Ripe Fruit

Ripe Fruit

John 15:16-17 (ESV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items last week. Passing through the produce section, there was sign marked “tree-ripened fresh peaches”. Reaching for them expecting soft and supple fruit, the peaches were still a bit hard and not at all what I expected. However, this did not stop me from filling a bag anyway. An elderly gentleman in a riding wheelchair came up to the table and asked if the fruit was any good. He also felt the peaches and declared them not ripe but firm to the touch. I shared the secret to delicious juicy peaches. If you take some home and put them on the counter for a couple of days, the fruit will ripen and soften to perfection. He chuckled and said that earlier in the week that the employee stocking the fruit told him the same thing. The man is on a fixed budget and was afraid to splurge on the fruit only to be disappointed. He didn’t trust the worker so he didn’t buy any that day. He told me his story as he selected some peaches to take home.

We are called to bear fruit as disciples of Jesus Christ. To abide in the Vine so fully and completely that His Fruit begins to blossom and ripen in us. His Spirit cultivates the kind of fruit that satisfies our soul and is worth sharing with others. The man did not buy what the market was selling but he decided to lean on my personal experience that day. People relate to a Gospel that is shared like a good meal. They prefer an authentic relatable experience over a chance encounter that may not go as expected. It is not my “job” to share Christ but my privilege to offer others the abundance of goodness produced by having Him in my life living in me.

It is important to note in John 15 that the Lord has chosen us. We did not handpick him from a plethora of other gods but rather God created us as Children in His Image. Christ in us restores and rebuilds our relationship with God the Father through righteousness. I have seed worth planting and fruit worth bearing inside of me. What I do with the seeds of faith given to me in measure is up to me. Pursuing His Kingdom is a promise of reaching eternity that is already set within my heart but will I consider the cost worth paying for the privilege of the everlasting is truly up to me.

Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

God’s Word is the seed that produces every good thing in our life. Jesus is the Word. We hear the Word and must decide what to do with it. There are several choices. There are some who hear the story of Jesus and cannot comprehend such a gift or fathom the depths of His Love so they deem it unbelievable and decide to choose this life. The enemy comes and takes the seed easily discarded. There are those who hear the Word of God and believe it…at first. Like the sign on the peaches boasting “tree-ripened fruit”, they are interested until reaching for it and finding it hard. Rather than taking it home and allowing it to ripen on the kitchen counter until it is just right, they pass by the opportunity to taste and see that it is good. We are encouraged to taste and see that God is good yet do not engage in the process because it takes too long or too much energy so we take a shortcut or substitution instead. We must let the Love of God given to us through Jesus Christ take root in our heart so when tests and trials come we overcome the temptation to abandon our effort and let go. There are those who hear the Word and believe it, yet they are too busy to take the time to really meditate on it and allow it to sink in and produce its potential. The Word blossoms and good things start to happen but the process is again abandoned for the good rather than waiting on the God Fruit that is coming. Our seed (the Word) must be sown in fertile broken hearts and given time to grow, develop and mature into the Fruit it is supposed to be. The seed will always produce its potential.

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s Word always produces its potential. The promise will always come. He gives seed to the sower. Those who decide to cultivate God’s Word for themselves will find new promises every single day. The fruit produced in their life becomes enticing to others who will want to know how it happened, where it came from, and how you got it. The influence in our life increases when abundance becomes our experience. The seed always produces its potential in us. It prospers our soul which in turn spills over into our life. Others will want and desire what you have suddenly opportunities will arise to share the good fruit of God’s Spirit with others time and time again because success becomes our experience.

Colossians 1:9-12 (ESV)  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For Mother’s Day, our church gave all the mom’s succulent plants. I have the orphans sitting in the window in the dining room. I have been honest in my admission that I have a history of plant killing. I am a homicidal horticulturist or at least I was… I have painstakingly cared for the handful of plants and they are beginning to grow and thrive. I am amazed at the miracle before me. I think sometimes we decide who we are and what we will be based on our past experiences and history. God promised to give us new life. He gave us His Word with the promise of an inheritance to those who begin by sowing it in their heart and mind. Those who decide to try it out and trust Him little by little with the broken pieces of our messed up life will begin to see subtle productivity that will one day become our success. His Word is our promise that cannot return to Him without absolute fulfillment. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is not a religious exercise but a daily experience of sowing His Word and sharing its productivity. We have been given the opportunity to bear fruit in every good work even a simple encounter with someone at the grocery store. Many sermons will be preached. Teachings shared. Insight given. It will spread seeds of God’s Word all around but it will be those who take the time to sow it, stay with it, wait for it and then share it that will see its good fruit.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

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When I Want to Fight

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Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A church leader shared this passage in Sunday service last week. It was good then…but this morning, I wasn’t sure I liked it quite so much. The Lord told Moses and the people to fear not…stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord – He will work for you today! The enemy in their sights would be gone forever. This is the good part. Now comes the struggle in certain situations – “the Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” There are situations in life when one might prefer to wage war against other people or vilify themselves and seek revenge in order to give the other person what they have coming to them. When facing the giants in this world, it is much easier to let the Lord have His Way and slay them. But when the foe that is faced is of a sizable match – it is up to us to let the battle be the Lord’s and to remain silent.

I Timothy 6:11-13 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

There is only one fight that I am called to as a believer. I am ordained to fight the good fight of the faith. Faith is confidence in the Lord and putting all expectation in Him. It is an act of trust that causes us to stand and wait rather than pursue and overtake. We must fight the battle within our flesh to let the Lord fight our battles, win our wars, and even to be silent while watching and waiting. As believers, the encounters and engagements with the enemy become more and more unjust as our life is aligned to Jesus Christ. To hold on to eternal life rather than prideful rightness is so hard when right. Our good confession in the presence of many witness is always faith in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. We must stand in victory because Christ lives in us and not fight amongst each other.

As believers, our lifelong pursuit is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. Ugh! Sometimes these qualities and characteristics of the Lord that He is attempting to create in me cause a war in the flesh. I must stand on the Word of God and walk in His Ways even when the enemy knocks on the front door, meets me at work or even shows up in the church parking lot. The struggle is real. It is an everyday battle of our mind, will and emotions to remain in partnership with Jesus Christ. To maintain our relationship so that it is thriving, growing, maturing and constantly developing into an inseparable bond both now and forever.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Is it a coincidence that the great cloud of witness are mentioned immediately after the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11? A reminder that faith is not easy. Trusting God is hard. When the enemy comes throwing his weight around, trying to stick sin on us, and attempting to trip us with lies, we must continue to run the race of faith to the prize that waits before us. It will require endurance. You will get tired of turning the other cheek. Standing doesn’t release the adrenaline that fighting for your right will, but righteousness comes from living as one with Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed on our Champion. The One who is the Founder and Perfecter and Author and Finisher of our faith in the first place. The Lord will fight for you today. He will fight for me. I must be silent and wait on the Lord even when it hurts. To know whose I am and who I am in Christ must lead me down a pathway of peace in life so that others will entertain His Presence through my influence. Peace lives in me. The war waged in my mind and heart are against flesh and blood that seeks retribution. My flesh is called to die so new life will take its place. Lord, help me to be confident and silent as you fight my battles today. Help me to stand firm and having done to stand firm. In Jesus Name…

Ephesians 6:12-13 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Forgotten

Forgotten

Isaiah 49:14-16 (NIV) But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Has God forgotten His Promise to you? Does it seem delayed so discouragement is the company you keep? Are you wondering if you missed Him? Somehow wandered off course into the barren wilderness? It happens. It is natural to have human expectations. The Holy Spirit produces good fruit in us that feeds our hungry soul but it takes time to change our appetite. The Water of His Word, that Living Water, will have to make it through the hardness of our heart to finally drench us deep within. Salvation begins the process of restoration and renewal. It takes time for transformation to take over as the Lord prepares us for His Purpose and to receive the Promise. Until then…

Our little grandson has an enormous appetite. He loves to eat. He is enamored by food. He gets plenty on a regular and consistent basis. However, when a bottle is being prepared or the food containers opened while locating a spoon and bib – the guy loses his mind. Either throwing a full-fledged fit or dissolving into tears, one might think that he is on the verge of starvation. He is obviously very healthy and well-cared for yet in his little mind the feeling of hunger is a desire too great to bare. He has never missed a meal. He knows mom and dad will take care of him yet still feels the need to respond to his wait time and discomfort that produces patience. His mama comforts him speaking words of affirmation to him as she hurries to get everything together. She’s a good mother.

God is a good father. He created each us with a specific plan and purpose in mind. A projected life that no one else can live. He promised to provide everything we need to be successful. He persuades us with His Unfailing Love and Kindness while pursuing us with His Goodness. He always comes to our rescue or performs a release at just the right time. Yet there are times when even strong Christians and longtime believers wonder if the Lord has forgotten…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Do you feel like the Lord has forsaken you today? Do you think that he has forgotten you? The enemy wants nothing more than to make you believe this terrible lie of abandonment and isolation. It is simply not true. Could a mother forget the baby at her breast? Oh wow! I cannot even imagine. Before my first child was born, I remember having nightmares that I forgot I was a mother and would leave my child behind. But once I held him in my arms looking at his beautiful face, I knew that I would never forget him and love him forever. I don’t understand people who get so busy and caught up in life that they forget their child is in the car. How is it even possible? Yet they do – most of the victims die due to suffocation. What is so important that you would forget your baby? Your precious child? How could you forget? It happens all the time. Maybe it is just another sign of the times – love has grown cold and sin is rampant. There are wars and rumors of war. This world is on a downward spiral as families disintegrate in the midst of busyness and disregard. It would be easy in the chaos to believe that our existence is insignificant but it’s not.

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. The Lord is whispering to you and me today reminding us that He has engraved us in the palms of His Hands. We are important to our heavenly Father. The things that He has shared with us and continues to entice us with are going to happen simply because He said so. It is hard to trust anyone when life is filled with broken promises and unfulfilled oaths. When people say one thing and do another. The disregard for human life may seem to reduce us to just another species but it is not true. We have a God who loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He desires us as His Special Treasure. He has created a Kingdom to be our dwelling place. He even says, “…your walls are ever before me.” My existence has a place in the Kingdom of God and its walls that cannot be filled by another. I am important. I am significant. I am not forgotten and neither are you.

I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel was off to find and anoint the next King of Israel. He went to Jesse’s house as instructed by the Lord. Standing before him were seven likely candidates, but as each one passed by the Lord’s Hand was not upon him. The Lord had already instructed Samuel to look past each man’s appearance for He was looking at their hearts. How is your heart today? What is its condition? Have you allowed bitterness, impatience, fear, doubt or disbelief to harden it? God is always looking for the readiness of our heart and nothing else. The appearance of my heart is God’s Focal Point – therefore it should be my utmost concern.

I Samuel 16:11-13 (NIV) So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

God had already designated David to be the next King of Israel. He was out tending his father’s sheep as instructed. Doing what he was told to do in an isolated field with only the herd for company. He was alone but not forgotten. When it was time for Samuel to anoint God’s Chosen One, he was called from the very place that he was into the Presence of God and anointed just as God purposed. Hear me today as I speak to myself – just because your life seems ordinary today doesn’t mean that God’s Extraordinary Purpose is not coming for you tomorrow. Work your field. Hold your position. Wait for Him. He is coming.

How do I know this to be true? It is the promise I hold on to fortified by this: God is not a man that He should lie or change His Mind. The Lord told me that He would bless me so He will bless me indeed. (Numbers 23:19-20) He doesn’t withdraw His Gifts or Calling. If He called me to be here than the blessing will find me right where I am. Even if I get discouraged or disappointed and allow doubt, worry or fear to trouble me – God is still faithful to His Word. (Romans 11:29) And finally – the hard part – the purpose and plan that is designed for my life has an appointed time. God will not ever hasten His Process because it is my preference. The Vision will come to pass at the right time – God’s Time. (Habakkuk 2:3) I must learn to wait on the Lord. When I am tired of waiting, I must learn to wait some more.

I have always told my children that if they were to get separated from me to stay right where they are when they discover I am missing. In other words, if you look up and don’t see me – stop moving. If someone tries to take you away or talk to you – yell as loud as possible, “You are not my mom!” The same method should be used as Children of God. If at any point there is a separation rather real or perceived – stay where you are. Don’t make permanent decisions in temporary circumstances. We can chase preference and leave Presence. When the enemy comes offering lies and untruths, tell Him who your Daddy is. He will flee from you. God has not forgotten or forsaken you or me, friend. He is preparing and positioning us to step in the overflow of His Anointing.

I leave you with familiar words from Jeremiah 29. Recited many times yet sometimes we might forget, it was spoken to those in exile. They had a season of waiting yet to be fulfilled – seventy years to be exact. However, the promise remained even in their otherwise compromised state. God has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. He hasn’t given up on you either. You can never escape God’s Plan, Promise and Purpose for your life because He is constantly pursuing you. His Plan is to prosper us from the inside out! In the meantime, call to Him. He will come to you. Pray and He will listen. Seek Him wholeheartedly and He will be found!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Trust Fund

Trust Fund

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP) Now it is God who establishes and confirms us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and who has anointed us [empowering us with the gifts of the Spirit]; it is He who has also put His seal on us [that is, He has appropriated us and certified us as His] and has given us the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as a pledge [like a security deposit to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise of eternal life].

I was not born into an affluent family. In fact, the first home I remember was a mobile home that traveled with us. My parents hardworking both coming from middle class families so the idea of a trust fund equated to a jar for loose change left somewhere in the house. Yet today I have an abundant trust fund waiting for me. It came as part of the package provided to me by God and accessible through Jesus Christ. I have a rich and satisfying life available to me and sealed by the Holy Spirit. So where is it?

The truth is that those who decide to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are now members of a ridiculously rich and lavishly opulent Kingdom. It has everything need, wanted and desired by God’s People beginning with fellowship with God the Father through Christ the Son. There is a trust fund of precious promises, bountiful blessings and certain benefits that belong to us. Again, where are they now? Why do believers live desperate, disappointed and devastated lives as paupers – body, mind and spirit when the Word of God clearly establishes otherwise? A trust fund is comprised of a variety of assets to provide benefits to individuals or organizations. Established by a grantor, a trust fund provides security to the benefactor. There are guidelines for distribution that if met it is automatically released to the person or group intended.

Galatians 5:18-21 (AMP)  But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If guided and led by the Holy Spirit invested in us by Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation. The Law is now satisfied and therefore we can live in its abundance. Sin will always separate us from God, but His Grace is sufficient meaning once applied it is more than enough. Eternal life belongs to those who are completely broken in sin but covered in the Blood of Jesus. Salvation is only the beginning of the process of true repentance which is the act of reconciling our life to the Lord. It is not a forced act but a display of willingness. How so? Freedom! Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You can remain subject to the susceptibility of sin or choose a better way.

Religion is still reliant on the Law to find a better way. Our relationship makes us reliant on the Love of God and His Kind Forbearance and Mercy to get us through this life. You will never be able to completely fulfill the Law with attitudes and actions completely like Christ. Our sinful nature will always have some level of influence. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. There is eternal life freely given by God through Christ and accepted by mankind. But then there is a Kingdom that holds an inheritance for those who are the Sons and Daughters of God. It is completely yours tucked away as a “trust fund” for those who desire to be part of the Kingdom now AND forevermore.

There are certain things that hinder us from the blessings and benefits of our inheritance such as immorality. Can I just put this out there? Just because a church allows unwed couples to serve in ministry positions does not release the blessings of servitude to them. It is still considered immorality and though our entrance in Heaven is secure in Christ, the blessings of the Kingdom are not released until our life lines up with the Kingdom. So what good is to other people when sin is tolerated and the Kingdom limited in their life? Truth will always promote trust that will open the windows of Heaven in our life and rain down blessings. That’s just one thing on the list of many things that the church entertains these days which limits the potential receivership of others. Sin separated us from God and Jesus paid the price for our sin. The actions of the Savior remove all condemnation and give us complete access to the Father. It is making Jesus our Lord that releases our trust fund in the Kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The fruit of my life that feeds my soul is from His Spirit. It includes love, joy and peace. It also provides patience or the ability to wait on the Lord. It fills us with kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness that will eliminate certain behaviors that once limited us including hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy and others like these that divide the organization called church or the Body of Christ which is ordained to be blessed beginning with unity.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (AMP) For it is through Him that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens [outsiders without rights of citizenship], but you are fellow citizens with the saints (God’s people), and are [members] of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the [chief] Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together, and it continues [to increase] growing into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, set apart, and sacred to the presence of the Lord]. In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

What if our trust fund in the Lord is not just individual but corporate? What if the blessings and benefits that are prayed for and desired are actually linked to others in the Body of Christ? We are no longer strangers and aliens. We must trust the Lord in all areas of our life to receive that which is ordained as an inheritance. The economy of the earth is driven by supply and demand. There must be a relationship of commerce to keep the country running. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and our bond of unity. Maybe the Kingdom is not being released in our personal life because we lack proper relationships in our new life. The Kingdom’s economy is souls. Souls bound together in perfect unity with Christ so that it can also attach to others freely without human expectation but hopeful revelation. We must expand our sphere of influence so that God can use those who are the executors to grant what God has freely given. Our life is not independent of others but intertwined. Each person has a deposit to make in our life and we have something for them, too. Not of ourselves but through Jesus Christ.

We desire God’s Hand and Outpouring but until we know and understand His Heart there will be no such thing. Revival of the family is in its offspring. Generations will die if not reproduced. God’s Heart and His Kingdom flourishes in “things” with streets of gold and mansions all around. God’s owns the cattle on a thousand hills but what He desires most is you. Me. Us. Together. God’s Kingdom is a family of believers who when they find perfect unity in Christ will experience an outpouring like never before. God loves you. He loves me. He has already ordained blessings and benefits for us that far exceed our expectation and will satisfy us completely. It cannot just be obtained individually but entrusted corporately as well.

In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We must work on our relationship with Jesus Christ not as Savior but as Lord to release all that is given to us through our covenant. We must strive to develop strong bonds and eliminate division in the Body of Christ which is to be God’s Dwelling Place. It will provide the proper place for His Glory to dwell. God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Dissatisfaction, discouragement and disappointment are all evidence that there is more to come. We must put them off for determination, discipline and dedication to establishing His Kingdom here on earth so that His Spirit has plenty of room to move and fill our lives with what we desire the most – Jesus!

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

In the Shadows

in the shadow

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

A shadow is only possible in the presence of light. Without light there is no shadow. This may seem completely obvious to those who live according to this world, but to a believer this could be an incredible revelation. When the groundhog emerges from winter hibernation, it looks for a shadow which would indicate a longer winter and later spring. If there is no shadow, spring has arrived and so his long wait is over. This is the tradition that Americans observe on February 2nd called Groundhogs Day.

I was listening to a worship set with Darlene Zschech who spoke these words. Shadows only exist in the presence of light. This is such an encouragement. Sometimes you have to live it to fully experience it. She talked about her husband who walked with her through her battle against cancer. This was truly his revelation as they traveled through the “valley of the shadow of death”. His fight against fear brought him through the valley to the mountaintop. If we dwell in the shelter of the Most High – we abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Every trial and tribulation is overshadowed by the Presence of His Light and His Love.

“My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” There is a difference between dwelling in darkness and living in the shadows. Everyone faces trials, tribulation, pain, and betrayals in life. No one is exempt from hardship. There is always a struggle. We must endure to the end to be saved. When the shadows of fear, worry, anxiety and even death linger around us rather than dwelling on the darkness – it is important to trust the light. Light always drives away the darkness. Darkness cannot exist in light. The brighter the light the farther the darkness must recede. To know and trust that God is the Light of our life and see Him in every situation will eliminate fear of darkness and allow us to bask in His Glory in every season and situation of life. There is purpose in every occasion. We walk with ordered steps. If only we could learn to trust the Lord to drive out all darkness and stop being afraid of our own shadow.

Psalm 107:12-16 (ESV) Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

To live in the shadow of the Almighty is a place of constant trust and pursuit of God’s Presence. It is to think less about the cares and burdens of this life and focus intently on the purpose hidden within us and derived by God. Walking through time, there will be good times and not-so-good times but the promise is that the Lord makes good of every detail in our life when we love and trust Him. There are times when the conditions and circumstances entice into the bond of doubt that keeps us locked up in the darkness when we have access to glorious light. We must call on the Light to break us free from the darkness. He comes every single time. He is just waiting for us to call to Him. His Love is steadfast and nothing can ever separate us from Him. We must only desire to be with Him and call His Name.

The limits on our life are humanly placed. God has promised abundance to us. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The enemy comes with his only weapon – a lie and tries to take what the Lord has already given to us and is prospering in us. Light reigns supreme and darkness must flee from it. He chases away the darkness and it is only a shadow in the Presence of the Living God. We must turn our eyes from the shadows in life and keep them squarely on the Light. The Light of His Love is the promise that no matter what battle we face – we win!

Psalm 84:11-12 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

The Lord is our sun and shield. The presence of shadows is not evidence of darkness but the existence of light. He surrounds us and bestows his favor and honor to us. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly rather than cowering in fear. You can be bold and courageous no matter how low the valley goes because His Shadow is covering you. No labor of faith is in vain. Your trust is not without reward. You just have to keep moving. The higher the sun the less likely a shadow. When we choose to exalt the Lord and keep King Jesus in control of our life – He drives out all darkness. We must exalt the light over darkness which means trusting the Lord rather than wallowing in fear and doubt.

Thank you Lord for your promise. You will be our sun and shield. Drive out every dark corner and shadowy place today King Jesus. Let me not fear the shadows but recognize that it only means you are with me. You never leave me. You will never let me down. I give you all power and authority over my life and relinquish complete control. I trust you God with all my situations and circumstances. I will not give in to my condition but continue to exalt you with the highest praise. My desire is to live only in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 27:1-3 (ESV) The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

United We Stand

United We Stand

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

I loved scrolling through all the social media feeds to see red, white and blue. The celebration of the 4th of July with family and friends. Firework displays lit up the story line of each outlet. Though this was a quiet day for us – we did eat with some of our kids and the littlest firecracker – our sweet grandson. Facetiming with other family members who are out of town. We exercised our right to “Netflix and chill” as some might say which is totally out of character for me but a welcome respite for the midweek holiday.

Social media would give the illusion of unity yesterday as everyone seemed to be doing the exact same thing in America. The same feeds usually filled with political opinions and tirades were instead filled with images of family and food all in red, white and blue. Unity paints a beautiful picture. I believe it warms the heart of God when people put aside their differences sliding the soapbox under the bed to celebrate life together. Yes, I know that important causes exists and there are some things really wrong with the world. I am not delusional enough to think that ignoring them will fix them. However, I do believe that unless we come together nothing will ever change.

In Romans 12, it reminds us that we are one body with many members. It is clear that not everyone serves the same function yet still vitally important to proper operation. We are one body in Christ. Individually we are still corporately responsible for each other. The binding factor is love. Not our ability to love each other unconditionally and without fail but God’s Love demonstrated in His Son – Jesus Christ. In John 12, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” The common factor in Christianity is Jesus Christ. He has called for all people to come to Him. Also in Romans 12, it begins by describing our life as a “living sacrifice” which is “holy and acceptable to God” and considered spiritual worship. It means not conforming to the social circles of the world but allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our mind into the fully formed and functional Body of Jesus Christ. This is the Will of God that is good, acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 133 (ESV) Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

God loves unity. He blesses such a life offering. Unity requires giving up ourselves in order to become one. The completion of Christ is established in the unity and oneness of His People. He is not coming for many brides but one bride. The Bride of Christ must be complete. The Spirit and the Bride (singular) say, “Come.” I believe that if the church could tap into the real potential of unity rather than calling for diversity and doctrine – it might just experience revival. We focus on the wrong thing. The great commission of Jesus Christ was to love and be loved as one – to come together into completeness. The Lord commands His Blessing on unity and life forevermore.

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The individuality of churches and institution set forth by doctrine may be the very thing limiting revival today. The religious world is not demonstrating the relationship of Kingdom. Until we grow in perfect unity, the Bride of Christ may resemble the Bride of Frankenstein. The human soul is not clothed in race, color, gender or any other physical quality. The Lord is looking at our heart and soul. I know no coroner or medical examiner that can determine any of the physical characteristics of a person by just looking at the heart. Yet God is most interested in our heart and soul. Who we love? How we love? These are the fulfillment of the Great Commission set forth by Jesus Christ. Leading someone to Jesus is not the same as loving them like Jesus.

The basics of unity are one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all. That’s it. No matter how we paint it, carpet it, light it up, or make it loud – this is the basis of the Body of Christ known as the church. Religion creates diversity. Relationship says, “Whosoever will come” and lets figure this out together. It is simple. It is real. It has feelings but lives in a commitment called love. Not worldly affection or temporary lust but rather love that is “patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” It is a love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (and) endures all things. Love (that) never ends.” To immerse ourselves so completely in the Love of Christ that loving others is no longer optional but the very condition that unites us.

What can I do to unite the church?

The character of Christians must be changed, transformed, and renewed by God’s Love. Repentance, true repentance, is a turning from our way of living to totally exist in the shadow and example of Jesus Christ. I cannot love like Christ until He is the One who I am following and imitating. People are not easy to love but it is each personality that comprises the Kingdom. I cannot make them love me. But I can allow God and His Spirit to make me more lovable. The Fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This is the kind of spiritual food that feeds hungry souls and waters thirsty hearts. It is to put “me” aside and allow Christ to flow through me. Religion allows us to maintain pride and position. However, to fully assume our place in the Body of Christ – we must become like Paul who declared himself to be “a prisoner of the Lord.” We must carefully put our mind, will and emotions under the careful guard of the Holy Spirit at all times. We must daily crucify any rebellious thought in contention with Christ and put it in the grave to die. We must remain prostrate in a posture of prayer and humility before the Lord daily and even on some days moment by moment. We must walk by faith and not by sight. Unity blesses God’s Heart and I believe if we get it right – it will bless us, too as united we stand.

Ephesians 4:11-16 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Safe

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John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

No guilt in life, no fear in death – this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath – Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can every pluck me from His Hand until He returns or calls me home – here in the power of Christ I stand. (In Christ Alone written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend) These powerful lyrics led me to seek out the promise and security of the thought that there is nothing that can pluck me from His Hand. The permanent security in a chaotic life that is substantial enough to “command my destiny” is what I am after. I no longer subscribe to a normal life. It is not possible. Consequences, circumstances and certain conditions wrecked the notion that there is such a novelty. I am absolutely okay with it. It repositioned me by default. I had to make a conscious decision. Would I live a random existence being tossed to and fro or would I choose to live in the reality of my faith?

In John 10, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. The kind of caretaker who lays down his life for his sheep. The Lord is dedicated to our preservation. He is the one who will leave the 99 to pursue the one who is lost or fallen. The shepherd who keeps track of each one signifying each one’s individuality and importance to Him. He came with a distinct purpose. Not only is the Good Shepherd devoted to our preservation, but He is intent on our prosperity. He warns of the thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus goes on to say that His Purpose is to give us live and that we would have it abundantly. Our life has potential far greater than may be seen but that has caught the attention of the adversary. The enemy viciously attacks the sheep especially those who wander astray. But the Good Shepherd will continue to pursue us so that He can revive, renew and restore us in righteousness. He saves, heals and delivers us. He is the Good Shepherd.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary offers this insight concerning these powerful promises for our life. “The safety of the saints inferred from these two. If this be so, then none (neither man nor devil) is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hand, not able to deprive them of the grace they have, nor to hinder them from the glory that is designed them; not able to put them out of God’s protection, nor get them  into their own power. Christ had himself experienced the power of his Father upholding and strengthening him, and therefore puts all his followers into his hand too. He that secured the glory of the Redeemer will secure the glory of the redeemed. Further to corroborate the security, that the sheep of Christ may have strong consolation, he asserts the union of these two undertakers: ‘I and my Father are one, and have jointly and severally undertaken for the protection of the saints and their perfection.’” You are safe today. Safe and secure in the Hand of God placed there by Jesus Christ. We must maintain our confidence in the security of God to fight the insecurity sown in us by the enemy. Doubt produces fear that can flush us from God’s Hand due to the natural adrenaline response known as fight or flee. Innately ingrained in us to fight for survive because of our separation from God now must be reprogrammed to remain confidently positioned in righteousness even when the storm rages and the heat of battle ensues.

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

You are safe today. Our strength and stability are not what has secured us. Weakness does not take us from it. No, you are safe today because you are held by the Lord in the palm of His Mighty Hand. No one can take you from Him. No one will ever displace us from His Love. It is our confident hope that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is God’s Solemn Promise and Divine Character never to lie or change His Mind about us but rather He will hold us gently but tightly forever in palm of His Hand. Sometimes we must declare to our mind, soul and body that we are safe. To remind ourselves that the conditions around us do not indicate our outcomes in Christ. The Name of Jesus is power. There is none above or beside Him. He reigns. He wins. He is life. He is our Good Shepherd who makes us safe.

Psalm 119:114-117 (ESV) You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!

Power of Praise

Power of Praise

Psalm 108:1-5 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Our grandson is just four months old. He is beginning to engage with us. When he does something new and exciting, everyone smiles and praises him. When he simply sits in his seat looking around in wonder, you guessed it – we do the same thing. He is constantly being praised and affirmed even though his behavior is simple milestones in human growth and development. His mama tells him all the time that he is a good boy and he is a “cool dude”. She is constantly positively affirming her little boy. He smiles at her words. He looks to those around him for their reaction to his new endeavors. It is important to speak life over our children. To affirm them when they are good and redirect not so good behaviors. Punishment is not the goal of parenting but rather discipline. Building strong character in our youth begins with affirmation and praise at an early age. Praising tiny humans raises up confident adults.

There is power in praise. It elevates our spirit and strengthens our resolve eliminating insecurity and lack of confidence. However, it is not human nature to praise. It is all too common to be critical, to tear down, and this is usually from a place of comparison. People are created in the image of the Living God. He is the standard set that sin has stolen from us. It is our mission in life to discover the eternity hidden inside of our heart and take the measure of faith entrusted to us to pursue it as our destiny. As sons and daughters of the King, there is no need for strife or division because we are all joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

My heart, O God, is steadfast…

My heart is steadfast, loyal, faithful, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, solid and trusting. Are these the words that describe your heart connection to the Father? Do you remain steadfast in love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of His Spirit? Praising God comes not from our current circumstances or conditions. These generally will produce complaints. Praise for the Living God must come from a confident heart. A heart that fully knows and understands that its connection to God is through His Son – Jesus therefore our boast is in nothing this world has to offer but fully consummated within a steadfast heart. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our heart must remain constant in this truth to offer praise in every situation. Praise builds the stairway that faith will tread upon. Though one might think our praise elevates the Lord – it really is our pathway to His Presence.

I will sing and make music with all my soul…

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Praise makes us prosper. We must make our praise project from the depth of our soul. To prosper is to make successful. The prayer to prosper and become successful is not answered unless it comes from our soul. There are many who have created shortcuts to God’s Favor that simply are not true. God honors every seed planted by faith in good ground when our soul is healthy and our heart is fertile. What is a fertile heart? A heart that is broken and remade by the Hand of God into the wonderful masterpiece that He has promised before our birth. What is a healthy soul? A soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. A soul that is satisfied with the Bread of Life and Living Water. A soul that pursues God’s Presence. A soul that is hopelessly and completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Our soul is eternal. It must be trained and guided to look past today and all the cares and worries of life to become confident in Jesus Christ alone.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 23:5-6 (NIV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Praise propels us past our problems to the promises of God for our life. It is the opportunity to remind ourselves what the Lord has promised and what He will do for us. We really have nothing to offer the Lord except our praise and adoration. There is no possible way to earn or deserve the goodness and love that He pursues us with each day. Our pride would like to somehow find a way to repay the Lord to keep itself alive, but the truth is that there is no possible way to out give God so we praise Him for His Faithfulness and Generosity to us. Praise is a valuable tool when the giant seems too big or obstacle too large. It elevates our perspective from the ground to the Heavenlies. It reveals angels unaware who are positioned for our deliverance. It excites the Spirit of God within us so that as He expands our momentary trials and troubles don’t seem that big any longer. Praise keeps us company while we wait on the Lord for proper timing brings about completion.

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Praise changes the atmosphere from hopeless to hopeful. Paul and Silas were in prison. They were arrested and severely beaten after delivering a slave girl from a demonic presence. Surely God should have protected them. Why such savage treatment? Where was God? Chained to the wall like animals, they were surely discouraged and afraid. Things were looking rather hopeless for the men of God. They were in danger. In the midnight hour… Before moving on – I think it pertinent to point out that praise is not always our first thought. Midnight is the time when one day turns into another. The Word of God says that mourning lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning. I wonder if they were crying and complaining but heard the bell toll twelve and decided to make a change. It says that they were praying and singing hymns to God with an audience of prisoners when suddenly… Do you need a suddenly today? Are you discouraged? Fearful? Anxious? On the verge of hopelessness – it is important to evaluate our vocabulary. Praise has the power to change the atmosphere. The breath of God in us released causes a change around us. Not only did the doors fly open and chains fall off of Paul and Silas but every prisoner was set free. The jailer was saved and took the men home to wash their wounds and feed them good food. The next morning the magistrates came to free them. This all happened because they choose to praise in the prison. Whatever has you captive is subject to your praise. Jesus lives in you!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 134:1-3 (NIV) Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

God affirms His Children. He has great affection for you. He has no intention of punishing you but rather good discipline gives footsteps direction and makes destiny divine. He put eternity in our heart for a reason. There is power and purpose awaiting those who pursue His Love with all their heart, soul, body and mind. It is important to position ourselves in His Presence to live in His Promises. Praise is our constant reminder to exalt the Lord giving Him proper placement in our life. No allegiance is a sign of rebellion. Praise communicates our allegiance to Jesus Christ and puts the enemy on notice that we have relinquished our life to Him as Savior and Lord. Praise does not exalt Christ in the sense of moving Him but rather praise moves us. We must be intentional in our praise. Praise is a powerhouse for those who choose to use it.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV) Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Faithful to the End

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Psalm 145:13-18 (ESV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

The faithfulness of God has been heavy on my heart. To consider that He is always faithful. Faithful in all His Words and kind in all His Works. Every good thing in our life is a product of the Father’s Love that somehow whether consciously or unconsciously has made its way to us. The great thing about God’s Faithfulness to us is that it is not contingent on my faithfulness to Him. When my best effort results in complete and utter failure, God takes that detail and still makes good on His Promise to complete the masterpiece of my life from all the broken pieces. His Kingdom is everlasting. It is without end. There is a place for me in it which belongs to me. My heavenly real estate is given to me as an inheritance of faith in the Living God who have supplied a sufficiency of grace to overcome my every weakness with His Loving Kindness. God is faithful and His Unconditional Love for me is secure.

The Lord is faithful in all His Words and kind in all His Works. I love this promise. It is precious to the believer. To consider all the broken promises that have tainted one’s ability to trust and then somehow believe that the Lord is not capable of ever going back on His Word – it is life changing. Too often the human heart is tempted to take hold of unmet expectation and the offenses of this world including other people and form negating thoughts that change our confession over our life. It is always going to be this way. Why does God hate me? I can’t change. The list goes on and on.

His Words

Isaiah 55:8-11 (ESV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Every word spoken by God for our life comes with a purpose. Those words cannot and will not return to Him void or empty of accomplishment. His Word for our life will always produce exactly what He promised it would. The trouble comes in our inability or unwillingness to trust God at His Word. Jesus Christ is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to fulfill the promise of salvation and redemption. Jesus released His Spirit to take God’s Word inside of us and by faith those words prosper into God’s Promise, His Purpose and His Plan for us. We must only receive Him by faith and live in the confidence of new hope. It is easier said than done.

God’s Thoughts are more numerous than the sand on the beach or stars in the sky. His Thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His Ways so complex that finite human logic cannot comprehend what God is doing from beginning to end. God is a planner. His Plan is quite detailed and prerecorded before our life ever began. His Word waters the faith in us to make it bear the true potential of its fruit. We must only trust the Word of the Lord and believe that it will come to pass enough to endure. Why? God is faithful.

His Works

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God is faithful to complete the work in us. The primary purpose of our life is to seek out the Love of God and learn to live in love with Him. I know what doctrine and religion has told you all these years. Those who love God will avoid sin as much as possible. There are convictions based on one’s desires to please God and remain in right standing with Him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To seek the Lord wholeheartedly will always move us farther from the worthless endeavors and fruitless works to a common place of mutual affection found only in His Presence. You will begin to love and live differently not because the Law says so but it is part of the covenant of relationship.

As we align our life to love God and remain a faithful partner to Him, suddenly our life agrees with God’s Plan. Purpose rises up from the broken heart that is so in love with God it cannot stay hard. The Grace of God that saves us begins to soften us – molding and shaping us into sons and daughters of God who live in close proximity to Him. Such a life encounters the blessings of God already set forth and planned for us because one cannot help but encounter God’s Goodness in His Presence. For example, I can send a text message invitation out to my children that we will have family dinner on Saturday night at 7:00 PM. We will be grilling steaks and all are welcome. At 7:00 PM when the steaks are ready cooked to perfection by dad and the twice baked cheese potatoes slightly browned covered in melted cheese hit the table with some fresh bread and we sit down to eat, those who attend will be blessed with a full belly and probably a tasty dessert. Those who choose to go have a burger at the local dive with their friends will miss the gathering and then pay the bill for their greasy food. Can that child complain that they did not get to eat the wonderful meal that was completely free? We do it all the time. The Lord offers us a place at His Table to partake of all His Goodness but we choose something else and have the audacity to complain about it.

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Psalm 145 offers the promise that the Lord will open His Hand to satisfy the desire of every living thing. God has a plan that is fully operational in our life regardless of our ability or willingness to trust Him. Why? God is faithful. He is faithful to the end. He is faithful to His Word. He is faithful in His Works. Our obligation in this covenant is to have faith and trust the Lord at His Word. The promise has a due date. Premature delivery produces miscarriage or abortion in most cases. Prematurity causes hardship because that which was created is not sustainable yet. It is out of season. It has not accomplished the proper stages of preparation. The Lord promises that the Plan and Purpose of our life will bring fulfillment. It requires faith in God even when it is not logical to even believe that which is hoped for could ever be possible. Sometimes it means reminding ourselves that it is not the end yet.

Lord, I call to my heart and mind every faithful experience and encounter that has come to pass in my life so far. I remind myself that You are faithful. You have always been faithful. You will always be faithful. You will complete the Word spoken over me and the Work begun inside of me. I choose to believe. Thank you God for your faithfulness even in my fears and doubts. Forgive me for all the times I lack trust. Help my unbelief! Thank You Lord that You are faithful to the end. Help me to endure! In Jesus Name! Amen

 

Finding My Purpose

Finding My Purpse

Jeremiah 32:38-40 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What am I supposed to be doing? Why was I made? How can I be used by God? I have a purpose. God designed humanity to have one heart and one purpose. To be His People and that He would be our God. Sin shattered our relationship with God. He was not satisfied with judgement and predestined to give us mercy that would lead us to His Grace. In a way that only an omnipotent and omniscient Creator could, the Lord intentionally takes all those broken pieces determined to make a masterpiece once again. He desires us to become the Body of Christ. There very thing for which His Son died put rebuilt from a new foundation. Salvation provides an everlasting covenant. He will never stop doing good for us. He desires a heart of worship and will give those who seek Him that very thing.

Sometimes it is difficult to see ourselves individually within a corporate people. To know and understand the importance of our purpose in the expansive and comprehensive plan of the Living God. I have a purpose. He created me fearfully considering each step that would lead me to righteousness. He did so wonderfully giving me value and worth that only He can bring forth. I am a marvelous work though still in process. In pursuit of purpose, it is of the utmost importance to know God’s Primary Plan. Above all other things – the Lord desires to have a relationship with you and me. To live in love for the rest of our lives until one day it is only eternity that we see.

Isn’t it funny how when you think you have it all together, the next minute reveals that is not the case? I am finding my purpose in this place called life all over again. I know that I am called. I know that I am anointed simply because Christ lives in me. I have no idea what is next. In a state of transition in more ways than one, I have my feet planted in Christ my firm foundation of faith yet my head is in the clouds. My children are reaching adulthood. Our full nest down to just one. In the busyness of raising our children, it is often easy to forget that this too shall pass and one day there will no longer be the weight of responsibility that governs us now. The mounds of laundry are gone and with it our children venture off into life. This is God’s Plan. It is a good one. My job is to raise tiny disciples into fisher of people then set them off to fulfill the Lord’s Plans for them, but I don’t have to like it. What transition are you in today? New job. Unexpected life change. The ending of an old season often gives way to new faith and new trust on the faithfulness of God. We become comfortable and complacent in the current condition. God is faithful in pursuing us with unfailing love and kindness. He is always working good in us and through us even when we do not want to change.

Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 (NLT) And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The finality of God is sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome. We all like options. When God shows us a glimpse of His Plan and Purpose, it is human nature to run off and complete the picture like Harold with the purple crayon. He only gives us a peek but we make it our plan or maybe I am the only one with the propensity to run ahead and work it out myself before God makes His Way clear. What if I don’t like God’s Plan? What if I am not happy with His Purpose? What if it is not as I expected or conducive to my plans?

The power of purpose in my life is not based on my abilities but God’s Faithfulness. These verses do not portray a power hungry being who needs to assert dictatorship over us. The Lord already has all the power. God is Sovereign and confident in it. When we someone can make our heart sure that God’s Purpose is good and way better than we could think, ask or imagine – faith grows from that place that connects with God’s Faithfulness giving Him permission to give us His Best.

Isaiah 44:6-8 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since ancient times when I established a people and explained its future. Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

The Lord says to us today, “I am the First and the Last there is no other God.” This is vitally important to understanding the power of purpose in our life. The Plan of God is comprehensive taking in every detail of our life and turning it for our good. (Romans 8:28) Only an Alpha and Omega God could transverse time to take into account everything and work it all together for our good. He gives us the grace needed for His Power to overtake us and produce purpose while prospering our heart to spill over into our life.

Do not tremble. Do not be afraid. God did not give us the spirit of fear, anxiety, worry, stress or any other byproduct of doubt. The Lord has given us a measure of faith. Faith is cultivated in the goodness given to us called power, love and self-discipline. Use them well. The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect that is demonstrated in devotion and a covenant of love like marriage. Such fear becomes trust and total dependence as we learn to lean on the Lord and live in His Love.

Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? The knowledge of God’s Pervasive Presence and Persistent Pursuit of me – a sinner saved by grace – is my complete undoing. I have lived more than 50 years and I am still discovering the depths of God’s Grace, Love and Faithfulness to me. The hopes and dreams that I put in the grave because of my own weaknesses are not dead to God just deferred until their appointed time. The vault marked faults and failures do not hold His Riches or Glory designated for my life, I do when I hold my heart hostage with guilt, shame or regret. The faithfulness of God has followed me through life ushering me toward the things that He already prepared for me before I drew my first breath. It will be complete when I breathe my last. I must rely on His Faithfulness to produce the fruitfulness of purpose in me and not pluck unripe fruit from the vine. It is only when I abide in Christ that the growth I desire is produced. I must abide in His Love even though I have no idea what’s next, where I am going, how I will get there or when I will arrive. God knows and that’s gotta be enough for me.

I have a purpose. It belongs to me. No one can fulfill it. Only I can do it. Prosperity is a heart condition. God has promised to give me a new heart in place of the stony one within. As my soul prospers so will my life in the purpose already designated for me by the Living God. I must only trust Him to find my purpose.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!