The One Thing

The One Thing

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Have you ever had those days, weeks or months when you just can’t seem to get on top of it? Tasks are greater than time. Responsibilities are overtaking rest. Frustration eats at faith. Discouragement begins to set in. If not you, then maybe it is only me. I know “this too shall pass”, but sometimes it feels like the season goes on and on. Glancing at the books on the table, a pile stacked high of must-reads for me and some to evaluate for the next Bible Study group at church. It seems the more I try to yield to God’s Calling and Purpose in my life the greater the challenges that seem to come. I am the owner of my time and must distribute it accordingly. I do not ascribe to the idea that I am any busier than anyone else for there is only 24 hours in a day and I get to choose how I spend it. When the demands of family, work, church and life in general seem bigger than the allotment in our day. It is seriously time to evaluate what we are doing and who we are doing it for.

I can do all things through Christ. It says it right there in black and white. Jesus is my strength. Matthew 11 is the offer of my Jesus to let me yoke myself with Him and He will help me carry every load and burden each day. I don’t always remember that. Do you? Sometimes I am guilty of taking control of my schedule, to-do list and expectation. He has promised to do far greater than I can think, ask or imagine. However, the human component called flesh and pride will gladly try to get a foot in the door and take over completely. The idea that I have a worthwhile and meaningful contribution outside of Christ is ridiculous. I am selfish and hardhearted in my human form. It is the Christ in me that produces all the good stuff. The good fruit worthy of others and the potential of my life.

Our life is mostly made of good intentions but seldom is there time to follow through. Giving our time up for lesser things, there is nothing to give to allowing Jesus to overtake us with His Unfailing Love or allow His Goodness to reach us. We are on the run – here and there trying to good things that are futile compared to the Favor offered to me by God. Working harder not smarter for sure as I sometimes lack the wisdom to see that He who lives in me is greater than little ole me.

This morning would be no exception. The last few weeks at work have been more than stressful with many deadlines and few hands to meet client expectation. I love my job. The Lord has blessed me with a good one. I am thankful for it. It is just one of those seasons. It will soon all fall into place but driving home in the blurriness of exhaustion – it is hard to see past the fog in my head. With Mother’s Day approaching and now just around the bend, one more wake up and I must be ready to bless all the mom’s in our church. I agreed to the task. I am called to serve women. I love doing it as much as I sometimes joke that I do not. I decided from the beginning not to enlist any help in preparation. The women in our church serve every other day so I wanted them to peacefully enjoy their own time. Now on the eve of Mother’s Day, I have a to-do list a mile long. Lord, I need you to be my strength today. I desire you above all things. Life. Life is hard. There are struggles. There are busy times and wasted moments that comprise the summation of our life. Lord, teach me those that are important.

I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

Each morning when I wake up to spend some time with the Lord is different and unique. There are times it takes a while to meander with Him and find the Word that He has for me. Other times, He gently nudges me awakening me from sleep. Not the case today, I was met with the desperate barks of our new puppy who despite her sleepy owners needed a potty break. I just want to sleep. Find rest. Escape all the “things” waiting for me “to do” today. This morning – the Lord came to me directly and purposefully when I finally stopped doing things to listen for His Voice. This is what He said, “Yes, you can do all things through me. But have you done the One Thing?” It was as if I was a student in the classroom and the Holy Spirit my teacher. The passages written in black on the white dry erase board. Listen. Look at this. Think about it. Meditate on it. Marinate in it. Find your place in this – I can do all things through Christ. I am allowed to do anything. Grace has me covered. Mercy meets me each new day. Christ lives in me so I am free to live my life as I choose to do so. I am indeed allowed to do anything…but not everything is beneficial.

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

Understanding the difference between permissible and beneficial and applying to our life is called wisdom. We know a lot of things about the Lord claiming to believe them. Faith is demonstrated by trust. Those who are fully dependent on the Lord yoked in life to Jesus Christ do not grow weak and weary often but those who do not discern the differences between permissible and beneficial often go it alone. God’s Grace allows us to do most anything. His Mercy catches us if we should stumble. But sometimes it is not a matter of sin, but service. We are trying so hard to please others and prove ourselves worthy of a love and grace that is priceless. We wear ourselves out trying to obtain that which is already given. Have you never heart? Do you not understand? The Lord is an everlasting God who never grows weak or weary! He lives in you and me giving us purpose and limitless potential if we would only believe.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them. He causes everything to work out right. I love God. I am called according to His Purpose so even when I take on too much or overdo it, Jesus is still living in me with the offer to share the burden and carry the load. I must trust Him. Our good intentions are permissible and even beneficial but must be done with a pure heart. There will be difficult seasons. There will be blinding storms. There will be closed doors that seem impossible to open. Mountains much too high to climb and heavy to move. Pressure moves out of us the purpose that God put in us because it pushes us into His Presence. Are you tired? Frustrated? Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Just plain stressed out? I have the answer…

Psalm 27:4-6 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

The Presence of God changes everything. All things are possible to those who believe enough to invest faith along with time into seeking His Face, basking in His Glory and spending time in the Presence of the Lord. After long days at work, during my 40-minute commute, I will play my favorite worship songs and dive into His Presence headlong. I know I need Jesus every day, hour and minute. I need His Presence to permeate my life tangibly. Christ lives in me. He invites me to come to Him – I must respond to His Call to come and find myself all over again. To make Him the ONE THING rather than trying to do everything.

I can do all things in Christ. He is my Strength and Way Maker. He is working everything together for my good because God loves me. I have responded to His Love likewise and now try to live according to His Purpose. My purpose is to love and serve Him. To be of one heart, mind and spirit with Jesus Christ. I must remember before attempting anything to one thing first – seek Him. My desire for Christ must be greater than any natural drive that I have. To love Him. Pursue Him. Please Him. Delight in Him as He delights in me. He must be the first thing on every list. The last thing I do every day. The reason I live, breathe, move and exist for every single second and each breath I take. If I can do this one thing, Jesus will give me the strength to do all the other beneficial things that I would like to do!

Psalm 36:5-9 (NLT) Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.

Just Look Up

Just Look Up

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

Not too long ago, there was a viral video of a woman walking in the mall with her eyes fixed intently on her cellphone. As she continued on her way, obviously engrossed in a text conversation, she failed to see the fountain in her path and falls into it. Plunging into the water, she quickly jumps up and looks around to see if anyone noticed and heads on her way. I will admit that I have done the same thing minus the embarrassing fall. The phone flashes a notification so you glance at it drifting into the other lane. You get a text message at work that becomes a full-blown conversation. When I finally upgraded to a “smart” phone, I did a lot of dumb things with it. One of the most freeing came when I found that I got to choose the notifications in my settings. As I turned all of them off to only the most essential, I found that my phone was no longer a distraction. Only important text messages and relevant alerts now divert my attention from the task at hand. I can finally look up from my phone because it no longer has my full attention.

With proverbial hands raised, I ask before you begin to tell me all the reasons why your phone is essential. I know you use it for work. I know it keeps you in constant contact with your children. I get it. I am in the same boat. However, our cellphones can become our focus quite easily and we all know it. How many times are they on restaurant tables or worse both parties at the table paying no attention to each other but the brightly lit device in their hand? Guilty. This is not about cellphones. It can be anything that diverts our attention from what is important to what is the most enthralling. See every detail of my life is under God’s Complete Control when I give my heart and life to Jesus. He becomes my Shepherd. My life is now yoked to Him. He cares for me. Provides for me. Protects me. Leads me. Guides me. It would only seem prudent for me to look up and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, right? Right…

Every single human being alive today has 24 hours in a day. We are free to choose how to invest those hours in our life. Busyness is our choice. We choose to go fast or slow. We decide what will consume the hours, minutes and seconds of our life. Who will you give it to today? Will it be fully invested in Christ allowing Him to make perfect use of it? Or will you decide to do it yourself…again? I am just as guilty as anyone else of letting other things take advantage of the time that God has given me in a day. However, when I hear myself say, “I am too busy” for this or that – it has become a red flag that I am no longer using my time wisely. God doesn’t create business. The Lord promises rest. Busyness is the product of disbelief, doubt, worry and fear or else that thing you are doing does not make you too busy but completely satisfied. Hold on for a moment…I have to fully digest that.

So back to the woman walking in the mall completely distracted and walking without looking, what would have happened if she was walking down a busy street and walked into traffic? Her slight tumble could have turned into a tragedy. I wonder if sometimes the Lord allows us to stumble a bit to avoid a complete fall. To challenge us to look up and see what He is doing rather than trying to do it all ourselves. Ouch! It is human nature to try to control our life rather than to relinquish it to the Lord. Jesus is still on the Throne. We just stray from it sometimes because of a lack of complete and absolute faith in His Love and/or Faithfulness. God can do it. But until it is our full understanding that the Lord will do ALL He promised in just the right time and wait for Him – well we will run around like chickens with our head cut off trying to reproduce God’s Way in our timing which always results in tired, worn out, frustrated Christians. Have you stumbled? Did you fall? Are you frustrated? Thinking about throwing the towel in? Well, just look up.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

The past is not a suitable future for God’s Children. Anything in our past worth having in our future will be placed there by the Lord. We do not have to look back or go back. It is just as dangerous as keeping our eyes down. We must look straight ahead. Fix our eyes on what lies before you. Distractions are the most dangerous strategy because life is paved with good intentions. Nobody who is of sound mind sets out to fall, fail or live a less than satisfied life. No the enemy starts throwing in substitutions and compromises that seem like suitable shortcuts and legitimate routes to God’s Best. When God already told us exactly what to do – keep our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of Faith. Who better to show us the way to all He has for us then the One who gave it to us?

Matthew 6:22-23 (NLT) “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

I am not going to lie to you. I love the filters on some of the social media applications. They hide the lines marking my age and smooth out my wrinkles. Some will even add some extra touches to my makeup making the girl in the picture much better in appearance then the one in real life… or so I think. The new image is sent out for all to see but what really matters is not in one’s appearance but in the intent and motives of my heart. Is my heart completely in line with the Lord? Does it beat in rhythm to Jesus Christ? My eyes give light to the place where my heart and soul are hidden. I must be extremely careful to filter the light that I allow into my being. Some things may seem good and harmless but eat away at my heart and soul. Faith is my potential. It is pivotal to my purpose. To think that anything is more important that Jesus Christ will erode the foundation laid carefully in my heart and quickly overshadow my soul until nothing can grow and mature into the harvest that I am promised.

Two quick examples would be Abraham and Jacob. When Abraham made it to the mountain fully prepared to sacrifice his only son to the Lord as God required, the Lord told him to “look up”. What did he see? A ram caught in a thicket. God provided for him in that moment. (Genesis 22) It would have been missed and his son forever lost if he had not obeyed the Lord’s Directive. The other is Jacob who after years of serving Laban realized the treachery of his uncle. He had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah requiring another stint of service for his true love, Rachel. He complies and marries both women and the Lord blesses him with many children. The unfair treatment weighs heavy on his heart, but the Lord says “look up” from your pity party. What does he see? The Lord had made him quite wealthy showing him great favor through his years of captive service. (Genesis 31) What if your situation currently is not what you think? What if your head is hanging low like Abraham? Or you are looking at everyone else and your situation like Jacob? What if you just need to look up to see your help is right before you? The Lord never left you. He has provided for you, protected you and now is persuading you to look up and see He is right there!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Jesus is our champion. He makes us feel like winners. He gives us victory. Opening the door called Triumph to those who are willing to walk through it. I will never “see” these things if I fail to change my perspective in life. The perception of my heart most productive is faith. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of it. He is my champion who gives me the opportunity to live in victory each day. Do I look to win? Or just get by? Am I after God’s Best or willing to settle for a substitute? God has promised me many things. Jesus Christ offers me a rich and satisfying life. What has my attention holds the keys to my future? I want Jesus to be my future. I must look up today from all the things that are demanding my attention. I must control the timeclock of my life and parcel it out as the Lord leads me. This is my life. I choose to spend it wisely on seeking the One who pursues me with Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness. The only thing required of me is to look up and fix my eyes on Jesus. What if the Lord is doing just as He promised? What if everything is coming together but just don’t notice? What if our busyness is robbing us of rest and stealing our joy that His Love and Mercy are providing every day? What if all we need to do is look up? Turn your eyes upon Jesus today. Let the Light of His Glory and Grace fill you with new hope and peace. Let His Love fill you and illuminate His Presence so you will know with confidence that it is well with my soul!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Wholeheartedly

wholeheartedly

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

How do I give all the pieces of my heart to Jesus? Wholehearted is to be done, enacted, given with total sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. It means that I am fully and completely committed to that which my heart is given. What is that exactly? I instructed in God’s Word in Deuteronomy and confirmed by Jesus that “I must love the Lord (my) God with all (my) heart, all (my) soul, and all (my) mind.” This is called the first and greatest commandment. In Jeremiah, it is the established way of attaining God’s Plan for our life with the future and hope that comes with it. I wonder sometimes if in our plight to perfect a way easily followed that this is overlooked in the modern day church. Righteousness becomes rightness. My righteousness is found in Christ alone but there is some sense of natural security that is assumed by doing what is right. This misconception is nothing more than a lie of the enemy meant to deceive God’s People. Our sole pursuit in life must be to love God wholeheartedly for that is how to find Him.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NLT) “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Our pursuit of God and His Righteousness begins with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made into flesh to dwell among us. To know, understand and begin to comprehend God’s Love demonstrated in Jesus Christ is to study, meditate and pray the Word of God in our life. God speaks to His People through His Word. It is a foreign language that must be learned and committed to memory. It must be incorporated in everyday life. We must study to show ourselves approved. Ready to share the Gospel in season and out of season. The Word brings wisdom that is more valuable than precious gems or the purest gold. Jesus is the Bread of Life that feeds and nourishes our spirit so the Holy Spirit can cultivate His Fruit in us. We must commit wholeheartedly to the words of God and Jesus Christ. The Word of God is life. It takes all the pieces of our heart no matter how broken, binding them altogether with the promise that everything is going according to His Plan.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT) “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

God has not and will not ever force anyone to serve Him. He does not need servants to attend Him or workers to do His Business. God desires our love. The Spirit of the Lord set us free allowing us to choose who we will serve rather than keeping us captive to sin. He offers us a plan with a future and hope to live and not die. It is a personal choice. We must choose carefully. Amaziah I is noted in 2 Chronicles 25 as one who did what is right in the Lord’s eyes, but did not do it wholeheartedly. Hezekiah is later noted in 2 Chronicles 31 as one who also pleased the Lord but he did it wholeheartedly. The Lord is looking for those who do not just seek to please Him for His Goodness but desire His Glory wholeheartedly. God fills our life with good things because He loves us. The rains falls on the wicked and the righteous because God is good. When I do what is right in His Sight, I will experience more and more of His Blessings because they are already provided for me. It is simply a matter of positioning myself in the right place at the right time doing the right thing as His Word and His Way indicates. But that is not enough for me…not anymore.

To do what God desires will benefit our life. It will expose hidden blessings just because we are honoring Him with our attitude and actions. I want more than that. I want the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ that creates unity of faith and knowledge. (Ephesians 4:13) I don’t want anything left out of the Glorious Standard of Living that sin was kept from me. I can have it now because Christ lives in me. But if I do not have a relationship with Jesus, I cannot be a Child of God. Doing what He wants just makes me a slave to God rather than sin. (Romans 6:16-18) When I decide that I love God wholeheartedly is when I begin to experience the truest freedom that is to become a Child of God.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 (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. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

God desires a relationship with you today. One that you have not every experienced before and that your flesh rallies against daily. To give up this life in pursuit of forever seems like a risky investment. What if I am wrong? What if there is not a God? What if God is not as good? What if Jesus is not real? I cannot convince you of the existence of God or the vastness of goodness or fathomless depths of His Love. You will have to experience them for yourselves. What I do know is this? No one can convince me otherwise. If I die, I will not be disappointed. My hope in Jesus Christ is secure. But for argument’s sake, what if I am wrong and there is nothing after this life? Well, I can honestly say that loving God and serving Him has only benefited and blessed my life in inexplicable and inconceivable ways. If God were only a myth, it would still have been worth giving my life to Him. I want more. I want to love God with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul and ALL of my mind. Daily I must make it my passionate pursuit to love Him with more of me. God desires an everlasting covenant. He wants to be one with us. We avail ourselves when we seek the Lord wholeheartedly.

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

Lord, if I have withheld pieces of my heart, my soul or my mind from you – I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas so I can give more of me to You, God! We have been given an opportunity to enter into the greatest love story ever written. To experience a love so great that the boundaries will never be seen. To experience the Glory of God so overwhelming that it melts us in His Presence. What if for a moment – we stopping working so hard and try worshipping the Lord more? Taking time to enter His Presence, sit at His Feet, listen to His Words and hear His Heart. God desires a relationship with us. He wants you. He longs for me to be with Him forever. What if I am trying to impress God with my actions and all He really wants is my heart? My time. My talent. My treasure mean nothing outside of His Power at work in me. Nothing I can ever accomplish on the earth in my power will ever outshine the work of Jesus on the Cross. God simply wants to raise my standard of living so that I can live in His Glorious Standard as any good parent would do. His Love is completely overwhelming but so very simplistic. For God so loved me that He gave His Only Son that I might be saved. There is nothing I can do, say or be to cap that kind of love. All I can give is all that I am for all that He is.

What if God only desired our true love? What if He really is not impressed by what we do for Him but how we love Him? I believe that if we came back to our first love as it tells us in Revelation that becoming the church that the Lord called and created us to be would not be quite so complicated. As believers if we would choose to love God wholeheartedly, there would be a shift in the dynamics of the organization and institution so that it would become the living, breathing and healthy Body of Christ again. No longer would there be politics or personal agendas leaking into the walls of the church but the Power of God called His Glory would emanate from it pouring out into our communities, our country and around the world. The same message would be spoken. It would be all about love. Agreement wholeheartedly would produce a sound message that the world would hear clearly. God is love. God is in love with you! My life is worth nothing until the Love of God overtakes every part it so that I can effectively communicate God’s Love to a lost and dying people in a cold, dark world. Lord, I give you my heart, my soul and my mind. Make it whole according to Your Word, Your Will and Your Way today so that I can give it back to You!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Ezekiel 36:26(NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

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

Find Him

find-him

Luke 2:9-12 (NLT) Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Our church is celebrating Christmas today with a special service. This breaks the normal routine of just one service on Sunday but today there will be two. It’s a good thing as life gets really busy celebrating the season with parties, gatherings, shopping, gifting, stressing and such. I believe the night that Jesus was born was busyness as usual – pun intended. The census was big busin ess to Bethlehem. Every hotel, motel and Holiday Inn was filled to overflowing. I would think that every dining hall, restaurant and Olive Garden had a two-hour wait or more. As Mary and Joseph entered the town, they did not notice the crush or rush of the season but rather the pain and pressure that was pushing God’s Promise into this world. This busy world. This distracting time. This life that never makes time for rest or revelation just constant rushing and reacting. God was about change things significantly but no one had the time to stop.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them. Many Christmas pageants will reenact this moment today if their program has not already taken place. The radiance of the Lord’s Glory that surrounded this moment may somehow be missed in the revelry. The shepherds who encountered God in such a glorious way were at first terrified. But the angel of the Lord would not allow such fear, doubt and discouragement to overtake them and said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” All people even you who is weighted down by heavy burdens or drowning in unmet expectation. You who are fighting unseen enemies in prevailing darkness trying desperately to act normal groping to find your way out. Those who are draped in artificial trees, lights and splendor of Christmas colors but inside only see black and white images of deep depression. Yes, you who are exhausted and overwhelmed in the rush and crush of “Christmas”. God is speaking to each of us today in whatever state this season has brought to the surface to say, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to you of all people.” Do you have joy this Christmas? You will always find joy in Jesus.

The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born…you will recognize him and you will find him. In the midst of the statements is hidden the Truth that can make this last week joyful. The kind of joy that doesn’t stop after the gifts are open, everyone fed and you can finally put your feet up and rest. This is the kind of joy that prevails over happiness and haphazard life to keep us in constant peace filled with inexpressible joy all year round. We must find our Savior, Messiah and Lord.

Luke 1:46-50 (NLT) Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.”

Poor Mary! Can you imagine? She was a single mom in a staunch religious culture that frowned heavily and punished young ladies in such a position. She had done nothing other than say, I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” She said, “Yes!” This commitment to God would not be recognized by others though she tried to share her side. Even her fiancé, Joseph, doubted her until the Lord came to him, too. Our response to the Lord doesn’t always make everything calm and peaceful. No most of the time all hell breaks loose around you as the enemy wants God’s Promise inside of you.

I have been pregnant five times. I have had relatively easy ones, praise the Lord. However, with all three in the midst of transition, when arrival is imminent – I lose it. Generally erupting in an internal conversation that sometimes makes its way out. What were you thinking? I just want to quit. Lord, no more. I once told a midwife that I was done and leaving. I didn’t want to do it anymore. She simply smiled and said, “Okay.” Ugh! Birthing God’s Promise physically and spiritually is no different. There is pressure and there is pain but our persistence pushes past all that as God has His Way. What is your response today to the Savior? Jesus cannot and will not leave you in the same condition that He found you. Ever. If you seek the Savior – then you will experience deliverance from sin, shame and guilt. You cannot have the Promise and the past. Choosing the promise will always become a pregnancy that leads to pressure and pain at times.

Luke 4:17-21 (NLT) The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Jesus is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. When He began to speak and told the people, “the scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day” – it was a line drawn in the sand and every demon in hell even satan screeched loudly at the transgression. They would not be defeated. Jesus had a mission. God sent Him on purpose. He came to save the world. He also came to empower each of God’s Children to achieve and execute His Power after Jesus was gone back to Heaven. He intended to march into hell retrieve the keys to open the life and release the promise of every man and woman bound, hindered and headed for death and the grave by sin. His Grace would be released to all mankind along with all the love, joy and peace Heaven has to offer. Are you living under the powerful anointing of Jesus Christ in your life today?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Are you living free and clear in Jesus Christ today? I believe that this is often missed in our Christian life. We come to the Savior. Live in repentance. Strive to stay close to Him. Love Him. Choosing grace and grabbing hold of mercy. We see the wretchedness of our weakness. Know that we are powerless against sin. BUT where is freedom? Where is the power that He promised us? Is it still locked inside of us?

Jesus said, “It is finished.” The Bible says that after He spoke these final words that He released His Spirit to inhabit the hearts of His People. He gave us His Power which we accept with His Grace. However, many people never experience God’s Power because they don’t have enough faith to be confident in His Grace. His Saving is sufficient but many worry that their sin is too great, their weakness too obvious, and their rebellion too real. His Grace is enough for you today. It is enough for me. Even on those days that I fail, give up, give in and request do-over after do-over – God is with me, in me, and pushing His Promise out of me. To find Him – we must not only look for a Savior but our Messiah full of awesome power, too.

Greater things. Jesus said that anyone who believes in Him will do the same “works” (miracles, signs and wonders) that He had done. But the Messiah doesn’t stop there. He goes on to promise that we will do even greater works when He completed His Work and went back to the Father. Well…Jesus did it. Are we doing it? Do we believe? Those who do will experience the Glory of God as the shepherds did in the field. They will feel the tug on their heart of the wise men who had to honor Jesus. We must seek not only a Savior but the Messiah, too.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. 

Jesus is not only our Savior and Messiah. He must be our Lord. You know I find that when I set out to do a certain task around the house, maybe I am just looking for something, that I can get distracted and forget what I was after in the first place. Distractions are a way of life. Have you ever walked into that room and thought why am I here? Your life will always hold distractions and detours set by the enemy to get your mind off of the real thing you are after. People are not the problem but become problematic. Children become teenagers. Work gets chaotic. Change is constantly evolving. The enemy is desperate to steal and kill God’s Promise for our life. Our promise is to build a kingdom. You are part of the Body of Christ. All our human body parts represent a certain function necessary for perfect health and wholeness. You are important to the development and fulfillment of the Body. You – yes you, all by your lonely. You are important. You are significant. Is Jesus your Lord today?

I know the plans that I have for you. God knows exactly what He created you to do and what will satisfy your soul. Jesus saved you for this purpose and has empowered you to fulfill it. Our faith takes these two qualities of Christ to serve Him as Lord. To make Jesus Lord of our life is not about church doctrine, Christian guidelines, or any other manmade rule. To make Jesus Lord is to love Him wholeheartedly. I struggle with sin every day. I am able to overcome some of them simply because I love others too much to do them and even more when I started loving Jesus too much to do the rest. Religion cannot make Jesus Lord of our life. It is our relationship with Him that changes everything. To fall so in love with Jesus that you do not want to sin or allow anything to come between the two of you. I don’t want anything I do to drive a wedge in our relationship.

Jeremiah 29:11 is widely known and accepted. Everyone loves the fact that God has a plan for our life. We celebrate even more that they contain a future and hope. Yes, Lord. Seldom do we dig deeper. We want the promise but not the process. What does it say next? This is pivotal to fulfillment and our part in the process. When you pray, I will listen. Busyness is probably the #1 joy killer in every Christian. We go so long not communicating with the Lord that the absence or void becomes filled with other things. We must clear our schedule and make time for our relationship and pursuit of Jesus every day. If you look for me, wholeheartedly, you will find me. Are you looking for Jesus today? Are you searching desperately for the Savior, longing for the Messiah, and wholeheartedly pursuing the Lord? We need the full person of Jesus Christ in our life every single day. It seems so ironic that a season created to celebrate His Birth is the time of year when the suicide hotline rings off the hook, families fall apart, and people become completely overwhelmed in doing, running and rushing to meet unreasonable expectations. We must seek Jesus wholeheartedly and save Christmas once and for all.

Luke 2:15-20 (NLT) When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

I laugh as I wonder if the shepherds were as surprised to find Jesus as I am when God’s Word holds true. Time and time again, the Lord has done exactly as promised and yet I am still amazed that God would do such wonderful things for me. When I make the choice to seek Him wholeheartedly, it always turns out just as He said it would. Sometimes the road to fulfillment is short and others are long journeys filled with high highs and low lows, but the Lord is with me through it all. He really does prepare feasts for me in the presence of the enemy. He does everything His Word says. He is doing it. What am I doing? If the Promise God gave you has not come to pass, it is important to make sure that you haven’t given up in the process and that you are still seeking Him wholeheartedly not halfheartedly. The Lord knows the difference and so do you. Jesus said, “It is finished.” This is a word just for you. He came to save you. Heal you. Deliver you. Anoint you. Empower you. Fulfill you. Complete you. In all this, Jesus came to free you. You are free to live your life as you choose. This is His Gift to you this Christmas.

In Luke 17, there were ten lepers who called to Jesus from a distance. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus sent them to the synagogue to show themselves to the priests and as they went they were healed. But only one of them came back seeking Jesus – no one else returned to give thanks or glory to the God who healed them. Hmmm. We come to Jesus in our time of need and press in to His Presence to meet our need and relieve our burden. He gives us salvation. He sets us free. What we do next determines fulfillment in our life? He will heal people who never pursue Him. He will set free some who will never return. Jesus is our Savior, Messiah and Lord. His Character and Qualities are not driven by my behavior or my response. Remember – who the Son sets free is free indeed. My choice is to use my freedom to seek Jesus wholeheartedly until I find Him. What is yours? Wise men (and women) still seek Him. Is your life lackluster is your love drained and joy fading in the midst of all the busyness and distractions of this holiday season? It’s not too late. Make this week count. If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him and Christmas will be joyful all over again.

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Be Holy

be-holy

I Peter 1:14-16 (NIV) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Be holy, because I am holy. What does that mean anyway? God is holy. Of course, He is God. But how can an ordinary person like me who sins every single day and relies solely on the Grace and Mercy of the Living God to get by each day and my only hope is that faith that I have in Him. How can I, just plain old me, ever be holy? There are a lot of people who live by comparison adopting a holier-than-thou attitude but who is truly holy? Is it even possible? The dictionary defines the word “holy” as having a spiritually pure quality and to be dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church or religion. I find spiritual purity to be completely dependent on daily repentance and submission to the Lord. How do I know if my dedication is devoted to service to God or the church or my religion? Not sure that’s how most people read the definition but my heart says that there are many ways humans determine holiness but according to God’s Word there is only one way to be like God and holy.

Our quest for holiness is ongoing as it tells us in I Peter 1:13 that we must remain fully alert and sober setting our hope on the grace “to be brought to you when Jesus Christ” returns. We receive mercy each day but there is a promise of grace to come when Jesus comes back to fully redeem us from sin and death. Until that time all a person can do is strive to be like the Lord and remain holy. This means that no matter how long a person loves and serves God on earth that they will never be holy but simply pursue holiness. Spiritual purity is impossible in a body full of flesh and desires contrary to God which rebel daily against His Word, Will and Way in us.

I Peter 1:22-23 (NIV) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Every person who comes to Christ lives on a level playing field. In other words, there is no one righteous not a single one outside of Jesus. By coming to Jesus Christ, asking Him to be our Savior and accepting Him as Lord of our life does not eliminate sin, our struggle against sin or change us in any way from anyone else…yet. It is the promise of salvation and redemption that gives us living hope. Those who believe will fall in love with Jesus. They will pursue the Lord, follow Him, serve Him and try to live a way that is holy and acceptable to Him. However the problem with holiness is our perception of what that is. Only God is completely holy. He is perfect. He is flawless. He is blameless. The righteousness obtained by men and women who come to the Lord is from the love and grace of Jesus Christ. It is not who I am. It is Christ in me showing through. There is no room for arrogance or pride in a believer. Nothing good that I become, nothing that I have and nothing I do is motivated, enacted or enabled by me. It is all the Holy Spirit working in and through me.

With this in mind, as a born-again believer, how can I be holy? I must have sincere love that is fully operational in my life. Love that prohibits sin from taking up space between me and my Savior. Love that is committed to forming a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ rather than engaging in religious behavior in the hope of earning a position in heaven. Love that reaches out pulling others close to us so that they can see the Light of His Love at work in us. Love never pushes away people. It does not disregard those who are different. Love does not give up on those who keep giving in. Holiness is a call to love one another deeply. No more skin deep affection but truly putting others before ourselves in selfless sacrifice. The biggest sacrifice of the human life is pride. Giving up all we have and know to follow Christ is one thing, but when the walls built by fear, anxiety and pride come down vulnerability and brokenness are exposed to the hurt of others but the true blessing in sincere love is that our Healer can touch our heart and complete us. When His Completeness touches our brokenness, it is then we experience His Holiness. He makes us holy.

Colossians 3:12-18 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I am God’s Chosen People. We are consecrated to be holy and dearly loved. In order to allow others to see who I am in Jesus Christ and minister His Message to others, I must be properly clothed. Not in my natural apparel, but rather as I must choose to wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience at all times. Even when I am right, completely right, I cannot allow my meekness to be turned to pride because I still sin just like you do every single day. Each person is someone Jesus died for whether they choose to accept His Gift or not so they are worthy of my compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. People are overbearing. They will hurt you, disappoint you, let you down, and talk about you or worse. Human nature creates a competitive nature that opens the door to comparison the greatest love stealer and joy killer of all. My place in my Father’s Kingdom is secured just for me. No one can take my place. I cannot take the place of another. He loves me for me. He loves you for you. He is desperate for both of us to come home.

Forgiveness maintains a holy lifestyle. Bitterness will choke out every work of God in us and move of God around us. Our entire relationship with God through Jesus Christ is based on our ability to accept His Grace that forgives us of every sin ever committed. Though one may believe that there are different levels of sin, there is not. Sin is sin. One sin would have required every single ounce of blood in Jesus Christ. It would have demanded His Entire Life just the same. Forgiveness cannot be withheld from others and continually accepted by us. God hates double standards.

Does the Peace of Christ rule in your heart today? Peace is evidence of unity with Christ. When fear and anxiety rule our hearts and minds, it means that faith has been replaced by doubt and must be dealt with immediately. The Peace of God will permeate our life and overflow into every other relationship in our life. It creates unity rather than tearing it apart and destroying relationships. Harmony is of the same level of anointing as the oil that ran down Aaron’s beard. God desires unity in His People. He has given us complete peace in the righteousness that we have in Him now through His Son. Peace is established and maintained in our relationship with Jesus Christ. If our peace is compromised, it is a relationship issue not relative to the world around us that knows no peace.

Be thankful. Are you thankful today? Thankfulness is where a believer finds contentment. Contentment is a form of peace in us. Godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6) Contentment is a form of completeness. It is a type of holiness. It is completely satisfied and at peace with the Lord and nothing in this life can touch it. Anything untouchable and not influenced by this world becomes holiness as it is consecrated and set apart for God alone. When a believer becomes thankfulness and steps into godliness contentment will follow and consecrate their life to the Lord no matter what their natural circumstances, situations or conditions may be. Holiness takes our hope and puts it all in the Hands of Jesus.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” What is the message of Christ? For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son so we could have everlasting life. This is the message. However, in this day and age that may call the end times, what is the message of our lives as Christians? What is the point of our preaching from the many pulpits around the world?

2 Timothy 3 warns that in the “terrible times” called the last days that people will be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Did you see the end of this passage? Who are these people? They are Christians who have a form of godliness. What is missing? Holiness. The completeness of God is not His Perfection alone. It is His Love. His Love is perfect beyond human comprehension. Are we loving like we should? If not, there is the danger of falling into the group detailed above who have a form of godliness but not holiness. Lord, make me holy like you are holy. Holy Spirit cultivate true love in my heart, sincere love, the kind of love that sets me apart from the world and establishes me in Your Kingdom…forever.

2 Timothy 2:19-21 (NLT) But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

“The Lord knows those who are His…” I want the Lord to know me. God will identify with me if He sees His Son, Jesus in me. It is my only chance of escaping judgment. To be found in right standing with God and live in the Kingdom is not based on anything that I can do for myself but relies completely of the Unfailing Love and Unending Grace of Jesus Christ. With this in mind, holiness can never be an esteemed position in my life but to live in complete brokenness before the Lord as He fills all the voids, hurts, faults and failures in my life.

Many stories are told of people who find old shoeboxes filled with money hidden away for years. My own grandfather used to hide silver coins in trash bags to prevent theft and keep them safe. In the basement of my grandparent’s home, you might find a bag of silver coins hidden in the middle of ten bags of old clothes and worthless things. The paper box a treasure is found in remains worthless. Its value is not in its composition but what it is filled with. The plastic garbage bags were about a dollar for an entire box of them. They had little value as sold. The treasure in each one was the silver coins hidden within them. Sometimes we confuse the graciousness of God for our own personal piousness, it is not. I am nothing apart from Jesus Christ. His Love is the very potential of my life that releases purpose and shares a worthwhile message to the world. I am to be holy as He is holy. My holiness is dependent on my ability to love like Jesus. To be useful to the Kingdom of God is not my ability to do all the right things and avoid sin at all costs though my respect for my Lord will cause this change, but it is my commitment to love that makes me a useful utensil. Lord, I ask you to humble my heart today. Remove every condition that I have placed on others and release more love in me to bond and unite the Kingdom of God as you desire. Teach me to release the worthless things to hold tightly to this treasure in me who is Jesus Christ. Make me holy, Lord as You are holy today and every day in the Name Above All Names – Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 (NLT) When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of

Hacked

Hacked

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing like waking up to an alert on your phone that someone has logged into your iMessage account and finding an endless foray of text messages on your phone in Chinese or at least it looked like an Asian language. Such a violating feeling when another decides to step into someone’s life and take something that does not belong to them. Several years ago, our house was robbed. I remember the dirty feeling of someone walking through our life and touching everything. Going through our belongings, opening drawers, reaching under the mattresses looking for certain things. The investigators dusted for fingerprints leaving behind the telltale sign of the intrusion and marks left in our mind. Identity theft has become prevalent enough to now be included in insurance policies. There are no boundaries. This world no longer has a conscience. What is our response? Now before you sign up for a concealed weapon permit, call the security company or change all your passwords, it is important to remember that this world is not our home. Yes, it is good to be aware and do what is best to protect your family. However, before we panic and build bunkers, let’s take a deep breath. Everything is going according to plan. God’s Plan. We have a role to play in His Plan. There is purpose in our life and very existence that is important to the Kingdom of God. Through all the distractions and detours, the enemy tries to make us feel helpless, violated and powerless. Nothing could be further from the Truth.

“No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Do you believe that you are more than a conqueror today just because you are loved by Christ? It is important what we believe and how we respond to God’s Word when it comes to the power and authority that God bestowed on Jesus who has given it to us. Why is the church powerless? Why are Christians on the run? Where is the confidence in our King and allegiance to His Kingdom? The only thing that will ever keep us from God is sin. We choose to entertain it. Either ignoring God’s Word or calling it okay because of grace. The grace given to us by our Savior is not common. Common grace pardons sin and stops right there. God’s Grace through Jesus fulfills the Law and allows us to become Children of God and live out His Plan and Purpose regardless of our past. His Amazing Grace empowers us to live apart from sin and in His Power. How is it going?

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NIV) So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Where is our confidence today? I discovered the problem with my Itunes account because Apple notified me. The message simply indicated that another user had been added and if I did not know this person to change my password. Makes me laugh out loud for a minute. What is our response when the enemy messes with us, our stuff or intrudes into our life? What is our immediate response? How do we react? Do we use our authority and power to come against the attack in the Name of Jesus or do we complain to everyone about what the devil is doing to us? See the Word of God that I read says that the Name of Jesus is the most powerful name and weapon in all the universe. It says that at His Great Name EVERY KNEE will bow and EVERY TONGUE confess that He is Lord. Yet we cower. Why? We lack confidence in the Word of God, the Name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and His Power in us.  We simply do not believe so engage in battles ill-quipped to fight.

You cannot win a spiritual battle without faith. Faith is confidence in God. We cannot be more than conquerors if we do not have faith and confidence in the Name of Jesus. Today, I logged into my Itunes account and changed the password. I kicked off all unknown users. I wiped out all the messages from the intruder without opening and reading them because they do not pertain to me and such talk can only add to my bad attitude. My account is now clean, secure and protected again. What about my heart? Do I allow the enemy to run rampant in my mind by continually contemplating his next attack? Or do I build up my arsenal through prayer, studying, meditating on His Word and communing with His Spirit? I will run to that which I trust in times of trouble. Where do I run to when the enemy comes? Do I run to the world for help and protection? Or do I trust in the Power and Authority of Jesus to rule and govern my life? Is He my Lord today? Is He yours?

Luke 10:19-20 (NIV) I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

The Power of God is reserved for Children of God. You cannot live for the world and expect His Power to be evident in your life. Repentance is the first of all fruits for a believer. Without true repentance that turns our life daily over to Christ, carries our cross and crucifies our flesh, you can forget seeing revival, signs, wonders or miracles. It just cannot come from an empty source. I believe to reclaim the Power of God given to us by Jesus and to manifest it to the world around us is a two-step process. Just as Apple explained the steps to restore my account, the Holy Spirit is telling us (the Church) how to restore His Power in us today.

Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

The first and most important step is to repent and renew our commitment to Jesus Christ. To stop talking about the Power of God and next Great Move of God and be that church. The Kingdom of God is not talk but power. (I Corinthians 4:20) We have developed a language and culture that talks about turning back to God but few who show the proper way. It is Jesus. It always has been and always will be. True repentance. We must become a steadfast people again who stop running doing and takes the time to become the Body of Christ. We must identify with the Holy Spirit again. He is our teacher, counselor, guide and advocate. To try to understand the Word of God and apply it to our life with Him is impossible. Trust me, I tried. Are you happy to be saved? Do you have inexpressible joy untouchable by the tragedies and troubles of life? If not, you can! Finally we must be willing to live in full surrender and submission to God’s Plan and Purpose. No longer living in the darkness or even the gray area of compromise, but in full pursuit of His Presence at all times leaving sin behind.

Acts 4:32-35 (NIV) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

The next step is to live what we believe. The early church boasted of believers in full agreement. Selfless commitment to one another and their community. They were in one accord with one heart and mind. Yep, not the church of today at all with a new one popping up on each corner with a new set of doctrines and rules but same old worn out message. The Body of Christ must find full agreement in Jesus Christ. The early church sold all their possessions and shared everything. With most church records showing only about 2% of the congregation tithing, we have a long way to go. Preachers won’t even preach about giving in fear of losing people. God’s Grace worked its way through them to the world around them because quite frankly the people got out of the way. Their goal in life was to share the Gospel and everything else came second. Imagine the possibilities of a people so sold-out to Jesus nothing else mattered. These were the very same ones beaten, tortured, persecuted, ridiculed, who lived in fear for their life yet could not stop from fulfilling their mission – no matter what the price.

We have so far to go yet in our turning back to the Lord, I have always found that He was right there waiting. He will help us take back what the enemy has taken to use for His Glory but it stretches beyond the natural as we learn to endure so that on that day when He comes – we will be saved! I am so thankful for Jesus today and His Power and Full Authority over my life. I may have temporary trials, troubles and tests but I am more than a conqueror today for one simple reason. I am confident that God loves me. It is all I need to overcome in every situation. He fights for me today so I can hide in His Refuge continuing to share His Love.

Has your life been hacked by the enemy? Has he taken your joy, your stuff? Are you trying to wrestle back that faith that is compromised by fear? You have all the Power and Authority of God available to you in the Name of Jesus? Are you confident in using it? We must strive to focus on getting our heart and mind right with the Lord so we can live in agreement with other believers. In doing so, we can usher in the next great move of God that might very well be the one that precipitates His Coming. We can see revival power back in the House of God. It can even permeate the world around us if we could just believe again. Lord, examine my heart today removing any foul and offensive thing. Release your Spirit to do His Work in and around me bringing your Word to pass in my life. I want you Jesus more than anything. Secure the borders and perimeters around me so I am one with You. Lord, send revival. Let us be where You decide to move.

John 17:10-11 (NIV)  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

Be Victorious

Be Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Come in close. I need to whisper this as not to get everyone riled up. Closer. There are just 64 days until football season kicks off. Hallelujah! This will be the first game of the regular college season and our family gets pumped for it every year. We love our home team. It’s a fun rivalry with other state teams. A little healthy competition is fun, right? We live in a competitive world. There are many things vying for our time, attention and energy. To have a favorite hobby or pastime is good, right? It is! God did not put us here to hate life. We are not designed or predestined to leave in agony nor defeat. When God put people on the planet, His Purpose was for them to have dominion and power. To walk in His Authority and oversee all. What happened? Somehow we lost it.

I love college football. It really is the only sport I watch or follow very closely at all. The other day our son came over to watch some soccer. I am not a soccer fan but he is a huge one. During the game, naturally I was cheering for his team. It was in the final minutes. He was complaining about the score and declaring it a loss. There were a couple minutes left just enough time for a come from behind victory which is exactly what happened. There is no worse feeling then leaving the stadium in defeat only to hear your team comeback and win on the radio driving away. What if you had stayed? What if you had waiting until the end? You would be celebrating with them. Do we give up too soon? Is that the problem? How many times have we been on the verge of breakthrough about to cross the finish line of faith and claim victory when we just gave up?

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Key words to look at in these statements include “everyone” which includes you, “faith” is needed to establish victory in our life overcoming the world and finally, you must “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and overcomes the world. We must believe that victory belongs to us enough to have faith and believe that we will always overcome.

Matthew 16:17-19 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

There is a team from a neighboring city who are constant rivals. Due to the close proximity of campuses, there is a mix of fans in both cities. You can tell who their team is by the mascots and emblems on cars, clothes, and displayed proudly in many ways. There are special chants for each team. We have hand gestures that go along with it. A lot of time, energy and money is invested in supporting these college teams. I have to be very careful not to get too wrapped up in the hype because it creates emotional tension in me. Close your ears honey, but football is just a game. After the stadium is empty, the lights go off, the concessions close and the last car leaves – the win is forgotten moving on to the next engagement. In the grand scope of life, football is a hobby just entertainment.

 

The knowledge of who Jesus is coupled with the understanding that He is not only Savior but our Lord gives way to a life of victory after victory as we overcome the world. Not by might or by power but by God’s Spirit invested in us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and made Him our Lord. Jesus told Peter in that moment that He would be the foundation of His Church, the gates of Hell could overtake it. He was handing Peter the Keys to His Kingdom. He empowered Peter to bind and loose things. We have the same power living in us. Why are we not victorious? Do we know Jesus as Savior? Most reading this would probably say, “Yes.” Okay well, have you made Jesus Lord of your life? What if we invested the time, energy and resources in following Jesus that we do our favorite sport, hobby or even television show? The world offers many distractions and detours to steal our time, talent and treasure wasting it on lesser things that are meaningless. Jesus is simply inviting us to win. Not once in a while or by a fluke but to walk in victory.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is love. He is full of compassion and unfailing love for you and I no matter how we perform in life. His Love is unconditional. He cuts no one from His Team but offers endless abounding grace to us all through His Son, Jesus. The first key word “everyone” is important because God intends to make every single person who He created victorious. Our life and choices do not exempt us from victory. We are not the reason it is given. It is simply God’s Love being shared with us. He is all-powerful. No one can overcome Him or His Love for us. We must believe that there is nothing and no one who can separate us from the Love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We belong to Jesus. When we make Him the Lord of our life living a life of respect for His Authority and Power – He gives it to us. You cannot have His Power until you accept it. By grace are we saved through faith and not of ourselves, you cannot earn God’s Love or deserve it so stop trying and learn to accept it and live it. Things will begin to change. You will find little wins popping up unexpectedly as He begins to release His Power as we begin to surrender our life to His Love.

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is our life investment. It is when we decide to operate in the Love of God for our life so we put our faith and hope in what we cannot see. We put our faith in the Promises of God offered through the Sacrifice of Jesus and sealed in our heart by His Spirit. No one likes to lose. Athletes do not pour their blood, sweat and tears into training and playing without the thought of victory. We will invest our life in the things we deem most important to our happiness and fulfillment. Too often we choose comfort and compromise over confidence and commitment in Christ and wonder why we live dissatisfied and defeated lives. We must evaluate the things that we give our life especially our time to. Are they worthy of our faith and trust?

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I am not an athlete, but a few years back my husband and I began working out together at the local gym. I am a cardio girl. I generally work out on one of the machines like elliptical or treadmill. Again, I am not a trainer or instructor but I do know this in my careful observation. You cannot possibly be giving your all to your workout or fitness routine, if you are talking on your cellphone the whole time. The breath given in your conversation could add to that workout. Your focus is divided and void of concentration. I am a “leave it all on the field” kind of person who is fiercely competitive in all things good and bad. Maybe this is why we are not living victoriously lives. We are not invested in God but everything else all at one time. Could it be that we are not giving it our all but rather living double lives? Doing halfhearted things? Looking at too many things but not focused on one? Could it be that faith is a tiny seed so we must choose where to put it?

I must have faith that in Jesus Christ that I overcome in all things. I must live my life committed to this cause willing to endure to the end even if it is in the final seconds. I must give my all to Jesus every day. If I do, I will be victorious. It begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus everything else is meaningless according to Paul. I am beginning to agree as seeds of faith are beginning to manifest in victory. How about you? Are you due for a win?

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Do you believe that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world? We must believe that God is Greater than any other adversary or opponent in our life vying for out time and attention. We must believe with our whole heart in order to walk from victory to victory. How do I know when I am success? His Glory fills my life. After all isn’t that what comes in worldly victory? The victor is glorified. My Victor is Jesus Christ and when I win He gets the glory! Because I live in Him and He lives in me that means I get to experience His Glory, too.

God will always be our source of victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4) He always has been and always will be. There is victory in His Name alone. His Victory was given to us when Jesus paid the price for all sin to extend God’s Grace becoming our Savior. Salvation frees us from our indebtedness so that we can live a life of victory. Victory is established in Jesus Christ. To share in His Glory – we must make Jesus Lord of our life. No one will invest their life in something or someone they do not believe in…would you?

Legendary football coach, Bobby Bowden, said, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s the greatest strength I’ve had. It’s helped me through the hard times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left.” Good advice. We invest our life in something. Why not faith? We need God’s Strength just to get through each day let alone win once in a while. Jesus overcame the world. Greater is He who lives in me. Through His Love, I have the potential to overcome the world and walk victorious through life based simply on the fact Jesus lives and He lives in me. What are you giving your life to? Those precious minutes that comprise each day. Is there anything left for Jesus? It is easy to make our passions and pursuits into tiny gods that demand our full attention. It is a choice to make Jesus our Lord and live in victory.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

It Belongs to Me

It Belongs to Me

Psalm 16:5-8 (NKJV)

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

 

My husband has decided that he would like a pair of cowboy boots. I am not sure why he would like a pair, but he has been looking in stores and online for the perfect pair. On a whim, we loaded up the girls and went to a store that specialized in boots, jeans and other “country” type items. I am from the South but have never been quite that Southern if you know what I mean. I say, “Hey y’all” and love sweet tea but that is about the extent of it. Walking into the store, I left my wallet in the car certain there was nothing that would appeal to me. I was wrong. On one wall of home décor, there was a section of nothing but crosses. A particularly worn one caught my eye over its rugged appearance was a piece of metal with the words, “Amazing Grace” burned into it. It spoke to me. I turned to show my daughter but she had moved on to another part of the store where something had caught her eye as well. Looking around the store, it was clear everyone had found something that appealed to them. Isn’t funny how that works out in life?

 

The Lord is my inheritance and He is my cup. What does that mean exactly? Jesus is everything that I hope for and He is all that I have. We forget that sometimes. Like my family who all walked in the store together on a mission to find dad a pair of boots, once inside everyone headed off in their own direction. Life keeps us very busy. We get wrapped up in personal pursuits, agendas and endeavors forgetting that this is a temporary place and our situations are not permanent. I love what the psalmist says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” Where are you today? What are you after? Does it matter? God has a plan for us and a purpose. He not only provides what we need to make it through each day well cared for but promises us an inheritance.

 

Romans 8:14-17 (NKJV)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

 

As a believer, we have the opportunity to be sons and daughters of God. There is but one requirement. We walk in the Spirit and not according to our flesh. It means that Jesus is not only our Savior, but has been chosen as Lord of our life. Adoption is a choice. Every man and woman makes the choice to be a son or daughter of God. He does not force you to follow the example of His Son, Jesus. In fact, we are free to do what we please every single day of our life. It is completely up to us who we will serve. Make no mistake. You will serve someone. The only limit to the Love of God in my life is my willingness to receive it. He not only designates a portion to provide for my life but an inheritance for me as His Child. He is God here and now. He is the God of my future.

 

Do you live led by the Holy Spirit? This is not a trick question but the only requirement to be called a Child of God. The Holy Spirit promotes oneness with Jesus. He prods us to do the right thing according to God’s Word and His Way. He is the one who prospers the things in us that make us like our Father. It matters how we live. Let me say that again, there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ so it matters how we live. (Romans 8:1) There is therefore…can be misconstrued. It doesn’t say there therefore there is no condemnation in Christ. It says, “There is therefore” no condemnation in Christ. It is only by placing our entire existence in the Lordship of Jesus that we overcome sin completely and obtain righteousness fully. My flesh or human being cannot please God. It is completely and fully contaminated by sin. Unacceptable to a perfect God.

 

Picture this – it is like a costume. When I step into the costume and begin to pull it up over my legs and torso, putting my arms in each side and lift the covering over my head, I assume the identity of the character all around me. People do not see me but the character that I have become. My salvation and adoption is not about me. It is not accomplished by anything I do other than stepping into the character and person of Jesus Christ and covering my life completely in Him. We do this every day if our choice is to live by the Spirit.

 

The best part is this – we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Whaaat? Our inheritance in God is the contents of His Kingdom. To be joint heirs with Jesus is to partner with His Authority and Power now and forever more. He becomes our portion now as we are able to bring Heaven to earth and He is our forever as we are more than conquerors. My inheritance belongs to me. My portion is already provided. Say that out loud. Let your body, mind and spirit soak it in. I am a Child of God. My inheritance belongs to me. I have been provided a portion that fulfills every need.

 

Romans 8:28-30 (NKJV)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

 

Romans 3:21-24 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of what? God’s Glorious Standard of Living. It is the lie of the enemy that tells people that to live for Jesus Christ is restrictive in nature. It limits our flesh but not our spirit. In fact, to take control of our flesh allows us to flourish in the Kingdom of God. The more of our life surrendered to the Lord the less our limitation. This is how we know…this is how I know that all things work together for my good because I love God and I am called according to His Purpose. It is in this thing called confident hope that I find a better and more satisfying life. I know it is not logical. It is not realistic. It may seem a bit irrational. All I know is that it is true.

 

Romans 8:31-33 (NKJV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

 

This verse reminds me of when the Lord asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Similar to when He asked Adam, “Who told you that?” The lie of the enemy is fierce opposition because we see what He is saying even though it contradicts what we know about God. Faith in Jesus Christ absolutely has to go beyond our natural emotions and human feelings. It must go against our gut sometimes to take hold of hope refusing to let go. The Lord told Abraham to leave his natural inheritance into another land, Abraham trusted the Lord so he did. (Hebrews 11:8-10) This would be the first step of faith that would one day make him the father of many nations and a true friend of God. It would be his righteousness that his faith in God did not waver. Nothing in God’s Kingdom or God’s Heart changed when you decided not to trust Him anymore or hope seemed too farfetched to take hold of. Not a single ounce of your inheritance went missing and your cup did not run dry. You moved. You turned your cup over and said, “No thank-you.” Just like in a restaurant, the whole operation did not close down and the coffee pot did not get shut off because you decided you didn’t want anything. The moment we open our heart and mind to Jesus and allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit again – the windows of Heaven fly open and its contents come pouring out.

 

Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

 

I want what belongs to me. I want full satisfaction on the earth. I want every blessing hidden in Heaven awaiting my arrival. I want it all. My pursuit of such things will keep me in alignment with Jesus. He is my partner. His Spirit gives me strength and understanding because quite frankly faith makes no sense at all. It defies reality. It calls things that aren’t as though they were which most often we must wait to see. Exceeding greatness is available to those who believe. (Ephesians 1:15-21) But do not be deceived, we are the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Our inheritance is not here but in Heaven. (Numbers 18:22; Deuteronomy 18:1-2) The Lord promises to be our portion and full satisfaction instead. Our inheritance will last forever. (Psalm 37:18-19) It is worth having. It requires my life.

 

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV)

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Someone told me just yesterday that they wanted to know what their inheritance was as a Child of God. There was no hidden meaning or Christian jargon in the statement but the look in her eyes cleared of a child in pursuit of her Father’s Love. Do you know that you are God’s Heir today? Have you realized that as a Joint-Heir with Jesus Christ? You have the power and authority to change your living conditions effective immediately in Jesus Name. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes it is a lack of understanding. Most of the time it just doesn’t make any sense. But in those moments that we move just a little bit closer to the edge of our faith peering beyond into the realm of hope that we discover it just gets better. So much so that we forget that which once kept us bound because we must have more. Today’s revelation is not a new one – but rather a work in progress in our life. As we learn to live in Christ – life gets better. Not because I do not do what I used to do, say what I used to say, or choose the choices I used to. It is all because of who I am. I am a Child of God.

 

It is simply in our understanding of who we are and who lives in us that we are able to move past today and persevere until tomorrow knowing new mercy will reach us and that the Lord is working everything out for my good. I am filled with His Portion. I have an inheritance. It is mine. I want it. I am willing to lay down my life to have it. Our understanding must not be limited by logic or restricted by reasoning, we must never keep ourselves bound by reality but become fully released into the realm of hope. I have found that I do not like to go there and sometimes need a little push. Thank you God. Thank you Holy Spirit for enabling me to experience all the blessings of being a Child of God!

 

Whatever that thing is that seems too important to let go, just go ahead and do it. The problem that has reached epic Philistine proportions – it’s going down. Just lift your hands to Heaven today and say, “I am a Child of God! Whatever He has for me I want it.  I will lay my life down to have it.” Now do what you said!

 

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Tiny Cracks

white flower growing on crack street, soft focus.

Luke 6:47-49 (NIV)

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

 

We have lived in our house more than ten years. I remember when it was just a few cinder blocks with plumbing pipe shooting up out of the ground. I love it then and I love it now. I can still recall the day I pulled up to find the finishing touches all in place. It was perfect in every way. In awe of the Goodness of God, it seems like the waves of grace move continually over me at the revelation that God is good all the time and blesses us far beyond our comprehension. However, over time, the house was broken in. With kids and pets and life, the once pristine walls and surfaces show a bit of age. If you look closely at the floors, there are tiny cracks here and there as the house has settled over the years. Some houses develop major foundation issues with settling cracks. Others fall into large sinkholes beneath the foundation as the earth moves and shifts with time. It is important the foundation of our life. This house is just a building constructed by the hands of man. The home inside it is a work of God. Sometimes I forget to separate the two. My house is not my family. It is our souls bound together in love and harmony that have grown into the unity we have now. The love expressed by each person has formed a solidified bond that the storms of life and fiery trials could not destroy. The foundation of our home and life is Jesus Christ.

 

As I have prepared the house to put it on the market, I was more and more aware of the settling cracks that had formed in different places. How long had they been there? When did they begin to come apart? Though nothing major and totally acceptable in sound construction, I am aware of them. I don’t like the way they look. I don’t want others to see them either. I wonder if we form tiny cracks in the foundation of our life when we become comfortable and settle some over life. You know when our pursuit of God becomes a marathon rather than a furious foot chase. When our passion cools to a low boil and our soul simmers with a slight hint of complacency. When other things begin to take the place of time spent bonding with the Lord and spending time in His Presence. I am turning 50 this year. I am seeing some tiny lines and wrinkles that were not there just the other day. While my age does not concern me, but rather a testimony of survival, I am beginning to notice changes in my appearance and even in my personality that seems attributable to the passage of time. I must also examine my heart, my mind and my soul to see if the foundation of my life is intact. I am entering a new season. No, I am not looking back. Nor am I looking ahead, no today I am looking inside.

 

Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

 

It makes me laugh how the Lord leads me into these conversations. This morning, I came to the Lord needing peace. My heartfelt desire was His Perfect Peace. Once you have experienced the Peace of God, it is very difficult to live any other way. You know that there is a better way. It took a huge storm and massive trial for me to discover the Rock I have found in Jesus Christ. He keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. My peace does not come from me or the conditions of my life – but is found solely in the Lord. I know that. I do not always remember it or live according to it but the Truth remains regardless of my response. But sometimes we do not move on to the next verse, which would only make sense that when the Lord offers us something, surely He will tell us how to attain it. Maybe we want God’s Promises but forsake and forgo His Plan. I know because I do it, too.

 

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, THE LORD HIMSELF, is the Rock eternal. Notice how it is repeated within His Statement – for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock. Our life is a building process. We are establishing our existence in Jesus Christ. There is no peace found in life worth having outside of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. We can try to find security by being responsible and building a good life for us and our family, but unless we dig just a little big deeper into the true foundation of life, we will be disappointed.

 

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

 

Psalm 27:4, one thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life. I love this verse. It is my passion. It is my pursuit. It is my complete undoing. We do not construct anything of worth. God is the expert builder who brings dead things back to life. He is the One who takes all our broken pieces together and displays a masterpiece of beauty. He set me high upon a rock. It is in the day of trouble, trial and tragedy when the foundation of our life is put on full display. When an earthquake hits a city, the expertise of a builder and wisdom of his plan is discovered. Those who built on firm foundations leave behind something of worth. But those who did not take the time to focus on the foundation and connecting every part of the infrastructure will be revealed as homes and offices crash to the ground. This life is temporary. In those moments of shaking, are my feet set high on the rock or am I swallowed up by the cracks in my foundation?

 

Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

 

Jesus is the Word of God wrapped in flesh and sent to live among us. To show us a new way, a better way of life beyond our five senses and inevitable death. Those who took the Word and put it into practice are considering wise builders with lives established in Christ that can withstand any storm. It will not fall for the foundation is the Rock. Stay with me…

 

Acts 7:48-51 (NIV)

“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things? “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

 

What kind of house will you build for me? We are living stones that need a good foundation to build upon. We have God’s Word. He offers to be the Cornerstone of our life. (Psalm 118:22-23) We try to build a good life with what the Lord has given us. Is it enough? Psalm 127:1-2 tells us that unless the Lord builds a house – we labor in vain. Jesus is the Cornerstone who the builders rejected. Are we still rejecting Him today? We come to Jesus and want a Savior. To build our life with Christ as the Cornerstone requires just a little bit more. We must make Him Lord. He must be the foreman of construction in the process of growth and development. We can do nothing apart from Christ. His Spirit is cultivating the things in us that are needed to firmly establish us on His Foundation…are we allowing God’s Spirit to fill in the cracks and insufficiencies in us or are we cutting corners to ease the cost, cease the labor, and create a comfortable environment?

 

Matthew 16:15-19 (NIV)

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will be my church. I have read this passage countless times, but I think I missed something very important. When Jesus said, this to his disciple, He was not telling Peter that he was the rock, but that the faith in him was the foundation of growth that would become His Church. The personal revelation of Jesus Christ is only the beginning, but when we acknowledge His Person as Messiah, Son of the Living God and continue to do so day by day our feet our firmly planted in faith which is the foundation of our life in Jesus Christ. Peter was not the rock but the faith evident in his profound declaration. Jesus doesn’t desire parrots chirping back at him but rather confident believers who declare who He is in their everyday life. As we continually invest every bit of time, talent and treasure in building the Kingdom by faith our life will prosper on the firm foundation. Storms will not crush us. Earthquakes will not move us. Every fiery dart from Hell will not touch us. We will be on the Rock that is higher than I. Hannah said it best in her prayer, “There is no one holy like the Lord, there is not besides you, there is no Rock like our God. Are there some cracks in your foundation today? Have little openings appeared in the midst of settling? Are you comfortable? Do you need perfect peace today? Do you want a little rest? To those who believe, the Stone is precious. (I Peter 2:7) He will be the Cornerstone of our life, if we establish our life by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 127:1-2 (NIV)

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 

Our house has been on the market for many weeks now. People have paraded through it. Agents toured the rooms. Each Thursday for as long as I can remember has been “cleaning day” in our house. For the past month, it has turned into the complete purging of every room and closet. I have noticed things about the house that I didn’t notice before it went up for sale. Many little projects and small repairs that needed to be made. I can note every imperfection. We have not sold the house and I will admit I was a bit discouraged. As I cleaned last night, it was not with the usual fervor but rather just washed, vacuumed, dusted, and the like as I have every other Thursday for years. I am thankful for this house. I know that our days here are numbered. In the waiting, I have grown impatient. I asked the Lord to give me peace today. He gave me more than that as I could see the tiny cracks in my foundation, my faith if you will that needed just a little more Jesus. See my life is not a house or even the people who live in it. It is Jesus. When everything in my life is placed on the Rock, it becomes immovable, unshakeable and everlasting. Everything else has to go. See what it says in Psalm 127, unless the Lord builds my house or my life, it is all in vain. Unless the Lord watches over all transactions and interactions in my life, the “guards” stand in vain. I can get up early and worry if we will have a showing today and go to bed late wondering if this is “really” His Plan, but it too is in vain. God grants sleep (or peace) to those He loves. The cracks in my faith do not make Him love me any less but rather just make room for His Grace to be applied. His Mercy is new every morning to cover my fear, doubt and worry lines that have no place in my life because I have nothing to fear. Perfect peace is a process. The process of moving our life from reality to the Rock. Faith is the process of acquisition that allows us to have perfect peace.

 

Soon a home inspector will come to examine our house for a prospective buyer, then an appraiser will come to access its worth, Lord let us find favor with man concerning the sale of this house. But more importantly, let the Holy Spirit examine my heart today and fill any cracks in my foundation. Make my faith strong in You. Be the foundation of my life, Jesus. May I find favor with you, Lord. I give myself to You!

 

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NIV)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

 

 

Come Boldly

come boldly

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

The New Living Translation of this verse says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” Come boldly. Boldness is born of confidence. It is to have full assurance of our entitlement that creates an inner drive to claim that which belongs to us. It is a sense of ownership. Such confidence knows no shame as it works toward acquisition. Oh that the church would become bold again. Oh that the men and women of God that fills each sanctuary big or small would come to the Lord with boldness to receive the inheritance that He has designated just for them. Each personal pursuit need not seek after another for in the Lord’s Portion there is always more than enough. He does more than we can even think to ask for, yet we do not ask. Greater is He that is in us then he who is in the world – yet the church cowers in a corner a victim to politics, people and personal agendas. Lord, why are your people so weak and shallow? Why don’t we have more than enough and live in abundance as You desire? Have we lost confidence in You? Did we have it to begin with? Faith is weak and flesh overpowering.

 

The Lord is my portion. He is my lot in life. He makes me secure. (Psalm 15:5-6) He supplies all my needs. (Philippians 4:19) God pushes us to completion for He does not understand compromise. (James 1:4-5) God desires to give us eternal pleasure not fleeting happiness or fuzzy feelings. (Psalm 16:11) He has given everything and every season a proper place in my life that will produce the eternity in my heart as a reality for me. (Ecclesiastes 3) The Lord has given me everything I need by His Divine power to life a godly life and see Heaven come to the earth. (2Peter 1:3) So why is my life less than perfect? Why all the pain? What is my problem? Am I ashamed? Perhaps, it is not a matter of heaven touching earth. Heaven is pressing its windows and doors waiting for release. Could it be that I do not have enough confidence or faith to come boldly before the Lord? Does sin separate me from satisfaction leaving me struggling in substitutions? Does my faith allow the Lord to release all these wonderful things in my life or has fear rejected them? Lord, I want to come boldly. Please show me the way.

 

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NIV)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

 

I have had an epiphany. It came in the midst of the greatest trial of my life. Praying for my son in his hospital room with more than ten infusion pumps beeping as the contents rushed through his veins. Medication, nutrition, and poison all at once into his frail body. As I continued to ask the Lord to save our boy, I felt it as though a cold, hard rock dropped in my heart falling to my stomach. He will die… one day. We all are dying slowing as we live our life. It is God’s Mercy so that we do not have continue to live in dilapidated and deteriorating conditions as our flesh is wasting away. We have blessed release. I do not believe a person who sees Jesus and steps into Eternity to be with Him every thinks twice about coming back. All of this life fades in comparison to His Beauty in that moment for all time. Heaven touches earth but does not change the earth but prepares us for His Kingdom. The Presence of God comes to people not places. This life is preparing us for the moment that we meet Him face-to-face. I want to know that Jesus knows me and invites me into forever with Him.

 

During our son’s illness, my life was completely reprioritized in about 30 seconds. Everything fell off me in that moment and all I knew was that I would fight for his life. Period. End of story. I would find out just what it meant to stand on the Word of God and wait on Him to make it come to pass. But in the meantime, I would learn so much more about God’s Plan for us as people. Your trial may not be the illness of your child. It may be a battle against your flesh. Struggle with depression, anxiety or fear. It could be that you just don’t know what to believe. These are the laments or complaints of life. There is a book called Lamentations. It is there that we find this verse.

 

When we have a need that becomes desperate, we turn to the Lord. When it is just too much for us, we ask the Lord for help. This is not the standard operating procedure that yields God’s Abundance in our life. The Lord is our portion. He makes our part the whole. We are part of the Body of Christ. It is Jesus that connects us to the whole. Do we feel as though it is possible to be completely connected to Christ? If so, we would come boldly. Each morning the Lord supplies us with His Mercy. Why? His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us know that we may slip and fall or even fail miserably so He provides for us ahead of time what we need to keep going. Our relationship does not make Jesus part of our life, but when He becomes our portion than we become part of the whole Body of Christ and Kingdom of Heaven. It is a working connection that completes us not because we have anything to give but He gives us everything.

 

Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV)

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 

Is Jesus copping an attitude… no, not really. The Lord was making a valid point. The woman was a Gentile. She was not a Jew. So his point that day was valid in the natural, but not Jesus’ point of view in the supernatural. He was speaking to us even way back then. The woman came to Jesus and called Him, “O Lord, Son of David.” She recognized that He was the Messiah. She identified with Jesus who He was and what He came to do. Jesus did not acknowledge her, not a word. So the disciples responded to his apparent disregard for her and tried to send her away. Now as a mom who has experienced an agonizing and life-threatening situation with our son, I totally get her next move. I have had to do it, too.

 

“Lord, help me!” See what just happened, her knowledge of who Jesus was became faith the moment it became personal. She called him, “Lord”. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord the moment that she came boldly before Him. She didn’t care what He did next as long as He did something because she believed in Jesus. She trusted him. She would eat the very crumbs beneath His Table if need be, she came boldly for her portion. What did Jesus do? How did He respond to such boldness and confidence? “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Her daughter was instantly healed.

 

Could Jesus have done it the instance she arrived? Of course. His Unconditional Love would not let her settle for just a healing but rendered salvation the moment she believed. What are you willing to settle for? We settle all the time. Tolerating sin. Accepting substitutions. Considering compromise. Why? We do not have faith. Knowing who Jesus is. Understanding what He can do. It is not enough. When we finally decide that He can AND will do it for us, Jesus becomes our more than our Savior – He becomes our Lord. Now we ignore sin, push past substitutions and will not entertain compromise. We are Children of the King. We don’t settle for crumbs but go straight for the table with confident boldness that our God will do what He says. Or do we…

 

Psalm 138:3 (NIV) When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

 

Studying the story of the Canaanite woman, a commentary referred to this passage. “You greatly ‘embolden’ me.” The word “embolden” means to make bolder, more earnest, hearten and encourage. Why would the Lord make the woman continue to beg? That is not what occurred in this story at all. He moved her from the crumbs to the table. He moved her from possible to impossible. He moved her from complacently to complete satisfaction. When Jesus stops becoming a novel idea and the Lord of our life every outcome changes as He works every detail of our life for good according to His Will. See she could have continued to forage and fight for the scraps with the dogs, but when Jesus went from being Lord to becoming her Lord everything changed in her life beginning with the thorn in her flesh that brought weakness to be filled by His Grace.

 

We do not cry out when things go well, but in great distress. We do not petition God in the good times but run to Him when things go badly. In our lack, we seek for Him to meet our need but all along God desires to complete us until we are lacking no good thing. He is attempting to produce an abundance of the fruit of His Spirit so it will overflow from us in to life around us especially other people. If we could only get past our doubt that He is our Lord, we could sit at the feast He prepared before our enemies. Our cups would run over with the blessings of God. Yes, friend, there would be a great revival.

 

The Lord allows us to wait to draw us closer to Him thereby releasing our inheritance and more of our portion that is mandated by God included in His Plan and Purpose for us. It belongs to us. It is waiting on us. Our petition becomes more earnest the more desperate that we become. While we seek Him for a singular segment, Christ desires to give us double portions. When we become confident in who Christ is, make Him our Lord and live for Him only, we will have a completely satisfied life that allows us to seek out others rather than seeking Him for ourselves. Revival comes when His Spirit overflows from us and the four walls of building and captivates a community. How can we boldly share a Savior and Lord who we have not accepted fully for ourselves?

 

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We revel in the first three versus of this chapter, but we must move on to the rest. We are to be rebuilders. We must become restorers. We are to renew those lives devastated by generations of sin and coated in shame. How do we do that if we cannot accept it for ourselves first? Our lives should be marked by shameless pursuits of Christ. Coming to His Throne boldly with every facet of our earthly existence that does not line up with His Word while we devote our life to faithful obedience because He is our Lord. It has become personal. It evokes passion. Do you believe? Do you have faith in Jesus as Lord of your life and everything in it? This is how we accept His Portion. He give those who choose to live by faith, hope and love in every season good or bad, feast or famine continually pressing and pushing for the life He promised, the blessings that He gives and fulfillment He offers. No, I don’t deserve it. Jesus gave it to me. I only need to accept Him. When I fully believe that He is my Savior and Lord all these things are added to my life. I can live shamelessly. I do not know disgrace but rejoice in inheritance. I will inherit the double portion when I believe in Christ alone and everlasting joy is mine just knowing Him more. I must come boldly. Obedience is a sign of confidence. We must be bold. Jesus is calling. He is inviting us closer. He is creating an atmosphere for His People to experience revival again. It begins when we decide to come boldly.

 

Matthew 7:7 (NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

Psalm 73:25-26 (NIV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.