It’s A Stretch

It

Psalm 77:1-3 (ESV) I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

If I were to wake up with a headache, I would immediately get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. In the last cabinet on the left bottom shelf, there is a bottle of ibuprofen that has proven to give immediate relief in the past. As I reach for the container, popping off the lid, I take two little tablets with some water. After about fifteen to thirty minutes, the headache usually dissipates. Problem solved. Health restored. Simple, right? True story – my child (who goes unnamed) tells me that they have a headache. I give them directions as to where the pain reliever is located and tell them exactly how many pills are appropriate. A little while later the same child complains of headache. I ask, “Did you take some medicine?” The answer is “no”. Different child is feeling some pain from dental work. Same instructions given. Child continues to gripe about their mouth. Same question is asked, “Did you take some medicine?” “No…” I further inquire, “Why not?” Answer from ailing child, “I don’t like to take medicine.” Now it is me ready to hit the medicine cabinet…

My first kid wanted me to do if for them. They were waiting for me to go get the medication and a glass of water. I was supposed to bring it to them. Without asking, the assumption was that I would know and do it in response to their complaint. The second kid has a fear of swallowing pills. Rather than overcoming fear to receive the relief desired – this child would continue to tough out the discomfort instead. I am not a pill pusher. In fact, I am a borderline hippy when it comes to medication. The point of these illustrations is only to share some insight about the Lord today.

In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

It is human nature to pursue God with our problems. To ask for relief, pray about problems and give Him a complete and detailed list of our desires. In the beginning, coming to the Lord like a child, leaving full of hopeful expectation. But as the relationship grows, it can also become stale and stagnant. We stop reaching for God’s Heart only seeking His Hand. When His Hand does produce what we want and how we want it – we stop reaching. In the day of my trouble…I seek the Lord. Same. In the night my hand is stretched out without wearying. Same. My soul refuses to be comforted. Concerning and still same. There are times when it is our nature to live in our consequence, dwell in our problems and make our situation the excuse of incapacitating faith that will not bend to relieve us or soften to sustain us, but will only be complete in our believing. Nothing is impossible for God. (Luke 1:37) If we believed this simple verse completely and if it was the conviction of our life – we would be fully restored and renewed sparking a revival of epic proportions.

Luke 5:12-13 (ESV) While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Faith in Jesus Christ will always produce a miracle. Oh I hear the naysayers, I have been praying for years. My body is not whole. My bank account broke. My loved one not saved. I have no peace. The list goes on and on. Faith will produce nothing until it is invested in Jesus Christ. You can love the Lord with all your heart, mind and body but if you do not trust Him enough to believe – it will do nothing to produce His Promises in your life. Obedience is essential. The man had leprosy. A common ailment in Biblical times. It made him a beggar and outcast. He fell on his face before Jesus and full of faith said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” When was the last time, you fell on your face before Jesus and spoke similar words? Jesus didn’t hesitate for a moment, but immediately stretched out His Hand and healed him. Right there on the spot. Why? The Lord is ready to heal us. Renew us. Restore us. He is waiting on you. Jesus is waiting on me.

Matthew 12:10-14 (ESV) And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The organized body called church has been infiltrated by preference rather than permeated by His Presence. Oh God is with us. Where two are gathered in His Name…He is right there. He is right here with all the power to save, heal, and deliver promised to those who believe. He can and will do exactly what His Word says that He will do. His Word cannot and will not return to Him void. So if the Lord is ready, willing and able according to His Word to do miracles, solve problems and heal bodies there is only one other explanation. We do not believe.

The man with the withered hand is an awesome illustration of church. He came to church with a problem. The religious folk had doctrine to follow. But then Jesus filled with the Presence of God showed up, and messed up the carefully planned service on the designated day. He gave the man one simple instruction – “Stretch out your hand…” He did. He was healed in that moment. I wonder if we are not experiencing the miraculous because no one is reaching out to Jesus. The fruit of our faith is believing. Believing is trusting. It means reaching when no else is reaching. Stretching our hand out when everyone is staring at us. It means doing what He asks in that moment to receive what He has for us! We want God to bring it to us where we are when the Lord is trying to deliver us from our current situation. We desire the healing but not the healer. The giving more than the giver. We want to be saved but do not have a desire for our Savior.

Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

A relationship will fall apart of one person stops reaching. The moment that there is not stretching to come together and continue in a relationship it is the beginning of the end. Jesus Christ offers openly to become our life partner. To shoulder the weight and carry the burdens of our life, but to give it all to Jesus means giving up the right to complain. It means reaching when others just stand there. It means stretching even in our discomfort to access the divine. The yoking of our life with Christ is a covenant relationship of continual exchange. He asks us to come to him. Take my yoke and learn from me. You will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. We must simply come.

Psalm 143:5-6 (ESV) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.  I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

To be completely honest, I don’t mind bringing my kids some meds and a glass of water. I love to take care of them. If I were to wait on them hand and foot, they would never understand what is required of them in life. Sometimes you have to reach for things even when it’s a stretch. I can give them what they need but it is up to them to heed my instructions and take what is given. God is a good father. Jesus is a faithful Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit is constantly cultivating God’s Fruit within us by faith. The trouble is that if we stop reaching – we will never take hold of what faith has in store for us. We drag our baggage into church and lug it right back out because we identify with the weight of it. To release it all to Jesus is an act of total trust. What if He doesn’t do anything? Oh, my friend, what if He does?

Psalm 84:11 (ESV) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Advertisements

Give Me A Sign

Give me a sign

Hebrews 2:4-8 (NLT) And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose. And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. For in one place the Scriptures say, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, or a son of man that you should care for him? Yet for a little while you made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them authority over all things.” Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority.

Gideon was at the bottom of the winepress threshing wheat when the angel of the Lord came to him. He called Gideon, mighty warrior, while he was yet to emerge from his hiding place. The man of God was trying to survive when the Lord decreed that through him Israel would thrive. Gideon did not immediately rise up to his calling. He needed a sign. Actually before the chapter ends, Gideon would ask the Lord for multiple signs to signify that this encounter and experience was real and the Word of the Lord true.

For a long time I struggled with stories like Gideon’s, God’s call tested by mankind. But the longer I walk with the Lord, the more that I have come to realize that true power is accessed in my weakness rather than when I pretend to have strength. The first miracle performed in my life drained every single ounce of trust I had in the Lord and His Word. When faith becomes our mission – it is in the pursuit of miracles. Faith is not for the things naturally occurring but for supernatural outcomes. Faith is the credible confidence that we are fully assured of God’s Promises for us and live expectantly. Faith is illogical in accordance with natural intelligence and human reasoning. It is the mindset that the power of God is within us and will find its way out of us that should keep us constantly aware that signs, wonders and miracles are the attainable lifestyle of all God’s Children. As our soul prospers, in all things so shall we.

I need a sign. I have walked as far as faith will carry me. I need the Lord to show me that I am still on course. I do not need a release from my calling but rather confidence in my way. I am not asking for a change of way but a change of heart today. Do you feel lost in the journey today? Does everything seem contrary to your calling? Do you think maybe you missed Him? I do. The Lord has given us power and authority over all things. Jesus Christ gives us grace infused with His Power. It flourishes in our weakness as long as we do not give up, wander off or refuse to wait. I have asked the Lord for a sign. I know He will give it to me.

Judges 6:36-40 (NLT) Then Gideon said to God, “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew.” So that night God did as Gideon asked. The fleece was dry in the morning, but the ground was covered with dew.

The angel of the Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior”. Gideon asked for a sign. The sign was the acceptance of his offering to the Lord. God obliged him. Gideon took ten men to destroy his father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole. Even though his father’s household and town people came against them, the word of the Lord proved true and Gideon was spared. The Lord “clothed” Gideon with power. The armies had formed an alliance to come against Israel. Battle was at hand. So Gideon, asked the Lord for a sign. “If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me this way…” Friend, I don’t know what you are battling today but I do know the battle is the Lord’s. There is victory inside of you.

Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? To take Him at His Word sounds easy until impossibilities take over. When you need a miracle is the hardest time to keep your mind, will and emotions in check. Desperation takes over. Fear of disappointment is cast at your weary soul each day. God is the God of the impossible. It is impossible to please God without faith. He knows us inside and out. He even offers us the opportunity to test Him, try Him, and prove Him. (Malachi 6) This passage in Malachi refers to money and finances. What better place to start? One of the staunchest competitors for our heart. Yet I believe that in all things God says, “Put me to the test.” If you desires faith and a more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give you a sign.

Matthew 9:6-7 (NLT) Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home!

I believe the outcome of our request for a sign from the Lord is contingent on our heart. What is that we desire from Him? Are you after God’s Hand or His Heart? There was one thief on the cross who desired to be with Jesus while the other one only wanted to escape. Only one was granted his request that day dying nevertheless. Is it easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven?” or “Stand up and walk?” There are many people who call themselves Christians but never go beyond the title. This is not a word of condemnation just part of the identity crisis of the church today. Signs, wonders and miracles should accompany the modern day Christian just like the early church. We have everything needed to live under an open heaven so what is keeping it closed?

Doubt. Truly that is the source of the mountains that we face and obstacles we cannot overcome. It is always doubt. God’s Power is never lessened by a lack of faith. Grace releases the power and authority of Christ as we humble our life before Him. We can say that our sins are forgiven, but no one can see the contents of our heart. However, signs, wonders and miracles in our life are evidence that His Power is at work in us and through us.

Matthew 12:38-41 (NLT) One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.”

When the religious folks requested a miracle, Jesus had one for them. The sign of Jonah that was yet to come when He died on the cross, laid in the grave three days and emerged with victory over sin and death in His Hand. For them, there’s the sign. However, for those who seek to live by faith and an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ – He will give them signs, do miracles and they will experience wonders that cannot be explained so all glory will go the Lord. True repentance opens the window of heaven. Faith is a series of steps toward loving and trusting Him more. It is not an easy journey. The Lord sees our heart. The heart intent on finding Him will seek Him. He sees your heart and responds to your faith. If you need a sign, do not be afraid to ask for it. The Lord comes close to the brokenhearted. The one who is searching for Him will find Him.

Are you striving in obedience? Do you think you lost your way? The Lord will be our light. His Word is a lamp for your feet and light to your path. His Spirit is your helper. He will give you a sign when you need it. Ask for it. Look for it. Trust Him. Believe. Walk by faith and not by sight. God is doing exactly as He promised according to His Will and Way which always is exceedingly abundantly more than we can think, ask or imagine.

Acts 1:3 (NLT) During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

We focus on Acts 2 and the day of Pentecost when Jesus poured out His Spirit on mankind. However, if you look in the first chapter of Acts – a beautiful love story unfolds. Jesus had been betrayed and brutalized. He died on the Cross and came up out of the grave. For forty days, the same amount of time he was in the wilderness, the Lord spent time with the apostles. What was he doing? He proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. Are you in a wilderness of testing? Fasting? Praying? Believing? Yet still wondering? Wandering a bit? The Lord will come to you. He will give you a sign. He will prove that He is still alive. Jesus will show His Love for you again and again if you request it from a repentant heart. He is that good! He has that much grace!

Proverbs 30:5 (NLT) Every word of God proves true. He is a shield for all who come to Him for protection.

God always responds to our cry for help. He listens to our doubts and disappointments. In that moment when our heart desires Him, and strives for more faith – He will answer and give us a sign. You just have to want Him more than anything else. Miracles still happen. They come at a high price. We must give up on ourselves and fully embrace Him by faith and trust to do what His Word says that He will do. No more compromises. No more shortcuts. No more excuses. Here is your sign – the One who has called you is faithful. He will do exactly as He promised to do!

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT)  For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

Time For A Change

Time For A Change

Mark 9:21-24 (NLT) “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

What did people do before they had Pinterest? I could pour through the pages for days finding new projects to try and the confidence to do them with step-by-step instructions. Spring is in the air along with a blizzard of pollen. Cleaning overtures take over. Today’s project – our dining room. Probably the least used room in our house, it is used as a pass-through more than for meals. When we first moved into the house, we added wainscoting. After recently painting the majority of the living area, I found that I had purchased too much paint. For the last two weeks, I have been gearing up to make the change. Pinning ideas. Taking full inventory of supplies. Portioning out some time. No more excuses. Today is the day.

One of the things I have been contemplating is taking the leaf out of the massive square table. Since the table has been used a only handful of times in the last decade, there seems to be no point in keeping it in. It will open up the room to take it out and make the space look bigger. While our fur babies ate their breakfast, I opened the table to take out the leaf and immediately cut my finger which began to bleed profusely. Looking at the wound, I couldn’t help but think so this is how things will go today. How many times do we embark on the journey of change only to be detoured or discouraged by setbacks?

His son had been demon possessed throughout his childhood. The father was desperate to see his son set free. The father says to Jesus in dire need, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” Of course, Jesus replied, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” Every impossibility in our life remains so locked in unbelief. The only hindrance in the life of a believer is the inability to believe that anything is possible with the Lord. Locked in doubt and imprisoned by insecurity yet all the while having a free spirit inside of us ready to bust us loose to change. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

I was raised by a do-it-yourself dad. He never told us that we couldn’t do something and always encouraged us to try even if unwilling to pay attention and learn. As an adult, I identify the spirit of my natural father in me as I am not afraid to attempt to do new things especially when it comes to home improvement. I have the Holy Spirit inside me thanks to Jesus Christ. He gave me access to my heavenly father and given me the Spirit of Adoption releasing a full inheritance from the Heavenlies. Blessings and benefits that I am learning to tap into. For the Lord is a spirit. Wherever His Spirit is there is freedom. Yes, even in me.

Do I live in freedom? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit. One of the first things the Spirit did was rip the veil in the Temple from top to bottom. This signified our access to the Father. Now we could come boldly and confidently to the Father through the Son. Immediately the dead were raised with resurrection power and life. The same Spirit now lives in you and me thanks to Jesus. (Acts 2) We have the power and authority to experience and exist in a miraculous life. The only hindrance is disbelief. Do you believe that “greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world?” Where do you reside? In doubt, worry, fear, anxiety and discouragement? Or have you been set free…really free to experience the life giving power and full transformation offered in Christ?

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NLT) We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

What if it’s all in your head? What if it is unbelief keeping you from living a victorious, overcoming life that is promised in Christ? What if it is you holding the prison door of your mind shut when the Spirit of the Living God already unlocked it? It is our rebellious thoughts that keep us from experiencing everlasting life today. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. He promises to do more exceedingly and abundantly more than we think, ask or imagine. What if the only barrier between you and God’s Blessing is disbelief? What if the only obstacle to overcoming is doubt? What if your worries and cares really are a web of lies weaved by the dream killer and confidence stealing enemy of our soul? What if? Well there is only one way to find out.

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. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) The Lord wants to change your mind today. We must have the mind of Christ allowing Him to be the Author and Finisher of our faith. The one who takes every detail of our life and makes good out of it. Anything is possible with God. It takes impossibility to reveal the miraculous. It takes bondage to produce deliverance. It takes faith that becomes confident hope which is to believe that God will do the impossible in you and for you.

Remember Noah, the guy who built the ark, and spent 40 days and nights living with every living breathing creature and his in-laws – just saying this was probably a difficult journey. When the Lord spoke to Noah, he was alone. The things that God told him frightening and overwhelming. Yet Noah picked up a wood, hammer and nails to build a boat for a storm (never happened before) and total destruction of the world in which he lived. Noah did exactly as the Lord told him to saving his family from destruction. (Genesis 6:22) What has the Lord told you to do? What is the dream, desire or vision that He placed in your heart? Do you think it is impossible? Never going to happen? Too late? The Word of God says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. If He said it, “It will be done!” You just have to believe. Belief is demonstrated in our attitude and actions before the dream becomes a reality or the miracle happens. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

John 11:26-28 (NLT)  Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”

I used to be like Martha. I believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He became my Savior and I even served Him as Lord. But I didn’t believe in miracles or at the very least would call myself skeptical. I began to challenge my own heart for faith. Even though I loved the Lord and served Him, I felt that faith was not working in my life. Our daughter developed rapid onset asthma. We were literally on a breathing machine constantly and at the doctor every day. I followed the doctor’s orders but began to seek the Lord on my faith. If healing is real, I wanted to know it. If faith really could do a miracle in our life, I wanted to see it. Our daughter was miraculously healed instantaneously of asthma. The doctor could only declare it a miracle a year later when no symptoms were evident in her body.

Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was dead. Not just died, but four days in the grave gone. Martha and Jesus were talking. Her faith in the Lord limited to His Presence. The Lord had come to do the miraculous. Martha was limited in her belief. Jesus came to raise her brother from the dead right then and there. She put him off until eternity. How many Martha’s are reading this today? How many times have you given up when things seemed impossible? How many bad reports have caused weeds to smother the seed of God’s Word trying to grow new faith and life in you? And the hits just keep on coming…Martha left the conversation and went to her daydreaming sister, Mary – “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” Notice she did not call Jesus the Messiah…

John 11:38-40 (NLT)  Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 

The setup for every miracle is the impossible. When you can’t do it, and only the Lord can get glory for it. Jesus was angry. When he finally made it to Lazarus’ tomb, he told them “roll the stone aside.” But Martha…protested…God save us from our disbelief. Help us overcome our doubts that keep us locked in earthly graves. Hidden in darkness rather than living in the Light of Your Love. How many times is our rebellious, anxious, insecure, doubting and disbelieving thoughts that keep the stone in place over dead dreams and miraculous opportunities when the Spirit of the Lord is ready to save, heal, transform and give new life?

God is ready to do exactly what He promised to do in our life. He prerecorded it all before we were born and prescribed it in this plan of His Making for a future of life and power. Jesus lives in you. His Spirit is unlocking doors that disbelief is trying to hold shut. We limit the Lord with our stinking thinking just like Martha. Why all the excuses? A lack of expectation is the fruit of disbelief. It is doubt existing in the heart where faith is trying to grow. We must overcome our disbelief. The Lord has given us a Helper to continually expose these areas and do away with them. We must do our part. Our part is to daily allow the Holy Spirit to transform our thoughts and mind to take captive fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, and every thought that contradicts the Word of God for your life…today. Change is today. Every day holds the possibility of the miraculous for the believer. If your life is not fully satisfied and exceedingly abundantly more than you imagined – it is time to take inventory of your thoughts and push open the stronghold in your mind. Doubt cannot hold you captive. You can open the door to believing anytime. The Spirit has set your free. You can experience freedom today when you set your heart and mind on Jesus!

Today as I gather supplies to paint our dining room, I will clear the room of all the furniture and pictures. As I begin the change in that room, I will inspect my heart for hidden possibilities. I love to paint. It gives me time to contemplate and pray in the mindless strokes of application. Lord, show me the areas of my life in need of change, ready for transformation, open doors ready to give way to new freedom, and dead dreams that are in need of new life. In Jesus Name! Amen!

“I will dare to believe that anything is possible. I throw caution to the wind, it’s time to risk again. I will dare to believe that anything is possible with Jesus…my Jesus!”

Caution

Caution

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

A word of caution to those who pray for miracles. Miracles require the impossible. If you can do it, it is not a divine action but rather human interaction. In the realm of the Heavenlies, there is no such thing as coincidence but rather sets ordered to lead us from natural occurrence to supernatural possibilities. Faith cannot be discovered in the boat but when the waves come crashing in and yet you still have the courage to stay on the water. To discover the meaning of grace and power requires experiencing human weakness. The Word of God will not fail. (Luke 1:37) But everything else must fail in order for it to become our reality.

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

Faith is the reality of what is hoped for in the life of a believer. Fear threatens our faith every day. To take one step closer to the impossible means leaving what we know to be true to embrace all that God has for us. His Thoughts are higher and so are His Ways. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) However, it is the road less traveled with many broken down on the side of it. Things didn’t turn out like they expected or they stopped when things were beyond human control. I am challenged today. My heart is bursting with expectation. When health failed, God remained. When my spirit grew weak, depressed, broken and confused – God remained. This broken and busted roadway called life has led me to a new place – the realm of hope. When my normal life was no longer possible, the reality of my teeny, tiny faith brought new life.

2 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power. Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Jesus was crucified in human weakness. He could have decided that people just weren’t worth the pain and disappointment but our Savior didn’t. Love kept Jesus nailed to the Cross. Love rolled away the stone and He emerged victoriously. Why do we think as Christians that crucifying our flesh to have new life would look or feel any different? The Gift of God’s Grace came at the price of a life. I must lay down my life to become this new creation. A caterpillar begins to spin a cocoon of purpose – a place of isolation – entering into it – there is no one or nothing that can do anything more than God purposed. At the end of the transformation period, the walls begin to crush the newly formed wings so the butterfly begins its emergence pressing hard to gain freedom from what once was a place of comfort and rest. Pushing and stretching until fully performed and ready for release – it begins to spread its wings and fly. What phase of transformation are you in today? Are you pressed? Persecuted? Feel abandoned? Struck down? The story would end here if Jesus had decided to call the angels and exit this place, but He didn’t!

The transforming power of God is in you. He placed a “measure” of faith in us with the purpose of growth, development and maturity one day. It lay hidden in our heart with eternity. The desire that there is something more to life is not a call to personal success but spiritual change. It is an inner drive set forth by God so we would seek a Savior in our dissatisfaction and hope would lead us to new purpose and promises. Is it working? Is your faith growing today?

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.” The test of faith is our trials. What do we do when we fail? When our life is limited by our humanity, what is our response? Our flesh does not want to die and wages a war against the prospering soul. It discourages us from believing at every opportunity fueled by the lie of the enemy. To ask the Lord for signs, wonders, miracles and impossibilities requires faith. Faith is not logical. In fact, faith defies every bit of earthly knowledge and human wisdom. Our mind tries to explain it away. Our common sense tells us to run from it. Our experience tells us that hope is nothing more than another optimistic thought on the verge of disappointment. God says, “My hope never leads to disappointment.” You must only believe.

I John 4:15-18 (NLT) All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

God loves you. God is love. His Heart and Mind have been set on you since He created you in your mother’s womb. Every single day recorded before your birth, there is no reason to run and hide. He already knows everything about you including strengths, weaknesses, faults, failures, and every thought before you think it. Yes, the Lord still loves you. Even in our wanderings and full rebellion, the Lord is working diligently to do good things for us because He views us as His Children. God does not lie or change His Mind even when we change ours a thousand times concerning Him.

If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, died for your sins, and have asked Him to save you – it is finished. The rules and regulations of religion do not bind you or keep you locked away. However, His Word becomes the promise of our life by using it as a lamp for our feet and light for our path. When we decide to use our freedom to pursue Christ – our faith grows and our soul begins to prosper. As we prosper on the inside – we see promises around us. Faith produces confident hope. As faith becomes the foundation of our life, the surrounding conditions, circumstances, situations, problems, people, trials and tests lose their impressiveness. Suddenly storms don’t scare us but raise the hairs on the back of neck marked possibility. Perfect love casts our all fear. What are you afraid of today? It is time to face our fears. Throw caution to the wind. History makers are risk takers. World changers are faith leapers. Those who test the boundaries of God’s Love and dare to take a step out of the boat again and again. They will experience the full benefits and blessings reserved for God’s Children. So now what?

Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

It is time to challenge every limit in our life by faith. To believe that full satisfaction in possible in every single aspect of our life and that God will “infinitely more” or “exceedingly abundantly more” than we might ask or think. Dare to dream again. Whom the Son set free is free indeed. The earth is not flat. You cannot fall off the edge. God’s Love is endless – you will never find a limit of it in your life. Faith tested will produce authenticity. If I do not believe that God’s Love for me is unconditional and limitless, I will never make it very far in my walk of faith. If grace is not enough, I am done for. The Love of God demonstrated in the giving of His Son for me is “too great to understand fully.” When we do not believe the truth, we will fall for the lie. The lie of the enemy is that God doesn’t love me, His Grace is not enough, and that I cannot live in full satisfaction.

Jesus came so that I could have abundant life. Not just get by, but more than enough living in prosperity, promises, blessings and full benefits as a Child of God. What is stopping me? Me. What limits us? Unbelief. If only we could be fully convinced that God’s Love for us endures until the end, maybe we would test the limits of His Love and discover that miracles still happen when we learn to trust Him, live in Him and fully depend on Christ in every area of our life. I encourage you today to test every boundary. Knock on every door. Keep seeking until you find. You can have all that God has promised for nothing is impossible for those who believe.

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Tearing Down Walls

Tearing Down Walls

Hebrews 11:30-31 (NLT) It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down. It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

“Walking around these walls…I thought by now they’d fall…but you have never failed me yet. Waiting for change to come…knowing the battle’s won…for you have never failed me yet.” (Do It Again – Elevation Worship) Who would ever think that simply walking around the walls of a city would bring them crashing to the ground? It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make any sense. Imagine what the guards on the wall and people watching through the cracks and crannies must have thought laughing among themselves. Crazy Israelites. What are they thinking? Yet, by faith, in seven days the wall didn’t crumble and fall. It fell flat. In that moment of elation, I suppose even the Children of God were bewildered and filled with wonder. Look what God did? Faithful is the Lord.

What wall stands between you and God’s Promise today? Can you see it? Do you feel it? Have you been praying about it? Believing for it to come crashing down or just fall flat? Are you tired of waiting? Me, too. Yet in the journey of God’s People I am reminded that walls like Jericho don’t come down with human hands but by faith in our heart and confident minds that believe God still does miracles and will do them for me. Miracles don’t come in the doable but are labeled impossible. I know people often testify, “Look what the Lord has done” and while God honors the Glory and Praise and every good thing does come from Him, there are some things that are not miraculous performed in our humanness. Miracles are the things that cannot be accomplished with human hands or explained with basic logic. A wall fortified such as Jericho does not just fall flat unless the breath of God speaks to the stones of its construction telling them to bow down before Him.

With this in mind, I go back to the breach to be overcome and obstacle removed for you to reach the place of destiny. Your godly destination is not reached by walking in a physical sense but how you stride spiritually. So let’s walk with the Joshua and God’s Children to see if there is some secret to keeping in step with God until all strongholds come down. God will remove every stronghold, barrier and obstacle between us…if we do our part.

Joshua 6:1 (NLT) Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 

The people inside of Jericho were afraid of God’s People. Fear is the number one stronghold in the life of a believer. The root of fear is doubt which is a faith killer. Stripping the productivity of God’s Word seeded in our heart to kill the good things growing inside of us and stifling the prosperity of our heart. The people shut the gates and were hunkered down. The enemy is defeated. Jesus is our overcomer. He has handed every victory to us as the battle is already won. We do not have to fight for it. We do not have to tear strongholds down with our hands. We must simply believe by faith in the love, grace, goodness and faithfulness of God towards us enough to walk it out. The enemy can only taunt us from the wall. His lies are convincing but God’s Word is convicting. It challenges us with the idea of what if. If ingested enough, the Word of God strengthens our faith and becomes the sword of God’s Spirit in the tearing down of barriers between God’s People and His Blessing.

Joshua 6:2 (NLT) But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors.

The Promise of God for His People. You win, I have “given” you Jericho. The city and all its contents belonged to them. The Lord told Joshua that “its king” belonged to them who represented all power and authority. He also told Joshua, “I have given you…all its strong warriors.” Now think about it for a moment, where do you think the strong warriors and majority of Jericho’s army were when the walls came down? On the wall? In the ramparts? Standing guard around the inside perimeter? Posted at the gates? What do you think happened when the walls fell flat? My guess would be that it took out the “strong warriors.” God gave this promise to Joshua. His job was to relay it to the people and lead them to victory. I would like to stop for just a moment and say to any pastors, preachers, teachers and leaders reading this today. Your life matters. The words you speak and faith you exhibit in your life matters. It is significant. You are responsible for taking directions from the Presence of God to your people. It is a heavy burden which releases huge blessings to those who are faithful to their call and dedicated to the anointing on their life.

Joshua 6:15-17 (NLT) On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.

When the Lord imparted instruction to Joshua, he commanded the people to do exactly as the Lord had told him. They followed the pattern for six days. Now some may think that this was punishment or discipline of God, however; I believe that God was demonstrating His Patience. Churches split up or die every day in disagreement, disunity, and discord. The Children of Israel were no different with all the murmuring and complaining. Joshua not only commanded them to walk but not to talk. Unity produces Presence in our place of worship because God thrives on agreement and harmony especially when it comes to the Kingdom.

The wall you are facing is not just “your wall”. The barriers to breakthrough are pivotal to those who you are to spread the Light of God’s Love to. The people who you are called to season their life as salt does fine food. How can you bring something you have not fully experienced and totally embraced to another? Rahab had housed the spies and kept the safe as they surveyed Jericho. God honored her faith. Yes, faith. She was a prostitute. Why would God honor such a person? Rahab obviously had faith that God loved her and extended grace to her. She trusted God. Just because a person is not overly religious or living a perfect example does not mean they are less to the Lord. In fact, Jesus died for every sin committed. The church puts a hierarchy on sin not prescribed by God. Judgment comes in many shapes and sizes. Ostracizing sinners from church is like barring sick people entrance to a clinic. It is the inmates running the asylum with personal judgment and their own set of laws. I am a sinner. I find it hard to judge others in the midst of my own condemnation. Christ doesn’t condemn me and there is no condemnation in Him. What might happen if the church as a whole looked in the mirror and saw sinners? What if the religious understood that all sin is the same? What if we chose to love others despite ourselves? What if our stronghold is our insecurity that God’s Grace is sufficient in weakness so we fake personal strength?

Joshua 6:16-17 (NLT) The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”

What if the holdup of our breakthrough is not what is on this side of the wall but what is on the other side of victory? The people continued for six days in absolute obedience. They walked silently around the wall for six days straight. Now on the seventh day, Joshua reminds them of God’s Instructions for the other side of the wall. Everything in Jericho must be completely destroyed. Only Rahab and her family would be spared. Silver, gold, bronze and iron would be set aside for the Lord’s Treasury. They shouted and the wall fell flat. Can you imagine the chaos in that moment? The elation of victory. The screams of the people. The smoke of destruction. Joshua 6 ends in victory. Joshua 7 begins…But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. Perfection is not required to remove strongholds. It requires persistence and perseverance in walking by faith to bring them crashing down.

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

The truth revealed to us in God’s Word is that Jesus Christ has overcome the world. (John 16:33) He has been given all power and authority by God, the Father. (I Peter 3:22) he has given us His Power and Authority today. (Luke 10:19) Jesus has given us overwhelming victory. (Romans 8:37) His Promises are the reality of our life and the very thing that we live for. The stronghold in our life is doubt. It is the mountain to be moved each day. In Romans 7, Paul describes the inner battle that rages between Spirit and flesh. We must learn to walk in simple and humble obedience to God each day. There is no superiority in the Kingdom. God reigns superior with Christ at His Right Hand and the enemy as a footstool. You have been given the power of God that is manifested in His Grace. If you can do it, a miracle is not required. If only He can do it, your absolute trust and confident obedience in walking it out is required.

Strongholds must be maintained. If there is a stronghold in your life that is keeping you from what God has for you, I promise the enemy is fortifying every single day with lies of deception. However, when we walk according to God’s Word and His Promise despite how we feel, what we see and even what we know – obedience leads us to victory every time. Rahab is the perfect example of applied grace that gave way to victory. She easily could have preserved her place in society by shutting her door to the spies and turning a blind eye to their plight. Instead, she laid down this life for another. It doesn’t say she “sinned no more” or “joined First Church of God’s People”. She lived among the Children of God the rest of her days.

“I know the night won’t last…Your Word will come to pass…My heart will sing your praise again. Jesus, You’re still enough…keep me within Your Love…My heart will sing your praise again. The promise still stands…Great is Your Faithfulness…I’m still in your Hands…This is my confidence, You never failed me yet.” Whatever stronghold, barrier or obstacle you are walking around today must come down to reach the promise on the other side. There is always somebody watching you walk out this life, your faith and your salvation because that is how we share the true gospel. To walk in love, grace and favor humbly following the footsteps before us.

God will not bring down the walls in our life if they will cause us to sin. If in the celebration, we misuse consecrated things. He will not takedown strongholds at the expense of others. God’s Plan and purpose is comprehensive. Our commitment to His Plan is demonstrated by simple obedience. To take one step after another in submission to His Word, Will and Way. We must stop trying to teardown spiritual strongholds with our human hands. It is time to recognize that our commonality is sin that needs a Savior. To understand that victory belongs to us, if we can just wrangle in our wandering heart and waning spirit to keep going when there is nothing to do but trust the Lord. To ignore the taunts of the enemy often given a voice in others. To believe with all our heart that the walls are coming down enough to evoke constant praise and adoration of a perfect God and flawless Savior. Lord, give me a heart of faithfulness to keep walking until Your Kingdom comes and Your Will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. “I’ve seen you move, come move the mountains and I believe I’ll see You do it again. You made a way, where there was no way and I believe I’ll see You do it again.” Amen and amen!

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

Hope Less

hope less

Psalm 33:18-22(ESV) Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

I have a tattoo inked on my right wrist. To some it may be offensive that a Child of God would mark their skin, and some are of the opinion that is unbiblical. Each is entitled to their own opinion and I am not offended in the least. I am terrible with remembering dates and times but it was sometime after our son’s first fight with cancer. A friend had lost their son shortly after his diagnosis. All of the family were posting pictures on social media of memorial tattoos. Yellow ribbons with his name, school colors and other things that reminded them of Austin. Though in remission, once the diagnosis of “cancer” comes – it seems to find a place in the dark shadows of the mind as a reminder it may visit again at any time. There is no promise of permanence once remission is achieved just to be ever hopeful the disease is gone for good. I thought to myself that no matter what happened I would never memorialize death like that. No judgment to others but for me – it would mean hope was gone forever. Everyone deals with pain and trauma differently. Most of the infusion room nurses have a tattoo where special patients who left indelible marks on their heart will get a spot. One has a song bird with a note for each brave one lost in battle. Another is a flower with tiny butterflies – you get the idea.

I decided I would get a tattoo now to celebrate life. To remind me that my faith is secure and there is always hope. When I look down at my wrist, the word “faith” reminds me that I have an investment to make while it is still today. A seed of worth that if planted deeper each day will produce a harvest of life. When I show someone my tattoo, they see a different word. It spells the word “hope” to them. Life is a journey to find faith, sow it in our life and produce confident hope in the Love of God that is salvation. It is easy to lose sight of that in the day to day pressures of life in general. It is even easier when trauma or tragedy strikes. The truth is that our existence as it is now today is hopeless. Everyone dies. We are appointed once to die. It is in the Word of God. The hope that I have is for eternity. I promise this is not a message of doom and gloom but when the reality of hope is recognized it has the power to change our life today.

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

My hope is in the steadfast love of God given through Jesus Christ. Hope means to believe, desire and trust. It is the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that the events will turn out for good according to Dictionary.com. The British Dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of desire for something and confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment” with reasonable grounds. The Bible gives hope a name – Jesus Christ. He is our hope. The unconditional and unchangeable love of the Living God is our hope of fulfillment and substance called faith. Faith is the substance of what we hope for. It is unrealistic to hope for someone not to die because it defies logic and reality. Everyone will pass away and get rid of their flesh. It is the moment after our last breath that hope is finally realized and rightfully so.

Ephesians 1:17-20 (ESV) …that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…

Hope is our spiritual expectation. It is not to life forever in the abundance and increase of this life but to one day step out of these naturally decaying bodies and assume our place in God’s Kingdom as a heavenly being. Natural expectation revolves around naturally occurring outcomes. Hope ventures into the impossible. Faith in God is to hope for eternal results. It takes a higher level of spiritual thinking to grab hold of confident hope which is what our faith in God is based on. Hope less in this life and the physical outcomes but rather hone in on faith that is not dependent on this life but forever results. Heightening our expectancy requires godly knowledge and spiritual wisdom not found in the world but in the Word.

Hope is what God has called you to according to His Glorious Inheritance and what His Immeasurable Great Power can produce toward us when we believe. He is working His Great Mind through us to the same extent used to raise Jesus from the dead. An inheritance comes later, it is not a “now” thing. It comes after a death. The Power of God working in us today is His Grace. It is most evident in our weakness. All contrary to the workings of this world. Humility and brokenness are the ground most fertile for God’s Workings in us and through us. The Light of His Love shines the brightest through broken vessels. Finite thinking thinks hope changes our circumstances, conditions and/or consequences but it doesn’t. Faith didn’t keep Joseph out of the pit, or from the accusations of people, or even the prison but it got him to the palace. It put him in a position to save his family. It gave him more than he could ever think, ask or imagine. God humbled Joseph in the process. The Word of God tells us that in every situation Joseph trusted and believed in the Lord. But consider this…Joseph was never pharaoh. He never was the king. God gave him everything yet never promoted him to the highest level of earthly superiority. His hope for the future was not in this life but forever.

Romans 5:1-5 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Hope is the anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19), but if there is no substance or weight added to it then what good is it? Through Jesus Christ I have faith that I am at peace with God again. I can live as His Child and live in His Kingdom. But notice that it says, “we rejoice in our sufferings.” Who wants any of that? When our son was cancer-free the first time, I was asked to record a testimony to be played in church. I mentioned my belief that God heals one of three ways: medically, miraculously, or mercifully. It played one time and was removed. The media coordinator did not agree. God is always is ready to heal someone. Agreed. He could not accept that God heals mercifully and sometimes people do succumb to their illnesses despite the countless prayers of the righteous. We must accept that Heaven is a real place and the one that is hoped for. To believe it is a viable option to leave the earth and live with Jesus is the victory that is hoped for. Suffering produces endurance. Endurance produces character. Character produces hope. These steps are a requirement. Human nature is to settle and substitute natural things for supernatural results to avoid such challenges and inconvenience. What the Lord has in store for us is better!

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

It may sound cliché or even a bit silly but I believe that God wants us to hope less and have faith more. Faith is the substance of what is hoped for. Hope is established two ways in our life. The Word of God is what we hope for. It is the basis of hope. (Romans 15:4) Every single word of it is inspired by God and absolutely true. None of it is out of date, old-fashioned or untimely. It is fresh bread every day for those who choose to partake of it. It is in the Word of God where hope is found and our challenge to live in it. (Psalm 119:81;114) The Plan of God for our life is with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) We are called to seek it out wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:13) To do so gives us what we need to have logical faith that can be practically lived. Jesus is the Word of God who came to us wrapped in flesh. (John 1:14) He is our hope. (Matthew 12:21) Wisdom must have knowledge. Hope is wisdom for the future. (Proverbs 24:13-14)

Romans 8:24-26 (ESV) For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

The Holy Spirit establishes our hope by taken the Word of God and working it into wisdom in our life. He moves us and motivates us to act on faith and build confidence in hope. If my faith is only able to hope for my son to live in this world, it is not big enough to sustain me. For our son to live forever would mean living with more medical conditions then I can count for the rest of his life. Chemotherapy is poison that kills cancer but has numerous side effects. The reality of what I hope for is that his faith has built a solid foundation of hope that relies and trusts the Lord so when he does cross over that Jesus will know him and welcome him home. The Holy Spirit must help us develop real faith to build the confident hope needed to trust and believe.

If we hope for what we do not see, we MUST wait for it with patience. When hope is deferred it is a challenge to deal with. (Proverbs 13:12) Faith holds the promise of hope tightly but there is an enemy ready to wrangle it from us every day. Situations, circumstances, trials and tragedies meant to persuade us that God’s Love is not real or somehow conditional. God still is a miracle worker. He meets His Expectations not our expectations. His Plan is based on forever not the seventy or so years given to us here on earth. Can I share a secret with you today? We always have hope. His Name is Jesus. He lives in us. Hope does not die. It is life. I have hope but make the choice whether to hold on to it or not. If my desire to be hope full, I must be faith full first because I will never ever see the reality of what I hope for until I meet Him face to face.

Lamentations 3:21-24 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

I believe that God is a miracle worker. I believe that His Goodness is for us in the Land of the Living. I know many people who died suddenly or before their time as people say. There are times when things don’t turn out according to our expectation. These are the times when one must have an anchor to hold on to and that holds us in place. “BUT I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope.” The thing that I hope for and have faith in is simple. God loves me. He always loves me. On the good days, I feel His Love for me in the joy that comes. On the not so good days, I remember that He loves me based maybe on what He did the other day. But on those horrible, good-for-nothing, chaotic, heartbreaking, awful and tragic times, my hope is in His Steadfast Love alone based on the Word and His Spirit working in my life. The hope that I have is not in the everyday miracles or sudden moves of God in this place, but based solely and completely on the fact that He knows me and loves me anyway. The Lord wants to fill every void and vacancy of faith in our life so our hope remains confident and securely fastened to Him. He will never let go. The challenge is that we do not let go in times of turmoil and stress.

Luke 24:19-24 (ESV) And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

“But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

When Jesus died, the people thought hope was lost. When did you lose your hope? What is challenging your faith in God today? Has life unexpected happened? Your hope is not gone. Like the men walking down the road, He is with you right now. His Spirit lives in us. It is up to us to build confidence in the hope we have. Confidence comes by knowing, understanding, believing, and trusting the Lord in the even ifs of life. When we put emphasis on faith in our life, it naturally produces hope as our expectation moves from what we can see to the things unseen. Miracles are exciting. Signs and wonders are exhilarating. Mighty moves of God change us from the inside out. To have faith and confident hope produce the kind of character that endures to the end and crosses over to forever. I have a confession to make. During some really hard times, I have tried to scrub off the faith/hope tattoo on my arm. Tired of fighting the good fight, not happy with the outcome so far, and just plain sick of hurting or even worse watching my loved ones hurt. In anger and frustration over unmet expectations, I hated it and wanted it gone in that moment. But you know what, it wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I tried. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. My faith cannot be dependent on here and now but must remain in Jesus Christ. He is faithful. He is good. He is the one who can do exactly what He promises. He is my Living Hope even on those days when I lose my hope. Lord, let us hope less for ordinary things and find extraordinary hope in You!

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

Romans 12:12 (ESV) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Psalm 71:14 (ESV) But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.

Do I Measure Up?

Do I Measure Up

Romans 12:3 (NLT) 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.

How much is a measure? The King James Version of the Bible (which we all know is the one that Jesus wrote – written with a wink) tells us to “to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Again, I ask, “What is a true measure?” Just how much faith has God given me. According to Dictionary.com and its many sources, a measure is the extent, dimension and quantity of something, ascertained especially by comparison with a standard. People live by comparison which produces choices. Each day is filled with the same opportunities and though there are varying statistics it is all relegated down to a 50/50 chance because for freedom’s sake – we have a choice. Everyone is given a choice. We choose according the standard mode of operation or our moral code whichever is called for. Our life is evaluated by the comparison to others which produce an inner drive based on the estimation. How much is a measure? We are called to measure our life according to the faith God has “given” us. Does this mean that I don’t have to go looking for faith or be given it by another? Nope. You have all the faith you need to have a godly life filled with every spiritual blessing hidden in Heaven with your name on it. You don’t have to beg, borrow or steal from another or work yourself to death to have it. All you need is faith that you already have but have not discovered. It is in there. It is up to us by the Goodness, Grace and Glory of God to help us find it and apply it to our ordinary, mundane and lack luster life to produce the one that was written for us long ago, in our mother’s womb, when God created us to be His Masterpiece.

“I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” (Romans 12:3 – The Message)

What if all we need to live a saved, healed, fulfilled, satisfied, content, abundant and prosperous life was already in us? What if there was nothing else to do but live and thrive in the Presence of God. Spoiler Alert – Everything I need to live a saved, healed, fulfilled, satisfied, content, abundant and prosperous life is inside of me… and you for that matter. I know what you are thinking. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I have done. The time that I have wasted. The choices I have made. The circumstances surrounding me. The thoughts impeding me. Or even the conditions that you are born in, subject to or remain in today – you are absolutely right – I don’t. But I know God! I know He is always good. I know that He is always faithful. I know that His Love will never fail. I know that His Grace is enough. Now I must figure out how to make this “measure” of faith find its way out of me…just like you do no matter how alike or different our life may be.

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT) Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” We are part of the Body of Christ. The Body only functions properly when each member performs at an optimum level. In my natural body, if my foot hurts it will cause me to limp. My brain will register pain that my body responds to. I may tense up, clench my jaw and after walking favoring the hurt limb – my hip and back will begin to ache from improper alignment. Please don’t be offended when I say that the Body of Christ is limping along today. Rather than working together, it seems to prefer being apart. My elbow is not attractive. I keep it so I can move my arms around. My face is getting wrinkles but I am not going to cover it or I might start running into things. Our body functions as a unit as the Body of Christ is called to as well. Just before these verses Romans 12, the first two talk about being a living sacrifice and not conforming to this world. We have been given a measure of faith because our present life is not the glorious standard God had for us. God didn’t make you or me to live an impoverished life and money is the last of our problems. The limits on our life begin in our mind. The enemy releases a relentless attack each day on the mindset of God’s People. For every lie there is a truth or better yet a promise to be discovered in God’s Word. We must learn to combat every misgiving with God’s Grace, Truth and Knowledge not only learned but applied to every facet of our life. This will enable us to use the measure of faith given to make some accurate measurements of our life and decide where to apply it and watch it grow.

2 Kings 4:1-7 (NLT) One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

The unexpected came knocking. Her husband is dead. Her sons to be taken by a creditor to pay a debt. A religious woman who lived her life (supposedly) serving God. How could this happen? If God is so good, why would he allow her husband to die and her children to be in danger? Who is this God that she served? Why give another moment of another day to Him? The prophet came by “coincidentally” that day. He was not spouted parables or stories of victory but rather peddling some practical faith. Oh Lord, if the church would stop performing and take some time to peddle practical faith. The kind of faith people can use and apply to their life rather than something worthless and untrue. He asked her but one question, “Tell me, what do you have in the house? What’s in your house today? Better yet, what’s in your heart? She answered honestly, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil represents anointing. It represents those approved by God for His Service. You are anointed. Jesus died for you so that your full potential could be realized. He even gave you the faith to respond to the Lord. You have it all in that tiny temple called your body that belongs to God waiting to be consecrated to His Service. The prophet told her to borrow as many jars as she could find and begin pouring out the oil into them. Pouring out! I am down to this one little bottle of oil. The only thing of worth in my life and God is requiring it from me. Desperate times call for desperate measures. What did she have to lose? Everything. What did she have to gain? So much more…

What is in your house? What is in your heart? God often must allow our heart to broken so that we will release the potential in our life and achiever our purpose. Otherwise, we bottle it and stick it on a shelf for all to see but not of much use. Religion will always produce mediocrity in life because it is living up to and measuring up to man and our ability. A relationship with Jesus Christ, just like a strong and productive natural relationship, requires all of me for all of you. The oneship of relationship overcomes the monotony of life. My husband and I are well on our way to becoming empty nesters. With five children ranging from 27 to 14, I never thought the day would come when our house was not noisy and people all around. It is happening quickly. Our girls have an active life and a close friends. They do a lot with their youth group. Come Friday night the pack migrates to one house or the other. Even though it is just the two of us, my husband and I have spent almost two decades working on our relationship so now we are reaping some of the benefits. Had it not been so, this could be a very devastating time for us? We would have been perfect strangers in close proximity rather than best friends.

Faith is not a tangible measure but a new standard for our life. It contradicts the way of this world and does nothing for us held up inside. We can ask the Lord for faith but all we really need is the strength, confidence and courage to pour it out and watch it grow. It is tiny but powerful. You don’t need a lot just what you have properly applied to our life. If I measure my life according to other people, some days I am doing pretty good and other days I am quite dissatisfied. It is a roller coaster of thankfulness and discontentment that I am sure could be classified as a psychological disorder. I am called to live a rich and satisfying life because Jesus Christ died for me to have it. Sin kept me from God’s Glorious Standard, but His Grace is sufficient for me to have the life He planned, prepared and promised me from the moment that He made me. If I set the standard of my life according to worldly measurements, I will never have God’s Promised Results. It is when I take the measure of faith that the Lord has given me and begin to pour it out that I will see just how much potential is packed in a little granule the size of a mustard seed. We must stop trying to measure up to the standards of the world and let our faith bring us up to God’s Standard of Living again. But you can’t keep it in – the contents of our life must be poured out.

Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Human beings have a really difficult time wrapping their head and hearts around grace. It just seems too good to be true. How can God love me when I have done all these terrible things? When I choose lesser things just about every day? When I get mad at him for not doing it my way or when I want Him to? How about the fact that there is nothing I can do to earn it just accept it? That’s a tough one for me personally. I do not like to owe people anything. I don’t like to depend on others. Why? I have been hurt, betrayed, abandoned and let down many times in my lifetime and so it is easier not to depend on other people just look after myself. Am I being too transparent? I hope you can see through these words to my heart. I am no longer hurt or embittered by the battles in my life. But I am fully aware and cognizant of not only my need for God’s Grace but my desire to fully accept it along with His Unconditional Love. Here is yet another ground and heart breaking truth that I discovered. I don’t have to make faith. I don’t have to fake it. I have it. It came with the package. God gave me the faith to respond to every promise beginning with the one called salvation. He has already provided me “every spiritual blessing” so the faith that I have allows me to grab hold of that, too. The Lord has left nothing up to us but to accept the Fullness of His Love and live in it. All I have to give up is this broken, dysfunctional, ordinary, mundane life.

Matthew 13:31-33 (NLT) Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” 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.”

An oil flask in Biblical times probably only held about an ounce of oil. The woman poured jar after jar of oil from a tiny receptacle. My olive oil bottle in the pantry is about 17 ounces. I cannot imagine pouring it into garbage-can-sized receptacles and getting very far. Can you? However, when the prophet told her to do – she did. Why? She was desperate. The perfume flask in the alabaster box was about the same size. It was all she had gained from her giving herself away to all those people. But when she met Jesus – she couldn’t help but anoint him with it. She was desperate for Him. Are you desperate for the Lord today? Both parables describe the small amount of faith necessary to release the great potential God has planned for your life. You came with a purpose and plan far greater than you can think or ask. He is ready to do imaginable things in you and through you. He will give us perfect peace and inexpressible joy. Our life will be pressed down and shaken together just so it can receive and release all that is promised and purposed for our life. Our life is not just meant to be a blessing to us but the whole body of Christ. Withholding nothing, I have the potential and promise to have it all. What am I holding back? Am I willing to release it to have the fullness of God take over my life? You have all the faith needed to see signs, miracles and absolute wonders in your life. You have enough faith to move mountains hidden with the eternity in your broken human heart. Everything you need is packed in that package called you. Now what are you going to do with it? Stop trying to measure up to other people’s standards and let the Lord pour you out today! When we spend our life measuring it up to Christ, we cannot fail! Are you desperate today? Do you need a breakthrough? Are you willing to be broken? To pour your life out before Christ? Do you trust Him? Faith only needs a little trust to get the job done. In the Name of Jesus Christ – I ask you God to fill my family, friends, coworkers, church and even my enemies with a desire to release the measure of faith you have hidden in their hearts along with me!

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT) This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

Que Sera Sera

Que Sera Sera

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV) Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines;
though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

“Que sera sera” is a Spanish phrase translated means “what will be, will be.” You may be familiar with it from the 1956 song of the same name made famous by actress/singer, Doris Day in the fifties. It means that the future is random and whatever happens is going to happen essentially. It is most often used as a fatalistic term referring to a hopelessly unchangeable situation that is accepted. You may be more familiar with the term “it is what it is.” Usually these statements end with a sigh or some other reflective pause. It is a placeholder for whatever comes after that and the resolve that people are powerless in such situations. Do you feel that way today? Stuck between a rock and a hard place? Nothing ever seems to come out in your favor? It seems like you just can’t catch a break? No matter how hard you try you just can’t seem to get ahead. Have you given in to que sera sera? Today – this very moment – could be the defining moment when you change “what will be, will be” or “it is what it is” or even “que sera sera” to Selah! God wants to move your mind from the place of acceptance of all those seemingly hopeless and unchangeable situations to the realm of hope. The entry point is to leave behind hopelessness and step out in faith to the place called Selah.

The word “Selah” is used twice as much as “amen” and three times more than “hallelujah” in the King James Version of the Bible. Why? God’s Word is alive. It is powerful. Sharper than a two-edged sword, the Word of God has the power to do away with the subtle lies that keep us bound by hopelessness so that the Lord can move us into the realm of hope that strips impossibility from our life making all things possible if we only believe. That’s right! If you believe, faith moves mountains. It changes outcomes in our favor. It doesn’t always eliminate the struggle or battle but empowers us to be victorious in all things. Selah marks a turning point. It is found only in Psalm and Habakkuk.

The prophet, Habakkuk, had pleaded with the Lord in prayerful conversation on behalf of the people. The Lord responds to him each time yet the prophet is pressing in for the deliverance of the people. In Chapter 2, he promises to wait in a “watchtower” for the Lord to take action on his request. Sin rampant. Love cold. Sickness and famine in the land. The prophet still cries out for the people in Chapter 3 four times he says, “Selah”. Selah in the Hebrew means “lift up” or “exalt”. I believe “amen” is similar in that it expresses agreement with God by exaltation as does “hallelujah” which expresses affirmation of God with exuberance.

The difference may be as small as a mustard seed of faith but more powerful than any other expression. It is the moment that in spite of the chaos all around us, wars and rumors of war, famine, drought, circumstances, adverse conditions, or even consequences. Or maybe we should get a bit more personal – the infidelity of a spouse, betrayal of a close friend, loss of income, terminal diagnoses, or even death of a loved one – in that moment by faith when I choose to say, “Selah” that it is the very second that His Grace covers me in His Power and He becomes MY Great I Am. Habakkuk 3:17-18 is the prophets declaration as a direct result of his four “selahs”. It took four, mind you, for him to say, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” How many will it take you?

Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

For my own peace of mind, I have a list of those things that happen that I just can’t seem to reconcile by faith. Those unthinkables that happened even though God is good and loves us unconditionally. I know that the list will mean nothing when I meet Jesus face-to-face but I had to put the thought, idea, disappointment or uncertainty somewhere in order to keep moving on. I am only human just like you. There will be things that just don’t make sense in this life. His Ways are higher than our ways. His Thoughts much different than my own. Time has resolved some of the items on my list which are now stricken but there will be somethings I never understand. I must have faith that just because I can’t explain it, don’t understand it or even don’t agree with it that God is God. He is the Great I Am. His Love for me complete and comprehensive. Unconditional. His Grace completely unfathomable. I believe that He perfects all that concerns me. It is right there in His Word. I also believe that because I love and trust Him all things work together for my good. Even those things, I try to forget. Don’t want anyone to know. Faith takes us past those things marked impossible and moves them to the column of possibility. When I choose to stop saying, “Que sera sera” and by faith declare “selah” things begin to change.

Psalm 3:1-4 (NKJV) Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

Psalm 4:1-5 (NKJV) Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.

Psalm 32:8-11 (NKJV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Selah is the affirmative response when God says, “Do you trust me?” I don’t want to flood this message with verses that cause you to not see the clear relevance of trusting God when your situation seems impossible, irreversible and overwhelming. When all hell breaks loose in your life and everything falls apart – the absolute best declaration of faith is to trust the Lord. When you are going through the valley – it is not human nature to sing, “Hallelujah!” When everything is going wrong, who is going to shout, “Amen!” But in our distress, discomfort, discouragement and even disagreement with God’s Way of doing things that moment, to say simply, “Selah” tells God despite all these “things”, God I trust you. I believe that you are the miracle maker. I believe that no matter what the condition, circumstances or consequences that I am facing that Your Grace is enough for me and Your Power will overcome my weakness. It is spoken in the darkness, despair and disappointment as a white flag of surrender that no matter what God I belong to You!

Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV) Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

Selah is a term that is not easily given. It is an offering of all that I am or have left to the awesomeness of the Lord for His Careful Intervention. It is to take that last sense of control or comfort and burn it on the altar so that His Spirit can take over. I love to shout “amen” when the pastor makes a good point, or the Holy Spirit moves in someone’s life. It’s almost like saying, “You go God, I see what you are doing there Jesus!” I love to sing “hallelujah” even when no one else does because the Lord has been so good to me. My life is not perfect, but I have lived long enough to see His Word and His Way make all the difference in my life. However, I can also testify that my faith has grown more in the moments when all I could whisper was “selah” than any of these other times. The days when nothing seems to be going right and all my hope seems lost yet in my prayer closet, on my knees and through my tears cry out, “Selah, I trust you God!” These are the moments that the tiny seed of my faith grows just a little bit more and my hope becomes more confident than it was before.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I know what it is like to feel the pressure and stress of life bearing down on you. I know the breathtaking feeling of anxiety gripping your heart until it can hardly beat. I also have felt the pain of my heart being broken into a million tiny pieces thinking no one could ever put it all back together again. I know what impossible looks like. I know what the realm of hope feels like. It is the moment the breakpoint comes that breakthrough is possible. Are you there yet? Your life is full of possibility and potential yet to be recognized. How do I know? Put your one hand on your chest. Feel that? Your heart is still beating with life. God’s not finished. Put your other hand just outside your mouth – do you feel that? It’s the breath of God that you are exhaling. He is alive and well in you. Without purpose, God would have stopped your heart and carried you home. If you had no further potential, the Lord would not make you suffer here when Heaven is so much better. The fact you are still breathing means there is potential inside of you yet to be revealed and cultivated in your life. The pressure you feel is faith trying to grow so that you will reach the next level that the Lord has prepared for you. If He allowed you to remain comfortable – complacency would take over and your purpose would never come to pass. So rather than saying, “Que sera sera” maybe if you changed your declaration to “Selah” – all those seemingly impossible things might come to life again. Dead dreams begin to breathe with new purpose. Visions become a reality. See God just needs a little bit of faith and trust from you and me to do extravagant things. So I say, “Selah!”

Psalm 67:1-4 (NKJV) God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Selah

To Die For

To Die For

Philippians 1:21 (NIV) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

There is a worship song by Anthony Brown and Group Therapy called Worth that we sang yesterday in church. It says, “You thought I was worth saving so you came in changed my life. You thought I was worth keeping so you cleaned me up inside. You thought I was to die for so you sacrificed your life. So I could be free, so I could be whole, so I could tell everyone I know.” This song is a summary of my experience with Jesus Christ. Is it yours?

There is something about saying, “You thought I was to die for…” Jesus Christ saw me and decided that I was to die for. The first two lines remind me that I am grateful that Jesus changed my life. He shined a Light of His Love so brightly that I could come out of the darkness that once overshadowed me. I am so thankful that the Lord thought I was worth keeping. Like a piece of furniture tossed in the trash, picked up by someone who saw its potential. Taking home they cleaned it, sanded it down, repainted it and reupholstered it taking the time to make it what it should be again. Now someone’s trash has become someone else’s treasure proudly displayed in fulfillment of purpose as a masterpiece in their home. The Lord has indeed cleaned me up inside. I am not who the world told me I was or facing the consequences my life demanded. No, Jesus thought I was worth keeping.

With all these wonderful and awesome things that God has done through His Son in my life, the most powerful of all is that Jesus Christ thought I was to die for. I keep coming back to this verse and am consumed with the revelation that my Savior and Lord thought I was to die for. How is this even possible to an omniscient God who knows me inside and out? Why would Jesus think that I of all people would be worth dying for? The only thing that I can even slightly compare it to is the love that I have for my children. I would die for them. In fact, as our son battled cancer for three solid years, many times I begged and pleaded with the Lord to remove it from him and give it to me. Desperate to see our son delivered of the pain, suffering and possibility of death, I learned a valuable lesson. Jesus would not allow me to die for something that He already did on the Cross.

I Peter 2:21-25 (NIV) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Jesus thought I was to die for. He decided to suffer for me. He committed no sin. Even when the very people who He was dying for insulted the Lord, He did not retaliate. He made not a single threat. Jesus trusted God, His Father. The One who judges justly. He bore our sins in His Body on the Cross. Every sin because there is no unforgivable sin or hierarchy chart of transgressions – Jesus died for every single one. His Grace is more than enough for me…and you. He did this so that we could live in right standing with God again. This allows us to be Children of God and be a part of His Kingdom once more. We were predestined to do so. Now we are free to return. By His Stripes, we have been healed. Do you agree? Do you have a sick loved one who is hurting in pain? Do you want to take their burden and ease their misery? You can’t. Even if their sickness fell upon you it would not ease their burden or satiate the misery that they feel, only Jesus can do it. Just Jesus, but we try to do it ourselves day by day.

2 Corinthians 5:13-19 (NIV)

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

 

For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Think about this verse again comparing it to your life. I am doing the same. Is my life summated in Jesus? Am I reconciling my life to Christ day by day? I have a confession to make. For a long time, I was a casual Christian. I didn’t want this thing to get out of hand though and turn into a crazy Christian. You know the kind that is over the top. They live in church. Always telling people about Jesus. They don’t do anything fun. The Gifts of the Spirit were cool and I desired all the Fruit of the Spirit, of course. I was not interested in operating in them though. I loved God. Jesus was my Savior. However, I kept it under my control. I made Jesus “Lord” over some areas of my life only to discover that He cannot be Lord without a total surrender. I was in control and fooling myself. I was reconciling my life and coming up short.

I wish I could say it was an epiphany or quiet revelation in my prayer closet that brought me to the place where I surrendered my whole life to reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. I would like to be able to tell you it was not a messy and brutal undoing of me including everything I believed, but it wasn’t. It was the moment that I discovered I had no control that I finally surrendered all control to Jesus. I have been a born again and Spirit-filled believer for more than a decade. I did not begin the process of surrender until about five years ago. I had to be broken to be rebuilt and fully reconciled to Jesus. Now I think people think I am “out of my mind”. Christ’s love now compels me because I am convinced that He thought I was to die for and did just that.

I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. Are you? Maybe if each person who comes to Christ could hear the worship song and its powerful message they might understand that it is nothing we do or don’t do that makes us worthy of His Love. Jesus loves us because He thought I was worth saving and keeping. In our pursuit of the Lord and all the benefits that He offers, it is easy to be misled and fall back into the worldly understanding that nothing is free. Free means that there is a catch. Trust no one. Rely on yourself. Before you quickly discredit these statements thinking that they are not the words from your mouth. Think of the situation in your life that stresses you most. What are you afraid of? Do you lack in any area of your existence? Are you dissatisfied? What are you doing about it? Do you say, “I trust the Lord, but…”? The only reason that I am saved, healed, delivered and restored is because Jesus thought I was worth dying for. I can do nothing to earn it or deserve it but must reconcile my life to it in total surrender and acceptance day by day.

“Not counting people’s sins against them.” Jesus covered your sin in His Blood. The same overflow that reached you is available to every other living breathing human being including the most heinous criminal or abased transgressor. It is not our job or responsibility to reconcile these folks to the doctrinal beliefs of our church but to open wide the doors welcoming all who will come. It is with this new mindset that we will see revival in our churches again. When we embrace the ministry of reconciliation with open arms beginning with the understanding that Jesus thought we were to die for…all of us.

Romans 14:7-12 (NIV)For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Every knee will bow before me, every tongue will acknowledge God. We will all give account for our life before God one day. Are you afraid to die? Do you want to put it off as long as possible? In his declaration, “for me to live is Christ and die is gain”, Paul goes on to explain the inner conflict in his life. He longed to be with the Lord in forever, yet felt compelled to stay and finish his work telling others about Jesus. What does your bucket list look like? Do you have one? What are those things you are putting off for later? What if tomorrow never comes?

In John 11:23-27, we are privy to a conversation between Jesus and Martha, sister to the now deceased, buried in the tomb, and stinking Lazarus. The Lord tells the grieving sister, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha quickly excuses it to the resurrection of the dead on the last day. Jesus presses further and tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die and whoever lives believing in me will never die.” He asked her point blank, “Do you believe this?” She says, “Yes” but her actions tell a different story. She goes to get her sister. Why? She lived for the future Messiah, not the Living God before her.

Please do not think that I am in any way condemning Martha because most days I resemble her more than Mary. Most people will tell you that they believe in God. The God that we meet after death. The Savior who is at the pearly gates whisking us away in His Grace. However, Jesus Christ is the Living God. He wants to meet us in our everyday life because He is alive. He lives in us. We have the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. Why are we not seeing miracles? Could it be that our excuse is rational thinking rather than radical faith? To fully reconcile to God through Jesus Christ is to conform our thinking and shape our life around a living God not a soon and coming King. Yes, He is Lord. Yes He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is alive today and wants to come to us in the land of the living giving us a new life today. We all live for something. We are slaves to one of three things: sin, man or God in Christ Jesus. Those who choose to give their life to the One who thought they were to die for will live now and forever. We all serve someone or something in life. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. Why? Because He thought I was to die for!

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I leave this thought with you today and pray it will work its way through your soul. Can you guess? You, my friend, are worth dying for! Jesus did it just for you so you could be free and you could be whole so you would let everyone know that His Love is alive today. Our ability to share the Gospel message is contingent our one’s ability to fully accept His Love and believe that it is unconditional and complete. We cannot give something away that we do not have. As I reconcile my life to Jesus Christ, it is not conformity to the Law but rather the mindset of my value and worth to Jesus Christ. I do not see the potential and promise that Jesus sees in me. It is when I place my life completely in the Presence of God and take my hands off of it that I see what God sees in me. He created me. He desires me. He loves me to the point of sacrificing His Son to save me from myself. Who loves you like that here? I venture to say not many. Even in my love and commitment to my husband and children, I will probably never have the opportunity to give up my life for them completely or sacrificially because His Grace is sufficient for us all. Anything that I can do or give them is small in comparison. Jesus died just for you. He thought you were to die for. Shouldn’t we live our life as such?

Colossians 3:2-4 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Depth Perception

Depth Perception

I John 2:26-28 (NLT) I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Who’s right? In world with a wide range of religions and opinions, how do I know that the God I serve is the one true God? How do I know that Jesus Christ is the only way? What a person believes dictates how they live? They can say anything they like freely but it is in our behavior, attitude and actions that our true colors shine through. Jeremiah 13:23 asks “can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots?” What is he saying? No they cannot and “neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.”  Oh please don’t be offended. I am in no way implying that you or yours are evil. I am just examining my own heart for relevance today. My life has physical implications. However, unless I develop an understanding of the spiritual implications that impact my life, I can do nothing of importance or significance for the Lord.

As believers, we are given God’s Holy Spirit to live in us and promote spiritual understanding that becomes knowledge and once applied the wisdom that guides our life in righteousness. How we see the world is reflected by one’s depth perception in life. Do we see things only in the natural? Have we dared to peer into our physical state? Do we long for the eyes of our heart to be opened? Light that shines in the darkness reveals the secrets hidden there. Once a lie is exposed to truth it can no longer be entertained as anything else. So we tiptoe as far across the line of fear into faith possible while still maintaining our ignorance and naivety when God has given us the ability to see well beyond the natural into the supernatural realm.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.

God in His Rich and Loving Kindness maximized by His Grace purchased our freedom with the Blood of His Son Jesus. He forgave our sins – past, present and future – in that moment. How? God is omnipresent meaning everywhere at once, omniscient meaning He knows everything and His Omnipotent meaning all powerful. It is in His Absolute Sovereignty as God alone that He is able to determine the Sacrifice of Christ acceptable and apply it to our life. He bestowed this gift to humanity. Limited in perception beyond what the five senses, the Lord is determined to connect with us. He not only showered us in loving kindness but gave us ALL wisdom and understanding. God revealed His Mysterious Plan to us. No He didn’t? Yes, He did!

We have the Holy Spirit. He is our guide. He is our teacher. He is significant in establishing depth perception in life that sees beyond the natural to embrace the supernatural. His Understanding reaches past the physical things to take hold of spiritual confidence. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight in a world that defines seeing as believing. Lord help us. Open our eyes to Your Glory, God.

Depth perception is the ability to perceive spatial relationships. It is the ability to determine the potions of objects in association with one another. This is heavily influenced by the development of the human brain and how it sees distance etc. It is also decided by experience. If an animal is exposed to a glass floor, it struggles to walk on it because it challenges their depth perception. If a person who is afraid of heights is given the opportunity to cross the same floor, they may be unable to do so because fear cannot see the floor just the distance between their feet and the ground. The distance between mankind and God is not as far as we think. In fact, it is not far at all because Jesus Christ lives inside of us. He has given us His Spirit to open our spiritual eyes, increase supernatural understanding, and prosper us from the inside out. However, human logic often talks us out of faith. Natural understanding defies the existence of God to the extent of its intelligence. It is because of ignorance that God’s People perish every day many thinking that they know a God that they have yet to see.

John 9:1-5 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus is the Light of the world. Light is the very thing that allows the eye to see. Without light, there is no sight. Light has a complex interaction with our eyes and brain that illuminate our world. Light reaches the eye and signals are sent to our brain. Our brain deciphers the information in order to detect appearance, location and movement of objects. When considering Jesus in such context, He is spiritual light. He shines brightly inside of us shedding light on our heart and soul giving us an opportunity to apply His Love, Grace and Power to all aspects of our natural life.

When Jesus saw the man blind from birth, the man was not crying out to the Lord. He was just sitting there. The disciples asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?” We are all born blind due to sin. We have the opportunity to have our eyes opened if we are willing to believe. The Lord used this man as an example. Note the reason that Jesus gave them, “This happened so the Power of God could be seen in him.” Well then… God will use whatever means possible to open the eyes of our mind, and the recesses of our heart, so the Light of His Love can expose anything that is keeping us from God’s Very Best.

A miracle happened that day. Now one might think this would be a happy ending to a life of disappointment. You know everyone would celebrate wildly and declare Jesus as Lord. Not exactly. One man’s healing sent a spiritual wave moving through the synagogue that day. The man’s friends questioned his miracle. Some discredited it as a mistake and that this was not the man they knew. They couldn’t comprehend such a miracle. It made its way to his parents who are called before the Pharisees. They agree that they have no idea what happened. They tell the religious leaders to ask their son essentially telling them to leave them alone. This miracle was quickly becoming their misfortune as their religion was now compromised. The Pharisees asked the man over and over again who repeated the same story. The man was ultimately thrown out of the synagogue.

Jesus met the man just outside of religion and other relationships. He asked the man, “Do you believe in the Son of God? The man answered the Lord, “I want to believe in him.” The man accepted Jesus in that moment. I believe that this occurs regularly in the modern day church when the miraculous overtakes our natural understanding. When Knowledge of God becomes too incredible to accept and His Doing too much to absorb, do we discredit the Lord among people unknowingly. The Lord is doing more than we can ask or think. We must think differently to make revival a reality or miracles will be dismissed by mindsets.

I Corinthians 2:13-15 (NLT) When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

We must gain depth perception in Jesus Christ. We must understand the spiritual implications in our life. The Light of His Love shows us the areas of our life that are working with God’s Plan and sabotaging it as well. It is through knowledge and understanding that the opportunity for true wisdom to arise. The rippling effect of the blind man’s healing that day is no different than that which occurs in the modern day church every day. God moves and does the miraculous which is quickly shutdown. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. Is anyone talking about the Blood? Where are all the testimonies?

Growing up Southern Baptist, I was inundated with the Word of God, scripture memorization and constant Bible study. However, the Holy Spirit was assigned the title of silent partner and the Book of Acts kept safely shut. It was quite frustrating to spend all that time in God’s Word but remaining powerless in life. Like a tiny boat tossed in a raging storm, my faith was weak and hope nearly gone. When I became filled with the Holy Spirit almost twenty years ago, something changed in me. Suddenly the Word of God began to make sense and became instantly applicable to my life. The more I read the more I wanted to know. The more I prayed the more I listened for His Voice. My life in Christ came together when His Spirit and His Truth began to commune in my life. All word and no Spirit sets up rules and regulations unattainable because there is no evidence of grace other than implied. All Spirit and no word is a highly emotional relationship status that will not be consistent or fulfilling because it lacks promise. The Word is the promises God keeps. We must live with a healthy balance of both to know and understand what the Lord would like to do in us and for us.

Colossians 2:7-9 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.  For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

If our spiritual life has no depth and is not applicable to our natural life, miracles can happen in us, through us and around us that will go unnoticed. Explained away by chance, fate or misperception and we will miss the fullness of God living in us working its way out of us. Religion must give way to an intimate relationship taking God’s Word applying it to our life liberally and allowing His Spirit to have the freedom to work it through our life unrestricted. Our life cannot be supernaturally inclined without Spirit and Truth. Our life will not worship God without these two key ingredients either. Our perception of God must gain depth in our soul. Roots must grow in us connecting our heart and mind with Christ and His Kingdom rather than trying to make our life in Christ purely natural. If you do what the Word of God says, your life will prosper naturally. If you allow His Spirit to move you along there will be blessing apparent in your life as well. But if what we desire is the truly miraculous when all impossibilities become possible in Christ, we must gain depth perception that allows us to walk by faith and not sight. It will free us from human thinking and release us from bondage to empty philosophies as the Fullness of His Love reaches the inner most hidden places of our heart.

Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lord, give us greater depth perception of Your Love today. Life our tired hands to praise You and all wonderful things you are doing that we cannot comprehend but hold fast to in the Word. Strengthen our weak knees by Your Grace to stand in faith guarding our hearts and mind until You make it come to pass. Lord, may your Spirit mark out a straight path for my feet so I will not walk lame or limping again. Give me the courage to walk boldly in the Light of Your Amazing Love. To know You more and make You know throughout my realm of influence today Lord. Let me press harder to know how wide, long, high and deep that Your Love truly is. Let me see my life as You see it, live as You designed it and be fulfilled. Open the eyes of my heart Lord that I may live according to Your Word and Your Spirit. I give you the Glory for taking me deeper Jesus.

I John 5:20-21 (NLT) And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.