Where’s Your Faith?

Where's Your Faith

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Do you have faith today? The answer is “yes”! Everyone is born with a measure of faith and the capacity to trust. It is seed invested in us during creation for the sole purpose of discovering God’s Love and reproducing it in us until it pours out around us. However, with His Love, Grace and Mercy come the power to choose. Faith is a commodity given to us without a command. We are instructed, encouraged and exhorted to have faith in God – however, at the end of the day it is up to us where we put it, what we do with it and how we sow it.

You can pray for anything, and it if you have faith, you will receive it. Yesterday, I was tagged in a tweet that said, “Faith without works is DEAD (useless, unprofitable, worthless). Immediately without hesitation – the words came to me, “Faith is life.” What you give your faith to is what comes into existence in your life. Faith without works is dead just if it is sown into anything it produces life. Faith in and of itself is a powerful force. It always produces something in us and through us. Good or bad. Faith given to ordinary things produces ordinary results. Faith sown in the natural WILL produce natural results. Faith is seed. Faith is life. The Word of God is clear what is sown in our life will reap a harvest. What are you giving life to?

Mark 11:22-23 (NLT) Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.

“Faith is the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” This is the Bible’s definition of what faith is and its potential. The world defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”, “belief that is not based on proof”, and “belief in anything” at all. It is natural to put our faith and trust in the known and not the unknown to invest in the seen rather than unseen. Jesus tells his disciples explicitly to “have faith in God.” These simple words can harvest unconditional love, grace, salvation, transformation, healing, provision, prosperity, restoration, renewal, and revival in our life.

If you are not experiencing such things, it is time to examine our field. Where are we putting out faith? It is the place where our time, talent and treasure go. It is the place where we turn to in disappointment, discouragement or despair. It is the foundation that holds when everything is shaking, and our refuge in the storm. I believe valuable seeds of faith are often squandered in barren places. When we retrieve those seeds – replanting them in good soil of a fertile heart in love with God and choose to leave them there to be harvested in His Time – our life will become beautiful just like He said it would.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The real children of Abraham are those who put their faith and trust in God. (Galatians 3:7) There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism. (Ephesians 4:5) Life is found by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) It is in Him the potential of our life is discovered. He gives fertility and vitality to our faith so it grows, develops and matures our potential into purpose which prospers into His Promises. The Lord makes it happen because He who called us is faithful. (1 Thessalonians 5:24) This doesn’t mean giving up on dreams and goals in this life even natural ones. It means investing our faith in the Lord to do all that He promised first in salvation and then in prosperity. As our soul prospers in love, our faith in God and confidence in our relationship grows into boldness so we can approach Him trusting and believing that what we pray for is in alignment with His Plan for us which always leads to fulfillment in all things.

Luke 7:44-50 (NLT) Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.  “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Do you believe that God loves you unconditionally? Do you have faith that the Grace of Jesus Christ offered in His Sacrifice is enough? Is it enough to desire a better life and seek transformation? Sin humbles us. It shows us that our way is not the best way. Love for Jesus means having confidence that He first loved us. The woman who went to Jesus did so in front of her abusers and accusers. She set down her shame and regret to pick up the sacrifice of full surrender. She poured her life’s worth at the feet of Jesus – not knowing if He would accept it but giving her all just the same. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” The religious people mocked his words. But to the woman – His Words gave her life. Those who believe in the Love of God given to them through Jesus Christ and continually seek to love and serve Him will feel the freedom of guilt, shame and regret give way to freedom. Freedom to live in partnership with Jesus and yoked to Him. Suddenly the opinions of others aren’t as powerful because we have taken our faith from them and sown them in new life. 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. (Romans 3:22)

Mark 10:51-52 (NLT) “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.  

Faith is life to our soul, body, mind and spirit. Miracles happen in the midst of unwavering faith. Diversified faith cannot produce the blessings or promises of God because they are perfect. Uncompromised by sin or human imperfection. By His Stripes, we are healed…but only when we believe God’s Promise over the doctor’s report. When we seek healing with the fervency that we seek doctors and medicine for relief. The man went to Jesus and said, “I want to see.” He came to the Lord. This is not a ploy to abandon physicians, medicine or medical attention but rather to pursue the miraculous healing of God through faith just the same. I believe God is my healer. He does so medically, miraculously and mercifully. All are miracles of faith when we put our trust in the Great Physician first. Life is found in the sowing of faith. Doctors are limited to natural life. God offers supernatural promises. Jesus sealed those promises for us including things like healing. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. (Romans 4:20-21)  

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

Faith pleases God. It is impossible to please God without faith in His Son Jesus Christ. I wonder today what would happen if we decided to gather up all the faith planted in lesser things and sow them into our relationship with Jesus Christ. To partner with the Lord by faith in every aspect of our human and natural life. To try obedience. Test out prayer. To begin to seek the Lord first and then work it out. Faith without works is dead. Faith in works is death. Faith in God’s Word brings His Promises including our purpose to life.

Where have you left your faith today? Is it in people? Is it in things? Is it dying in hard ground? Are you disappointed with how your life is turning out? Hope never leads to disappointment. Faith in God through Jesus Christ gives life to dead dreams and distant visions are brought into clear view. I encourage you today. Find your faith. Plant it in a fertile heart. Spend some time in the Presence of Your Savior, Healer, Deliverer and Friend. God is a good father. He will never let you down if only you believe. Life and love are accessed and increased in our life through faith in Christ alone. The author and finisher of faith will tell you a beautiful love story and then you will live it in Jesus Name.

Romans 5:5 (NLT) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 

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Fugitive Heart

Fugitive Heart

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I should have seen it coming. You have to practice what you preach. I have been touting forgiveness to my teenager for a week. So why be surprised when I am faced with a situation that requires forgiving someone who is not sorry. Of course, I would be presented with a large portion of crow. Shocked and dismayed…I know in that moment the enemy chuckled. I have to make a choice. One I do not want to make…will I choose to be angry with this person who has offended me so or will I quickly forgive and move on. As I stumble over my flesh realizing that I am not as far in the race of faith as I once thought, I begin to recite all the scripture I know about forgiveness. It is a command not a suggestion. It is beneficial and crucial yet critical to my pride and fatal to my flesh. How can I just let this go? It is wrong. It is hateful. It is mean spirited. It is judgmental. Tears of frustration fill my eyes as I am sitting on the outside while standing on the inside. I must forgive the person as though my life depends upon it or risk becoming who they are in this moment sitting in the same bitterness, caught up in the past, held captive in hatred, and imprisoned by the wrath so wrapped up in their heart. What do you do when you just can’t get over it?

I am “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love.” Oh my goodness, this is so hard sometimes. People are people. We are imperfect yet called by a perfect Savior and flawless God to walk in His Image and live by His Example which is love, mercy and grace in all things towards all people. I would love to fall back on the fact that I am not God or selfless like Jesus but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Jesus lives inside of me. He is my new nature. His Spirit works to nurture, develop, and cultivate good fruit in the barrenness that once possessed me. I want to bear His Fruit. To be a good steward. To be a vessel from which a good harvest overflows…but my heart is angry and emotions all stirred up. I find that the fertile and broken heart is not always void of rocks and hard spots that need my attention. I am called to longsuffering but would like nothing more than to make someone suffer by my harsh words, mad retort, or not so gentle rebuffing. The Spirit of God says, “Let it go!” My flesh says, “Not so fast…” The inner turmoil begins.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

How low can you go? It’s not a limbo term anymore but a question for my inner person. The one who wants to be like Christ but struggles with human weakness. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Love them. I do love them or maybe I should say in this moment of anger that I did. Friends can become enemies quickly in the shadow of hurt, harsh words, betrayal or even a simple misunderstanding. I tell my kids to ignore the offenses of others as I trip over my own tongue today. “Don’t make none and there won’t be none” has been my mantra that now hangs like a heavy mantle around my neck as it tightens into a noose.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NKJV) For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Are you harboring unforgiveness in a fugitive heart today? Caught up in anger that is burning into hatred? Do you feel that an injustice has been done and you deserve retribution? Vengeance is mind says the Lord but is your flesh rallying to take the upper hand? Did you know that the enemy of our soul uses such a weapon to take advantage of us because we are ignorant of his devices? Satan wants to trick you into not forgiving so he can steal something from you today. He wants to get you caught up in words or tangled in lies so he can rob you of the love, joy and peace so heavily invested in you by Christ. Is it working?

“Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive.” It doesn’t matter how wrong the other person was or how right you are, you become an enemy of their soul by choosing unforgiveness over longsuffering. The Light that shines within us grows slightly dimmer until it is snuffed out by our unwillingness to let a trespass go in the same sea of forgetfulness that our sin drifted away on. The Salt of our spirit becomes tasteless and useless when our season brings about hardness in the mine called our heart. I must forgive others simply because I am forgiven. What I bind on the earth is bound in heaven and that which I loose is free to go. (Matthew 18:18) When I shackle someone in their trespass, I am no different than Saul who persecuted Christians and murdered them for their belief. Lord, I must forgive. Teach me to be longsuffering. Help me to remain free and loose others from the expectation I have placed on them.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV) Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

There may be a more significant meaning to seventy times seven which many commentaries can elaborate on but for this particular instance let’s say it means 490 times. Can you think of anyone you have forgiven that many times consistently without throwing the towel in or walking away? Truly forgiveness but become an infinite quality in our Christian character be reflect the grace of God given to us. But how do we continually forgive other people and not become a human doormat? That’s the fear isn’t it? The idea of losing our identity in the giving of our life to others. Maybe that is exactly what becoming like Christ is all about? Giving up our identity to be a true reflection of who He is and what He has done for us. I know that Jesus has forgiven me more than 490 times and the count is steadily rising. Forgiveness is a commitment to love others more than ourselves. Jesus say that there is no greater love than to lay our life down for a friend. I don’t think that the Lord intended for us to have any enemies but one. The Kingdom is built of men and women bound together in unity and love. The enemy seeks to destroy the Kingdom beginning with the bitter root marked unforgiveness.

Luke 7:46-48 (NKJV) You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

As my heart softens in the Lord today, I am reminded of the woman who entered a room to face the judgmental glares of the Sanhedrin because she wanted to anoint Jesus with oil. Jesus forgave her of her sins and named her an example of one who has been forgiven much. To whom little is forgiven the same loves little. I have been forgiven much and sometimes I forget that when faced with an offense. I choose to be offended or hurt and throw up a wall around my heart. But that only limits me, I have been given unconditional and abounding love and grace by Jesus. I can live in it, walk in it and rejoice because of it even when others do not meet my expectation or hurt me because I have taken my expectation from others and placed it fully in Jesus Christ. Those times when unforgiveness rears its ugly head is only a reminder of how much more I need Him than the day before.

It has been established that it is easier to say, “Arise and walk” then “your sins are forgiven.” Forgiveness crucifies pride and moves us to our rightful position behind Jesus and others. Isn’t that what they say true joy is all about Jesus, others and you? I have to be reminded sometimes that it is not all about me and maybe just maybe if I choose to love rather than convict – it may make a difference in others. I am called to be Light in this dark world. Of course, the enemy will try to put that light out at every given opportunity. I choose today to forgive. I will have to remind myself of this very thing throughout the day when offered bitterness and anger toward the person who hurt me. I must choose love and grace because that is where I live and breathe. I will walk in freedom and work to keep the other person free not by binding them in my judgment or condemnation but continually praying for their blessing and freedom in Christ. Ugh! It’s a hard one. It’s a choice. It is not about me but my commitment to Christ so I will forgive.

Mark 11:24-26 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

 

Fan Your Flame

Fan Your Flame

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT)  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

“You cannot put out a fire that burns on the inside.” (Bethel Worship) I am reminded today of the spiritual gift that God has given me. I have been challenged in the last few days to test the temperature of the water boiling into passion for Christ. Have I become tepid? Is the river of life flowing inside of me lukewarm? God has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity – but have I taken it anyway? He is given me power overflowing from amazing and abundant grace – am I doused in it? Is love my passionate motivation in all things? I have self-discipline. It is produced by the Holy Spirit who tends the fire that burns within me. The passionate pursuit of Christ that began with just a spark of faith turned into confident hope.

Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

I am back at the furnace of the three Hebrew boys. I can feel the flame of refinement. The purification process designed to produce gold in our life. The heat that burns away all impurity to reveal the faith that is hidden within. I wonder if that is not the purpose of our life. To go through the same trials, troubles, and tragedies or to face the same temptations (rise or fall) that will demonstrate the Glory of God to all who are a witness. The church has painted a pretty picture. Religion erases the need for grace to give way to a façade of perfection not yet manifested until the return of Christ. We hide our broken hearts. Shield are scraped knees. Hide our dirty hands. When what the world really needs to see is a relationship so authentic that nothing can separate us. The Light of the Word was not lit up hiding in an upper room – but rather on a Cross for all the world to see in His Suffering. A city on a hilltop must be a reference to us. Given credibility in the Kingdom by our witness, but not to be tucked away in time. We are the reflection of His Love in its bloody, messy form. It may not be pretty but it’s the thing that we hold on to.

It’s time to fan the flame of His Spirit invested in us. To blow fresh wind on the passion growing dim within us. See when the fire is within us – the stormy winds cannot put it out. The waves of conflict or controversy will not overtake it. Trials will only make it hotter. Fearless faith rises from the ashes of burned pride as God makes beauty from them just as He promised. Our confidence becomes our conviction. Impossibilities will be the fields where faith is planted confidently and boldly knowing miracles will come up through the fertile soil.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave.  Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

The holy inhabitation of the Spirit of the Living God within us is the opportunity to experience true intimacy with Him. Jesus lives in us. Successful relationships thrive on intimacy. Intimacy is often considered in a physical sense but truly it is in the most spiritual sense that it is accomplished. Physical and material things change in life for they are in a constant and perpetual state of decay. Our body is born dying. Of course, we may try to maintain our appearance but truthfully the only advantage given to us is believers is new life that begins in our soul. As our soul prospers, so does our life externally. Intimacy is a close, familiar and affectionate personal relationship. It is the product of love and should encapsulate all of its characteristics. (I Corinthians 13) Those engaged in an intimate relationship know the other by close association with deep understanding and detailed knowledge of the other person. Intimacy requires openness by both individuals. It is an act of engagement that speaks, listens, knows and understands far deeper than words. Our intimacy with Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to experience a passionate love so perfect it burns away every other perception of the word.

Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Is my love and commitment to Christ born of an intimate relationship filled with passion possessing the brightest kind of flame? It was the desire of Jesus to love us and live in complete intimacy with us that provoked Him to exhibit “love as strong as death” and “jealousy as enduring as the grave”. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love now. We are more than conquerors and confident overcomers in Christ. If believers truly believed that then there would be nothing that would keep us from the fire. We would jump in feet first in hopes to grow deeper in love with Christ.

I Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

For everyone will be tested with fire. (Mark 9:49) What if your present trial is actually an invitation to greater intimacy with the Lord? Could it be that He is trying to demonstrate His Love for you yet again with an outcome that is miraculous? Fiery trials will happen according to the Lord. We should be glad because it is through these incidents that we become partners with Christ. It is in His Suffering that our joy is made complete and dispensed in our life through passionate and fearless faith that will not back down from the fight or the fire but valiantly and victoriously fights for love. Are you passionate about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you investing in your partnership with the Lord? Fan your flame. Stir the fire deep within. Let your light shine. You will not be consumed but fully connected. A flame introduces to a fire becomes one with it making it burn stronger and brighter than ever before. You are part of something bigger than yourself – become one with Jesus. Jesus came to start a fire in us producing a light so bright it burns away darkness all around us. The Light is produced by His Great Love. How bright is your light day?

Luke 12:49 (NLT) “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!

Never Too Far

Never Too Far

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Today I will drive a little over four hours to get on an airplane. The plane will take off and fly about another three hours to Boston, Massachusetts. At the airport, our beautiful daughter and son-in-law will pick me up to drive another hour or so to New Hampshire arriving at their home. Thankfully this will probably be my last trip to visit her as she and her husband will soon turnaround and drive 21 hours or more back to our hometown. It seems like a long journey will all the driving and flying today but it really doesn’t seem like much to me. The thought of spending the next few days with her makes it all worth it. As I contemplated the time and distance which may seem like a crazy investment for a long weekend, I began to think about the Father’s Love. That’s really what is making me embark on this journey. Other than these two kids and the little one on the way, there is nothing that New England has that would make me want to sacrifice time and money to seek out.

This beautiful prayer of the apostle, Paul, reminds me today that God’s Love for me goes the distance. He has used every bit of His Glorious and Unlimited Resources not even withholding His Own Son to show His Love for me. He has pursued me with unconditional love, amazing grace and overwhelming goodness for more than fifty years whether I was aware of it or not. As a parent, it is easy to feel taken for granted sometimes. Imagine how our Father must feel when His Beloved Children wander off, rebel, settle for lesser things or fall for the enemy’s lies. His Grace empowers us to know the power of His Love and live in it each day. Though it feels as though we are drifting in busyness, trials or even weariness, Christ in us working through us to convince us according to His Spirit that He loves us. The Holy Spirit produces fruit in us that nourish our soul and strengthen our bond with Jesus. The ultimate goal is that the Lord can convince us of the vastness of His Love. To know and understand the width, length, height and depth of His Love and Affection for us. To experience such love exceeds all understanding. To know such love transcends time, trouble, and even tragedy. The Father is going the distance to show His Love for us.

Psalm 23:6 (NLT) Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

As I prepare for my trek to visit our daughter, I am wonderfully aware of God’s Unfailing Love today. It pursues us. His Goodness is always within arm’s reach just a whisper away. The Lord lives in us because He desires intimacy with us. Romans 5:7-9 tells me that while I was still a sinner that Christ died for me so we could become one again. There is no condemnation in Christ. (Romans 8:1) When I don’t get it right or fail due to human weakness, His Grace is ALWAYS enough to cover the distance I have created. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Maybe, just maybe, the distance between us and our Heavenly Father can be foreclosed if we would simple turnaround to find Him right there behind us. God’s Love and Goodness is not based on my ability to perform but complete in the performance of Christ which provided the grace I needed to receive it. Nothing more and nothing less. The Father loves you. He loves me. Just like the dad of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for our return. He wants to embrace us. Fully restore us. Spend time with us. Do life with us. He is a Good Father. There is no distance too far that the Cross cannot reach. You will never be too far from Him for God is always closing the distance with His Mercy. It is new every morning as an invitation to those who will respond.

Luke 15:20-24 (NLT) “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

 

Worth the Fight

fight for it

I Timothy 6:12 (NLT) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Life is hard. It’s a battle every day. There is no rest for the weary. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Responsibilities. Busyness. Problems. Bad reports. Unexpected. Is this really what being a Christian is all about? This is the plight of humanity. Where is the peace and comfort promised by Christ? How does one attain it in a world gone crazy and a chaotic life? It is available. It is attainable. It is for you. You must fight for it.

Let’s talk about Jesus for a minute…

Matthew 10:34-36 (NLT) “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’”

The prevailing force in the world is contrary to God and His Premise of Love. The enemy of our soul seeks to steal, kill and destroy the very essence of life, love, peace, and joy as prescribed by God brought through Christ for our life. God’s Goodness is for us. He lives in us. But the world is not going to get any better, in fact it is daily worsening. Jesus did not come to save the planet. He did not come to bring world peace. Jesus came to give people a choice. An opportunity to have everlasting life, healing, prosperity and more. He promises a rich and satisfying life marked by abundance. He never forces this life on us but rather gives it as a gift. There must be a choice. There is no compromise. Choosing between darkness and light is the privilege given to us by the Lord and is our daily endeavor.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!

Jesus came to set the world on fire. He came to stir the pot and turn up the heat. The choice is between this life and eternal life. We want a better life but God is ready to give us the best life. See we would settle for less to escape the process because walking by faith and not by sight is tough. It is easier to give in to our mind, will and emotions rather than crucifying our flesh day by day. Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. A beacon of hope to a dying earth. He came to illuminate the darkness and expose every lie so that people could make a credible choice and escape the bondage of sin, death and the grave to have resurrection power and life. We get to choose each day who we serve and the life we live. What is your passion 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 gift of peace of mind and heart is from Jesus. He gave us peace. It is not like the peace and security of the world and all its treasures. It is a promise that no matter what – God loves us. He is for us. He wins our battles. He heals our body. He has made a place for us in forever. He will never leave us or forsake us. We need only one thing – faith.

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. We have victory in Jesus Christ. In every battle, there is an opportunity to triumph by faith in the Living God. I cannot serve two masters. I must decide each day whether my life, my choices, my attitude and actions will serve the Lord or my flesh. I make that choice. I can do it well-informed by God’s Word which makes faith just a little more logical or I can ride blindly through life carried by the current of emotions or every storm that rises up. You will fight for what you believe.

Fight the good fight for the true faith.

Fighting the good fight for true faith is intentional living. It is not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. God’s Word is very clear in His Instruction and His Spirit uses it to guide us in our decision making and action taking in this life. The mindset of the believer must be that of a soldier. One enlisted in the Kingdom must live in allegiance to Heaven rather than the earth. Soldiers do not shirk from battle but engage in warfare. To align with both sides would make them a traitor. To commit high treason is a crime. Choice is a benefit. We choose each day who to serve. It is in this choice that our outcome is determined. Faith is contrary to what the world thinks, knows and believes. We must walk by faith. It is a daily battle to overcome fear, doubt and anxiety. Confident hope is born of such battles – the ones given to believing rather than seeing. Total trust and reliance on the Lord does not come without a battle. Pride falls hard. Weakness is not a chosen state but necessary for a power shift in our life from mediocre and mundane to marvelous and miraculous.

“When a child learns to walk and falls down fifty times, he never thinks to himself – “Maybe this isn’t for me?” I read this on social media and completely identified. How many times in our Christian walk do we give up when all hell breaks loose in our life? Or maybe even before that when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient or uncontrollable? God created and called you. He loves you. He made the Way for you. He provided everything you need. He even gave you every spiritual blessing. You have an inheritance. He even goes so far to indicate that He will do more than you can even think to ask for. We do not fight from the place of victory that is given because we do not believe we win. The never-say-die bravado linked to our pride will give until it hurts and fight to the end. Why do we give up so easily when it comes to our faith? Faith is complete reliance and total trust on someone other than ourselves. Soldiers fight together for a cause. Soldiers become brothers and sisters banded together. They lay down their lives not only for each other and those thankful for their freedom but nameless and faceless people who take advantage of and abuse the liberty offered and hate them for what they do. I am reminded today that without faith it is impossible to please God. I must live by faith. I must fight for my faith. It is important. It is relevant. It is a game changer. It is a life giver. Though I may fall fifty times, I must get up fifty-one.

2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.

Jesus told us that the one who endures to the end will be saved. Faith must endure to the end in order for us to be victorious. We must learn to walk, live and breathe by faith in all things. There will be suffering. There will be bad days, hard times and enemies along the way. The Lord promises to prepare a table before them for us. We are in this world but not of it so we must not get tied up in “civilian life” but strive for eternal life. The Goodness of God for this life is ours for the taking. We walk in victory so no lying down on the job. God is for us and no weapon formed against us will be successful. We must believe to succeed at this thing called faith. It is worth fighting for. Jesus overcame the world and so can you – by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. So do it! Faith is worth fighting for every day in every way.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Catch 22

Change

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Christians live in a daily process of change. Those who truly believe and turn to Jesus Christ cannot remain the same and in a relationship with Christ. The evidence of Jesus in us is that we become a new person. The old life is passing away giving way to the new lift that has begun. To be yoked to the Lord means accepting His Way. Therefore, in order to become one with Christ, we must be the ones who accept the new way of life and thinking because He cannot and will not change to conform to our way. There is not a believer out there who would openly admit that they do not want all of Christ but few engage and endure the process necessary to be successful in such an endeavor. When change begins to take place, it usually produces inner turmoil, discomfort, inconvenience and things appear to be out of control. Our flesh and inner being is not okay with it and rebels against it. The human tendency is to escape rather than fully engage in the process of revival, restoration and renewal that the Lord is producing in us to secure the conditions of our present environment. There are many reasons that the church is not thriving mostly intrinsic. The Presence and Power of God is available to us but the catch 22 is called change.

Romans 7:22-24 (MSG) It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The paradox of humanity is the war within our bodies. The inner being called our flesh likes to have its own way and preserve its place of control. God’s Spirit moves in and begins mixing things up. The flesh dies a little each day. It must give way to the change God is producing unless we allow it to maintain full control. Mind, will, emotions and even our body chime in against what the Lord is doing in us. The rebels rise up and if our heart does not stand strong against them – our process remains incomplete. Frustration and discouragement set in.

The Lord uses a process called transformation. He does not use conformation but we must be transformed by Christ. This means change. Change so comprehensively complete that it changes who we are, how we think and what we do. There is no compromise in God’s Vocabulary. He is God. God is not human. He is eternal. He is sovereign. He is constant. He does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19) God is everlasting. He is the Creator of all things. He does not grow tired or weary. His Understanding is endless. (Isaiah 40:28) His Thoughts and Ways are nothing like a human being. He is perfect in all of His Ways. When He speaks, His Words are on a mission and will not return to Him until that command is complete. (Isaiah 55:8-11) The ordination of our life including His Plans (Jeremiah 29:11) handwritten before our birth (Psalm 139:16) even the calling the Lord has placed on our life cannot be withdrawn or recanted. (Romans 11:29) He said it and He meant it.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning God’s Unconditional Love and Affection for us is eternal. The constancy of God includes His Great Love for us. God is Love. (I John 4:8) He loved us first. (I John 4:19) He loves us most. He will love us always. His Mercy given to us each new day is evidence of this very thing. (Lamentations 3:22-24) He pursues us through life with goodness and unfailing love all the days of our natural life. (Psalm 23:6) His Son, Jesus, bears the same qualities and traits. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) His Example is set and clearly delineated in the Word of God with an invitation to yoke our life with Him. (Matthew 11:28-29) Every detail of our life has the potential to turn out for our good and God’s Glory based on all these foundational truths and promises concerning God’s Unchangeable Character. (Romans 8:28) He does not change like a shifting shadow. The sun casts a shifting shadow moving according to the natural conditions. However, the Son never changes. God has sent good and perfect gifts for His People including the ability to have a new life and become a new creation. Our flesh dies in the process therefore tries to abort it quickly to save itself.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

Romans 7:25 (MSG) The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Change is inevitable to achieve a new life, become a new creation and experience godly fulfillment that leads to full satisfaction and contentment in Jesus Christ. Our flesh creates a paradox. Our body, mind, will and emotions are sinful and contradictory to God’s Way. The problem is that God will not change. He will not compromise for you, me or anyone else. He will settle for nothing less than His Best for us. He refuses to leave us in our current state or condition but must see our purpose and potential fulfilled. This is all because of His Love and Goodness. We are His Passion, Prize and Treasure. He will stop at nothing to bless and prosper our life. Even when we whine, complain and give in to the flesh when our body doesn’t like the change the Holy Spirit is producing in us – God will not relent. He will continue to work in us as long as Christ is in us.

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

Faith will always be a catalyst of change. To trust God moves us from glory to glory which is a conduit of change. Change is also a crucible which burns away at the things keeping us from experiencing all of God’s Goodness. It is hard to see the forest for the trees as the saying goes. We forget that our life is a comprehensive plan set into motion that will lead us from victory to victory. We are overcomers in all things because Christ lives in us yet fall subject to light and momentary troubles allowing them to stop the momentum of change. Salvation made us right with God. Repentance is the turning each part of our life over to Him. As we do so, change is inevitable. We must embrace change each day or risk hindering the process of full consummation in a thriving relationship with a jealous God who is reckless and extravagant in His Love for us. He stops at nothing to give you His Absolute Best in full abundance.

Romans 5:3-5 (MSG) There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Every single man and woman of God has days when they question God’s Motives and Intentions. Pressure, pain, and problems make us wonder is God’s Promise really for us. In pregnancy – we wait for the baby to grow, develop and mature into a viable little human. During the birth process, anticipation of fulfillment is close but the real work begins. Right before the baby is born, the woman’s body enters a phase of labor called transition. This is generally marked by the mom’s sudden change in her demeanor. She will say things like “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to this”. She becomes frenzied and irrational. Usually within minutes, she is holding her precious baby in her arms. If she quit or gave up in that moment, refusing to push her newborn into the world, what would have happened? Maybe you are in transition right now in your spiritual life? Perhaps the Lord is finally birthing that promise that He has grown and developed in you all this time, but it is too hard so you are just want to quit. Impossible is the birthplace of miracles. Does it seem impossible? Does it feel like it’s never going to happen? Are you expecting today?

The Lord is calling out your name today. Like Elijah on the mountaintop, He is asking, “What are you doing here?” The enemy wants you to disengage in this process called change and take the easy way out. It is the moment that he will take fulfillment, contentment and soul satisfaction from you. The moment you give it up to compromise for comfort, convenience or control. Don’t let him do that to you. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Not just forever, but in the land of the living too. You must push, press and endure stopping at nothing to have it. There is no catch 22 for the one who is sold out completely by absolute faith, total trust and confident hope. God will do it. He is able. He is true. The rest, dear one, is up to only you. No more catch 22 or contradictions allowed. Be confident that the Lord who has begun this great and glorious good work in you will complete it!

Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

Soul Wellness

Soul Wellness

Psalm 131 (NKJV) Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131 describes the heart of one who fully and completely trusts the Lord. The words are not eloquent painting a picture of divine intervention and a perfect life. It is more a surrender and submission of the psalmist’s heart, mind and soul to the Sovereignty of God. It is simple truth about simple trust. My heart is not haughty or my eyes lofty. Pride crucified. Completely convicted of its own inadequacy and inability to be effective on its own. The first step to trusting the Lord is humility. Grace is accepted in our absolute weakness. It is the moment the Power of the Living God is manifested in us…not necessarily around us. The expectation that Jesus came to change our situation and save the earth is false. He came for one thing. He died for a single cause. It was for me. It was for you. His Desire for us so great that He set aside His Throne to come and live a humble life as our example and to be crucified as a sacrifice for us. My heart is humbled at such a thought. The idea that a perfect and sinless man would lay down his life for me is overwhelming in the first place, but to add that it is the deity of God who took my place is incomprehensible even to those who believe.

As I write these words today, there is a hurricane headed in our direction. The sky is growing darker and the wind beginning to pick up. It is midmorning and the neighborhood is eerily quiet as the community waits, watches and wonders what will happen next. Fully prepared with food and supplies, the unpredictability of nature and the weather is still unnerving. Standing outside it is clear even the birds, squirrels and animals that live in the trees around our house have gone into hiding. Vivid images being broadcast from the center of the hurricane make it clear things are destined to change. In the stillness, I am reminded – the will of God is stillness for our soul no matter what the situation. I do not understand the nature and condition of the world in which I live. I am not entirely sure why bad things happen to good people or why the innocent die young. The more I think I know the less I seem to understand many things. However, I have come to know a few simple things – God is good. He loves me. He is for me. Christ lives in me. His Spirit helps me. In the Lord, I will trust.

Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Yesterday, the wind began to pick up just a little bit. A tree fell in our yard. There was only a gentle breeze. How could it cause such damage? On closer inspection, I found that the tree was completely rooted on the inside. Though it looked fine from the exterior, the interior was fragmented and crumbling easily picked apart with my bare hands. It wasn’t the wind that knocked over the tree and caused it to fall but rather the tree was dying on the inside already. When the breeze came along it could not stand anymore. An object lesson for me, I believe. Maybe it Is not the problems in life that cause us to stumble or fall crying out to the Lord, but rather out inward condition of distrust and disbelief that push us over when things start moving and shaking around us. Rather than trusting our Good Father, Loving God, Savior, Redeemer, Protector and Friend, our inward condition causing outward consequences. I want to trust the Lord. I want to be welcomed into the Kingdom of God. I must be unshakable and immovable in my faith which is evidenced by trust.

What if the situations and circumstances that come with life are not the cause of our fall, fail or future? What if it is just the conduit that causes us to see our current condition? The tree was on the verge of falling already. It was deteriorating rapidly on the inside. The first brisk breeze that came along knocked it over. Could it be that it is not the things that happen to us that are the problem but rather reveal the contents of our heart? Psalm 131 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul…” The security of our heart, mind and soul are manifested by trust. To trust the Lord making Him our refuge and strength. This means letting go of the three “C’s” (comfort, control and convenience) to fully embrace Christ in all things.

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God is our refuge. He is our strength. He is a very present help in trouble. The humble heart knows this and puts trust in the character and divine nature of our loving, faithful Father and Friend. We must trust the Lord. Trust is reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and surety of the Lord with full confidence. It is the confident expectation or hope given to us as an indication of faith in our life. Hope is futuristic. It is intact whether our natural circumstances or condition indicate its relevancy. God is God with or without our belief. Our belief does not fuel His Power but aligns us within it. Miracles are made up of impossibilities. It is such times that God becomes our hope and security. Without impossible situations there would be no signs, wonders or miracles. It is the shaking of our heart, mind and soul that reveal the contents of our heart and soundness of our trust. It is when we can be still in just knowing that He is God when simple trust becomes evident.

Psalm 62:1-2 (NKJV) Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the city and surrounding area. Our lives may change dramatically in the next 24 hours depending on the intensity of the hurricane when it reaches our area. More than 20 people have died in its wake. We have prepared to the best of our ability for the storm. Our home is well-constructed and completely insured. There is a generator with a fresh supply of gasoline and plenty of food and water if needed. Now we wait… If tomorrow tragedy strikes what will be my response? Will I be able to say, “It is well with my soul”? Where we wait is the tell-tale sign of the outcome in moments such as these.

Triumph over tragedy is found in the Lord and in God alone. It is the peace that passes understanding that allows us to draw our next breath when it is all we have left. His Love is the place where shattered pieces of broken hearts find healing. The Refuge called Presence is the hiding place for God’s People. His Grace is our strength yet only evident in our complete and utter weakness that causes us to humble our heart before Him.

Today as I wait for the storm to pass, I am challenged to examine my heart and listen for the inner voice of my soul. Will I wait silently before the Lord knowing that He alone is my salvation? Will I be moved? Will I stay put in my faith and simple trust believing that no matter what tomorrow holds that He holds me firmly in place? We put so much emphasis on what we can see, feel, hold and touch in this life that sometimes it is the moving and shaking of those things that cause us to inspect the contents of our heart and soul. My deep desire is that when morning comes – the voice that I hear will say, “It is well with my soul!”

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul”.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Perfect Peace

Be Still and Know.

John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

With a Category 4 Hurricane moving toward the state of Florida, things are a little crazy about now. Pandemonium has ensued as people attempt to prepare for the devastating effects of potential winds of more than 100 mph. We have a plenty of water. A fully stocked pantry. I will pick up a generator and gas cans from a friend. The highways are filled with cars barely moving. Living in north Florida, there is no doubt the storm will impact us but the folks in south Florida are being evacuated. Will they have a place called home to return to? Will they be able to continue to work? Will their family and friends who chose to stay make it through okay? Will they have enough money and time to reach safety? Should I stay or should I go? Fatigue and exhaustion are a dangerous mix that ignites overwrought emotions. Let’s stop for just a moment. Take a deep breath. Yes, I know there is so much to do. I know danger is only a day or two away.

Stepping out into the cool morning air, fall is coming. Today is beautiful. The sun is shining with a few sparse clouds and a lovely breeze blowing. Our yard is freshly cut. The trees are full and green. I take it all in because it may not look the same way in a few days. Life does not come with a guarantee that there will never be rainy days or even hurricanes. It doesn’t mean that your perfectly healthy children will not one day become terminally ill cancer patients. Tragedy is part of life. As long as the earth is still in existence, there will be good days and not-so-good ones. The world will not last forever. Seasons come and seasons go. God is our constant. He doesn’t change. Rain produces rainbows as a reminder that even when the rain comes pouring from the sky or flood waters rise that He will never destroy the earth or His People. His Word cannot return to Him void. His Sovereignty is never in question. The Lord must work within the parameters of freedom. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Therefore, storms come and go, but the hope that anchors our soul is found only in the Lord who is constant. Unchanging.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. This is important. It is the foundation of our faith as believers upon which our belief system is built. The moment God doesn’t do what He says or falls short – we have a problem. Do you have peace today? Peace that passes your human understanding. Faith is only logical if we know God’s Word and believe it. I hate cancer. I loathe every vile of it in every innocent victim whose life it has infiltrated. I will war against it all the days of my life. But I cannot say that I am not thankful for the peace the trial produced in my life. The perspective of faith triumphing over tragedy is not as I expected. There is no glory or victory lane in the natural. I thought when our son was finally in remission that I would leap, shout and run around the hospital. It was not like that. Oh there was exceeding joy but what emerged was a quiet confidence in the awesomeness of God. Three years of praying, crying and trusting – repeating words and promises until I was blue in the face that made medical personnel think I was crazy. I just couldn’t believe that God was not good. I couldn’t fathom that He wouldn’t do what He said. He said it. I heard Him. I knew it was Him. When every other word and report was to the contrary, I would whisper…”But you promised, God!” The process of perfect peace is not found in the good times and great seasons of life but those times of disappointment, devastation or desperation when all you have is the Lord and all you need is for Him to do what He said…so you decide to be still and know that He is God.

Psalm 4:6-8 (NKJV) There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your Countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Jesus came to give us perfect peace. He promised in His Word. The word “peace” is “shalom” which means completeness, wholeness, peace, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, and harmony. It is the absence of agitation and discord. Shalom is a derivative of “shalam” which means to be complete, perfect and full. Thankfulness and contentment that is not contingent on your current situation or circumstances. The kind of peace that the Lord is gifting us with is complete and constant confidence in His Love for us and Goodness toward us. Jesus didn’t come to bring world peace. (Matthew 10:34) He did give us His Peace. The confidence of His Love and Salvation. Peace of heart and mind unmoved by world events or natural disaster. The kind of peace that can only be found by the one who seeks to attain it.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.

I find it interesting that despite public service announcements of being prepared for a hurricane that so many people are without the proper supplies. I think it is ironic that with running water in every household that so many are using all their gas to find cases of bottled water. I have no room to talk. I bought four cases of bottled water and had nothing on supply but some snack food when it became clear the storm was coming. I have lived in Florida my whole life. I have experienced other storm similar storm systems. I was not ready when the first warning came. We have a God who loves us. His Son, Jesus, died to give us access to Him. We are given new mercy every morning. His Grace is enough for every weakness. There is a Book of Instruction crammed full of promises, warnings and guidance. More than half of the church today is on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications. Again, I am only stating facts there is no condemnation. Rain falls on the just and unjust. Life happens. Sin is rampant. Evil and darkness is at every turn. There are wars and rumors of war. There is a hurricane about to cover the state of Florida. Do you have peace today? Do you have perfect peace?

The Peace of God is available to those who are righteous. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Too often we stop at salvation and save the rest of God’s Promises for a rainy day. Well, maybe for you that rainy day is today. See there is nothing any storm in life can rob you of that is eternally of worth. Your soul is secure in Jesus Christ. God forbid if you leave this world today – you will be fully embraced in His Loving Arms. It’s a win-win situation for those who believe. However, the Peace of God that surpasses human understanding is evidence of such confident hope. Faith expresses itself in peace that is fully reliant on God and His Faithfulness. I’ve seen that peace before radiating on a man’s face. Our son-in-law’s grandfather was diagnosed with a heart that was failing. He was not given a long time to live. The pallor of his complexion due to poor heart function made it evident that the Lord would come for him soon. Yet sitting in church singing old hymns with his hand held high with a smile plastered across his face, it was clear that he did not fear death but welcomed it as an open invitation into the arms of Jesus. That’s the kind of peace I strive for and long for every moment of every day. I have experience a small portion and desire it full force in my heart and mind. The Lord has promised it to me and you, too. We must only pursue it to have it.

The Lord is with us friend. The wind and waves know His Name. They recognize His Voice. Do you? He is speaking to us all today. “Be still and know.” Know me. Trust me. Love me. Pursue me. Let me be your peace. Your comfort. Your confidence today and always.

In the eye of the storm, You remain in control, and in the middle of the war, You guard my soul,
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm

Live Chosen

Live Chosen

Matthew 22:14 (NLT) “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

I am chosen. God chose to give the life of His Son for me. Jesus chose to die for me. I am called to the Light of His Love. Do I live the life of the chosen? I am soul searching today. To move from mediocrity that seems to find its way into my heart. To remove all settlements and substitutions for lesser things and assume my position as chosen child of the living God. It is contrary to our nature. Fear, doubt, and insecurity threaten such a position. Delays turn into disappointment eroding our hope as a lack of confidence eats away at our faith. Who I am is not determined by how I feel at any given moment on any given day? My call is secure. I am chosen. It is up to me whether or not I choose to live as the chosen…

I am chosen by God to receive His Grace and Favor. (Period) This is difficult to understand and even harder to believe in a society with no grace or favor. Grace is received according to weakness. Ain’t nobody got time for that…for surely any sign of weakness will result in becoming fully consumed by that which is pursuing you. Exactly. No this is completely true. If only Children of the Living God could see what is pursuing us and chasing us down…maybe then we would give in more quickly and learn to submit to the overwhelming love of a perfect God rather than giving our life away for lesser things.

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) God’s Favor, His Goodness and Unfailing Love, pursue us all the days of our life. His Plan is for us to live in the House of the Lord forever. It begins now. Answering the call of whosoever will come. Rather than running and rebelling from the new way of life offered, giving up our way to fully embrace God’s Way of Living. I believe if people could somehow comprehend the Love of God for them and the limitlessness of His Grace than it would be much easier to surrender and submit our life as chosen people forsaking the life of the casual Christian.

I Peter 2:9-10 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

When I was a kid, I was not athletic at all. I was not raised in extracurricular activities. My brother and I were just trying to survive in those early years. I remember coaches lining all the kids up in P.E class for the daunting task of picking teams. I loved being the captain of a team. It meant not having to wait for your fate to be decided. You were automatically on a team. I would always pick the kids no one wanted first because I felt the sting of being the last one picked most of the time. I wanted them to feel “chosen” rather than settled for. There was nothing worse than being one of the final two or three. Watching the face of the team captain trying to pick between clearly unwanted players. A simple game of kickball would leave some feeling worthless and undesirable.

“But you are not like that…for you are chosen people.” I am in my fifties now and can still remember feeling rejected, unwanted, and undesirable. The need for affirmation is part of the human design. By the time we reach adulthood, it becomes clearly evident who has received unconditional love and acceptance and who has not. It is hard enough to walk by faith and not by sight. I believe it is even harder to accept unconditional love and grace that cannot be earned. It implies that it may not be real or can somehow be taken away. You are chosen by God. He handpicked you and desires you. Nothing you have done, can do or will do has any impact on the Father’s Love for you. It is truly unconditional and limitless. He challenges us daily to step out of the life of ordinary to embrace the extraordinary. He calls us from the natural to live supernaturally. He is offering more than enough even though we exist on just enough. His Favor is for us even when the whole world is against us. Faith and hope are the security of the elect in God. We must live as chosen people rather than ordinary people.

“As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

To live as God’s Chosen People will never be an act of religion or rightness – it is only possible because of God’s Righteousness and the Gift of Grace offered by His Son Jesus. Jesus was the Chosen One. He demonstrates the life of the chosen. Laying His Life down for others. (Matthew 12:18-21) Jesus didn’t go around boasting about who He was, demanding people do what He say and live like He did. Jesus shared the Father’s Love and Compassion. He not only taught the people but healed them. Jesus could have demanded full submission to His Authority but instead He offered His Love. Over and over again, even when people let Him down, betrayed Him, denied Him, and mocked Him on the Cross. His Grace continued to flow from Him. When He died, Jesus released His Spirit to live in us. To be our confidence that His Grace is enough. To be the cultivator of faith so it can grow, develop and mature into hope. To establish a relationship between God the Father and all of His Chosen Ones.

Ephesians 1:3-4 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

God made you with a purpose. He calls you chosen. Do you live as a chosen one? To be His Special Treasure. He created you with a purpose and plan that comes with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) You must only seek Him wholeheartedly to find it. To believe that He hand wrote a comprehensive plan for your life before you were born seems impossible given some of your life experiences. (Psalm 139:16) But God didn’t stop there, He promised to work every detail of our life for our good and His Glory so when we mess up or fall short – nothing is lost or wasted. (Romans 8:28) He calls us from the womb and equips us from birth with destiny and purpose. Why? Why me? Why you? Simply because He loves us. (Deuteronomy 7:5-7) The Lord calls us His Special Treasure.

Psalm 106:5 (NLT) Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people; let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16 NKJV) I am called by God to become a new creation in Jesus Christ. He has a plan for my life that will lead to prosperity. To have this new life and become this new person means living as God’s Chosen People. To humble my life to His Love and Grace accepting the Lord’s Favor in my life. My value and worth as a person is made complete in Jesus Christ. I must believe it to receive it. I must believe that I am chosen. I must choose His Word and Way over my own in order to reach my destination and fulfill my destiny. I wonder today how many of you feel bound by rejection and live in walls of insecurity built to protect your fragmented heart that is battered and bruised by human love? Life is hard. People are not perfect. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. Yet God is still whispering the names of His Chosen Ones inviting them to a closer, deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Will you answer His Call? Will you accept His Love and Grace fully so His Goodness and Favor will overtake you? The life of the chosen is not for everyone. Many church folks will forgo surrendering their life to live life securely in manmade religion rather than abandoning themselves to full submission and complete surrender to Christ. I choose to live the life of God’s Chosen. To fully accept His Love, Grace and Mercy for me. He is calling your name today. How will you respond chosen one of God? What if God hasn’t picked me? What if I am wrong? Oh friend, but what if you are right and He has called you chosen?

 

 

Call to Rest

Call to Rest

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.”

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Rest is important in the life of a believer. To take a step out of the busyness of life to physically and mentally rest and be rejuvenated. The enemy uses overloaded schedules, rigid routines, and mounting pressures to perform as a means of distraction until people become so overwhelmed by the persistent pull of responsibility that faith in God forgets He is in control of our life. A couple of months ago, I felt the gentle whisper of a loving Savior confirmed by the voice of my husband the call to rest. Life has been hectic. Chaotic. Crazy. It is time to get away. The beach is our favorite place to unwind and getaway. Today we leave for a respite.

Of course, this morning the dog woke me up in the wee hours of the morning. My brain then refused to go back to sleep so I packed and repacked the car in my head. I woke up grumpy. Worried a little about work and other things circling my thoughts. I need to rest. Not just rest my body and mind but my soul. So do you… It is important to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ more than serving Him physically. We must connect our heart and mind with Him. Just like a natural marriage requires such attention to continue to thrive, it is important to spend time with the Lord away from the cares, worries and burdens of life. I plan to do just that…

Love, joy and peace are the Fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) They are not naturally occurring in a world that demands all our time. They call it a rat race for a reason with hurrying and scurrying all around. The Kingdom of God is not based the pursuit of such things. All that we need, want and desire are fulfilled when we come to Him. He gives us rest. Rest is from the word “anapauo” – ana meaning “up” and pauo meaning cessation from toil and refreshment.

Prosperity begins in the soul. To prosper in our soul impacts our natural life. Prosperity in our natural life that does not reach our soul can do nothing to bring satisfaction. Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) Those who live in Christ find full satisfaction not in what they have but who He is. Only those who taste and see His Goodness will understand the value of such peace. Just like any food in life, you have to try it to see if you like it.

Matthew 6:25-32 (NLT) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

What are you worried about today? What burdens your heart and mind? Robs you of sleep. Steals your attention. Keeps you weary. Tells you to give up. What causes fear to overtake your confidence? What is keeping your faith small? It is important to examine our heart and mind to answer these difficult questions. It will identify the areas of our life not entrusted to the Lord giving us the opportunity to surrender each burden and care to Him. Worry, anxiety, stress and fear evaporate when faith grows in us. Total trust in God’s Goodness and Greatness in our life. Confident hope that the grace of Jesus Christ is enough to release of His Power and Authority in every situation. These are the qualities that allow us to release every burden to the Lord and yoke our life to Christ.

God knows exactly what you need. I used to tell the young girls in our youth group that women are natural gathers. Born with little baskets on each arm designed to nurture and care for future families. The enemy wants to fill them with unnecessary things. It is important to empty our baskets on a regular basis and continue to carry only those things given to us by Christ. We can discern such things in His Word and communicating with the Lord in prayer. Living in His Presence gives us the peace and confidence to say, “No” to lesser and unnecessary things because our faith is in God alone because man cannot fill our expectation.

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Perfect peace. There is nothing like it. It comes when our life is yoked to Christ. Partnered with Him, the waves of the storm cannot remove us from the anchor called hope. Together – we are unstoppable because He overcame the world and handed us victory – Jesus is our champion. He has given us every spiritual blessing, provides all that we need, and promises to do more than we can think, ask or imagine. We have it all but settle for less when working for things already given. Trusting the Lord means resting in Him. It means releasing cares, worries, burdens, anxieties, fears and insecurities to take on the yoke called righteousness that by faith makes all things possible in Jesus Christ. To live in Christ is the place of perfect peace.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

The Lord calls us to rest and leads us as well. He is a good shepherd who cares for his sheep. He will leave the 99 just to find the one who is missing. Distractions lead us off course. The lie of the enemy is that God is not enough and His Grace insufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s examine our own heart and mind today. Find all the burdens, cares, concerns and worries. Take captive fear and doubt that are adversaries of faith. Go to Jesus and give them “up” and to be refreshed, restored and renewed. His Love for you will never let you down. We must trust and believe that God is good. Good to us. He is for us. He fights our battles and wins our wars. To step into partnership and presence allows us to let go of the lead and follow the Lord to love, joy and perfect peace. This is the place called rest. Well, I am off to the beach. I am stepping out of life to find solace with my family and seek the Face of Jesus at the sea. My prayer for you today is rest. May God apprehend your heart all over again and fill it with His Love, Joy and Peace. Amen and amen.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.