Principle of Life

Principle of Life

Luke 24:5-7 (NLT)The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Waking up to the smell of field peas cooking in the crock pot, I remember what today is. I need to get up as there are a few extra things to do before heading out to church. As I hesitate, my husband whispers in the dark as if not to chase it away, “Happy Easter!” I love this day. It has become my favorite of all days. A day to celebrate life and all the opportunities released the day it was clear that Jesus was no longer in the grave. He was alive. He is alive. The Living Christ lives in me. Works through me. Changes me. Challenges me. Pushes me. Presses me. Everyday strengthens me delivering mercy in the morning and more grace throughout the day. I am promised His Power because He is omnipotent. Death could not hold Him. The one thing that is feared the most by all humanity had absolutely no control over our Lord and Savior who is life.

People struggle with the concept of the Risen Christ. The Christ who exists on paper and in theory must be encountered to exist in us, impact our life and change us. It is one thing to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ” yet quite another to make this our principle of life. Ray Dalio, a hugely successful investor and founder of Bridgewater Associates who is one of the world’s largest hedge funds, said, “Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions.” A principle is the fundamental truth from which all others are derived. An applied principle is to take that truth or belief and base all other attitudes and actions upon it. It is our accepted rule of conduct. Do you live like Jesus is alive? Do you truly believe that His Life influences your existence? Will today be the day that you do?

John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT) In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  

Jesus is the creative power behind every living thing. He is the Word of God which once released must do exactly what He promised it would do. It cannot return void. It is impossible. When God breathed life into Adam – Jesus was that one breath that perpetuated all life. Think about that for a moment. Jesus is life. He is the essence of life from God that enables us and empowers us to live up to the Glorious Standard set for us that people abandoned for sin. His Blood is the life giving power that washes us clean and allows us to apprehend such a life again. The Word of God wrapped himself in flesh to come demonstrate love for all people so that it would be vividly clear that God loves us and desires us above all things. Even with a Living Color Lord, they did not believe Him. Don’t beat yourself up. The men and women who walked with Jesus did not get it either.

The women were coming to the tomb that day to give Jesus a proper burial. They did not expect to find life but finalize His Death. They called Him the Messiah but did not believe it to be so. They expected to find Jesus trapped in a tomb, but that’s not at all what happened that day. Jesus was alive. They ran to tell the others and still no one really believed. The enemy had already begun to perpetuate lies and accusations. The body was stolen. He did not come back from the dead but was hidden by his followers. The enemy always tries to hide the truth with a lie.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. In the New King James Version, it is called an abundant life. For God so loved the world that He gave His Son so that whoever believes will have everlasting, eternal and forever life. Often this is projected forward and put into a futuristic setting. Jesus did not come to judge people. He did not come to condemn them, but that through Him that they would live. Live now. Live tomorrow. Life this life. Life forever. It is all about believing. It has nothing to do with one’s ability to change their life, make better choices or even do good things. It is all about what you believe and our ability to live that belief. The principle of life for the believer begins with the empty tomb and continues from that point throughout all eternity. If just for today, as we celebrate Easter and honor the Resurrection of Christ, we could for a moment inspect our life.

John 11:21-27 (NLT) “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Lazarus was dead. Jesus appeared to be delayed and upon His Arrival everyone was in mourning. Martha met the Lord and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she went on to say, “I know that even now Go will give you whatever you ask.” Martha was conflicted. Her heart and mind at odds. She said that she believed and oh how she wanted to believe but she struggled with disbelief just the same. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is saying the exact same thing to us today. The same Jesus that came barreling out of the tomb, visited many people, and ascended into Heaven is alive and well today. He is still the Resurrection and Life. The same person who called Lazarus to come up out of his grave and he did. This is the Jesus who lives in you and me today. We have the power to see dead dreams come to life and the Glory of God to fill our life. But just like Martha, we struggle to truly believe.

Romans 8:10-11 (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.

What if it is true? What is Jesus Christ really is alive in us? What if His Spirit is trying to give us new life every single day? What if grace really is enough to release God’s Power, His Resurrection and Life-Giving Power, to every single dead thing? What if it is my unwillingness or inability to believe that is holding the doors and windows of blessing shut? What if it is my stubborn foot standing over the seeds of faith attempting to produce good things and harvests in my life? What if my words are poisoning the good fruit that His Spirit is attempting to grow in me? What if I am aborting the birthing of my promises? What if it is me? Today changes everything!

I challenge you as the Lord challenges me today – if you are headed to church, just got home, running late or not doing anything at all but hunting some eggs with the kids and spending time with your family – look for Him today. Not the dead Savior hanging on a Cross, but the Powerful Lord who came alive with the keys to every locked door in your life, heart and mind. Jesus is alive and well. The Living Savior ready to break every chain, release your burden, heal your body and release every other forgotten benefit that marks the new life that He promised. His Promise still stands. God’s love for you cannot be taken or shaken from you. He loves you! He always loved you! He paid the highest price for you – not to make you a performer but a producer of His Love. Your dead dreams are only sleeping. Your potential is not lost just hidden in the soil of your heart. Once fertile, it will explode with life again. Every blessing and promise for your life is safe and sound. Your inheritance is secure. It is your heart that Jesus is after. Do you believe? It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith makes all things possible…we must only believe. Jesus is the principle of life. He is life. He gives life and power to those who love and trust Him. Apply this principle to your life and you will live in peaceful prosperity both now and forevermore. Living for Jesus Christ should be a satisfying life not filled with disappointment. Hope never leads to such a thing. If my life is less than I expected, then I need to let Christ increase in me. He promised to do more than I can think, imagine or even ask. This is the principle of life to be satisfied. To apply Jesus Christ who is alive and well in all areas of my life. Christ is the One who completes this process in us. He gives new life. We become new creations.

John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Resurrect Me

Resurrect Me

John 16:33 (MSG) Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

Good Friday. It doesn’t feel like a good day. The list of to do is way too long. The amount of sleep way too small for the weekend filled with remembering the greatest day in history. But there had to be this day, the day that Jesus died for us. Releasing His Grace and His Power that would be available to us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are important. The sacrifice is the very thing that saves us, but there is so much more to the story than His Death. However, one must be observed with the other for a perfect union to be made. Communion is not just that which signifies His Blood but there must be a breaking of the bread which is His Body, too. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. Today is that day… the day His Blood ran red for me. It was a messy day filled with the failures of those who promised to be with Him, to stay by His Side, and never deny Him. The ones who were committed to even “die” for him. All empty promises in the shadow of the “old rugged cross”. Why do we call such an epic failure on our part – something good? Good Friday is the day is the day that despite our inability to be who we promised that Jesus was exactly who He promised.

The responsibilities of today are overwhelming. I have a great deal to do in just a 24-hour span. I am feeling the pressure of performance yet in the quiet place of God’s Presence – I am challenged to release this heavy burden and take hold of His Grace. Maybe the clouds in my head, and heaviness of my heart are not about my inability as a person to do all the many things I want to do but it is the heaviness of the moment – Jesus died for me. If it had ended there, it would have been enough to save me. Perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. However, God had a plan. It is was for my good. It was to prosper the purpose inside of me and release my full potential. The pressure around me is pushing this out of me. Overcoming power is rising up within me. Jesus is with me. He is the One who is everything I need to conquer this day and every challenge that comes in this life.

Luke 23:44-54 (MSG) By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last. When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!” All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil. There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.

There was a man named Joseph. The Word of God remembers him as someone who was good and had a good heart. He lived “in alert expectation of the Kingdom of God.” I like him already. He went to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus. He took him down from the cross, the broken body of our Lord, and wrapped Him carefully in linen and placed Him in a tomb. It was the day before the Sabbath. It was the day before… How many times on the brink of breakthrough do we do the same thing? Take Jesus off the Cross burying Him with our dreams and visions wrapped in the grave clothes of doubt, unmet expectation, failure, or even just plain disbelief. It is over. God, you didn’t. I failed. It’s over. Time to move on. Oh but the Sabbath is coming. The Sabbath is just about to begin. Sabbath had two purposes – rest and worship. The Lord was about to make a grand appearance. What people called the end and death of the dream was actually only the beginning and donning of miracles. It is human nature to see the physical state of our lives as reality. If our perception of Jesus goes with Him to the Cross and follows Him to the grave but gives up right there – where is the power? His Grace sufficient in His Death and Sacrifice. Enough to cover every sin I commit, fault that I have and failure that is before me. However, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Death had no hold. It was only the beginning.

I Corinthians 15:15-57 (MSG) God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

On the day that Jesus died, His Lifeless Body hanging on the Cross. I wonder how overwhelmed and disappointed the people who followed Him must have felt. Fearing for their own lives – they went into hiding. Soon many would return to an ordinary life – their traditions of religion. Too often we live in the three days between His Death and Resurrection. Accepting part of the package but giving up on the Power promised on the third day when the grave was now empty. We don’t get that far as the pressures of life force us into busyness and our failures force us into hiding. Good Friday is a Good Day! Resurrection Day changed everything. Will this be the year that it marks His Triumphant Resurrection? Will this be the day that I finally take hold of the Keys to His Kingdom and begin opening all the doors and windows of my life to His Presence and Power? I call myself a Christian because I love and follow Christ. My journey didn’t end at the Cross but began there. It followed Him to the grave, but what I must do is stay there. I must stay in the dead zone called comfort and compromise but accept all the Power His Resurrection holds.

The seeds in my life will grow with faith. Trust in the Lord is what waters my potential and develops into purpose. There are two more days until Sunday – the Sabbath. Jesus died for me. Today I remember and rejoice in His Sacrifice that made a way for me. I cannot stop at the Cross. In the natural, I cannot see how in the world that I will accomplish everything on my demanding schedule in just three days. Grace is not just what saves us but empowers us. It is a busy weekend after a long week. But Sunday is coming…the Sabbath is almost here. The Lord is doing something is us that will soon be poured out of us. Our lives are becoming fully-formed and complete in Him. The Lord is enriching every area of our life and making us wealthy in every way. He is filling us with His Love and overflowing generosity to give our life away praising Him along the way. He is the Bread of Life that blesses our life making us edible. I have nothing to offer anyone even myself outside of the Christ in me. He has to live in me. I must allow Him to fill me.

John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time. 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?”

Lazarus had been dead more than three days. His family including his sisters, Martha and Mary, were mourning his passage. Jesus arrived to join them. Martha told the Lord if only you had been here…my brother would not have died. Jesus told her that he was going to be raised up. He was dismissed in her disbelief. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. For His Life to end in the natural would pay the price for our sin, but it is in the Resurrection that life begins now and the supernatural abundance of God is released. His Power is accessible by His Grace. His Grace gives us an open invitation to attend His Resurrection. Nothing meant to live can remain dead when Jesus is present. It must come to life. It cannot stay in its former state. Yet, there is a process. Jesus was in the grave for three long days. It seems that Lazarus may have endured the same process before Life called him out.

“Do you believe this?” Good question for this Good Friday. We struggle just to accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace and the totality of Christ’s Sacrifice – let alone allow it to be the dominate power in our life. Good Friday cannot just mark the death of Jesus but the death of self. I remember one night sitting at my son’s bedside in a dark hospital room. For days it seemed that he had been sleeping which given the circumstances was not a bad thing. I felt so alone in that place. The clicking and beating of monitors like a ticking clock on the wall. I put in my headphones to crank up the music and drown out the noise. Ready to dissolve in His Presence and escape overwhelming isolation so I went to YouTube. Kari Jobe was the next video loaded and the song, “Forever”. One of my favorites – I cranked it up really loud closing my eyes. It was that night that I fully experienced and fully comprehended the Power of the Resurrection. The future of the resurrection insured that our son had a place. Suddenly every boundary and barrier between heaven and earth melted to reveal a Savior who is the Resurrection and Life both now and forever. So many things were broken up in my heart that night with tears streaming down my face. “Everyone who lives believing in me will never die.”

Hebrews 11:5-6 (MSG) By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.

When Jesus came back to life, He walked among the people again. But now, He was God unstoppable. His Flesh was no longer a hindrance. His Power unlimited. I wonder if that is the message of Easter. Could it be that this pressure is the response of my dying flesh? I love Easter. It is my favorite holiday. No kidding! It is the day that Jesus came to live in me. His Power made complete by grace partnered with faith. Now I can please God with the feeble offering of my life – because Christ is enough! He lives in me! He is making His Way through me so His Love will pour out of me. Now…in the land of the living. I love Enoch’s story. He walked so closely with the Lord that one day he just disappeared. God’s Glory is for us. It rose to meet us. We didn’t meet Jesus at the tomb. In fact, not a single person witnessed the Resurrection of Christ. The stone was rolled away, the grave clothes neatly folded, and the tomb empty. Jesus was gone. Where was He? Standing at the grave of our life, speaking life to us, digging up our dead dreams, and changing the reality of our life and its destination. I was not at His Grave … He was at mine.

Overcoming death to live in overwhelming grace is a process. Exchanging doubt and fear for faith and trust is a huge endeavor that must be a daily endeavor. However, need I remind you as the Lord is reminding me – His Grace is enough to release His Resurrection Power in every area of our life? Martha revealed that her faith was invested in the future. Jesus was about to release His Power right then and there. Living for forever points to the Cross and the Sacrifice of Jesus including the outpouring of His Grace. It is Good Friday! But Sunday is coming! The tomb is history. Jesus just became the history maker, earth shaker and world changer. His Power is now available today. It is our ability to establish faith and decide that His Grace and Power are for today that lead us to fulfillment. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life now. Today. The process of moving from death to life took the Lord three days. It was a similar experience for Lazarus. Enoch walked so closely with the Lord that He disappeared in His Presence. I want to be that person who lives and walks by faith every day. I want to live adventurously expectant of God’s Power manifesting in my life all the time not just when He raises me in the final day. I want all that He died for me to have and rose up to give me. I must live in such expectancy. So today in the midst of overwhelming pressure, overpowering details, and a chaotic life – God resurrect me. Lord, I speak life in the Name of Jesus to every dead dream, paled vision and unclaimed promise in my life. You are the Resurrection and Power for this life not just my forever! Resurrect me Lord to live in Your Shadow and dwell deeply in Your Presence now and forevermore.

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Radiate

radiate

Isaiah 60:19 (NLT) No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

As the sun slowly rises, its rays fall on the study floor. Catching my attention, I look away from this study to see its radiant brilliance shining through dirty windows. Yes, I need to clean my windows. Put that on the list today. Just outside the window bushes have risen above the handrail, obstructing the view. Maybe Big Daddy will cut them back a bit for me, so that I can add those black rocking chairs that I have been waiting for spring to buy. Spring is here. Life is bursting forth after a long winter. We are full of life. Each day the Lord is working on the inside to make His Light shine outside of us. After all, He has called us to be His Light to this world. He placed His Spirit in us to produce His Glory through us. Is this the life we live? New life. Bursting from every facet of our life like a brilliant diamond under direct light. Or have a windows become cloudy and the cracks of brokenness subtly filled, so that the image is slightly askew, maybe a bit dimmed or has it grown dark altogether? The Light that shines from our inside must reflect the true radiance of God. It is not a light that flickers or impacted by any other source. It is a fiery passionate burning flame that consumes all that lies between us to emit light glorious unfiltered light. Is your light brightly shining today? Is it breaking through the darkness that surrounds you?

To radiate means to extend, spread and moving outward from the center. To project or cast forward. Light changes the atmosphere around it. Darkness cannot remain where light is present. Light is attractive. The emission draws and things to it. Is my life attractive? Is it engaging? Do I project and cast a true image of God and His Great Love? Isn’t that the most attractive thing about our Savior and Lord? The fact that His Love for us is unchanged by condition or weakness. He loves us. Case closed. He promises to fill us with His Love and release His Glory in us. It all begins with grace. Amazing grace. It sounds so sweet but is so easily mistaken. Grace is not a doorway to enter God’s Favor but the Source of the life. We live in God’s Grace which allows to be in right standing and live in the Presence of God. I cannot earn it but only receive it. I cannot ever exchange grace for entitlement but must live humbly before Jesus who is the Source of Grace.

I believe Isaiah 60 is not a futuristic place yet to come but the very opportunity Christ gives us now. It is for today. This very moment called opportunity. God’s Glory covers us in radiance that cannot be altered, filtered or covered by this world. It is the favor of God that allows us to be blessed and prosperous no matter how many clouds fill our sky or how long the night may seem. It begins “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!” Throughout the chapter, it tells of powerful influence as “everyone is coming home” drawn to the light. Not just ordinary people but kings are attracted as well. The radiance will also direct prosperity into our life as “they bring you the wealth of many lands.” As the Light of His Glory shines in us making its way through us until the substance of our faith is made into absolute trust with confident hope that allows us to be the light rather than groping in darkness any longer. The Lord will be your everlasting light. The events outlined in Isaiah 60 are not for eternity. The Favor of God for life is found in His Presence. To trust the Lord with our natural life allows His Light to shine through us. His Light is His Love. His Love makes the way. As His Love grows complete in us an extravagant exchange is made, our feeble attempts to earn His Grace become a willingness to accept His Grace as sufficient alone.

Isaiah 60:20-21 (NLT) “Your sun will never set; your moon will never go down. For the Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring myself glory.”

If just for a moment, try to forget about the church culture familiar to you. No matter what denomination chosen or the doctrine that is subscribed to – for this second just focus on you and Jesus. Let the weight of service, the next offering, or even the sin that you struggle with evaporate from your thoughts and fall like heavy chains pooling at your feet. Say to yourself, “Jesus loves me.” The beginning and end of every bit of hope that I have as a believer is the credibility of this statement in my life evidence by my ability to believe it. Is Jesus enough? If I truly believe that then the things of this life no longer affect the light of His Love radiating from me. My ability to project the perfect life does nothing for those who feel helpless, worthless and defeated. My acceptance of God’s Love through the Grace of Jesus Christ that shines bright even on the worst days of my life is attractive to others. Grace is completed in our willingness to say, “I am weak. He is my strength.” This is not fake faith. I will never say the words “faith it until you make it.” It is of the same concept as fake it until you make it. Nobody wants to come closer only to find our love is not real, joy superficial, and peace a façade. We have eternity in our heart. The substance of our faith provided in a measure must grow into an abundant overflow of trust. Trust is the radiance of our life that makes others come closer to see what it is all about. An authentic life bears fruit not a leafy cover that gives nothing of worth. Is the Lord your everlasting light?

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Part of our son’s cancer treatment included radiation. After a series of scans and images were taken to precisely pinpoint the location and dimensions of the tumor growing in his nasopharyngeal cavity, a mathematical engineer studied the coordinates to make direct the radiation beam to hit the tumor and avoid other areas. The tumor in his head was millimeters from his brain stem so it was imperative that they not miss the mark. Before the next treatment, a new scan was taken and the coordinates reevaluated for accuracy. With all this precision, there was still a fair amount of radiation that was in the aura that projected to surrounding tissue. I share this to say that as God’s Love begins to chip away at our heart to find its way in – certain things in our life will begin to change. As His Grace, the source of our hope, begins to penetrate the thick walls and hard sides of our heart – it begins to fill us with inexpressible joy and perfect peace that is unexplainable. Though it may be painful in the brokenness as His Love overthrows the insufficiencies in our life with His Grace, the power that takes over changes us from the inside out. As it makes its way out – God’s Glory fills our life. We must experience God’s Love by trusting Him and encountering the Lord one-on-one in an intimate and personal relationship before the radiance of His Love can shine through us. Do not take for granted your alone time with Jesus. Do not stop striving to make more time to spend in His Word and prayer. The Light emanating from our life will only be as strong as the source in us. The radiation was painful. It was damaging. It broke our son’s saliva glands. They don’t work anymore. It burned his skin but the Lord has healed him. It was a painful process that eradicated the tumor called cancer from his body. The Lord removes all impurity so the purity of His Love, Life and Light can show through us.

In her book, The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shares “cancer is what refuses to die to self.” You know the part of you, as do I which seems to be the source of our struggle when it comes to trusting the Lord. It can be many things. Insecurity, doubt, fear, or even unforgiveness. All of these things are the point of unwillingness to change and may be the very thing that are keeping God’s Glory from radiating from our life. Total trust in the Lord and His Love which is defined by His Grace is the thing that causes us to shine the brightest. It requires an inspection of the heart where He lives. Are the windows a little cloudy? Have some weeds popped up? What is it that keeps God’s Glory from bursting forth in our life? Wake up Jerusalem. Wake up church. Wake up friend. Wake up me. Nothing I “do” or “don’t do” for the Lord amounts to anything without first being covered in His Love and Grace. I cannot project a clear picture of God and His Grace outside of unconditional love for all people. The culmination of faith and hope evidenced in my ability to trust the Lord begins with believing His Love is complete. To know the Lord and His Love is to break the notion that anything I am or ever hope to be is worthwhile unless His Love fills me to overflowing. It is the Christ in me that is attractive. It is the Love of God that captures the attention of people. His Glory will come when His Love finds its place in my very human heart.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 

God’s Love is on the horizon shining on us. Jesus is the Source. He wants to shine through us. His Glory is for us. His Favor is ours for the taking. His Love never ends. It never fails. It is more than enough. We don’t add to it or take from it. It is there for us always to step in, live in, and radiate every day. Jesus is the Source of Hope. His hope never leads to disappointment. I will never know that for sure until I am willing to love and trust Him with my whole life. It is a process. It is going to take some time. Why not start today? I am off to clean some windows. To let the light shine in. My desire is to radiate God’s Love, His Light and His Glory in my life. How about you? By allowing the Lord to penetrate my heart with pinpoint precision to the part I am withholding and eradicate it with His Love and change me from the inside out produces a spark inside me. It is then and only then that the radiance of His Love will break through the earthen vessel and be fully expressed as light glorious light that leads to life glorious life.

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

Lessons From a Giraffe

Lessons From a Giraffe

Revelation 3:10-12 (NLT)  “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

I will admit that I have become captivated by April the giraffe. A small animal farm in New York got the brilliant idea to put a 24-hour camera to record the impending birth of her calf. They have received national attention and news agencies across the country are tracking her progress. I have always loved giraffes. On a mission trip to Kenya many moons ago, I was able to go on a camera safari through a preserve where they could be seen walking in the distance. Even many yards away, they were majestic and towering over the small trees. One of the only souvenirs that I brought back was a hand-carved giraffe with her calf. Though I do not sit and watch her progress, I do leave the “giraffe cam” open on my desk at work, in the kitchen while I cook and as I sit here now she is off to the side of me. Giraffes are not particularly intelligent animals. Basic creatures driven by their desire for food and their inner drive of curiosity – I cannot help but wonder if she is aware of her popularity. Does she know what is happening in her body or the impending arrival of her newborn? How aware is she that the end of her 15-month process is near?

This morning while I wait for the computer to load, the sleeping giraffe is suddenly awakened and rises awkwardly to her feet. The movement catching my attention, I glance at the screen just in time to see a series of resounding kicks from the 150-lb, six-foot tall baby inside her belly who apparently wants out. There has been little movement noted by keepers over the last few days. Most babies in the animal kingdom and the natural world settle down right before the greatest journey of their life. It is almost time. I know that feeling. Having been blessed with five beautiful babies, I understand the end of the process. The overwhelming need for the stress on our body to end. To release the promise inside because it is ready to live and breathe on its own. There are so many feelings and emotions mixed up and overflowing in a mother just before the birth of her baby. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, each one a process of perseverance all its own. Today as I watch the mama walk in circles, her steps are slow and unsteady. She lowers her head to endure the pressure of a contraction as the little one gets ready to make its highly anticipated appearance into the world. I am feeling pressure these days. No, thank goodness, my childbearing years are done but my promise bearing years continue. The process is similar. Both require perseverance. The result of the process of pregnancy is culminated in a successful birthing process of a healthy baby. If a human body were to experience the changes to it without a purpose – no one would endure it. The reality of our promise determines our willingness and ability to persevere.

“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” I have lived long enough to have experienced many processes in life. I have learned to persevere and yet I am still in the midst of its process. Perseverance is a test of strength. It reveals our depth of purpose according to our commitment to the process. As a Christian, faith is measured by our willingness and ability to preserve through hard times, difficult situations and those things that seem to break us completely. But the words I keep coming back to today in this passage are “you have obeyed my command to preserve.” Set free by Jesus Christ, I am free indeed. As far as I can tell there is but one commandment predicated by a new provision that I must live by according to the New Testament words of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God. I cannot find a direct command to preserve or persist in anything but this one thing that He commands. It is my purpose despite every difficulty in life or even the times I become discouraged. Are you wondering what it is? Do you already know?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Thankfully and by the Grace of God, the five pregnancies became five people who bless my life and give me purpose each day. My love for them gives me infinite grace and determination to care for them all of my life. Jesus demonstrated God’s Love for us by coming in the form of a man, living a completely innocent life, and then dying for our sin on the Cross. I know it sounds so brutal and messy. It was. The story did not end there. If Jesus did not complete the process, hold on to the promise, and preserve through death and the grave to emerge in Resurrection Power – there would be no salvation for us. There would be no pathway to God the Father to righteousness. Every promise has a process. Every process will require perseverance. If it is worth anything at all, there will be a struggle to find new strength even when the promise is faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God much less reach Him. Less I digress…

In Revelation 3, the Word encourages those who “have obeyed my command to preserve” that the Lord will protect them in great times of testing. It also tells us to hold on to what you have so that no one can take away the crown. You are a Kingdom Kid. You are a daughter or son of the King. However, you are on a journey home to a place that you cannot see driven by faith that is bound by confident hope and not evident by sight. In Revelation 3:8, the Lord indicates the opening of a door that no one can close – the promise. I love this part, I can identify with it completely. “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” The commandment of Jesus for my life is to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second one that Jesus has indicated as “equally” important is to love your neighbor as yourself.” This is the commandment attached to perseverance.

The love for self is natural. It is part of human survival. The love born of the Christ in us is different. It is not a natural emotion but supernatural takeover of our flesh that is crucified with Him to become the new creation that the Lord has promised. The process by which faith moves from our mind to our soul requires perseverance because it takes what is natural and overtakes it spiritually. It is the Christ in us that teaches us to love. Love is clearly defined in I Corinthians 13 and my love must bear all the qualities of Christ’s Love for obedience to be evident in my life. Even the most simple offering will not be accepted by God until I forgive those who I may grudge against to exemplify the grace I am given. Nothing I give to the Lord or attempt to do in His Honor is worthy of Him until I love Him wholeheartedly and express it to others effectively. Love is the commandment that is the subject of perseverance. It is the most difficult one of all. It requires putting aside my feelings and emotions. It is absolute and total crucifixion of pride and stubbornness. I have to lay down my life to claim my place in Heaven. Jesus came to fulfill the Law. (Matthew 5) He did it. There is not a letter of the Law that I am bound to except the one commandment which is to love the Lord and love people. Love changes everything. It sounds cliché.

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus Christ lives inside of every believer. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of His Promise to us. It is by falling in love with the Lord that He is able to consummate His Love for us as His Grace empowers us. To do what? To live and love radically. To persevere and power through those tough days in the Name of Love. Isn’t that what pregnant woman do in the midst of vomiting, exhaustion, swelling, bedrest or complications? They will do anything to get the promise inside to become a reality. What about the Promise of God in each of us? Is it not worth having more than anything this world has to offer including comfort? Of course, it is.

“It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15) Jesus Christ came to initiate a relationship not institute a new religion. Unlocking every chain and opening every door so that the Body of Christ might become one in anticipation of His Eminent Return. I can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a thousand people but if I cannot express His Love it will fall on deaf ears. Real Love. Authentic Love. Selfless Love. True Love. The church must learn to love to become the new creation it has the potential to be. Unconditional love is to love without condition. Without rules or regulations, the Lord did not require you to change a thing and still considered you to die for. Why do we insist on changing people? We must love them like Jesus loves us.

What is a righteous and godly life anyway? “Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” This verse makes me think of Micah 6:8, “this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The Lord is whispering to us today and encouraging us to get it right. To pursue a righteous life. To live a godly life. To do so the way that He tells us to, a life defined by “faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” I think the word “perseverance” is tucked in there to remind us that there will be hard days, trials and tests, and those when our strength gives out making us ready to throw in the towel. You are pregnant with promises today that are worth having. So much so that the enemy is pressuring you to give up, give in, and just quit. I cannot imagine being pregnant more than 42 weeks as that is the longest pregnancies that I endured. A giraffe carries her promise for 15 months and some animals even longer. Whatever God’s Promise is for your life, it comes with a process and prescribed time. You must only endure and preserve for the reality of God’s Promise to be revealed. Faith must be our confident when waiting for that which we hope for to come. To abandon the process of pregnancy is abortion. To abandon the process of love is to end our future with the Lord. It is His Commandment to us. It is His Mandate on our life. Every other attempt to serve Him absent of love is pointless. Love is the most difficult thing to maintain. Jesus warned us that love would grow colder. It does each day. It is the love within us that makes us a new creation and our life offering incense to God. My faith is in the Love of God and His Faithfulness to me. My confidence is that His Love never fails and nothing can separate me from Him. It is from this faith and confidence that the Lord makes us new creations who can love unselfishly just because He loves us.

Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

 

To Give

To Give

Luke 6:38 (NLT) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Our small group has been studying Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way. When I first chose to use in our group, it was really a no-brainer. The Holy Spirit put on my Facebook feed, and then dropped in my email. The Holy Spirit really operates like “A Spiritual Guide for Dummies” most of the time, at least where I am concerned. At our first meeting, each participant shared a moment of brokenness. Their transparency evident as they tried to make sense of the broken pieces each held ended with giving God glory for their survival. Some shared the lesson learned in the shattering of their fragile heart. The more tears that fell the heavier my heart became threatening to spill out at any moment. I carried the burden home with me and began to pray for these ladies. At the next meeting, as I watched the video listening to the author share, I realized that there was a rattling in my chest, too. Broken pieces of my destroyed heart put under the Blood and committed to the Lord but still crashing around in there. Suddenly, my comfort with brokenness and the thorough examination of this journey became clear and discomfort rose up inside me. I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. To look into the mirror with eyes wide open and see the shell of the woman looking back at me. I gave it all to you, Jesus. Now what? Do I really have to try to put those pieces back together again? It was much easier to leave them be. To consider healing as a scar that holds them tightly within my bandaged heart rather than allow Christ to complete the process. So, on Sunday afternoon after a glorious nap, I knew that I must embark on this journey for it was part of my process. I didn’t want to. Who does? To consider all those things that we don’t understand or that did not turn out as one expected. I have a list. The list of the things that I still cannot reconcile with the Goodness of God and how it ended for His Glory. I save it for Jesus. When I meet Him face-to-face, so He can help me comprehend them.

The author talks about a cross that she has drawn on her wrist. It makes me look at the tattoo forever marking my right arm. It reminds me that this journey is all about “faith” which is what I see when I look down at it. It offers “hope” to others when they see it from a different perspective. I got it when our son was battling cancer not the first time or even the second, but the third time. I wanted to remember that no matter what the outcome was that God is good. My life is all about acquiring faith and confident hope. I was doing pretty well, or so I thought, until our son was diagnosed. I managed to somehow find my legs and walk through the first two rounds. But by the third time, I just wasn’t sure how much farther I could go. I wonder if Abraham felt the same on his journey to the mountain. To receive his promise, and now consider offering it back to God. This study brings back to a time of great victory. However, the brokenness experienced during that time changed me into someone I wasn’t comfortable with. It made me relinquish control of my life. Nothing would ever be “normal” again. The Lord wants to make something beautiful out of our brokenness. It has been not only a theme in my own personal time with the Lord but is coming from many other authors and writers. However, the evaluation of the pieces of our life requires us to go back to times of great hurt, hardship, betrayal and disappointment. The Lord promises to make good of every detail of our life. Perhaps some of those pieces buried deep within have potential and purpose that have yet to be released. Rather than being in captivity behind our scars, Jesus wants us to sow them with His Promises in our fertile heart. It has been plowed and watered with our tears. Now covered in the Blood, it has the ability to be renewed, restored and refreshed so that our giving is complete.

Brokenness is the prerequisite of giving. To give means to present voluntarily and without expectation of compensation. It is to place in someone’s care. To hand it over to someone and grant it to them. Giving is a form of communication. It is to transfer ownership and place in the permanent possession of another. There are two forms of giving. Offering and sacrifice. To give an offering allows us to maintain our life as it is. To sacrifice is to give something away for good. To give our best. To give our all. We all know the story of sacrifice offered by the hen and the pig. The farmer cooks breakfast as they peer through the window. The chicken gives an offering. The pig gives their all. What is the giving in your life? I am not talking about what you do for Christ, give to the church or offer others? What is the level of your giving? Offering or sacrifice?

Psalm 25:1 (NLT) Lord, I give myself to you.

Giving comes in many forms. We give tangible gifts. We also give intangible gifts such as thanksgiving, forgiving, care-giving, and so forth. It is a form of brokenness to be thankful because it honors another. Forgiving is humbling ourselves before others. Care giving is to offer assistance to others rather than choosing our way. Give and it will be given back to you. It is so basic yet labeled different ways in the church today. I offer this to you. If I allow myself to be broken, I will receive the blessing of the Fullness of Christ in me. It takes what I am willing to give and makes it blessed, beautiful and worth having. Suddenly, my life is complete in Christ so giving is without fear or trepidation. The Lord supplies everything I need. Jesus is the desire of my heart. His Spirit completes me.

Matthew 26:26-28 (NLT)  As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Covenant in the Old Testament was a mess. Each bringing a sacrifice, to tread down the middle of, yet sacred in those days. Jesus was the Blood sacrifice for our union. He gave His Body to be broken and His Blood for the remission of sin. Once His Blood covered our sin, it is our privilege to live in the Presence of God. However, what about His Body. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Could it be that we missed it in this old hymn? Could it be that our brokenness is blessed by the Body of Jesus instead? When the disciples gathered and Jesus performed the first communion, the Lord said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” He had taken a loaf of bread, broken it into pieces and blessed it. They were instructed to “eat it”. The Lord’s Body now one with their own. Isn’t this what happens when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is consummated. However, unless our heart remains broken it cannot be made beautiful. We must be broken to be blessed. That is what true repentance is after all – giving up my way for His Way. Giving up my life so that Christ will be complete in me. Religion and relationship are marked by two different things. Religion is defined by what I can do for God. My relationship with God is when I can do nothing – His Grace becomes enough for me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Ironically, or not so, this is the verse that the Lord gave me right after the call marking the third diagnosis of cancer in our son. When the doctor told me it was back and it was really bad, I fell to my knees. I was at work. My office consisted of three walls and one full of windows. Everyone in the lobby could see me go down. It didn’t matter. I was broken. To truly take in the fullness of Jesus Christ, one must consume Him in every part of life. It is in our brokenness that blessing comes. The blessing makes something of our once worthless offering and giving which is now a sacrifice of our whole life.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT) You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Why would God desire a broken spirit? It leads to repentance. A soft heart is a fertile heart. A broken heart allows God’s Word to penetrate and give way to growth. Faith needs a place to grow. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. It is in our weakness that He is made manifest in our life. Brokenness allows us to partner with Jesus and become yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28-30) While I control my life, dictate my way and choose my path – I am not broken or repentant. To give my life to Jesus Christ means yielding all that I am to all He is. We cry out for it, want it, desire it, and even pursue the fullness of Christ never considering the brokenness that provides for the blessing.

In Psalm 129:3-4, the psalmist refers to his “back covered in cuts as if a farmer had plowed furrows.” He goes on to say, “The Lord is good; he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly.” Jesus freed us from the captivity of sin. The consequence of sin is brokenness. The Lord blesses brokenness and makes it beautiful. He has redeemed us from sin and now His Grace exhibits its power. Every broken thing (or detail) of our life is designated for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) We must not ignore the broken pieces or hide them away but haul them to the altar called sacrifice and give them to Jesus. We must examine our heart. To those rattling pieces of the past, the jumbled mess of circumstances, and even scars that bind our wounds to staunch the bleeding. Brokenness must not be ignored. It is meant for our good and His Glory.

Psalm 37:3-5 (NLT) Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

Jesus Christ is the strength of my life. It is in my utter and complete destruction that His Power is made manifest in my life. Blessed are the brokenhearted because the Lord is close to them. Not because He feels sorry for them but because it is in such a state our heart is open to the Lord and His Careful Intervention. Pride keeps us from humbling our heart and life to Jesus. Personal strength must give out by coming to the end of self. Trusting the Lord is a noble effort until our broken heart can beat no more. In our brokenness, it is the Savior who we see. The One who rushes to hold us closely, care for us deeply, and it doesn’t matter what we are doing or where we are the moment before tragedy strikes. His Loving Compassion for us cannot help but come to our side. How can I commit everything to the Lord if I am withholding pieces of my life? I cannot. It is when my heart is irretrievably broken that I can lay all of the pieces at His Feet. Trust is born in that moment. Not ordinary trust, but complete dependency on the Lord that allows us to give our life away unrestricted. Brokenness is the perquisite of blessing that makes our life worth giving to others. Grace empowers us to be blessing. Thank you Lord for brokenness. It enables our giving and empowers our works to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. It gives us a life worth giving. All giving starts with brokenness. Brokenness is made complete in Christ.

Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Dig a Little Deeper

Gardening shovel in the soil

Luke 6:47-49 (NLT) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

Discouragement and desperation are both driving forces that can lead to a desire or defeat depending on how a person responds to them. Human desire is never satisfied. I believe that but what if that natural state of discontentment is a hidden plan by God to move us from complacency, compromise, and conflict into a state of total confidence founded on faith that builds the rich, satisfying life that Jesus promised to us. I once worked with a young man who shared some sage advice. Though it may not sound godly or very Christ-like, I believe that there is a bit of truth to it. Ringing close to the old saying, “Give somebody enough rope to hang themselves”, he said, “Give them everything they need to succeed.” Seems kind of like a cup half full or half empty type of thing to me. But it’s true, I have been in situations where people do not want to listen. I raised three very competent and independent people who what I call stubbornness – they call drive. They come by it honestly. They are not “tell me” kind of people but “show me”. I wonder if the Lord gives us opportunities sometimes that maybe are viewed as problems, trials and tests or even impossible situations not to “discipline” us in the way one might think but create a desire by discontentment that leads us to the “rich and satisfying” life that He promised. If we could see these unfavorable events, desperate situations or even disputes for what they are rather than slinging rope at people, it would be seen as empowerment that moves us from the pace of complacency, compromise and conflict to achieve our true purpose in life and to prosper.

I don’t know what you’re facing today. I can only see the challenges in my life. As I look all around me, I see that God is good and He has been faithful to our family. However, lately I have felt a stirring for more. The potential in me is pushing the self-imposed limitations. Comfort is compromised by an inner motivation of what if there is more in Christ. Friend, there is always more to this life than we see, feel or think and the Lord is desperately trying to move us from where we are into His Promise and Purpose so we will find true satisfaction and bring Glory to His Name. Who wants a careless, worthless deadbeat dad who doesn’t look after his children? It is the promise that God is Good and that He is an excellent father who blesses His Children not according to their ability to be perfect but simply because we are His Most Prized Possession.

It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock.” If your life seems mundane, mediocre, ordinary and lack luster – there is more for you in Jesus Christ today. It is up to you to find it. We must dig a little deeper today. God did not hand you a rope but rather a shovel along with His Word. Jesus is the Word of God. He is the firm foundation in which our faith anchors us in confident hope so that wind, rain and storms cannot harm us much less destroy us. However, if you are not established before the atmosphere and environment changes or ill-prepared for the next season, it will be too late to thrive in it but you will be lucky to merely survive. It is with an outlook for the future that today prepares us for that yet to come.

Genesis 26:12-15 (NLT) When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.

The story of Isaac and the conflict over water rights demonstrates three areas of life that keep us from digging deeper into the firm foundation of faith. It is important to note that Jesus promised a rich and satisfied life to those who come to Him, live in Him, move and exist in Him. He called you a new creation. However, if left to our own devices it is easy to settle in the land of complacency. In my Christian life of more than a few years or decades, I have found that even in my wandering or wondering about the Lord that He has remained faithful in His Passionate Pursuit of my with love and goodness. He has always responded to my desperate cry for help and rushed in even when I was nowhere I thought He would come – the Lord came to meet me, comfort me and lead me from that place to a better place. The enemy of completion is called complacency. We stop in process because of comfort. My life today is better than I ever imagined it might be, but I serve a God who promises to do more than I can think, ask or imagine. If I trust Him, it will come to pass. The trouble is when life is good – people settle. It is discontentment that drives us from complacency causing us to dig a little deeper. When Isaac began to prosper, his power was a perceived threat to the Philistines so they filled his wells with dirt. Isaac had to move on.

Genesis 26:17-20 (NLT) So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them. Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”).

Driven from his comfort zone, Isaac moves into a new area. He reopens his father, Abraham’s wells and digs some new ones. In the new wells, fresh water is found. This is the land of compromise. God had a plan and purpose for Isaac that was his very own. He was a product and promise to Abraham, but Isaac was not just a byproduct to God. He was a prized possession all his own. It was not God’s Plan for Isaac to compromise. He reopened his father’s wells. Tradition and religion can often keep us in the land of compromise because we try to do it like those before us rather than venturing off to the new place, position or purpose that God has for us. We settle in the land of compromise because its easy. Total trust in the Lord means leaving this place, too. We must find God’s Plan and Purpose with our name on it to acquire the rich and satisfying life that is within it. Complacency and compromise are weaknesses that once left behind are where we find grace. Grace that is sufficient to carry us into the great unknowns and hidden places where the Lord has placed the inheritance of those who dare to come that way. The narrow road is less traveled because it requires trusting an unseen God with an unknown plan. It will be worth it for those who move on, shovel in hand, and dig a little deeper.

Genesis 26:21-22 (NLT) Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

Most people would have thrown up their hands and quit after all this moving. But not Isaac, now moved from complacency, compromise and even comfort found in these two places. He tried again and failed. Isaac left the land of conflict. He was not fighting old battles but forging his way to victory. He was desperate to find a place to live in freedom with his family. His heart’s desire was set on the Lord so he focused on digging. He dug until there was no more complacency, compromise or even conflict. Where did he end up? Glad you asked.

Genesis 26:23-25 (NLT) From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.

Isaac had dug his way to his promise. Abraham’s promise received his promise. So often looking in the mirror, we estimate our worth and potential by what we see, the words spoken over us and the worth of our life evaluated by a world that is dying. God has given us a promise. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfied life. If that is not the land in which you are living, it is time to start digging again. Rather than doing, it is time to dig in God’s Word and dig up your life. The enemy will throw dirt and debris in your well to produce doubt and disbelief. Truth is the filtration system that removes the lies from our existence. Those things that the enemy offers in the place of God’s Best. The subtle substitutions that produce an ordinary, mediocre, and naturally comfortable life. This is all good, but not the “complete lacking nothing” life that has been offered to us. God will not force you to build a firm foundation. He will not bind the shovel to your hand and command you to dig. He just calls to us and invites to a deeper place. Where fresh water will rise up and wash away the film of complacency, compromise, comfort and even conflict so all we see is the Goodness of God that will produce His Glory in our life.

I Corinthians 3:11-14 (NLT) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.

Jesus died for you and I with good reason. He would break down the barrier between God and His Children so that according to His Riches in Glory an opportunity is provided for a rich and satisfied life. Are you satisfied? Are you rich? Do you feel complete and content with your life today just as it? If not, then I am handing you a shovel and inviting you to dig with me. Plowing up the hard places in our heart so fresh water can flow through it. To make room for the roots of His Love to go deeper. It may mean leaving complacency, compromise and comfort behind. It may mean offering forgiveness to end conflict and moving on. Nothing planted in His Presence and the energy it takes to humble ourselves is wasted or worthless.

God’s Promise is better than you can ever do, think, ask or imagine, so if your life is anything less there is more to it. If you decide to have all God has promised – be prepared. The fight is on between flesh and spirit. It is the very moment that His Grace and Power overtake our mundane life so we can magnify His Glory. Preparation for the inclement weather of change occurs before the first drop of rain. God uses all things to work together for our good and His Glory. He fans the wind of change to begin to blow on us so we will prepare now for what is coming. Storms reveal the insufficiencies of faith and places where hope is not holding so we are given the grace to fortify our life. Don’t give up. Dig deeper. Faith creates a firm foundation for God’s Productivity conducive to His Promise. He will never let you down. He is building you up. He wants Heaven to touch the earth where you are standing. Your foundation of faith must be sound and your heart ready to receive which all comes from digging a little deeper.

I Peter 5:10-11 (NLT) In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.

What’s the Hold Up?

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Hebrews 10:19-23 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 

Trusting and believing would not be so hard if God did not insist on keeping His Own Timeline. Those days that add up to endurance and perseverance that push us past our patience. We love God. Why does He keep us waiting? What’s the hold up? I have divulged on many occasions that patience is not a personal strength but my total weakness that it seems God is intent on fixing in me. I find that each day I am presented with opportunities to wait on people, wait on traffic, wait at the store, wait at the doctor, wait on results and wait some more. My ability to wait indicates the importance of that which I am waiting for. For example, if our pantry and refrigerator are borderline empty – I will wait in a long line at the grocery store on a busy Saturday in order to buy the food our family needs. However, if I am there to pick up a few items to make a batch of cookies on impulse – I am more likely to put the ingredients back and walk out the door. It is all based on need and desire.

Waiting on God is just as important as working for Him. One does not discount the other. To plow through that which God says do but not be still when God says wait will impact our purpose. Our obedience to the Lord determines the abundance in our life. He is not rewarding us – He is releasing what He has already stored away for us. Before I get pummeled with all the scriptures that indicate God rewards good behavior and obedience. Please allow me to explain. The reward that is reserved for me in Heaven is not subject to the hands of others. My reward is labeled an inheritance because it belongs to me. It is mine by birthright as a Child of God. I am not in competition with anyone else for what God has for me. By choosing obedience, patience and stillness over the impetuous nature of my flesh, God releases that which He has reserved for me. The only thing standing between me and God’s Richest Blessing in my life is – you guessed it – me!

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” What is the hold up? What is keeping God’s Word from coming to pass in my life? Well, quite frankly and not to hurt any feelings – it is me and it is you. The very thing desired of the Father begins with the promise that we cling to. The Word of God clearly outlines every benefit and blessing that He has for us. It is a careful inventory of the supplies and surplus called abundance. Do you read it as such and believe it to be so? Have you ever gone into a restaurant hungry? When you peruse the menu, everything looks good. You order more than you can eat. Our appetite and hunger must become focused on God’s Word and God’s Way. This will produce satisfaction and contentment rather than a lifestyle of trying it all in hope of finding peace and rest.

Through the temptations, trials and tests of life, believers are forced to evaluate the things held tightly in our heart and in our hands. This is not because God wants to take from us but rather pour into us. What I hold on to can absolutely keep me from taking hold of those things that the Lord has for me that only faith and hope can produce. I will not trust the Lord for more if I have no idea what is available to me. It is also important that we seek the Lord personally and intentionally outside of the preachers and teachers that spoon feed the Word. Though they are necessary and beneficial to the Body of Christ, if we do not taste and see the Lord’s Grace and Goodness for ourselves – we will never let go of lesser things to obtain all the great blessings God has reserved for us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

“Let us hold firmly to what we believe.” I am challenged in Genesis and I Kings when God asks His Children like “who told you that” and “what are you doing here”? God will ask you the same thing if you listen for His Voice. It is easy to settle for good over God. It is much easier to maintain a level of control than to give up all control to trust the Lord. The absence of personal strength allows His Grace to take over and produce God’s Wonder Working Power in our life. Who is willing to take such a chance? We didn’t have a choice when our son was diagnosed with cancer. God didn’t ask me if I was up to the challenge or interested in following Abraham to the mountain. He just said, “Do you trust me?” I charged the Throne of God reciting every promise in His Word. He did not deny me but continued to ask, “Do you trust me?” The answer “yes” was not a powerful declaration such as David charging the giant but rather a whisper from deep within my devastated and demolished heart which I no longer had the strength to even pick up. One might think such a confession was enough. But I had prayed for years for more faith, to know Him more, to trust Him implicitly – and now I was given the opportunity, yes opportunity, to do just that. I had no idea what it would require. One diagnosis, four relapses, complete denial by the insurance company for lifesaving treatment until the very end of all medical intervention and the dead-end of all financial resources. One might think it was all those steps leading up to the moment when the final denial from our last appeal came in – but that was not the end it was only the beginning.

The shaking and struggling in life is not always the enemy sometimes it is the Holy Spirit trying to get us to let go of our word, our way and our will because our prayer is for His Word, His Way and His Will. We pray for one thing but don’t necessarily know that which is requested. When we finally make it through the stronghold of self to enter boldly into the Throne Room it is usually not a grand entrance but what is left of our person crawling into the Presence of God asking for grace and hoping for mercy just to make it through. God didn’t make it like this – we do by fighting for our way first and then seeking Him when all else fails. We can change all that but it means letting go now. Surrendering our life before Him daily rather than on demand. Service to God begins with humility that begins each day with less of me and more of You, God. It is to scoop up new mercy and to let go of the idea that there is anything I can do to earn it but must come before Him boldly to receive it. Boldness is born of confidence. Are you confident in the Lord today? Do you believe that He keeps His Promises? Or do you hope for less to see Him more? Do you lower your expectation to a human level because you are not willing to wait for Him to work all details for your benefit and blessing? Guilty as charged.

Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT) “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

Obedience allows all the benefits and blessings tucked away for us under the careful guard of angel armies to be released to us. It is not to punish us or force us to do anything that we do not want to do. For example, while cooking dinner last night, I had a certain dish in mind. I read the instructions and pulled out all the ingredients. I followed each one line by line and precept by precept because I wanted the dish to turn out right. I did not deviate from it because the person who wrote it was sharing a secret with me that would become a glorious meal. I wasn’t mad that I had to add salt or not add sugar. I didn’t get frustrated when I had to wait for it all to simmer and the flavors to mesh together. That would have been ridiculous right? Why do we get mad or offended at the thought of godly obedience? Taste and see that the Lord is good is an open invitation to come try the food at His Table. To sit and sup with God and enjoy all the blessings and benefits of His Kingdom. If I deviate from a written recipe the food will not taste the same and I risk failure. Heck, I am pretty good at messing up recipes I follow to the letter. Do I throw out the pots and pans? Do I stop cooking forever? Do burn all my cookbooks? No, I try again.

We must take a logical approach to illogical faith. We must be sure that in learning to walk by faith not by sight that the very thing held most tightly is God and His Word. It will be evident in the productivity in our life. Holding tightly to faith produces the many fruits of God’s Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and more.

Romans 12:9-12 (NLT) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

It is only reasonable to believe that if the things I am doing, seeking and believing are ending in frustration and dissatisfaction that I need to do something else. Insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. I had this thought the other day. My husband and I have moved to a more rural area in the county outside the city limits. When we decide to “go to town”, it usually includes a meal since options are limited in the county. I ask him, “Where would you like to go?” He says, “I don’t know, how about you?” I respond, “It’s up to you.” I am embarrassed to admit that we usually frequent the exact same places where we used to eat before we moved. In fact the last few months, it has been the same restaurant every time. Shameful when there are so many choices. Inevitably as we continue to run errands that day and pass the many other venues, one of us will say, “We should have eaten there instead.” We are all creatures of habit. The Lord offers new ways and new things but change is difficult for the flesh inside of us. We miss faith full opportunities because we live on status quo. I know the place I go has what I want. I do not try new things in fear that I won’t like the food or be willing to pay a different price. This same principle is applied to our Christian walk. We set boundaries and limitations in our life because we give up on what we first believed and limit Christ to this life rather than letting go of what we hold tightly to embrace all that He is. Greater is He who lives in me is activated by the Truth – He must increase and I must decrease. His Power works best in my weakness always.

It is time to hold tightly to what is good. All ways and every day – those who choose to live by God’s Word, His Way and His Will cannot continue to do things the same way. Love. Forgiveness. Hope. Grace. Mercy. These are the qualities that produce boldness in our walk with Jesus Christ. These are the life giving words and principles that motivate us. Just because someone doesn’t believe doesn’t mean they don’t belong. Just because the Holy Spirit convicted you of something doesn’t mean it must be their conviction too to produce unity. It means that putting all differences aside and discarding indifference in our life that the Love of God become the prevailing principle and purpose for all things in our life. Genuine faith cannot be found aside from absolute trust in Jesus Christ. The kind of trust that continues to love and serve God no matter what this life looks like. Clinging to His Robe of Righteousness, burying our face in His Presence, and intently hanging on to His Every Word until our primary motivation in all things is Jesus.

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

Juggling the responsibilities of this life and yet trying to incorporate faith that cannot be seen only experienced, we sometimes forget that if God is our priority everything else will fall into place. I challenge you today to let the balls fall where they may and enter boldly into Your Father’s Presence. Lay your life and everything you hold tightly to at His Feet. Let Jesus sort through it with you. He will carry your burdens and cares. He will relieve all worries. He will give you the strength that only grace provides. He will be Your Portion producing satisfaction is seasons of famine and contentment in moments of drought. I know that when I first came to Christ I had this fairytale in my head that the Lord would make everything better…instantly. It doesn’t work that way – trust is the avenue to all that we hope for. His Word is roadmap to the Destiny of fulfillment that is prepared for us. We are not dead men (and women) walking but charging toward victory which is our destination. Let go today of everything you thought being a Christian was and take hold of God’s Word, listen to His Voice and do what He says. He knows you. You are His Masterpiece. Don’t mark up your Mona Lisa with all the things others tell you to be – let God’s Word, His Way and His Will prepare you and place you in Your Purpose and Calling.

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

The Humble Way

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I Peter 5:6-7 (NLT) So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I had the rare pleasure of a telephone conversation with my sister who lives in Missouri. She happened to reach out to me during my commute to work which usually is my extended quiet time, prayer time, and worship session at the beginning of the day. She does not call often so when she popped up on the caller ID, I knew it was important. She had an important prayer request and shared her heart with me. It was serious and intent conversation. As she began to speak, I prayed silently that the Lord would help me hear her heart and offer the encouragement that only His Spirit can give. If you know my sister, she is hilarious. Even in a moment of complete transparency and total relevance, I should have known that she would say something to make me burst out laughing. This would be no exception. She said, “I do not have time to get on someone else’s hamster wheel and let their junk hit me in the head.” Now, you may not think this is funny for a variety of reasons, but I was dissolved into inconsolable laughter and added the immediate disclaimer that I would indeed be using this illustration many times to come. She gave her complete consent. We continued our conversation all the way to my office and as usual my kid sister completely blessed my heart.

“Give all your worries and cares to God for He cares for you.” Are you the hamster on the wheel today? Running fast and hard but getting nowhere day after day? Are you getting hit in the head (and heart) with the same junk over and over again? Are you praying but hearing nothing? Are you petitioning but seeing no change? Are you tired? Are you weary? Do you need rest? Do you need a win? Do you need peace? Though I laughed at the thought, it began to penetrate my heart throughout the day. Are there areas of my life that are lacking because rather than choosing God’s Way, I have chosen my own? Could the very things repeating in my life be evidence of my own doing and not a form of spiritual attack? Is it me, Lord?

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to bring Him all of our cares and concerns in exchange for peace and rest. He calls to the weak and heavy laden carrying burdens. Is that you? “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart.” Take my yoke. It is an exchange of my weakness for His Power as indicated in 2 Corinthians 12:9. The breaking point when I give up my weakness to accept His Grace and He gives me His Power. The Lord does not take our load so we can go find more baggage. Jesus invites us to learn from Him and do as He did. “For my yoke is easy to bear and my burden is light.”

Micah 6:8 breaks it down quite nicely into bite-size pieces for every believer. Do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Your God. That is Christian Living in a nutshell, but we act allergic to nuts. Finding excuses along His Way to do it our way. The very thing that is choking the life out of us is pride. It is a problem. It stops us from doing what is right, loving mercy and worst of all walking with our God.

James 4:5-7 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

Satan was once the most beautiful angel in all of heaven. He was the model of perfection. Full of wisdom and exquisite beauty. He was ordained and anointed as the mighty angelic guardian giving him full access to God. What happened? “Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.” (Ezekiel 28) We think about the devil as a beast hard on the eyes and disgustingly evil but consider this. He lived in the Presence of God. He experienced His Glory firsthand. He was right there with a front row seat. He even is permitted to return as seen in the book of Job. Yet his pride told him that he was greater, could do more and be God. How is this possible? I have experienced just a glimpse of the Glory of God in worship, during prayer, and even when studying His Word. It undoes me completely. I melt to my knees totally overwhelmed by His Goodness. Yet the enemy of our souls who lived with God did not feel the same way. I cannot even imagine. What was his problem? Pride. God opposes pride. God is a “yes” or “no” kind of guy. He never says, “Maybe.” He chooses right over wrong and good over evil never entering the gray areas of life or acknowledging the middle of the road. With this in mind, how detrimental pride is even in the smallest portion! It took one sin to require all of the Blood of Jesus Christ. It takes a hint of pride to keep us from moving closer to the Lord.

The enemy decided to exalt self over God. He wanted to be God. This precipitated his great fall to the earth and is the subject of his rage against it. (Isaiah 14) We must be very careful to not assume the position of Satan in our everyday life. We must focus intently on our passion and pursuits in life to determine if pride is a factor. God opposes pride on every level even religiosity which thinks grace is something that can be earned rather than inherited by our Father. To live in the Presence of God we must resist pride. If pride is in us, it will invite the enemy’s pursuit. To live humbly in God’s Presence causes him to flee.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True repentance is characterized by complete humility. It is to be loyal to the Kingdom of God and by grace gaining access to the Father. To share a yoke with Jesus Christ means sacrificing pride completely. What is pride? Pride is self-esteem. It is the idea that I have a level of power and control over my life and ability to change my circumstance or condition. I do, but only in a natural sense. If I desire the resurrection power of God to transform me from death to life, I must give up my life now to gain it. Pride divides our interest between Heaven and earth. How do I know if I am prideful? Do you feel entitled? Do you withhold forgiveness from those who hurt, betray and abuse you? Do you submit to God’s Authority by obeying the Word of God completely? Do you find deep satisfaction in your personal accomplishments or give God all the Glory? Do you believe that pursuing the Lord will promote you in His Kingdom? Do you seek the approval and affirmation of other people? Do you worry? Do you stress? Are you anxious? Do you want to give up? Do you have peace? God has invited us to do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly beside Him. We must be willing to give up our right to be right, choose mercy over judgment and surrender our Way completely to walk His Way. To choose closeness with God is to be humble.

John 5:19-20 (NLT) o Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.”

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” Jesus humbled His Life to the mighty power of His Father when He came into this world. He only did what God instructed Him to do and never strayed from His Father’s Word, Will or Way. He is our example of humility. True humility is evidenced in our ability to trust the Lord fully. It is confidence in God’s Mighty Power that allowed Jesus to endure the Cross and visit the grave knowing that “at the right time” God would “lift him up” which is resurrection life. To humble myself to God and walk in His Way will give me resurrection power in my everyday life. Humility allows us to radically pursue God because there is no longer anything to lose. Once pride gives way to humility, our life is no longer our own but given to the Power of God in us. He is passionate that the Spirit in us faithful to Him. Our passion is worthless enthusiasm and misdirected zeal until pride is eradicated. Humility gives us access to God in full measure. Humility makes faith in God fruitful because our confidence is in hope and not what is visible by the naked eye.

What does this mean? The humble way chooses to step off the hamster wheel and let the junk fall were it may knowing that God promises to make every detail of our life work out for His Glory which is our good. It means that I don’t have to run the rat race to get ahead but to just follow God’s Word, do His Will and choose His Way. Yoked to Christ I have grace that allows me to utilize God’s Power rather than wallowing in human weakness. It gives my life new purpose. It fills my life with promises. It gives me peace. Allows me to rest. My life will prosper because I chose to humble myself before the Lord. To wait until He resurrects my mind, soul and body. God is good. Today I choose to do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

Psalm 25:8-10 (NLT) The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.

Joy of Obedience

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Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

Our oldest son was a challenging kid. High energy and very impulsive, he was a handful to say the least. He loved to find the line and cross it. He struggled with obedience and the household rules always intent on overstepping boundaries. When he entered high school, he joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) which was offered as a course. I really didn’t think too much of it as he had always been interested in history and military. His reading collection demonstrated his interest and his choice of programs made it clear that such things were fascinating to him. My father is a Vietnam veteran so he also engaged him as well in things of that nature. I did not link his interest to his purpose until he came to us his junior year to express interest in enlistment. Thank God for the grace given to us as parents. It seems that wisdom comes with age so the first kids produce it while the younger children benefit from it. I honestly laughed.

When our boy took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, he scored off the charts. On his first time, cold, his score was impressive enough to earn the attention of recruiters. Even though I knew he had done exceptional on the test, enlistment was a total commitment. He felt like this was his purpose in life to defend his country and the people in it while upholding the constitution. Please understand it was never my intention to dash his dream, but at this point, he was barely making it through his school. Not only that, our buddy had a problem with authority. He struggled with basic obedience such as making his bed. He ignored house rules and curfew, but how expressed a deep heartfelt desire to become a soldier who must respect authority and become radically obedient. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He did go on to join the military and still serves in the National Guard today. He has also joined the brotherhood of law enforcement. I am proud of him. Truthfully, I was proud of him before but now I understand more fully the quality that promotes obedience in life – it is called purpose.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His Laws AND search for Him with all their hearts. Jeremiah 29:11-13 eludes to the very same. God has a plan for our life that includes a future (here) and hope (eternity). The catch is that those who desire such an existence and promise must seek Him wholeheartedly. Just as our son had purpose in his heart at a very young age, we all are born with purpose in our heart. God placed it there along with eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is in the pursuit of one’s purpose that satisfaction is produced. Here is the catch: “they do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

So our son decided that he would enlist and did so his junior year in high school. The Army at that time offered a split option enlistment. He would go to basic training during the summer before his senior year, come home to graduate, and then finish training before immediately being deployed. I was skeptical. I have to admit, but something changed in our kid that summer as his potential started to become his passion. Upon his return, he carried out each task with his heart set on the future. His grades somewhat improved. His character was changing. During a counseling appointment, it was discovered that to graduate he would have to have almost a perfect GPA that semester. School had been a challenge for years. He graduated with just one B on his report card. Purpose releases potential in our life. When we discover our purpose and begin to walk in it our life begins to yield the potential locked away. It is our motivation. It becomes our passion and we pursue it. What is your purpose? What is the promise of God not yet evident in your life? Partial obedience will never allow us to walk with purpose.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

God’s Purpose and Plan for my life is different than yours. It is the calling on my life. You have one too. The Body of Christ has many members each one diverse and individual. The human body is evidence of that design. Each part has its own function that keeps our organs working, limbs moving and maintains overall health. If one part of my body becomes diseased or dysfunctional the entire design is handicapped. The purpose God has placed inside of you benefits the Body of Christ and you.

The blessings of obedience are listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 112 as well as many other places in God’s Word. The most obvious is joy. How is it possible to “delight” in obeying his commands when they challenge us each day? There are benefits to obedience such as provision, protection, prosperity, promotion and many other things detailed in God’s Word. In order to enlist in the Kingdom of God, one must believe that God is good. His Love is unfailing. His Grace enough. His Plan perfect. Hope secured. Faith is required to achieve one’s purpose. Many claim to have it but few will make the conscious choice to walk in it. Those who do will find joy in the face of danger, obstacles, trials and even pain. Purpose gives way to passion that yields our person to Jesus Christ. When I am convinced that God is good and His Way perfect, I will find my purpose in Him along with every promise.

Romans 4:16 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

The promise of God is received by faith. The idea of obedience is overshadowed by ignorance. Obedience is not required. However, those who believe will obey. Why? They believe in the God of Abraham who “brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” If you have faith in God the evidence is obedience. Grace is sufficient in our weakness to release the power of God in us. This occurs not because we choose to willfully sin due to human weakness but because we have strived to obey God’s Word and fallen short due to human weakness. His Grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between my inability and God’s Perfect Plan for my life.

Our faith allows us to hope when there is no reason to hope. To believe based on God’s Word backed by all His Power and Authority so that no matter how things look now I can press on passionately and persistently until purpose and promise come to pass. It makes life worth living. It changes who I am into God created me to be. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. It took his whole life pursing God to find His Purpose, Isaac. God then required Abraham to make a choice. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises…are you?

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT) Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

No matter what one’s potential in life – if we obey the Lord it will produce His Promise and Prosperity in our life. He gave you that purpose and it is directly linked to our willingness to obey. Hence the psalmist prayer, “Restore to me the joy of salvation and make me willing to obey.” In I Samuel 15:22-23, God had appointed Saul as King of Israel and things were going good. That is until Saul chose partial obedience over willing obedience. What happened? God removed His Ordination and David would become the new king. Why? God views partial disobedience as rebellion. The gray area or middle of the road called compromise is a manmade creation made to make us feel better despite our shortcomings and inability to always do the right thing. Grace is made for those who desire God and yet still fall short. Saul did not obey the Word of the Lord and the Lord told the prophet to tell him, “Listen, obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols.”

The act of willing obedience to God is connected with one’s ability to have enough faith to trust the Lord. Not when I can make a way, but when there is no way and I still choose to trust and obey God. I Kings 17 tells of a woman and her family in the midst of famine. The prophet comes requesting a meal. Luck would have it she was about to prepare their last meal. There was no more food. She had decided to give up. Elijah did not thwart her plan but told her to go ahead but first…”make a little bread for me…” Obedience. She obeyed. God promised her that if she fed His Servant honoring the Lord with her obedience that there would “always be flour and olive oil left in your containers” to last until rain produced new crops again. She didn’t give much. She gave what she had to the Lord first. Obedience. The Bible says that God was true to His Word and she was well supplied. This was not the end of her story but only the beginning, when her son became sick. He finally died. Elijah came to her. She was obviously hurt and grieving. The prophet took the boy and God returned Him to life. She had faith in God. She trusted the Lord. She obeyed Him fully in the smallest measure so when it came time to trust Him for her son. She had the faith to bring resurrection life to her family. Our obedience to God leads us to everlasting.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

God created you with purpose. You have far greater potential within you than you will ever express according to your own ability and strength. It is our connection with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ that makes sacrifices unnecessary. Our position as Children of God secure in order to have all God promised – we must simply obey. Willing obedience that understands any other way is rebellion and stubbornness stagnates our purpose within us. There is purpose in every single step taken no matter if it results in good things or bad times because God promises to turn every detail into something for His Glory and our good. Obedience is evidence of burgeoning faith that dares to trust God in each step. To try His Way. Decide to have His Will. To live according to His Word. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love will always add passion to obedience. When God’s Love consumes every fear, doubt and worry so boldly each day is an exercise of discipline to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. To know that sin separates us from Him so we will work to avoid it. To know that my full potential becomes purpose when connected with the Kingdom is all I need to press, push and pursue Him in each step in each day. Lord, give me a willing heart. I want to be obedient in all things. I don’t want to be disqualified but my promise, potential and purpose fully realized according to Your Will, Your Way and Your Word. In Jesus Name – this is my humble prayer today!

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Dead Seed

dead-seed

Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT) Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

When the messengers of the Lord came to visit Abraham, he was an elderly man. Well past the years of successful producing the sons and daughters promised to him by the Lord. Abraham had faith in the Lord but he was also realistic. He knew his wife was well past her childbearing years as well. He even was so bold to joke with God. “Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is 99 years old?” Abraham even went so far as to give God an out. “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!”

How many times does this happen to us in life? God gives us a promise like a seed in our hand. We sow it by faith into our heart and wait for it. When the wait is too long and everything dies all around it – it is human nature to give up. Abraham was to be the father of many nations but all he had was an illegitimate son. A son born of compromise not trust. In Abraham’s desperation to achieve God’s Promise, He asked God to go back on His Word and change His Mind, His Plan. He might as well have said, “Your Kingdom come, my will be done in Heaven as it is on earth.”

Dead seeds still contain the full potential that God placed in them. There are some religious doctrines that teach of the Perfect Plan of God. This is true. It deviates from the truth when it implies that sin keeps us from every achieving it. God’s Perfect Plan includes the exact amount of grace needed for every dream to come to pass and our expectation to be fully met. Is there a promise in your life that you have given up on? A dead seed buried in the cold dark ground still yet to grow despite careful nurturing.

Genesis 18:9-14 (NLT) “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’  Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

I must be completely honest. If a messenger of the Lord told me that I would have a baby at 50 years of age, it would probably require a visit to the local behavioral health center. My children are almost grown. Three out of the nest, one will graduate next year and our baby almost in high school. I see the finish line in the distance. I cannot imagine a pregnancy at the age of 99. I don’t even really comprehend breathing at that time. Sarah laughed to herself. Her comments were valid. “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure…” The Lord’s Response is valid. “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” If nothing is impossible for those who believe it seems that the missing element must be faith.

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT) It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

Sarah did have a child when she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His Promise. Do you? What is that thing that you were once so confident would happen that is now a dead dream buried in a wasteland? What is the promise that you have given up on? The seed is not dead. It requires only one thing to grow into the Promise of God. It’s called faith. Faith is the resurrection power that brings dead things to life. One man who was as good as dead produced a nation with so many people that there is no way to count them. Imagine the potential of your seemingly dead but only dormant seed.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT) It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

Faith is acquired through sacrifice. The sacrificial seed is the hardest to press into the soil and leave in God’s Hands. For many years, I believed that I had faith in God. There were many instances when I tried a little faith here and there. It worked every time. But I was only offering God my faith in pieces. There is a real difference between seeds of sacrifice and seeds of offering. Offerings to God are what we choose to give. Sacrifice is to give Jesus Christ our all. I prayed for more faith. I sang all the worship songs about it. I prayed for it. I pursued it. Oh boy did I find it!

Our life was prospering in just about every way possible. The Favor of God evident in every tangible way and spiritually as well. I felt so blessed. I was thankful. We were obediently following Christ in every conceivable way. Life was good. When our son fell ill, I really didn’t think too much about it. He was a college student in the cesspool called university living. However, as he continued to have symptoms I became concerned. It was time to get in mom mode and get involved in his adult life, the medical team needed a little motivation. This would be the turning point of the “good life”. Within 24 hours, he was diagnosed with Stage III – IV cancer.

The night of his diagnosis, I locked myself in a filthy bathroom to go to war for my son. I charged into the Presence of God demanding an answer for such an intrusion and requested a cure. I spouted every word contrary to the attack on his body and reminded God of His Promises for us. I did everything I knew to do until I could barely whisper. God asked just one thing of me, “Do you trust me?” Of course, I did. Where had He been for the last decade of my life? Didn’t He recognize all the changes in our life? Didn’t He consider our commitment to Him? Didn’t He know that I loved Him? Why would He ask such a question? He whispered in that still small voice, “Lori, do you trust me?” “Yes Lord, I do!” He gave me a promise that night that “our son would live and not die.”

When God speaks – it is loud and clear. Through the test and trials of life, it is often human nature to entertain the other voices around us more than the still small voice inside of us. We get caught up in conversation and tangled in useless lies the enemy uses to call us from faith to doubt and disbelief. When the first course of treatment seemed to work, celebration broke out but was short-lived. By the third relapse, things took a turn. The doctors told us that he had entered the realm of hope. They were uncertain if they could cure our son with chemotherapy.

The cancer cells in his body were smart. When chemotherapy was introduced, they would go into a state of dormancy. As soon as chemo cleared his system, they would come raging back stronger and faster than ever before. The cancer formed when he contracted the Epstein-Barre virus but his immune system did not detect it. It formed a tumor. The tumor released cells into his system. These are not dumb cells but can decipher DNA. If one of my children has a virus and it spreads to another family member – such as a sibling – the symptoms and duration are generally worse because the virus picked up on the genetic code and improved its attack. Viruses mutate from carrier to carrier. With this in mind, with each dormancy, his cancer grew stronger as it was learning his DNA growing stronger and more resistant each time.

It was ultimately determined that our last chance would be a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is life threatening to a human who has never had chemotherapy. With each round received prior to transplant, it is more and more dangerous. When our son was finally approved for treatment, he had received five rounds of extensive chemotherapy. The clinical studies only showed a handful of people who survived the transplant. The choice was die from cancer or take the monumental risk of death by transplant to be one of the 2% who survived. I turned to Abraham. I had to put my son on the altar and trust the Lord to save Him. I would have been a fool not to consider the fact that God very well could have taken him, too.

This is when faith is evaluated on the most granular level. When there is nothing else to put our hope in but the Lord. When faith is the only solution offered to the test and trail before us. Faith is never accomplished standing on the dock waiting on the Lord, but when He says come jumping in over our head. I would have never offered my son or any one of my children or even my husband to the Lord willingly. I had to do it faithfully.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The most important factor in sowing and reaping supernaturally is faith. I cannot force the Hand of God or break the Heart of God to bend or shape Him to my will. I must trust Him. I must shove that thing I want to hang on the most into the ground and wait for Him to do the rest. Faith relinquishes control of our life, body, mind, will and emotions to the Power of God to mold it and shape it according to His Plan. Trusting that He is good. His Word is true. His Love is constant. His Grace is sufficient. His Power complete. The price of that is the seed called self. I must plant myself in Jesus Christ. Pride forfeited and heart completely broken is when His Power works the best.

Romans 4:16-24 (NLT)  So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 

Have you done everything you know to do to make your dream a reality? Have you tired just about everything to make God’s Promise a reality? Are you tired? Discouraged? Just about to give up? Your dream is not dead. It is dormant. It is waiting for you to introduce faith. God will take every seed entrusted to Him wrapped in faith and carried by confident trust to Him and make to grow into the Promise that He gave you. His Word says so. Abraham and Sarah testify to it. You cannot claim faith if you, your hands or ability have anything at all to do with it. Being right is not the same as righteousness. Nothing “I” do, good or bad, changes the productivity of the potential placed inside me by God. His Grace is enough. But until I realize that His Power works in weakness dreams will lie dormant and all hope seems lost. The moment I decide to entrust my life to Jesus Christ…all of it… and wrap every seed planted in my life in faith…God’s Work begins to produce the good things and great visions that He promised. How’s your faith today? If you think you can still do something to make your dream a reality, you’re not quite there yet? It is the realization that apart from Jesus I can do nothing that His Power is perfected in us. No seed is ever wasted. This is according to God’s Promise in Romans 8:28 that says He makes good of every detail of our life. Those missed opportunities are actually scheduled for the future when faith takes over. Those dead dreams are vivid reality when His Grace is enough. Nothing is wasting when faith becomes our foundation.

Romans 3:22 (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.