Before Revival…

Before Revival

Isaiah 6:2-8 (NKJV) And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of Hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”

The outcry of the modern day church is for revival. I wonder if we really know what it is that we are asking the Lord to do. I believe it might change the minds of many people and their desire to corporately unite for such a cause. It is a common misconception that when the Glory of God comes that He will heal, deliver and prosper those in His Midst instantly and yes, I experienced His Spirit in such a way. It did not spark revival but was an isolated encounter with the Living God. I am beginning to see and believe that this is not what the Lord intends to do in the great revival that is coming. I believe that it will be an outpouring of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in us. Therefore, revival starts in us.

In the midst of a corporate church fast one of the very things being prayed for is revival. Reading Isaiah 6, there is a clear representation of what happens in the midst of a moving God. So this morning, let’s talk about it. Decipher it. Tear it apart and chew it up. I believe that such an interest will cause those who truly want revival to rend their heart before the Lord in preparation and those who don’t to kindly step aside. I pray that you will be one who digs in deeper, holds on tighter and chooses faith over fear today.

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!

Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.

The Presence of God will never ever leave us the same. The very first thing Isaiah was aware of in the midst of God Almighty was his current sinful condition. The moment of clarity which leads to repentance when completely undone and broken before the Lord. Need I point out that currently, most altars remain empty unless pumped by a pastor or pimped by prosperity? New life comes by way of repentance. The Presence of the Lord causes us to see in His Image our complete imperfection and need for Him. Our spirit and heart broken before God becomes desperate in that moment that He is encountered in such a way. There will be no revival without Presence. In His Presence, you will not be left undone.

Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of Hosts.

Psalm 146:7-9 (NKJV) The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; but the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

What if the “eyes of the blind” opened first is our own eyes. The reality of our need for the Jesus every moment of every day. New mercy arrives each morning according to God’s Love. He sends it to confirm that His Covenant of Compassion remains, His Consuming Commitment to us has not ended, and that He stills desires above all things everlasting communion with His Beloved. How many times do we ignore His Pursuit for comfort, convenience and control? Have we become complacent with a touch when He wants to envelope us with His Grace and Goodness all of the time. To move one step closer to God will reveal more of the things deep within our heart and mind that are contrary to His Way. It is in that moment of transparency, we become naked and afraid. There are two responses to such a time as this. Tear down walls or carefully rebuild them. Paul experienced such a time when immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.” (Acts 9:18)

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”

Revival will come by living in the Presence of God. To live in the Presence of God requires daily heart-rending true repentance. I have good news! God always responds to such an offering. To give up the bits and pieces that are unworthy of Him to fill the gap with new mercy, amazing grace and to let the Light of His Love illuminate every dark place in our life. Even those heavily guarded by offense, hurt, pain, betrayal, bitterness, fear, anxiety and insecurity. Religion allows us to maintain the façade. A moment in His Presence shakes the foundation of our faith so that every false thing will come down.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes to the Church of Corinth a second time. His first letter (I Corinthians) was not received well at all. So he felt led to further clarify his intentions to the people. It is in this letter that he writes:

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 

The church started off strong but somehow left their relationship with Jesus Christ to embrace religious ways again. So Paul wrote to them a strong letter of disciple that chafed their pride. In this letter, he points out that godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation and lists the benefits such as discipline, diligence and removal of self just to name a few. He is stressing the importance of returning to their First Love the way their first found Him. I believe that this is God’s Request of us today. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. It is in the church as well. What do we do about it? Ushering in the Presence of God must lead to true repentance beginning with the church!

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, Here am I! Send me.”

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NKJV) So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Romans1:5-6(NKJV) Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed (give careful attention to) is better than the fat of rams. Rebellion is the same as witchcraft. Stubbornness is like idolatry. Harsh words and penetrating subjects all pierce like a two-edged sword through us as God’s Word clearly defines that He longs for those who are obedient to faith. Our words and actions must align. He sees right through our motivations and intentions to our exposed heart. God knows exactly why we do what we do and how we do it and who we do it for. Do we? Do I?

I have prayed for revival many years now. With each passing year, the concept takes on a new form. I believe revival will not begin in our churches and communities until it arrives in us. To become the willing clay in the potter’s hands. To force the sin out in the open, not of others, but hidden within ourselves. To respond to the Presence of the Lord. To leave comfort, convenience and control behind and enter into the covenant of compassion, consuming commitment, and everlasting communion that God is offering us day by day with His New Mercy. God loves me. He loves you. He loves every person who He created. His Love is unconditional and nonnegotiable. He is looking to consummate His Love in us. To reveal His Purpose and Plan for us. To strengthen and encourage us even in our complete and utter undoing that draws us to His Grace and Power. The outcry of revival must be accompanied by the undoing of self.

Psalm 80:14-19 (NKJV) Return, we beseech You, O God of Hosts; look down from heaven and see, and visit this vine and the vineyard which Your right and has planted, and the branch that You made strong for Yourself.  It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your Countenance. Let Your Hand be upon the man of Your Right Hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your Name. Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts; cause Your Face to shine, and we shall be saved!

God is awesome! To continually seek to revive and renew us day by day. Revival has a purpose. It is to claim the forever life given to those who seek to be saved and endure to the end. The word endurance implies the struggle set forth as God strips away the old man to recreate the Masterpiece hidden inside of us. It will be our complete undoing and redoing by the Hand of God. It begins with our heart. Revival starts in the human heart.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

We praise Thee, O God!
For Thy Spirit of light,
Who hath shown us our Savior,
And scattered our night.

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who hath borne all our sins,
And hath cleansed every stain.

All glory and praise
To the God of all grace,
Who hast brought us, and sought us,
And guided our ways.

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

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Total Access

Total Access

Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

My key ring has many keys on it. My car key is obvious with the controls to the lock and alarm system. I use it to open the doors and turn the ignition. There is a key to the front door of our house and one to the new office building. I am pretty sure that there is also one to the old office. I think another is to my mother-in-law’s house and there may even be one to my parent’s home as well. There are a number of silver and gold keys that I have no idea what they go to but I am afraid to take off the key chain just in case I figure out what they might go to. Our pastor has tried to give me a key to the church. I know where a key is hidden for a friend’s place. Keys represent access. They are a responsibility. The keys in my purse represent places that I am allowed to enter. When I left my last job, I returned a heavy ring of keys to all the buildings on campus. I no longer have access as an employee. The keys in our hand may change with transitions in life but there is another set of keys that are eternally in our hand for our use.

Matthew 16:19 (MSG) “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Peter made a simple declaration. “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus asked the disciples to tell Him who they thought He was. Who am I to you? Not the others, or the crowd, or the religious leaders. It was a personal question that would lead to a revelation so powerful that it changed everything for Peter. He stepped into his destiny by simply stating who Jesus was to him that day. He would be the rock on which the new church was built. Do you believe today that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God who gave up His Life for your sins so you have decided to love Him, trust Him and believe in Him? Is He your Savior? Are you striving to make King Jesus the Lord of your life? Well according to the Word of God, you and I now have “complete and free access to God’s Kingdom.” But that’s not all…we have been given “keys to open any and every door without barriers between heaven and earth or vice versa. A yes on earth is a yes in heaven and a no on earth is a no in heaven. Power and authority belong to us on the key ring pressed into our hand with the simple statement – You are Jesus. You are the Christ. Messiah. Son of the Living God. You belong to me Jesus.

There are two forms of the word “access”. Access comes in the form of a noun and verb. Access is the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. We are given access to God the Father, His Presence, His Spirit, His Kingdom, His Power, His Resources, His Wisdom, His Favor and His Glory just to name a few benefits. God is totally accessible to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Access as a verb means TO make contact with or gain access to; to be able to reach, approach or enter. There are many believes today who have access but do not take the opportunity TO access God and all that goes with knowing the Father and becoming His Child.

My children are beginning to exit the nest. Three are adults who are out adulting. One is a senior in high school who is beginning to see the scenery outside the protection and provision of her parents so she is stretching her wings preparing to fly. We have but one baby left who has a few more years before her time will come. No matter how old they get – my kids will always have access to my home. They can raid my refrigerator. Use what they need. Stay as long as they want to. They are my children. I love them. I always have and always will. God loves us even more than we love our own kids. He calls us His Children and provides us access. We must be willing TO access His Presence.

Ephesians 2:16-18 (MSG) Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

We have “equal access” to the Father. God doesn’t have favorites. There are just some who are willing to access and others who are not bold enough to do so. I love how this translation describes the Cross as a place of embrace. It was where the Father grabs the prodigal child covers us in His Robe called Righteousness and puts the ring on our finger showing all that I am His Child. It is also where we gain equal access. Christ came to hand us the keys to the Kingdom. To offer every blessing and benefit hidden in the Presence of God for His Children.

Have you ever been to a shopping club before? The kind of establishment where you must have a membership to take advantage of low prices and great bargains. If you are a guest, you can look but cannot buy anything. You can see what is available but cannot take advantage of it until you become a member. There are a few days a year when they open their store to the public who can come make purchases without a membership in order to attract new members. But if you are a card carrying member, you are free to make your selections, purchase them and take them home. It is all according to your level of access. There are some people who approach the Presence of God as outsiders. Just want to take a look around but not make the commitment to become a member and have what they desire. There are others who come to church every once in a while, slide some spare change in the offering plate, try to be a good person, volunteer and experience blessings here and there but still do not come into the full abundance offered. But then there are those bold folks who dare to believe they have equal access and step into His Presence boldly and confidently. They have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and believe. Through Christ, they come boldly and receive bountifully more than can be thought, asked or imagined. (Ephesians 3:20) I want that kind of access. Full membership in the Kingdom of God is living by faith and in Christ. As demonstrated by Peter, it is not doing all the right things, making all the best choices or never messing up – it is in the personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really all that is needed to have all God has promised.

Romans 5:1-2 (MSG) By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

By faith in Jesus Christ, we have open access to God’s Grace and Glory. We can stand tall and shout His Praise with confidence. Faith is the access point into all God has for us. Our potential, purpose and prosperity is all right there in the Presence of God waiting for us to come boldly and receive it. There is nothing for me to do open that door – Jesus holds it open for me. Jesus made the way for me to live in the Kingdom with our Father, God. He did it all. All I must do is enter in to gain access to everything I need, want and desire by the Father’s Design. My inheritance is in that place. In Revelation 3, it tells me that Jesus is “opening doors no one can lock and locking doors no one can open.” It goes on to offer encouragement for those who have been struggling and striving. “I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.” When the doors in our life seem too heavy or are hopelessly locked, it is easy to become discouraged. Doubt that access to God is open to us. But the Lord reminds us here that He opens and locks the doors in our life. He also acknowledges our human capacity and understands our weaknesses. Therefore, He does it. He is doing it. He is working out all the details of our life for our good and His Glory. He will open the right door when it is ready. During those long seasons of waiting before a locked door, remember that we always have open access to His Presence. In fact, I am beginning to think that the waiting is an intermission to get just a little closer, do a little deeper and embrace the Lord in such a way.

Ephesians 3:11-13 (MSG) All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

Ephesians 3:11-12 (ESV)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Boldness is without hesitation or fearfulness. It is daring courage. To be forward and forthcoming. Bold people live beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action. They do what most people only imagine. Boldness is the product of confidence. Confidence in Christ produces boldness that changes our right to access into the act of accessing the Kingdom and all God planned and prepared for us as His Children. We can come boldly because of Christ, but most be confident in the person of Christ to gain access. God’s Whole Purpose in sending His Son is to become accessible to us. He desired us. He wants to be close to us. He wants to live where He is all of the time. He misses us when we stray. Welcomes us when we return. God’s Word tells us who He is, who we are, and builds our confidence with knowledge. The Holy Spirit takes these tidbits of truth and weaves them into wisdom. Wisdom becomes confident in the hope we have in Jesus and becomes bold. So when the enemy offers a lie, it can be recognized and refused. When the details of our life do not add up, we do not need to be discouraged but encouraged to come boldly before God and say, “What’s up?” God planned the pathway called access and has given us the boldness to enter in. The Holy Spirit ripped the veil in the temple from top to bottom opening a doorway no one can shut. His Grace is enough to give us fearless, confident and bold access to the Father expecting and believing every detail of His Word to be the reality of faith in my life.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

When was the last time you took advantage of your total access with God? Have you been in His Presence lately? Have you entered the doors that He has opened? Oh wow…that’s a tricky question. See God offers us opportunities every day. He has given us the Keys to His Kingdom. Faith is required to access all that belongs to us in Jesus Christ. It means when the Lord opens the door – we must walk through it. Walking by faith and not by sight having bold confidence in God’s Word, Will and Way enough to come boldly. It is my experience that the doors God opens are not always the ones I expected and seldom lead to where I thought we were going…it is always way better than I can think, ask or imagine. But in the transition on the threshold – I find that sometimes I hesitate. Not today…today I will come boldly.

Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

Will To Win

Will to win

Romans 8:37 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Overwhelming victory. More than conquerors. Through Jesus Christ, this is the promised outcome in our life. We live from grace to grace, glory to glory and win to win. Do you feel victorious? Are you overcoming? Are you winning today? Zig Ziglar points out that “you were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” The will to win is instilled in us from the beginning. No one has a desire to lose or fail in life but always to win. Romans 8:37 promises us “overwhelming victory” through Jesus Christ. If winning is elusive and victory just an illusion to you today, it is not because winning potential is not in you but rather it has not been tapped into yet. You were born to win. God put a plan in place from the beginning (Psalm 139:16) before you drew your first breath to give you a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) If you have not crossed over the goal line of victory, it doesn’t mean it’s not your destiny. Winners must plan to win, prepare for the win and expect to win. Do you have the will to win today? Do you believe that Christ has made you more than a conqueror?

“Before you can win, you have to believe you are worthy.” (Mike Ditka)

I Corinthians 15:57 (NLT) But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am worthy of winning because Jesus Christ lives in me. My Savior and Lord has given me victory. It is a done deal. So much so that I can thank God for it every day even on those days that I cannot see the goal line. I win. I am well-equipped for victory through Christ. The victorious Christian achieves victory through Christ. Any part of my life that is not successful need only be redirected through Jesus Christ in thought and process to experience the overwhelming victory that is promised, not because I am worthy, but Christ who lives in me is worthy. He is not glorified in my failure but when faith succeeds and I believe. Here are some of the things that are established in my life through Christ:

Through Christ – I have grace and more grace. Grace and truth lead me to victory. They are the coaches that establish my place in God’s Word. Grace overcomes every weakness so that His Power is made manifest in my life. (John 1:16-18)

Through Christ – I achieve righteousness or right standing with God again. No longer held captive by sin and bound in its bondage. I am free to win. Ready to overcome. I am destined for victory. My righteousness is not my own but established through Jesus Christ giving me bold access to the Father. (Romans 3:21-24)

Through Christ – I am at peace with God. Faith produces confidence to try again and again according to the hope that belongs to me now. I can even be successful in suffering because it produces something good. God makes good of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) He leads us from victory to victory. “Sometimes losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” (Donald Trump) On the days of simply enduring and making it through, I am still one step closer to having all God promised through the love and grace of Jesus. (Romans 5:1-5)

Through Christ – My life is reconciled to God day by day, moment by moment until His Plan becomes the reality of my life. As my soul prospers in a real relationship with the Lord, my standard of living is raised to His Glorious Standard. Where is God’s Glory in our failure? Where is the Light when we lose? To live a life reconciled to God is to allow His Glory to fill our life. We become satisfied in the abundant life that Jesus Christ produces in us, through us and gives to us each day. (Romans 5:10-11)

Through Christ – I have eternal life. The investment of my life in just this life is futile. It is my Kingdom investment that yields the greatest treasure and triumph in my life. (Romans 5:21)

Through Christ – I can bear much fruit. God Fruit. The kind of fruit that His Spirit produces which lead to supernatural abundance in our life. (Galatians 5:22-23) Apart from Christ, I can do nothing of worth or lasting glory. (John15:5) The fruit of my life that feeds my soul with satisfaction is the kind that gives me love, joy, peace and more. It is the fruit that strengthens me to achieve victory in Jesus Christ. (Romans 7:24)

Through Christ – I find the substance of my faith. To believe in God’s Plan, first we must know His Plan. He sent His Son, who is the Word wrapped in flesh, to show us firsthand just how much God loves us and desires us. (John 1:14) Not to be a step-child but to live in fulfillment as His Child. (Galatians 3:26) Faith is illogical apart from the Word. To live a victorious life in Jesus Christ, I must know His Plan and Process. (Romans 10:17)

Through Christ – I exist. Christ changes a hopeless, fruitless life into an abundant existence. Every part of my life filtered through Christ, even the most impossible, is absolutely possible simply because I believe enough to invest fully. (I Corinthians 8:6)

Through Christ – There is comfort for those times that winning seems elusive. His Spirit accompanies us while we wait on the Lord. He gives us strength and courage as the days drag on. He encourages us to hold on to hope for one more day. (2 Corinthians 1:5) Jesus is our confidence in the midst of confusion as God lines up our life according to His Plan which is always to win. (2 Corinthians 3:4)

Through Christ – I am fully equipped and empowered to win. I have God’s Glory. There is no glory in losing but winning. “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” (Vince Lombardi) said it but truly God means it. In Christ, there is only victory and glory. (Hebrews 13:20-21) He handed us the keys to the Kingdom now what? We have everything we need including all the resources of Heaven and every possible spiritual blessing – why aren’t we winning? Where is the victorious Christian? Why aren’t we shouting down the walls of the church to tell the world – we win?

Through Christ – I have been given the opportunity to be a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7) To win is to accept God’s Mercy with confidence and allow Him to rebirth and renew us from the inside out. We must set our heart on victory and become more than a conqueror…through Christ.

I John 5:3-5 (NLT) Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

“If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.” Confident hope is represented by faith fully invested. A diversified life may lead to the occasional win, but a life committed to overwhelming victory and constant conquest in all things must have faith. Faith that through Christ – I have been given such a life. To become fully satisfied in pursuing prosperity according to God’s Kingdom will increase your life. It begins in our soul. Once all in, satisfaction and contentment become the foundation of inexpressible joy and limitless expectancy through Christ. “I will not win immediately but definitely.” (Unknown Author)

Matthew 19:21-27 (NLT)  Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

I love Peter. He may be my favorite disciple. He was always the first to volunteer. His impulsive nature put him in many situations that others would never experience. He made a lot of mistakes. Yet the Lord still chose to use him. In the story that Jesus shared, He said, “I tell you the truth, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Maybe you are thinking – not a problem I am far from rich. Pause for a moment and take in a deep breath. As long as life is within you, you have the potential to prosper. You have a priceless commodity others have lost – time. Time to be renewed and transformed so that your entire life is through Christ. You have the opportunity to win. However, too many times, we are not willing to give up compromise or “ties” if you will for the win.

We do not want to seem like a worldly failure to begin to prosper in the Lord so we settle for the things of this world. God’s Plan is to prosper Your Life. Jesus Christ has given us overwhelming victory. Are we willing? That is the question, willing to change the way we think in order to find faith, to live what we believe to win, and to who God created us to be not who the world tells us to be in order to live a fully satisfied life? See my friend, Peter said what everyone else was thinking, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Peter still did not know, understand or perceive the potential before Him in Jesus Christ. He was still looking for Heaven on earth when the Messiah was right in front of Him. We must release the temporary to secure the eternal today. To live boldly by faith that is fully motivated and invested in the Kingdom of God.

You have overwhelming victory today through Jesus Christ. Faith sees our life through Christ and His Word not conditions, circumstances or details. Our drive to know Him facilitates spiritual blessing and prosperity that takes chances in life that we would have never had the confidence or boldness to take as God unfolds opportunities to triumph. When the door to the impossible is opened, no one can every shut it again. Jesus opens that door to us. Will we walk in victory? Well that is up to you and me – if we have the will to win. Lord, help our unbelief. You have destined us to win through Jesus Christ. Let us walk by faith and not by sight as more than conquerors in all things today. Help us to follow where you are leading from victory to victory by making your Spirit new in us again. Revive us. Restore us. Renew us. In Jesus Name – make all things possible because we choose to believe.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

He Will

He Will

Hebrews 11:5-7(NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

“It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.”

Enoch had the kind of relationship with the Lord that most of us desire. However, to follow in the footsteps of this man right in to the New Testament would mean He must increase and I must decrease. (John 3:30) It is a faithful proposition to find fulfillment in God through Jesus Christ. Enough was taken up to heaven without dying because he had already died to self on the earth. Walking in the giant footsteps of God, side-by-side with the Almighty and sharing in the rhythmic timing and beat of God’s Heart. It was a seamless transition from this life to eternal life. Or could it be that Enoch’s walk with the Lord projected a light so brightly that people saw the Lord and not the man anymore. I am fascinated by the idea. Some days it is my greatest desire, but in building anything including a new life as the new creation that Christ died for us to be there is always a price. The price of my life for God’s Best is self. Every selfish thing in my life must be submitted and surrendered to the Cross Examination of Jesus Christ for Kingdom relevancy. This life is temporary but constantly on blast demanding my time and talent. Some may choose to give portions of their life as an offering to God while maintaining a strong presence in the natural existence. Others may decide that walking with the Lord is worth a fully obedient tithe of 10% with the occasional love offering of just a little bit more. This life producing the blessings of sowing and reaping – seedtime and harvest just as God promised in the days of Noah. For those who are after the Kingdom, it requires much more. It requires all of my life for all of His Plan. All of it.

This life is not for everyone. There were only twelve disciples and yet still one still became a traitor. There is only one Enoch. One man who would walk enshrouded in the Presence of God and become elusive to the naked eye. Enoch was known as a person who pleased God. How do people know me? What pleases God? We do not decide what pleases the Lord. It is what we are willing to give to the cause. The only thing that truly pleases Him and rightfully so would be faith.

Acts 17:24-25 (NLT) “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.”

We serve an all-sufficient God. He doesn’t need us, but rather desires us. He loves us. He provides for us. The Lord doesn’t lie or change His Mind so there is nothing I can do to change the plan set forth for my life. It is impossible for God’s Word to fail. (Luke 1:37) He made this world and owns everything in it. He is the Supreme Authority over heaven and earth. Nothing here surprises Him or causes God to flinch. “He doesn’t live in man-made temples.” Christ lives in me and you. Human hands cannot serve His Needs. Let me put that on repeat. There is nothing that I can do to earn God’s Love and Acceptance because His Grace is enough for me. It is the total summation and sufficiency of my salvation. (2 Corinthians 12:9) God has given me life and it is in Jesus Christ who I live, breathe and exist. Finally, it is all wrapped up in His Promise to satisfy our every need. I can do nothing to please God other than to have faith, trust and believe all of this is true.

Luke 18:24-30 (NLT) When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

A religious leader came to Jesus. He had one question. “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” After a long discourse, Jesus told him the man, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man considered the price too high and became very sad for he was very rich. Jesus shared this story with his disciples to which Peter threw in his two cents. “We’ve left our homes to follow you.” As if Jesus didn’t know the lives these men had given up, his outspoken disciple chose to point it out. In Matthew 19, a different account of the same event quotes Peter as saying, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Don’t’ judge him too harshly. One must consider their own good intentions in following Jesus Christ taking offense at Peter’s words. Isn’t that really the reason for coming to Christ in the first place – a desire for a better life? We live in a living color world but serve a black and white with occasional red lettering God. The Word of God must become alive to us. His Spirit must be recognized in order for faith to be acquired. Faith is not easily harvested in our life. But…

“It is impossible to please God without faith.”

The word “impossible” means not possible. The very thing which is unable to be, exist or happen. Incapable of being true. Not to be done or endured. Utterly impractical. Hopelessly unsuitable, difficult or objectionable. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith is confidence, belief and trust. The Latin root explains further – trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, and pledge. Faith demonstrates allegiance. The Bible tells us that “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Just as it is impossible to please God without faith – it is equally not possible to have faith outside of impossibilities.

I have personally witnessed the miraculous in my life. Each time it came prefaced by the word “impossible”. The moment that a desired outcome became absolutely and utterly impractical in the natural – God did it. There is no other explanation. The steps of arrival to the procurement of faith are difficult. It requires all of you. All of your trust, confidence, reliance, credence, and a pledge to not let go of hope at any cost. The substance of our faith is our willingness to stay true to the Lord even when our life becomes impossible. Even if our circumstances seem intolerable, still hanging on to God’s Word – waiting and watching. It seems that He will never do it, never come and even makes us feel foolish while the world mocks our dedication to an invisible and seemingly absent God. God is faithful. I just need to have a mustard seed of faith.

There is a promise hidden in Luke 18:30 that perhaps you missed. ” Jesus said, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” When Jesus finally made it to the home of Lazarus, he was dead. Talking to Martha, it was evident that she believed in Heaven, but she didn’t recognize her Lord’s power here on earth. Jesus intended to raise Jesus from the dead right then and there. He is the Resurrection and Life. (John 11:25) Christ now lives in me. (Galatians 2:20) Faith releases His Power in my life the moment it is planted. I have confidence in my employer to pay the wages that I earn. I trust the roof over my head will be standing after a storm. I believe my car will get me around today. I rely on many objects and some people in my life every day for fulfillment. However, if I want God’s Word, His Will and His Way completely including the rich and satisfying life that is promised to us in this the life or the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) I must put my faith into action.

“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”

When Noah built the ark it had never rained a single drop on the earth. Yet God told him to build an ark with specific dimensions. Noah did just that day after day – he continued to do what the Lord told him despite not knowing the full plan. Hammering away at doubt and fear, he built the ark. It would be the vessel that not saved his entire family. It would be the vehicle that continued the perpetuation of the human and animal population. Faith requires the impossible. I don’t know what you are facing today? I only know my own heart and its troubles. God has been faithful in every test and trial. He has never ever contradicted His Word or gone back on a single promise that He has made me yet I still struggle daily to completely trust and believe. What about you? Are you faced with the impossible today? Is the Lord telling you to do something crazy and out of character? Is He calling you deeper but you don’t know how to swim? Jesus invites us to trust Him. Our heart must respond. It is impossible to please God without faith because truly there is nothing of worth that I have to offer Him BUT to love and trust Him.

“Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

I have a picture hanging in my home that says, “Faith is not believing that God can but knowing that He will.” Think about that for a minute. Faith is not believing God can. Why would that motivate a God who already did? His Plan for your life is prepared before creation. Therefore, with our first breath, it is set into motion. Faith does not give Him Power. It allows His Presence to fill our life. It is to believe that despite my sinful, selfish, and self-centered disposition that His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursues me every day. Faith is our acceptance of God’s Love and gives Him presence in our life. Faith wants the life that God has promised and is willing to give up time and space in this life to have it. Do you believe that God exists? Most people reading this will say, “Yes.” Do you believe that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him? This depends on faith. How long have you been waiting? Wait just a little more. How much have you been praying? Just five more minutes might give you the confidence to watch one more day? How precious is the promise? I want all that God has for me and my family. I want His Fulfillment to bring full satisfaction in all things, but through these times of testing one thing has become evident in my life. At some point, I stopped breathing. The thought of waking up a single day, walking another step or breathing my next breath without the Lord is incomprehensible. All the broken pieces of my heart cannot maintain a single beat except His Hands that hold it together every single day. His Word is my protector, defender, and confidence. Faith grows when things are impossible and yet for just one more day we choose to hope fast to His Promise that His Love never fails.

Zechariah 8:6 (NLT) “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Zechariah 8:12 (NLT) For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings.

The prophet Zechariah prophesied to the people of Judah who were returning from 70 years of exile in Babylon. I am quite sure rebuilding their life and taking back the land of seemed overwhelming. The Lord points out them that He is God of the impossible. He asks the question of them, “But is it impossible for me?” I wonder how many of us are being asked the same today. It is an invitation to take that measure of faith the size of the tiny mustard seed and plant it. In verse 12, the Lord delivers the promise. What a wonderful promise it is! “For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.” Sowing seeds of faith produces harvests of God’s Faithfulness. We may plant, others may water, but God always gives increase to even the tiniest seed of faith, trust, confidence, dependence and passion for Him. He always delivers no matter how reluctant I may be – God is never reluctant to bless me. It has been His Plan all along.

Does today seem impossible, this week, this year? Could it be that the impossibility is evidence that God is working all things together for our good? Could it all be a divine set up so that I will trust Him more and receive all that He has for me? Is it an opportunity to move from glory to glory? I believe that for those willing to walk through the impossible to reach the Lord will find Him and every blessing and promise even those thought dead and gone. I am a careful person. A planner who is uncomfortable with spontaneity. I am by no means an adrenaline junkie. However, I have personally seen God do the impossible. Not just once, but consistently. The transition is not easy. You are birthing the supernatural. Endurance is tough. There are even times when you feel foolish because no one sees the potential of our faith but yet you still believe. God is faithful. The great news is that the impossible is possible for the Lord. Most of us believe God can do anything, but we must invest our faith in believing that He will!

Mark 9:23-24 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

Ready for Overflow

Ready for Overflow

Colossians 2:6-7 (Message) My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

I had this thought today. It was really a revelation. Am I ready for rain? I am I truly in the right place for abundance to overflow in my life – from the inside to the outside. Many times I have shared the story of car shopping with my grandpa. My grandfather loved me. I never had a doubt that he would do anything for me. He cared for my brother and I during some pretty tough times. Always full of love and generosity towards us. After eating his favorite barbeque one night, we walked to the dealership next door “window shopping” as I was fourteen almost fifteen years old. Now understanding that I am in my fifties now, I discovered a Trans Am just like the one Burt Reynolds drove in the movie, “Smokey and the Bandit”. Black with the gold firebird on the hood. It was my dream car. I walked all around it. Clearly overtaken at the thought of potentially driving it, I could tell by my granddad’s face that he was perplexed. As any well-meaning teenager might I jumped at the opportunity to play the heartstrings. “I love this car, grandpa!” He said, “I know you do, but if I bought this car for you it would ruin you.” I didn’t understand what he meant all those years ago. I knew that he loved me. I also knew whatever he meant was for my own good. I was still heartbroken as I walked away from my dream car.

Now that I have been a parent for more than twenty years, I fully understand what my grandfather was telling me all those years ago. To give me that car would definitely have ruined me. There are times when I have wanted to give my kids the desires of their heart but have not because of the very same reason. I want what is best for them even if that means withholding certain things from them. They would rather eat junk food then healthy choices. However, I provide for them good nutritional choices for meals. I would love for them to have every “thing” that they want but how will they ever develop a work ethic if I hand them everything. I wish I could hold their hearts in my hands and keep it safe from all of life’s emotional and relational hazards until they are fully mature but how would they ever develop wisdom so when they are on their own they can guard their own heart. I have stood by the bedside of a child wishing and praying that I could take their pain and suffering away along with the deadly disease in their body but all I could do was offer comfort and companionship through the journey. Parenting is by far the toughest job to balance our love and commitment to our children with wisdom that will benefit their life. Imagine how difficult it must be for the Lord…

It all belongs to God. He loves us too much to just flood our life with an outpouring that might disconnect us from Christ. We must remain deeply rooted in Christ to have a rich and satisfying life. This is not found in the world but the connection we have to the Kingdom of God. It is within our future and hope. What if the abundance that God ordained in our life is just waiting for us to be rooted and grounded in the foundation of Christ so there is no risk of being swept away by its magnitude. Spiritual maturity is not doctrinal or theological. It is sustained by love, confidence, trust and endurance. It is persistence in pursuing Jesus and building our home in His Presence. There are things I used to think were important that now pale in comparison to my new life in Christ. The new thing that God is doing is not new to Him. The new creation that I am becoming is no secret to the Creator who designed this masterpiece life I am being built for. It is all new to me though. The only way that I can have the life God has called me to live is to raise my standards to that of Jesus Christ. Or maybe it is lowering my worldly standard to inherit a heavenly reward.

John 15:5-8 (Message) “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

I have never sought the Lord more than in difficulty, disappointment and in desperation. If you were honest, you might agree. Those times when the “new” thing, life or creation was just not happening according to my expectation so I retraced my steps back to Christ. I find that when my life lacks the simple fruits such as love, joy and peace – it is because I have let go – never the other way around. Jesus is the Vine. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. My soul satisfaction is found in the Lord. The lie of the enemy in the life of the believer is that God cannot or will not meet and exceed our expectation and it lures people from following the Lord to the rich and satisfying life that He promised. Joseph ended up in a pit when he began to share what God was revealing to him. His brothers were not his enemy’s just part of a bigger plan. God sent Joseph to Potiphar’s house on his way to the palace. Joseph served his master faithfully and diligently along with God. His service as to the Lord and not man. He learned a great deal in that house. He faced temptation and accusations. He ended up in prison…still serving God wrongly accused and an innocent man. He helped some fellow prisoners. Please don’t forget me, he said to them. Isn’t it human nature to look for help from people? They forgot about him. God never forgot His Plan or the dream that He placed in Joseph’s heart when he created him. Sometimes it is in the discovery of true humility that our surrender is complete. In every season from the pit, to Potiphar’s House, to the prison and finally to the palace – God was with Joseph. Could it be that all of it was necessary so that when the overflow of abundance finally came – the man of God knew what to do with it? God’s Abundance is not compromised by our lack of faith and dedication. It is withheld until there is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God not even prosperity. He will wait until our preparation is complete so when the outpouring begins it will run through our life and not run us over.

I Thessalonians 5:17-22 (Message) Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

Today – right now – I have so much to be truly thankful for. I have love, joy and peace that prevails in my life. There are days when I feel things rising up inside me contradictory to the life I am promised. Times when I allow what I see to influence the hope that I have. Days when the hardships in life and the lengthy waits that cause my flesh to squirm under the direction of God and His Plan which always includes His Timing. The Lord has promised to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can even think or imagine. I believe that. I hear the words of my grandfather today. God is not going to release an overflow in my life until I am ready to sustain it. He is preparing me. He is positioning me in the foundation of Jesus Christ so strongly that when He releases all that He has prepared and promised to me – I will not be moved from my faith and hope in the Lord.

My challenge today is dig a little deeper into the rock solid foundation of Jesus Christ. He is where my strength comes from. To climb back into the watchtower marked waiting keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus until the vision comes to pass. To find refuge in the Strong Tower of His Presence until the rain finally comes and the harvest rises before me. I am well loved. I am well provided for. I have all that I need. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me to be who I need to be for His Abundance, Increase and Prosperity to rise from within me and overflow all around me. I comes when my faith is ready and hope is confident.

My goal for today – be cheerful no matter what. Pray all the time. Thank God no matter what happens. Hang on! Let me repeat that one for me… I will thank God no matter what happens leaving no room for complaints. I will not be gullible and fall for the enemy’s lies today. This is just a season. This too shall pass. The rain is coming. I must be ready. I will examine my heart, mind and life. I will keep only the good things that God is doing and leave the past behind. Lord, make me ready for rain today. I know the harvest is coming! Prepare me for the overflow that I will never be removed from You Jesus – let me remain in Your Presence no matter how blessed I am. No matter how good things get. No matter how supernatural the overflow headed my way!

Psalm 27:13-14 (Message) I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again:
 Stay with God.

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