Life Without Limitation

Life without Limitation

Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When the New Year rolled around this year, it was not met with the same enthusiasm that it usually is for me. I love the calendar roll of fresh pages with new days filled with opportunity and potential. There would be no resolutions. I didn’t join the gym. This is not the norm for me. It immediately caused a gut check. We did not do the Daniel Fast. Oh my goodness, I can hear the huge intake of breath of those who engage it religiously since it became a “thing” in the church. The one thing I did do was put Ephesians 3:20 on the “wallpaper” of my phone so every time I pick it up – it illuminates before me. It must be the Holy Spirit who picked the verse because I have no idea why or how it became the verse for 2017 – but it is.

I will try to say this as gently as possible and it is a truth that many church folks have a really difficult time understanding or even agreeing with but when our relationship becomes traditional, routine driven, and a habit it is in danger of becoming religious versus relational. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not regulated or ruled by the things that I do or do not do but completely and 100% reliant on His Grace and my ability to accept His Love and Mercy each day. Nothing I do is worthy of all that He has done for me. However, what I have finally decided in this third month of the year is that my life has been limited. There are some areas of my existence that I have not fully committed and entrusted to Jesus Christ. Oh please, don’t judge me or decide that I have some big secret. We all have hidden areas and secret places of limitation in our heart and mind when it comes to the love and power of Jesus Christ for our life. Otherwise, every church including every member would be experiencing resurrection power, miracles, signs and wonders in every facet of their life. There is always more of Him for the part of me that is willing to bow down and give Jesus His Rightful Place.

Bear with me today, as I believe this Word is for me. I hope that as I share it transparently it will illuminate an area of limitation in your life so that the Love of God will bust through it and an outpouring of His Power will manifest in your new life in Christ. I think sometimes we expect our life in Christ to be like a bottle of carbonated soda. Sometimes it is, we get shaken up real good and explode for the moment but then the next day life is flat and tasteless. God has given us living water to flow through us. Have you ever shaken up a water bottle? Yep, nothing. It doesn’t get all worked up and shoot out of the bottle everywhere. It also doesn’t make a mess either. Water is consistently pure. It is always the same. You can only adjust the temperature but other than that it is committed to consistency. Maybe that is what this year is doing in me, removing some of the emotion and enthusiastic zeal to be replaced by a supernatural and miraculous life of confident hope that leads to consistent superabundance in my life. Lord, be it unto me.

To elaborate:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (AMP) For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

My daughters and I were discussing an upcoming youth challenge posed by their youth pastor. They will be instructed regarding sharing their testimony and then given the opportunity to do so at the local Wal-Mart. My girls do not know a life outside of church or belief in Jesus Christ. They were born in church, taken to church, drug to church and now go to church their whole life. One of them confided that she doesn’t remember a time of not knowing Jesus – praise God. My heart as a mother is full. However, when it comes to sharing her life with others. What will she tell them? She has little to no experience to compare her new life to her old life to. She has been saved and baptized. It is all that she knows. Jesus Christ is a reality not a revelation to her. Our youngest daughter concurred that she knows she asked Jesus to be her Savior and Lord on my birthday when she was very young. She knows what it means to be saved. She understands the Holy Spirit but giving such a message to someone who has experienced something completely different seems to be impossible to them. All three of our girls have been challenged when engaging with others who have lived a different life with very different experiences.

Let’s flip the script for a moment, I have experienced life from a different perspective. I know what lost looks like. I have traveled the wilderness. I have made countless mistakes that were once regrets until redeemed by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ was fully accepted. I have had the opportunity to share my experience with many people and it is easy. I have experienced Jesus Christ and His Power in my life so I know it is real and valid. The more that we experience the Love of God fully consummated in our life by faith and confident hope that produces supernatural and extraordinary details the easier it is to share this Gospel and be a light to the world. This is and always will be part of our purpose and calling in this world to share a real God and relevant Jesus to the lost and dying in darkness.

I must experience God at every level and Christ completely through me to be a relevant and accurate witness. To be the kind of Christian who is ready in season and out of season to share the Message of God’s Great Love. My relationship with Jesus Christ must be real. It cannot be a routine that I follow or rules that I adhere to. It must be a transparent open book that all can read and understand. It is a love story. It is a miraculous account of a limited life that became filled with unlimited power. My life must live it out to make it a best-seller sought after by others on display for all to see.

For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ],” The purpose for my existence and the reason I am alive is to be a Child of God. To come back to the Father by Way of Jesus Christ and take my place in God’s Family once again. His Grace is more than sufficient for me. How many times though have I ignored the Grace of God thinking that the Lord was calling me to be the strong one? Do be the good person? To be a God-Like Christian rather than a godly woman transmitting God’s Love, Grace and Mercy as it filters through me. See I can pretend like I have it all together, like there are no cares in my world. I can attempt to make it look like I make no mistakes and live a holier-than-thou life. The reality is I am a broken person who Jesus sparked a love affair with and the more I love and trust Him – the more I find that the Light of His Love is revealed through the cracked parts of my life rather than in any religious act I have participated in. God doesn’t need me but I must have Him. For this reason…grasping the greatness of His Plan. (Ephesians 3:14)

It is simple. Really simple. Jeremiah 29:1-13 is the description of this plan, however; the one that makes the difference is this – “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) The beginning of an unlimited life starts with three basic steps – “Repentance. Restoration. Revival.” How did I get that from this verse? I must repent and live in love with Jesus. My love for Him alone will produce the right results. Restoration is the family reunion that causes the Love that Jesus gives me, to be reciprocated in life with others who I do not judge but choose to embrace for mercy’s sake. Finally, revival for those who choose to walk with God is to become His Children and establish our birthright again. We have a new life. It is in us and flows from us. Everywhere we walk in step with the Father has the potential of resurrection life. I am only limited by unwillingness to humble my life and follow the Lord.

Where do you walk? Following Jesus is to allow the Greater that is in you to have priority over the less that tends to drive us. Our daughters don’t know a life outside of Jesus Christ because Christ has been in their life always. What if we made it a point to include Jesus in every facet of our life? If every step had purpose and every work of the hand committed to the Lord, I am not talking about selfless martyrdom but to say, “Jesus come with me to work. Lord, have your way in my commute.” Holy Spirit fill the walls of our home. God put your hand on our bank account.” It is in Him we live, move, breathe and exist according to the Word of God. (Acts 17:28) Or do we? Have you ever said, “It is what it is”? What about calling those things into existence that are in Heaven for now? How about “it’s just who I am”? Where is the new creation? The limitations on my life are self-imposed. I have resurrection life and power inside of me applicable to every single step that I take in this life all the way to eternity. I must learn to walk like Enoch who disappeared in the Presence of the Lord.

From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. Having earthly fathers who may or may not have participated in our life creates a false perception of fatherhood when it comes to our Heavenly Father. We place human expectations on a flawless Father based on the unmet expectations of flawed fathers. I have a great dad. He is a good father yet he still makes mistakes and is imperfect. I trust him yet I trust God more. I love and honor my earthly father but I relentlessly pursue right-standing with God my Father. It is absolutely imperative that we come to know, understand, believe and ultimately choose to trust the perfection of God our Father. He is awesomely wonderful. His Love is absolutely without condition. He is wonderful! He is awesome! God is everything our natural father’s wanted to be and even strive to become – God is all that and more. To access Him by Way of Jesus Christ and live in His Presence is absolute proof of belief. Faith must be evidenced by trust. Do you trust God today? Do you really trust Him? If you do, then your life will become supernatural. You will not experience fear, worry, care, anxiety or doubt when it comes to any and all lifetime situations. His Power will be manifested in you. If you do fear, worry, feel anxious or doubt, hang on…there is more.

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]…” Grace is defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. God is ready to grant you the riches of His Glory. It is not to His Glory that His Children eat from the scraps beneath the table but sit and share meals with Him. To commune with Him. Stop it. Don’t think about communion with a tiny juice cup and sliver of a horrible tasting wafer. No, God wants to prepare a table in the presence of your enemies and demonstrate the extravagance of His Great Love. We are too busy fighting defeated foes than celebrating His Victory. God wants to live your life with you. He wants His Power to manifest His Presence in EVERY SINGLE AREA, EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION. All caps. Yes, I am shouting at you. Every area of our life should be according to His Riches in Glory. From the inside out, as our soul prospers our health, finances, influence and favor will, too. Where we sow the Word in our life, we will reap every blessing, promise and benefit it contains. The problem is not in God’s Capacity to love and care for us but in our ability to comprehend His Love. It is unlimited. Unlimited means not limited, unrestricted, and unconfined. It is boundless, infinite and vast. God’s love is unlimited and without qualification, exception and unconditional. God loves you period. The only way to perceive the boundaries (or lack there of) of God’s Love is to attempt to find them. The more I engage in grounding and rooting my faith in the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ the less I will worry about the problems, situations, conditions and inconveniences of this life highly anticipating what God will do as He works good out of every detail. (Romans 8:28) God is perfecting all that concerns His Children. (Psalm 138:8) When I yoke my life to Christ and He goes where I go and I go where He goes, it will always challenge me to go deeper in God’s Presence and push the boundaries of His Love.

And [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].” God’s Love increases the capacity of my life. If I choose to engage in this love affair with Jesus “practically” through personal experience suddenly the God of my ancestors becomes My Lord, My God. We have not because we ask not. We do not believe that God’s Love is for us. The miracles of old are relevant. God’s Word is not logical outside of faith. But with faith all things impossible are now probable. The God of after life must be the God of our natural life, too. The Goodness of God is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) His Unfailing Love, His Mercy when I mess up and Goodness pursues me when? All the days of my life… (Psalm 23:6) All these words found in the Word are empowered by faith in the Word wrapped in flesh – Jesus Christ. They leap to life off the pages when faith is applied. Confident hope releases resurrection power now rather than reserving it for later. Rather than the mentality of “Jesus if you had been here” – we live because Jesus is here with us and in us. I am challenged to release all limitation in my life today by applying God’s Word by faith and believing God at His Word for EVERY area of my life not just those defined by desperation or hinting of death. To make God’s Word the reality that I experience every single day in every single way. This will be the fuel that sets the Light of my life from a small candle flickering in the wind to an all-consuming fire that drives darkness away. I am called to be the Light of the World. It’s time to light this baby up.

The Fullness of God. What does it look like? Is your life extraordinary? Have you experienced moves and waves of God unexplainable naturally but supernaturally defined? If not, you will. If you decide that God’s Love is definitely for you. If you desire it enough to pursue it, yoking your life to Jesus Christ. You will find His Plan, His Purpose and yes, even His Prosperity in every single element of your life. He is a Good Father. Do not sell your birthright for a single meal like Esau. Esau had a vast inheritance. He gave it all up to satisfy a hunger that was temporary. Hear me today as God is speaking to me, I believe He is saying it to you, “Stop settling.” Just because you don’t deserve the current blessings and benefits of God already proven in your life. Just because it is hard to believe God would do more and more when you realize you cannot stop doing what you do – choose to believe anyway. God is ready to do more than you can think or ask, dream or desire – all you must do is choose to accept His Love. (Period.) When I married my husband, there were things that immediately changed. I desired no one else. I pursued no one else. I wanted only to be His Wife forever. Over the years, there are things that we both have changed and grown in to maintain our relationship, He has never forced me to but I choose to because I love him. I want to be his wife. I want a strong marriage that lasts until death do us part. It is by choice. Love is a choice. To choose Jesus as our Savior and make Him Lord is a love choice. It is not by force. With this in mind, Jesus is not going to force you to live in His Presence or take everything He offers you as a part of your partnership. You have to want it, accept it, apply it and desire it, too. We have hidden potential, purpose and promise that only God can bring to pass. My life is unlimited unless I impose limits marked by disbelief, doubt and other desires.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

So back to my verse for 2017, I believe for me that the Lord is pressing me to start believing practically for the superabundance in all areas of my life not just the impossible ones. I know that God is a healer. I know that He gives us the desires of our heart. I have experienced God in so many ways that my life is far more blessed than I ever thought possible. I cannot stop here and have the fullness of God intended for my life. I must continue to press the boundaries of my belief and label each step with purpose as I walk through life until I disappear and all people see is the Christ in me. The life of Enoch is the life for me. When God’s Glory surrounds us completely and all people see when they see us is Light. Light of Love too amazing to not engage in. To complete to not step into. To real to ever forget. Life without limitation. This is the life for me.

Acts 17:26-28 (AMP) And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories. This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

So Inclined

so-inclined

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

To be so inclined means wanting to do something or likely to do something. It is the impulsive nature of our species to give in to emotions or feelings. Usually based on habit, it is considered the “way we always have done it”. Inclination is not a fan of change as it is uncomfortable like a steady slope of the next mountain. Our faith would move mountains if trust was a factor. Our inability to trust the Lord before the mountains causes us to climb up the grade which makes maintaining a vertical position with the Father more challenging as gravity tries to pull us back to a horizontal position with the world. This place is called compromise. It is a location somewhere between who we were and what the new person that God has called us to be.

Paul summed it up in these words – “I have discovered the principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Our love affair with Jesus is established through a relationship with Him that is vertical. However, we are not born in love with the Lord but in strict opposition as sin makes it so. Through repentance changing our position by turning from sin to embrace the Light of His Love immersed in amazing grace that a robe of righteousness becomes our bride clothes and He places the ring of covenant on our finger as we become one with Christ. As in any marriage, it is giving up our way to follow one way. Marriage is compromise. Two imperfect people who try to create the perfect union. No one gets married thinking divorce is an option yet it is statistically proven that more marriages fail then succeed. The institution of marriage requires us to leave our past to secure our future. We must cut all ties of our former life and become united to our partner. Love in the early stages is footloose and fancy free. Everything our love does is cute. Once the party is over and real life begins – it quickly becomes clear that maintaining a lifelong union is work – hard work because it is our nature to give up our personal freedom for anyone else. The struggle is real.

To be so inclined in our spiritual walk is disaster. This is the realm called compromise and it is a killer. When we rely on human emotions and naturally feelings to make our way clear, it leads us straight into the wilderness. It compromises our safety and security in the Lord because we are no longer seeking the refuge of righteousness but trying out other avenues. There is but one way. Jesus Christ is the gateway to our future. (John 10) Just as He provides for us and protects us in the place of righteousness. He also keeps the thief from making his way in to plunder our goods. But the gate is open and we are free to come and go as we please. Jesus Christ sets us free to choose each day. Those who choose to wander will experience great loss. Those so inclined to inspect the fields of others rather than enjoying the lush, green grass of obedience may stray too far. It is important to determine our position in life. If we are so inclined by our behavior, it is important to examine our heart and mind to commit all areas to Christ before it’s too late.

Genesis 19:15-16 (NLT) At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. “Hurry,” they said to Lot. “Take your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!” When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful.

Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is a Biblical story most are familiar with. A city given to sin, depravity and perversity. Abraham interceded for the cities as he had family there. God would not forsake his wrath on the community but indeed honored Abraham’s request. The Lord spared Lot and his family or at least those so inclined to leave. The angels of destruction told Lot, “Hurry!” But Lot “still” hesitated. The Lord was merciful in moving Lot, his wife and daughters from the city. However, the city was still inside of them. Lot hesitated. When the messengers of God told him to leave – he waited. When they showed where to go – Lot compromised asking to be moved to a different location. His wife directly defied the order of the Lord and looked back longing for her home. She did not make it to safety. His daughters decided to take their future in their own hands deceiving their own father to become pregnant. Their sons would become the Moabites and Ammonites who constantly were battling the Israelites. All because they were so inclined. This family was spared because of the prayers of a righteous man – Abraham. However, though they left the city of sin – they could not overcome the inclination to sin. A lack of trust inclines us to compromise. Compromise does not receive the promise but breeds compromise throughout just as a little leaven makes a loaf – it ferments and rises within us taking over the faith God planted in our hearts for salvation sake.

Matthew 13:33 (NLT) Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

It is important to constantly evaluate the contents of our life. Just as the smallest seed of faith produces an abundance of God in our life, sin also can produce an abundance of doubt and fear in us that causes us to hesitate, look back, and even go back. It breeds complacency that makes us lukewarm and therefore vomit in the mouth of our Lord. It is the even the slightest inclination to do our will or accept the world’s standard that threatens us and our position of righteousness. Later in Matthew, it is clear that even religion can become an inclination if not careful to keep our heart and mind focused on the Lord.

Hebrews 10:37-39 (NLT) “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Are you looking back or looking around? It is time to look up. God has established a way of living through His Son, Jesus Christ that far exceeds anything I can think or imagine even to ask for. It is in fixing my eyes on the Lord and casting down every thought that is not in alignment that secures my vertical position. I am human. I make mistakes…every day. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard. The standard of living in this world is nothing compared to our new life in Christ. Regret and fear cause us to doubt that which faith secures. Hope begins to break down as we lose our grip on the reality of faith to delve back into the things of this world. Don’t beat yourself up. Today is a new day and God faithfully provided new mercy for such a time as this. In fact, He gives us new mercy because we are so inclined.

The truth is no one can claim righteousness outside of Jesus Christ. (Romans 3) Sinfulness is the natural state of every human being. The only way to be righteous is to put our absolute faith in Jesus Christ and learn to trust Him completely in all things. The Word of God promises that there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. He knows our weaknesses and died for every sin from the smallest to the largest. His Grace is enough for me. In fact, it becomes my strength when I can’t do it anymore. When I am weak, I am strong. The change of heart that is needed is simple. “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Do I love Jesus more than sin? This is the deciding factor that produces a life of faith, hope and love.

Romans 12:2-3 (NLT)  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

God is willing to transform you into a new person by changing your inclinations. Inclination is a disposition of the mind and will. Our mind is bent toward sin naturally deviates towards it. It is difficult to change our attitudes, actions and habits. It is important that we filter every thought and notion for inclination toward the Lord. We must be inclined to please God which defies human nature completely. Our filter must be constantly refined as we grow in the Lord. Pride will take many forms for self-preservation. We must behave as foreigners who live in allegiance to the Kingdom and not our temporary home. To move means a change of heart, change of mind and change of position as we live vertically not inclined to compromise any longer.

Colossians 3:5-10 (NLT) So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

My latest hobby is redoing old furniture. My latest find was a dining room table left out for the trash. It has a solid pedestal with a round oak top that the previous owner no longer wanted and felt it worthy of garbage. I retrieved it as my next masterpiece. It’s funny to hear the comments of my family over my garage sale, thrift store and roadside finds. There is something completely satisfying about taking what was tossed out and turning it into a treasure. After cleaning it thoroughly removing all the grit, grime and children’s stickers that covered the bottom. I set to stripping the layers of wear and tear from the surface. After about three hours of sanding and smoothing, it was without a single blemish. This process always makes me think of God working on me. His Care to fix and refine every broken area of my life even those areas I don’t think need improvement. He continually refines and resurfaces me making me into the new creation that He promised. I am so thankful for Jesus and His Absolute Insistence on not leaving me as I was.

We contribute to this process by making it a conscious effort and total commitment to be faithful in all things. The Bible points out the obvious strongholds of sin. It is our willingness to pay attention and direct energy and effort to overcoming our feelings and dealing with such things that give us confident hope to secure our faith. We must examine and evaluate all attitudes and actions that sum up our behavior to determine if they are in alignment with Christ. This includes every word that we speak. (Ephesians 4) It is how we act in church and what we allow to exist in the Body as acceptable. (2 Corinthians) It is important that we do not become so full of self that our religious actions become a righteous platform to spew venom on the tiny seedlings in the hearts of new or young believers. If Christ did not feel it necessary to bring condemnation, why do we? The only emotion worthy of keeping and submitting to the transformation power of God is love. In fact, our love for the Lord should be the plumb line of our life. It demonstrates a vertical connection. When I can choose to love even my enemy, I am showing more than ever my complete faith in God and total trust in His Power.

I John 3:18-22 (NLT) Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

What is your greatest inclination today? What is the prevailing feeling that is dictating your course of action? Those who choose Christ will press forward rather than giving in to that which so inclines us. By faith, we become rooted and grounded in the Love of Jesus Christ. Our faith becomes sustainable and hope the anchor for our souls. By beginning to invest our expectation into this love affair, we begin to change and be transformed by God’s Love. A spark turns into a fiery passion to know Him more. Our feelings no longer will matter when faith takes over. God is greater than our feelings. He is not moved by our opinions or faults. The Lord just waits for us to change our inclination so He can change our heart. To say, “Well, that’s the way I am” is to give in to the lie of the enemy that God’s Love is not real, His Power ineffective, and the Life of Jesus Christ is not enough. You don’t mean that. It is your flesh speaking. What does God say about you? To sum it up, God loved you more than anything and proved that He thought you were to die for. Isn’t that enough to incline you to decide He is enough to live for?

I Peter 2:11-13 (NLT) Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Sticks and Stones

sticks-and-stones

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NLT) Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is one of the greatest lies ever told yet recounted time and time again to overcome the hurtful, thoughtless or careless words of others. The original context is from an English children’s rhyme in 1872 which is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.”  Rubbish. Hogwash. Words do cause great harm when not considered fully and carefully before delivery. Many people will take the words of others to the heart. Many word walls surround fragile hearts enshrouding them in darkness and never allowing the Light of God’s Love to reach inside.

As a self-professed and often labeled talker, I am at great risk when it comes to conversation. It has taken a whole lot of Jesus to gain even the slightest control over my wayward tongue and rambling thoughts that come tumbling out of my mouth. There are some days when I stop talking altogether in fear of allowing those harmful words to come rolling out undeterred. Blessing and cursing cannot come from the same mouth. We must examine our heart and consider each word in every conversation comparing them to Christ to be sure that they nourish souls and bring satisfaction. The tongue can bring death or life. As believers, let’s take a moment today to evaluate the contents of conversation.

I Samuel 17:40-47 (NLT) He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Bear with me. I know this is not the common text concerning wise words and godly conversation but it is relevant. David didn’t come to the battlefield looking for a fight that day. He was directed to bring his brothers lunch and return with a report of their well-being. When the shepherd boy arrived on the scene, he was an unsuspecting hero who was about to be discovered. He went to battle with five smooth stones selected from a nearby stream and his staff. Goliath approached ready to fight but David came ready to win. His faith spoke from a confident heart, “But I come in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you…” With one well-directed stone, the giant in all his bravado died that day. The whole world did see the Hand of God work on behalf of his people. It is one of the most renowned stories of the Bible taught to even the smallest of children.

There are many teachings on the stones that David chose that day. I believe there is significance in his choice as well for many reasons. David went to battle with stones, a slingshot and a staff. What if the stones represented our words, testimony and offering to others? The slingshot our mouth or tongue. The staff represents direction. Our words should always be washed in God’s Word and sent in His Direction according to His Instruction. David wrote in Psalm 23 that God’s Rod (Discipline) and Staff (Direction) were a comfort to him. The smooth stones of the stream were once sharp-edged rocks. Time and testing had tempered them as the water rushed over them and around them season after season preparing them for the day of the giant. The stones are evidence of precise preparation at the Hand of God. He tumbled them in that stream until the moment they were to be released. Our words should be the same. They are not for killing sheep but killing giants.

John 8:4-11 (NLT) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The woman was caught in flagrant and obvious sin. The religious folks including teachers and Pharisees brought her to Jesus – she was caught in the act. They put her in front of the crowd. They each had stones in hand ready to exact the Law of Moses. They asked Jesus, “What do you say?” His response, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” It did not take long to empty the place. Jesus turned to the woman and asked, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you? “No, Lord,” she replied. Jesus set her free. “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

We are so quick to condemn others with our words. I don’t think it is an overt act but one that is covered by religion and self-righteousness that smacks of the Law rather than God’s Love. A relationship with Jesus Christ does not condemn us but frees us. We are given the grace to know Him more. We are given unconditional love that knows our faults and failures from before we meet Jesus on the earth until the time we meet Him face to face. I hate the statement that someone has one foot in Christ and one in the world. It is not possible. We live in this world but are not of this world. To be in Christ is not a religious or judgmental possible but to become so clothed in His Love and wrapped tightly in the Robe of His Righteousness that Light breaks through darkness setting others free. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glorious Standard God set forth. Many Christians are still doing it today without even knowing it.

What if we considered a word like a stone in our hand? What if we became intention about only throwing rocks at the Goliath rather than pummeling our sheep in the head? If we throw rocks at sheep they will scatter, running for cover, looking for refuge in other things, and hidden in the darkness just to survive. David went into the battle with faith in God. God who fights for us. The Lord was His Victory. His voice projected faith and confidence in God alone. Not his skill or ability to kill the giant, but God’s Promise that the big man was going down. He entered with a staff. The staff was used to guide the sheep. The hooked used to pull them out of their mess, or deliver them from trouble. What are we using our staff for today?

The woman was caught in her sin. The church set out to make an example of her. How quickly we forget what the Lord has done for us? His Grace is sufficient for me, but does not give me the right to throw careless words about. Our words hold power. They can do way more than break bones. Do not be deceived. Your hidden conversation is not as private as you think. There are days when I must shut my mouth completely as not to let an idle word slip out. Careless conversation is like stoning someone to death without even knowing it.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The words of our mouth are a direct reflection of the contents of our heart. From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What do your words reveal? It matters less what you say to their face, then what you say about others in private. The Word of God gives us clear direction on the contents of godly conversation including the following:

The Words of the Godly are:

Life (Proverbs 10:11)

Knowledge (Proverbs 10:13) Reveal our understanding of Christ and His Way

Valuable (Proverbs 10:20; 20:15)

Encouraging (Proverbs 10:21)

Wise Advice (Proverbs 10:31)

Helpful (Proverbs 10:32)

A Benefit (Proverbs 12:14)

Healing (Proverbs 12:18)

Truth (Proverbs 12:19) Withstanding the test of time

Favorable (Proverbs 13:2)

Nourishment for the Soul (Proverbs 18:20)

Instruction with Kindness (Proverbs 31:26)

God has set a standard for godly communication that the church must pay close attention to or they will kill their sheep. Your words should welcome other into the fold. Express the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. We must examine the stones in our hand, heart and mouth to determine their direction in each conversation.

Romans 14:10-13 (NLT) So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

Some say that the truth hurts, maybe the truth you choose to live in. My Truth came wrapped in flesh to set me free. He died on a Cross to save me, heal me and deliver me. His Love so thick it wrapped itself around my heart and is the life and breath that I breathe. His Grace so sufficient that even when I fall it picks me right back up. The Truth in my life is Light that gives me hope. He has given my life new purpose to have all that He has promised according to His Word. My faith is not in my ability to live a perfect life but that He is and always be enough. He is the Word that came inside me and is changing my heart. His Language is Love. Always love. Never condemnation. When I use the words I am given to throw at another rather than pulling them close and loving them like Jesus loves me, I am no longer a giant killer but a Pharisee in the making.

My mouth was made to give the Lord praise and adoration. It is to declare my allegiance to Jesus Christ which is always wrapped in His Love and full of His Grace. I must make sure that my attitude and actions right down to every single word I speak draws people closer to the Lord rather than causing them to stumble and fall. Even if I am misunderstood, it is my humble position to apologize and continue to love them no matter what they do or say. Pride can never be my motivation again. I must live to love others with every breath in my body. Jesus help me to examine the contents of my heart and every word of conversation so the context remains in Your Truth according to Your Word, following Your Way which always leads to love, forgiveness and freedom.

Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life.

Can you imagine your words like the stones in the stream before David? He selected them carefully. We must do the same. Our words hold power once released. We must be sure of their trajectory. Aimed at giants produce victory. Carelessly hurled at sheep only lead to death and defeat. Have some wandered? Stop talking about them and go get them. Jesus never forced His Love on anyone. He met their need in their current condition. His Love drew them in. His Grace pulled their heart strings. His Kindness lead them to repentance. Faith is born of love not hate. Hope is confidence that in spite of me – He has a Purpose, Plan and Promise for my life that is worth having. What is the Gospel shared? Love. It should always be love. Drop the rocks, people. Shut the death door. Consider carefully the contents of every conversation. Does it lead to life? Is it Light in the darkness? Is it freedom to others? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it useful? Is it even true? I am pondering these thoughts and ideas today. I challenge you to do the same. Sticks and stones do harm people including us even more than we think. Lord, please take a coal from your altar and touch my lips so I may worthy to praise you again.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NLT) Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Watchtower or Worm Plant

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Psalm 85:6-9 (NLT) Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory.

Revive us again, Lord. The cry of the modern day church is loud and clear. We wait for the Glory of God to fill our churches spreading out across the land. We desire the next great move of God to sweep through our country but do we really know what that will look like? God revives us individually through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ day by day. His New Mercy meets us each morning to prepare us for a new day with another set of choices and footsteps of opportunity to respond to His Gentle Summoning and Still Small Voice. I believe that the outcry of the Body of Christ is within earshot of God but He knows in His Omniscient Wisdom that His People have no idea what exactly they are asking for. It is important to understand what it is exactly when the Lord His Spirit and an outpouring as Joel hints at is made manifest on the earth. This is not a personal plea for our individual life. Revival is a wide spread epidemic of repentance that draws all people to the Lord.

Psalm 85:10-13 (NLT) Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

What a beautiful thought! Unfailing love and truth meeting together consummating to provide righteousness and peace to all mankind. As men and women grasp this new place in God – it begins to live and breathe inside of them producing a Gospel of Love to reach the farthest place in this big world. Right? The Lord pours down His Blessings. To us right…to those who are righteous. To those who “have” repented, right? The abundance of heaven is for God’s Children. The ones who live right. Do right? Speak truth. Those who are generous in all things. The do-gooders right? It belongs to us. We are waiting for You, Lord to come and fill “the temple” of our church with your great love and prosperity. It’s all about me…I mean us. The rain falls on the just and unjust. God is ready to bring revive and bring to life every seed of potential called eternity in every human heart. This is revival. It is the justice of God for all mankind. Not judgment against those who don’t get it…yet.

Jonah 4:5-7 (NLT) Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away.

Poor Jonah! We have heard of his plight. God tells the prophet to go to Nineveh and tell the people that the Lord is about to destroy them. Apparently Nineveh was not a good place but filled with prevailing evil that had drawn the attention of God. Jonah did not want to go to this wretched place to warn the unsavory and violent people of God’s Wrath. So he thought he chose a ship headed in the opposite direction that turned into whale food. The whale deposited Jonah on the beach and Jonah obeyed God. Upon his arrival, he shouted to all the people that in 40 days God would destroy them according to their sin and betrayal of him.

Well, Jonah did not expect them to respond as they did. They didn’t throw him out of the city. They listened and believed. All the people including the king repented and returned to the Lord. When God witnessed their change of heart, He relented and did not carry out the destruction. Revival broke out in Nineveh that day. One might think that Jonah would rejoice and in turn seek justice from God for these people, but instead he climbed a nearby hill overlooking the city and waited for God to destroy them anyway. When God did not destroy the city for its overwhelming city but honored their return to Him and rending of their hearts – Jonah was mad. In his anger and distress, God arranged for a temporary shelter in the form of a “leafy plant” to spread its leaves over his pouting prophet and shade him from the sun. He also arranged for a worm. The worm ate the stem of the plant. The plant represents God’s Grace for Jonah as the Lord reasoned with Him. The worm is the bitterness that comes when a person chooses judgment over mercy for others. Poor Jonah! He was waiting for judgment but God provided justice. When a person repents, He offers righteousness. Jonah thought he was right, but God honors righteousness.

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.

Habakkuk was crying out for revival. This man was waiting and watching for the Lord to come and shower righteousness on the people. He said to the Lord, “I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer my complaint.” Expectation makes all the difference in the world. While Jonah expected judgment, Habakkuk desired justice for the people. There is a difference. Judgment is the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion or conclusion based on current circumstance or evidence presented. Justice is to be just, righteousness, equitableness, and moral rightness. There is a profound difference in these two words.

John 3:17-21 (NLT) God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.  And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

There is no judgment or condemnation in Jesus Christ. His Spirit who is the very essence of revival is not being poured out in judgment but to offer justice. To pay the debt of sin owed by every single person and offer the grace that is enough to overcome every test, trial and temptation ever faced. To cry out for revival is to swing wide the doors once housing religion to allow the Light of His Love to illuminate the way from every reprobate, perverse, violent and felonious person to enter our sanctuaries and discover our Great God. It is a cry for every sinner to meet our Savior. Is it what we really want? As Children of God, it is important to look around our waiting room and prayer room to discover what it is made of. To inspect our heart and examine the contents thoroughly. Revival is not here yet for a reason.

Luke 15:25-32 (NLT) “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

What if that thing desired, but delayed is not because of the Lord but by me? Could it be that the Great Outpouring of His Spirit called revival is to protect me from myself? The prodigal son had returned home safely. The brother who remained at home working side by side with his father was angry. Like Jonah, he expected his father to punish his brother for his abandonment and rebellion, but instead the father celebrated his return. He would not attend the banquet held in his honor. Justice declared the son a son and safely home. Judgment cried for punishment for wrong doing. Mercy always triumphs over judgement because Jesus came to give us all grace. A son is a son to God and a daughter a daughter through true repentance. Can we accept that in our church setting?

Rightness has no place in the church. Righteousness is the relationship offered only through repentance and acceptance of God’s Grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Religion is to add order to the body to incorporate a higher standard than already set forth by God. Why do we attempt to crucify sinners? We hug them and welcome them into our churches. It makes us feel good to help someone who is struggling. We want them to come to the empty altar – God knows we don’t need it anymore – yes I am being sarcastic. Why are the altars empty? Because we don’t believe they are needed in our rightness. We talk about the sin of other people ignoring the most vile sin of all – self-righteousness. I am a sinner. I need the Savior. Every single day of my life from here to Eternity I need His Grace and Mercy to cover me. The moment I think another person deserves less than God’s Full Justice or my full attention in sharing His Love – my own life is in jeopardy.

“For your brother was dead and has come back to life!” This is what revival looks like to God. It is for restoration of life. It took only one sin to require every ounce of Jesus’ blood. There is no hierarchy of sin and nothing anyone can do to earn salvation. When we are ready to receive every single person with mercy – the Lord will spark revival in our midst. When saints of God cut down the worm plants and choose watchtowers waiting for God to revive all mankind again – change will come. The only righteousness possible is through the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ who doesn’t offer judgment but justice to all mankind.

Isaiah 30:16 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Where are you waiting today? If you are waiting on God to judge the world, the shelter you sit in may just be God’s Grace protecting you while He changes your heart and mind. God desires mercy. So much so in fact that He gives it to us brand new in each day. Our hearts must become soft and pliable filled with compassion overflowing in grace. If the first thing you notice about someone is their sin or appearance, you may be in danger of judgment. Judgment causes us to fall under judgment again. It is one of the biggest things holding back revival. God is after hearts today beginning with each one of us. We must wrap our head and heart around true repentance and righteousness to offer it to another. If the altar is a foreign place, maybe its time for a return trip. Consider your conversation. What do you say about the lost? Wandering? Those who live beneath your expectation. Your opinion is judgment. The truth is that God has no grandchildren and Jesus no stepbrothers or stepsisters. God’s Grace poured out to you the “good” kid is equal for all God’s Children. The Lord is waiting for us to change our opinion of others so He can send them straight to us. His Grace is all we need. His Love is the binding force that allows His Spirit to flow through us. It doesn’t matter how much you or little you do when it comes to His Love. It is there for the asking. Lord, change our hearts and minds to always walk in righteousness not rightness. Lord help us to love justice and never again walk in judgment. Increase the fruit of your spirit especially mercy until our love for others is equal to ourselves. Mercy always triumphs over judgment. God delights in those who show mercy.

Proverbs 8:19-21 (NLT) My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.

 

 

Mercy Triumphs

mercy-triumphs-over-judgment

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

“You delight in showing mercy…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Mercy by Bethel Music has been set on replay the last few days. God delights in showing us mercy so much so that He gives us new mercy and a fresh start every day without fail. The next verse yields the secret to God’s Mercy. “My past embraced…My sin forgiven.” The certainty of God’s Grace is full acceptance of His Mercy. To wake each morning believing that His Grace is enough for you releases everyone and everything from your expectation. It means that all the wrongs, hurts, offenses and failures of the day before fall off in waves of grace as His New Mercy covers us. “I’m blameless in Your Sight…My history rewritten.” Do you believe that God’s Grace is enough for you today? I am challenged daily with pride that tells me I deserve better than how I am treated and that I have earned more than I have. Faith must overcome such rebellious thoughts to be reminded with each new day and His Gift of Mercy that Jesus is all that I need to share His Mercy with others.

Do you delight in showing mercy? What is your response to hurt, rejection, or offense? Is it immediate forgiveness? Yeah, me either. If you feel left out, slighted or ignored? Do you press in or move away? If you become angry, do you lash out? Do you fight for what is yours? Does love mean more than being right? See God is love and He is filled with unfailing love and compassion for people. Are you? Am I? God’s Faithfulness is enough to complete our life and bring us into full completion and absolute satisfaction. This requires putting all of our expectation in Christ alone. Releasing others from fulfilling our wants, needs and desires. Placing our complete and absolute total trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

What is mercy? Mercy is compassionate and kind forbearance shown toward an offender or enemy. It is to maintain a disposition of loving forgiveness. It is also the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone. God’s Mercy is kindness, compassion and favor. The very qualities that people desire but are often reluctant to give. Feelings and emotions are powerful driving forces in people that will take years of learning to lean on, trust in and depend on the Lord to overcome. The human heart is held together by soul ties. Connections that must be cut and grafted into Jesus Christ (the Vine) in order to overcome to be free to love and be loved. God’s Love is unconditional. To live in His Love our love must reflect His Love. This is full acceptance of Grace when it is enough so we can give it to others..

Lamentations 3:17-21 (NLT) Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…

Many who read this will immediately have an image in their head of the event or trauma in life that left a mark so deep that a scar has formed on your heart. For some, there is only a festering wound. Constantly poked and prodded by the enemy who uses people as his pawns, whispering lies like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to cause division, strife, and bitterness. Has your peace been stripped away? Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Have you been in living in a “barren, dry” land? Nothing is going right, nobody can help, and misery accompanies you day and night? He is our Provider. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water for thirsty souls. Do you feel like everything you hoped for is lost and every dream dead in a valley of dry bones? Hope is the anchor for our soul. It keeps us trusting and believing when everything falls apart in our life. Without hope, there is nothing to have faith in anymore. Have you decided that you will “never” forget this awful time? Does it feel that your life will be forever marked by sadness, grief and sorrow? “Yet I dare to hope when I remember this…” Mercy triumphs over judgement. Those things that you have ordained as dead, gone and impossible – hope says that His Mercy is new each morning. His Grace is sufficient for us. We must learn to live in grace that allows us to live, breathe and hope in His Mercy for us.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Jesus Christ came to this world. He died to pay the price for our sins giving us our freedom to enter right-standing with God the Father again. We can do nothing to regain righteousness except accept His Gift of Amazing Grace. Jesus came to give us mercy not judgment. This is so important to know and understand to grow in our relationship with the Lord. You cannot have mercy and judgment at the same time. They are opposites. If I accept God’s Grace, I am giving up my right to judge other people. This includes the “right” to be offended, mad, bitter, jealous, retaliate or reject others due to their actions or attitude. Forgiveness is not option to those who desire to be redeemed by God.

Sowing and reaping includes our actions and attitudes toward others. If we sow love in our life, it will be our harvest. If we sow judgment which means demanding what is deserved, it will be the dismal future of our next season. What you give – you will receive because what you plant you also harvest? With this in mind…

John 8:15 (NLT) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.

Jesus judges no one. He said it right here. God judges people. Those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus accepting His Grace will have mercy. Jesus is our example. I cannot judge others and be one with Christ. So now when given the opportunity to be hurt, mad, resentful and bitter…these words rise up in me…”mercy triumphs over judgment.” “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

James 2:12-14 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The “Law” that sets us free is God’s Grace. To fully accept God’s Grace is to let go of our right to judge other people. I could not and still cannot keep all of the rules and regulations of God’s Law, therefore; His Grace must be sufficient for me. The minute that I choose to judge another person as unworthy of mercy is the very moment that I exempt myself from it as well. I need God’s Grace to make it into forever with the Lord. I cannot imagine this being all there is to life. My faith is investing in faith. Faith though small it is mighty. It allows me to plant things in others that they are not willing to give me because they are not the source of my life or satisfaction. When I put my full expectation in Jesus – it really doesn’t matter what others think of me or how they treat me because if I will just give them the mercy that I have God’s Promises are mine. I will be complete lacking no good thing. I will have the Mind of Christ and peace that goes with it. I will remain free indeed because I will be one with Jesus. No man or woman can do for you what Jesus did for you and continue to does for you each day. His Love is perfect. His Grace is flawless. His Favor is abundant. Why settle for less by being unforgiving, unrelenting and unmerciful when you already have more than enough and full sufficiency in His Grace! Jesus will satisfy the soul that cuts the ties to human emotions and rights to be right or revered.

Faith is not only the acceptance of God’s Grace but administration of mercy, love, compassion and favor to others as you have received from the Lord. Judgment is to withhold any of these because you feel the other unworthy. Submission to Jesus means surrendering our mind, will and emotions to a God who is greater than our feelings. He is giving us new mercy today! Mercy triumphs, wins, overcomes and removes judgement from our life. What will you do to preserve God’s Grace and give mercy in your life today? What are you willing to give up? Forget? Forgive? His Mercy will meet you the moment you let go!

Mercy (Bethel Music)

I will wake and spent my days…Loving the One who has raised me up…From death to life, from wrong to right…You’re making all things beautiful. You delight in showing mercy…mercy triumphs over judgment.

2 John 3 (NLT) Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

The Purest Gift

the-purest-gift

Romans 3:21-24 (Message) But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

I usually do not study or write using the Message translation of the Bible. It must have been the last one I used because when I looked up the word “restore” today, this scripture in Romans 3 was included. I love the part where it tells us that we have “Jesus-setting-things-right” for us. I know that I am incapable of living the glorious life that God wills for me. I get distracted, disappointed, discouraged and even disgusted which causes me to wander or even sometimes stomp off mad in my own direction. Pride is the ominous beast within me always vying for control, pointing a finger at others ignoring the four aimed straight at me. Out of sheer generosity, God has given me a pure gift that as hard as I try to mess it up – somehow it just keeps rising up around me. The Lord restores us. Day after day, He lovingly and gently nudges those who love Him and serve Him back into His Will in spite of our hard hearts and willful attitudes. It is a pure gift.

Romans 8:29-30 (Message) God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

In the midst of the holiday season and the Christmas crush, people come together. Though driving up to the party, everyone may be rush tempers flare and frustration builds. But once the door opens and everyone comes together, it seems differences melt at least for the moment. Tis the season that brings families, friends, and even enemies together to celebrate. Forced into the proximity of acquaintances and strangers, a sense of community begins to rise up. People who have not been together since last year around this time find themselves catching up over apple cider or standing by the bonfire wondering what happened over the past year. The promise to communicate more and see each other fell through as the New Year came and life marches on.

God knew what He was doing from the beginning. He has always been intent on building a Kingdom. A family. A community. No wonder the enemy tries on every level and at every turn to destroy relationship rather godly, familial or even just friendly. He walks around like a roaring lion with a giant ax ready to cut and severe every bond of love and soul tie formed between God and His Created Ones. It is working. People are drifting farther and farther apart. Relationships are conducted on social media or via text. Face-to-face encounters are fewer and fewer so lies circulate in the midst of misinterpretation and insecurity. But God…

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. Jesus died to give us new life. A place in the Kingdom of God as part of His Body and community called Heaven. It is no wonder that the Greater is He in us continually is striving to connect with those who are around us even when our flesh is not privy to His Plan. I have watched the Lord melt division this holiday season. Strife that no one could seem to overcome has dissolved this Christmas. No lengthy discussions. No overthought words. Just Jesus. He is the only explanation as relationships are restored and friendships renewed. What about you? Gods will is for His Kingdom to be restored and His People to be renewed. If you are sitting on the sidelines in the midst of anger, hurt, or frustration today – Jesus has a gift for you. You don’t have to try. You don’t have to do a thing. Just bring all your disappointment to Him and let the Lord give you hope again. The first step of restoration is not one a forward movement. It is only to turn around and see that His Unfailing Love and Goodness has been pursuing you every day you thought you were alone, misunderstood and yes, even rejected. He was whispering, “Wait! Where are you going? I am doing a new thing. Hang on! Don’t run off! Just wait on me! It will be worth it.”

Many live by the words “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!” This is not the position of Jesus who is our example. It is not a notion that leads to anything good. Yes, we must be wise and discerning in our relationships but one must also allow Christ to oversee all of them. When we put Jesus, His Love, Grace and Mercy in the midst of ourselves – something beautiful and pure rises up in our midst. When the Lord becomes the Protector, Provider and Portion of our heart – there is a place for people in it too. He is more than enough for me. I cannot experience thriving relationships that can be renewed, restored and replenished day by day until I am rooted and grounded in His Amazing Love and Overflowing Grace.

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

For months, there has been a rift among some young ladies that I know. Friendships – close friendships – torn to shreds by the enemy. Lies and gossip spread about one another rising from insecurity planting bitterness and strife that spread beyond them causing mass destruction in a body of believers. No one knows the root, but many experienced the devastating effects of it. Yet this Christmas in the midst of holiday gatherings celebrating the birth of Jesus together something no less than miraculous has taken place. New life has risen up among them. Restoration is bringing them together without any intervention. The pure gift of the Father was His Son. The gift of the Son is amazing grace. The grace that is given is more than enough to restore and renew every broken relationship in our life.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (Message) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

The power of God’s Kingdom is relationship. Our relationship with God is fully and completely dependent on Jesus Christ. What if someone else’s relationship with Jesus is completely dependent on us? How is that possible? What if my inability to facilitate a relationship or build community with someone else creates a stumbling block that keeps them from Jesus? What if my stubbornness and lack of grace for them makes them think Jesus is as fickle as I am? What if my unwillingness to be in the same room with them keeps them in the dark rather than exposing them to Light? God’s Kingdom is a body of believers. Believers who form a community not a commune. All should be welcome. Heartbreak is most often inflicted person on person. Someone hurts us. Offends us. Betrays us. They don’t even have to actually do any of these things, but if I think they did the seed is planted.

What kinds of seeds are growing in the garden of our heart today? Will they produce fruit that nourish, replenish, renew and restore the Body as Christ intended? Or will I allow bitterness, division and pride to destroy the pure gift given to me by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ? I have struggled this Christmas because my family will not all be together. I want all my children together in one place at the same time to open gifts and stay in our pajamas all day. Most of my kids are adults. Some will be here. Others will not. I must have the same longing for the other relationships in my life. They must take a place of importance. Be a subject in my prayers. The only new commandment is to love one another. To love them more than ourselves. To love them as He loves the Body and everyone in it. It is His Will that all would be saved and not a single one lost…not even the one who is a thorn in our flesh today.

Are there relationships in your life in need of restoration? Are there some that need to be renewed – labeled “too difficult” so pushed far away? Is Jesus laying problematic people on your heart? Do you find the same ones showing up in random places? Jesus wants to give His People the pure gift of restoration and renewal so we can fulfill His Commandment together. Jesus wants to renew our grace for each other and restore our love for one another. I must be willing to let Him do it in me and around me. Relationships are the most important thing to the Lord and the most difficult to maintain. His Grace is enough today. I speak life to every dead relationship in your life today in Jesus Name. Lord, teach me to use the love and grace that you have given me to maintain healthy and thriving relationships with people all year round. Show us how to form strong, impenetrable bonds that the enemy cannot break. The purest gift given is love and grace. The best gift to give someone is the one they desire most. Jesus wants us to love each other. After all, it is His Birthday right…

I John 4:7-10 (Message) My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

Holiday Blues

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2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Today. It is a gift unwrapped when your eyes opened and you drew in the first breath of what has become a new day. It is clear that you have purpose otherwise your eyes would have beheld Jesus this morning, but instead it was the darkness, the spouse, the kids, the dog or maybe some coffee. Last night, a good old-fashioned case of the holiday blues overtook me. Not really sure why or how just like a light blanket tossed over my head. Do you ever get that way? The feeling of “so this is how life is going to be” kind of feeling. Not really satisfied or dissatisfied – you just feel like you are here. My routine has been disrupted for about a week. My schedule is not finely tuned as usual. My to-do list is finally almost caught up but my things I wanted to do list has been pared down significantly. Mama said that there would be days like this…or even if she didn’t I am going to say it and I am a mama myself. There will be days like this.

The most important step you take is the next one. Not the one that is coming two miles down the road, up the mountain or in the valley. Those are not certain. The only one that is completely possible is the next one. Think about it for a minute. Let it sink in. This holiday season is like all the rest that suck us into a vortex of doing and overdoing, scheduling and overscheduling, and producing expectations far beyond what is humanly possible. Our attempt to make memories waste moments that are precious. Traditions quickly overtake opportunity. Our spirits are to be renewed day by day but cannot be if we live in the past. Are you with me? Are you experiencing a bit of the holiday blues today? Maybe life in general is just too overwhelming and you want to give up?

To pick your mind at ease and your heart at rest, the perfect Christmas already happened. No matter how many events, pageants, services, parties, and festivities there may be what could match a sky full of angels heralding the birth of Jesus to the waiting and watching world while our Savior and King lay in a manager next to livestock in stalls on hoof-trodden hay wrapped in animal blankets. Jesus was perfect and He still is today. The first Christmas wasn’t ideal for the birthday of a King, but the King is perfect and still is today.

Galatians 6:8-10 (NLT) Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Why do Christians get the blues? Why do God’s People not always live by faith and confident hope? Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t say that I didn’t have faith or hope but that I was just a little down. Well, generally speaking, when my heart is not satisfied is usually stems from discontentment with the productivity in my life. If the things I see, do not meet my expectations. If the things I don’t see but long for somehow become impossible. When things don’t turn out the way I want them to, when I want them to or how I want them too – my faith is challenged. If not, I would never experience times like this because inexpressible joy would overflow from my life. I would do good to everyone all the time and no one would be impacted by my bad attitude, hurtful words or inability to deal with the stress of any given day. Oh, hang on, I may be the only one subject to my own agitations. If so, please bear with me today.

Nobody is perfect. It doesn’t matter if their house is perfect. Yard immaculate. Decorations on point. Presents exceptionally wrapped positioned uniformly under the tree. Outfits all matching. Menu delicious. Table set with metallic charges. Even if it smells like a fresh cut tree when you walk inside their door, it is probably an air freshener as most people have artificial trees and carefully constructed facades that they hide behind. The truth is that comparison has forced people into hiding. Hiding hurts, disappointments, pain, bitterness, dissatisfaction and the like. Surely I am the only one who gets the holiday blues or feels overwhelming so let’s tie on an apron and spread out some food invite everyone over and sing some Christmas tunes. No one will know and maybe I will feel better. Well…nice try…but it doesn’t work.

The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit released when Jesus died on the Cross. He sent His Spirit to live in us. His Spirit uses each new day to produce new faith and new hope in us. He renews us day by day and season by season. It is when our body, mind and spirit get caught up in the natural and forget about the supernatural that our mind is susceptible to depression, anxiety, and stress. We don’t mean to do it. Life can do it. Holiday pressure. Christmas lists. Menus to plan. Meals to make. Cookies to bake. Mix it all together with holiday traditions and life unexpected. This is the recipe the enemy uses to distract us and keep us from the Presence of our Savior and Lord. Jesus is the reason for the season. Of course, have I taken the time to search for Him and seek Him out in this season?

Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT) Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us a new way, we never give up. (2 Corinthians 4:1) Some of you reading this today may think I am crazy, after all it is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas music is playing on every radio station. Parties every night. Gifts, gifts and more gifts. Family coming together. Fun and frivolity. But for some, the holiday season only makes them feel worse. I have struggled with the holiday blues my entire life. I am not really sure why but they come uninvited no matter how hard I fight. Some will be celebrating Christmas minus a loved one or significant other this year. They will smile with tears just behind their eyes as they watch others experience the joy they have lost. Some will feel sadness because the budget too tight to fill the stockings and overload the tree just happy to have a home to live in and food to eat. Others have a dark place deep inside their hard, cold heart that has never experienced the Light of Love born in a manger that Christmas so long ago. See everyone is susceptible to having a bad day. Experiencing the blues. Fighting the darkness. Being overtaken with sorrow or a sense of great loss. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Family issues. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His Mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness. His Mercies begins fresh every morning! Amen and amen!

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NLT) The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

As my mood began to plummet last night, I thought a hot shower might do the trick. A place of solitude to seek the Lord. When I don’t feel like myself or can sense the darkness closing in – I run to Jesus. He is my Hope. His Grace is enough for me. My weakness makes room for Him. His Mercy is new each day and it is the very thing that refreshes me. I have learned the hard way that I need the Lord every single day especially during the holidays. It’s funny that as long as I have read the Bible and studied God’s Word, I always somehow overlook the simplistic wisdom looking for some hidden knowledge or great secret tucked within. God’s Promises always come with instructions of exactly how to attain that which is desired.

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him. How dependent am I on the Lord today? How much am I doing myself? What is beyond the limits of my control because that is where God is? What am I hanging on to? Is it worth anything at all until I release it to the Father? The Lord is good to those who search for Him. Have I abandoned my pursuit of my Savior in exchange for busyness? Have I given up seeking for Him to search for the perfect gift? Have I stopped pressing due to exhaustion? New mercy comes in the morning, I really need to maintain rest. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Am I waiting on the Lord? Meditating on His Word. Sitting in my prayer closet silently waiting for Him to answer. Have I stopped long enough to receive what the Lord has for me? Well, there you have it the cure to the holiday blues and Christmas funk that you may be in. Jesus is all that I need to overcome all that ails me. But I won’t find Him if I don’t seek Him every day.

Luke 2:8-15 (NLT) That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

The Savior of the world. King of Kings and Lord of Lords came into this world and found no room for Him in the Inn. Though the world did not welcome Him, it did not stop Jesus from coming and completing His Mission. The town hustled and bustled just the same and darkness did not flee when the cries of the infant rippled through the universe shaking the gates of hell. Darkness could not silence the angel’s song as they announced God’s Glory had arrived. The shepherds tending flocks in the field heard the message and went to “see this thing that is happening”. They were not the only ones as the wise men followed the star seeking Jesus. Will we do the same?

In this season of giving, will Jesus receive some time and attention? While seeking out satisfaction, will I let Him satisfy my soul? In just a few short weeks, life returns to normal but will I remain the same. Are you just trying to survive the holidays or celebrating the season? Trust me. I know how hard it can be. As I prayed last night, I asked the Lord to open my heart to see His Light and feel His Love all over again. Have you done the same? Too many of our expectations this time of year are based on worldly precepts and traditions of man, but wise men and women still seek Him. Maybe all you need is the joy that comes in the morning and the mercy that refreshes given to us each new day. The Lord is waiting. He is watching. He came for you to have everlasting life. Jesus came to complete us not to compete. Comparison is a cancer that eats away at contentment. Find a few moments. Take a shower. Go in your closet and shut the door. Seek the Lord. Call on His Name. Let the Light of His Love break through the darkness and remove the heavy holiday burdens. He is the Prince of Peace. Not world peace but our personal peace! Jesus be my peace today! Let me feel the Light of Your Love. Chase away the darkness as I bask in Your Light and new life!

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Restore Me Lord

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Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” – Eldridge Cleaver

It has been a long and exhausting week. My mom had open heart surgery a couple of weeks ago. Our state was deluged in rain and wind by a hurricane. After working for a week, I came to help care for her and assist my parents during the recovery process. My routine is disrupted. My schedule out of order. I am not really sure what day it is or what it will hold. A trip to the radiologist confirmed that my sweet mama had the beginnings of pneumonia. I had the best of intentions and expected to work but this task had taken more time and nights are long when your patient cannot sleep. The couch is comfortable but I am a little older than before. In the midst of exhaustion and concern for my ailing parent, my daughter called crushed by a friend. It was just too much. I called one parent and then another attempting to put out the fire before it turned into a firestorm. It didn’t work. Falling asleep last night after turning off an embarrassing debate with two candidates clearly not fit to be our country’s next president, far from home, missing my family, concerned for my people, staring in the dark – I just began to talk to Jesus. Our time has been limited. I have tried multiple times. We get brief and quick conversations but hardly the hours that are usually set aside of us. I believe there are seasons when that happens. It is during those times that we live on what His Word for yesterday was because He never lies or changes His Mind. So what He told me yesterday I can trust for today and build on for tomorrow! Thank you Lord for being constant.

One thing I know in the midst of all the chaos. God is constant. He is the One who I can fully trust and lean on when all hell breaks loose as the conditions around me currently indicate. When I opened my eyes this morning ready to meet the day, I heard my heart say, “Restore me, Lord.” I need restoration. I need to be refilled. So many details have added to this emptiness as my life has been poured out over the last few weeks. This is a test. I know that it is only a test. One thing I have learned if I do not what to do, where to go or how to do something it usually is a call to wait and watch for the Lord. So here I am. I am shifting my weight from foot to foot because the faith that we stand on as believers is not always a wide base. What do you do when nothing adds up? In the world – it is time to refigure and regroup. In the realm of hope, it is time to ask for renewal and restoration. This is not the process that we have made it. It is not opening our hands asking God to pour in us just as we are. It is surrendering ourselves to be restored, renewed and recreated by the Lord. Something has to be given in order to receive. We must make room for the Lord. New wine will never be given to old wineskins.

Eldridge Cleaver is a controversial figure who offered infinite wisdom. “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” If the common goal of Christianity is to share the Good News of God’s Love and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it will never be about me. It was always be about others. Every attitude and action must be given to changing hearts and minds so they are able to experience the Love of God. There is no neutrality in the world. I am certain that he did not mean this as I hear it today, but I believe that there is no neutrality in this world. God designed the world we live in definitively. There are those who love Him and many who don’t. There are those who serve the Lord – and those who don’t. The Kingdom of God is clearly defined with no median. You are for Him or against Him. We are love. Or we are not.

This idea leads to the next part of this vital revelation…” You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Am I part of the solution? Or am I part of the problem? I have previously misquoted this a bit but the concept is the same. When I decide that there is nothing I can do to provide a solution, then I am immediately part of the problem. Change is absolutely essential to problem solving. To do the same thing over and over expecting a change is labeled insanity. We have been faced with a situation with one of our children. Searching for a solution, communicating with all involved, even choosing not to explain or defend ourselves in the midst of lies and accusations – it only got worse. We removed ourselves from the situation. This eliminated a part of the problem so hopefully there will be a solution now.

Create in me a clean heart. Renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restoration begins with me. It begins by emptying my heart before the Lord and carefully examining the contents. It means taking out those things that clutter the space reserved for Jesus. Repentance is a daily process. It is an unavoidable me thing. God is not going to take my sin but will gladly wash away anything given freely. Do not cast me from your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. I need Jesus all the time. Every single day. He must be the lead in all things concerning me and my life. He is my existence. Restore to me the joy of “YOUR” salvation. Wait a minute. I thought this was about me… My joy is contingent on my salvation. The grace I have is from Jesus – I get new mercy from the Lord every day when I make my heart, mind and soul available. And finally, grant me a willing spirit. I must be willing to allow the Lord to restore me and put my expectation in Him alone. So here I sit asking the Lord to restore me…

I Peter 5:8-11(NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is ready to restore you. He longs to renew us day by day. During times like this when our life is chaotic and things out of sort. We must come to the Lord as an active participant. To be restored means letting go of that which burdens us. Restoration is only possible through release. I must let go of my sin so my heart is soft. I must let go of my pride and stubbornness so I will be humble and steadfast. I must position myself in His Presence and push through each prayer. I think what is interesting is that it says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…” We have salvation through our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it is the joy that is often missing because it is overshadowed by sin and mess that builds up. My joy is and always will be Jesus. I lose my joy when I expect it from any other source than my salvation. My willingness to walk by faith not by sight and trust the Lord makes all the difference. We have joy provided in our salvation. It is up to us to surrender all for Him to fill us with it.

Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rain is Coming

the-rain-is-coming

Hebrews 11:6-7 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Living in Florida, one becomes accustomed to the humidity. When my sister moved to Nebraska many years ago, her body acclimated to the weather up there that is much drier than the tropical conditions of the south. On her visits, the intensity of the humidity was much worse because she isn’t used to it anymore. It doesn’t take very long. Our daughter moved to New Hampshire just over a year ago and feels the same way. The environment has changed and their bodies have adapted to the conditions around them. It is human nature to conform to the world in which we live as a means of survival. God didn’t create humanity to survive but made us to thrive.

Life is full of the unexpected. It has many twists and turns along the way, not to mention all of the distractions. Storms come and go. The road of life is filled with peaks and valleys – highs and lows. Yet in all the change there is one constant. God is constant. He is Sovereign. He does not lie or change His Mind. His Word for my life is relevant, true and enduring – no matter how many times I mess up. His Grace is always enough for me. It is sufficient in my failures. He is all that I need to successfully navigate this life and reach Eternity. Yet there are days when the rain drowns out the sound of His Voice because I am afraid to get wet. There are times when the conditions call my attention to my physical state rather than relying on the New Creation that I am becoming.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2) My life is not a call of conformity but a promise of transformation into a new person. I must change the way that I think and learn God’s Will for my life. His Will is pleasing and perfect. It is my belief and full expectation of God’s Faithfulness that allows me to endure the rain to see His Harvest in my life. It is my destiny. It is the covenant that I live in. Lord, I know the rain is coming. I can feel it in the air of my spirit. I can smell it all around me. Make me faithful like Noah. Lord, transform me.

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation. It is impossible to please God without faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Our faith in God allows us to be transformed by Him giving way for the substance of our life to be changed and reformed by His Love, Grace and Mercy. Faith makes my life pliant and compliant. It transfers my belief from what I can see to what I know is true. This is important. Why? Into each life some rain must fall. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Genesis 6:9 (NLT) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

The account of Noah begins in Genesis 6. Noah was righteous. He was the only blameless person living on the earth. Note: it refers directly to Noah and not his whole family. Your righteousness and faithfulness can be the salvation of your entire family. He walked in close fellowship with God. God was sorry that He ever created mankind and decided to flood the earth and rid it of people altogether. All except for Noah and his family. (vs 11-13) The Lord had already made the way for Noah and his family to be saved and recreate the world for their future. God told Noah what to do and Noah did it. The task was overwhelming. The Lord did not bring anyone alongside of Noah to assist and partner with him. It was all up to one man, God’s man to get the job done. Funny in the tests of faith – that we find ourselves all alone even when surrounded by many people. Noah had a relationship with the Lord long before the flood. His faith already evident so that when the Lord told him to build the ark in the sunshine of day – Noah did it.

Genesis 6:22 (NLT) So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.

Genesis 7:5 (NLT) So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him.

Genesis 8:15-20 (NLT) Then God said to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.” So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives left the boat. And all of the large and small animals and birds came out of the boat, pair by pair. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose.

Noah was a faithful man. He did everything as the Lord God commanded him exactly as God indicated. His faith would be the vessel (or boat if you will) that saved his family. Noah’s faithfulness was not based on his current condition or the surrounding circumstances but consistent through every season and change in his life. He was 600 years old when he entered the ark and 601 when he exited. He did not complain of a year wasted but came prepared to worship God when he arrived.

Those who walk in close fellowship with the Lord cannot help but worship Him. Noah was that man. I want to be that woman. God’s Response is noted in verses 21 and 22. “And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Did you know that in every season, change, trial, hardship and pain that we endure faithfully that God will always release His Blessing? He cannot help Himself. Our faith opens the windows of Heaven. His Outpouring is the rain that washes us clean and prepares the way for us to not just survive but thrive on the earth. What is the blessing of the flood? Prosperity. God blessed the earth and commanded seedtime and harvest so that whatsoever we plant we will reap.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT) “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Could you really blame God if He went back on His Word and destroyed the earth today? The sick depravity of our culture and abased state of society even the tainted form called church could be easily destroyed in its utter demise. Sin is rampant and love is cold. We are living in the end days. The rain is coming. Are we building a life that will be a worthy vessel to crossover to the future found in Him? Thank you Jesus for the fact that you are constant, do not lie and never change your mind about us. I would. Your Faithful Love is forever. My faith in you must live as such.

Paul described the struggle best in Romans 7 when he wrote – “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” The struggle is real. My faith must be intact and worthy of sailing through the violent storms and torrential rain to carry me from everlasting to everlasting. But it is not about me, I cannot build anything worthwhile in my life because sin is always attacking it. I must rely on Jesus to become the vessel of my life that carries me through every trial and hardship. I must strive to do what He says when He says it in spite of me. The Word of God tells us that those who put their hand to the plow and look back are not fit for the Kingdom. I wonder if it is the same for those of us that hear the command to build a firm foundation of faith but choose to put our hand out to feel for rain first.

Luke 17:26-27 (NLT) “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all.”

The isolation of obedience driven by a life of faith means ignoring what we see to act on what we know about God. It can sometimes make you feel a little crazy. Everyone else is doing their own thing, enjoying life but you are in a field alone hammering away at a boat to sail in a storm that is not yet seen. You feel conviction that compels you to press on obeying God’s Word and doing exactly as He commands yet the enemy taunts you from the sidelines. Faith seems so illogical sometimes and probably will right up until we meet Jesus face-to-face. It is still the only way to please God. What is the Lord telling you to do today? Is He telling you to do something crazy like build an ark for an imaginary flood? Faith is telling you to do but human nature is calling you a fool. Build the ark, my friend. The rain is coming. Keep pounding away at the foundation of your life until it is completely reliant on the Word, Will and Way of Jesus Christ. It not for you, do it for your family. God is faithful. Jesus is coming. The rest is up to you and me.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Happy Transformation Day

Happy Transformation Day

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

July 23, 2014 will forever be a day celebrated by our family. It was on that day that our son received his bone marrow transplant. After years of cancer relapse and treatment, one desperate attempt to save his life worked. On that day, everyone who followed our son’s story and supported him in prayer wore our favorite football team’s colors and joined Team Unconquered. I was hoping for a reprieve but God blessed him with remission. The medical team told us that transplant day when they give you bone marrow to rebuild your blood and body is like a second birthday for it gives new life again. For our boy, it would best to think of it as his third birthday. The first in May when he came into the natural world, the day that he was born into God’s family, and then transplant day. Two years later, he is actively pursuing his degree in college full-time. Just an ordinary guy on an extraordinary journey loved by a God who couldn’t bear to leave him as he was but saw fit to transform him into a walking miracle.

As I think back over the last five years of our life, things have changed significantly. Down to just two kids at home, it is a whole lot quieter around here. Turning 50 has proven to be uneventful except for a new job, a new house, and new people in my life. Some of the very same people who cheered our son across the finish line are now in the battle for themselves. The most obvious difference to me is me. I am changed…for the better in some crazy way. I don’t complain as much as I used to. I notice the little things. I am way mellower than before. I have learned to wait thought I still have a long way to go. I have decided that it is in our complete undoing that we are molded and shaped by the Hand of the Lord. Broken hearts are soft hearts. Unfulfilled expectation only lead to the pursuit of satisfaction. Again just as the Lord could not bear to leave our son in his sickness, He cannot leave me in my mediocrity. When I cry out for more, He works to make room for all.

James 1:17 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I believe that is our inability to fully comprehend the goodness and perfection of God our Father that hinders us from full acceptance of His Gifts. Too many times, it is easy to compare the Lord to the other people in our life and the expectation formed on their faithfulness to us. I know that there are times when our kids want what they want but we have already purposed in our heart to do more. If there is a wait time associated or work that must be done, they become impatient. They do not want to be inconvenienced or made uncomfortable so they settle for they can see.

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father. This passage reminds us today that God is intent on giving us His Very Best. In fact, it is His Decree over our life. The prodigal son is an excellent example. Everything his father belonged to him. He had to do nothing but remain in his father’s house to enjoy everything that was his. The son decided that he wanted to go his own way, so he took the portion that was his squandering it quickly. When he could take it no more, he decided to go home and become a servant. But his father had other plans and he was welcomed home. This is our story depicted through others.

God gave us everything in the Garden of Eden. The very thing that was kept from us was not out of selfishness but to keep us secure. We wanted more and took it forging off to journey through like making our own way. Sin proved no match for us so God gave His Only Son to repay our debt and give us our freedom again. When we come back to the Father as a servant, He molds us and shapes us into a beautiful bride to become His Children again through a spirit of adoption.

Hosea 2:14-16 (NLT) “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’

My relationship with the Lord changed in the “Valley of Trouble”. It was in complete desperation and total devastation that God was able to begin to transform my life again. New life is a lifelong process. If you are dry, thirsty, broken or done, it’s not over. He is with you. Jesus is waiting on you to come to Him. He whispers to you. Here is the thing: Freedom will not allow the Lord to force you to come closer, claim your blessing or step into your promise. It is 100% up to you. If you decide to wade in the gray and live in the middle of the road, He will wave from the sidelines trying to get your attention but He will not drag you off into His Goodness. Jesus wants to win you back but not as a servant but beloved bride.

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) 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.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will be afraid for you are close beside me. I have experienced this kind of companionship with the Lord. It is an awesome peace that I must learn to maintain outside of crisis. How? Your rod (discipline) and staff (instruction) protect and comfort me. Discipline is created by the Holy Spirit who cultivates the fruit of His Spirit including self-control. His Instruction is His Word. Jesus said that true worshippers do so in “Spirit and Truth.” Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – no one comes to the Father except through His Son. We pass through the “Valley of Trouble” and move past the darkest valleys. In the meantime, the Lord prepares a feast for us right in the enemy’s face. Doesn’t the Word of God tell us that He came to give us a rich, satisfying life. His Goodness is to be experienced in the land of the living. You are anointed. David was as well. It took years for David to fully realize his calling and step into royalty. David had a heart set on God so he waited for Him. David made mistakes. He didn’t always make the right choice, but his love for the Lord kept him moving toward the throne.

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 Valley of Trouble has a way of stretching the perspective of our life from here to Eternity. Heaven becomes just a little sweeter each time a loved one crosses over there. It is in that moment when we lose all control and cannot change the circumstances, conditions or complications of life into resolution when we move just a little closer to the Lord. You will never be able to pursue the Lord wholeheartedly with only half your heart. His Goodness is perfect. His Grace is enough. God works in the realm of constant purity and truth. He operates in perfection. We do not so just a little of God’s Love is so much sweeter than anything we have experienced before and changes our life for the better so we become comfortable rather than committed to the process of change called transformation.

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.

During the process of preparing for the transplant, there are several meetings set to make certain that you understand the profound risk associated with destroying all your bone marrow in order to give life renewing stem cells to produce new healthy ones. There is a period of time when the patient is severely immune-deficient. We had two options – no transplant and his imminent death or do the transplant with a 2% chance at life. Where is the choice?

We are given a choice each day to serve God or not. Life or death. Blessing or curses. It is our choice to carry our cross and crucify our flesh that allows the God in us to grow into divine direction and better choices. His Grace is enough for all the times that I fail. His Mercy says, “Good Morning! All things are possible to those who believe!” I must make the choice to be my Father’s Child and live in His Presence. I must be aware of the substitutions and compromises that are offered to me each day waiting the perfect and good gifts that God has promised for me.

I don’t think a life of transformation is a much different process than a transplant. See I have the right to choose. I choose life over death each day. I have met some people with cancer who decided they did not want to lose the time they had left fighting it. There were some who fought for just enough time to walk their daughter down the aisle or hold their newborn grandchild. We get to choose if we fight the good fight of faith. We are created and called to be new people of God. We approach as humble servants, who He elevates to His Children.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT) If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

“A new life has begun.” Are you walking in the newness of life today? Or is it just normal life? You are filled with the Living God as a believer. Your declaration today can be greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. Two years ago, I held my breath as people sang, “Happy Birthday” to our son just before giving him the stem cells. I didn’t know what might happen next. I couldn’t see the outcome. I didn’t celebrate in that moment. I simply said, “God Your Will be done.” God’s Will is always for our blessing and benefit. God’s Word is filled with promises that should have us racing after Him. God’s Way is Jesus who promises to ease our burden and make it light when we yoke our life to His Plan. We don’t do any of these things. Why? We don’t believe.

The medical team believe firmly as do I that part of the reason our son made it through five cancer diagnoses and subsequent treatment was his mindset. He never got mad or sad and didn’t complain. He endured. By faith, he believed that God wanted to heal his body so he was willing to just walk it out. There are a whole lot of people who claim to have faith but have never really had it tested. There are others who in the test forfeited faith as too hard. I believe that in every season of life our faith is tested so we can be transformed. What I believe in my heart will be evidenced in my life. If we could just wrap our head around the fact that God is good and His Will perfect, I believe we would see the signs, wonders and miracles that He promised. Rather than sitting in the Valley of Trouble, maybe if we forged ahead by faith instead of being held captive by fear. Today is Transplant Day another birthday for our son, it could be a new birth, new life, and new season day for you too. Happy Transplant Day, buddy! Today can be a Happy Transformation Day for you, too! Just believe! To God be the glory! Great things He has done!

2 Corinthians 3:9 (NLT) If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!