord to carry us through. Dependency on the Lord is established in the deep when we cannot see or do what we used to. Maybe this is what it means “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”

Daniel 2:20-22 (ESV) Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

The Lord gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness of the depths and the Light dwells in Him. In Genesis 1:1-3, the whole love story of God begins with the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the deep. Read it. The earth is formless and void and then God spoke. Life perpetuated life from that moment forward. God and His Spirit were there. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke – Jesus was and is and is to come. Knowledge of God is found in the Word which is the story of Jesus Christ wrapped in flesh who came to give us life just like in the beginning. (John 1:14) The Word is our wisdom for life. We read it. Apply it. In that moment, God’s Wisdom becomes power in our life. Our words begin to line up with His and there is agreement. (Proverbs 18:4) Understanding extracts the secrets of the deep hidden there for human discovery. (Proverbs 20:5) Where can wisdom be found? It is not in the deep but the One who keeps us in the deep. (Job 28:12-14) God has had complete control over the deep forever. Darkness runs from the Light so even in the lowest valley or deepest sea the Light of His Love will surrounds those who are His Children.

It may be dark all around you today. No relief in sight. The wait may be one minute longer than you can do it. The pressure overwhelming. The pain beyond enduring. The night won’t last forever. Joy comes with new mercy each morning. God is not calling you to drown you but to drench and saturate our life in His Goodness. It is the opportunity of obedience to walk by faith and not what you see. But you know what I have found to be the greatest blessing of the deep…

Romans 8:26-28 (ESV) Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

When I venture into the deep, ready to obey, willing to trust and thrust my heart in God’s Hands – He is always faithful. His Spirit, the same one who was with Him in the beginning, helps me. When I am at a loss for words or strength to move, His Spirit takes over. The Lord searches my heart removing weights and hindrances until the only thing holding me is hope that strong anchor. Somehow and some way – everything keeps working together for my good and His Glory despite my weakness and whining. I find that as I surface again – His Purpose is clear…

Romans 8:36-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through all the peaks and valleys and even in the deepest depths of life – God’s Love has never let me go. I am more than a conqueror – an embattled and scarred warrior for sure – but I refuse to put my sword down. I will fight to the end to maintain this faith I have been entrusted with and keep my deep abiding affection and trust in the Lord. It is a fight when the deep closes in around me. I feel panic and distress where peace once abounds. Then I am reminded of all the times before when His Love rushes in and He breathes new life in me. When His Perfect Love has expelled my fear – so I keep going.

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 details of my life are stretch from elation to exhaustion. I cannot put into words how I feel or the emotions running through me. It really doesn’t matter how I feel now does it. My success today is based on my ability to enter the deep based on what I know. I know God loves me. I know that He has victory in store for me. I know that He is blessing me but it is only the beginning of the abundance growing in my life. One day it will be increase that will only be attributable to the faithfulness of God. Until then, I will continue to plunge in the deep when I am called. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain in obedience and trust. The deep exposes us in our weakness and insecurity to God’s Love. The width, length, height and depth of His Fathomless Love for us is evident when we can do nothing but must rely on the Lord for everything. These are the times when faith are rooted and grounded in a hard heart now broken and fertile. The Lord is letting us know that His Love surpasses our knowledge and ability to understand. He is filling our voids with the Fullness of God. The opportunity of the deep is simple. It is to invest our life and all that we believe in the Lord who desires to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to His Power at work in us! Welcome to the deep! It is full of God’s Secrets and Hidden Opportunities of blessing and prosperity for those who decide to enter in.

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

To All the Strong Ones

Silhouette of a Boy Showing Arm Muscles Strength

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Well I did it! I made it over a major obstacle yesterday. One I have not cleared in years. It was not the current squat challenge I embarked on in February. I can finally walk and not resemble a toddler on new legs. Yes, I downed the gallon of water. I am absolutely floating. Missing caffeine a little (a lot) but the 9:00 PM bedtime does wonders for that if only my kids would keep it down. It has been a date circled on the calendar in ominous red for about three months. I finally made it to the dentist. (Insert applause.) I am not scared of many things. In fact, the only two things that come to mind are snakes and the dreaded dentist. If I were the first woman created, there would not have been incident in the garden because when the snake came slithering up to me – I would have been long gone. When the dentist called back in December to yet again schedule an appointment after five long years and my youngest calling me a hypocrite (I make them go religiously) – I agreed to a date and time.

Call it my kryptonite if you will but when it comes to the dentist, my heart races. My mouth goes dry. I literally break into a sweat driving over. I have to force myself to take a seat and wait. The dentist has a little sticker on my chart that indicates I have “white coat” syndrome. I share all this to set the scene yesterday in vivid detail. I walked into the Presence of God and prayed for peace and calm over my restless emotions and reactive body. Created a prayer circle of family and friends. I want to overcome this debilitating feeling that is straight from the enemy. It started years ago. We did not go to the dentist regularly as kids. After multiple pregnancies back to back my teeth needed some desperate attention. I scheduled an appointment. The cleaning and consultation went fine. The fillings were another story. Ever since then, I have avoided the dentists at all costs. However, I hate fear. It reminds me that I lack faith and trust in that area even something as simple as the dentist hence this long-winded story to get to my point.

When I arrived yesterday, the office was backed up. Because of my “little problem” they usually whisk me back before I change my mind. They apologized greatly. I canceled my last appointment because it was our son’s first week of treatment after his cancer diagnosis. They all wanted to ask so I quickly shared his miraculous story. My heart slowed down a bit as I could tell of my Father’s Love and Care for our kid. It opened the door of conversation with my new hygienist. She is a Christian, too. So while she worked in my mouth, she shared bits and pieces of her family and faith. She told me the story of her husband’s adoption, and as she shared it came to her mother-in-law’s faith. In the middle of the story, I heard the words that have changed everything time and time again in my walk with Jesus. “Do you trust Me?” I immediately relaxed in the chair. I do trust Jesus. Sometimes, I forget that fear doesn’t mean I lack faith. Weakness is only a lack of human strength but in no way nullifies the Power of God at work in me but rather facilitates a full-takeover. When I doubt, God always offers me a change to believe again. It usually comes in the form of the question – “do you trust Me?”

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood?” Opportunities to trust the Lord come wrapped in packages labeled fear, weakness, and ignorance. Fear allows us to experience faith when turning to the Father for refuge and security. Weakness gives us the place for God’s Power to work fully in our life. Ignorance demands knowledge to be resolved creating a hunger for the Word of God. Each one of these challenges show us that the Lord is the everlasting God. Ready, willing and able to turn doubt and insecurity into instant belief. He never grows weak or weary ready to tackle these things that compromise righteousness. No one can measure the depths of His Great Understanding that creates pathways to appointments that give us the chance to trust Him. Your footsteps are ordered by the Lord, therefore He knows exactly where you are headed. He has already gone before you. He comes in behind you, too. Psalm 23 is the perfect example of the reality of our walk with God. It is not the absence of opposition but the promise that while walking with Him there is nothing to fear and everything to gain according to His Word.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 

It is human pride that tells us to be strong. The truth is grace only is operational in our inability. It is weakness that allows the Lord to infuse our life with His Power – otherwise they work in direct opposition. Trust is the catalyst for God’s Power to be in full effect. Do you trust the Lord today? It is impossible to tell until it is no longer possible for you to produce the desired outcome. Challenges, tests and trials are absolutely necessary to allow us the opportunity to trust the Lord and receive all His Power offers in our life. His Promises arise from the ashes of pride when His Power fully consumes my doubt and fear. Do you believe God’s Grace is enough? Is it sufficient? Paul begged God to take the “thorn from his flesh” three times. However, in the end, he determined that God’s Grace was made perfect in his complete weakness so Paul gave God the opportunity to be His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12)

This is evident in Paul’s many letters of encouragement to the church. This once powerful, strong arm of religion was reduced to a prisoner for the Love of Jesus Christ. All his human strength drained and refilled with the Goodness and Grace of God’s Unfailing Love. This became Paul’s provision and source of strength independent of his current condition or circumstances. Christ was enough. He is enough. We must step down or fall down in order to see that God’s Power in us is greater than anything mustered in my personal strength or ability. This comes at the end of me. This is the point when I am on my knees crawling to the finish line of faith.

Proverbs 3:5-8 (NLT) Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

I don’t understand all the details of my life. I have a list created for the moment I meet the Lord of all the things in my life that just don’t add up. I am quite certain that when that day comes most will be resolved as I continue to see each one turn for my good and His Glory. It just takes some time. To trust in the Lord with all my heart includes those unresolved matters. Do not depend on your own understanding. Can I expound on this a bit? My understanding is based on my five senses and wrapped up in my emotions. It is a self-based, pride-driven operation. My perspective is based on what I can see around me not what is in the future. I was created by God to be a masterpiece. I cannot judge the finished product by what my life looks like today. His Plan is perfect with a future and hope that is impossible to comprehend in my current state. I cannot see the forest for the trees some days, but the Lord has a drone’s eye view taking in the whole picture all of the time. If I make choices based on the here and now, I compromise my future with delays and distractions. I must learn to put my trust in the Lord solely by faith. I must learn to live and walk by faith and not my current perception of life as I see it, know it or think it is.

Psalm 18:28-36 (NLT) In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“In Your Strength Lord” is the secret to our success as believers. God is giving us daily opportunities to trust Him that challenge the weak areas of our faith. It may not feel like an opportunity but rather just another test, trial or temptation. If you seek the Lord in this thing, His Question is always the same – “Do you trust Me?” I have seen great and mighty miracles as a result of my weak attempts to trust the Lord. At the end of such challenges, I discover that the mustard seed of faith hidden in my heart grows a tiny bit more only to reveal more and more of my life yet surrendered to the Power of God. I am not the strong one in my life. I may appear strong person to the watching world and dependency put in that quality. However, the truth is that I am weak and He is strong. The very thing that allows me to walk with others shoulder to shoulder and share their burdens is not me. It is the Christ in me. I have yoked my life to Jesus Christ. So when I am given the opportunity to do life with other people even the messy parts, He is able to be demonstrate His Strength in my weakness so I can be a light to them. The only good thing about me is the Lord. The only hope I have to offer you is Jesus Christ. I can introduce you to the One who knew me and still thought I was to die for. But do not think for a moment, I am the strong one. I gave that up to have His Power work in me.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

These simple words of truth will set someone free today. Brokenness makes us usable to God. Outside of failure and fear, it is impossible to know the depths of God’s Unfailing Love and Unfathomable Grace. To accept these two precious promises, one must come to the end of self completely. Otherwise, we get in the way. Every time. Our pride will never accept weakness as an option. Therefore, we must humble ourselves before the Lord which is totally contradictory to human nature or modern culture. If you fail under pressure, then you know your strength is too small. You are not supposed to be the strong one. You are supposed to experience weakness in order to full take on the Power of God. It will consume you. It will not force you. But the moment you are on your knees unable to take another step with your arm outstretched to Jesus, He will ask you just one question, “Do you trust Me?” When you have tried everything and are at a complete loss at the end of all understanding, and cry out to Him with your last whisper – the Lord will respond the same way – “Do you trust Me?” It is the moment you say, “Yes” even if it takes all the strength you have left and beyond your understanding but wholehearted that He makes all things possible simply because you believe.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” What if the very thing keeping us from experiencing the Power of God is our natural strength? Could it be our inability to surrender control and let go that is keeping us from experiencing the Promises of God? What if the thing keeping you do is your hands gripping the ground rather than raised in praise to the Lover of Your Soul in surrender? The stronger you are the longer it takes to experience the Power of God because you can outlast most. However, you will one day come to a place when you cannot withstand the pressure. You will not be able to make it through. You will run out of options. Things will be deemed impossible. It is in that moment of opportunity that the Lord will whisper to you – “Do you trust me?” What will be your response?

Faith will dictate your answer. Hope will determine your decision. Why not begin the process of release today with some of the burdens you have been carrying? What about those cares and concerns you are juggling? How about just taking your whole life and all its contents before the Lord and asking Him to examine it? To show you the areas that need more faith. Here’s a hint – they are labeled fears. Doubt must be drowned in belief. Ignorance filled with knowledge becomes wisdom. Lies are undone by the Truth. It is in the complete surrender of control and power over our own life that allows His Strength to work perfectly through us. When I am weak, I become strong.

Psalm 121 (NLT) I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

 

Raise the Bar

raise-the-bar

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

To raise the bar means to make something better. Raising standards and expectations especially by creating something better than previously known or experienced. It connotes a challenge to improve beyond what was thought possible before and make a mark for others to follow. More than a personal endeavor, it is a pursuit of excellence which is the unprecedented example for the benefit of all. It is believed that those who reach such a level will be successful and satisfied with life. The problem is that in this world the “bar” goes up and down each day randomly in accordance with the fickleness of mankind and their perception of perfection. Emotions and feelings along with the peaks and valleys of life cause us to question if setting a high standard and raising the bar of our life is worth the struggle, pressure and pain of endurance. Is the commitment to change worth the tragedy of transition because we must leave some things behind to have all that is promised?

I have seen the impact of the “millennial” generation in my own home. Having three twenty-something kids and two teenagers – there is a dynamic shift occurring that must be battled every day. The sense of entitlement in our next generation is startling. Thankfulness is giving way to “I can have what I want when I want it because I am me” which comes (in my opinion) from never giving them anything to strive for. Comfort has given way to compromise. Settlement to substitutions. There is no drive for betterment just simple pass the test and get by. My concern for this generation is that they are also the end times Christians who prepare the way of Christ’s Return. They are subject to the greatest deceptions that believers have ever experienced because the enemy is desperate to steal their souls. We must become intent that I can have all that Christ said I could have, be all that He said that I could be, do everything that He empowers me to do, and live with Him forever not because of who I am but based solely on Who He is and What He has done for me.

To raise the bar of our life means setting a new standard of living. One based on perfection not perception and making the commitment to stay focused on the unseen and not the world crashing down and hell breaking loose around me. There are days I feel like an unarmed civilian in my pajamas with absolutely no defense at all walking through a war zone with grenades blowing up, bullets flying overhead, fights breaking out all around me, tanks rolling by and the Spirit of the Lord says, “Just keep walking, it’s all going to be okay.” Whether you know it or not, there is a battle all around you as the Lord protects you from the enemy’s fiery darts, wicked assignments, and plots to destroy you. God is fighting for us! His angels surround us as a constant guard. The pressure you feel is real. The perception is valid though you cannot fully perceive it. Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” I couldn’t agree with him more. If you find all hell is breaking loose around you, it could be because you are finally getting it right and walking in the right direction. You must go through it to make it to it!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

My sister is an esthetician. She is a skincare professional who offers a wide variety of treatments and beauty services. Several years ago, she received a call from the personal assistant of a very famous Christian speaker. You would instantly know her but I am not going to name her. The woman called to book an appointment. After securing a date and time, she informed my sister that her employer was coming in on her personal time and not to be bothered. She was not “ministering” so please refrain from asking her any questions, autographing or anything pertaining to the ministry. (Insert shocked face emoji here followed by a GIF with someone smacking their head with the palm of their hand.) I didn’t know what to say then and still don’t know what to say now. When did ministry become a profession and not a passionate pursuit of lost souls, to whom much is given much is required. I understand that people need down time. I also get that such a personality probably doesn’t get it very much. I do. I am not judging this person or any other mega ministry pastor. People are not a profession. They are God’s Passion. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, when you encounter a lost, dying, hurt, or wandering soul, there is no such thing as a better time than the one you are living in to reach out to them, share God’s Love, tell them your story and interact with them. What if my sister was lost? What is she were sick, hurting or dying? What it that appointment was divine not decided? Hmmm…

I apologize in advance if you are offended or upset by my ideology that ministry is not a job it’s a mission that all of those who love Jesus have been called to. It is 24/7. It is all about what I say, do, and how I live every moment of every day. There is no downtime. For everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard of Living. Even those who seem to have their spiritual junk altogether still have sin to be dealt with in their life every day. Everyone. You do. I do. We all do. Though some make it appear that they have achieved higher levels in God – need I remind you the only level of achievement in Jesus Christ is grace. Grace is the only way to achieve righteousness again. It doesn’t matter if you have only committed one sin in your whole life – you are sinner who needs just as much grace as the person who sins every single second.

Romans 9:30-32 (NLT) What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path.

Are you trying to follow God’s Standards in your own power today? Let me just be real with you. I see it in every church that I have ever attended and have been in positions that made me feel the same way. The more I know Christ and attempt to follow Him, the better my life gets. Our family is committed to tithing, our financial life has prospered over the last decade or more. Every part of my life sown by faith into God’s Promises are yielding just the same harvest. However, in all of the blessings, sometimes it is possible to forget WHO is the one prospering our life because we are living it. We are doing what God’s Word says, but we do not increase our life – He does. Before you say, I know that peek into your heart and look for any insecurity lurking there. It is the one hidden behind pride that says, “I will make my own way. I have to do it myself.”

His Grace is enough to pick you up out of your mess, dust you off, wash you in His Word, wrap you in righteousness and open the door to God’s Presence again. Just His Grace. The Grace of Jesus Christ was absolutely enough to raise the bar of our life and make God’s Glorious Standard available to us again. We can do nothing to earn it. Nothing at all. Therefore any exaltation above another person or idea that I am somehow better because I have achieved a higher standard of living is to say that it was not the Lord but me who made the difference and His Grace is not enough for me.

I Peter 2:21-25 (NLT) For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

From His Birth to His Death and Resurrection, Jesus was always about His Father’s Business. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not think twice about laying down His Life to come and give us access to the Kingdom once again. But have we created our own kingdoms called church and small group creating services and experiences that are manmade and not spirit led. Are sinners uncomfortable in our churches not because the Holy Spirit is convicting them but because God’s People are condemning them? Do we believe in taking days off? Jesus is our example. Christ alone allows us to have a higher standard of living called God’s Glorious Standard. Are we using it to build His Kingdom or our own?

The Word of Christ is complete. When Jesus said, it is finished releasing His Spirit to us – the job was done – our debt paid in full. Now what? We live for Him. We love Him. We follow Him. We become about our Father’s Business, too. I can do nothing apart from Him. The goodness in my life is all a gift from God and nothing I have earned or created for myself. I must humble myself to the Lord. I must decrease and He must increase in my life so that I can raise the bar so that others will seek Him, know Him and love Him, too.

Hebrews 6:12 (NLT) Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.

I must not become spiritually dull or indifferent taking for granted the Unfailing Love that I have been given and Grace that I have received for a substandard way of life. I must follow the example of Christ and the men and women who laid down their life to inherit the promises of God. Lord, keep me humbly at Your Feet so that I may know you more. So let’s go back to the beginning…

Ephesians 4:13-16 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

We must get this engrained in us. To achieve the Glorious Standard of Living and raise the bar to the level God intended, I must be complete in Christ. The continuation of “church” is to perpetuate growth in the Body of Christ which means my completion in Christ is dependent on my willingness to yield my life, gifts and abilities to the entire organization called His Body. It requires knowledge, understanding and wisdom that moves past human ideology and is based on faith in Christ. As Christ begins to take over my mind, body, soul and heart, it is the Truth that begins to impact and influence our lives rather than the conditions and circumstances of this life. My life is nothing without Christ. The parts and pieces of my life withheld from the Lord lack His Power and do not benefit the Body of Christ. I am a Kingdom Builder or at least I should be. I do this by using the gifts, talents and abilities God has given me to share the Gospel with others. My complete satisfaction in life is achieved when I place all my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Withholding nothing, even my pride, say it all belongs to you, Jesus! He is the more excellent way! Christ is my example! Raise the bar today! Find that one place, the hidden place, the harbored fugitive in your heart and give it to the Lord to be revived, restored and released as you achieve excellence.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

Think About It

think-about-it

Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 

Life lessons are often those hardest to learn but quickest to reinforce. For example, from the earliest age a child may be warned that the stove is hot. Be careful. Do not touch it. But the moment, the heat of the fire is felt the lesson is burned into the mind. Caution is born of pain. Knowledge is instantly wisdom so futuristically great care will be taken to avoid the flame altogether. Knowledge is power. Power doesn’t work until cord is plugged into the outlet. Once the current is flowing it becomes wisdom. Why all the imagery? People do not think. It is human nature to be impetuous and carefree until taught otherwise by life lessons. Minds are molded and shaped by experience. The things encountered leave impressions in our thoughts that govern one’s thinking. Morality is impacted by those around us until God is discovered and allowed to live in us. We think about what we do, where we go, sometimes what we say and many other things in the course of a day. But do we think about the Lord…

Be careful how you live. Be wise. Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t act thoughtlessly. Understand what the Lord wants you to do. Do it. The wisdom of God is not found in carnal things. However what we think and know about the Lord cannot be separated from our everyday life and still produce the character that God has prescribed as our new person. A local football coach is under fire for praying before games with his team, students and participants. A group bragging of freedom from religion want him to be reprimanded, punished and lose his job. Freedom? Would true freedom take away our rights and limit one’s faith? No. Who is the hypocrite now?

Every day our feet will walk a certain number of steps. I will say an estimated 9 to 10 thousand words according to studies. I have a list of things to do. A schedule to keep. Errands to run. A routine that I will follow. Wash to be done. Children to raise. Church to attend. This is real life. In the course of that day, will I consider Christ? If so, how much? With some things or in all things? How often will He cross my mind or enter my thoughts?

Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Jesus Christ is everything. Everything is created through Him. Everything exists in Him. From beginning to end, Jesus is everything. He is the visible image of the Living God. He existed before creation and will continue be King of Kings and Lord of Lords when all this is gone. All of God’s Fullness is completely satisfied in the person of His Son, Jesus. I understand that. My kids bring me great satisfaction even in their imperfection. I love to be with them. Can’t wait for them to come home. Enjoy their company. Hear their laughter. Share life with them. I think about them all the time. God reconciled everything and everyone to Himself through His Son. He made peace with the world through His Son’s Precious Blood. How can I expect to please God and not consider Christ in every moment of every day?

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to imitate God. God loves His Son. He finds great satisfaction and pleasure in Jesus. John 14:6 shows us how to get to God – through Jesus who is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to gain access to the Father. Faith is not a logical response. It is only strengthened by trust. Trust in a God who I cannot see. In a Savior, who I cannot feel when His Hands reach out to catch me. He is a Lord who I am to lay down my life for without laying an eye on. Faith is based strictly on knowledge found in God’s Word. Applying this knowledge to our life produces wisdom as His Spirit works it through our mind wrapping it around our heart. We must think about how we live, the things we do, and who I am reconciled to who He is in order to become like Him.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

We have today. Tomorrow is not promised only hoped for. If it is important, then do it today. Today is the day of salvation. Though it would be nice if this were a global effort, revival begins in our home. It is reinforced the moment our feet hit the floor and our mind begins to think. Too many times it is easy to put off what needs to be done. Procrastination is a mindset that must be broken to live in satisfaction and fulfillment. Pursuit of Christ begins when our eyes open and must continue until our head hits the pillow each day. To fully reconcile our life to Jesus Christ and make our way to the Father requires wrapping our entire existence up in who He is. The world and all its distractions has no interest in God or Jesus. Why do we insist on promoting Him there? My faith must be in God alone. My hope is in Christ alone. If nobody else believes or agrees with me, it makes no difference if my faith and confidence remains intact.

Ephesians 5:10 (NLT) Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 

What pleases the Lord? Love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Love others the same. You can add your own spin, flavor or routine to it, but it doesn’t change its context. This is what please God. This is what Christ came to do and the example that He set before us. We can choose to ignore it or even overthink it but until we do it – we miss the mark. I cannot be a Christian and not know Christ. I cannot be a Follower of Jesus and not go where He goes and do what He did. I cannot know the unseen God without reading, studying and applying His Word to my life. His Spirit reveals His Character so that I can strive to be like Him and live to please Him. I must think about these things. I must think about my faith. I must think about Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

If God is good, why would my mind not want to know Him? To know Him is to disregard our flesh, feelings and emotions to grab hold of truth and promises that will be the death of me. Greater is He that is in me. I must step aside and let Him take over. My flesh doesn’t want to die. It rejects God-like thinking and a Christ-like mentality as a detriment to its well being. This is why we waver in our faith and why total trust seems impossible. But look what it says…”capture rebellious thoughts.” What does this mean? I don’t mean to be redundant. We must think about it.

The cause for Christ that becomes the foundation of our life and faith must be carefully considered every single day in every single choice made. It cannot be inconsistent but constant. Running everything through the Word and by His Spirit for validity in our life and rejecting those things contrary to Jesus Christ – His Word, His Way and His Life. This is a full-time job and life-long endeavor. Those who endure to the end will be saved.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

What’s on your mind today? Thoughts contrary to Christ include worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, and the like. How is it possible to avoid the cares and concerns of this world? To think about other things. Denial would be to imply that real danger, problems, trouble, and concerns do not exist. Faith is when all these things do exist and are relinquished to the care of Christ. Trust allows us to transition our thoughts from the trouble around us to the God in us. Today we must fix our thoughts.

What is true? The Word will define truth for you. Read it. What is honorable? All the words in red spoken by Jesus are relevant for your life. Do them. What is right? Jesus is perfectly right all the time. I attain rightness or righteousness through Christ alone so humility must be the life I live. What is pure? I am pure when I choose to use the Light of His Love to avoid sin in my life. I am pure through the washing of His Word and by His Grace I am saved so that is what I have to offer others for I will never be clean outside of Christ. What is lovely? He is lovely. His Presence is glorious and it is there that I see me as He sees me and not as the world has defined me. I find my peace and worth in the secret place with the Lord. What is admirable? Jesus. (Period.) Everything He said, all that He did, who He is and what He has promised…nothing more or less.

To think about things that are excellent or worthy of praise requires me seeing my life through Jesus Christ. God designed and dedicated me for His Service as His Child. Jesus made it possible for me to assume my new identity. I must think about Him to be who I was called and created to be. Nothing more. Nothing less but all of Him. To think about the Lord, in each moment, in each step and in every decision allows His Peace to guard our heart until He comes. Think about it.

Ephesians 3:18-20 (NLT)  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

 

To Know God

to-know-god

Acts 17:28 (NLT) For in him we live and move and exist.

It is strange not to go to church on Sunday. We have done it for so long that when there is a lapse – it can throw off the whole week. Staying home, resting, and recuperating is not always a bad thing. If church is just a building visited weekly and not the lifestyle lived it is just a waste of time anyway. I need the Lord to move me today. Not physically, but spiritually. It is in Jesus Christ that we live, move and exist. I have come to the realization that I cannot live without Jesus. I can move but cannot be moved without the Lord. I can exist but in no way thrive without Him right by my side.

I do not doubt or discredit the fact that there is an enemy seeking who he may devour, roaring like a lion, stalking his prey. But I also know that there is an enemy inside of me that wars against the spirit, too. My flesh cannot be ignored so every attack and assault against my faith and stand for Christ is not always an external problem but sometimes rises from within. It is when believers become convinced that they have attained a level of faith and spirituality that they cannot be moved when I believe a fall is coming. We come to know God through brokenness. When our hearts are torn and He is allowed to penetrate us even more. Pride holds up a wall, stubbornness is the mortar for it brick, and insecurities cause us to allow strongholds to rise up rather seeking the refuge of Presence. If I do not allow the Lord to live in me, move me, and be my existence – I will never know Him as I should.

Paul and Silas were traveling from city to city preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:2 says “As was Paul’s custom”. I believe that Paul being of a very strong religious background had a method to his ministry. He would visit the synagogue. Teach for three days. There was a pattern in his persistence. Though frequently met with resistance, his commitment to Christ kept him moving right along. On a trip to Athens in Acts 17:16, Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. He was troubled to find idols and shrines throughout the city. He continued his usual routine going to the synagogue. Paul even spoke daily in the public square. They brought him before the high council. Paul addressed them as follows:

Acts 17:22-23 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

The altar had this inscription on it: “To an Unknown God.” Could this be the inscription on our heart today? To know God is to live, move and exist. It is to have life and become life to others. Why then are there so many dead churches and lifeless Christians? Because He remains the Unknown God. Although these people worshipped God and served Him, they did not know Him or make a connection with Him through Jesus Christ so they remained distanced and disconnected from Him. A shrine is a building that is to house the “remains” of a patriarch, saint or deity. It can also be structure devoted to a holy person. There are churches today that are nothing more than shrines with a cross on them. I do not mean any disrespect. Truly, I do not. But if we do not know the living, breathing God and become His Temple – there is no future or hope for us.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Paul told the council members that “Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples…” This is important to note. Until believers come to the end of self, one cannot move into the Presence of God or be filled with His Spirit to the uttermost. God doesn’t come in and clean house but waits for us to provide the space for His Holy Inhabitation. He will never force His Way into our life but gives us the freedom to choose how we live, if we will move or even exist. God fills the structure of the church quite nicely with well-written doctrine, clearly displayed vision, well-dressed Christian, well-versed pastors, but if He never lives in us, moves us or exists in us- we will go down with every other manmade structure when He comes. No one can evaluate our spirituality or proximity to Christ. The deeper water waded in by faith provides no guarantee just an opportunity to trust and believe beyond human comprehension. The tests get harder. The trials seem longer. The reward is not always readily at hand. So we wait and watch for our God rather than setting for an Unknown God who allows us to come and go as we please. To remain ignorant in God allows our pride to remain intact keeping us from the pain of brokenness and the isolation of pursuit. However, those who decide they want to know the Living God have been given an opportunity to live, move and exist in His Glory forever. We are the Body. We are His Temple. We can know the Unknown God.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:16-17) So many times, Jesus was rejected by the Jews because He wrecked their religion and did not fit the bill of the Messiah that they wanted although He measured up exactly to what God had prescribed. Could it be that the Lord remains the Unknown God because we desire the comfort, complacency, and conformity of religion? Human pride prefers grace earned by faithful service and religious acts. It is nice to find a doctrine or group of Christians who meet our needs but allow us to remain comfortable. It is okay when religiosity produces uniformity even if it is exclusive.

Should a church try to qualify people? No. Should a church accept people where they are and as who they are? Yes. Do we? No. We don’t even accept God like that most days. We take our beliefs and convictions molding an image of God that is not authentic or relevant. God is not an unknown God. All of creation points to His Existence and Omnipotence. Yet there are many manmade God-boxes that people shove God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit into that defines Him by our doctrine, limits Him in our ignorance, and stifles Him in our structures. We are the Body. We are the church. When we restrict the life-giving, faith-moving, and choose to limit our existence in Christ, we stop the move of God in our buildings. Though we cry out for a “move of God” – our hearts and minds will not allow us to be moved by Him. Revival will not come without the Body of Christ being fully involved and totally existing in Jesus Christ. He is our Revival.

2 Corinthians 6:15-17 (NLT) What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

As we gather in to worship God in the building called church, I wonder if we have taken time beforehand to know Him more? Or are we coming to a place looking for someone who isn’t there? God does live in church buildings and structures. He lives in you and me if we give Him room to. It is up to us as believers to spend every day living, moving and existing in Jesus Christ. Such a life means laying down our own desires and selfish ambition day by day. It’s tough.

There are so many obstacles beginning with flesh, pride, people and religion not to mention the enemy. I do not give the enemy a whole lot of credit because I believe that greater is He who lives in me. I will not blame the enemy for those attacks that make it to my heart but rather claim Romans 8:28 believing that God is doing something good in me. I wonder about people who always claim that enemy is attacking them because of their pursuit of Christ. Why not say, “look what the Lord has done?” Jesus doesn’t need a cheerleader. He doesn’t need me to exaggerate the results. All I need to do is share the love and grace that He has given me. Others will want to know the source. They will get to know Jesus and He will change their hearts and minds. I don’t need to produce a fan club and call it a small group. If I can just shed some light on what Christ has done for me.

I cannot introduce anyone else to someone I don’t know. To know Him is to love Him. To know the Lord is to live, move and exist in Him alone. Where are you today? Working for grace that cannot be earned. Serving for favor that you already have. Following the letter of a law that you cannot uphold. Fighting battles you are not called to fight for victories already won. Hyping up a God who is already the Greatest of All. Maybe if the church would seek to become the Body and Temple of Christ, we would know Him. Maybe just maybe then He would live in us. He would move through us. We would find a new existence in Him and His Spirit would come into our buildings with us.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

What Am I Thinking?

what-am-i-thinking

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

It is human nature to have lapses in judgment. Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of life. It is how we learn, grow, develop and mature or at least that’s how I think it is supposed to work. Falls are not failures but opportunities to get up. Failure is futile if one gives up and does not try again. It doesn’t matter how far we have fallen, the Lord is always there to help us up. Bad choices become learning curves when wisdom is acquired. I told one of my children who was soundly beating themselves up over a mistake that it is only wasted if wisdom is not obtained. Trials, temptations, and trouble are all lessons in life. Knowledge discovered in the midst of such things give way to a foundation of truth that can be maintained.

To offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” is not about physical obedience or cleaning up our life. To be holy and pleasing God begins with a change of heart and transformation of our mind. I can come to the altar seeking repentance day after day, but when the Lord looks into my heart it is the thought process called intent that He is after. Grace is sufficient only when it releases the Power of God in our life. If we remain in bondage due to ignorance, what is the point? No really why follow Christ if my life is no better and we are getting nowhere?

Wisdom enables us “to test and approve what God’s will is – His Good, Pleasing and Perfect Will. Knowledge is good but wisdom is better. To know what to do and not do it is futility. To know the Truth and let it set us free is beneficial. Freedom allows us to do anything, but not all things are beneficial. How do we discern?

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NIV) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

There is very real war waged for our thoughts each day. The enemy does not always have to come at us with a bold-faced lie. For the believer, He usually comes at us with twisted truth. The Word of God is turned askew just a bit. Though many are familiar with what think God’s Word says, few take the time to dig in deeper and know it. How much time do you spend in the Word of God each week? The Word of God is a two-edged sword that rightly divides the truth from all the lies that the enemy offers God’s People in exchange for His Precious Truth. (Hebrews 4:12)

No one can know the thoughts of God which are so much higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8) without knowing the Spirit of God. (I Corinthians 2:11) I was a Christian for many years in a denomination heavy in the Truth of God but that ignored His Spirit. I knew the Bible but it didn’t make any sense and I was powerless to do what it says. The biggest stronghold and obstacle in the life of any believer is ignorance. The Lord says that His People will perish when they lack it. Drawn into discouragement, despair, disagreement and dissension by slight deviations of truth their hearts and minds get lost in darkness.

We must use the divine power of God to demolish such strongholds. We must end the arguments and pretension that sets itself up against God. We must take captive every thought in our mind to be obedient to Jesus Christ. We must be ready to punish every act of disobedience. If our mind refuses to forgive, we must seek grace. If pride overtakes us, we must humble ourselves. When prejudice raises its ugly head, we must chop it off at the neck. What is prejudice? Prejudice is an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge thought or reason. We prejudge many things in life based on the knowledge base of our mind. We must change our mind and allow the Lord to renew our thoughts to see the world properly and act obediently.

Ephesians 4:17-21 (NIV)  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

We must no longer give in to futility of thinking. The knowledge of God is His Word and the wisdom of God is His Way. We must make it a point to search the scriptures, meditate on it allowing it to marinate our mind so that it will become our way of life. It is the very thing that indoctrinates us into the Kingdom. It is a new language called love. It is a new way called humility. It is a new life called redemption. We cannot allow ourselves to be compromised by futile and worthless thoughts. We must take the Word of God and seal our hearts with it. When the enemy comes with temptation, it will be easily identified by the heart and mind immersed in Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom of God. But that’s not all…

We must have a relationship with God to know His Intentions. A text message can be read a thousand different ways and given the same amount of emotion. Misunderstandings arise from communication that lacks relationship. We are to relate to one another, exhorting each other and bonding together to become the Body of Christ.

I Corinthians 14:18-20 (NIV) I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

How effective is the Gospel of Christ if it is not communicated? Can we truly expect a revival in our midst if the church cannot convey “five intelligible words to instruct others”? When I read this today, I felt convicted. It the message of our life is not “intelligible” can there be any impact? We speak Christianese and others cannot relate. They cannot see the value in our “sacrifice” because the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart do not agree. We cannot communicate the Gospel without wisdom. We must know what we believe and experience the loving transformation of a renewed mind for others to truly understand what it means to be loved by God. When we speak one thing and live another – our words are invalidated.

Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What are you thinking? Our thoughts are born of the knowledge in our mind. What we think is influenced by what we know. If our thoughts are anxious about anything, given to things not of God or even simply unforgiving – there is room for improvement. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the renewing of our mind begins now and is not over until we meet Jesus face-to-face. Be careful if you think you have arrived or know more than the next guy, because a fall is just around the corner. Our minds are assaulted by the lie of the enemy day by day. God’s New Mercy allows us to surrender our heart and mind daily to His Transformation process called Grace. As we begin to change our mind, know the Truth and allow wisdom to take over – it is to our benefit and the Gospel will become clear.

2 Peter 3:1-3 (NIV) Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

 

Lacking Nothing

Lacking Nothing

James 1:4-5 (NIV) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

As our family settles into our new-to-us home, a steady list of tasks is being constructed. The handyman came by last week for the first round of repairs and renovations. Before he was out the door, there were more things added to the list. I love home improvement. This house was a foreclosure bought by the family who sold it to us. They did some repairs but it is clear that somewhere in the process, they gave up. I understand as the list gets longer, it can be overwhelming. While I make one for the inside, my husband is mentally making his for the outside. Are we perfectionists? I don’t think so. We just like to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with. We like things done. We strive for completion. No loose ends.

When we come to Christ, it is like a foreclosure. A life lived to its own detriment suddenly surrendered to the King of Fixer Uppers. Foreclosed homes usually come in an abused and neglected state. Perhaps, it was just too much for the owner to maintain. Maybe the price of keeping it was just too high so they gave up and walked away. Perhaps they were forced out. The new owner purchases the home because they see its worth and potential underneath the disrepair and filth. Taking the time to clean it up, fix it, and restore it into a home worth living in. I believe that Jesus knows exactly what we need to be complete lacking nothing. Can you imagine complete satisfaction? Not in one thing, but all things. Such a state of contentment would allow us to live free from the burden of needing or wanting anything which in turn would eliminate the majority of our stress and worries in life. The trouble is sometimes there is a difference of opinion in what we think and what God knows will satisfy our soul. Things will never make us complete. People will never satisfy our full expectation. It is Jesus. Just the Lord who can complete us to the uttermost.

Completion in Christ comes with a price labeled perseverance. Perseverance requires patience. If we are committed to being made complete as Jesus intends us to be, it will take a whole lot of perseverance and patience to get there. Completion is marked by maturity. Wisdom comes from knowledge applied properly to our life in our attitude and actions alike. We read the Word of God but it is in its application that one experiences renewal and restoration by having faith in God. To love the Lord is to follow Jesus. To say we love Him, but live the same way we did yesterday, is not to love Him like we should.

John 15:10-11 (NIV) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

God has jokes. I will let you in on a little secret. This house was not my first pick. I wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch. We looked at one or two. I had this overwhelming unction if you will that we would live in a farmhouse. Well, God has jokes. When we looked at this house, I knew it was the one that God handpicked for us. Walking through the home, it was the same layout as the one we were selling with some changes. Many of the changes were some that we had wished for in the other home and one day dreamed of doing. I remember feeling the peace of God yet still asking “are you sure”? This is not a farmhouse, Lord. I thought that’s what I wanted. Well, it is not a farmhouse but it is a house in a neighborhood called “The Farm”. I guess that makes it a “Farm” house.

His Ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my own. Maturity in Jesus Christ requires a commitment to His Commandments. The Word of God is the beginning of true knowledge. The Word is seed for our heart from which our faith grows in the Lord. In our pursuit of wisdom, we cannot forget to continually read and study the Bible. People perish for a lack of knowledge. God is specific in nature. He does not lie or change His Mind. To be complete in Christ – who was the Word wrapped in flesh – means as believers we must know the Word of God.

It is not enough to know what God says but to do it. If I divided a room into three sections with one area marked as God’s Perfect Will, God’s Permissive Will and Not God’s Will at all, I am sure that if asked where you currently reside most Christians would play it safe and pick God’s Permissive Will. Sadly, there is no such thing really. God has a perfect will for us and then there is the area labeled not God’s Will at all. The world calls for compromise but that is not a welcome word in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is to reject God completely. He vomits lukewarm Christians with a lack of sincere faith and commitment to Christ. John Bevere said it best – “There is absolutely nothing good for my life outside of God.”

Grace is enough to complete us. Grace is applied to our weakness. It is the Lord’s Deliberate Plan for us to take full advantage of His Grace in the process of maturity and completion. Grace and complacency are not the same thing. Grace is not a crutch but a pick-me-up when I fall short of the Glory of God so I can get back at it. It is for those who fall forward not backward. What do I mean? Grace is not a cushion to soften our fall but rather a set of arms that catches us as we learn to walk like a toddler taking their first shaky steps. Following Jesus is not easy. Carrying our cross is not a given. We must learn to walk.

I Corinthians 13:9-11 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Our oldest daughter is grown, married and gone. She and her husband are in full-time ministry. They were called away just a few short months after their wedding. Both had not lived away from home for a year, when they packed up all their belongings and moved 21 hours away. She is experiencing life on her own and some days admits that “adulting” is tough. I must concur because at 50, I am still challenged with “adulting” some days. Maturity is not easy. It is taking responsibility of our life. What we do with it from that point on makes all the difference! If we take our life and hand it over to Jesus Christ, we will be made complete. It will be a process. We must be committed to that process. Since we can only know “in part” what is perfect, it is up to our reliance on Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps with His Understanding. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The more I grow in the Lord, the more that I need to grow. The more understanding that I am given the more I know that I need to be successful in my pursuit of Jesus.

Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

It has taken a lot of hard work to begin making our new house our home. Lots of cleaning and unpacking went into getting us here. Now as we settle in, projects abound and lists seem overwhelming. I believe that as we steadily work through our needs and want for this house that it’s true potential will begin to shine through. It will take time. It requires effort. It is a commitment. There will be things that I want to do on the weekend preempted by the task at hand. I must count the cost. I have to decide it will be worth it. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have decide if I want the Lord to make His Home in my heart or will we just be acquaintances? Will I live a life of true repentance continually being covered in His Blood and washed by His Word? Will I give Him my time? Will I invest energy into our relationship? Will I make a commitment to become fully mature lacking nothing or is mediocre good enough for me? Anything less of God’s Absolute Best is outside His Will for us. I wonder if that makes compromise and substitutions rebellion against God?

Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

True maturity in our spiritual life is evaluated by unity. Do we live in love with Jesus? Do we do everything in an effort to maintain our relationship with Christ? Unity with Christ allows Him to bear the burdens of our life as we are yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Prior to His Death, Jesus told His Disciples that our bond with Him gives us the right to use His Name. (John 16:22-24) When Jesus arose on the third day, He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom once stolen by sin. He gave us His Power and Authority. Shortly after that, He filled us with His Spirit. His Desire is to be one with us as He is with the Father. Complete unity is Father, Son and Spirit living in us. (John 17:22-23) The sign of a mature church is its connection with each other through their bond with Jesus Christ. No division. No parting of the ways. No opinions. Just Jesus filling every member to overflowing until His Love and Grace unites us all to one another. This is the Will of God. This is the sign of maturity that Christ is looking for in His Bride.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Last night, I dreamed that I put up rolling bamboo blinds on the screened porch to keep out the elements. When I woke up, I thought did I really dream about blinds last night? I have home improvement on the brain it appears. Seriously though, I need to continue my pursuit of Christ more so than any other endeavor in my life until He is at home in my heart. Spiritual maturity cannot be forsaken as the end times are here. We must be aware of our connection to Jesus. We daily maintain our relationship with Him. We must communicate with Christ. His Desire is to complete us. He wants our life to be filled with joy. Joy comes with things like contentment and satisfaction. Maturity comes from knowledge and understanding that becomes wisdom when we take what we know God wants and commit to doing it in our life by faith that He knows exactly what He is doing in us and for us. It is a life of trust. When His Spirit nudges, maturity responds instantly without reservation because it knows God and His Ways choosing to walking in them until we are complete lacking nothing.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.