Juggling Life

Juggling Life

Hebrews 4:1-3 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. 

God’s Promise for us is rest. The ultimate rest is in His Presence. To enter the Kingdom and rest forever in His Presence is our end result but too often we miss the opportunity to experience such peace in every moment of every single day. We juggle life. The image in my head so clear this morning in a moment of reflection. All the balls fall sometimes. The colorful commitments and circular schedules of life’s expectation exceed our time limits so anxiety takes over and tiredness ensues. To live life to its fullest requires not only hard work and perseverance but rest. At the completion of creation, God rested. He set an example for us yet in our pride it is human nature not to follow.

God has prepared rest for us. He has announced it to us in His Word. He has marked it as “just for them” or you. The passage says, “But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Busyness is the direct result of a lack of faith. I am not talking about activities of life but rather when the things in life eat up all our time and there is none left to rest in the Lord. He designed rest for us and leaves an open invitation to experience His Peace every day. We must learn to enter His Rest.

It is in the moment when all the things being juggled fall down that our lack of rest and peace are discovered. When unmet expectation exposes the area of our life in need of careful reprioritization – the Lord is clear that rest never escaped us but rather it was our choice not to enter in. The juggling act is not only comprised of physical activity but thoughtful overtures as well. Our mind can be more active than our body at times stealing our rest as well. Lying awake when we should be sleeping or absentminded rather than present in the moment – the enemy wants to steal our rest and peace in the Lord.

I know what you are saying for I used to say the same thing, too. “I am so busy.” Well, the true revelation about time truly humbled me. The Lord gives each person the same 24 hours a day with the freedom to use it however one desires. The productivity of our time is the prosperity of our life. If choose to invest it in seeking God’s Promise including His Rest – the fruit of His Spirit will feed our soul and prosper us from the inside out. If time is sown into the world, it will produce the things of it – good or bad. We must take our “time” and examine it. Evaluate its usage. Set priorities. Determine true satisfaction in its investment or change our strategy completely.

Matthew 11:27-30 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus told the people that God had “entrusted everything to” Him. Jesus Christ has all power and authority over life including every outcome. He then invites us to “come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” I shared yesterday that our dryer had disappeared. We had called a repairman to come take a look. It was decided that it needed some parts. When they came to fix it – there was another problem so they hauled it to the shop. When I came home expecting to do laundry, there was no way to complete the task. I sat on the front porch rocking and spending time with the Lord because the dryer was gone. Now here is the irony of it – the dryer was broken in that when you turned it on it sounded like it had two tennis shoes and a large brick rolling around inside. I used it anyway. So when it was taken away – I found an alternative. I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to friends and ultimately spending time with the Lord.

The yoke of Christ is faith. We must learn to rightly divide our time according to our faith in Christ which leaves little time for anxious activity and overactive minds. It means allowing God to grow and prosper our life rather than making it a diversified effort. Faith requires an exchange. You cannot live a faithful life in two places. Where is your faith today? Is it fully invested in the Lord? I am challenged to inspect the balls I juggle in life. To carefully decide if they were placed in my hands by God or I picked them up because I was afraid no one else would. Juggling is a sport that takes practice. It is all about timing. Maybe it is the same with time management and faith. Perhaps, we must practice resting. True rest is a body, mind and spirit promise. God’s Promises require perfect timing…His Timing. God is perfect in all of His Ways including His Timing. It is important to invest our faith in His Time Clock.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 (NLT) What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

The beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 promises us that “for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Do you believe that today? Those who do will find the peace of God called rest. It is the full investment of our life in Heaven’s economy. The fertile ground of a broken heart that has decided to give itself fully to live in the Presence of God. To rely on the Maker of Heaven and Earth in every season because He is faithful to do exactly what He promised according to His Timing. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Even broken things scattered in many pieces have the potential to become a masterpiece in the Hands of God if we would only give it to Him. God blesses our lives simply because He loves us and decided to do so. When we forget that rest is a part of it, it is human nature to take His Glory. Our lift is a Gift from God for His Glory – let’s leave the juggling to Him and choose rest today.

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT) For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

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Fresh Springs

Fresh Streams

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The proverbial warning is that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is spoken and taught on a regular basis. Cautioned that every idle word will be judged according to its fruit. Though such a small part of a large organization, the tongue is the most powerful weapon given to mankind. We can start wildfires with one tiny spark. It can also put out raging ones with just a little of its soothing calm. Communication is the sowing of many seeds. What is growing in your life today? What is the fruit of your communication today? Are you satisfied? From the fruit of my mouth, my stomach is satisfied. I am satisfied by the yield of my lips. Faith has deposited seeds of potential in full measure inside of me. They are waiting to be sown. My words are part of the process. If my words are not life giving, they will be death to my potential. Words can take the life of my dreams and seal them in dark tombs of disappointment.

Proverbs 15:4 (ESV) A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

The gentle tongue is a tree of life. It takes a tiny seed to make a giant oak. God has called us to be “oaks of righteousness”. In our frustration, He is blamed when there is no growth or development of the promise that is in us. But maybe…just maybe… it is not God’s Lack of attention that is the problem but rather the poison flowing from our lips. Right and righteousness must be partners. I can be right about a lot of things. Righteousness is given to me only through Jesus Christ. My mouth my speak truth. Truth without love is the law and seals my fate. Each word is wrapped in the breath that God began in me and carries the fruitful potential of prosperity in my life.

James 3:7-10 (ESV) For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Jesus has cleansed the church by the washing of water with the Word. The same Word is declared living and flows within us as a steady stream. It is useful in cleansing our conversation and watering the fresh seeds planted in communication. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth without nullifying itself. If you bless it, then curse it – something will die. You are created in the image of God. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is resurrection power and life, lives inside of you. You will make declarations on the earth. You cannot choose to be salty and sweet at the same time. You cannot be living water and a stagnant stream together. You must choose to be a fountain of living water. You must decide that you desire to bring life and not cause death. The taming of our tongue and monitoring of our words is not easy but vital in living the life that God has promised us. We must speak His Word. We must let Him be the gatekeeper of our lips.

Exodus 4:10-12 (ESV) But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Moses was commissioned to set God’s People free. He was to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses used the excuse that he was “not eloquent…but I am slow of speech and tongue.” I wonder if that was really what was holding Moses back or could it be his pride. He was in exiles tending flocks in a hillside because he was a fugitive from justice. A murderer. He was once a palace dweller, but now living in a pasture covered in the smell of sweat and sheep. Was it really his ability to speak that was holding him back? Sometimes our mouth gets us in trouble and pride keeps us from making it right. Look what the Lord tells Moses, His Servant, “Who has made a man’s mouth? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak?” In Psalm 139:4, it tells us that even before a word is fully formed on the tip of our tongue, God knows it altogether, fully or completely. It means that before our body gave breath to that thought or idea – God had already put life in it. He knows the potential of our words and the rebellion of our tongue which means that Jesus has already provided sufficient grace to secure it. It means that the potential inside of our words always has goodness attached to it. Even when rash, callous, heated or ugly words are spoken, at the submission of pride, He will bring about new life.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Our life is lived in seasons. God is constantly giving us the opportunity to sow and reap in a perpetual seedtime and harvest. What we sow in each season determines the harvest that will come. The great part is that our next season of life doesn’t have to yield the same as the previous one did. Because Christ lives in us – we have the promise of new life and becoming a new creation. Our words reveal the abundance of our heart. Harsh and hurtful words are often born of the same seeds planted deep within. It is up to us to filter our speech but first we must sift through the contents of our heart. A communication problem is a heart problem…at least that’s what God’s Word indicates. If the mind, soul and body agree than our words will duly reflect its unification, but if blessing and cursing come pouring out – it is time for careful examination. No one is exempt. We will be judged by the fruit of our life. The Lord is looking at our fruit. We must become fresh streams of living water to prosper as the Lord intended inside and out.

John 7:37-38 (ESV) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

What flows from our mouth waters the seeds of promise in our life? Abundance is born of living water that produces a harvest in our soul that prospers our life. You have this kind of stream inside of you. Release it today – in Jesus Name.

Proverbs 10:19-21 (ESV) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.  The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Absolute

Absolute

Psalm 147:5 (NLT) How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!

God is great. He is absolute in power. His understanding is beyond human comprehension which makes faith naturally illogical. The absoluteness of God is a stumbling block for human nature. As perfectly created imperfect beings there is a contradiction in us to be settled by grace. The weakness in us is sin. The solution for it is Jesus Christ. Like any corrosive, there is a certain erosion to the body, mind and spirit that leaves a void once the penalty of sin is paid for. The unlocked door to an opened heaven still needs a gentle push to swing wide giving us access to new life, spiritual blessing and future that God has already prerecorded for us.

Our heart has a measure of faith and eternity already deposited before our birth. It was placed in us by God the Father as a compass of calling and map to destiny. Sin calls for substitutions and certain compromises but God is holy and tells us to be holy, too. How is it possible to remove all impurity from that which is tainted? Is it possible to have the life that God predestined me to have even when I have taken detours along the way? Of course it is because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the stability of God’s Plan for us. He is the resurrection power that gives lives to dead dreams and destinies buried by sin, shame, regret, remorse and self-loathing. The absoluteness of God is our staunch defender, He doesn’t lie. He cannot change His Mind. He is Sovereign. He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. This is the absoluteness of God that will not allow His Children to settle for something less and be satisfied.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous— how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

God’s Plan and Purpose for your life is absolute. What does that mean? Absolute means free from imperfection, complete, perfect, not mixed or adulterated. It is pure and complete. The absoluteness of God makes His Promises unrestricted, unrestrained and unlimited. He is positive that He loves you and certain that He desires you. He is outright about His Intentions and there is nothing you can add to His Perfection. God is absolute in His Love and Intentions for you and me. We must be absolutely certain of this in order to put our faith and trust in Him.

The life by design described in Psalm 139 is not the blueprint of a perfect person but a perfectly loved Child of the Living God. Created in His Image to be like Him, the Lord carefully constructed every detail of our life and that includes the mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses in our sin. This prerecorded life deemed “marvelous” workmanship has the potential of flawlessness. If every moment of our life was carefully laid out before our birth or a single moment passed, an all-knowing God would have to include the good days and bad. Those times when we choose less. The moments that we rebelled. Sin had to be a factor or His Grace would not be enough. God’s Thoughts concerning you and me are precious. He is absolutely positively certain of His Love for us.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Because we have these promises…let us. I need you to read this again. So…because we have these promises…let us. Are you absolutely convinced of God’s Love for you? Are you confident that no matter what happened in the past or how things look today that His Love for you is unconditional and unfailing? See I don’t think we all do or there would be more certainty in the Body of Christ. Holiness is a consecrated life reconciled to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean living up to a standard clearly unattainable but letting the Christ in us take over. You can’t do it. How many times must we try and fail to see that the discipline in our life is not to become Christ but to let Christ become one in us?

Confidence in the intentions of God for His People produce a life of sowing faith. The measure of faith (Romans 12:3) already given to us planted in the fertile part of our heart marked eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Everything you need to live a holy life is in us. God gave it to us. He has already invested himself in us. Christ is the catalyst to claiming every His Plan, Purpose, and Promises. It already belongs to you. You must only step into His Absoluteness to have it. His Love is not understandable. His Plan is inconceivable. His Purpose is beyond our comprehension. His Affection for us is almost too good to be true. Yet it is…He promises to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) The angels do not even understand the limitless love and overwhelming attention that the Lord pays to us. What does it take to live in the place of true faith and actual holiness that responds to the promises of God?

Hebrews 12:10-11 (NLT) For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

God’s Plan for our life is established by His Absolute Perfection. It is certain. It cannot be changed or altered by scheme of man or the enemy of our soul. It is set in stone and written on our heart. It is through divine and personal discipline that our heart and mind become united with the Lord in holiness. Holiness is allowing the Living God to resurrection new life in us and through us. It means letting go of our plan, life goals and agendas by running them through the Word, asking God for His Will and choosing His Way every single time. It is a discipline. Discipline is not the same as punishment. We no longer are judged by God but by Christ. (John 5:21-23) How can Christ judge himself or why would He? If Christ lives in me, I will no longer be judged. It is only the parts of my life withheld from the Lord that are fodder for others. The pain of discipline is our physical, mental or natural response to change. Just like our muscles cry out after a work-out, flesh reacts to the pain of its own death. We must press through the pain with our eyes on the prize. God is absolutely and perfectly in love with you and me. His Promises belong to us and can never be taken from us. It is only by forfeit that a loss may be established. It is only the quitter who finds victory elusive. Do you trust the everlasting love of God today? Do you trust Him enough to be your absolute?

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT) So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Death to Life

Death to Life

Romans 6:1-3 (Message) So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

Today is Baptism Sunday at our church. There are people who have decided to participate in the symbolic act of baptism, but I wonder if they know the true potential of such a public confession. It is the gateway by which one may enter a “new land” and “new life”. An existence of true repentance marked by a turning over of every dead thing in our life to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh how I wish they knew how powerful the water can be for those who step in it with such an expectation. Salvation is the beginning of a transformation process that takes a lifetime to complete. It is the moment of realization that sin is killing us and without a Savior there is no chance of life. The next doctrinal step might be a public profession of our faith in Jesus Christ and then baptism. I love the opportunity presented by Paul in this passage and the way the Message explains it to us. It is a form of house cleaning where we lay down our old life, ways, faults, failures and disappointments in order to move into a new one without all the shackles and chains of our past holding us back. A handful of people have signed up to participate in the baptism service today, but I wonder how many more might if they realized the potential of leaving it all behind and moving into the new life Christ promised us.

Romans 6:3-5 (Message) That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

I grew up in the Baptist church. My little sister has a very soft and sweet heart. I cannot count the number of times she responded to an altar call to repent and start again with Jesus. I know you may be thinking it silly, but I think it is essential. Since when did the altar become a place of shame, where people are chided for coming again and again? I think she was baptized at just about every summer camp. My sister is a mighty woman of God who leads home Bible studies and small groups. She impacts many lives with grace and generosity. She understands the life and power of Jesus Christ because she kept coming until she found what she was looking for. Oh what might happen if the church and its people were open to true repentance and transparency before the Lord again? Not afraid to come forward for prayer and divine healing? Unashamed that they want a new life when this one is not working out for them?

John 7:38-39 (Message) On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus…

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes…” Are you overflowing with Living Water today? Or are you feeling the thirst that comes from seasons of drought – an inner dryness that nothing in this life can seem to satisfy? The Spirit inside of us produces good fruit to nourish and satisfy our soul. There are times when the Spirit of God within us is limited because of the lack of fertile soil – He cannot sow in a hard heart. The Holy Spirit lives in us to change our life from death to life sowing good seeds in fertile soil. Faith produces seeds of potential that must be cultivated to become the promise within each one. It is up to us to provide a place for them to grow, develop and mature into the abundance that the Lord has promised us. Without water, seeds die in the ground. Without the Spirit, the believer cannot move from death to life.

To be lowered in the water is like being buried with Christ, to make an exchange of all the dead things in our life so that they either be washed away or revived again. Sin is washed away along with regret and remorse. Faith is revived in the water and new life begins in that moment for those who believe. We must be buried in Christ with fruitful expectation that His Spirit will take over and produce new life in us all over again. This is not just for the new believer but every other saint of God who has become weary in well doing or overcome by fear, doubt, anxiety or disappointment. The water is for everyone.

Romans 7:3-6 (Message) So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.

It is often easier to get caught up in the rules and regulations of our religion rather than live a life true repentance and ongoing surrender to Jesus Christ. I have nothing of worth to give God other than my whole heart. My heart and life are not worthy of His Glory but what God desires therefore enough. We are married to Jesus in the careful exchange of sin and the acceptance of His Grace. When our life is fully reconciled to Christ – all the benefits and blessings associated with our relationship are evident. When we come up out of the water – it is like the resurrection of Jesus and new life begins all over again. There is no Christian who has it all together. There is no preacher, teacher, elder, deacon, or leader that does not fall short of the Glory of God and His Standard of living. No one can live apart from sin and the only hope we have is the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ to keep us constantly turning in repentance to receive what He died for us to have.

We no longer live under “oppressive regulations and fine print”. We are free to live a new life of freedom in God. Do you live in the perpetual freedom that God offers those who believe? Do you have living water flowing through you today? Have you been baptized? There is no limitation on the water. You can come to the river as often as you like. Repentance is turning. Cycles are circular motions without real results. It may look like revival but it is not. It is repetition. Seasons are the terms and conditions of God’s Productivity. It is the prospering soul that receives all the blessings. A season produces something. It has purpose. It gives provision. In the end, there is an abundant harvest. It is how real revival begins and perpetuates itself. It begins when we surrender every dead thing to new life.

John 5:5-11 (Message) One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

There was a man who had been handicapped for more than three decades. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man began to make excuses. Jesus told him, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking. The man did exactly what Jesus said. He didn’t even make it into the water, but received his healing from Jesus right then and there. Immediately the Pharisees began to condemn the man for breaking the rules. It was the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll on Sunday. How many people carry burdens into church and lug them right out afraid to break the rules? Or how many preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, and the like live with heavy chains because they are afraid to come to the altar and be judged by their peers? How many times do we accept death where Jesus promised life just because of our pride? Too often. Jesus gives us the opportunity to exchange every dead thing for new life. He promises to make good of every detail of our life if we would only trust Him. Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God offered in His Son, Jesus Christ. Are you allowing something to separate you?

Seek out new life today. If that comes in the form of baptism when you can lay all these burdens into the likeness of His Death and be raised to new life then jump in with both feet all over again. Jesus didn’t give up His Life so that you would like a dead existence filled with doubt, discouragement, depression, disease or defeat. He came up out of the grave and so can you. You can leave death behind and embrace new life. You can do it as often as you need it. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly. Don’t stop until you receive it no matter what the cost. If that means running to the altar, do it! If that means jumping in the waters of baptism, go! Whatever it takes – let Jesus breathe new life in you again!

John 11:25-26 (Message) You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

Time to Confess

Reverse the Curse

James 5:16-18 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and Heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

Elijah prayed and by the power of God it did not rain for three and one-half years. When he prayed again, the Heavens opened releasing rain and prosperity again. Why doesn’t God answer the prayers of man? Why do we not see the power of God in such an obvious and vivid display? His Word says that He will open the windows of Heaven over our life. We do what it says. Try to live right. Be right. Do right. However, the results so lackluster that doubt creeps in and disbelief begins to raise some questions. What’s wrong? What is out of order that is limiting God’s Glory from creating abundance in all areas of my life. If my soul is prospering, why not my life? Well…it is the prayer of a righteous man that has great power. Elijah prayed. He walked in God’s Ways. He had obvious faith – after all look at the miracle of Mount Carmel.

Prayer is our communication with God. God is omnipresent. Wherever you are – God is right there with you. Christ lives in you. The Holy Spirit inhabits you. The words spoken in every conversation is equally as important as those in our prayer closet. I wonder if the problem is not what we say to the Lord but words scattered everywhere else.

James 3:9-11 (ESV) With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?

A spring does not have fresh and salt water just as our words cannot bless and curse at the same time. Blessing is rebuked by the curse. Curse are rebuked by the blessing. The Bible is clear to bless those who curse you and spitefully use you. There are no enemies in the Kingdom just family. The person that causes you the greatest distress is your brother or sister in Christ. To pray for them and then talk about them stops the flow from Heaven in every relationship. The only enemy in our life is satan. He is at the root of every problem. He is the one who offers temptation. He is the one who sows division and discord. But do not discredit the power of God within you and me called self-discipline. Change the words that come from our mouth and our life will change according to what we speak. Life and death are in the tongue. Are you bringing life to the Promises of God by faith or are you causing them to die in the field because of grumbling and gossip? You have the power to speak life into every situation in life. You have divine authority over every demon and even the devil as it tries to take what the Lord has given you by faith. It is up to you and me if we will reverse the curse and establish a life of blessing. God ordained it. Christ died for us to have it. The Holy Spirit fills us with the good fruit needed to produce it. The rest is up to us.

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

Jesus asked Peter directly, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” No ifs, ands, or buts. Peter knew Jesus. He believed in Him. He confessed Him as the Messiah right then and there. Then Jesus tells Peter who he really is and reveals the power of his confession. The same mouth that confessed the Lord would soon deny Him, not once but three times. Everyone struggles when the conditions of our life do not line up with the confession of our mouth. We must learn to speak from our heart. A heart full of faith and promise rather than give praise to those things that do not line up or are not yet evident. We must respond to the Presence of God in us and stop reacting to every discomfort, discontentment, inconvenience and chaotic situation in our life. We have the power to change the atmosphere but it is not in our rightness but righteousness found in Christ alone. When our tongue is bridled and led by the Spirit, it will not say what we are thinking but rely on Who we know.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV) From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

We have no excuse. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Lord has already seeded our life with the seeds of faith that produce good fruit to satisfy our heart and soul. These same things produce a confident hope that allows us to remain fearless and full even in famine and drought. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Every lifeless situation is subject to the vocabulary of our confession. We give life to those things not of God but giving them precedence in our proverbial overtures making our problem bigger than the promise. We say that right words but then smother them with complaining. Our communication is a confession that gives life to the thing in which our faith resides – what are you talking about? What are you confessing? What is the basis of communication?

Are you satisfied? Are you content? The fruit of our mouth produces the abundance of our life. It is from the abundance of the heart – the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) We may think that there is growing, developing and maturing faith in our life until we carefully begin to listen to what we say. You may be surprised. Though it may be justified by the current condition of your life, the fruit of our mouth can also choke out the new life and new creation being cultivated by Christ.

When our son was undergoing extensive radiation treatment, his skin was burning from the inside out. His tumor was located inside his nasopharynx so the concentration of therapy was his head and neck. To my utter horror despite being warned near the end of his treatment, the burns began to surface. The blisters were awful. I would apply ointment that would cause him great pain and began melting off my hand before I even touched him. On one such morning, as tears ran down my face, I told him God would understand if he complained about this situation. The Lord would understand. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Now what good would that do?” Lesson learned. In the midst of the unthinkable, undergoing a treatment no one should endure along with chemotherapy which is poison coursing through his body – this young man still did not see fruitfulness in complaining when just that morning I griped about the uncomfortable bed as I rolled out of bed with a healthy body and free accommodations graciously provided to us. Perspective can often change our communication when we stop complaining.

James 3:1-5 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Many years ago, I thought being right was all that mattered. It gave you a free license to stand on your soapbox and yell. Things are different now. The journey of faith with our so changed my life forever – in a good way – in a God way. Nothing is normal anymore. Such an ordeal takes highly regarded priorities and completely changes them forever. I am not necessarily a better person but I am definitely humbled at my lifelong disregard for righteousness. That’s right righteousness. I was right in many of my observations. But the power of my life is righteousness given to me by Christ and the access to the Presence of God that I now have – my responsibility is to sow seeds of faith and life into the world. I am to be a Light. Not one that shines on the faults and failures of others, but rather Light that attracts others from darkness to engage in the Light of His Love. My life is not attracted by harsh, bitter words. It is not influential when plagued by complaints. It is not going to cultivate fruit in barren fields of doubt and disbelief. The only hope that I have in this life and eternity is Jesus Christ. My heart and mouth must agree that He is who I boast in.

Before the change in my heart, I used to feel it appropriate to give people a piece of my mind. I did it so frequently that a co-worker made a literal “STOP” sign. When a conversation became heated, she would hold it up as a warning. On the other side, it said, “GO RIGHT AHEAD!” She was more influential than the Holy Spirit at that time. But the sign has been discarded and now I must truly rely on the Holy Spirit. The change of heart was appropriate because now rather than focusing on my pride or being right – the Lord keeps my eye on the prize. The prize and potential of the Kingdom is in people. My response to them and the situations of life is by faith. Faith in the Love of God that I can never be separated from therefore I am free to share without reciprocation because my life is full. The kind of love that is always pursuing me. It is looking for ways to bring His Goodness and Glory in my life. Yet, even now with years, I still find that there are so many areas of my life that need attention. Careless words that need to be redacted. Prayers that need to be released from bondage. Fields of foolishness that need to replanted with faith which produces good fruit. So many idle words that require repentance to be filled with life again. Lord, help me to always be sure that the meditation of my heart is You. May the meditation of my heart and the words of my mouth agree! May the greatest confession of my life always be You – Jesus!

Psalm 19:14 (ESV) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Working in Me

Work in Me

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

“Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Buddha

There is more to the story of salvation than to escape the ramparts of hell. To engage in an experience of repentance and leave the same person with the same problems with a lack of purpose is a great tragedy considering the deposit and investment that is conceived in that moment. We live in a visible world serving an invisible God. His Presence surrounds us and His Spirit lives in us but the tangible being is not so evident. We must work hard to show the results of our salvation through love-driven, passion-infused, reverent and radical obedience to the Living God. The words of Buddha hold true even if not the intent. We must work out our own salvation independent of people and fully reliant on the Lord. God is working in us even before our first encounter with Christ leading us to that moment. Once we have found our Savior and Lord the continuation of our life has the potential to be powerful and purposeful in every single endeavor because Jesus is now inside of us.

We must make a personal investment in the potential of our future. But the Work of God in us is not an external effort but rather an internal transformation. It is not an act of doing but rather a work of becoming. The work completed on the Cross by Jesus was enough to provide all the grace needed for the Power of God to fully finish that which He predestined and preordained for us. All the blessings and promises are predesigned with our only act of obedience to fulfillment. We must work God’s Plan so it will work in us. The distinguishing factor in all of this is to keep our relationship with Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life of every purpose and promise rather than becoming a willing participant of religion that is consumed by what we do more than who we are.

Mind, will and emotions are pivotal to the change of God beginning to take over within us. We must sacrifice them along with our feelings to let the Holy Spirit produce good fruit that nourishes our heart and soul instead. As our soul prospers, our spiritual life becomes primary and natural life is impacted by a crucified flesh giving way to the Holy Spirit. It is a takeover of sorts by those who long to be pursued and overtaken by God’s Unfailing Love, Amazing Grace and Constant Goodness. It is a submission of our mind, will and emotions to the Cross so that confidence in Christ and what He promised to do is our primary position. It is the moment that we take up that Cross to follow the example of Jesus that things begin to change in a good way.

James 2:19-22 (NLT) You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 

Working the Plan of God is not what we do but the confidence to lay down our life in careful and continual obedience. To trust the Lord means doing things His Way when all logic points another. Abraham is a prime example of working God’s Plan. There was no reason for him to believe that he would father one child let alone a nation. Yet, he dared to believe. The unbelievable was his absolute confidence and so he lived loving and serving God. Did he mess up? Yes. Did he make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. God did not look for his perfection but rather his perseverance that no matter what he still believed especially when there was absolutely nothing tangible to be confident – the person of God – the Great I AM – was simple enough.

“Salvation is not a self-improvement program. That can only change us on the outside. The work of God changes us on the inside.” (Zac Poonen) It is easy to change habits and make better choices. Hard work, determination and motivation will change our way of living and produce a better life. Even religious obedience can produce the benefits of sowing and reaping, but in the end if our relationship with Jesus Christ is not established – we gain absolutely nothing. There are those who will come to Christ and have a better life just because they decided to work the plan. The Bible is the precedent of obedience that leads to productivity. However, if we do not allow the Lord to work His Plan in us – our life is worthless and meaningless void of God’s Glory found in His Grace.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Greetings from Paul to the people in Philippi who belonged to Christ is one of thanksgiving for the testimony these people lived. As he continues, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His Work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Friend, we are a work in progress. The only time that Christ stops working in us and through us is when we decide go our own way (He is the ONLY Way), to live a lie (contrary to Truth), and choose something other than Resurrection Life and Power given to us for today. God will do exactly as He promised. Our only job is to continually surrender our life to Him. How? “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:5) He finished the Work on the Cross for the joy set before Him. Jesus did not live for immediate gratification but eternal pleasure. His Good Pleasure is you and me. He thought we were to die for and He did. He marched into hell and took possession (title and deed) to our life. When Christ came out of the grave, His Motive always was love so rather than take ownership of us and enslave us. He gave us freedom to live in love with Him or choose something else. What is your choice today? Will you work God’s Plan by submitting everything to Jesus? Will you surrender your heart to the work that was begun in you? Do you trust that God will complete it? That is what this life is all about – falling in love with Jesus Christ! Living in a loving relationship that transcends the boundaries of time and brings heaven to earth. He gave it all to us. We must only work out our salvation with fear and trembling as His Love consumes our ordinary life and produces an extraordinary existence.

“Salvation is a work of God to show His Glory. That’s why He’s not going to let it fail.” (Paul Washer)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Oneness

one

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ prays in me. Christ works in me. Christ looks through my eyes. Christ speaks through my words. Christ works with my hands. Christ walks with my feet. Christ loves with my heart. As St. Paul’s prayer was – I belong to Christ and nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. It was that oneness – oneness with God in the Holy Spirit. (Mother Teresa)

I am struck by the words of this meek and mighty woman of God. Mother Teresa gave her life to passionate prayer and pursuing complete oneness with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Her words echo through the recesses of my mind, body and soul asking the question, “Are you one?” Am I experiencing the fullness of oneness with Jesus Christ? To be fully consumed by love for the One who loved me first and always loves me the most. The holy inhabitation of God’s Spirit is given in order to live in complete consummation of our relationship to Christ. Have we lost our passion for God? Have we lost our first love – Jesus Christ? Busyness robs us of precious moments better given to Christ. Distractions keep us from seeing the opportunity offered in each encounter. Stress and worry produced by fear erode the confidence that is conviction of God’s Timeless and Endless Love for us.

Put on your new nature. Our identity is not an orphan but dearly loved Child of the Living God. It goes deeper through Christ now we are a bride. We prepare for marriage with Him similar to that of natural marriage in the confession and conviction forsaking all others – I choose You – Jesus! Is that your heartfelt desire today? To be a Child of God. To become the Bride of Christ. It is through the pursuit of oneness with the Lord and reconciliation to Christ that this is accomplished. Christ is all that matters. He is alive in us.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 (NLT) Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Comparison to people and personal evaluation to human standards will build and fortify pride in our life. We can always find someone who will make us feel better about ourselves. We can use the scales and balances of the world and find self-satisfaction in our own rightness. But that is not the standard of living that the Lord has called us to. Reconciliation to Jesus Christ will produce a godly standard of living impossible apart from Him. It removes every arrogant thought and prideful excuse to give way to complete submission and surrender to the Lover of our Soul. When two people married it is perceived that they become one. No longer two separate individuals through the bond and covenant of marriage they are one. It is from this union designed by God that our union with Christ is personified. Except two come together in agreement and harmony giving up their way to pursue life together – there is no relationship but constant striving and struggling to maintain our own way.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Do you belong to Jesus Christ? Mind, soul and body have your given your heart to the Lord? If so, then you know it requires a change of direction called repentance. God does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The unchangeability of the Trinity makes it impossible to pursue oneness unless I am willing to give up my way, the lie of the enemy and engage in new life together with Jesus. The church cannot properly reconcile the world to God until the individuals comprising the Body get it together first. We must reconcile our life to Christ completely to create unity of the Body as a whole. We must stop evaluating the success and failure or the church by numbers and begin to identify with the person of Jesus Christ again pursuing oneness with Him in every possible conceivable way.

Love is a commitment. It is a covenant relationship that forsakes self for oneness. If you have been married more than a few days, you understand that success in a marriage is giving. Taking is not conducive to continued unity but the constant and consistent giving of yourself. It is the pursuit of oneness that keeps us on the altar with our flesh slowly dying when it comes to our commitment to the Lord. It is this sweet smelling sacrifice that entices others to engage in such an endeavor to give up this life for so much more.

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

Our first two children are boys. After that, we have three girls. Lord, help me. Boys are pretty straight forward. Girls on the other hand test every fruit given by the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The emotional overtures are ridiculous. My childhood was very different from our family. The relationships of this generation are mind boggling to say the least. I know people who have sons pray for daughters so consider yourself duly warned – be careful what you pray for. All joking aside the on again off again relationships sometimes hormonal and always emotional are like a rollercoaster that is out of control. I am currently working with our girls on humility and forgiveness whether their adversary deserves it or not. The teenage culture is brutal. I want my girls to arrive at the doorway of adulthood with tender hearts. I want them to be a blessing even if they are cursed by others. The only way this is accomplished is to be of one mind with Christ. I wonder if we are setting a good example for our children. The heart of God is love. The mind of Christ is love. The Holy Spirit cultivates love in us. The confidence of my commitment to Jesus is that He loves me. Nothing can separate me from His Love. This must be the foundation of my life – body, soul and spirit.

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

The joy of the presence of Jesus, you must be able to give wherever you go. But you cannot give what you don’t have. That’s why you need a pure heart, a pure heart that you will receive as a fruit of your prayer, as a fruit of your oneness with Christ. (Mother Teresa) Oneness with Christ must be our lifelong pursuit. It fuels the Light of His Love within us. It is the saltiness that flavors our message making it palatable to a lost and dying world. Unity with Jesus cultivates the fruit of His Spirit – the first one is love. To be one with Jesus of the same heart, mind and purpose requires an overtaking of our self with His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Grace or it is a religious learned behavior. I can change habits. I can make better choices. But I cannot be a new creation living a new life outside of oneness with Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)  I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 

The Pursuit

Pursuit

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

The pursuit of righteousness is highly theologized and exhaustively debated to the extent that its simplicity is overlooked. The pursuit of the human heart is full satisfaction. We long to live completely content in our existence. Though God has provided a well-documented road map to success, our inability to submit to His Way makes it virtually impossible to navigate. How does one pursue righteousness? What is righteousness anyway? Righteousness is our position, as sons and daughters, in right standing with our Father, God. He is the creator of every individual. He prescribed a plan filled with His Goodness and Grace to give us an amazing and abundant life despite our radical rebellion and countless faults and tremendous failures. The Lord pursues us every single day.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Is it really true that God’s Goodness and Unfailing Love pursues us? Isn’t it the other way around? Isn’t it our job to pursue God? It is important to know the close proximity of God and His Deepest Desire to understand that our pursuit of Him is a fruitless endeavor. Why? We cannot catch the one who is pursuing us. He has the unfair advantage of knowing us from start to finish. He knows our birthday and the count of our final breath. No friend, the reason that we cannot catch the God is because He is set on capturing us. The pursuit of God in righteousness is called surrender.

“Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us. The revelation of God to any man is not God coming from a distance upon a time to pay a brief and momentous visit to the man’s soul. Thus to think of it is to misunderstand it all. The approach of God to the soul or of the soul to God is not to be thought of in spatial terms at all. There is no idea of physical distance involved in the concept. It is not a matter of miles but of experience.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God)

To take a step back from our relentless running the course of religion to find that the very thing we are chasing was pursuing us the entire time is completely humbling. It is an overwhelming and life changing experience to encounter God in absolute and utter brokenness when there is no possibility to the problem you are facing only to see that He was with you all the time. We are not comfortable with debt or obligation. Grace is difficult to comprehend and even harder to accept from such a position. The Grace of God is of immeasurable worth. The value of it makes our heart and mind uncomfortable so religiosity seems to satisfy our need to earn it or deserve it. The only way to obtain righteousness is through Jesus Christ. To humbly surrender and submit our life to Him for careful renovation. How does one pursue that very thing that is pursuing us?

To pursue means to follow in order to overtake. To follow close or go with. To strive to gain. To seek to attain or accomplish. To put into practice. If the plan has been set forth and payment made our pursuit for God must be to put into practice that which produces purpose in our life. The purpose of God leads to fullness, satisfaction, abundance and that which exceeds common thinking. Our thoughts and course of action must turn from gaining God’s Love to falling into God’s Love. His Presence wants to overtake us and turn the impossibility of possessing a love that we cannot afford or ever achieve into the abundance of our life from which all things overflow.

“To have found God and still pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.” (A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God)

Maybe the passion of a burning heart for God is not kindled by our pursuit of God but rather the knowledge that He is constantly pursuing us. Each moment of every day contains purpose for us if we decide to let God work in us rather than always try to “work” for Him. His Love, Kindness, Goodness, Patience and endless copious amounts of Grace make my life fruitful and complete. I cannot lead another to a place I have never been. I cannot describe the content of something I have never possessed. I cannot share an experience that I have never had. God’s Love for me is the constant consistency in my life which becomes the kind of confidence that produces courage. The idea that I cannot ever lose God’s Love is profound yet often forgotten our attempts to acquire that which has already been given of infinite worth. I can do nothing to please God outside of absolute faith in His Love for me.

“To have found God and still pursue him…” I have been a Christian since 1977. At just eleven years old, I came to the very real revelation that I was a sinner who needed a Savior and asked Jesus to be just that. At over fifty years of age, I am finally able to look back and see God’s Pursuit of my heart and soul. All the times I thought God was visibly absent but see His Presence with complete clarity. God has been with me even when I thought I had wandered too far to ever come back. Every time I did finally turnaround, the Lord met me face-to-face. God’s Perfect Plan comes complete with enough grace for all those times I tried to love and serve Him failing miserably. For all my wanderings the work on the Cross was enough for me to find my way back home. My Father with arms open wide. He was waiting for me to turnaround. To repent and ask Him, invite Him and usher Him in. The idea of pursuing God is noble but doesn’t mean a thing. He has been pursuing us the whole time. To pursue His Purpose with passion comes in understanding that this is what pleases God and produces a deep abiding relationship with Him. To know that nothing can separate us from His Love so we learn to live in it. To gain an appetite for His Love, Grace and Goodness insatiable by ordinary living so we pursue the extraordinary. God loves you. He has always loved you. He will always love you whether you choose to engage in a lifelong relationship or find Him just in the nick of time. He is that Good! He is our God! Pursue His Love and living in His Presence – it is then that God will be your passion!

Psalm 143:8 (NLT) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

It’s A Good Friday

It's A Good Friday

Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

After a long and stressful day at work full of deadlines, I was driving home so thankful that it was finally the weekend. I thought about the day filled with too much to do and not enough time to do it thanking the Lord that I made it when it occurred to me that it was only Thursday. I still had to get through Friday. Ugh! Have you ever done that before? What a letdown! As I could feel exhaustion overtake me and complaints begin to rise up in my throat, I remembered it was Good Friday. Why do they call it “Good”? Jesus was about to face the most horrible day of his natural life. He cried out to the Father to take the awful cup of suffering from Him. If there was any other way but to endure the Cross, it had to happen quickly. Well, as Christians we know that Jesus went to the Cross and died for our sins. He would rest in the tomb for three long days. Can you imagine what His Disciples and Followers must have been thinking? None of this met their expectation. When the women arrived to attend the body of the “dead” teacher, master, and Messiah, the angels would meet them and said, “Remember what He said…” It is in the days preceding the victorious emergence of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that probably the best lesson for His People is taught. What do you do in the waiting? What happens when nothing turns out as planned? What happens when our expectancy wavers on the brink of devastation? How can we call such days “good”?

I am not comparing my busy and exhausting week to the suffering of Jesus Christ simply using it as an illustration. When we think the journey is almost over, only to discover a few forgotten steps. When it looks like the walls are coming down, but the Lord says, “Keep walking.” On the edge of breakthrough, when you cannot fathom moving another inch, pressing any harder, or enduring another minute. But you do… That my friend is the Grace of God working in you! Jesus set an example for us. He was focused. His heart set on you and me – those He calls, “Beloved”. He couldn’t go back, yet in the flesh – how could he continue? But He did…

Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

What has eternity blossomed in your heart today? What is your most hopeful aspiration? Do you have a dream, goal or vision? Of course, you do! You are a Child of the Living God who is creative in His Ways. He didn’t call you to a mundane or mediocre life. Just as Jesus exemplifies sometimes we must fix our focus on the “joy” that is just on the other side of that which is so difficult. We must keep our heart and mind on guard in perfect peace that God will do exactly as He promised. After all, isn’t Jesus a prime example of the faithfulness of our Father?

Hebrews 12:3 (AMP) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On this Good Friday, we must consider and meditation on Jesus. He endured betrayal, hostility, abandonment and abuse all in a single day and still decided that we were worth dying a brutal and tragic death for. To consider and compare our discomfort and inconveniences to the suffering of Christ should help us gain perspective. He went to the grave and walked in to hell to take back your life from the hand of the enemy. Three long days later, Jesus emerged from the grave victorious in His Efforts. He didn’t only give you the gift of eternal life but every promise that once was withheld due to rejection and rebellion against God are now available in righteousness. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He came that we might have a rich and satisfying life. He came to give us His Abundance from the coffers of the Kingdom. Surely if Christ could do all that – we can make it another day striving to live apart from sin, walk with Jesus and endure a hard day or rough season. We must set our heart, mind and soul on the joy set before us and secured by our Savior. It is indeed a good Friday!

Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”

It’s going to be a busy weekend for Christians. It is the biggest weekend with high attendance for churches. There will be many festivities. Shopping for just the right outfit. Running all around. Can we stop for just a moment and fix our eyes on Jesus! When you think about complaining, remember that you have victory in every situation today! If you do not quit or give up but just believe – breakthrough is coming! We serve a risen Lord. Even His Disciples struggled with doubt and disbelief. Can you imagine what was running through their heads waiting for the stone to roll away? What happened? This is not what they expected. Jesus says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest!” He doesn’t give us the kind of rest the world does. A quick respite from running to and fro. God gives us peace of mind and heart that even on our worst day it is a good day thanks to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Luke 21:25-28 (AMP)  “There will be signs (attesting miracles) in the sun and moon and stars; and on the earth [there will be] distress and anguish among nations, in perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea and the waves, people fainting from fear and expectation of the [dreadful] things coming on the world; for the [very] powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with [transcendent, overwhelming] power [subduing the nations] and with great glory. Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”

Resurrection Life

Practice_Resurrection.Peterson

Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

“The Kingdom of God is within you…” Leo Tolstoy

Jesus Christ is alive. He is living and breathing inside the heart and soul of every believer, but not every Christian. To follow Jesus Christ is not enough. The only way to live a life of successful faith is to let the Holy Spirit change our mind and open our heart to the truth that Christ lives in us. With Resurrection Sunday just a few days away, I am filled with excitement and expectation. I like Christmas, but I love Easter. We celebrate the arrival of the Messiah in December, but the thing that makes Jesus so powerful is the fact that He died for our sin and rose again on the third day. Except Christ be crucified AND resurrected, there is not power, authority or dominion over death. It is important that believers serve the risen Savior and Lord or they are worshipping a dead god.

To believe that the fullness of God be fully invested in Jesus Christ means nothing if He is not alive in us today. How full is a broken cup? No matter how much is poured in it would only gush out. The substance of our faith is contained in the hope of the Living God. If our faith has nothing to build upon – it has no validity. Faith in God is paramount on the fact that Jesus Christ lives in us or to make a connection with Him would be sudden death. Outside of Christ – I have no chance of living in the Presence of God day by day into eternity. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive and lives in us is what changes every impossibility into future possibility. It takes a natural life making it supernatural. Our ordinary existence becomes extraordinary when Christ comes to live in us. It is time to change our mind about the God we serve and recognize that Christ is alive and well inside of us. Christ in us identifies us as part of the Kingdom of God.

“God cannot be understood by logical reasoning but only by submission.” Leo Tolstoy

Faith is not logical. It will never be understood by human reasoning. It is not validated by what we see but Who we know. The more I know Jesus Christ – the more logical my faith becomes. As I submit my life to Him, He fills me with the fullness of God that is in Him. The Spirit produces fruit from seeds of faith like love, joy, peace, and the like. He bestows forgiveness, kindness and goodness to us in epic proportions so they begin to flow from us as we cannot contain the Favor of the Living God any longer. Too many Christians are trying to pour from empty cups. I must submit my life fully to the Lord in order to have a reservoir to draw from.

Romans 8:10-12 (NLT) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

Scrolling through social media, I came across a meme posted about the recounting of sins at the pearly gates and not realizing you were that wild or something like that. All in good fun. A particularly long comment thread caught my attention beginning with a young woman who berated the poster as sacrilegious. I will not recount the back and forth banter because quite honestly the debate a complete embarrassment to Christians. Anyway, she recanted that unless we completely separate ourselves from the world and live “sinless” lives that we will not enter Heaven. I just shook my head and scrolled on. Nobody can do that. We all have a sinful nature to be crucified daily. Religion tells us to follow all the rules and regulations and you will make it into Heaven. If there is no relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never get there from here.

I share this revelation because sinless perfection is impossible in a human being ever. Even saved, sanctified super spiritual people sin – all the time. The mindset of the believer is to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to avoid it but surrender and submit our life to the Cross when we fall short. I cannot judge or condemn another person because I have fallen short. It only took one sin and Lord knows I am capable of way more than that. Our mission in life is complete unity with Jesus Christ. Laying our life down, crucifying our flesh and living in the love of God given to us through His Son. I have no obligation to sin anymore. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit of the Living God gives me power and authority over sin. I can make better choices just because He lives. But even on my best day, the good in me and greatest potential of my life is Jesus Christ. My elevation comes from exaltation and the revelation that surrender and submission are the only way to live. “Christian joy is letting Christ live His Life out through you so that what He is…you become.” (David Jeremiah)

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

“God doesn’t throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up to the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive.” (R.C. Sproul) If we could get the imagine of death in our mind, the reality of it, the brutal and abrupt end of life – maybe there would be a better sense of exactly what Christ offers us in His Resurrection. We avoid death at all costs. Born dying, we try to outrun, outlive, and outsmart the inevitable end of human life. There is another option but in order to embrace the joy of eternity one must engage in the death process prematurely. The unfathomable and incomprehensible has happened. In our revelation of the true meaning of Christ’s Resurrection is that now that same power, authority and vitality lives in us. He was crucified in weakness and raised in complete fulfillment and victory. We must engage in the same process to move from death to life. To obtain grace comes at the price of strength and ability – it is obtained in utter weakness. When we could do nothing to save ourselves – Jesus died for us. “He did not come to shame the sinners. Jesus came to save sinners.” (Reinhard Bonnke) “He came into this world to make dead people live.” (Leo Tolstoy) Apart from the Grace of God our connection with Him is religious. The consummation of our relationship with the Living God is that Christ lives in us. We have live because He is life.

Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)  For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

I encourage you to join me if examining the heart and mind in these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Do you believe that Christ is alive? Do you understand that He lives in you? Do you live through Him? It is important to evaluate our personal walk with Christ each day? To compare our direction to His Directive (His Word, Will and Way). To completely empty the contents of our heart and make sure it is only faith in God that is retained and worthless things thrown away. The only thing of worth in us is Jesus Christ. If we do not fully believe and base our life on the fact that Jesus lives and resides in us – what is there to celebrate on Easter? If Christ did not emerge from the grave victorious over sin and death – folks, we have a problem. It doesn’t matter how good you are doing or successful you are at avoiding sin, without the Living God – there is nothing to live for. All those efforts following the example of Christ are meaningless if the person of Jesus does not reside inside you. The Spirit gives us life. Apart from Him, death is the only option. Revive us again, Jesus. Teach us to celebrate the power and authority that You have given us and live a resurrection life.

John 11:25-26 (NLT)  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Do you believe this (put your name here)?