The Case of the Missing Dryer

The Case of the Missing Dryer

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Our dryer was in need of repair. The repairman came last week and determined the problem. He would order the parts and return this week to complete the task. Upon arriving home from work, I noticed that the laundry room rug was in the garage and dryer lint everywhere. Opening the door, there was a 100-lb Black Lab where my shiny white dryer used to be kicking up dust with her wagging tail. I called out to the girls, “Where’s my dryer?” They came out laughing. “In the laundry room…” Still giggling as they looked around for it, the two set out in search of the dryer all in jest. No seriously – how does someone remove a major appliance from my house and nobody notice? This is no laughing matter.

We do laundry every single day. The washer and dryer are full service in our house and part of the daily routine. The initial reason for the visit turned into a two-fold repair and it was easier to take it to the shop to complete it rather than try to in the very small and narrow laundry room. My watchful eyes were unavailable when they were leaving so they later called my husband to explain. No big deal right? Maybe not for you but we take our washing, drying and folding very serious around here.

All joking aside, our days are filled with activities, actions and even attitudes based on the motives of our heart. Innocent routines and schedules that can become a priority to us. Perhaps there are certain things that you do on a regular basis that others find a bit excessive. I hear it all the time. Whether it be accusations or excuses, judgment of the life or lifestyle of others based on the motives in our heart. It is important to examine and evaluate our ways to decide how to spend our time. Time is the most valuable commodity that is given. We do not know how much we actually have. It is invaluable because once it is spent and cannot be replenished. The resources in our life are time, talent and treasure. The Lord takes the human heart and weighs its motives not productivity. God doesn’t give to us based on performance but rather obedience. Obedience to God will always produce blessings and promises in our life even if it takes a bit of time.

What does any of this have to do with a clothes dryer? While some people reading this may think the loss of a dryer no big deal, others will be completely offended that the repairmen took it without asking and then some may know the feeling because they are avid launderers, the point is that no matter what we do or do not do in this life – God is weighing the motives of our heart in all things. He is checking our time table for His Timing. He is evaluating our motivation according to His Word. God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. He says that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Perhaps, it we became more intent on examining our heart and motives daily – extra time or different priorities might be for our favor. I didn’t have a dryer last night. I could not continue my evening routine of putting on a load while cooking dinner and tending to it afterwards. Instead, I sat on the front porch rocking, Snapchatting friends, and then talking with the Lord. I rested for a few moments.

Psalm 26:1-3 (NIV) Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

The Lord searches our heart for our motives. He evaluates our intentions. He rewards us for our actions. (Jeremiah 17:10) Is it possible to be obedient with the wrong motives? Is it feasible to be right with unjust intentions? Does God reward actions other than obedience? The Lord is looking in the human heart for one thing – love. Every other action must come from the Source of Love that is in us thanks to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is on a mission to produce Christ-like Love in us so that every motive and intention becomes an action based on our sole motivation to love the Lord and others. Ugh.

In our busyness, it is easy to justify good motives and intentions without ever tapping into the prosperity of God given to our soul. We perform hoping to persuade God to move for us but His Desire is to move in us. To change our heart and mind to live in full agreement and harmony with other people. He wants to break our routine to produce new relationship opportunities and increase our sphere of influence. You can be filled with faith and overflowing in anointing yet completely miss God’s Will, His Way and His Blessings in our own rightness.

The psalmist says, “Vindicate me…” which means “Free me”! Are you living a blameless life but are not experiencing the blessings and benefits promised in God’s Word? Do you trust the Lord with limits? When your life does not align with God’s Word, His Will and His Way – it is time for a test. Testing and trials give us an opportunity to examine our heart and mind for breaches. To be mindful of His Love is not enough. We must learn to trust the Lord and depend on Him in full reliance. Our purpose in life is not fulfilled until we are called home. God has placed certain things in our life that take time. Things that will require change in us that takes us out of our comfort zone and destroys complacency. To have them requires us to examine and evaluate our motives and intentions openly and honestly before the Lord and allow Him to point out any offensive way in us without becoming obstinate and offensive. Ouch! Ain’t nobody got time for that… except those who desire to live as one with Christ.

I Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

My mother keeps an impeccable home. It looks as though it is the model home staged for perspective buyers at all times. She has always been that way. I am quite sure it set her into heart palpitations trying to keep up with our family as none of us were committed to the same level of clean. Over the years, I developed better habits and decided to keep a neat home. Yet, when my mother comes for a visit, I am set into a flurry of activity to clean and organize my house. When I visit my daughter, she does the same thing. She attempts to make it acceptable to me. The truth is that my mom doesn’t judge my home according to her standards. When I go to visit my daughter, I am after the chunky little hunk of a grandson not that all her laundry is done and dishes clean. We must be very careful not to judge our life according to others or we will become busy in comparison rather than in our convictions.

My conscious is clear. It doesn’t make me innocent. There will always be someone with higher or lower standards to compare ourselves to in order to feel better or worse about our life. However, the Lord is our judge. He examines our heart for love born of the faith found in Christ that releases all humans from our expectation to invest our entire life in the Hope of Glory – His Name is Jesus. He will bring to light those things hidden in darkness to expose the motives of our heart. His Convictions are not the same as the court of law but based on His Love. His Grace. His Mercy. He delights in mercy. I believe that by investing all our faith, hope and trust in Jesus that we will begin to let others live their life freely as well. It is by cultivating my relationship with Christ that allows me to let go of what I do for Him to become like Him. Lord, help me to evaluate my motives and examine the intentions of my heart today. May I only compare my life and standards to You – Jesus and the love you have placed in me with the grace to fully accept it. Let me live according to Your Standard of Love for others and even myself.

The case of the missing dryer is solved. It will be back in its proper place today ready for service. I am thankful for the mysteries in life that cause us to hear God whisper even in the simplest of things. He is always speaking – but sometimes busyness keeps us from listening and routine too busy to sit and hear.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

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Treasure

treasure

Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

A fisherman was on the water one day when his boat anchor became stuck below the sea. After many attempts to free his vessel, he had no other option but to dive in the water and swim to the bottom to eliminate the problem. He found that the anchor was clinging to a giant clam shell. The man dislodged the anchor and decided to drag the enormous obstacle with him to the surface. He was unaware that a treasure was hidden inside. Upon opening it, he discovered a large pearl. It measured two feet long and one foot thick. He considered this to be a lucky find and stuck his prize under this bed for good luck. The pearl was hidden there for ten years. He was unaware that the pearl was five times larger than the world’s largest pearl ever documented. When he finally decided to share the pearl with the world, it was determined that the giant pearl weighed almost 75 pounds and was worth an estimated 100 million dollars.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” The fisherman had an abundance of wealth hidden under his bed. One hundred million dollars changed his life forever. Yet, he had no idea that the huge misshapen hunk of pearl was worth anyone. Maybe he was looking for one of perfect roundness. Or perhaps he expected a valuable pearl to fit on a necklace, bracelet or earring. People spend most of their life in pursuit of purpose. No one wants to live in vain and think that their life did not matter. It is the cry of every human heart to find its place in the grand scheme of things. God placed eternity in our heart. He also gave us a measure of faith to find the true meaning of our creation. I wonder if because this life doesn’t always turn out as we expect that we hide things of worth away rather than examining them for their real worth and meaning.

The Kingdom of Heaven is our treasure. It is the reward for a life lived in pursuit of the Living God. It is the only thing of worth that we have because it is the only thing there is beyond this life – it is called eternal life. What does it matter if I have the whole world yet lose my soul? My spiritual connection to the Kingdom cannot be separated from my natural life or I will not acquire the treasure that is everlasting.

Spoiler Alert – If you are in the Sunday school class that I am teaching this morning, you may want to read this later. I discovered this week that somehow my pursuit of the Kingdom had been a bit detoured. One of those times when lesser things became greater things and my priorities were misaligned. How can you tell? When agitation overtakes my peace, joy turns to aggravation, and disappointment begins to overshadow hope. The Lord is my satisfaction. He is the only thing worth pursuing in my life. The closer my walk grows with Jesus the more aware I become when something tries to interfere.

To discover Jesus Christ is to find the “pearl” of great price. His Love and Grace causes a heart change that desires to know Him more and seek Him. However, the pursuit of Jesus is difficult in a world filled with distractions, shortcuts, compromises and substitutions. The enemy offers counterfeit blessings every day. Even though we know God has something better, we choose to accept that which is easy and does not require a process.

Matthew 7:6 – (NIV) Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” I have read this scripture many times but feel there is new meaning here to be revealed by God’s Spirit to my heart. We have been given the Kingdom of God. It is part of the salvation package offered by Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is our gift eternal life. We do not experience the reality of eternity until we die. Our whole existence is centered on avoiding death altogether when the reality is that every baby is born dying.

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells us through a parable that the Kingdom of Heaven is worth the “joy” of complete sacrifice. The man sold all he had just to buy the field it was in. It says that the treasure was hidden there. He bought the field by faith. He would have to go through the process of cultivation to harvest it. There is a process to acquire the Kingdom. It requires sacrifice, commitment, dedication and motivation.

The enemy cannot touch anything bound by the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:19-21, the Word of God tells us to “store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” Why? Because they cannot be destroyed by the enemy. They cannot be corrupted. No one can steal anything we place there. Our heart follows our treasure. Jesus wants our heart today. He wants our love. Our heart must be bound in Heaven and not set on the earth.

Are we throwing our pearls out to the pigs to be trampled on? A pig eats whatever it is given. It is not discerning and eats whatever is in the slop to fill its insatiable hunger. Could this mean that when we reject the process of God in us set in motion to provide the promise of great value and worth culminating in entrance to the Kingdom, could this be the meaning of throwing out our pearls?

Revelation 21:21-27 (NIV) The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Pearls are formed when a small irritant, like a grain of sand, somehow makes its way into the interior of an oyster shell. Annoyed by this foreign object, the oyster begins coating it in a material it produces called nacre. The oyster slowly coats the foreign irritant in layers upon layers of nacre, eventually forming a pearl. Freshwater pearls take 1 to 6 years to form. Saltwater pearls take 5 to 20 years to form. If the oyster could somehow remove the irritant aborting the process, there would be no pearl.

Relief ends the trial eliminating the problem. Release is enduring the process to produce the promise. What do I do when irritated? How do I react to trials? Do I respond to the promise or react to the problem? It is important to note our behavior in the midst of opposition, irritation or challenges. There is a Kingdom waiting for me. Each gate is made of a giant single pearl. A pearl can only be made one way. Could it be that God placed them there to remind us that this life is a process not a quick fix? Maybe He is telling us that the Kingdom is worth every trial and hardship endured rather than escaped? The Lord is reminding us of the power and glory invested in our fragile jars of flesh today. He is saying don’t give up. It’s going to be worth it.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

On a personal note, the last month or so has been very trying. Everything seemed out of order. Nothing was adding up. I felt agitated all the time. I prayed and prayed. I poured over the Word of God for answers. I begged God to show me what I was doing wrong. Nothing. Midweek – there was a breakthrough. Hallelujah! Thursdays I clean house. It was quiet as my girls were off with friends and my husband cutting the yard. The phone rang. It was my friend. A godly gentleman who I respect as a mighty man of God had a dream regarding my husband and I. It seems to be a prophetic dream about a trial that is coming and a promise that we will overcome. My heart sank. Lord, Lord. See I have been through some stuff, I know that Jesus is faithful and will do exactly as He promised. I am human. My flesh cries out that I just don’t think I can do it again. The Lord whispers to me, “You can’t, but I will.”

I have been given a measure of faith that must become large enough to walk over into eternity. When you study the Word of God, it is clear that it is not an easy or lighthearted acquisition. There are many things from here to there that I would like to walk around and run past without enduring but where is the value and worth? It is the process that produces the promise in me. To forsake the process is to relinquish the promise. We cannot have the pearl without the price. I must decide whether I will use my life to gain forever or to live for this day. It is not forced upon me. God injects that irritant that requires change and I decide if I will receive it or reject it. It is that simple.

Where is your treasure today? The fisherman did not know that the hunk of pearly mass under his bed was worth anything at all. He made it worth what he wanted it to be worth. He called it his good luck charm. I have to chuckle. Do we put God and His Kingdom in the same kind of box? Do we decide His Worth and limit His Wealth in our life? Fear will do that. Doubt can certainly do it too. The faith that the Lord has invested in you is worth something. It will be worth every fight to hold on to it. Jesus will be the firm foundation that He promised but we must build that foundation of faith in our life. We must be committed enough to sacrifice. It will not be easy. It will not be quick. It will be worth it all.

Matthew 16:19 (NIV) – “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Contents under Pressure

Contents under Pressure

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT)  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

Stubborn, obstinate, driven, hardheaded, or persevering – you take your pick. I have been called them all. Through the peaks and valley of life, I guess I would call it survival. With a fiercely competitive nature, there is a careful balance between being all those qualities. In the flesh, they produce things like pride, arrogance, and other self-driven motivators. But in our spiritual life, it can be used to develop endurance. I guess it all depends if you use your powers for good or evil. For many years, I never realized how overbearing and unyielding my personality was. The Lord has dealt with me severely to recognize that people are my process above anything else. To serve the Lord with my whole heart and seek Him completely, I must recognize every single body along the way and find a way to love and care for them. Like a bull in a china shop, most of my life has been spent wrecking everything in my path just to find my way through. Now the Lord is teaching me patience and perseverance as I slowly make my way through this world being conscious of others as I go.

Taught from the earliest age that persistence pays off, those who learn “good” habits and develop “strong” character will be successful in this life. However, success in God’s Kingdom is on much different terms. No it is not doctrine or the traditional beliefs of the church. God looks through everything we say and do to our heart. It is the motivation and intentions of the heart that dictate the outcomes in our life. The Lord is looking for those who love Him. They are the ones who trust Him with their life – all who are in it and everything that they have. How can I know if Jesus lives in my heart? You are not going to like the answer any more than I do. The human heart expresses its contents under pressure.

I wish I could count the number of times some days that I throw in the towel to give up or say that I am not doing something anymore, only to press even harder. As a fighter and doer by nature, there is something inside me that refuses to give up. The bigger they are the harder they fall. When the pressures of life reach a breaking point, it is ugly. Those who know me become suspect because I am usually the one pushing, pulling and dragging them through refusing to allow them to give up or give in. When I am deflated, running on empty, exhausted and ready to just walk away, I hear these words – “My Grace is enough for you. It works best in your weakness.”

We are pressed on every side by troubles yet have God’s Promises to give us release. God does not want to relieve us of pressure but force us to pursue a release. The Light that lives inside of us must find its way out so our life will be fulfilled. We have treasure locked in fragile humanity. God’s Great Power lives in us and is looking for ways to manifest His Presence in our life. His Presence brings light to the dark places. It elevates us to achieve our purpose by exalting His Great Name. Not when things are good, but in the midst of all hell breaking loose in our life when we run out of human strength, patience and tact. What comes out of our mouth? What is our next move? How will we react or do we respond? The pressure felt in us is God’s Purpose fighting to get out of us. Do we quit? Give up? Or wait to see what’s really in us?

Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

You are the Light of the World. Jesus did not fill you with the Light of His Love without purpose. Comfort and complacency is the fleshly response to pressure. Our stubborn heart digs in. It is relentless when it comes to change especially the kind that requires pushing and pressing or any exertion at all. Choosing not to read God’s Word or do things His Way, many so-called Christians grope in the dark calling out His Name without the slightest inclination to follow Jesus Christ. A city is on a hilltop. It is developed on a foundation. It is not a nomadic drift but a named place. A lamp is placed on a stand. It was never meant to be carried in one hand while traveling far from home. It is to be the center of our home. The Light in our life, Jesus, came to live in us so that we could live through Him. He said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me.”

Leviticus 24:1-3 (NLT) The Lord said to Moses, “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. This is the lampstand that stands in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron must keep the lamps burning in the Lord’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation.

Command the people to bring pure oil of pressed olives for light. To keep the lamps burning continually. This was a commandment for the Tabernacle to be placed right in front of the curtain that shielded the Ark of the Covenant representing the Presence of God. Reading a little bit further it says, “This is a permanent law for you and it must be observed from generation to generation. Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law or do away with the commandments of God but to fulfill them. Every time we fall short, He applies His Grace and Power so we can still pursue God’s Blessing as we follow His Son. Therefore, the law still remains in effect that we are to keep lamps burning in the Lord’s Presence even though the dynamics have changed.

We now house God’s Presence and the Light of His Love in our very human heart. The pressures of life expose the contents of the heart allowing us to deal with those areas of our life that lack the fruit of His Spirit. The oil that is requested is the oil that is pressed. Not the superficial undertakings and tasks of religious fellowship or striving to be a good person, but allowing the Living God to express His Glory from our life. This did not change because Jesus died but now is fulfilled as we are His Temple to be filled with His Light until no darkness remains.

Hosea 6:1-3 (NLT) “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Though our relationship with God has dramatically changed since Jesus died on the Cross, it didn’t change His Mind about us, who we are and what we are called to do. The Lord invites us to return to Him. He wants to heal us. He wants to restore us. God can only take as much as we are willing to surrender. Submission to His Power and Authority is a personal choice lived day by day and moment by moment. I was sharing with a friend the other day that it had been one of those days. The kind of day that feels like exercise at that point when you cannot take another step or maybe lift another weight. The distance is too far but turning back is not an option. Broken and empty – you fight the urge to just sit down and cry. I have felt this way when exercising and pushed through. I have felt the same way right before delivering each one of my children. I actually told the midwife that fourth time around that I was done and leaving. She just laughed and waited for my tantrum and tirade to end. It was about that time my baby girl was born. My promise handed over to me. God is doing His Part to release His Blessing in our life. Are we doing our part?

Luke 8:44-46 (NLT) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”

“For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28) When I read this familiar story today, I cannot help but wonder, “Did Jesus really not know who touched Him?” I mean really. Of course, He did, but His Disciples missed it. I am just going to pause right here and let you think about that for a minute, too. (Selah)

Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” Peter was trying to manage crowd control and keep His Lord from being crushed beneath the weight of the desperate and dying. Jesus was looking for faith in the heart of each one. The women had deliberate faith that when pressed produced determination in her heart. She would not stop until she found Jesus. She would not be dissuaded until she reached out and touched Him. She was convinced that Jesus had what she needed and would give it to her. Do you believe? Do you believe enough to be persistent under pressure? To ignore the insults and offenses of others to let the Light of His Love shine through you?

The disciples were more concerned with their mission and mandate rather than ministering to those around them. When pressed they conformed to natural thinking rather than supernatural believing. When Jesus’ Power left Him, He was consciously aware of its release. You have been called to be the Light of the world. The Light does not “do” anything other than to shine for all men to see. It is the city on a hill well-established by faith in the foundation of Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to earn God’s Love, Grace and Unmerited Favor other than to love Him enough to trust Him and never give up until we see His Glory come out. People will always be the priority in our life. What profits a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? None.

The Lord knows you are pressed, but you will not be crushed. He sees the persecution coming at you from all sides, you must persevere. He knows life can be perplexing so God has given us the Mind of Christ and His Spirit lives in us. We are not abandoned but adopted. Though the enemy pursues us relentless, God is before us and behind us with His Hand of Blessing on our head. Every time God’s People are knocked down, grace meets them to help them up. His Glory is expressed when we decide to bring others with us.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Freedom allows each “farmer” to decide how much seed will be put in the ground. From the days of Noah until Jesus returns, we live in the constant cycle of seedtime and harvest. You will reap what you sow. The amount of “seed” that you sow is decided completely by you. It only takes a spark to start a forest fire if the conditions are favorable. Just as the seeds we plant for produce to feed us naturally, the same is true spiritually. The Lord will never rip seed from your hand (or heart) forcing us to stick it in the ground.

The decision to give our life to Jesus is often facilitating by the pressure applied to our life. Many will not read the Word until they need something from it. They do not seek the Spirit of God for Instructions until they have completely lost their way. We do not go to church but we are the church. God expects us to sow and reap His Promises every day and provides them as such. We do not want the pressure. Well, I have news for you. You are contents under pressure and the Lord will not relent. He will not revoke His Command to bless you but freedom will not allow His Love to be forced. So there is pressure and more pressure until it can be expressed in our life.

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

My life is a pressure cooker currently. Yesterday was especially difficult with family, work, church and moving next week. I went into overload. Family scattered for the moment. Work filled with deadlines. Church still an hour away. The Call of God constantly pressing on my heart. Add selling one house, buying another and moving to the mix and yes, I am physically and emotionally exhausted right now. So, when it was time to head out for the midweek service at church, I had a million excuses. The first and most pressing was packing. When I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, it was all I could do not to crawl through the doors down the hallway into the sanctuary.

When the first note of worship began, the weight of the world fell from my shoulders. It is not about me. It is all about Him. As I decrease, His Power increases to meet its full potential. Though the pressure did not change at all, the feeling that it’s going to be worth it all overshadowed any other human emotion. See God didn’t say that there would not be pressure in this life. In fact, He warned us that it would be the opposite. I will fall down, get knocked down and lay down many times in my lifetime. It is what I do when I get back up that matters. First that I choose to use His Grace and get back in the good fight of faith. It also matters that I am conscious of others and consciously bring them up with me win each ascent. The Lord promises that as the oil of our life is pressed out to Light the Word for Jesus that it will be worth it every single time.

Proverbs 24:10 (NLT) If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Wealth of Worry

Wealth of Worry

Matthew 6:33-34 (NLT) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

After months of cleaning, organizing and showing our home, we now have a contract or pending sale. Not only that, we found our new home which is perfect for us. Well, it really is just like the one being left behind just a better location. With the primary focus of our weekend gone and our realtor and banker handling all the details, I find myself without a pressing issue this weekend. Of course, there is packing and a garage sale to prepare for but right now… today… and this weekend, I really have nothing that I have to do. Now what? I am of the Martha nature. I used to fill every single moment of my life with what I didn’t do, what I needed to do, and what had to be done. How about you? Did you know that this is also called worry? It is the primary source of stress. The enemy doesn’t level us with bombs. He buries us in stuff. Stuff to do. Stuff we need. Stuff we want. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. That is until there is the straw that breaks the camel’s back crushing us under cares and burdens that were never ours to bear. I am guilty as charged.

When I got up this morning, I commented to my husband how weird it was not to have anything to do. Longing for that thing called boredom, we nagged about as kids. Yet when I linger too long in the morning wrapped up in my comfy bed or stay in my pj’s something comes over me. A feeling of guilt. I am wasting time, precious time that cannot be reclaimed. We are by nature doers who evaluate our success and failure in life by our ability to overload it and manage it successfully. I think Christians are the worst. Just knowing Jesus makes me feel unworthy and the need to do something, anything just to give back. The truth is that His Grace is sufficient for me but I do not feel sufficient for Him. You know what? That’s my problem. Is it yours, too?

This is not a message for those who are lazy and irresponsible but a gentle whisper from the still small voice that meets us in exhaustion when we are overwhelmed and stressed. Like the Lord spoke to Elijah, He still speaks to us now, “What are you doing here?” We are called to a place of rest. As believers, we have the Mind of Christ which should be settled and secure in all things by faith and trust in the Lord’s Ability to call all things finished which was His Statement on the Cross. Recently a friend went on vacation, a godly woman who is very heavily immersed in ministry in our church. She went to the beach. Her place of natural peace and tranquility. She posted on social media upon her return of all the things she accomplished in the remaining hours since from her getaway. Yet now she needed another mini vacation. I believe that somehow this describes the inner struggle of many believers who love the Lord and feel the overwhelming and pressing need to serve Him well. He wants more than our time. He gave us our talent so there is nothing to prove. He wants to be the treasure of our heart. Jesus wants to be the One Thing who we cannot live without. He wants us to seek His Kingdom above all other things. It is a place of peace. In His Presence, there is rest.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

One thing. Lord, let it be about one thing today. Not everything. Although professing faith and trust in the Lord, it is human nature to worry and stress in our doing. It is the standard measure of the world. Hard work. We admire it. Hard work and motivation are key qualities and assets in workers. It’s true. The Kingdom needs dedicated and committed laborers. Where are they? Worn out. Stressed out. Overwrought. Torn in too many directions.

A very wise man once gave an illustration to a youth group. He had a jar and an array of rocks, pebbles and gravel strewn across the table. He asked the kids if they thought all of the contents would fit in the jar. There were varying opinions and many tried unsuccessfully to fill it up. He took the large rock much bigger than everything else and put in first. Next he carefully arranged all the moderately sized pebbles around it. Finally, he poured the gravel in and it fit all the tiny spaces created by the contents of the jar. His message was “one thing”. Jesus is the One Thing that is most important to center our life around. There will be issues, problems, heartache and situations that take precedent in our life evidenced by all the pebbles placed in the glass around the big rock. Then there are all the light, momentary, temporary things that don’t really matter but are allowed by us to take residence in our life. Some will fit and some will fall away unnoticed. As long as Jesus is the One Thing we seek, the most important priority in our life, who fills each day with His Presence every “thing” else will fit together just fine.

Is your life utter chaos? Not God’s Plan. Do have trouble resting when it’s not? That’s not God either. God created human beings to have dominion over the earth and everything in it. Sin interrupted the tranquility of life offering compromises for our time, talent and treasure. It is when we invest all these commodities back to One Thing – seeking the Kingdom more than anything else that we will see the harvest of love, joy and true peace that comes from living in His Presence all the time.

Luke 12:25-27 (NLT) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

The wealth of worry is an impoverished soul. Worry is the result of unresolved doubt that produces fear. Fear is really just the perception of a lie becoming a reality if only in our mind it is debilitating. There are people literally held captive and do not live based on fear and anxiety that is perceived and never a reality. Is that you? Are you afraid to stop? Are you too worried to let go? Is fear eroding your faith without even knowing it? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? No, in fact it is stealing precious time each day that could be wisely invested into things that count like prayer, praise, and worshipping the Lord. If worry cannot add one minute to our existence, why is it so worthy of it? It’s not. I am worried today that if I do nothing that I will waste the day. How silly is that? Where is the Sabbath, sojourn, and Selah called rest and peace? Being eaten up by the lie that I can do something apart from Christ.

I Corinthians 7:20-22 (NLT) Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.

By surrendering our life to Jesus Christ to be saved from our sin, a Child of God is no longer in bondage or slavery to sin. Sin was the only thing keeping us from God’s Presence. Now through Jesus, we have total access into His Presence each day. It is this very privilege that by His Grace we can come boldly to His Throne each day and live there. Because Christ paid a debt that I could not afford and can never repay, I am a slave of Christ and He has set me free. Free from worry, stress, fear and even doing all the time. He invites me to enter this foreign place called rest. Until I am able to achieve peace and rest in Jesus Christ, I have not chosen freedom for myself. Jesus offers it each day with the gift of mercy for all those times I didn’t trust Him enough to stop worrying about everything and trying to do it all. I think He smiles at my ignorance with a sideways grin saying, “You wanna try again?” The Lord offers us freedom each day and in every choice by offering to take care of it. What is my response? Freedom is achieved when we enter His Rest choosing above all things to live in the love, joy and peace. Total trust allows us to take time off, sit back and relax – not just physically but mentally, too. Jesus said it is finished. His Death and Resurrection did it all. He gave us everything when He released His Spirit for our benefit and blessing. What better way to honor that sacrifice than to try to trust Him a little more? We have been given a chance called freedom. We should take it.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Don’t worry about anything. Worry can be hidden in good intentions and worthwhile activity. However, God has called us to a place of rest. It’s funny because our body will just give out. When our human strength has reached its limit, it ceases to cooperate with our brain. A person will literally collapse with exhaustion. Since our son has been healed, he will literally just fall asleep without notice for his body to recharge. Maybe that is why the Word of God speaks about peace that guards our heart and mind as we live for Christ. This is not talking to the lost and dying but the saved and sanctified who are worrying about things that don’t matter.

Getting a glimpse of this place called rest, to know a moment of God’s Perfect Peace will make you want it more. There is a faithful exchange that must be made to have such a life. We must diligently stop worrying about anything and everything. It doesn’t matter how much of our life that is given to ministry, missions and sharing the Gospel – worry tells us that there is still fear and disbelief hidden deep inside our heart, mind or soul. It must be rooted out and pulled up completely so that His Love can flow deeper as we become grounded in His Amazing Love. His Grace is sufficient for you today. His Power lives inside of you looking for a way out. It only happens by moving out of the way and allowing the Lord to rule and reign over every worry, care and burden. If you have nothing to do today, you are blessed. Rest in your blessing and stop trying to find something “worthwhile” to do. Just bask in His Presence. If you have too many things to do, maybe it’s time to take a minute to evaluate the contents to be certain that Jesus is the Center of it all.

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