Living a Kingdom Life

Living a Kingdom Life

Luke 12:31-34 (ESV) “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The Kingdom of God belongs to the righteous. Our righteousness is founded and established in Christ alone. If Jesus Christ lives in us, then the Kingdom belongs to us equally. Do we live a Kingdom life? Do I live a Kingdom life? What is such an existence? It is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you and me His Kingdom? God wants us to live a rich and satisfied life. In fact, it is the reason that Jesus Christ came to give His Life and reestablish a right relationship between God and His People. We must seek that which is given to us. We must make it our passionate pursuit to receive the fullness of God given to us in His Kingdom. But how? Where? God’s Kingdom is not a house or inhabitable dwelling. God’s Kingdom begins in the human heart, overtaking the soul, changing our mind and engaging in a lifestyle of faith and confident hope not in what we see but completely in Who we believe.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The fullness of God is His Love. He is our First Love. The Father loves us in our unlovable condition and consumes us with His Love. He does not give us a portion of His Extravagant Love. He gives us all of the all-consuming and completeness of His Love through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are the fickle hearts and wavering minds that choose to love Him one day and leave Him the next. It is never God’s Will or Way to abandon us to our own devices but He continually pursues us with unfailing love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6) It is His Desire to live in relationship with us so even on our worst days new mercy is waiting for us. (Lamentations 3:22-23) His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. The power within us is the Holy Spirit who is the guarantor of God’s Faithfulness to us. He identifies us as God’s Children. He establishes Kingdom power and authority in us.

To be rooted and grounded in the Love of God is the starting point of a miraculous and prosperous life. To allow Christ to dwell in our heart and mind to the point that through faith nothing is ever impossible again because we are overtaken and consumed by His Love for us. Nothing can ever separate us from the Love of God again. Do you believe that today? You will never establish a Kingdom lifestyle outside of the complete confidence that God’s Love for you is complete and all-consuming. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) ”And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ is life changing. It is the moment – that we decide that Christ is who He said that He is in our heart and mind the keys to the Kingdom are obtained. It is not anything we do but completely based on what we believe. Do you believe? Jesus asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” When Peter announced with heartfelt conviction, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, everything changed. Peter would go on to make many mistakes but that did not limit the Kingdom power bestowed in that moment. Jesus did build His Church on Peter – His Rock. The firm foundation of faith that believes that God is for us. The cornerstone of faith – Jesus – provided everything we need as a perfect sacrifice who gave us access to all of God the Father and fills us with His Spirit. The moment of reconciliation when our mind, soul and body agree that He is Christ. Christ in us. This is the point when everything changes for those who believe…truly believe.

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:18-20) When the Body of Christ begins to believe with complete confidence that we have Kingdom power, no longer will there be separation. The revelation of Christ is personal. We own it. No one can take it or apportion our faith, blessing or promise for themselves. It belongs to us. It is our inheritance. God’s Investment in us is to be used for us and others. It cannot be taken. Therefore the need for comparison and competition fades in the shadow of complete confidence in Jesus Christ. Agreement brings unity and produces miracles, signs and wonders as Christ is in our midst.

Romans 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Every kingdom has a king, ruler or authority in command. Ours is Christ Jesus. Sometimes one must evaluate the heart and mind to resolve conflict. The enemy wants us to unseat Jesus from His Throne inside of us and allow pride to climb back up. There is nothing God wants or needs us to do. He simply wants us. He consumed with passionate love for us that is all-consuming. The conflict of confidence is created by doubt. To disbelieve that God’s Love is complete and His Kingdom within us. We must believe that the Word of God will not fail. We must plant our feet in the foundation of Jesus Christ and take a stand. He must remain on the Throne of our life to be the King of our kingdoms. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to clean house today? To remove the lesser things held on to in fear of the Power and Preeminence of Jesus Christ – our King. To sow seeds in the void left behind and pour healing oil over battle scars and wounds of the past. Let him wash away all fear, stress and anxiety to replace it with confidence in God’s Love and Power today. Speak the Word of God over yourself and situation today. I agree with you in Jesus Name that His Kingdom come – His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Psalm 16:11 (ESV)You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

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Powerful Encounters

Powerful Encounters

James 5:13-15 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Our oldest daughter is a hairdresser. She has shared how many times people would come for a cut or color and once in her chair begin to pour out their stories to her. Intimate and detailed explanations of their problems, heartaches and frustrations. The salon service somehow transformed into a therapy session. She would feel compelled to listen, offer encouragement, sympathize or empathize if she could. She was incredulous to the fact that complete strangers would offer up every sordid detail to someone they didn’t know at all. Has it ever happened to you? You meet someone and immediately they begin to pour out their heart to you. It can be awkward. Perhaps, a bit uncomfortable. I believe there is a reason.

Many years ago, the Lord laid someone on my heart to pray for. I did not like this person. This individual had caused me much heartache and many offenses had built up over time. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be saved and share eternity. I know that’s harsh but totally transparent. I was struggling with myself. How can I pray for someone who I did care for and it be earnest? I felt the Holy Spirit press in on my hard heart. His Word unraveling my selfish and stubborn thoughts with one simple utterance. What if you are the only one? Ugh! Come on Jesus there has to be someone else to do it. Not me. As I began to think of the other persons acquaintances, friends and family members – I began to realize that I may very well be the only one.

No one is exempt from hardships, sickness, distress, doubt, discouragement, fault, or failure. The Work of Jesus Christ was finished and supplied enough grace to overcome in every situation by faith and trust in Him. As a teenager decades ago, we used to fill old school buses with our youth group setting out to share Jesus Christ with people by knocking on doors and canvasing neighborhoods. Talk about rejection. People were somewhat put off, openly offended and very negative about our intrusion unless, of course, they were already Christians patting us on the back as they inwardly sang, “Onward Christian soldiers…” I vowed never to do it again. We do not serve an awkward or out-of-touch God but one who orders our steps and puts purpose in us to carry everywhere we go. What if we are taking the Gospel to the world but Jesus is bringing them straight to us within our sphere of influence?

Prayer is not a public service but a product of an inward relationship with the Lord. The intimacy of communication with the Lover of our Soul and power that is within us. This is not to negate corporate prayer or the power in a praying church but rather to help you understand that every encounter in life has the potential to be powerful. How many times does the Holy Spirit prod us to pray for one when they are standing in front of us so we write their name on our heart for our prayer closet? I am beginning to understand that this powerful anointing inside of me is more about life than Christian service in a church. I am the church and a vital part of the functioning Body of Jesus Christ. My effectiveness in righteousness is not demonstrated as greatly in the House of God as it is when I carry it out to be the light of the world, city on a hill and salt of the earth. There are opportunities to share this light, influence and salt with people every single day as they approach us pouring out their needs, wants and desires. Maybe the Lord is bringing them into our sphere of influence rather than pushing us into their personal space.

Based on the passage today, I believe there are two things vitally important to becoming sensitive in our heart to the leading of the Spirit in bringing the Gospel to others. The first is in our own homes and houses of worship. There is an inclination toward old school religion that makes people think that there are certain requirements to God’s Acceptance and Outpouring in our life. The only thing I know for sure that is needed to access God is His Son – Jesus Christ. Coming to the Lord for our needs, wants and desires is not qualified by one’s position in the community, church or even social circle, it is available through humility. Our altars are empty. The call of God is not being answered on an individual level because people feel the burden of corporate expectation. We must take the veil down in our temple because Jesus ripped it in half from top to bottom. If you are sick, seek prayer. If you are happy, sing praise. If you are in need, pursue the saints of God to pray for you. Easier said than done, right? “To give and not receive is a form of arrogance.” (Michael Jr.)

If my people will humble themselves and pray. The dysfunctional bodies called church can limit the effectiveness of prayer by become a religious organization. If I ask for prayer, will you pray for me? If I share my heart, will you give it away as gossip? If I come to the altar again, will you judge me just the same? We must humble ourselves and repent for how we treat the needs of others because truthfully we all sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard every day. One sin would have cost Jesus the entirety of his life right down to his very last breath. One sin. There is no unpardonable sin except to reject the Lord Jesus Christ. To decide that He is not enough and choose another way. We all have different convictions on acceptable living. It is not my place to judge anyone. When I share my convictions, it is based on the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I offer it to them in love. If they choose another way, that is their right to choose given by freedom in Jesus Christ. I still am to love them and pray for them not talk about them and shun them for religious preference.

James 5:16-18 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

I believe that if the Holy Spirit lives in you then He will draw out the needs of others for you to be obedient in praying for them. We must believe. Believe that there is power in the prayer of righteous people. Have the strongest of convictions that nothing is impossible with God! The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results. Have we stopped praying for every little thing because we do not believe that God takes every detail of our life working it for good? (Romans 8:28) Has our timer run out and our blessing still cooking so we try something else to fill our void and meet the need? I cannot share a faith or truth that I do not believe in. God’s Greatness and Power never goes bankrupt. Not every investment yields an immediate return but it always produces a dividend.

I Peter 4:7-10 (NLT) The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

God has given us a great variety of spiritual gifts and fruit to share with each other. All others including family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers and even our perceived rivals or enemies. Each encounter comes with the opportunity to be powerful. To encourage, exhort or even just listen to the heartfelt longings of another. When people come to lay the contents of their life before us, what we do with it makes the difference. You may never see the person again but did you deposit Christ in them. It can be as simple as a smile that produces conversation. We must show deep love and compassion for others that takes us out of our routine, schedule and timeline in order to become that which Christ has called and equipped us to be. To pray for someone else often refocuses us personally as well. It is easy to get caught up in life and miss many opportunities for breakthrough based on our own agendas. Lord, make us sensitive to the leading of your Spirit in every encounter. Teach us to be disciplined and discerning when opportunities arise to be shine Your Light of Love to the world. Father, keep the salt on our lips. Fill and seal our heart so it is a safe place for the secrets of others given to us for prayerful consideration. Thank you for choosing us to be Your Hands, Feet, Mouth and Heart to the world. Let us be ever aware of Your Presence and constantly led by Your Spirit – in Jesus Name!

I Thessalonians 5:14-22 (NLT) Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

Deep is Calling

Deep is Calling

Psalm 42:6-8 (Message) When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, from Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.

“Deep calls to deep” is a verse read many times. It is a sense of longing for the gentle whisper that requires a response. Reading the same passage in The Message translation is a more apt description of what the deeper things of God feel like. Chaos calls to chaos. The violent shaking of the storm with the wild winds and waves tossing us from the complacency of what is to the confident hope of what could be if we walk by faith and not by sight. Deep calls out to deep as the Lord beckons us to come closer to step out of the proverbial boat to walk on water with Him. We call out to the deep but prefer wading. There is no real interest in what is beneath the ocean’s surface where grace turns to obedience and calling becomes our destiny. When our soul begins to slump, it is in that moment we look for the Living God to bring His Power and New Life. When He rushes in and change begins to unravel our comfortable, convenient and seemingly controlled existence – we are shaken from the security of what is and to be completely undone to new possibility.

Living in the south, our physical intuitiveness can feel the rain coming. The humidity descends with all the damp pressure. The air is thick. The clouds circle overhead and it becomes overcast. The thunder begins to roll and lightening begins to flash. Sometimes just a few gentle droplets or a torrential downpour – its all the same. Spiritual discernment sees pasts the rising waves. It perceives the winds of change sweeping through our life. Our heart comprehends what our mind does not want to accept – transformation always requires a transition. You cannot stay where you are and find a new position. You cannot remain who you are and assume a new identity. You cannot hold on to the past and fully embrace the future. God put this longing to answer His Call in our heart and mind calling it eternity. He planted a measure of faith in us to achieve that calling equipping us from our creation with exactly what is needed to be who He created us to be. Nothing in this world can stop God’s Plan. We must only answer His Call.

Hebrews 12:25-29 (Message) So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

“He is jealous for me… Loves like a hurricane… I am a tree… Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy… When all of a sudden…. I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory… And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections for me… Oh how He loves us so.”  (John Mark McMillan)

We sing this popular worship song often not really listening to the words but repeating it from memory. What if God’s Love for us produces violent shaking in an effort to make us release the ordinary and receive the extraordinary? What if our hunger and thirst is to seek more and discover full satisfaction? Could it be that all the “chaos” in our life is to stir up the inner gifting and anointing planted by God for His Purpose? God wants to prosper us. It begins in our soul. Makes its way through our heart. Enters our mind. Changes our thoughts. Transitions us from fear to faith and we become courageous in confident hope. See God is doing something in us far greater than the immediate gratification sought after by a weak flesh and fickle heart. He knows exactly what it will take to draw us into the deep. He creates the vortex that will soon overtake us.

Our God is likened to an “all-consuming fire.” Like the burning bush before Moses, thought engulfed with flames, the bush remained. God loves us like that in an explainable display of His Glory that complete overtakes our life yet within Him – we are safe and secure. Like the three Hebrew boys cast in a fire, yet they were never forsaken and certainly not alone. The Lord was waiting in the fire for them. He accompanied them until it was time to come out. Not a hair singed or garments reeking of smoke, they were presented to the people no worse for wear. The people recognized the Living God in that moment. Our calling will always include those who are watching for and waiting on the Kingdom of God to be presented.

Psalm 93 (Message) God is King, robed and ruling, God is robed and surging with strength. And yes, the world is firm, immovable, Your throne ever firm—you’re Eternal! Sea storms are up, God, sea storms wild and roaring, sea storms with thunderous breakers. Stronger than wild sea storms, mightier than sea-storm breakers, Mighty God rules from High Heaven. What you say goes—it always has. “Beauty” and “Holy” mark your palace rule, God, to the very end of time.

The deep calls us to be drowned in His Grace. It is an invitation to die to self and be overtaken with life. If you find it easy to exist in God – there is so much more to discover. The deeper you go the less likely it is that your flesh will survive. Full surrender is required to fully accept salvation and eternal destiny. God is King. He is Sovereign. He is All-Power, All-Knowing and everywhere at the same time. He knows us inside and out. He created us with a purpose and definite plan that is in full execution. The answer of our heart to the deeper things of God is always the same – “yes”. It doesn’t have to loud or dramatic. Most often it is in the darkest place or most dangerous height when a single step of faith seems illogical and impossible – and the Lord says, “Do it anyway…” Will you? Will you allow the chaos of calling overtake you? Will you answer His Call to come deeper? Will you let God mess up your ordinary life to make it extraordinary? Will you say, “Yes” to it all? Delayed obedience is considered disobedience. It is a quiet rebellion that denies the impossibilities of miracles to accept the ordinary. God has something waiting for you and me that is just beyond our comfort zone, outside the boundaries of convenience, and just outside of our control. Do you want it? Do you desire the Lord above all things? Deep is calling deep. Chaos is crying out to chaos. Our destination is called beautiful and holy. Do you want to meet Him there? He is calling you deeper… Just say, “Yes!”

I Peter 2:9-10 (Message) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

 

Thankful Heart

Thankful Heart

Psalm138:1-2 (ESV) I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Today is my birthday. It is just an ordinary day to me. I will let you in on a little secret. Taking another year doesn’t really bother me, I believe age is just a number. It is all the extra attention that I find to be the most uncomfortable. I am a giver. I love to bless other people. The position of receiver makes me want the day to pass more quickly. There is vulnerability in being the recipient. It creates a feeling of obligation in the acceptance of a gift. There is humility in the posture of receiving because it creates expectation. This morning as I fed the dogs, started laundry, working on the Mother’s Day plans for church, my heart began to recount all the blessings in my life. I am a grandmother now. Oh how I love that little guy. My life and my home the one that I dreamed of as a little girl. Life has not always been perfectly but now looking back it is turning out beyond anything I could have asked for, considered or imagined. Even though there were times I just knew all my bad choices, horrible habits, years of wandering, and inability to walk in constant obedience would result in a consequence – I just cannot find them now. God has certainly taken all those details making good on His Promise that unfailing love and possibility would be birthed in even the tiniest of details. Today – I am thankful with my whole heart.

I wonder what would happen if we lived each day in such a state. To be thankful with our whole heart would certainly change our mind. It would alter thoughts and reposition our perspective in life completely. Human nature is giving to comparison and complaining that eats away at our confidence in the God who works out all the details and even perfects that which concerns us. To be grateful acknowledges Him and to do so before the rush and radiance of His Glory comforts us in the waiting. I have received much from the Lord and to Him I must return my praise, glory, honor and worship. He takes our whole life and makes a masterpiece of it – can we give Him our whole heart in return?

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

On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3) I didn’t ask for anything for my birthday this year despite my husband’s pleadings for some ideas. I was bestowed a crown fitting for a queen or at least my dentist charged me like it was. I really am content. The only thing I wanted today was to be surrounded by my family and closest of friends. To fellowship together and enjoy each other’s company over dinner somewhere. To hug all my kids and squeeze my littlest grand – there is nothing I am more thankful for than this. The Holy Spirit lives in us growing and developing fruit to feed our soul. The first of which is love. Love then joy and peace. These three things are essential. Given to us with a measure of faith to cultivate them fully in our life. Our heart is the fertile soil of new beginnings. I wonder if thankfulness and gratitude is an added nutrient that accelerates growth in us like a good fertilizer on flowers or the lawn. To weed out all the fear, doubt and insecurity sown in us by the enemy to choke out the confident hope that leads to impossibilities and prosperity overtaking us from the inside out. As I call on the Name of the Lord today – it is with two simple word not nearly enough for all He has done – Thank You!

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 (ESV)  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

The Lord WILL and DOES perfect all that concerns you and me. It takes a lifetime to produce the miracle inside of us called new life. It takes a lot of planting for our heart and mind to prosper. We facilitate that process only in our “yes”. In the waiting, it is our willingness to praise and worship the Lord for who He is that is essential in tending that which is growing with us to manifest in our life. We can rejoice always. We can pray to a listening God without ceasing. We can give thanks in all circumstances because His Word will not return to Him void. It will accomplish exactly what it set out to do. He does perfect all that concerns us out of His Unfailing Love and Faithfulness in spite of us. This is the Will of God for our life. To prosper as our soul does. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with new life, new love, and new possibilities today. It begins with a simple “yes” watered in thanksgiving.

Psalm 138:8 (NKJV) The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever.

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

If I had a dime for every time I have recited this verse to my rambling mind, rebellious thoughts and overwrought emotions. God did not give me the spirit of fear but there are days I completely own it myself. Stress and anxiety fuel doubt and disbelief. The enemy whispers, “But…” Lies that get me all hot and bothered as I try to wrestle in my flesh and take captive those thoughts that so easily distract me. God did not give me the spirit of fear or timidity. He didn’t give it to you either. Anything contrary to God in our life must go in order for us to fully embody Christ and experience freedom that is given through Him.

Yesterday was one of those days, after a week of fighting the good fight, it seemed like it was going to be a good day. I got out of the house on time – major victory for the time challenged. I had an awesome worship, praise and prayer time on the way to work. Two major victories before the morning meeting at work had me feeling pretty confident that it was going to be a great close to the long week. Well then the enemy lobbed a bomb over the fence and immediately I was on the run. I was angry, mad, stressed, worried and anxious all at the same time all of a sudden. Caught off guard, I was unsuccessful at pulling in the wild horses dragging me off fast and furiously. It’s hard to remember to never let your guard down especially on the “good” days. To think that the enemy is not lurking in the darkness just looking for a foothold. For me it came as a “misunderstanding” mixed with some “confusion” all the enemy’s tactics waging war against a confident heart and made up mind. “Are you sure? What if? Or else?” Subtle attacks that lead to devastating results if not handled immediately.

So this morning, I am going to share three tips for reining in “wild horses”? Those thoughts and notions that there is a limit to God’s Love, Power and Faithfulness in our life. I hope they help you. They are not quick fixes. It will take a lot of time and practice to instill them as habits in an emotional world that has decided God is not who He claims to be and tries to rob the finished work of Christ on the Cross. So here goes…

Power

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.

Luke 1:37 (NLT) For the Word of God will never fail.

Grace is available in our weakness. Power comes when we relinquish control of our life to the Power of God promised by Jesus and the Word of God. The problem is that our world is D-I-Y obsessed even the church. “Well, if I don’t do it – who will?” The one called and commissioned to. Giving up control is what crucifying the flesh is all about. To decide that you will fully invest your life in God’s Way through the Way – Jesus Christ means giving up your power to fully embrace His Power. How do you do that? Repentance. Obedience. Trust. Key components to full embracing God’s Power is at the end of self. We cry out for God’s Intervention asking Him to open the windows of Heaven over us and fill our life with the abundance that is promised but never really understanding the change that comes with it. We cannot live in the Presence of God unchanged. We cannot reach the depths offered without giving up our current position. There is no way to discover the vastness and limitless boundaries of His Love and Grace for us without accepting His Grace fully.

Love

Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I John 4:18 (NLT) Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

There is no limit on God’s Love. He pursues us with unfailing love. (Psalm 23) It is endless reaching from creation, through life and into eternity. God demonstrated His Love by giving us amazing grace. The kind of grace that works best in our weakness. Christ was the example who was crucified in weakness to give way to resurrection power and new life. We have overwhelming victory in Jesus Christ who loved us. His Spirit lives in us as evidence of adoption. No longer are we exiled from God but through Christ reconciled as sons and daughters of God. Do you love your children? How much? Too much sometimes, right? How much more does God love us? Do you believe that God loves you today? Are you convinced? Love is the conviction of God’s Faithfulness to us outside of our ability to remain pure and blameless. His Love came down and rescued us in our weakness and gave us victory. We do not deserve it. We cannot earn it. We can do nothing to repay God for His Gift. The only thing we can do is believe it and live in that love fearlessly.

Fear is evidence that there is doubt or disbelief in the fulfillment of God given through Jesus Christ. It does not fully embrace the finished work on the Cross or grab hold of the “overwhelming victory” promised in God’s Word. The only hope that you and I have of living a courageous life is in our ability to completely and confidently receive God’s Love. To allow His Love to change our heart, soul and mind until it is completely convinced that there is nothing that can separate us from His Love. His Faithfulness is not contingent on anything we do other than to believe it enough to embrace it and stop running from Him.

In fact, the Word of God says those that believe in the perfect love of God live fearlessly. Perfect love expels fear. The solution to the problem does not end fear. Fear continually sows seeds when not eradicated. It is in the constant sowing of God’s Love in our life that fear has no place to grow, mature or develop into worries, cares, stress or burdens. The conviction of God’s Love is the birthplace of freedom. It is the place where ordinary life takes on an extraordinary existence. Right where you are even if nothing changes. Perfect peace takes over until God delivers.

Self-Discipline or Self-Control

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

I Peter 1:13 (NLT) So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Each week I make a grocery list and menu for the upcoming week. I have the best intentions of making delicious meals for my family that are often upended by busyness. Just because I have all the ingredients doesn’t mean I will follow through with my original plan. The Holy Spirit produces all the good fruit for an amazing life – but self-control is what we must use to make it all work together. My thoughts are pivotal in execution of God’s Plan. I must rein in every thought contrary to Christ and adverse to God’s Word. I cannot allow myself the opportunity to worry, stress or fear what is to come. God promised to work every detail of my life for His Good and Glory. Do I believe Him? My response to lies and taunts of the enemy will reveal the content and true conviction of my heart. Consumed by worry, I must decide to worship. I cannot give lies permission to remain but must pray and praise my way through it. I must give up every other conviction than the one that says, “God loves me and He is for me – I cannot fail!”

When I was much younger, I had a good friend who owned horses. We could go riding on Saturdays. There was one particular horse that I was riding which was a bit skittish. My friend who was a confident equestrian asked as we were headed home, “Would you like to change horses because the one that I was on was “barn sour”? I had no idea what that meant and later wish I did. Coming out of the woods when she saw the pens and barn just past it – she took off running out-of-control. I pulled the reins with all my might but she was not having it. All I could do was hang on and pray I didn’t fall off in her haste.

A “barn sour” or “herd bound” behavior is produced by anxiety. Fear of separation from the herd or physical location which it deems secure such as a pasture or barn. It is a dangerous behavior as the rider loses all control of the animal. There is no threat except the stress of the animal. The basis for this equine problem is one that many humans suffer from, too. Insecurity. According to experts, the insecurity caused by this instinct in horses is exacerbated by a lack of training which is easily overcome.  You must teach the horse to be responsive to your clues. It is the same with people who want to live a fearless life embracing fully the freedom given to us by Jesus.

Father, I ask you to flood our hearts with light today. Expose every lie that the enemy has sown in us that it may be uprooted and replanted with faith. I rebuke fear, stress, anxiety, worries and care commanding them to go in Jesus Name. Lord, I trust you. Help any disbelief in me to give way to resurrection power and life. I believe that You love me. I am convinced that nothing can separate me from Your Love even my fears, doubts and insecurities that you are removing right now. Lord, let your Spirit complete His Work in me. I give you permission to permeate every part of my life for my good and Your Glory! In the Name above all names – Jesus!

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

 

Oneness

one

Colossians 3:10-11 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ prays in me. Christ works in me. Christ looks through my eyes. Christ speaks through my words. Christ works with my hands. Christ walks with my feet. Christ loves with my heart. As St. Paul’s prayer was – I belong to Christ and nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. It was that oneness – oneness with God in the Holy Spirit. (Mother Teresa)

I am struck by the words of this meek and mighty woman of God. Mother Teresa gave her life to passionate prayer and pursuing complete oneness with God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Her words echo through the recesses of my mind, body and soul asking the question, “Are you one?” Am I experiencing the fullness of oneness with Jesus Christ? To be fully consumed by love for the One who loved me first and always loves me the most. The holy inhabitation of God’s Spirit is given in order to live in complete consummation of our relationship to Christ. Have we lost our passion for God? Have we lost our first love – Jesus Christ? Busyness robs us of precious moments better given to Christ. Distractions keep us from seeing the opportunity offered in each encounter. Stress and worry produced by fear erode the confidence that is conviction of God’s Timeless and Endless Love for us.

Put on your new nature. Our identity is not an orphan but dearly loved Child of the Living God. It goes deeper through Christ now we are a bride. We prepare for marriage with Him similar to that of natural marriage in the confession and conviction forsaking all others – I choose You – Jesus! Is that your heartfelt desire today? To be a Child of God. To become the Bride of Christ. It is through the pursuit of oneness with the Lord and reconciliation to Christ that this is accomplished. Christ is all that matters. He is alive in us.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 (NLT) Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

Comparison to people and personal evaluation to human standards will build and fortify pride in our life. We can always find someone who will make us feel better about ourselves. We can use the scales and balances of the world and find self-satisfaction in our own rightness. But that is not the standard of living that the Lord has called us to. Reconciliation to Jesus Christ will produce a godly standard of living impossible apart from Him. It removes every arrogant thought and prideful excuse to give way to complete submission and surrender to the Lover of our Soul. When two people married it is perceived that they become one. No longer two separate individuals through the bond and covenant of marriage they are one. It is from this union designed by God that our union with Christ is personified. Except two come together in agreement and harmony giving up their way to pursue life together – there is no relationship but constant striving and struggling to maintain our own way.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! Do you belong to Jesus Christ? Mind, soul and body have your given your heart to the Lord? If so, then you know it requires a change of direction called repentance. God does not lie or change His Mind. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The unchangeability of the Trinity makes it impossible to pursue oneness unless I am willing to give up my way, the lie of the enemy and engage in new life together with Jesus. The church cannot properly reconcile the world to God until the individuals comprising the Body get it together first. We must reconcile our life to Christ completely to create unity of the Body as a whole. We must stop evaluating the success and failure or the church by numbers and begin to identify with the person of Jesus Christ again pursuing oneness with Him in every possible conceivable way.

Love is a commitment. It is a covenant relationship that forsakes self for oneness. If you have been married more than a few days, you understand that success in a marriage is giving. Taking is not conducive to continued unity but the constant and consistent giving of yourself. It is the pursuit of oneness that keeps us on the altar with our flesh slowly dying when it comes to our commitment to the Lord. It is this sweet smelling sacrifice that entices others to engage in such an endeavor to give up this life for so much more.

I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

Our first two children are boys. After that, we have three girls. Lord, help me. Boys are pretty straight forward. Girls on the other hand test every fruit given by the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The emotional overtures are ridiculous. My childhood was very different from our family. The relationships of this generation are mind boggling to say the least. I know people who have sons pray for daughters so consider yourself duly warned – be careful what you pray for. All joking aside the on again off again relationships sometimes hormonal and always emotional are like a rollercoaster that is out of control. I am currently working with our girls on humility and forgiveness whether their adversary deserves it or not. The teenage culture is brutal. I want my girls to arrive at the doorway of adulthood with tender hearts. I want them to be a blessing even if they are cursed by others. The only way this is accomplished is to be of one mind with Christ. I wonder if we are setting a good example for our children. The heart of God is love. The mind of Christ is love. The Holy Spirit cultivates love in us. The confidence of my commitment to Jesus is that He loves me. Nothing can separate me from His Love. This must be the foundation of my life – body, soul and spirit.

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.

The joy of the presence of Jesus, you must be able to give wherever you go. But you cannot give what you don’t have. That’s why you need a pure heart, a pure heart that you will receive as a fruit of your prayer, as a fruit of your oneness with Christ. (Mother Teresa) Oneness with Christ must be our lifelong pursuit. It fuels the Light of His Love within us. It is the saltiness that flavors our message making it palatable to a lost and dying world. Unity with Jesus cultivates the fruit of His Spirit – the first one is love. To be one with Jesus of the same heart, mind and purpose requires an overtaking of our self with His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Grace or it is a religious learned behavior. I can change habits. I can make better choices. But I cannot be a new creation living a new life outside of oneness with Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)  I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 

What Is Your Passion?

Passion

Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG) Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

What is your passion? Passion is any powerful feeling or compelling emotion in us. It produces a drive for that desire that is the kindling that creates tinder. When such a feeling or emotion is nurtured, it becomes inflamed. What is your drive in life? Is it to love the Lord your God with all your heart? The most important passion in our life is the one that consumes our time and energy. What are you after? What takes over your thoughts? What is that demands your time and is given its worth? Human beings are filled with many emotions, feelings and overtures both of God and not of God. The flesh has a passion all its own. Our heart also has passion that it longs to pursue. We decide what passion is fueled and allowed to exist in our life. So what about you? What is your passion today?

Love. To love God with all our heart. The other translations use the word “heart” instead of passion. The thought provoking Message Bible describes our love for God as passionate. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you pursue Him? Do you long to be filled by Him? Is He truly your beloved? To be passionate means having or compelled by or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling. It produces an urgency and fervency within us to overtake that which is desired. It also means to express it. To let it out in some sort of demonstration or portrayal. Purpose without passion is just a plan – it will not produce anything at all because there is no investment. Purpose fueled by passion will create prosperity in our life. The very thing given our time and energy will yield its gain if not abandoned but pursued. It is the law of sowing and reaping. Those with passion do not give up because there as inner drive that overtakes us. Hence, it is important to examine our heart and evaluate our feelings and emotions on a regular basis.

Revelation 2:2-5 (MSG) “I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause that you never wear out. But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.”

Have you walked away from your first love? Maybe, wandered away unknowingly? It can happen. The church of Ephesus was doing all the “right” things but forgot about fueling their relationship with Christ. Everything we do, say and give our life to must be through our love and passion for Jesus Christ. The pursuit of His Heart must be our drive and desire each day in all things. If we are not careful, our partnership with the Lord becomes a business contract rather than marriage covenant. God will do exactly as He promised apart from love. His Love for us is constant. He passionately pursues us. Making the Way for us to live in right standing as sons and daughters of God. He will not lie. He cannot change His Mind and be God. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. He is good even when we are not. God’s Passion and Commitment to us is never in question it is always consistent. It is our love and devotion to the Lord that hangs in the balance.

Recover your dear early love. The start of a love affair is generally a passionate overture of raw emotion. The buildup tremendous but letdown coming. The emotions, feelings and desires of love must become a commitment to be long lasting. The imperfection of people make it impossible to fully live up to the expectation of love without a tremendous amount of grace and submission. Where’s the fun in that? A life of love may not always be fanciful and fun, but godly love will always be fruitful and produce in us a satisfied and fulfilled life. When our first love is Jesus – our expectation of full satisfaction and absolute abundance are secure. If we hold steadfast to the hope given to us in every situation – contentment will be complete. Humanity is all about the “feels”. I wonder what might happen if our passion was turned to the Lord and pursued Him first. What would the possibilities be? I cannot lead others to a place I have never been. I cannot describe an experience that I have never encountered. I cannot share a love that I have not found.

I John 4:1719 (MSG) God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

What is your passion? I asked before and I ask you again. What is the greatest drive and desire in your life today? What if we were completely honest even if only with ourselves? Examining the contents of our heart with transparency, considering our desires and drive, evaluating our time and how it is spent. What if we truly laid out our life and took an account of where it is being spent? Would our greatest pursuit be the Heart of God with a passionate love for Jesus Christ? I can only look into my own life. We are to love others as we love ourselves. Do you love you today? I have found that only through my relationship with Jesus Christ have I established any self-worth. In Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle of life with the selfish and prideful nature of his flesh constantly combatting the goodness and grace of God at work in him. Such is the struggle of every believer to fully invest their heart in pursuing God with passion.

Our heart must fall in love with Jesus Christ. Our passion must become pursuing Him at all cost if His Promise and Prosperity is our deepest longing. Our soul must prosper before anything in our natural life will. Our soul prospers when our heart, mind and body are fully committed to loving Jesus Christ. It will require our careful attention and honest evaluation of the contents and contracts in our life. Jesus came to become our beloved…He calls us beloved. It is from this loving covenant relationship with Christ filled with passion that we can pursue others with perfect love. Desiring nothing from them because our needs and desires are fulfilled by Christ. It is in the sowing of love that we receive it.

Is it time to rekindle passion? Is it time to pursue something new? If your life is fully satisfied or overflowing in abundance, it may be time to return to your first love. To bless the work of our hands without having our heart could result in the death of many who call themselves Christians but do not know Christ or love Him. It is easy to take those we love for granted and Jesus is not exempt. His Grace and Goodness are not doormats but doorways to a rich and satisfying life. We must be passionate in our pursuit of His Love.

Psalm 23:6 (MSG) Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

Song of Solomon 5:6-7 (MSG) Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing—it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold—it’s not to be found in the marketplace.

Black Sheep

Black Sheep

Luke 15:4-7 (NLT) “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

On my daily commute, I pass a small makeshift farm. It started as one pen with a couple sheep. Now it is three pens, several sheep, two herding dogs, and some chicken coops. Recently, there were several lambs born with one that is solid black. The sheep and Great Pyrenes are solid white so the little guy sticks out like a sore thumb with its raven-colored coat. Every day I slow down to look for the black sheep. But as of late, the little one is not among the flock.

Today, I am acutely aware of the black sheep. I am part of a blended family. My parents each brought two children to their union. I have a very tangled family tree so we will stay on this side of it for now. My sister was very young and my biological father adopted her when she was just two years old. My bonus mom as one might call her also had a son. He did not embrace the new family quite so much and gravitated toward his own father and his side of the family. He might even be called a black sheep of sorts. Life for him was very difficult and his struggle very real. He loved the Lord, but had his own wilderness moments along the way. He passed away yesterday. I am sad. Although he was not as closely knit into our family as my brother and sister – I am sad for him. He died feeling that he was a black sheep. He felt like a disgrace who was ostracized. Not because he was not loved and cherished by his family, the enemy wrapped him in up in a lie that would cause him to stumble in life many times.

The tragic news of his death has haunted me. I see black sheep all the time. From the actual animal to the people who wander through life never experiencing the Love of God and all His Fullness. The inability to fully grasp and understand the completeness of God’s Grace and Goodness that He has just for them. Caught up in comparison, tangled in lies and stumbling over stupid things – they wander through life never really knowing, understanding or fully comprehending that which is pursuing them. Have we as Christians and believers contributed in some way? Setting conditions on love and acceptance that God never truly intended? To distance ourselves from the lost, wandering and broken afraid it is contagious? To gravitate toward success avoiding those who represent failure? To forget that we too were once the one lost sheep who was carried home by our Savior?

Matthew 18:12-14 (MSG) “Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.”

Where is the celebration when a simple believer is born? When the one who was lost wanders to the altar of our churches? Do we embrace them as they are? Or do we mandate a grace of change from imperfect to perfect in an instant? The Blood of Jesus covers our sin. Over time the Word begins to wash us clean including old wounds. A black sheep cannot change the color of its fur. It is still a sheep. The DNA the same it just looks different. You can shear it a hundred times and its coat will remain black. However, as Christians caught up in religion, we get so bent on changing people to meet our expectations and mandates of doctrine that we forget to love them just as they are. Love is not mean. It is not unkind. It is forgiving. Accepting. Affirming. This is the kind of love that allows the Lord to work out salvation and complete the transforming power offered through Jesus Christ. Where are the beloveds? The Love of God is unconditional. It loves with powerful passion even when it is not wanted or reciprocated. The Perfection of God meets us in our imperfection and loves us just the same. I don’t think we get that. If we did – people would flock to our services to encounter such love – no pun intended.

I Peter 2:25 (NLT) Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

The example of Jesus Christ is to be a guardian of souls. Our Shepherd is the Guardian of our souls. Guardian means defender, protector and keeper. The one who looks after and is responsible for someone. My mission in life must be to seek the sheep and CARRY them home. It doesn’t say that when he found the sheep that he beat it severely, reprimanded it harshly, or any other form of punishment. It says, “and when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” He did not wait for the sheep to come to him, but the true shepherd searches for the sheep. He pursues the one that is lost. Religion will only separate and divide unless it becomes about relationship. I tried to change a thousand times going to church and following everyone’s instructions. Yet I still wandered into the wilderness of life, I made countless mistakes. I let God down and failed Him faithfully. When I came back to the Lord, He didn’t berate me. In fact, He wooed me. He loved me. He filled me with more love and grace than I ever thought possible. When I fell in love with Jesus – all the hypocrites and haters didn’t matter anymore. I found love. Unconditional and unfathomable love. It is from that I have learned to love others without expectation. I find that I gravitate toward black sheep and embrace them because I was once lost and now I am found.

My heart is heavy today. I am sad that my brother has passed. I believe that Jesus mercifully came and set him free. I grieve the relationship that could have been and never will be. I am pressed to consider my love for others today. Do I look for the lost sheep as I do the little black sheep each day? Do I show unconditional love to those who are wandering? When they do come to church – are they met with celebration or more condemnation? God don’t let that be me. Fill my heart with the love and compassion that you have for each us. The kind of love and commitment that leaves the ninety-nine to pursue the one. Lord, let my response be rejoicing as I carry them home. Forgive me Jesus for the forgotten ones. Those who I turned a blind eye to or just walked around. All the times that I judged someone for not living up to my convictions or pursuing them with anything but unconditional love. Teach me Holy Spirit to be a guardian of souls. To rejoice over the sinner more than the saints. Be my example Lord for you are the Good Shepherd.

John 10:9-11 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”

Make the Sacrifice

Make the Sacrifice

Psalm 118:26-28 (NLT) Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

After a spectacular Saturday, I awaken to an overcast and humid Sunday. What a disappointment! I had plans for today including washing the smelly dog, planting a hydrangea and maybe going for a leisurely drive with my sweetie. The forecast for today now seems to include a trip to church and a long rainy day nap. Ugh!

I could feel my emotions dampen a little bit. It is in the moment I realize that my heart is sinking for no reason at all that I am reminded I am not a child of darkness but live in the light. The Light of God’s Love wraps around me. It floods every shadowed part of my existence when I choose to keep my face, heart, mind, body and soul set upon Him. It is an intentional life to live in His Love. We must daily combat emotions lending themselves to temporary things and fully embrace the new life set before us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar. What are these sacrifices that keep us near the heart of God and detached from worthless feelings and overwhelming emotions?

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Thankfulness is a sacrifice when you really don’t like what you see. To be thankful that God is good. He is for you. His Love for you unfailing and unchanging even when you are really not thankful at all. Thankfulness allows gratitude for flow where ungratefulness once hindered you. To begin to count the blessings in our life allows faith to rise up and bring hope along with it. The quicker our words begin to give thanks to the Lord it is the same time when His Light and Love illuminate the darkness trying to overshadow us. There is line in one of my favorite worship songs that goes “you can’t turn out light that shines from the inside.” Thankfulness is a light in the darkness even when it is a sacrifice. The attitude of gratitude will do nothing more than lift you up!

Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT) For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 

Praise honors the Lord for who He is. He is God. He is Jesus. He is the life giving source of every good thing in our life. Sometimes our heart becomes cluttered with the temporary worries, cares and concerns of life. Distracted by busyness and overloaded by feelings it is easy to forget WHO HE is and all that He has done. Salvation in and of itself would have been more than enough, but God didn’t stop there. He didn’t just save us but adopted us as His Beloved Children. I am a Child of God. Praise offers allegiance to His Name.

Grumbling and complaining are not the vocabulary of victory. They imply a lack of faith and flourishing doubt in our life. To bless the Lord, oh my soul, with all that is within me means that even when I am not happy or content in my present situation that I honor the Lord with praise. Our words are like a shovel. They either dig a pit or fill in the spaces. One pulls us deeper while the other makes a way out. Praise is the proverbial shovel that provides a pathway to the Presence of God and a change in our perspective.

Psalms 54:6 (NLT) I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.

Every week I shop at a local department store. It is known for its low prices. It is also a pain in the neck. I usually end up with an overflowing cart at a long line of closed registers wondering if the savings are really worth all the hassle just to pay for my purchases. There are more than twenty checkout lines but only four are open with long lines at each one. I pick the one that will inevitably take the longest. I begin to pray for the patience not to glare at people or complain with those who feel the same way. If someone comes up with only a handful of items, I have made a practice of offering them to go in front of me. I can only think it must be the Holy Spirit working in me because that is one more person I must wait for. However, over time it has made me consciously aware of those around me. I cannot count how many times I have offered and the person in shock and awe goes before me. I also have found that every single time I am in a hurry and need a break that the person in line has done the same for me. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The command to love one another begins in simple gestures and random acts of kindness. To pay it forward with the Lord is to give a voluntary offering which requires something of our heart. God doesn’t need our time, talent and treasure. He is Sovereign. All-knowing, all-powerful and everywhere all at the same time. I believe that when we become His Hands and Feet relaying His Heart to others by offering acts of loving kindness, goodness, forgiveness and every other good fruit His Spirit gives us that He is glorified. I can invite people to church to experience the Lord but if I only have that instance will my attitude and actions off an encounter with Christ? To be a living sacrifice requires a renewed mind that comes from a changed heart that is willing to lay down its selfish ways to make a sacrificial voluntary offering to the Lord. I must lay down my life. I must lose my life to find it in Him.

Psalm 97:10-12 (NLT) You who love the Lord, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right. May all who are godly rejoice in the Lord and praise his holy name!

Well the day is still overcast. The humidity is rising. Rain is in the forecast. I am thankful for the rain today. I wasn’t when I got up but surely it will wash away the pollen and water the grass. I praise the Lord for He is good! Always good! I am thankful for His Word today and His Spirit who come to me when I am sinking and life my heart. I have a hope that does not lead to disappointment. When my feelings or emotions try to pull me into the pit of unthankfulness riddled with grumbling and complaining, I will begin to praise my way out. I am a Child of God. Every detail of my life is destined to turn out for my good. Nothing can separate me from the Love of God even my bad attitude. (Praise God!) Thank you Lord for inexpressible joy that I find when I choose to enter Your Presence rather than succumbing to the pitfall of pitifulness. I have much to be thankful for. My life is praiseworthy just because you are in it and I belong to you. Lord, help me to find a way to give you a voluntary offering today! Do something for someone else that will bring glory to Your Name! Thank you Jesus for being the Light of my life!

Psalm 118:23-25 (NLT) This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success.

Assumption

Assumption

Ephesians 4:20-24 (ESV) But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The journey of faith is long and arduous. It requires endurance as that exerted in a marathon. Many will begin but few will finish – the broken road is laden with many who heard the Word of God and wanted all of its benefits but succumbed to one of the many distractions along the way. Some of the seeds falling on a path easily devoured by the lie of the enemy which is his only weapon formed against. It will not prosper when seeds planted deep in the human heart become confident hope. Other seeds were considered and even pondered for a short time but then the busyness of life and need for immediate gratification hindered the roots of trust from grabbing hold of every fear, doubt and insecurity and crushing them in the peace of God through Jesus Christ. Without being rooted and grounded in God’s Love and Goodness through Jesus Christ there is no Living Water to sustain us during times of drought. Other seeds were suffocated by distractions and the thorns of life keep us in the ordinary when all along the new life waits in the extraordinary. You were born in the natural and through Jesus Christ have access to the supernatural. Why do so many Christians live defeated lives? They have the wrong assumptions.

There are two kinds of assumption – 1) there is the assumption that takes for granted, and 2) there is the assumption that takes possession. Let’s talk about assuming. The word jumped off the screen reading Ephesians 4 today. God never lies or changes His Mind. He is Sovereign and Perfect in every way. He loves us. He is good to us. He desires us. His Unconditional Love for us evident in the selfless giving of His Son to obtain our life in its most wretched state. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, He never changes. Our life has a plan and purpose containing a future and hope prerecorded and predestined before our natural birth only awaiting spiritual rebirth. My heart has a measure of faith to begin the growth process. It has a promise – eternity. Jesus came to be the Way, the Truth and Life. To give me access to the Father and become His Child again. All of this belongs to me including every spiritual blessing and the supplies to meet every need. I am promised victory in Jesus Christ. He is the overcomer who will never leave me or forsake me. He has given me His Spirit as a helper. The Spirit provides guidance in applying God’s Word (seed) to my life and making it grow into good fruit that will satisfy me with a prospering soul. If my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is not His Fault but by my own assumption.

Do I assume natural occurrences or supernatural outcomes in Jesus Name? My strongest conviction must be that the Lord is exactly who He says He is and does exactly what He promises to do. Before Christ I took all these benefits and blessings for granted because honestly they were unattainable. Coming to Christ, I must change my assumption by faith fulling believing and adopting the promises of God in every area of my life. It is human nature to doubt. To have fear and anxiety is evidence of insecurity in my heart that Jesus can and will do exactly as promised in His Word. To lack joy, peace and every other fruit born of the Spirit is to accept these things as a way of life rather than giving this life away by faith to trust God at His Word.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

“We all make basic assumptions about things in life, but sometimes those assumptions are WRONG. We must never trust in what we assume, only in what we KNOW.” Darren Shan

Our new life in Christ requires us to make new assumptions. We are prewired by experienced to never assume but always try, test, ask and know. As I have said many times, I do not believe in blind faith. Faith is what we know about God and choose to believe. The assumption of our life as believers is through adoption. To know, trust and believe so that faith becomes logical and hope our confidence. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He chose us before the creation of this world to be holy and blameless before Him. He decided to adopt us to become His Sons and Daughters. It is according to His Will and by His Grace that such a life is even possible. The rest is up to us. The acceptance of Jesus Christ and the new life that is offered is to know His Love and live in it.

We must fully assume our new identity in Jesus Christ in order to obtain every spiritual blessing. The Spirit of God within us is proof of our identity. Faith is His Investment so that when sown in our heart and life that it blossoms into new life. Jack’s mom didn’t believe the beans he received in trade were worth anything and threw them out the window. But the next morning those seeds became a beanstalk connecting earth to the sky. Now we both know this is just a children’s story, but what if the seeds given to us in the form of God’s Word really do have the potential to connect Heaven and earth. To change our normal existence into a supernatural lifestyle. What if our ordinary really is purposed to become extraordinary? What are you waiting for? It’s time to put some seed in the ground by faith and watch it grow in Jesus Name.

Romans 8:14-16 (ESV)  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

“Faith grows when we assume the position of one who can’t do it all by himself. That means we go to God, follow Him, and ask Him for help.” – John Townsend

I am caught up in this thought of assumption today. Are there areas of my life that I have not yielded to Christ and assumption of my new life? Am I living as an adopted daughter of the Living God or do I still lack full assumption of my identity in Christ? How do I know? What do I expect? Do I expect God’s Love and Goodness? Do I live a confident life fully trusting the Lord to meet my need and exceed all expectations? The answer lies in my own heart. I must examine the contents carefully lest I assume without knowing. I must know the Word – not assume it doesn’t apply to me. I must know Jesus Christ through an abiding relationship – not just assume an introduction one day. I must live in a life of power by fully accepting grace that is only magnified in my weakness. Less of me and more of Him allows me to connect with Heaven by faith now rather than wondering when I die if I will enter its gates. There is no greater confidence than faith flourishing in every spiritual blessing given to those who live by faith as an assumption of all God has planned and purposed. To do so, I must assume that I am a Child of God because I know the Word and He lives in me.

I John 4:4 (ESV)  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.