Where Is Your Faith?

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Luke 8:22-25 (NLT) One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”

The rain and wind must have awakened our newest fur baby or maybe it was just time to go, whatever the case, it was clear she meant business. It was still dark swinging my legs over the side of the bed thinking I am too old for this, but she is oh so worth it. Our family adopted a black lab puppy a few weeks ago. Usually our dogs have been acquired at an older age from someone who took on the responsibility of pet ownership and decided several months in that it wasn’t for them. Our family considers our dogs members of our family. At any rate, she was barely nine weeks old when she became our fur-ever baby. She is very large as her dad is a giant, so sometimes it is hard to remember she is not even three months old. She is extremely laid back and conservative. She approaches new things curiously – stepping in not running to it – and holding her ground yet pensively. Very different from our little Chihuahua with the heart and personality of a Rottweiler, who despite her small size is always in charge or so she thinks. I was interested to see how Scout responded to the storm. She just walked right in it like any other time. The rain didn’t bother her. The flashes of lightning did not get her attention. Even the thunder was not big deal to her, she just went about her business like it was any other morning on any other day. In the distance, I could hear other dogs not so fortunate as our little ones who I was drying off on the back porch. No barks or howls just whimpers. I wonder why their owners didn’t take them out of the rain. Give them proper shelter to keep them dry. Maybe their food is all soggy now or washed away in the storm. Poor puppies! Even Scout takes notice standing with her nose in the air, looking out in the darkness, her tail stops wagging as she listens…I wonder if she knows what they are saying.

I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t thankful for today’s rain. It means that I cannot finish painting the latest restoration I am working on in my “free time”. It’s going to be a mess getting to church. Why even bother doing my hair? Yuck. But then I thought about the fertilizer my husband put down yesterday that will work best with the added water, and the fact that rain is essential. We haven’t had any in a while. I crawl back in bed with the puppy satisfied and our tiny one in the bed – safe, secure and content as the storm really kicks up. I drift off to sleep to the sound of the rain.

Jesus told his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” The men obeyed Jesus and everyone got in a boat to head over as He instructed. Obedience is not always a quiet ride. Just by doing what the Lord instructs us to do or being led by His Spirit does not guarantee a clear forecast in life. It isn’t always smooth sailing ahead. Having enough faith to get on the boat is not always enough to carry us to the other side. Once on the boat, Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping, “a fierce storm came” and the boat filled with water. They were in “real” danger. Let’s stop there for a moment. What constitutes real danger? Loss of control. When there is nothing humanly possible to do who do we look for? Jesus, of course. In their panic, they go and awaken the Lord. He immediately rebukes the wind and rain. Turning to the men who had walked with him, talked with him, heard all his best messages so far and even experienced miracles with their eyes and asks, “Where is your faith?”

“Where is your faith” today? How far have you trusted Jesus? On the shore, to the dock, on the boat, across the water, or to the middle of the storm? At what point did you go to Jesus and ask Him for help or abandon this crazy thing called Christianity because it didn’t work out like you thought? Where is your faith? Is it in the vessel, the storm or the Savior? We can obey Jesus Christ taking Him at His Word and never trust Him enough to rest in His Authority and Power over our life. Fear and insecurity are based on a lack of confidence. It is seldom as much about the reality of the outcome but merely a perception based on the current situation or experience. The realm of hope which is available to God’s People comes with peace and rest unaffected by a change in natural conditions resting on a Supernatural God.

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

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for. Real faith is necessary to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) To say one believes must be evidenced in our life not just our words. Anyone who comes to the Lord must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. Obedience is not always faith-based. In fact, to do what the Word of God tells us to is much easier sometimes then doing what the Holy Spirit impresses on our heart. The doing that can be incorporated into our routine, schedule or agenda works well for us. The knowing conceived through God’s Word and verbally repeated is good for us, too. We like it. Memorization that never becomes meditation does nothing for us. It cannot get past our head to make it into our heart. Reciting is one thing but remember is truly another. It is when faith is required that it is revealed. The moment that religion becomes reliant on a relationship. It is the times when everything falls apart and I am completely undone when I must run to Jesus because my faith has run out. These are the opportunities to make something real out of the seeds planted in our life but not given to the ground to produce a harvest. Or sometimes, it is all the seeds that have not grown into anything yet.

Matthew 17:19-20 (NLT) Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

Animal experts believe that dogs that fear thunder and lightning do so based on past experience. A time when it occurred and they’re expectation of care not met. Experience at an early age. Another theory, dogs respond to storms based on their owner’s attitude and actions. How might believers respond to life if they truly knew the potential called faith and purpose called hope? What if we really believed the words recited from the Bible? What if the promises claimed were not worth giving up on? What if we were willing to wait it out until the end? Trusting. Believing. Clinging to God and His Word until it came to pass in the land of the living as He promised. “Nothing would be impossible.”

Too many time, God is given the benefit of human experience rather than the honor of being constant, sovereign and all-mighty. We expect God to be like our natural father and/or caregiver. We put our faith in Him in a limited supply because of fear and insecurity from past experiences with imperfect people. God is faithful. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He has told you He will do it – God will absolutely do it according to His Plan. In the meantime, His Children are offered this refuge called peace that allows us to wait on Him no matter how long it takes. The Power of God is no match for the storms of life. At His Word, the wind dies down, the rain dries up, the thunder ceases and lightning goes dark. One word. His Word. So if the storm is still raging all around you – does that mean that the Hand of God is losing its hold – has He come to the end of His Reign? Is His Authority null and void now? No. Absolutely not. The storms in our life offer us the opportunity to see where faith ends and fear begins. This is essential in developing faith that just gets by in the natural to wonder-working power in God’s Supernatural.

I want to live in the place where “nothing is impossible.” The place and time where my life is ruled by peace and favor not worry and anxiety. To be the kind of believer that takes God at His Word first and can walk strong and courageously through life no matter the conditions I face. That is who I want to be so I guess that is an invitation to God to let it rain in my life. When you open the Windows of Heaven, I accept that some rain will fall, storms come, wind blow and thunder roar. I know you have me safe and secure in the Palm of Your Mighty Hand.

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

Having been through many storms in life, I am happy to report that God has not failed me. He has been with me, carried me through and set my feet solidly on the other side. This is not to imply that I came through with flying colors but rather a broken heart held in hands raised to God for healing and restoration many times. The undoing of me is messy and not pretty but absolutely necessary to have the life I believe God has planned and prepared for me. I do believe. I need the Lord to help me overcome my unbelief today. In doing so, I am inviting a storm or two to come. I am asking for a forecast of rain. I know the rain is coming. It is well with my soul. I know that the Lord will never leave me or fail me no matter how many times I fail or fall down – He is still right there working all things together for my good like He promised. (Romans 8:28) He continues to perfect that which concerns me day by glorious day. (Psalm 138:8) If we can just overcome our disbelief, fears and insecurities about God’s Ability and Willingness to do exactly what He has promised enough to ride out the storms of life to the end – we would see the Glory of God overwhelm us and He would do more than we can even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) All things would be possible just because we believed. Thank you Lord! Help me, Jesus to make it to that place of stillness as You bring me safely into the harbor! Lord, give me peace and confidence to trust you a little more, a little longer and a little farther than ever before! In Jesus Name!

Psalm 107:28-30 (NLT) “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

Galatians 6:14-16 (NLT) As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.

In a Bible Study, the speaker said, “Cancer is a cell unwilling to change.” I tucked it in the back of my mind for a bit. The recent news of cancer scares, chemotherapy appointments, “pink nightmares” and another diagnosis have me contemplating cancer and change. Our son has scans next month that will determine if the cells in his body remain in check. I believe the bone marrow transplant and Hand of God upon him are doing their job but my heart grieves for all who have awakened in this nightmare, living the bad dream or trying to make sense in the aftermath. The last couple of weeks have been overwhelming. It seems that ever since our son’s journey ended, I have been struggling to decide what a “normal” life looks like or if there is such a thing. Something happened during that time. Something inside me changed forever and now I am learning to live in it. To survive the ordeal of a horrific and traumatic illness threatening the life of one of my children, I had to fully step into Christ. My whole being – body, mind, spirit and every single piece of my crushed heart had to be surrendered to find my next breath.

The perspective of my life has changed. My goals and aspirations are much different. Just like you, I see my future one way and when life takes a turn it causes stress and worry to fill my mind. As the pressures of life began to weigh me down, I started to complain and resist in an outward display. Challenged to find a solution or quit my job, I went to the Lord. You know what He told me? I had to change. God doesn’t see our life and all the problems. He sees my potential. The purpose for which He created me and the plan designed specifically for my life. It is not dependent on the variables around me but it all works together for my good. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith and remain yoked to Him – life and power belong to me. His Grace is always enough. I have to change…no one else and nothing else but me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

A quick and simple lessen about cancer from a novice perspective. Cancer is just another cell in the body. The problem is it doesn’t come pre-programmed with the life sustaining power to change. It is rogue. Rogue means no longer obedient, belonging or accepted and hence uncontrollable. It becomes a renegade. If you think about it, cancer never wins. For death is to kill its own source of life. It is suicidal in its mission. For if medicine doesn’t stop it or the Hand of God does not immediately heal it – it kills itself by ending the life of its human source. Cancer is basically a disease of uncontrolled cell division. Cells come with regulators that are overridden in a cancer cell. It does not have the safe limits built in that tell it how to grow and develop normally in the human body. Cancer cells make their own rules and growth factors. They are stuck in the “on” position. They ignore the innate signals from the body designed for healthy growth and development. How many times do I allow my flesh to override the Spirit? The Lord is working in me to make me a new creation and produce new life yet in my impatience and unwillingness to change cause a delay in my development. What if the lack of progress towards fulfillment of my purpose is me?

Repentance is turning back to God. It is not a mandate for change. I can do nothing to make my life better. Repentance leads to salvation which is an act of submission. It is to surrender every “cell” of my body and fiber of my being to the redemptive, restoring, renewing and renovating Power of Christ. To allow Him to improve my standard of living to God’s Glorious and Life-Giving Standard. I can do nothing apart from Christ. But in Christ, I have everything I need to grow, develop and mature my purpose. The only parts of my life that will not be renewed, restored and revived are those unwilling to change. The process of transformation is change. Not a change I can produce, but the One the Lord will if I give every part of my life to Him.

Romans 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

At one point in our son’s fight against cancer, the doctors discussed his participation in a clinical trial for immunotherapy. Essentially they take some cells from a patient with active cancer and teach the immune system to fight back. We didn’t enter the trial but instead he was approved for a bone marrow transplant which took some of his cells after chemo-blasting as much cancer out of his system as possible and storing them for later use. He entered the hospital and for weeks they killed every cell they could without killing him and then reintroduced the clean cells to take over. They did and our son is alive today despite only having a 2% chance of survival. He is a living, breathing miracle. Though he celebrates victory day by day, there are still challenges in his post-cancer life. A review of systems provides a lengthy list of side effects from the disease and treatment alike. He requires medications and monitoring of certain health conditions. He is still dependent on his medical team which leads me to this point – you will always need Jesus. In fact, the more you grow, the more you will come to know that He is Your Life Source.

Sin will take over in the absence of Christ. Rogue behaviors will surface from our past. Flesh will rise up to overtake us in weakness. Our mind will play tricks on us as the enemy tries to convince us that God is not good, or He has forgotten a single promise. The enemy wants you to believe that the Grace of God is not enough. The truth is friend it is more than enough to make it through each day triumphantly even in the midst of trial or tragedy. We must only be willing to repent (turnaround)to face the Lord and allow Him to live, move and breathe in us. There is no condemnation in Christ. Someone needs to hear that today and understand. God sees sin as cancer. He has the cure. Just turn around and let His Unfailing Love and Goodness overtake you – this is when death becomes life, potential results in purpose, and you will experience Him from glory to glory.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Jesus didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us. You. Me. Everyone. To think that He came to save the world would be like Christ draining the ocean to keep our feet planted on the ground. No. Faith is not needed in such a case. It is when water is all around us and still our heart beckons us to come. Jesus says, “My grace is all you need…today.” No matter what you are facing or how good the day may seem – we all need His Grace and Mercy to continue the transformation process that all believers are undergoing. We much know that His Power works its absolute in our weakness. Why else would the prideful be warned of a fall? It is in that moment when Christ is enough that our life is immediately changed for the better and life released in the midst of such a declaration. This is the Gospel of our life. To let Christ have His Way in every area. It is not a choice attributable to anything that I can say or do but in the choice to let Him have His Way and fill every space and void in my life. Sometimes it is releasing my expectation to fully embrace His Promises which are always more than I can think or ask. Is it possible to take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles – yes it is. The power to change lives within us. Christ is enough. I just have to believe it to receive it. To believe it means that each and every day – I must repent (turnaround) and embrace the Christ in me and the life He is producing.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) 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!

I made a startling realization this week. Okay, I am not going to lie I come to this every time. When I am stressed, anxious, worried, and overwhelmed – I begin to release the pressure by taking it out on those around me. I find myself complaining and grumbling. I become exhausted and given to tears. Time and time again…I hear the Lord whisper – “Hey, My Grace is still enough for you.” I turnaround and find Him right there where He always was with a Handful of Goodness and Heart full of love that the Lord is ready to lavish on me. I only have to turnaround from doing things my way and holding to my expectations to receive it. Jesus always gives me joy and peace that is indescribable without fail. I want to be a new creation. I want the new life I am promised. I am all too human just the same. When I find my life overwhelming, it is then that I realize I am the one who got turned around. I am the one doing it my way according to my will. The overwhelming feeling inside me is desperation mixed with unmet expectation that reminds me – Christ is all I need and He lives in me.

Stop evaluating your life according to those around you. Your Purpose and Plan are designed specifically and exclusively for you. This is not a competition. God has no favorites. Everyone has the potential and promise to be a Child of the Living God by accepting Jesus Christ. Everyone. You have the opportunity to put your old life of shame, regret, lack and discontentment behind and fully embrace the new life Christ died for you to have including full freedom and soul prosperity that somehow makes its way into our life as increase. What if all you have to do is stop doing it your way and let Christ have His Way? Could it be you are trying too hard rather than depending fully on Jesus? The Lord stands right behind you. He is ready, willing and able to change your life beginning with you. Will you just turnaround?

Psalm 23 (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. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 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.

The Complaint Department

The Complaint Department

Philippians 2:13-16 (NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…

Like vines and brush across a narrow path, I tried to step over it but tripped instead. The last several weeks have been trying. As potential begins to yield purpose, and breakthrough is just around the corner – opposition always rises up. With come the words hard to swallow, the complaints and grumbling of our flesh with deep offense at the conditions of life or circumstances surrounding us. It is a bitter pill to swallow laced with pride and indignation. Peter gave in to it from time to time and as one of the most vocal disciples it creeps up in the Bible’s text. In John 19:27, Peter in a sharp discussion with the Lord says these words, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Unmet expectation is the faith stealing, joy killer and hope buster that is problematic for many believers. When God does not do it the way one thinks that He should, or perhaps when we think He would or even worse according to our idea of how it should have been done. I have given up everything to follow you Jesus now this… ever feel that way? I do sometimes when I let complaining take over my life.

For God is working in you… I was talking to a gentleman about to undergo radiation therapy for cancer. He knows that our son also had extensive radiation. Talking with him, I did not want to create an unrealistic expectation of the treatment. It is an excellent weapon against cancer. It starts off relatively painless just a bit of a sensation inside. Over time as the therapy progresses, it begins to work its way from the inside of the pinpoint laser delivering it to manifest on the outside. It can cause the surface of the skin to have symptoms that rise up from the inside where the radiation is concentrated. There may be some collateral damage. Most importantly with any type of cancer therapy, because they are all unpleasant, it is important to stay focused on the goal. Remission. A clean PET scan. An extension of our natural life. We must always keep our eyes on the destination because there will be obstacles along the way if the journey is worth the outcome. As God works inside of us, our flesh dies. I used to say at the gym, “Sweat is the tears of fat slowly dying.” If you have given the Lord permission, invited Him to work things out in your life for His Good and Glory, expect your situation to change. Know that He is changing you. It may be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Friend, it is always, always worth it.

“Giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him…” I want to please the Lord with my natural life. Some do and some don’t. Some will actually pass on eternal life because of the fear of letting go of some things here and not being satisfied with the outcome. Why must the Lord change my desire? Because I will always want less than He has for me, settle for substitutions, and in the name of comfort compromise. It is my nature. I must change the way that I think, move, breathe and exist to allow the God inside of me to make His Way out into my life. It all begins inside of me. Big gulp…the hardest part comes next.

“Do EVERYTHING without grumbling or complaining.” Ugh! There it is – spoiler alert – it is a Biblical mandate on my life to stop grumbling and complaining. God knows every detail of my life even when this passage was written centuries before my birth. He knew me and supplied all the grace and power necessary for me to overcome every obstacle thanks to the Christ in me. The pressures of life often give way to complaining. I will be the first to admit – I have been complaining about my job a lot lately. I love my job. It is a good position. However, it has been an exceptionally tough season with a gigantic transition. It is not going to last a short time but is clearly going to be awhile before things come together and are in order. The extreme conditions make complaining seem natural and acceptable…for some. I am not of this world. The Power in me is far greater than any circumstance or situation in my life. Do my words express His Power or give precedence to my problem?

James 3:2 (NLT) For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:8-12 (NLT) But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

In our last house, there was a swimming pool. One step in caring for the pool was testing the water to make sure the chemicals were just right and favorable for swimming. When there was a great deal of rain, it would wash pollen and other naturally occurring substances into the pool creating a high phosphate level that required special treatment. It was more expensive than other chemicals but necessary to keep the water clean and clear. The home test kits did not pick up the level of phosphates. It would be discovered by the chemical analyzer at the pool store. The professionals would have to find it and give me the proper treatment. In life, rain is going to fall. Storms will come. The atmosphere of our life is not always favorable. Let’s face it. Bad things happen to good people. It is important that in such conditions – we test the content and quality of our conversation. What are we saying? Who are we saying it to? Are my words filled with life or death? Praise or contempt? Who are they directed at? The Word of God is the litmus test of life for the believer. It guides, instructs and teaches us the knowledge needed to apply to our life and create wisdom. Wisdom is the lifestyle of those who are blessing and prosperous. When I decide that I am dissatisfied with my life, I am telling God that He is not meeting my expectations or doing a good job. No one else. My life belongs to Jesus Christ. If it is not what I think it should be, He is the One responsible to change it. Not my family, my friends, my boss or coworkers – Jesus is the One.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

If the Word of God concerning my life is true and if Jesus truly is set on giving me a rich and satisfying life while doing more than I can even think to ask for, it is all about the waiting. He has given a place of refuge and peace to wait in called the watchtower. I stand guard over my heart in that place by filtering my words through the Word of God and listing His Promises not my problems. It is the place where my vision aligns with His Perspective rather than focusing on the conditions of life as I know it. I see through eyes of faith the confident hope that I have in Him. The kind of hope that never leads to disappointment and is worth waiting for. Impatience in the waiting gives way to grumbling and complaining. Complaining sows seeds of doubt and fear that become bitterness if continually fed with more grumbling. Pride feeds on the harvest of complaining and suddenly it gives way to wandering and disobedience as one decides if it’s going to happen then I must do it myself.

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel complained about freedom and wanted to go back into slavery. Fear of the unknown will often compel us back to what is known. Don’t go. There was a group of Levites who did not like their position in ministry, so they complained to Moses. Shortly after, the ground opened, swallowing them and all their possessions. Complaining will forfeit our new life in Christ to become absorbed by the world and worldly things that bring temporary satisfaction rather than long-term completion. In Nehemiah, Judah gave way to complaining. The ones who led worship were tired and let others know. Who would lead the worshippers if the praise team quit? Job of all people felt the right to complain. (Job 6) But in Job 10, Job has reached an all-time low and says, “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain. Complaining always sows seeds of bitterness. Every time you utter the slightest dissatisfaction in your condition in Christ, it is a seed that must be dealt with.

When our son was undergoing radiation, about two-thirds of the way through his skin began to “break down”. This means that the heat of the radiation burning away the cancer was also destroying his skin. Our middle son is extremely fair. His skin turned a bright red and one morning just started to break open with intense heat rising from the wounds. I will not gross you out with details or descriptions but all I could think of as I attempted to offer comfort and apply the ointment was he has every right to complain. I told him that very thing and he said to me, “Mom, what good would it do if I complained? Would it make cancer go away? Would it make the pain stop? Would it do anything for me? No. So I am not going to complain because it will do no good.” Such profound words from an unsuspecting college student thrust into a life uncertain. I will never forget that moment when my heart broke open and I asked the Lord to forgive my wayward and wandering heart. I needed the coal from His Altar to touch my lips that complained about the hard bed with the plastic cover that was a bit uncomfortable. Lesson learned.

Your life may not be extreme today. Just filled with “ordinary” problems and some “inconvenient” problems, what you do with such opportunities are game changers in life. Complaining does nothing but complicate things. It is unclear our position. Our heart begins to waver uncertain of its commitment. Soon our thoughts give way to discouragement and then disappointment not of God but to whom we give all credit. Take your right hand. Put it firmly over your mouth. Say with me, through your tight clasped fingers, “Holy Spirit, filter my words for life today and remove any foul thing among them. Teach me your vocabulary to replace my doubt-filled vernacular. Give me wisdom to speak your praise when I want to grumble and complain. Let me see the Face of Jesus rather than focusing on the giants today.

“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life…”

Micah 6:1-3 (NLT) Listen to what the Lord is saying: “Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints. And now, O mountains, listen to the Lord’s complaint! He has a case against his people. He will bring charges against Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? What have I done to make you tired of me? Answer me!

The Lord invites you to His Complaint Department today. The watchtower is open. It is a waiting room. It is His Presence. The place to leave all unmet expectation so the Lord can complete His Good Work uninterrupted by fear or doubt but pushed on by our faith in His Faithfulness. Our words should always express allegiance to Jesus Christ. Complaining and grumbling gives glory to a weak and inattentive god who doesn’t exist rather than an all-powerful, ever-present and always on-time God who is good and gives His Glory to His Children. What will you do with your words today? Life and power are in the tongue. It is up to you to decide how to use it. In His Presence, there is a new perspective. When His Unfailing Love and Overwhelming Goodness make it into our thick and hard hearts, suddenly there is very little to complain and grumble about because He is enough to change our heart and mind. God you are good! Help me to silence complaining and dismiss it from my life. You are a Good God. You are more than enough!

Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

It Matters

It Matters

Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) 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 is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

The One Thing

The One Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Here is a thoughtful nugget for today – breathe in, breathe out. Congratulations! You just successfully accomplished something in life. You perpetuated it by simply inspiring and expiring a single breath. Now do it again! Two triumphs in one day…now keep doing it throughout the rest of today. Completely overwhelmed by work, church and life, I sat working on surprises for Mother’s Day for church. After working the second late night, swinging by the grocery store to restock, taking care of our little puppy, nursing our adult fur baby whose tummy is not well, cooking dinner and settling in to prepare for Sunday. I could feel the pressure closing in on me. Tired. Exhausted. Brain not fully functioning. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes as my heart pounded in my chest. Another rough day. There have been more than a few lately. More challenges than usual – but that’s just life right? Having gone through much worse and surviving, I still feel might heart yearning to thrive again. The Lord rushed in to comfort me during my unspoken prayer. His Words clear, calm and focused to me – just breathe.

Too often in the name of busyness – it is human nature to breathe shallowing. To keep running from this task to that one using all of our body, mind and spirit to create a better life and meet human expectation. Burn out comes. The wall is hit hard forcing all the breath from our body. Our humanity a heavy weight that burdens us rather than becoming the blessing we are promised. It is certainly not of God. He doesn’t tell us to “do” it all. In fact, He doesn’t need us to do a thing. I exist for God’s Pleasure. He gives me purpose that promotes prosperity by His Grace not because I deserve it. Just like our children do not earn the house they live in, the food they eat, the money I give them or the clothing that overflows from drawers, closets and the laundry hamper – I give it all to them simply because I love them and want to care for them. But I am not the Lord, and I do grow weak and weary. Thankfully, He does not.

Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.  “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

The Unknown God. Do you know the Lord? I have been married to my husband for almost two decades. He is my best friend. I know him better than any other person in this life. To know him comes from spending almost every single day with him consecutively for more than 18 years. It has meant giving up my way to follow him on many occasions. It requires forgiveness time and time again. It is to put him above other people. To love him. Seek him out. Serve him with love. Day by day getting to know him more. Have I applied the same desire and drive in getting to know the Lord? His Word is the Way, Truth and Life. See if you really know the “unknown” God who Paul speaks of – you can breathe easy.

God doesn’t need us to do anything. He desires us. He wants us. He sent His Son to die for our sins so that there is an opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. That’s it. All the other religious rules and regulations are not of God. Grace has them covered. What will allow the greatest success in our Christian walk and “living for the Lord” is not in our personal ability or dedication to righteousness but one’s ability to slip into the Robe of Righteousness and return home as the prodigal son or daughter. The Father/Child relationship is what the Lord desires. Our family depends on one another. Though from time to time there is rivalry amongst them, let someone come against them or there be a proposed threat – the circle the wagons quickly prepared to fight. There are many days that I forget this truth. The part about God not needing me to do any particular thing or that my success or failure as His Child is not hinged on my performance. God loves me for me. He formed me in my mother’s womb writing a perfect plan and purpose for my life including enough grace to get me through it. He is always for me. He gives me new mercy each morning and is just waiting to for me to breathe Him in deeply. To allow His Presence and His Spirit to work in me and through me giving me peace and inexpressible joy as I do the unthinkable, unimaginable, and absolutely infinitely more than I ever considered possible. There is more to life than this. It is found in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. I just need to remember to keep breathing. It is in Him I live, move and exist. This is all part of inspiration and expiration the breath called life.

Daniel 10:16-18 (NLT) Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.

The breath that keeps me breathing is the same air breathed into Adam. It has continued to bear fruit called life from generation to generation. Just as God’s Word will not return void, neither will His First Breath that brought humanity to life. The perpetuation of life will continue until Jesus comes. It is an awesome thought to think that the very mouth that formed the words that created all that we know is continuing its purpose in me today. If I am breathing – I am alive. I have human breath that is given to accomplish natural respiration. However, I have been given the spirit of Jesus Christ when He released His Last Breath on the Cross and saying, “It is finished.” Do you remember what happened next? The veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. Nothing could ever separate me from God again. His Spirit (His Breath) did not stop there but resurrection power brought the dead back to life. His Breath cannot help but produce life in and around us.

Daniel was filled with anguish, overwhelmed by sorrow, and very weak. He was so weary in fact that he said, “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my Lord?” He had seen a vision that drained his faith and overtook his hope so quickly that Daniel was drowning in sorrow unable to catch his breath. “My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Whether you are overcome by physical, emotional or spiritual exhaustion, weakness, weariness or just plain empty – the Lord has what you need today. His Voice is reminding you just breathe in and let it out. Breathe me in – let fear out. Breathe me in – let broken pieces fall where they will. Breathe me in – let worry go. Breathe me in – fall on me in your weakness. Breathe me in – become one with me, yoke your life to me, become one with me. The Lord is offering you His Whole Life – every fiber of who He is and what He is able to do in a single breath. Will you just breathe today? Will your declaration be as Daniel’s when he said, “I felt my strength returning.”

Psalm 33:4-9 (NLT) For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.

So…

Psalm 104:30 (NLT) When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

And finally…

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!

The One and Only I AM

The One and Only I AM

Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT) Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

I woke up from a fitful night of sleep with the thought – He is God. Always God. Never failing. Just God. Yet completely God. Overwhelming and all-encompassing God of All. There is only one who is God. The One and Only I am. With finite thinking and my fragmented being – I want to soak in and sop up all that He is today in the defining character of I AM. It was Moses who had the pleasure of the first introduction to the Great I AM. As he stood staring at an oddity of nature, a burning bush. It continued to burn yet never was fully consumed. The Lord told Moses take off your shoes for this is holy ground. I wonder if that raging fire was a spark from God’s Passionate Heart burning for people that happened to get away from Him. Drawing the attention of a wayward soul lost in the wilderness to step into His Calling and out of the dark. God always wants to draw us closer, capture us in love, press out our purpose and pour blessings over every area of our life. God is our father. He is a good one at that. He is love. The very definition of love in all of its entirety. I want God’s Unconditional Love today. Not the one religion tells of with all its rules and regulations but the kind of love David talks about in Psalm 23. Unfailing love accompanied by His Goodness that is always pursuing me.

Everyone comes to a point or place in life wondering is this really all that there is? There has to more to my existence than struggling to get by and grappling for acceptance and affirmation each day finding none. Jesus came to us offering soul satisfaction. The passionate and loving nature of His Father, God came wrapped in flesh to be our sacrifice once and for all. Life changing. Resurrecting power for a people who can barely sustain their own life. He did it for me. Not because I deserve it or that He needs me at all – no, the Great I AM desires me. He loves me. His Constance is His Love for us. It is the Life Changing Power of Christ in us. Yet many days – it is a struggle to know the Great I AM much less trust Him with our life…why?

Exodus 3:14 (NLT) God replied to Moses, “I am who i am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”

Exodus 6:2-3 (NLT) And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them.

When the Lord came to Moses in the middle of the night speaking from the embers of a burning bush, He revealed His Identity to the man. I am Yahweh – the LORD. I AM. There are some interesting things to consider about God’s Declaration to Moses that are significant to the faith aspiring to grow in you and me. Yahweh indicates that there is no beginning and no end to God. He was and is and is to come. He was the One who formed everything and through Him everything has life. God is an absolute reality. His Authenticity is given no credibility by my willingness to believe or accept His Divine Authority. He is Sovereign and in complete control of every element of life whether I know it or not. Everything depends on God for life. Jesus is the Resurrection and Life. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is part of God and all of God at the same time. My ability to theologically explain or even logically understand the Character and Nature of the Lord does not define Him at all. He is. He was. He will always be. God is constant. God is truth. God does what pleases God alone.

God has a plan for our life. It contains a future and hope. This is the same for you, me and even Moses. It is not a plan defined by my flawed human nature or natural abilities. No, as God knit me together in my mother’s womb and filled me with purpose, He decided all these variables in advance.

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind.Isaiah revealed that His Word cannot return to Him void. It must accomplish the purpose for which it was released. But that’s not all it says, the Word will prosper (grow something, increase it) everywhere it is sent. The Lord has called you by name. He has invited you to return to Him. He doesn’t stop there but relentlessly pursues us putting opportunities and even opposition if needed to capture us with His Love. We don’t believe it. If we did, it would be clear that all I need to do to know the Great I AM is to simply turn around. He is there. He has always been there.

I John 4:7-8 (NLT) Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God is love. The nature and character of God for us is His Love. He desires me. I please Him simply being alive. He knows my faults and failures otherwise surely His Grace would not be enough. How would He know how much mercy I need for today when He sends it? Our comfort is in service to God. Somehow attempting to level the playing field so that in some small way just maybe we can become a little more deserving of God’s Love, Acceptance, Affirmation and Blessing. Reading the Word of God, looking for the fine print. The ah-ha moment that reveals the secret and trick to the abundant or rich and satisfying life promised to all God’s Children through acceptance of Jesus Christ. To let God. To take in the Great I AM and allow Him to make me all that He promised I could be.

For today let’s keep it simple. Rather than trying to change everything that is wrong with our life, rethinking, reorganizing or reprioritizing. Let’s just stop for a moment and invite the Lord. Yahweh – the Great I AM to just take over. To just be still in this moment and know that He is God. God is love. He is crazy about me. His Grace is enough. Christ in me is all I need. Breathe in and out. Once again. Oh, for Heaven’s sake, just one more time. God has called me to love others. Love people. This comes directly from the Holy Spirit. It is the first fruit of God’s Spirit in us. Love. God is love. Have you been captured by His Love lately? Have you ever felt the peace that passes all understanding in knowing the Lord even when you haven’t or can’t do a thing? Do you know what it is like to be filled with inexpressible joy? See the enemy wants us to think we are or can do – but the Truth and Reality of my life is – God is Yahweh – He is the Great I AM and not everyone will know Him that way – but today I can.

Last night we had baked ziti, salad and bread. Sharing a meal with my family is probably one of the greatest blessings I know even though there a fewer people at the table. As the girls were talking, I listened while taking the garlic bread and soaking up the left over salad dressing made mostly of oil and spices. Today, I wonder if I can just soak up God’s Love like that. Like sopping up leftover gravy with a buttermilk biscuit after a wonderful meal. Sometimes like Martha overwhelmed by duties to serve the Lord, it is easy to forget the Great I AM and the fact that He is all that I need. His Love is complete. His Work still in progress. As I wait, becoming tired and impatient, the enemy will offer easy escapes and comfortable compromise to those who desire the Lord more and more. But those who are willing to wait on the Lord, bask in His Presence, spend precious time with Him and sometimes even just turn around will find nothing but unfailing love and goodness was there all the time. Life is hard. I know. We don’t always understand God’s Way but if for a moment just a single second we can experience His Love – it will change us forever.

Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Like Rain

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Psalm 143:5-6 (NLT) I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

April showers bring May flowers. A short rhyme given as a reminder that in life rain must fall but that there is potential in every storm. The flowers are blooming yet the pollen comes with it. Life is all about perception. Everything worth having usually is precipitated by a season of challenges – otherwise there would be no joy or celebration in the outcome. The seeds in the ground from the previous season long for rain. When the rain falls, the thirsty and dry soil drinks it in deeply until moisture reaches its potential. The struggle does not stop there as the dead shell of its former state begins to change and develop to reveal its purpose. The little seedling must then push through all the soil surrounding it to break through the surface. Its goal is to reach the sun glorious sun.

The Lord has hidden a tiny measure of seed in our heart called faith. It is encased by a hope called eternity. A Kingdom of our own making each one has a position and place as God’s Child with a room just for them. How Lord do I get there from here? Through all the wind, rain and storms – is it possible to keep going and constantly growing through seasons of drought and dryness? When the drought is in my heart and not atmospheric conditions, there is only one rain that will make it inside of me. The Voice of God. His Word. His Presence offers intimacy to have such conversations. The ones that refresh us like an April shower ready to produce May flowers.

I Corinthians 15:37 (NLT) And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting.

Never doubt the potential the Lord has hidden inside of you. It is the purpose given to you when He formed you in your mother’s woman. He has a plan for our life that is most definitely set in stone activated when the stone that sealed the tomb of His Precious Son rolled away. No, longer held back by sin, death or the grave – we are like tiny seeds planted in the earth with great harvest hidden in fragile vessels and broken hearts. God is ready to grow us. Develop us. Increase us. Fill our life with all that His Grace and Goodness promised thanks to unconditional and uncompromised love. But first our seed must die to self and give way to become a new creation… What does that mean exactly? Rain must fall in our life to reach the seed so it will grow. Lord, come like the rain today. 

My husband and I were texting the other day. It was a nasty, rainy day fit only to stay home in pajamas on the couch or wade your way to work. We both made it to the office. I asked how his day was going and he shared that “the rain is killing” my business. I replied something like “I thought you said we needed some rain.” He responded, “Well, praise the Lord.” Sometimes life leaves us dry and thirsty. We want rain and even need it but when it comes find it messy and inconvenient. I hate getting my feet wet but insist on walking on water. Oh Lord help me to see the necessity of rain, showers and even storms you send to give life to our hidden promise to reach full potential.

Micah 5:7 (NLT) Then the remnant left in Israel will take their place among the nations.
They will be like dew sent by the Lord or like rain falling on the grass, which no one can hold back and no one can restrain.

I believe that God is in the final stages of pulling together the remnant. A body of believers who have finally let go of religion and taken hold of a real and authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who desire a connection so deep and strong in the Lord anchored by deep and abiding hope. The church is going through some growing pains. Mega churches have been broken down to small groups. People are pursuing a personal God on an intimate level. Rain is falling. Storms blow through. God is preparing His Sons and Daughters to engage in eternity with Him forever. He is coming like the rain. Are you ready to receive Him? I hate when I hear rhetoric in the words I share. Church language with negative and empty connotations. The Lord desires you. He doesn’t want to fall around us but flow through us. He doesn’t require me to change to receive Him but promises His Presence in my life will change me into the person and purpose I was created to be. It is not a doctrine but a decision to live in love with Jesus that allows living water to reach my hard heart and make it soft again.

Psalm 65:9-13 (NLT) You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!

Are we mission minded or mercy filled today? What is the message resounding from my life? Do my words fall on others like refreshing rain or am I pounding them to death? Moving past the fundamentals of loving our neighbors as ourselves, it is our life calling to share a message of unfailing love and overwhelming goodness that causes seeds of faith, hope and love to begin to grow in others. I may be on a mission to tell others about the Lord but if I am not living by the great commission which is to share the love of Jesus rather than the Law of God I am failing. So into my life a little rain must fall…the kind in Psalm 65:10 that in an effort to produce a bountiful harvest must drench the plowed rows of indifference and melt the clods of harsh unforgiveness and even level my heart with humility to see that my need for Jesus never ends. The same grace given to me is provided for others. I cannot earn it or in any way aspire to deserve it but only open every area of my life to receive it.

Deuteronomy 32:1-3 (NLT) “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!”

The blessings of God pour from Heaven each day arriving with His Mercy…always right on time. I wonder if in an effort to avoid the rain or build other shelters that it doesn’t reach us. Like water on a rock, our heart is hardened by trying to survive in the dry and thirsty land. His Word will soften our heart when allowed to penetrate the surface. His Voice will blow just the right amount of refreshment needed to make it through one more day to victory. His Grace and Mercy are enough for me to release all human expectation and desire to receive what He has planned and prepared for me. All of His Promises are good. His Purpose in me secure. I have to let the rain reach me in order to be changed into the New Creation that God has chosen me to be. There must be April rain to bring May flowers. The kings rain must reach me in order for His Favor to be my portion. Abundant harvests are the product of many seasons. What season are you in? They all have the potential for rain. Jesus is our Source. He will be our supply. He will send the rain. God is faithful. Jesus is enough. Every good and perfect gift is poised on the edge of Heaven and you are on the verge of breakthrough. You just need a little rain!

Psalm 84:5-7 (NLT) What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

It’s funny that people will say that they love the sound of rain. They find it peaceful minus crashing thunder and flashing lightning. But when we have plans, it suddenly is inconvenient. If it impacts our business, it is no longer wanted but the source of contention. See rain falls on the wicked and the righteous every single day. The Lord longs to bless us. All of us. Those who know Him and those who don’t. To know Jesus is to love Him. He is always whispering to us, inviting us to spend time in His Presence, and even knocking on every closed chamber of our heart. When the Word is able to access every part of our broken and hard heart, like rain, the blessings, prosperity, increase and abundance of God begin to grow in our life. Valleys of Weeping become a refreshing place in the Presence of the Lord. Rain even hard, beating storms become a place of blessing for those who know and love Jesus. Through every storm, God’s Grace promises to make us strong even if we stumble, fall or fail. God is so good! He is that good! In every shower, He will bloom us right where we are planted. His Word is life. Lord, saturate me with fresh rain and new beginnings in Jesus Name.

Hebrews 6:7 (NLT) When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing.

Left Unfinished

Left Unifinished

I Corinthians 3:5-7 (NLT) After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

For a few months now, I have been refinishing a table. It was thrown away like garbage, posted on line as a “curb side” alert. In my heart, I saw a new project piece and immediately thought of someone I knew who could use a gift. She was going through some difficulties in life and I felt the Lord impressing on my heart to bless her. It usually doesn’t take me this long to work on the furniture I find, but this process has been revealing. It seems that every time I begin to work on the table it turns out to be more of a task than before. Just sanding out all the marks and blemishes on the tabletop took days. It had been well-used to the point of abuse. The person who I have been repurposing the table for has been going through her own troubled time of transition. I know that for the last couple of years, the Lord put her in my path for encouragement, instruction and guidance through rough passages. However, just like the table, I have discovered that sometimes God doesn’t always make our work as believers a walk in the park.

I set out this weekend to finally finish the table so it can make its way to her house. I applied stain to the sanded top. I love this step in the process. To see the wood soak in the new color and watch a piece come to life. Well, not this time. The stain revealed some more imperfections that would require additional sanding and retracing some steps. After many attempts to get it just right, I walked away and began working on an old chair for our guest room. It is almost done. The painting went perfectly. The sanding a piece of cake. Recovering the seat was simple and I had enough leftover fabric to match the antique footstool. I stained the back of the chair reluctantly but it was perfect on the first try. Why is the chair taking a couple hours but this table just won’t seem to cooperate? Why isn’t the person who I have been supporting and believing God to renew and restore leaving unfinished? Why is she moving on? Why doesn’t she get it? God, have I let you down? Did I not do enough, say enough, or believe enough for the seed of Your Word to produce much fruit? Sometimes in life, God leaves work unfinished.

I planted. Oh boy, did I sow some seed in this situation. But the one day, the gate to the field closed. No more seed could penetrate the hard ground. The wishy washy rain of uncertainty seemed to wash many of them away. The leaves sprouting up looked like it might bear much fruit but alas it was all just a cover. Apollos, are you watering? There are many times that work is left unfinished but will not be undone. We must not stop planting just because we do not see God’s Increase. I think of all the people who sowed good seed in my life that was watered by others. Confirmed by more than one, just now revealing blossoms of fruit yet to come. I understand the process of growth takes time and many seasons. Sometimes, I must be reminded that God gives all increase. Human nature wants the satisfaction of seeing the harvest but with the Lord trust is obedience that continues to plant and water in the absence of harvest.

Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) 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.

It is safe to say that my elbow will never meet my nose naturally. I cannot touch my nose with my elbow. Yet they are valuable and important parts of the same body. The cells in my nose have the same DNA as the ones in my elbow. The same brain makes them all work together. The blood that nourishes my nose is the same flow that reaches my elbow. Sometimes it is important to remember that the same body must remain connected even if they cannot reach the other. My hand and knee can reach my elbow even though my nose cannot. However, my nose doesn’t abandon my body or the elbow cease to move because of its lack of proximity. Just because the person you have invested time, energy and maybe even resources into does not necessarily “get it” or leaves our life an unfinished work doesn’t mean you were not faithful or seeds unfruitful. God evaluates our faithfulness to Him. Our dedication to love and be loved. Our commitment to Christ to become complete lacking no good thing. He doesn’t expect us to plant, water and grow. He expects us to be faithful, hopeful and loving. I am an unfinished work just like my friend. I must never forget who the One is that makes us full and complete – His Name is Jesus.

I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I must be completely honest. Lately I have just wanted to drag the table I am working on out to the trash. As my frustration grew with the person, I suddenly abhorred the process of giving the gift. I know I am a terrible person. I didn’t do it. I have been rubbing, painting, sanding and staining just the same. It is hard to remember all the Christ has done for us once leaving the past behind. All the people who deposited His Love and Truth labeled the Gospel in our life. Sharing the Gospel is our privilege. The purpose of the Gospel is to love. I can give sound instruction. I can stand right by your side. I can encourage you when you are down. I can even hold you when you cry. However, if someone decides to chase after something else. Wander off into the wilderness. Or even just turn and walk way – it doesn’t end there. I am must still love them and pray for them just the same. I have done my part to plant good seed. I have tried my best to be the Light. Now I must wait and watch for the Lord to give His Blessing and Increase – in His Time according to His Plan. Lord, teach me to see that every seed comes from You. The Word I use for water to a dry and thirsty soul – it is You, Jesus. I cannot take ownership of the process that you created and divinely instituted. I am called to love. Let me love every unfinished work in my life with the unconditional and faithful love that deposits new mercy and overflowing goodness in my life each day.

Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

It looks like the table I have worked on so long will be finished today. God’s Word in my heart is to let it go. He is working all things together for this young woman as He promises to do for me as well. (Romans 8:28) This trust without borders things extends pretty far in our Christian walk as we sow seeds in every area of our life. When we choose to sow good seed in people, it is never wasted. There will be an Apollos down the road to water or maybe many more. The principle to hold on to, have faith in and find glory in is that God ALWAYS gives the increase. His Word will not return to Him void so if that is what you are sowing there will always be harvest down the road. Good seed will find its way through a furrowed, fertile heart so sometimes it is necessary to stumble or even fall to break a hard heart. Sometimes it takes a little darkness to find the Light of His Love. It is our union with Christ that gives us anything worthwhile to give. Sometimes I lose sight of the One who is doing the work focusing too much on what I am doing. My work is nothing without Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:1-3(NLT) I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” These are the words in Revelation to the church of Laodicea. Paul “agonized” for these believers who were becoming lackadaisical about their ministry and calling to Christ. Lukewarm is the term used. As believers, it is our job to sow generously into the lives of other people. We are called to love them even when the work of God in them is not meeting our growth expectation. I am a planter. I am a waterer. From time to time, I am even a harvester. However, in all things – God is the increaser. Christ is the completer. I am only his servant. Nothing good can come from my life outside of Jesus Christ. God’s Power works through the more I am humbled by His Grace. People will pass through our life like seed falling through a farmer’s hand. It is up to me to plant the ones that need planting, water the thirsty and in all things trust the Lord for increase. Human nature would be to be weary in well doing when I do not see the outcome. To become tired of investing my time in people who just don’t seem to get it. To allow unmet expectation dissuade me from my purpose. Not today!

My prayer for all people who cross my path is this: “I want them to be encouraged and kit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” I want them to discover “all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that allow us to be complete lacking nothing in life. The Lord promises to perfect all that concerns me in Psalm 138:8. Today I entrust You, Lord with every unfinished work in my life. If it is in me, Lord I give myself back to You today for increase. Examine my life. Clean me up. Restore me. Lead me to the abundance and fulfillment hidden in my life. If the unfinished work is in others, forgive me for my bad attitude – Lord of the Harvest – increase their faith, hope and love today.

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

Just Look Up

Just Look Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

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