By Grace

By Grace

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

I have been heavily contemplating the grace of God. The fathomless ocean of bottomless forgiveness that believers dive into and dwell in. The sea of forgetfulness that allows us to be cleansed of all sin and iniquity so that God only sees a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace so freely given at such a high price without limit. By grace, I am saved through faith. Faith is the access point of grace. Faith that a God so perfect could love and desire a creature so wretched. Given toward rebellion, the sinner who is possesses a wandering and wondering heart that must constantly be reminded to repent and surrender to God’s Love. Grace is the starting point of everything pertaining to life and godliness. I am purposeless, fruitless and lifeless without the gateway of grace that changes me from death to life and rancid to renewed. It is all a gift from God, the Father, to His Undeserving and Undesirable Children.

And this is not your own doing…maybe this should be plastered over our bathroom mirror, labeling every good thing in our life, on the doorpost of our home, over the entrance to our job, and more importantly the church of our choice. I wonder what would happen if for a moment or two, or daily, or weekly, maybe monthly or annually or even every day for the rest of our natural life the people who are called His Body became fixated on living “by grace”. Would our way give in to His Way? Would our control be exchanged for commitment and willing obedience in all things? Would pride finally be crucified and leave the church for good?

The cancer within human DNA is sin. It is an immediate death sentence to the body if not sent into remission. It will slowly or swiftly take over. Cancer is never cured. It is put into remission. In medicine, the word “remission” refers to a diminution of the serious or intensity of disease or pain. It is considered a temporary recovery. Remission also means the cancellation of a debt, charge or penalty. It is the forgiveness of sin and works with both of the previous definitions. Sin is always going to be a battle for believers. Perfection is impossible so we do our best not to but inevitably do so anyway. (Romans 7) The Blood of Jesus Christ is for the remission of sin. (Matthew 26:28) It pays the debt in full, cancels all charges and removes the penalty. We do nothing to facilitate the process of remission. It is all on Jesus. He paid it all. He did all the work. All that you and I can do is accept His Grace by faith, and live in the freedom given to us.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

There is a marked difference between cancer and sin. Cancer comes in stages. Stage 1 cancer is considered treatable up to Stage 5 which is terminal. Sin is terminal. It is immediate death when called to accountability. We were literally dead from the beginning due to sin and trespasses. I think as believers it is possible to forget this very valid and important point. Our perception of grace is the spark that lights the lantern of love hidden in our heart. It is the inconceivable and unthinkable generosity of God toward us. The enemy wants us to compare our sin and find validation and confidence in our ability to change when the Truth is the only way to be made right with God is through Jesus Christ and the remission of sin – not just in the beginning but always. Religion gives us a standard to live by and successfully doing so is not anything to boast about because it does nothing. Grace does it all. I would rather associated with sinners who are constantly falling and repenting as they grope to find their way out of darkness than sit among church folk hiding behind fancy clothes and false communication. We are all sinners saved by grace. Have we forgotten?

Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. One of them yelled at Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” We can be like this man on many occasions. Forgetting that we were once guilty carrying a death sentence. Yet, in our pride and haughtiness, forget that by grace we are saved through faith and there is not a single thing that makes us worthy of His Sacrifice. Looking down on other sinners, who are just like us, yet thinking ourselves more deserving because we know Christ. I am nothing apart from Christ. He is the sum total of my worth. Without the Lord, I have no future and no purpose. The sin inside of me though in remission is a constant reminder that I will never be able to afford the price paid for my life. The man on the other side of Jesus that day had the right idea. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” He looked at His Savior and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus accepted the man’s plea and told him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Which side of the cross are you on today? Lord, keep me on the by grace side every day. Help me to remember my sin is no less or more than another. Remind me on those days when pride tries to rear its ugly head that I am NOTHING without You.

So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. My mission in this lifetime is to show others the immeasurable riches of God’s Grace and Kindness toward us – each one of us. I am not a fancy trophy to be set on a shelf to be admired by a lost and dying world. I am to be a city on a hill. A broken heart restored with cracks in its fragility to let His Light shine from the inside. Grace is evidence of love. Love that is unconditional. It is a commitment to share God’s Love with sinners just like you and me. People do not need to see a perfect church. They need an authentic representation of God’s Selfless Love. His Pursuit of us requires only acceptance so we have nothing to boast about or become prideful of.

According to God’s Word every good thing in my life is a direct result of the Father’s Mercy and Grace wrapped in unfailing love. Where is condemnation in such a place? Where is judgment? For me to lay a penalty on another that has been removed from me is hypocrisy. I have no right. The only weight in my life to carry is His Love, His Mercy and His Grace. I must give it freely to others – everyone – as it has been freely bestowed on me. How can I withhold forgiveness when I am completely forgiven? How can I have pride that is crucified with Christ? I cannot share immeasurable riches that do not belong to me. By grace, I am saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

John 8:7-11 (ESV) And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

She was caught in the act of adultery and brought before the Pharisees and Jesus. Religion versus relationship played out before us that day and written to return to in stunning detail. According to the Law, she was to be stoned. To die for her sin. (I am still wondering where “he” was.) They continued to challenge the Word with God’s Word. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” I wonder if our Savior and Lord is saying the same to some of us today. Have we taken the side of the Pharisee? Casting judgment and condemnation on “sinners” just like us because we have forgotten that it is by grace we are saved. In the end, there was no one left to execute her. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.”

Oh the Love of Jesus! Do you remember when He stretched His Hand out to you and in your mess and desperation grabbed hold of Him? Do you know what it is like to experience His Overwhelming and Unconditional Love? Do you believe His Grace is enough? It is sufficient for salvation and becomes strength and power in our weakness. The beginning of a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. It is by His Grace, we are saved and not of ourselves. I have nothing to boast about but my weakness and inabilities. It is the commonplace of humanity where kingdom building begins. When another says, “I was so lost” and you can say, “Me, too.” Let’s figure out faith together. Let’s build our new lives together. The commonality of Christ is only possible when the entrance to our new life, new way of thinking and new destinations begin through doorways marked “by grace”. You will never be successful in your redemption process until you have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is not possible any other way but by grace. Grace makes us righteous not right. Being right doesn’t lead anyone to Jesus but right standing will make our life beacons. Lord, examine my heart today. Find the places that have forfeited grace and renew them again. I repent for times that I have forgotten I am just a sinner saved by grace. Amen!

John 1:16 (ESV) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

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Throwing Shade

Throwing Shade

I Peter 5:7-10 (NLT) Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Is the enemy throwing shade today? Telling you lies like things are not going to get better, you are going under, nothing will change and you might as well get used to it. As if the lie was not enough to plant a seed of doubt, he comes behind the lie and waters it with all the reasons why you are not worthy of God’s Love and Goodness to further grow doubt and disbelief until prevailing darkness weighs heavy in our mind.

The Urban Dictionary describes the term “throwing shade” as trash talking about a friend or acquaintance or to publicly denounce or disrespect. I know the term because I am blessed with teenagers. Throwing shade is a subtle insult not necessarily a direct attack. It doesn’t always result in a direct hit but a slight notice or thought – “Hey, is that about me” or “directed at me”. It is in that moment the “what if” begins or even worse offense takes hold that the attacker hits the mark of its prey. The trouble is no one really knows the truth from a lie so inevitably relationships are destroyed by the notion that someone is “throwing shade” whether relevant or not.

These subtle attacks on relationships are working. Young people today are victims of the viral offense of the enemy to destroy relationships the way that God intended them to be. Jesus Christ is a direct result of God’s Desire to have a relationship with us. He sent His Only Son to die so that our right standing could be restored and our relationship with God, our Father, renewed. His Spirit living in us is evidence of the bond formed. Our perception of relationship has become skewed as people text rather than talk, assume rather than engage, and live life in a self-made bubble based on who people want them to be rather than who the Creator designed them to become. The enemy thrives on our insecurities and uncertainties. Even believers struggle within the social circle called church never fully becoming the family of God by developing strong bonds and relationships. Seeking perfection in people and placing our expectation in the imperfection of the same, it is no wonder that we have forgotten the power and authority given to us by Jesus Christ of overcoming the enemy and all of his schemes.

“He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.” There are lions who live in captivity. They engage with humans as house cats. While onlookers wonder if they will turn on their captor one day. The lion is the “king of the jungle.” Created to be a powerful predator. Held by a chain or even nothing at all – the will of the lion is broken. He remains subject to the one who cares for him. His natural instinct conditioned to a life of domestication rather than fierce nobility. Jesus has given us His Power and Authority for here and now, but I wonder how many of us live subject to the lie of the enemy? How often we live in the captivity of fear, doubt, insecurity and disbelief without even knowing it? The enemy is powerless unless we become the one he can devour.

Luke 10:19-20 (NLT) Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Do you believe that you have been given “authority over all the power of the enemy”? Do you believe that “nothing will injure you”? Do you believe…? If we truly believed, it would impact our way of life. It would be evident in how we live, how we react, how we respond, and what we do each day. Our relationship with Jesus Christ and the fact He lives in us gives us all power and authority over the enemy in our life. However, the enemy knows that if he can just convince you of a half-truth and create just a little uncertainty in you – he’s got you right where he wants you. He doesn’t have to beat you – you will give up. He doesn’t have to force you – you will give in. He doesn’t even have to convince you because without confidence you are easily shakable and movable. He just have to throw enough shade to put out the Light that was only a flicker or spark inside of you. See the enemy is not as strong as most give him credit for. He is just a really good liar.

Ephesians 6:12-18 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

God’s Armor is not external. It is the protection of God given for our heart, soul and mind. The enemy doesn’t want our body or physical part of our life. It is dying anyway. He wants to change our heart, mind and soul concerning our faith in God and reliance on the Trinity for life. He wants to throw shade to create obstacles and obscure the vision of God for us. If he can just get in your head, he has access to the control panel of feelings, emotions, and logic. Belt of truth and body armor of righteousness fortify the platform of our existence, though unperceivable with human eyes it is the very foundation of our faith. Peace of God keeps us steady and gives us traction when everything starts moving and shaking. A moving mountain makes quite an earthquake. The shield of faith wards off the barbs of the ingenious lies of the enemy that twist truth into palatable fodder that makes us drift in doubt and disbelief. The helmet of salvation is secured with the chinstrap of grace. The enemy wants you to believe that grace is not enough when the truth is grace is always sufficient and Christ is more than enough. The sword of the Spirit is important. It is the Word of God. Most Christians today have dull swords and do not know the Truth from a lie. Many completely disregard the Spirit of the Living God which means they have nothing of use to ward off the enemy when he comes calling.

Pray. Stay alert. Be persistent. How much time is given to your relationship with Jesus Christ each day? I am not talking about hours of service in organized religion. I am not asking how many generous offerings of time, talent or treasure given to others. I am asking how much time is spent in intimacy with the Lover of Your Soul. The One who died for you. The One who fights for you and hands you the victory. The One who is with you. Never leaves you. Never forsakes you. Never gives up on you. Always waits for you. No matter how you treat the Lord – He is always giving us unfailing love, amazing grace, unending mercy, and great goodness. Him. How much your life is given to cultivating a real and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ? It is the strength of our relationship with Jesus Christ that keeps us from believing the lie of the enemy. If we know the Lord, then the lie or half-truth becomes obvious because we know the Word and have chose to believe Him.

John 16:33 (NLT) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus overcame the world. He has been given by God all authority and power over the enemy of this world. In turn, the Lord decided to give us His Power. We have it. But like the lion in captivity, sometimes the enemy persuades to doubt our position in God through Christ. He tells us that freedom is a lie so we will give it back to him. He constantly questions the sufficiency of grace until we give up the fulfillment offered by the Lord to regain control and comfort. Every day as long as the sun rises and sets – the enemy will stop to get you to lay down your cross and pick up the burdens, cares and worries of life. You have the power to overcome. But will you?

The enemy will continue to “throw shade” as the young people say. He cannot put out a light that shines from the inside. He cannot put out a fire that burns from the inside. If we will place an emphasis on cultivating a forever bond and thriving relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not continually fall for his lies and deceptions because we know the Truth. We believe it because we have firsthand intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ through His Word, prayer and intimacy of time spent in His Presence. We pursue the Lord. We desire Him. It is in this relationship that we begin to build lasting and loving relationships with people because now we do not look for their acceptance any longer. We do not expect them to be our fulfillment. Freedom in Christ is to live liberated from every lie the enemy tries to capture us with and throwing it back to the pit of hell. Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ today. Lord, spark a desire for more intimacy with you Jesus. Help us fan the tiny flicker of passion inside of us into a burning light or raging fire that the enemy cannot put out. Let your Spirit guide us from victory to victory leading us from self-dependency to sole reliance in You today! We are overcomes! We are victorious! We have all power and authority over the enemy! We believe, God! Lord, help our unbelief in Jesus Name!

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLT) We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Something New

Something New

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

One a couple more days and it will be a brand new year. Where does time go? Like sand running through an hour glass, it waits for no one. One day becomes a week, becomes a month and before you know it another year has passed. Looking back over the past year, it has been a good one. Our blessings far outweigh the struggles. The next year has many good things to look forward to – our first grandbaby will arrive. Our son will marry his love and our family grow some more. These are just the things that are known, there are so many more things that we do not know. Serving a God who chooses to do exceedingly abundantly more than I can think or ask, I am full of expectancy.

Today – considering the arrival of the New Year – I am evaluating what to take with me into 2018 and the things I am leaving behind in 2017. The passage of time is beyond our control but each one of us is given 24 hours a day to choose how to use it and the freedom to decide what goes into our future and what is left in the past. Like packing a suitcase for an upcoming trip with airline requirements and security clearances to consider, I must evaluate the baggage that I will carry from this year to the next. I want to become a new creation. I want the new that is coming. I can only have that which I make room for. When going on vacation, I always make sure that there is extra room in my luggage for souvenirs. Will there be room for the “new” that the Lord has for me? Or will I remain weighed down with this year’s junk?

Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Prayerfully I must consider the things that make up my life. The contents of my heart, the substance of my soul and every thought circling in my head. Reconciliation to God is an ongoing effort. Careful inspection of every aspect of my life. I have been given a new covenant to live by called grace. It is important not to lose sight of the terms of this agreement with God. Grace is a gift that can only be accepted. I do so by acknowledging my weakness rather than hiding behind my pride. It is to say, “Lord, here I am.” I must give my all to fully accept the new covenant given to me and allow Christ to change me from the inside out. It is a conscious decision and everyday awareness of the potential of grace to complete my life and release God’s Blessing in it.

Are there some things that I must let go of? Yes. Are there some things that I will bring with me? Of course. The most important thing to remember in the upcoming year is that God is still working on me. The promise of becoming a new creation and given new life is based strictly on my acceptance of His Grace and to live in this new covenant. Nothing in our life is ever wasted. Psalm 139 tells us that our life is prerecorded. This would have to include every mistake, shortcoming and failure to effectively supply enough grace to be called sufficient. It really doesn’t matter how this year is ending – a new one is coming. God’s Promises and Potential for our life is secure in His Covenant.

Psalm 119:35-38 (ESV) Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.

I am truly looking forward to the coming year. With all the wonderful things that I know are coming, I cannot help but be excited. God is doing new things. I do not want my limited expectation keep me from discovering all that the Lord has for 2018. It happens when I stay focused on what I see rather than embracing the unseen by faith. It is important to take some time before the ball drops and the calendar page turns to sit with the Lord and let Him show me what to take into 2018 and what should remain in 2017. To evaluate progress in reconciling my life to Him and decide what needs to be eliminated to move in closer to Him. He will lead me. The Spirit in me can turn my head from worthless things but only the willing will follow His Guidance. Lord, create in me a new heart and renew a steadfast spirit for the coming year. Lord, remove the weight that keeps me from that which you have for me. Thank you for the new life you have given me and new creation that I am becoming. Will 2018 be the year that you let the Lord do something new in you, too?

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Beware of the Thief

Beware of the Thief

Matthew 6:19-21(ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

It is finally Christmas Eve. To some it is a time of elation while preparing to gather with family and friends to begin a two-day celebration. To others it is a lonely time that will drag on for what seems like forever. If you are the mom and dad, it is show time. Things get a little crazy with all the cooking and preparations to pull off the biggest night of the year for children. Who am I kidding? My adult daughter still expects a full stocking. The demands high and expectations even higher it is easy to become distracted and overwhelmed in the midst of it all. I would also like to warn you that there is a thief lurking in our midst.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) The thief wants to steal your joy. He wants to take your peace. Bent on destruction, he does not come through unsecured windows or unlocked doors. He invades our heart and makes his way to our mind. If our attitude can be accessed, it will change our actions. Allowing darkness to take the place of Light.

Matthew 24:43 (ESV)  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

It is written that Jesus will come as a thief in the night. I believe it. However, it also warns us as believers that the thief who is our enemy is prowling around as well. He is seeking the one who he can easily devour. We are to remain alert. Stand guard. Be ready. We do not overcome the enemy by fighting back but standing on faith and confident hope as our platform of trust. It means raising our level of above humanity to heavenly. We must be prepared before the thief comes. Locking the door to our heart. Shutting the windows to our mind. Allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us and sustain us with the Fruit that affords us self-control. We have the Power of God in us to keep the thief from robbing us. Will we be ready when he comes?

I Peter 5:8-10 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

In all our busyness, rushing here, running there, and attempts to perfect the final details of Christmas, I am reminded this morning that it is important to be watchful. Your adversary is prowling around seeking someone or something to devour today. Resistance is to reject the lie that is being offered instead of the truth. Firmness in our faith is total reliance of Jesus Christ to meet our needs and exceed our expectations. God’s Grace is for us. It’s in us. It is the generosity of God’s Heart given to us for us to in turn give to others. The Lord will restore you. He will confirm you. He will strengthen and establish you. Do not let the enemy rob you of special moments and blessings over temporary things. Release the idea of perfection and embrace the fullness of His Grace. Let it be your portion. It is enough.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Where is your treasure today? Is it in a safe place untouched by temporary problems or immediate pressure? Is it locked up where the enemy cannot touch it much less take it? You are the keeper of your heart. You determine who resides there. You decide how much control is relinquished in your natural life to Kingdom principles. When Christ set you free, you were free indeed. That means you control your life and destiny. Salvation and true repentance afford us the opportunity to exchange ordinary for extraordinary and natural for supernatural. The enemy pulls out his arsenal of lies the moment someone decides to give their all to Jesus. We must work diligently to let go of worthless things and grab tightly Kingdom Blessings. Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit gifted to us for full satisfaction. We must continually work to maintain the Presence of God in our life so the enemy cannot try to come and take these from us. Are you full of love, peace and joy today? I hope that you are. Now before you get in the kitchen, go to the mall, start wrapping or have your first glass of eggnog, get into His Presence and make a Kingdom Deposit. What is in the Kingdom is inaccessible to the enemy.

Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV) I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

There is a thief diligently seeking to steal, kill, destroy and devour every good thing that the Lord has in store for His People. We must be alert. Sober-minded. Utilizing the Spirit’s Gift of self-control to overcome the enemy. He cannot take what is put securely in the Hand of God by faith. God is our refuge. He is our Strength. He is the Stronghold that keeps the enemy out. Have you called upon the Lord today? He wants to surround you and fill you with love, joy and peace this Christmas. We must only be available and willing to receive.

Romans 16:20 (ESV) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

In Just Three Days…

In Just Three Days

Philippians 4:5-7 (ESV) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In just three days, Christmas will be a memory. One for the history books, but as for today, I am pretty sure a mental gunshot was heard as a race to the finish line. Yesterday, we ventured into town to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Just a few items for the girls friends, oh my, what a madhouse. People hustling and bustling with long lines and less than gracious cashiers. Christmas morning is in just two days. A humble beginning made into a chaotic event. Since day one of this month, it has been my desire to reel in those emotions that have overtaken me each year. The holiday blues that inevitably knock on the door to the overwhelming desire to meet and exceed everyone’s expectation. Perfect gifts. Perfect cookies. Perfect everything. I revisit the verse that has been my constant reminder.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. I am happy to report or rather testify that it is working. The power of thanksgiving is tremendous in the life of a believer. Our faith and confident hope is in a God who promises to supply all of our needs, has already given us every spiritual blessing and yet still will do exceedingly abundantly more than I ask or think. To tap into this resource requires careful attention to my attitude. God has already done His Part. It is desire and discipline to become filled with gratitude that can change everything.

This morning, I will be taking my husband to the doctor. I had an emergency trip to the dentist yesterday. Unexpected not on the to-do list, but yet as I am thankful for health insurance that allows us to go seek medical attention. For every opposition to peace and joy, if we could only begin to attach something to be thankful for – an inconvenience is not such a joy killer or peace disrupter. Sometimes it is really difficult to find that one thing that will change our heart and mind. Thankfully we have Jesus as our go to. His Spirit lives in us to be our comforter.

I was feeling sorry for myself on Thursday. The dentist who I have long feared gave me terrible news. Walking through the store grabbing last minute groceries and small gifts, I came across a sale rack with some fluffy blankets at a great bargain. I decided to grab one as a gift. Another woman raced up and grabbed the last one behind me, while a woman in a motorized wheelchair was clearly in distress. Not to be judgmental, but obviously in need, she had her heart set on the blanket as a gift. She could not get it and was waiting for her friend to hand it to her. I started to walk away and the Holy Spirit tugged at my sullen heart. I turned around and offered her mine tucking it in her basket. She declined but I insisted. I offered a “Merry Christmas” with a weak smile due to a throbbing tooth and went to check out. I felt better. I cannot explain the joy in giving other than what I thought was a blessing to me was more of a blessing to others. Sometimes we must only get out of our “feels” in order to deal with discouragement, discontentment and devastation. Gratitude allows grace to change our attitude. Sometimes it means giving something up – including our right to feel sorry for ourselves.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thanksgiving clears our heart and mind of all the clutter that resides there. The enemy will constantly fill us with needs, wants and greed that fuels desire for more. What if we have everything we need to be completely content? What if it is only being hidden behind worthless emotions and feelings? The women in her grief sought out Elisha. The debt collectors coming to take her sons. He asked, “What do you have in your house?” She had oil and as long as she provided a vessel it kept on filling them until she ran out of room to store it. What if you have everything you want, need and desire at home? What if it you only need to take inventory? Give thanks. Instead, of a long list of demands, what if we simply say, “Thank you Lord for this…and that… and this… and that”. I believe that in our gratitude and thanksgiving there is an open vessel for the Lord to pour more love, joy and peace within us.

I Timothy 4:4-5 (ESV)  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

I would love to stay right here, but I must go. There is a doctor’s visit to go to, cookies to bake and memories to make today. But first, before jetting off in one direction or another, I want to say, “Thank you, Lord!” Everything in my life is filled with great potential. There are good things that I am aware of and details that He is turning into good right now! There are things I don’t understand but that He is making a way for. It is my desire to be filled with gratitude and generosity. Just three days, that’s all it took for Jesus to overcome sin, death and the grave. In just three days, Lord resurrect my heart. Renew me from the inside out. Restore me and make a revival in my heart that only sees the good that You have given me. Lord, make more room in this overcrowded heart so I will every single day. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

Psalm 100:4 (ESV) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

True Humility

True humility

Proverbs 22:4 (NLT) True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Biting into a piece of leftover steak, the pain was searing and sharp taking my breath away. Trying not to cry out in pain, I sat for a minute to get my wits about me. Though not so intense, it was still radiating through my jaw. When I could produce a lucid thought, it came to me that my princess tooth in need of a crown had probably cracked. I have a molar that is in need of attention. It is all the way in the back with several fillings. The dentist advised me that I should get a crown as it was beginning to breakdown from years of use. I have a phobia about going to the dentist. I have been working to overcome it for most of my life. However, last night I would have run to the chair for some relief.

Like most people, I opted to seek the advice of the Internet for some immediate pain relief. After a few moments, I confirmed that it more than likely was a crack that exposed the nerve. With throbbing pain, I stopped my investigation took several anti-inflammatories before I got the brilliant idea to put some pain-relieving gel on it. Digging through my mom bag, I found a tube. I put it all over the tooth. Big mistake! Huge error! Once the medicine penetrated the tooth to the nerve, it set my entire jaw on fire. It was probably the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. I laid my hands on my face and prayed. Pleaded with the Lord to take the pain away with tears streaming down my face. As it began to subside, I continued to read the different medical and dental sites. I need to go to the dentist. I need to pay the large co-pay. I need a crown. Ugh!

Our lesson for Wednesday night Bible study was about pride. Our need for humility in our pursuit of the Lord. Nothing will bring us to our knees like pain – physical, mental, emotion and even spiritual. The brokenness that gets to the heart of the matter will never build our pride but tear all self-confidence to make room for confident hope. Humility is evidence of a realization of who God is and His Sovereignty that allows His Spirit to produce change in us. Humility is painful because one must crucify flesh in order to give it room in our life. For years, I have prided myself on how I deal with illness and pain. I have given birth without medication. Powered through illness. However, last night, I could not even breathe with the intensity of the pain when the crack in my tooth hit the nerve and then when I tried to self-medicate. Lord, thank you for the object lesson but OUCH!

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

True humility requires true repentance. The riches of God are accessed by salvation. Sin drug us down from a glorious standard of living that Christ came to fully restore. True repentance is not a one-time instance but daily occurrence. Reconciling our natural life to the supernatural existence God has for His Children. It can only be obtained by allowing the Lord to work in us and complete the work that He began. We must change because God does not change. We must be humble because God is Sovereign and no one will ever bring Him down from His Throne. He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and everywhere at the same time. God is the Great I Am. To be one with the Lord means that I must decrease and allow Christ to increase filling every void in my brokenness. The Truth that tears down any religious posture is that one sin nailed Jesus to the Cross and His Blood covers all sin. Grace is enough. It is always sufficiency to bring us into right-standing with God. It requires one thing – true repentance.

James 4:5-10 (NLT) Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

True humility requires true surrender. I must lay down my life in order to assume a robe of righteousness. In order to have the Grace of God, I must give my life away to Him. His Power is manifested in my weakness. When I cannot do it anymore so I give it over to Him. I have put off getting the dental work needed for my ailing tooth for a variety of reasons. I am afraid. I do not want to pay the price. I have tried to ignore it. After the episode last night, I need to make a choice. Will I overcome my fear? Will I pay the price? Will I give it the attention needed? I believe that as we cry out to the Lord for more of Him. To see His Glory. To have more of His Grace. We ask Him to increase our faith. But when the trial, trouble, or trauma comes that exposes areas of pride and weakness – it is met with confusion and a lack of understanding. God must expose everything in us that is contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can humble our life and surrender that area to Him for His Careful and Complete Intervention. To posture our life prostrate before the Lord as a living sacrifice allows Him to work through us and align our life with His Goodness for His Glory which will life us to a place of honor in His Presence.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

True humility requires true love. Do you love God? Do you love Jesus Christ? Do you love others? Do you love yourself? There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. Perfect love casts out all fear. Love is the most powerful force. God is love. Everything He does comes from the orifice of love because it is His Identity. He promises to rescue those who love Him. He will protect those who trust Him. Trust is characteristic of love. True love is given all away. When they call – those who love and trust Him – He will always answer them in the midst of their trouble. He promises to honor them and give them long life.

Daniel cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent an angel to him. “Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) Daniel loved God even in his captivity. He petitioned the Lord for understanding and he humbled himself before God. God confided that his request had been heard in heaven and an answer given. Our life must be reconciled to God because God will not change His Mind or His Way. Daniel aligned his life with God’s Word despite his situation. He humbled himself before the Lord and He answered Daniel directly. Could pride be hindering the answer to our prayers? Could our unwillingness to give our life up to secure a place in His Kingdom be our problem? Has conviction struck a nerve in you requiring immediate action? Will fear stop you? Pride hinder you? Is the cost of self too high? Will you accept God’s Grace as the power of change for your life? Will you love Him wholeheartedly?

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.

Human pride complicates the simplicity of salvation with radical religion. It puts rules and regulations on the Grace of God that are not His Requirements at all. In the movie, The Lorax, a man bottled air and sold it to unsuspecting people. How often free grace is offered with a price rather than generously spread around the church with love. What if salvation really is for the asking? What if grace is sufficient for all sin? What if God’s Mercy gives us second chances every single day? What if He really will complete the good work in us without our assistance? What if His Spirit can change our character and make us fruitful from the inside out? What if our body and life will prosper with our soul? Have I overcomplicated the process to foster my pride? The Lord has told us what is good. It is simple. What does He require of you? To do what is right. To love mercy. To walk humbly with Him. Pride will fight to preserve its right to do what it wants. To serve self first. To go its own way. It is up to us to give up our right to be right and claim righteousness over rightness. It is our goal to live in love with God and all mankind. It is our privilege to walk humbly WITH the Lord until we meet Him face-to-face.

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

What’s Your Superpower?

whats-your-superpower.jpg

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

What is your superpower? Is it physical strength? Natural ability? Are you super organized? Totally driven? Highly motivated? Are you massively intelligent? Do you have good common sense? What are your strengths? Or is it easier sometimes to list our weaknesses? Those tiny mishaps or monumental failures that keep us from focusing on the power invested in us by Jesus Christ. We have been given the power to do everything.

This time of year gives way to exhaustion. Already busy lives with loaded schedules become unbearable with the added burden and stress. It is easy to transition a load once partnered with Christ to our own insufficient strength and accept the unnecessary added weight of human expectation until it is too much to carry. Coming home later than usual last night, the already full day seemed to drag on and on. A doctor’s appointment with my daughter, a full day of work, a trip to the grocery store, a house to clean, dinner to cook and a second meal for a friend recovering from surgery had me at the end of myself. When I pulled in the driveway, every single light was on and several chores only half done had me on edge. I was gently pushed over standing in the rain trying to extract everything the mailperson had crammed in my mailbox. I prayed a quick prayer that I know He heard but my heart couldn’t hold on to – walking in the house I unloaded. Not the car full of groceries, but my emotional overload. On the ones, I love most I dumped a day of baggage. I felt like a failure as soon as the burden was emptied.

It is important that rather than trying to be super human that believers learn to continually channel their entire life through Christ. Giving only to the Lord what “I can’t” too often forgetting to give Him all “I can”, too. What is your super power? The thing you continue to do rather than submitting it fully to Christ. Pride tries to hold on to those things that bring the affirmation, acceptance and approval of people rather than resting humbly and completely in the Power of Christ who is in us. I must do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me His Strength.

John 1:16-18 (NLT) From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

The Blessing of God to us in the Gift of His Son, Jesus is an invitation to live in His Abundance. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. It was no secret. He put the enemy on notice in John 10:10 ripping the mask off the thief to expose the lie. In stating His Purpose, the Lord also warns us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and even destroy us if possible. God’s Unfailing Love driven by amazing grace and His Faithfulness are secure in His Son. Therefore, no weapon formed against us can prosper even the lies set forth by the enemy to discourage, distract and dissuade us along the way. The only way that a believer cannot prosper is in unbelief. Lord, help the areas of my life where unbelief have handed me burdens, stress, worry, anxiety and fear that I willingly picked up. Today, I release it to you through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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.

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36) Religious folks hate this verse unknowingly. Relationship driven believers understand that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is underlined by the freedom given to us in Christ. “You can never fall too hard, too fast, so far that you can’t get back what you’ve lost. Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.” (Who You Are – Unspoken) There is no limit or mandate on God’s Grace. If you want it – you’ve got it. We decide to cultivate our relationship with God through Christ and do what is beneficial in bringing us into full unity not by what we do but by fulling embracing who we are. I promise sin becomes avoidable when it is a product of love and respect rather than rules and regulations. Religious stipulations do not garner a loving and abiding presence in our life just another set of standards we can’t live by. A relationship gives us a safe haven of love and grace so our imperfection does not factor in it and our heart’s desire is to make it grow.

Not everything is beneficial. Surrendering your life to Jesus Christ does not add burden but relieves us of the weight and heavy laden lifestyle of human expectation once carried. Dying every day our fruitless and barren life longed for purpose and life. Now that we have life through Christ – His Power is manifested in our weakness and willingness to channel everything through Him so He can show us what is beneficial and what is not.

Colossians 1:19-21 (NLT) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

To reconcile means to restore a friendly relationship. Christ did more than that for us. He gave us His Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption that has stored a right relationship with God. We are His Children. In Christ, every promise, purpose and plan God has for us is fully restored. Now His Goodness takes every detail of our life past, present and future to make something good out of it according to His Word. Reconciling also means to cause to coexist in harmony to bring back to compatibility. The Grace of God given to us through Christ allows us to live life with God. To gain access to the Presence of God through the Blood of Jesus. We now come boldly before His Throne and ask whatever we would like and He will answer us. Our life is again in partnership with the Lord and His Kingdom. Reconciliation with God through Christ allows us to live consistent to God’s Standard unhindered by the much lower standards of this life. God in all His Fullness dwells in us and will align our life to His in our willingness to surrender all of our life to Him.

2 Corinthians 3:4 (NLT) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.

Our greatest super power of self is confidence. To become so confident in God and His Son, Jesus so we become willing to take Him at His Word. Trust is not easily constructed or maintained. It is the very thing the enemy attacks as often as possible. To uproot seeds of faith, choke out any growth and sow seeds of doubt and disbelief in its place. We must believe God at His Word. To do so means knowing, understanding and constantly calling to our recollection – His Word for our life including every single promise as the reality and future that we live for. Through Christ, we have grace that is enough to allow His Power to fully manifest in our life. The Holy Spirit is our advocate and helper who continually works to cultivate good fruit that nourishes our soul and grows our confidence in the Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Are you overloaded today? Is stress, pressure and anxiety putting a damper on this holiday season? Are you ready for it just to be over? I have good news for you today. It is not too late to salvage the season and turn things around. The weight and burdens weighing you down, stealing your joy, robbing you of peace and casting you into a pit of darkness despite the bright lights and festivities – is not of God? He gave you His Son, Jesus. Through Christ, we have overwhelming victory. Not just over sin and death, but His Power and Authority belong to us.

We can hand Him our burdens and those things weighing heavy on our heart – ALL OF THEM in exchange for His Rest. The Peace of God that Jesus gives us passes all understanding. The things that used to keep you all spun up, overwrought and sleepless are given to the Master in exchange for love, peace, joy and full satisfaction. When you lay your head down, you will sleep knowing full well that the Lord is in complete control of your chaos making it a beautiful masterpiece out of all the broken pieces. Find your super power today. Run every area of your life through Christ. There is not a single detail that He is not mindful of or ready to take off your hands! You don’t have to do it all! The things that are beneficial will be accomplished through the Strength of Christ in you when you decide to do it all through Him!

I Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

 

Just For You

Just For You

I Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” C.S. Lewis

True godliness mixed with contentment is the catalyst of love, joy and peace that eliminates the need to compare and compromise. True godliness is not something to be attained or achieved but simply accepting our identity in God through Jesus Christ and not subjecting ourselves to a lower standard of living. It is a choice. A daily decision to be thankful and focused on the treasure inside of us that is taking over. In fact, I believe that contentment is great wealth because it cannot be taken away from us. We came into the world naked and afraid and will one day leave it the very same way. Will there be an inheritance left behind for our children? What will it be? To teach our children even ourselves to live a life of godly contentment will do far more than any amount of money, assets or investment left in their name. To be certain that they know and understand their worth outside of the earthly economy will lead them to forever with a future and hope.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Paul let us in on a little secret. We must “learn” how to be content. Contentment is full satisfaction. It is happiness outside the boundaries of acquisition that allows us happiness, joy and peace even when lacking our wants, needs and desires knowing that God is our Provider. He is a Good Father. He will never let us down. Faith in God includes trusting and believing that His Goodness is for us. Right here. Right now in the land of the living. Yet, continuing to preserve unfavorable conditions, live through trying circumstances, and knowing when to wait on the Lord rather than giving into our impulsive nature. Tis the season of giving and getting and giving and getting until it everyone is all given out. Yet the Gift already given in Jesus Christ is enough to fulfill the promise that I can do all everything through Him who give me His Strength. Lord, teach us contentment today. Holy Spirit help us to learn when enough is enough.

“Contentment does not mean that I desire nothing. But rather, it’s the simple decision to be happy with what I have.” Paula Rollo, Author of Beauty through Imperfection

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

How does one find sufficiency in God without ever seeking Him? To seek the Kingdom of God above all else means making thankfulness and contentment a priority in our life. It is to live righteously always pursuing a close proximity to the Lord and not letting stuff (including pride) to get in the way. Pride is the drive and desire for more to somehow exalt us rather than living in subjection and surrender to Jesus Christ who says, “I am enough!” Is He enough for you today? Busyness and business makes us think we need more to be happy and extra to live extravagantly. I find that as my life is simplified that I sleep better. My drive for success has been redirected from this world to the Kingdom. God has been faithful in our partnership. Seeking His Kingdom including our willingness to be faithful to His Word, obedient in tithing, and sowing seeds of faith even some monetary will change our perspective of worldly success. Generosity is born of humility. Trusting God that whatever source chosen to give from will be replenished to overflowing again. Psalm 34:7 is the promise that those who take delight in the Lord will be given their heart’s desire.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

Psalm 21:1-2 (NLT) How the king rejoices in your strength, O Lord! He shouts with joy because you give him victory. For you have given him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested. 

What if the Lord is not withholding anything from us but simply waiting on what we desire to be more on His Scale? What if He desires to give us love, joy, and peace not subject to the things of this world and give us full satisfaction? The Lord has promised good to me. He has been faithful across the board in all things. To trust Him that He will never let me down, provide all I need and do exceedingly abundantly more than I could even think to ask for takes a faith in the unseen reality of what we hope for rather than in the light and momentary trinkets of today. We have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven. The ability to produce and prosper in every season. Foreigners journeying home to a Kingdom. We are sons and daughters of the King. It doesn’t matter what our life looks like here. Our lineage in Jesus Christ is to rule and reign with Him. Confidence in our identity will overcome the need to compare and compromise to someone else’s standard. It allows us to walk boldly before the Throne of God in our time of need and patience to wait as He fulfills our request according to His Perfect Will.

David was not a perfect man. He committed adultery and murder yet the testimony of his life is summed up in the statement that God had given him the desires of his heart and withheld nothing he requested. Our past does not dictate our future. The Lord is ready to make us a new creation and give us new life. We must be willing to accept it. Godliness is to step into the fullness of our identity with bold confidence that God, our Father, will never let us down and thereby produce complete contentment in our body, mind and soul.

I John 2:15-17 (NLT) Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

What is the desire of your heart today? Are there many desires? The world offers many “things” that it believes are necessary to be successful and prosperous. Heaven offers only one. Jesus Christ is the completion of our life. To become one with Christ in this life leads us to the everlasting. There are so many distractions and deceptions as the enemy of our soul feeds our flesh with cravings for lesser than things when God has an abundance for us. We must make room for His Fullness by taking captive rebellious thoughts and guarding our eyes, mind and body from all the substitutions being offered. Are you happy today? Are you content? Love, joy and peace are products of God’s Spirit and can never be taken from us. Happiness is an emotion. It comes and goes like the tide. It can be changed with just one tidbit of bad news or the knock of unexpected trouble. The Lord has something just for you. A gift to be opened. If used it will be the greatest blessing your heart and soul has ever known – it is called contentment. You must learn to be content. Contentment is found only in Jesus Christ as He completes His Work in us. Will you accept this precious and priceless gift just for you today?

John 14:27 (NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in the ecstasy of love…” C.S. Lewis

Cover Me

Cover Me

 

Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

There is an American hero by the name of Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who at just 19 years old gave his life to save his brethren. He was trained to escape the deadly blast of a grenade if there is the opportunity. However, when an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into their Humvee, he had to make a choice. This young man had an opportunity to jump from the machine gun turret he was manning and save himself. But that is not what this man of honor and valor did, instead he dropped from the turret into the vehicle falling on the grenade to save his four comrades inside. Months prior to the incident, the same scenario occurred but the gunner followed his military training and jumped out of the Humvee. Fortunately, in the grenade was a dud. Pfc. McGinnis received a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart while his parents received a folded American flag. He gave up his life for his brothers and is an example to us all.

I am challenged by this verse today. I am also inspired by this young man’s story. As believers, there are trials and temptations each day. We face situations and circumstances that cause the superficial Christianity to give way to the truth within our heart. Sin happens. It happens to everyone. We all fall short of the Glory of God not once but daily. Religion often creates an atmosphere of arrogance as some look down on those who are transparent. Rather than reaching out to their brothers and sisters, they reach around them as to somehow prove they have no sin. You who live by the Spirit should restore family, friends, coworkers and even strangers who fall into temptation or succumb to sin. It must never be to pull them up to some invisible level but through the Blood of Jesus surround them with love and hope. When given the opportunity to cover your brother and sister in Christ, what is your response? Hero? Helper? Heretic? Hmm…

Genesis 9:20-25 (NIV) Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah was a farmer who produced a vineyard. Partaking of his choice crop, he became drunk. Succumbing to the situation, he fell asleep naked in his tent. He was not out carousing but inside his home. When his son, Ham, saw him – rather than covering his father and keeping it to himself – he decided to tell his brothers. The response of his brothers, much like Pfc. McGinnis, is a lesson of love and grace needed in the church today. They took a covering and walking backward as not to subject their father to any further humiliation – they covered him up. I cannot stress the importance of this lesson to the Body of Christ. “Bless their heart” shouldn’t be an excuse to share with every other brother and sister the sin of another. Prayer requests on behalf of another can be carefully disguised gossip sessions. The Word of God says, “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters.” We are one great big family.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations religion sets forth, Jesus Christ condemns no one. His Grace is enough. It is sufficient for the covering of sin. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Human insecurity threatens the sufficiency of God’s Grace. One’s inability to accept that His Grace is the sufficiency of our life. Our ability to fully accept the grace that God has given us through His Son, Jesus is based on our ability to crucify pride and humbly receive it. When will begin to boast in our own weaknesses rather than putting our brothers and sisters on blast? The life-giving power of Jesus Christ is not enhanced or any way enabled by a chance in our habits but evident in a heart change that humbly accepts outside of Christ – I am nothing. Those who condemn others by spreading rumors, gossip and even when trying to disguise it as concern will one day reap what they sow. Not my words, but those of the Bible – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)

John 8:9-11 (NIV) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in the act of adultery. Yet, she was brought before the Pharisees alone. How many times do we cover the religious and expose the sinner? Just because someone comes to church, serves in ministry and cleans up well, does not necessarily mean that their heart is right with the Lord. In fact, the religious men all sat in judgment ready to stone the woman. Jesus said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God’s Word tell us plainly that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. His Instruction to this woman on the verge of death now given a new life – “Go now and leave your life of sin.” There was another woman found in her sin at a well. Jesus didn’t expose her before the masses and make a public example but rather through quiet conversation revealed His Person to her. She became a great witness for the Messiah. I wonder how many people would finally fall in love with Jesus leaving sin behind them if the church represented the love of God rather than the condemnation of the Pharisees. Judgment belongs to God. Condemnation could have belonged to Christ but He chose grace instead. What will we choose today?

James 4:10-13 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

Humility will not allow us to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ died for every single person every created to give them access to new life. The enemy uses pride to destroy sound doctrine as men and women who know God succumb to the lie of the enemy that there is a way to make us better when there is only a better way. Slander and gossip come in many forms. It will always circle back to the one for which it was intended. The grace given to us in Jesus Christ can only be accepted in humility. Religion will never be the way to Christ’s Heart but relationship. The kind of relationships that are made up of people willing to lay down their life, pride, fear, insecurity and doubt long enough to love unconditionally and give grace abundantly. Everyone sins. Everyone falls short of God’s Glorious Standard. There is absolutely positively no condemnation in Jesus Christ only constant covering of our sin with His Precious Blood giving us new life and making us a new creation. When someone falls, it is our calling to cover them. Cover them with prayer. Reach out to them in love. Don’t reach around them to share it with everyone else. Let their humiliation and violation stop with you not be cultivated by you. Give them the same grace required to keep you and me in good standing with God. It is free. We do not have to earn it and neither do they. What will you do the next time you find a fallen brother or sister who is slipping?

I John 4:16-19 (NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

As believers reconcile their life to Jesus Christ – the product must be love. Always love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” There is no fear in love which means that if we are representing God’s love those who are lost or wandering should not be afraid to come to church. They should not be concerned that there is a kangaroo court of judges waiting to tear them down, make them feel bad, or condemn them in any way. What is your response to the downfall of another? What is your reaction? When the grenade dropped into the Humvee that day, Pfc. McGinnis did not have time to weigh his options. The true character of his heart revealed as he covered the grenade giving up his life for his friends. What will you do? We love simply because He first loved us. We give grace because He has given us grace and more grace. We are Children of God building a family out of love. Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit full of unconditional love and overwhelming grace for everyone I meet.

I John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 

Adrenaline for the Soul

Adrenaline for the Soul

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Strip down, start running and never quit! I needed the encouragement this morning. A bit of adrenaline for the soul…if you will. Already ready for the holidays to end, I wonder if this year I can shirk the weight that has kept me from enjoying celebrating Christmas for most of my life. The heaviness that longs to overtake me, pull me back into the past, stop the excitement of tinsel, lights, and treats, steals joy in giving and overall leaves me totally broken and spent. I challenge the lie of the enemy who hangs lies and untruth attempting to attack. Like a lion laying in weight, latching claws into unsuspecting prey and waiting until exhaustion overtakes it and the lion can go for the kill. The enemy works very much the same. If he can just get you to give in or give up – he can take from you what you are willing to surrender. I will not submit.

Strip down…what is burdening you today? Is something weighing heavy on your heart? Examining our heart and mind today for truth is essential in releasing every weight and burden not of the Lord. Some important things to remember especially during the holiday rush will help us overcome the lie of the enemy. First, it is not your personal calling to meet everyone’s expectations. The long list of gift giving should not become a burdensome load like Santa’s sack. The menus and planning should be more about fellowship and less about perfection. Stay present. Remember our dear friend, Martha. She was lost in the preparation and missed the celebration of the Presence of Christ. She became bitter and offended by her sister’s lack of consideration as labored and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Are you tired? Worn out? You are called to a life of endurance and perseverance for much greater promises than a perfect tree, abounding gifts, and superb celebration. Unrealistic expectations are the enemy’s offering to keep us tired and worn out trying to make everyone happy and losing our joy in the process. Come to me. Do not let busyness keep you from the feet of Jesus this holiday season. It is His Birthday and Arrival that is to be celebrated not loathed by overwhelming burdens. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch me. What an awesome reminder! We must live in the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace is enough to overcome the fact I cannot meet the worldly demands placed upon me but I am enough in Christ. Lord, teach me to live freely and lightly during the most strenuous season of the year.

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG) You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

Start running. Maybe you have been running for a very long time, yet still victory seems elusive. You are still bogged down by fear, worry, stress and anxiety. God did not give you these feelings or emotions – He gave you faith. Faith to fearlessly overcome every burden once thought to be your responsibility but now set free in Christ. Don’t just start running! Everyone runs. You must run to win. It will require discipline, obedience, perseverance and endurance. This means it will be a struggle sometime to continually shed the extra weight along the way. You must be focused. The perspective of your life should be from your higher calling not the constant demands of this world and other people…even your family. The enemy uses guilt and regret to keep people locked into the vicious cycle of unmet expectation. Christ is our fulfillment. To continually pour into a bucket with a whole in it, is fruitless. Without repairing the hole, you are wasting resources. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Without Christ there is no fulfillment, contentment or satisfaction. To show others the love, joy and peace of Jesus Christ that gives way to contentment – we must possess it ourselves.

Galatians 5:7-10 (MSG) You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.

From the cradle to the cross, Jesus endured everything humanly possible and overcame it all. He hands us His Victory when we choose to follow Him. Are you living victoriously? Are you running the race of faith superbly? Obedience to God including releasing unnecessary burden, unmet expectations, and unrealistic demands. This does not make you a quitter. It makes you a good runner. It makes overcoming and overwhelming victory possible. The one who cut in on you wants you to believe that these burdens, cares and worries belong to you and that if you don’t own up to them – you will let God and others down. The Truth is true repentance and radical obedience turns us from lesser things to attain greater faith, confident hope and full satisfaction.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG) For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over    the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going
with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

The gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ has far more potential than any other gift given or received. He has called so many wonderful and powerful things but the one to remember in the midst of the holiday rush is Prince of Peace or Prince of Wholeness. You are complete in Jesus Christ. The need for human acceptance and affirmation creates a drive to meet human expectation. You cannot bring fulfillment to another human being other than to offer them the fullness of Jesus Christ. If you light is dim due to busyness and untended flames of His Spirit, then you really have given them nothing. If you salt loses its flavor or is wasted on preparing fancy meals, then you have not given them a taste of His Splendor. If your words have turned from blessing to cursing due to discontentment, discord, dissatisfaction or just plain exhaustion – they hold no life or hope. We must place limits and boundaries to keep us aligned with Christ during what could prove to be the best Christmas yet – the year heavy burdens of worry and stress are released and blessed peace is accepted.

The Greatest Gift every given was our Savior and Lord, it is easy to let the demands of the holidays take our eyes off of Him and pick up responsibilities that He never gave us. This year make your list simple. Strip down, start running and never quit! The Lord offers to carry those burdens. He will take everything you decide to release. He is faithful. Run the race of faith with complete confidence that victory belongs to you. Above all things, never quit. His Grace is sufficient for those times we fall short, fall down, or just feel like failures. His Unfailing Love and Goodness are always pursuing us. We just have to stop long enough to let Him overtake us, fill us and right our way! Thank you God for your Son Jesus who is the Gift who keeps on giving! Let the Lord refuel you today. Spend some time with the Lord. Let Him help you go through your to-do lists. The Holy Spirit will be your helper this holiday season. Celebrate Jesus! The greatest gift ever given. You cannot top perfection. He is the Perfect Gift.

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.