Catch 22

Change

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fake Plants

Artificial Plants

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

I am a natural born plant killer. When I walk through a garden center or nursery, all the little plants shake in fear that they will be fatefully selected. My thumb is a dark and ominous shade of black. Thank the Lord that I am much better at raising children and pets than the unsuspecting houseplant. About the only safe plant I own would be the one that is planted in our yard where my husband can take care of it. I am not a fan of artificial plants with all the vivid and perfect greenery. I have one little tree in the corner of the house given to me by my mother. It really is beginning to look sad after years of being dusted and vacuumed. Little hands tugging at the fronds. Now a huge puppy who likes to nibble running by. It cannot experience new life and regrowth because it is plastic created in a factory made to look good but produce nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” An illustration of new life, growth, maturity and productivity available by engraftment. The cutting away of our flesh sounds painful and brutal. Engrafting allows us to grow from a new source. In horticulture, it means to insert one tree or plant into another for the purpose of multiplication. The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow our life into Jesus Christ. He produces the Kingdom through us. Planting is the pathway of productivity ordained by God. Whatever you plant, you will harvest. You cannot harvest what you do not plant.

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  

The Fruit of the Spirit are clearly identified in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But many times, this is not the natural expectation of new or young believers. They come to Christ desiring the things naturally occurring rather than supernaturally produced. It’s only natural. However, to truly flourish and prosper is to live IN Christ. Give up our way of doing things to live disciplined lives hence He produces self-control in us that allows us to truly repent and turn from our old way of life to fully embrace His Gift of new life.

John 15:1-4 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Walking through the local Ace, looking for my next victim. Just kidding, I was actually trying to find a crepe myrtle tree for the yard so botanist and horticulturists can put their mind at ease. It was hot and humid outside but then a steady midst of cool water made me look up. All around the covered area a PVC irrigation system periodically watered all the potted plants. The plants will survive in this environment until they are rescued and put in the ground. Once in the ground, the fertile soil will begin to give the plant or tree the nutrients it needs to begin to sprout new growth. The roots will anchor it down so wind and rain will not be a threat. It will be watered from the ground to the sky and all around as natural and man cooperate to produce an environment conducive to growth and prosperity. What was once limited to a contained environment will hopefully begin to grow, develop and mature. God is inviting us to enter the prosperity process of growth but it requires being moved out of the limitations of our natural life and planting ourselves in His Presence. I access such a place through His Son, Jesus Christ. He washed us in the Word. The Word made flesh is Jesus. Now we have true growth potential but we must endure the growth process to actually prosper.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Reading some commentary on this passage, I came across a new term. It shook me to my core rattling my roots if you will. Pseudo-believer or false believer. Yikes! How is this even possible? Do I truly believe? Am I growing in Christ or producing a bunch of leaves without fruit? Here is the danger of religion versus relationship exposed as a warning to those who follow Christ. If I do what the Word of God tells me to do, my life will become productive. I will experience increase because I am sowing good seed…God seed. It will do what is sent forth to do in spite of me. God is good. He wants to bless us. Obedience produces blessing and prosperity in our life. Any part of my life partnered with God’s Word will begin to experience a radical change and dramatic shift not because I did anything but when I plant and water with the Word – God gives increase. However, it is possible to walk with Christ but not live in Christ. Prime example – Judas. He was one of the twelve. He heard every word spoken by Jesus, experienced every sign, wonder and miracle with the others and even walked in the Presence of the Living God but did not believe. If I do what the Word says but do not fall in love with Jesus Christ, I can experience a pseudo-relationship called religion. If I fall in love with Jesus Christ and do my best to follow His Teachings and allow His Spirit to produce His Fruit in my life – I am redeemed. I will live in Christ. I will become a true believer worshipping in Spirit and Truth. I will not be separated from Him in the end.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)  Come to Me, all you 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.”

I John 5:2-4 (NKJV) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

The word “yoke” is the device that joins two or more work animals so that they work together. Jesus invites us to take His Yoke upon us and partner with Him in this life. I must give up my way to go His Way. The promise is that His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light. This does not mean that life is easy and becoming a new creation is not without its struggles, sorrows and suffering because the death of our flesh and old way of thinking is often painful. But when we love God, live in Christ, and strive to keep His Commandments – His Spirit cultivates growth in our relationship. We do things every day out of responsibility. Some relationships such as that with our co-workers is born of responsibility. There are things we do to maintain that relationship because it is our job, duty or responsibility. However, when we yoke our life to Jesus and decide to live in love with Him first, all other responsibilities become His Responsibilities. He takes the lead. It is His Yoke. His Burden. We can have peace that the process is prosperous without worrying, stressing, or fretting about it. We do not have to fear the outcome but simply wait on it. God gets no glory in our death but His Glory shines in our success.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Are you rooted and grounded in His Love today? Does Christ dwell in your heart? Do you abide in Him today? Fake faith and artificial growth produce nothing but disappointment. It may bring some momentary happiness and temporary blessings but just a fake plant fades with time so will our satisfaction. Sometimes it is easier to take up the responsibilities of religion and do the right thing rather than allowing Jesus to be completely and totally responsible for our life. I cannot become the new creation that He promised and have the rich and satisfying life marked by abundance if I do not surrender my life to Jesus. My heart must bear the Fruit of His Spirit first to live in love with Him. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Jesus lives in us. We must focus first on cultivating our relationship with the Lord in order to experience the prosperity and success promised as our soul prospers. Without a prospering soul, our flesh will never be satisfied with the productivity of our life. Jesus is the One who satisfies our soul.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Life Unveiled

Life Unveiled

Matthew 27:50-52 (NLT) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.

It was a game-changing, plot-twisting, and script-flipping moment in the history of humanity. Some would later come to realize the true potential of the moment Jesus released His Spirit that day on the Cross while many would go back to life as usual. On the Day of Pentecost, the same Spirit that reached out and tore the veil in the Temple from top to bottom would come and have His Way in us. Do those words make you a bit uncomfortable? Does intimacy sound like a forbidden word in your Christian conversation? The Holy Inhabitation of Jesus Christ in us and the consummation of His Covenant with us is conceived in just one place – beyond the veil in His Presence. I believe I just might write a book one day to try to express the impact of God’s Presence, His Perfect Peace that defies logic and understanding and His Inexpressible Joy that finds has made His Way to me in the most difficult times. I cannot help tell you again, if but for a moment I could take apart my broken heart and show you the Light that lives there. You would never be the same. You would be changed. You would know in an instant that anything good in my life is the Jesus Christ inside of me. One experience. One encounter and your life can never be the same. For generations, many would desire God but fear of sin and death would keep them just outside the curtain. The High Priest would come and go on their behalf. Where is the hope in a covenant that does not offer life? Where is the potential of a relationship with a man in the middle? It is hard enough to stay married in a partnership of two. Could you imagine if you had to go through a third party to settle disagreements or to apologize? It is difficulty to create intimacy in a crowd. Jesus wanted more. He wanted us. He provided a way for us to step into His Presence and live in a place of constant unity with Him. In return, Jesus came to live in us.

I am a logical person. Things must make sense for me to believe they are true. Until the details add up and the bottom line is balanced, the jury remains out. I am not a person who lives in blind trust. Serving a God who I cannot see, being filled with a Spirit who I cannot touch and to live as part of a Kingdom that I cannot yet enter used to be challenging. Truly, reading God’s Word was a bust for me – I would fall fast asleep. The Holy Spirit was a silent partner locked away in a box. I knew He was in me but had no idea what to do with Him other than respond to the gentle nudges offered from time to time. Prayer. Not the conversation that I expected, but then again the Lord couldn’t get a word in edgewise in the midst of my endless banter. I read a book called “Beyond the Veil” which introduced me to this place called Presence, but I will be darned if I could find my way in despite the “OPEN” sign hanging on the door. Intrigued by the thought and determined in my heart to find this place, I decided to do whatever it took to find my way there.

Exodus 26:31-34 (NLT) “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place.

2 Chronicles 3:14 (NLT) Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and embroidered with figures of cherubim.

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, the curtain was hung across the Most Holy Place. This was where the Ark of the Covenant that held the Presence of God – God-In-A-Box. Why was God in the box? The repayment of our sin had not been made. God’s Goodness and Glory would consume any human with sin if released to dwell among the people. Only those who truly lived holy and righteous lives could enter – Moses and the men who were consecrated to be high priests and serve the Lord there. Anyone else would die according to the sin within them. Yikes. The high priests mediated God’s Relationship with humanity going back and forth between them.

When Jesus died on the Cross, the veil was torn from top to bottom. God accepted His Payment for our sin and grace was fully dispensed. His Spirit was not free to come and go spreading life wherever He flowed. Life. Continuously death-overpowering and defeat-overwhelming life. Glorious life. Abundant life. Life everlasting. Life of increase. Life-giving harvest. Life. I think you get the point. Death was defeated. The grave overcome. Life was released and the covenant between God and His People complete. No need for a middle man our Mediator now Jesus Christ.

Exodus 34:34-35 (NLT) But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.

I love this part, I really do! When Moses would go into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord…stop right here for just a second. Moses didn’t go into the Tent of Meeting to “pray” like some people do. You know…you go on and on to God about your problems, troubles, needs, wants, and desires. No, Moses had a relationship with God. When he entered the Presence of God it was with the intent to “speak with the Lord.” I wonder if this is the limitation on our prayer life. We do all the talking with no intent to hear the Voice of God. Let me just leave that right there and keep going.

When Moses left the Tent of Meeting after conversing with the Lord in His Presence, the radiance of God’s Glory on his countenance was visible. You could literally see him glowing. This completely freaked people out for lack of better words. They didn’t understand it. Could not conceive it. Feared God. Feared the man of God. So, Moses put a veil over his face until he entered God’s Presence again. Do we do the same thing? I mean really. Do you live from God experience to experience? Did you know that thanks to Jesus Christ that you can live IN THE PRESENCE every single day?

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 (NLT) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

Spoiler Alert! I am about to flood you with 2 Corinthians 3. Why is our life not radiating God’s Glory? If our life as believers shined in a tangible way as Moses face did just from basking in the Presence of God – our words might mean more. Infused with life our message begins to make a difference. Confidence in our covenant with God begins by our willingness and desire to seek His Presence. I pass by businesses all the time with “OPEN” signs and even “WELCOME” signs but I do not go inside. Churches open their doors with free admission and come-as-you-are invitations yet many seats remain empty and altars unused. Why? Where is the radiance of God? If this new way given to us in Jesus Christ is that much better, why isn’t our life any better? If He offers new life, new creations, new anything at all then why are we living the same old way?

2 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NLT) Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

The new way gives us such confidence that we can be very bold. Does it? Are you confident today? Confident in what? Confident in God’s Love, His Goodness, and His Faithfulness. See becoming truly confident in this hope that is given to us will make faith rise up out of us as a tangible substance in our life. This confidence never leads to disappointment as it is the hope that anchors our soul. These are just words on a page to some but that can all change with an encounter with the Lord today. Not in a church full of people, sobbing and wailing at an altar but simply grabbing a cup of coffee, opening God’s Word, and sitting in His Presence. Yes, turn off all the noise, put away the cellphone, and lock the door. This is His Time. It is an intimate experience for those who decide the Lord is worth having. To strip off the veil requires confidence. It will require trust. Giving our heart, mind, body, soul, time, talent and treasure to Jesus Christ is an offering not a requirement. The decision to do so produces a relationship that has nothing to do with religion or ritual. It is personal. It is private. It is perfection.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 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.

The Spirit of the Lord gives us freedom. As believers, we choose the depth of our intimacy with the Lord. It is not a requirement to live in His Presence or shine with His Glory. He gives us the opportunity. I write insurance policies for a living. I do not sell them but help develop the contracts. The insurance business is regulated by the state government. If an insurer wants to change anything in the contract, it must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Insurance. After beginning this new adventure, I realized there was more to my homeowners insurance than I realized so I pulled out the contract and read all the provisions again. What if we are missing important benefits of our new covenant? What if there are blessings and promises that belong to me that I am not taking full advantage of? I have the Word of God but it doesn’t always make sense or seem real. I have the Holy Spirit, too. However, what might happen if I pursued Presence?

What if I stepped through the veil now torn in two and decided to spend quality time with Jesus rather than random stolen or leftover moments from my day? What if I gave a consistent offering of my life? What are the possibilities? Nothing would be possible if you believed enough to try it. You cannot reflect a Glory you have not experienced. Like a solar light must soak in the sun to give light in the dark, I cannot effectively reflect a Light that has not saturated my life. How can I love others without His Love? How can I live for Him without knowing Him? How can I share a message that I have not heard or do not believe? I can’t. God is offering us a place in His Presence again today. New mercy will open the door again tomorrow, but wait to do tomorrow what could be done today. The Lord, His Spirit, will make us into the new creation as He makes us more like Him. We will have all the Fruit of His Spirit. We will have a rich and satisfying life here in the land of the living just like He said. It all begins with the decision to live a life unveiled and step into His Presence.

Psalm 16:11 (NLT) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Just Turnaround

Just Turnaround

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

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

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

Psalm 23 (NLT) The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

The Undoing

Onion.

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

I seldom use onions in recipes but when I do I handle them with care. Peeling off the paper-like covering, to reveal the pearly white surface releases the distinct odor of the onion. However, once you cut into it – the onion fights back as oils are released into the air that irritate our eyes producing seemingly endless tears. A trick to eliminate the tears is to cut the onion under running water. This causes the oils to be rinsed away and keep them from reaching the tear duct. Fancy trick I learned from my grandmother. You can learn a lot from grown folks. You can learn a lot about life in Christ from an onion, too.

Salvation is only the beginning of discovering our newfound freedom in Christ. Redemption is to take full advantage of the gift given to us by the Grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Christianity and the pursuit of Christ also will produce many tears in our life. As the Lord peels back the layers of sin, shame, regret, guilt and stinking thinking, the aroma and stench of death leaving us to make room for new life, new hope, and new freedom causes tears to be released. Our life is going to produce an aroma of some kind. Will it be a fragrant sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving while claiming God’s Gift or will it be the continued stench of rotting flesh taking over again? It really is up to you and me what kind of life that is produced after coming to Jesus inviting Him to be our Savior. It is in His Lordship that a whole new existence is possible free from the chains, bondage and slavery of this life to claim freedom.

John 8:36 (NLT) So if the Son set you free – you are truly free.

Do you feel free today? Are you singing a freedom song? There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ so who the Son sets free is free indeed. The word condemnation means to pronounce guilt. It is an unfavorable or adverse judgment. It means to pronounce unfit for use or service. To force. It is to declare incurable. None of these qualities exist in the character of Christ concerning you. He is intent on freeing you from every thought, suspicion or notion that you are bound, hindered or restricted in any way, shape or form. He says that you are free…completely free…totally free. You are free to win. Free to live. Free to prosper. Free to grow. Free to love. You have absolute and complete freedom in Jesus Christ. You own Him nothing. He gave you everything. So why the long face and heavy heart today?

Christians do not experience freedom because they cannot accept the free gift of God’s Grace completely. There must be a catch. So like a prisoner who has been imprisoned far too long, the door is unlocked but they will not reach out their weary, tired, oppressed and fearful arm to open it and walk out. Jesus has set you free today. Free from sin, worry, despair, self-loathing, religion, and more You are free indeed to do as you please with this new life you have been given. What will you use your freedom for today?

Life is like an onion covered in many layers. I am like an onion who as I have grown older in life taken on many layers that do not necessarily belong to me in Jesus Christ. I wear them proudly and hold them tightly. When the Lord comes to make something beautiful out of my life, I refuse to let go of the known to take a faithful chance on the future. What lies just beneath the surface of me that He is trying to get to? We do not like brokenness and fear the cut of pruning. It produces many tears in our life. But I know a trick that I want to share with you (again) that my grandmother shared with me…you gotta run it under the water!

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The Holy Spirit is our partner when it comes to attaining the freedom offered in Jesus Christ. We need His Help. This is way too complex and comprehensive for my finite thinking and limitations of the human mind. I need His Wisdom and Guidance to wash over me and renew me as I endure the process of change from death to new life. As the Word cuts to the core of my heart, pruning out sin, eradicating the flesh that keeps me from growing, it is His Spirit that washes my wounds, heals my heart, nourishes my soul and nurtures my growth. The Holy Spirit is water the water that keeps me in those times when I don’t feel free or try to shut myself up captive in fear, doubt and worry again.

The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and waters me with it. My family is not too big on raw onions. So often when I cook, I use the dried minced onions from the spice aisle instead. This is very convenient but not as flavorful. It lends some of the taste to a recipe but not the full flavor of a freshly cut onion. Now if you take a raw onion and cook it, something changes. The flavor changes and becomes sweeter as the texture softens. This takes longer than just grabbing an onion and cutting it up. We give food time to cook but refuse to give any credence to God’s Timing and Preparation when it comes to us. The onion is only one ingredient in the recipe. Brokenness is only a part of the process. With patience and time, the onion is going to work with all the other flavors to produce a delicious dinner.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose. His Purpose. His Recipe. His Design. This means that you are only seeing a small part of a huge picture. You are in a single step of a perfect process. Do not judge your future or forever by the tough situation, hard time or heart break you are going through right now. It is part of a beautiful masterpiece that the Lord has designed your life to be. “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had the 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.” (2 Cor. 3:16-18)

Colossians 3:10-14 (NLT) Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. Any part of our life lived in bondage is not of God or His Son or His Spirit. Sin doesn’t condemn us anymore. Sin happens so repentance is given so grace may be applied. Those who love the Lord will try not to sin. Love is the best motivator for repentance. Change comes more easily surrounded in purpose. It is my passion and pursuit to live in the Kingdom of God. I live in Florida. If I get in my car intent on traveling to Canada, I must go north. If I go south, I will fall into the ocean. If I go east or west the same thing will happen. My vehicle is faith. Faith is the title deed to hope that is the Kingdom of God. I must head in that direction if it is my chosen destination. With that being said, religion often adds extra layers of “things” I must do and rules to follow. My relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent on religion or anything or anyone else. My relationship is intimate and personal. I am committed to Jesus Christ so I strive to be close to Him. To come closer means certain layers of my life have to go. Those things can hurt and produce many tears but it is full assumption of my freedom to undergo the transformation. Beauty is pain. I believe it. Letting go of how life defines me to grab hold of my destiny.

True freedom is to fully assume your new nature. To be renewed body, mind and spirit to become like Christ. It doesn’t matter what religion you belong to because it is all about our relationship with Jesus that matters. God chose to love me. It is my privilege to remove the layers of life and take on the splendor of His Kingdom. To be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. To form strong bonds and build relationships with my brothers and sisters. To forgive and off the grace that I have so generously been given. To love and love some more. The freedom that I have is found in His Love. As I discover just how “wide, long, high and deep” His Love really is, it is then that I am able to see just how free I really am.

It is hard to remember in the midst of hurt, hardship and trials that our life is part of something bigger than what we see, know and experience every day. It is also difficult to fully understand and therefore accept that God’s Love is completely unconditional and His Grace never ending. It is with this in mind that I am reminded today I am free. I have been freed from sin, shame, guilt, and every other kind of bondage that exists in the world today. I am a soul set free in the One I love. I am destined to be part of something much bigger. To fulfill my position will be my complete undoing as God peels back the layers that keep me from fulfillment and becoming exactly who He created me to be. Brokenness will come. Tears will fall. It will be my undoing. But it will be worth it – it will be worth it all!

Ephesians 3:17-19 (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.

All Things New

All Things New

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

The Lord is doing a new thing. Each day waking up to a body filled with breath is a sign that there is more to life than what was experienced yesterday yet to be fulfilled. Even on those days that seem ordinary, plain or repetitive, there is the possibility for something new to happen and change to occur. Change is uncomfortable. A life of faith is difficult for our flesh that is suspect of all things based on life’s experiences. It’s hard to trust a God who cannot be reached with any of the five human senses. But every day there is the possibility of new life, new love, new purpose, new things and becoming a new creation in spite of ourselves.

When the idea of moving began to circle in our minds as the Holy Spirit nudged our hearts, my husband made the comment “wouldn’t it be great if we could pick up our house here and move it to there.” I have to laugh because God loves my husband. When he expresses a desire, the Lord always finds a way to grant it to this humble man who would do anything for his family. We bought a house in the next county that is the same floorplan as the old one. Crazy, I know. There are some subtle differences between the old house and new. Changes that I would have made in the other are already made. Our new house needs some love and attention which we are glad to give. It would be easy to try to make this house just like the old one since the structure is the same but it seems that in every room something has turned out a little bit different.

We are called to be a new creation in Jesus Christ. To be a new creation requires uncomfortable change. Moving was not fun. It was exhausting and overwhelming. The enemy definitely tried to deter us from following God’s Plan and I would be a liar to say that I did not try to give up about three times in the process. It was the Holy Spirit reminding me that God wanted to do a new thing and in fact was doing it that kept me fighting the good fight of faith. What about you? Are you determined to be transformed into a new creation today? Do you want what God wants and predestined for your life? Isaiah tells us that to do so, “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

The Lord is doing a new thing. Our life from salvation to redemption is marked by perpetual change. We decide what change will look like in our life. It is called freedom. God has created us and called us to become righteous and walk in His Glory until we meet Him face-to-face. But if we choose not to take advantage of His Love, Mercy and Grace by becoming reconciled to Christ – it will not happen. New life is a choice lived every day.

Isaiah 42:6-9 (NIV) “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

Isaiah 42 begins with a description of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the new covenant and call to righteousness that allows us to have a new life. In verse 9, the Lord declares “new things” to come. We have a purpose. (Psalm 139:13-18) There is a plan in place with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) We are called to righteousness. God’s Grace given to us in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus allows its dispensation. We are granted freedom to choose to love and live for the Lord or go our separate way. Covenant is partnership. It is relational. We cannot have a new covenant with Jesus and maintain our old partnership and bondage to sin. The two are not conducive to one another. The Lord allows us to choose who we will serve. The only catch is that unlike the world that allows compromise, the Lord requires commitment. New life is in the New Covenant. New things come to those who commit their way to Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:6-10 (NIV) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.

Does the Glory of God shine in your life? Are you prospering body, mind and spirit? Physically, mentally, spiritually and financially? Not only do we live in a new covenant with the Lord, but we are called to be ministers of the new covenant. How glorious is your life? Does your countenance reflect a change that has penetrated your heart, changed your mind and renewed your spirit? If not, it can! Righteousness allows the Glory of God greater than Moses ever knew to be expressed in our life. What is righteousness? Right standing with God. The ability to come into the Presence of God again through the grace provided by Jesus Christ. To pursue righteousness is our willingness to obey God and submit our life to the Lord so that we can be reconciled to Jesus every day.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

We have this natural inclination that coming to Christ should cause a drastic and immediate change in our condition and circumstances. When everything is not immediate, the enemy rushes in to tell us that God is not real. His Love is conditional. His Grace runs out. His Mercy does not come each day. The new creation has come. Creation is a process. It took the God of the Universe seven days to create the world we know. If we look at 2 Peter 3:8, maybe it will change our perspective on creation just a bit. It says that God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Well according to this scripture, “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Humanity impatiently puts a timeline on the work of God in their life when His Idea of time is much different. God knows the plans that He has for us and is in no hurry to rush the process for our convenience but rather will wait until it is complete lacking no good thing.

What is the process of becoming a new creation? Does it magically happen? Do I have to do anything? According to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, we must reconcile our life to Christ. Every single layer of our existence submitting to His Lordship and surrendered to His Love. It is a commitment to righteousness that allows nothing to come between us and Jesus. It is a swift consumption of the new mercy that He provides every new day. (Lamentations 3:20-26) How can I a wrecked human being full of imperfect traits and flawed character ever be one with Jesus Christ? His Grace is enough for me.

Ezekiel 36:25-30 (NIV) I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” In our submission and surrender to the Lord, we are given His Grace and Mercy. The sacrifice that Jesus Christ made allows us to have God’s Glory in our life but will never force us to reach out and take it. The Lord will give you a new heart in exchange for the hard one. He will give you a new spirit but you must be willing to crucify your flesh. It is not a matter of can God but will you today?

The blessings of God are predetermined for our life. It is simply our willingness to follow Jesus and do what His Word says that gives us access to the prosperity preordained for us. The blessing of a new heart and new spirit is a new life. You will become a new creation. It doesn’t mean that every condition or circumstance in your life will change. You were born with a purpose. God ordered your life to fulfill that same purpose. Your potential did not hinge of salvation but is released by it. God loved you when He made you. He had big plans for you in your mother’s womb. He loves us first. By reconciling our life to Christ, we open ever door and window to the contents of Heaven so it will pour out on our life in His Glory as God always intended but sin stopped up.

Luke 5:36-39 (NIV) He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Although we live in a house that looks just like our old one, it is different. The floorplan is flipped. I find that when I go to open the refrigerator, I am actually walking into the pantry. I will reach for light switches that are not in the same place anymore. When we come to Jesus Christ, He makes His Home in our life. He prepares us for the new thing that He is doing in us. We want the Glory of God to fill our life, but first our life must be prepared to receive it. We tend to search for the Lord yet try to maintain our old way of life. New life and new levels in the Lord will always require movement on our part. Our human condition requires a process to be fully redeemed. We cannot contain all that the Lord is doing in us and through us from the start. If we want new wine, we need new wineskin.

The process of change that God provides is transformation. It is the daily submission of us to His Plan, His Purpose, and His Process that releases the Glory of God in our life. If the Lord were to fill us right now with all His Love, Grace and Goodness for us – it would completely consume us. We would burst on the inside. The Lord will not force His Affections or it would not be love at all. Love cannot be forced it must grow. Jesus renews us day by day so more and more of His Glory can fill us and be expressed from our life. He changes us. He lives in us.

Do you want a new life? Do you desire to become a new creation? Do you need a change of heart or renewed spirit today? It has already been decreed over your life, you must simply learn to walk in it. It requires leaving the past behind including religion, tradition, guilt, shame and every other thing that links us to the past. Sin must also be left in the sea of forgetfulness washed in His Blood. We must move closer to God and learn to live in His Love. It is a process because His Love is greater than anything that a human being has ever experienced. When the Lord prospers our life, no part is left untouched. As our soul prospers, it produces a fruitful life. The wilderness always has a way. The wastelands have hidden waterfalls. The Lord will lead you to them if you are committed wholeheartedly in pursuing Him. Nowhere in the Word of God do I find solace that pursuing Jesus and living for the Lord is easy but I can testify that it is always worth it.

Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Happy Transformation Day

Happy Transformation Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Life New Day

New Life New Day

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT) So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Today is a brand new day. It is the beginning of your new life in Christ all over again. How do I know? His Mercy was fresh this morning delivered to your doorstep, bedside, pillow. When you open your eyes drawing one more breath and another heartbeat, opportunity was waiting to meet you and escort you through this day. Most of the time, we hit the alarm, roll over pulling the covers over our head rather than greeting the new day that the Lord give us. Caught up in evaluating our life from a human point of view, we miss the fact that the impossible became possible when Jesus Christ became our Lord and Savior. You belong to Jesus Christ. You are becoming a new person simply by allowing Him to rule and reign in your life each day. The old life is gone. Our sins are washed as far as the east is from the west. A new life has begun. Are you taking advantage of the gift of life?

It’s that “human point of view” thing that messes us up. Heavily reliant on our five senses, the transition from walking by sight to living by faith feels more like a blind leap rather than a carefully decided step. Just because I cannot see something does not mean it does not exist or has not been there since before my life began. There are many wonders of the world that I have read about and seen through pictures that I know are there yet have never had the pleasure of visiting or seeing with my own eyes yet I believe. It doesn’t matter how yesterday ended or this morning began the potential for a new life exists in each moment for those who know Jesus. The very ones who believe without seeing Him.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The faithfulness of the Lord does not end. He does not tire of our insistence on rebellion which is any time our way supersedes His Way. His Love for us is not limited by our inability to remain faithful to our First Love all the time. His Mercy comes fresh each morning and is there for our use. If we could only comprehend how rich His Mercy and Abundant His Grace really is, I wonder if then we could begin to live, breathe and thrive in the Blessings of God given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. To live healed, whole, delivered and fulfilled – we would experience life as God planned it rather than remaining victims of fate.

To enter each day with the understanding and valid belief that the Lord IS my Inheritance! He is worthy of my love and devotion. I can trust Him with my life. He is able to do more than I can ask or think with all that I surrender to Him. His Love for me never ends. His Mercy for me is ceaseless. His Faithfulness is great. All of this is mine. It is given to me as a gift. I cannot earn it. I will never deserve it. Yet, I can live in it each day.

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

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. This world will try to convince you that there are many things worth investing your life in. Time is the most valuable commodity that a human being has because it is irreplaceable. You cannot make time. You cannot buy more time beyond that which is allotted. Once a moment passes, it cannot be regained. So what is the one thing we waste the most of…time. When we see life through our natural eyes it is limited to the “seventy or so” years declared in God’s Word. We know that some live to a ripe old age, while others are cut short in their prime or not given a chance to live at all. The value of human life is diminishing in society today. We give ourselves away to many worthless things. Yet Jesus came to give us a rich, satisfying life. He offers us abundance just for the asking. Why don’t we ask? Why don’t we seek first the Kingdom of God? Is Jesus our hobby? Is He a routine? Or is Jesus Christ our life. Those who choose to make Him their life surrendering all of their time, talent and treasure to His Love will experience new life in each new day.

Such a life is not dependent of situations but surrender. My life in my hands was a mess. When I gave it all to Jesus, He began molding and shaping it into a life worth living. What about you? Are you filled with joy today? Or does facing another day seem like too much to handle? Are you living a new life in Christ or dying in the debts of your past? See we come to Jesus calling on His Name but it is in the acceptance of His Gift opening it, using it and apply it to our life that new life begins. Stuck in a rut…lost in the past…Jesus is calling you to come into the Light of His Love and live for today in the Promise of Forever.

Real life is hidden in Christ. If we do not abide “in” Jesus Christ, new life will remain elusive because sin will prevail in us. Each day an inner war is waged. We must meet each morning with mercy and decide not to give up but press in to the Lord more than ever before. The enemy is after your hope today. If he can render you hopeless, he will steal your very soul. See without hope – our life is empty and filled with a void that nothing can fulfill. Each morning hope comes calling inviting us to join it for the day. Will you choose life today?

I Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Some things do not change. For example, we are alive in Christ yet our bodies are still dying. The difference is that our spirit is being renewed every single day. Though our circumstances don’t look like they are changing, our soul is prospering and it will make it into the lives of those who choose to endure to the end. Are you thinking about giving up? The pressure that seems overwhelming is a breakthrough on the way. The urge to push is the promise you are pregnant with about to emerge. The uprising inside challenging you to move is purpose getting ready to come forth. If you give up, it will die inside. Renewal is a process. It is not overnight. Those who decide to stick it out will have everything God’s Word says that they can have and do all it says that they will do! Jesus promises that it will be worth it…it will be worth it all.

Ecclesiastes 11:6-7 (NLT) Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.

Each day is a gift that not everyone can afford. Living for today, this day and not every other day is hard sometimes. I think there is valuable truth in the simplicity of Solomon’s words. Plant your seed in the morning. I know that this could be anything that sown in our life. Consider the possibilities if before we planted anything else, we put God’s Word (His Seed) in our heart. Keep busy all afternoon. We live in society that is very busy and rushing around all the time. We have an occupation that is often not considered. We are ministers of the New Covenant. It is not one that requires serving in every available office at church. You do not have to give all your money to charity and live an impoverished life. You really do not have to do anything at all other than accept the Gift of God that is eternal life. Service to God is not in what we do but to become a living sacrifice. Jesus put only one priority on our life. To love one another. It is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit and evidence of proper planting and cultivation of God’s Word in our heart and mind. Love others… all others. Tomorrow is not a promise just a gift.

Romans 6:12-14 (NLT) Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

I am a skin cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma at 26 years of age. I am an advocate of sun screen in copious amounts. Yet even in my greatest effort to apply evenly and thoroughly over my body, I always seem to miss certain places. At the end of the day, my failure to cover certain places is evident by streaks of red here and there. I beat myself up continuously over it. I know better. I know the danger. I know the risk. Yet I still sit on the beach for hours ignoring the sun shining brightly. Soothing my skin with aloe, I make the decision to make better choices. Do a better job protecting my skin. Limit my sun exposure. Setting goals and making a commitment to do good next time.

I am a sin survivor. I gave my heart and life to Jesus more than fifteen years ago. I am an advocate of grace who needs it in copious amounts. I still sin and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard every day. So I take the mercy that He gives me applying it in liberal amounts. But if I stop there and keep diving back into sin and making bad choices, what is my intent? There is no need to beat myself up. Once His Grace is applied it is enough, the real power comes when I decide not to do those things that cause me harm anymore. As I choose to break down every barrier between me and coming boldly before the Throne of Grace. Sin does not control me. I have God’s Spirit living inside of me with the promise of new life. Will I choose new life today?

Psalm 118:24-28 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you!

Each day as a believer, we make a public profession of faith not in word but deed. What does my life say about my new life in Jesus Christ? Is it worth having? Is it worth keeping? Is it worth pursuing? This is the day the Lord has made and everything I need to prosper and succeed has been hidden inside of it. Like the wonderful gift that it is, I must take the time to unwrap it and discover the blessings that God has given me. His Mercy is new each morning but I must accept it for the Lord will never force His Love and Goodness on us. The sun is coming up. The Son is shining on us. Will today be the day that you bask in His Love and live a New Life? I sure hope so because I fully intend to! Get up! Grab His Mercy! Declare His Love! Above all else, never give up!

Psalm 96:1-3 (NLT) Sing a new song to the Lord!     Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

So You Want Revival?

So You Want Revival

John 11:25-27 (NIV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

There is a small cry building momentum rising from churches across America and around the world calling out for revival. People want God to manifest His Presence. They desire a move of God beyond the natural confines of buildings and productions. Is this a need to see God for validation or is it a burning desire for Him to come closer? It makes a difference. Our church is crying out for revival. We want God to come in our midst. Our deepest desire is to be an institution completely given to the lost, dying and afflicted people all around us. Our vision becomes our mission to see all – saved, healed, developed and fulfilled. Knowing our purpose, one must come up with a plan. This morning as I once again petition the Lord send His Revival, the thought occurs to me, “Do we know what we are asking for?”

God is not like us. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts much higher than human consciousness or basic perception. As begin to dig deeper into this ancient cry now beginning to resonant again, it must be fundamental. The origin of the root word “revive” is to return to consciousness or restore to health. It comes from the Latin word “revivere” which is re – again and vivere – live. The dictionary defines “revive” to activate, set into motion, or take up again. To renew. To restore life. To quicken or renew our mind. When you add “al” to the end of the word, it means to set it into motion or make it a reality. There is nothing new about revival. It comes from something ancient and authentic that is inside of us.

 

Lazarus had died. They called for Jesus to come while he was sick, but the Lord did not make it in time so their brother had passed away. He had been dead and buried for three long days. When Jesus arrived, He found His Friends mourning and in the midst of grief. He presented a different option. He offered resurrection and life. Whoever lives believing in Jesus will never die but live again. After His Statement, Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?” What a respectful cover she gave, thinking fast on her feet, she offered all that she had in that moment, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Why didn’t Martha say something like, “Yes, I believe”? Because Martha’s faith was limited to the here and now. She was the sister consumed by activity and responsibility. The one who worked her way to approval and affirmation. She was the busy one who had no time to wait around but rather chose to make things happen. All she knew and believed was that if Jesus had been there her brother would not have died. She did not realize that before her stood the Resurrection and Life that would change her situation. The One who would end her mourning. Jesus would be her Revival that day.

Every moment that I spend with Jesus thinking I am getting to know Him is lost in the revelation that I am only beginning to discover His Love, Grace, Faithfulness and Goodness to me. Revival is not something we do. It is not like a fire beginning with a spark that we can add fuel to. Revival is Jesus. Plain and simple. Revival comes when we allow our faith to grow beyond this life to experience everlasting life – now. Initially, people come to the Lord desiring a better life now. Seeking release from the bondage of sin, its consequences, life’s hardships including sickness and disease. All of these things are now. Following Jesus will absolutely change our life now. But if we limit our pursuit to just this life, we are selling ourselves short.

James 1:4-6 (NIV)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

We must allow faith to finish its work so that (God’s People) will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Are you lacking anything today? I have a good life. Things are going well right now. However, I am lacking some things. If you have a single pain, ailment or sickness in your body – you are not complete. If your mind has an inkling of fear, stress, worry or anxiety, you are lacking. If you do not believe in any way shape or form that God is doing exactly what He promised in your life or you possess a dead dream – God is not finished with you yet. Faith and confident hope are the basis of revival. We must take the tiny seed of faith and take the time to build confident hope that connects us to Jesus until we become so rooted and grounded in His Love we are fully mature. How do I know that the church has not arrived? Simple.

Mark 16:16-18 (NIV)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This passage states that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” and “these signs will accompany those who believe.” Accompany means to “go along with.” The New King James Version uses the word “follow”. Stop and think about that for a moment. I have ever since I studied this passage yesterday. Signs will follow those who believe. If signs, wonders and miracles are not following me or accompanying me – it is directly connected to my faith and ability to believe. If I truly believe, they will follow and accompany me which means that it is not something that I do but the Resurrection and Life who is Jesus Christ emanating from inside me.

Isaiah 57:14-15 (NIV)

And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 61:1-4 (NIV)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

In the book of Isaiah, there are many passages that point to Jesus and His Work on the earth. He came to rebuild the way for mankind to return to their Creator. He became the Way. Note that in Isaiah 61 it says that “the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.” On me versus in me. The Spirit of God is in us because in the New Testament – Jesus, the Sinless Son of God, sacrifices His Life for our life. The word “revive” becomes “resurrection” in the New Testament because now that same Spirit of the Sovereign Lord moves from on me to in me. (John 20:22) People can now be baptized with the fire that was promised that will send a spark of revival into their soul. Revival is resurrection life. Resurrection life will always be direct gift from Jesus Christ. We can do nothing to facilitate revival other than believe. To believe motivates us to follow the Lord which will be evidenced by the “signs that follow us.” I want to see people saved. I want them to be healed, oh how I desire it so. I want to see them fully developed and mature so the enemy can stop misleading and distracting all God’s People. I want to see others fulfilled. Martha’s belief only carried her as far as this life, Jesus wanted it to lead her to forever. Resurrection and life stood before her. She could see the Lord. However, now revival, resurrection and life live in us. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. As I decrease, Christ increases. If I continue to pursue Jesus and only Jesus – revival will come from the inside out.

Romans 6:4-8 (NIV)

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Something must die to live again. Revival cannot happen until something dies in us. Repentance is the beginning of resurrection life. (Isaiah 1:27-28) As we consistently and completely turn from sin and darkness into the Light of His Love. People repent in varying degrees. How do I know? If you do not live, look and talk the same way in the world as you do in church – then your repentance is limited. I know, I know. I am only human, too but I want to be like Jesus. If it makes me look over my shoulder, than I am going the wrong way. Revival requires repentance. We must die to our flesh and live by His Spirit in and out of church. I am the church. To live a double life doesn’t fool anyone. The psalmist in Psalm 85 ask the Lord to be revived. He says, I will listen to what God says.” God’s response – revival includes faithfulness born of love. It is given as part of our salvation. It is cultivated by those who desire to remain faithful and righteous before God in all things. It is a life of reverence considering God’s Word, Will and Way in all things not just things pertaining to religion or the church. It requires a life of sowing and reaping in the Spirit. It is revolutionized by obedience. God desires us to live complete lacking nothing. It must become our desire and mission in life to fulfill God’s Desire. We must die to our selfish, sinful nature and all of its wiles and take up our cross to follow Jesus. No matter how many times we may stumble, fall or lose our way – those who continue to pursue, press in, and persevere will see God’s Glory in their natural life.

Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Our desire to know Christ, really know the Lord, must become the drive and motivation of our natural life to experience the supernatural manifestation called revival. Just the revelation that revival is not something new, but rather those dead to sin coming alive in Jesus is exciting. Suddenly, I don’t have to do anything but believe which as we all know and will admit is tough sometimes. I can do nothing to promote revival or be resurrected except die to sin allowing Christ to live with in me and make His Way out into the world around me. Count me in. If this is revival, I want it. I am completely incompetent of laying hands on the sick so they will recover. However, Jesus makes me competent as a minister of the New Covenant to do exactly that. (2 Corinthians 3:5-6) The Spirit gives me life that allows me to resuscitate others with the Love and Grace that I have been given. The more I accept Him, acknowledge Him and allow Jesus to give me a new life allows me to let it flow from me to others.  I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) I must stop allowing the world and its opinion to dissuade me from the Truth. There will be naysayers until corporate revival breaks out because a group of believers embarked on the same mission together. (Acts 4:32-35) Those same people that picked on you, persecuted you and rejected you will be first in line and you will receive them according to the Grace you have been given.

My belief in Jesus Christ must begin to believe in His Resurrection and Life of today not just forever. David said in Psalm 27, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Are you confident in the Lord today? Are you willing to bet your life on the new life and new creation that He promised? It is this kind of belief that brings Heaven to earth sparking a revival that will spread among believers and followers of Christ. I am afraid that we may have forgotten or become overwhelmed like Martha. In Matthew 24, Jesus warns us that “the love of most will grow cold.” He is not talking about the world. The world does not know love outside of Jesus. He is talking about the church. He concludes that those who endure to the end will be saved. He is definitely talking about His Followers. Revelation 3:16 warns that the “lukewarm” will be spit or vomited from his mouth. Church – He is talking to us directly. Are we listening? We cry out for revival? His Response is the same – “Come to me!” He is the Resurrection and Life. We must put all of our hope and trust in the Lord and His Word, Will and Way to see revival come. (Psalm 119:49-56) So do you still want revival? I do more than ever – even so come, Lord Jesus come!

I Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

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

 

What a difference a day makes. When the new day arrives, the old seems so small…most of the time. It’s when we get stuck in a series of days or season that never ends that we forget the “new things” God is doing because we are just trying to get through this time…this hurt…this season. It is fall…no I am not jumping around but fall is a relevant time in the series of seasons. The window is open and the leaves are falling like rain. Fall is when we harvest. Leading into winter when the barren land dies to rejuvenate when spring comes around and rolls into summer. The problem is that we don’t see seasons of life as they link together to form productivity and cultivate certain things in our life but too often focus on the things of each one that are difficult. Each leave falling represents a place for a new one to grow from a bud, to a blossom into fruit. But rather than focusing on this chain of events, we become focused on planting in the spring, enduring the heat of the summer, raking the leaves in fall and shoveling snow through the winter. Right now with pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread and just about every other pumpkin thing mankind can market, we are focused on winter. Excited about the change in seasons, boots, sweaters, bonfires and Christmas… until it gets here and then we want beaches, flip flops, vacation and sunshine because we are overwhelmed by the holiday stress, being stuck in the house and mounds of laundry produced by layers of clothing. The key to living a full life in Christ is becoming focused on the new thing that He is doing in us rather than the circumstances and consequences of change around us.

To create something new, something must die. To become a new creation, it means that we must die to our old life stepping into that “new thing” that the Lord is doing. This is not as easy as one might think considering people like to be comfortable. We want change but do not embrace it. We must never give up on what the Lord has promised us or the process by which He changes us. To become committed to enduring such change, we must be aware of the season we are in and the fruit it is producing. I am just as guilty as everyone else who asks for more and cries out in the overflow. His Ways are not like ours. They are so much higher as God sees things from His Perspective which is not daily but forever. I remember when my babies were small and still nursing. There were certain times like when driving the car or maneuvering through the grocery store when they might have to wait a few extra minutes to be fed. Now I knew how long it had been since their last feeding and how long it would take me to finish each task, but to my children a mere 15 minutes was forever and they would wail as if starving to death. And so it is with the Lord who knows exactly down to the minute how long this process will take. We scream and cry for release but He is focused on completion. He knows just how long it will take and gives us the grace to make it through even though we might think it is killing us. It is. It is burning up our flesh to make room for our faith. It is increasing our endurance which will produce strength of character. God uses every season of life to produce something in those who choose to surrender each season to Him and embrace the change that He is evoking in our life.

Yesterday they surgically removed the port from our son. What a glorious day! It is finished. The Lord true to His Word has healed and delivered our precious son from cancer. Physically – he looks amazing. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. He is embracing the life of a college student once again. He is alive, well and prospering after four years of pain, suffering and physical attacks. It is a new season for all of us as we turn from the past and look to the future. The doctor asked if we would like to keep the port, I said, “No, I think we got our money’s worth!” with a laugh. Our son said, “No, I don’t need it anymore!” Out with the old. But then the doctor said, “You know 95% of our patients want to keep it.” What? Why? Who wants to remember all the pain and suffering? A lot of people live in the past every single day and it impacts their future negatively. I was very close to doing the very same thing.

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

 

My usual routine in returning from Gainesville is to collapse on the couch. It is exhausting for some reason to spend the day at the hospital and then travel two hours home even though you essentially do nothing more than sit around waiting most of the time. However, my kids had a youth night at church that I promised if I made it home in time that I would take them. God always has jokes. I arrived home just in time to switch cars and head to the church. It was worship night. It seemed appropriate to worship God especially on this night. We made it. Praise God we made it to the finish line. It was not a triumphant arrival but a quiet approach. There were no crowds cheering just a family who endured and overcame somehow managing to survive a horrible ordeal even prospering in it. The enemy tried to take our son but instead God gave us another one in our son-in-law. We have not suffered in the midst of this other than in our hearts and minds when all around us the Lord has provided everything we need and then some. We even made new friends along the way. God is so good!

Anyway, in the midst of the amazing Presence of God last night, the praise team began to sing the song, “I Won’t Go Back” by William Mcdowell. The chorus goes like this: So we say… I won’t go back, can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me… say I won’t… I won’t go back… I can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me!” That’s when it hit me. In this season, I have been changed for the better. The enemy wants me to focus on the hardship endured rather than the change that has been produced in us. He wants me to live in those moments and times of devastation like the one when we thought our son was clear only to find out less than 24 hours that he had relapsed worse than ever before. The doctors were scared. Fear hit me so hard I fell to my knees. See I had let my guard down and dared to rejoice in his healing and the enemy caught me unaware. I literally fell to my knees when the doctor told me which I had never done before. I couldn’t breathe as if fear had thrown a blanket over me and was slowly suffocating me. That must have been the moment that I decided not to thrive but survive. I realized in worship that I have been a slave to the spirit of fear for a very long time. Out with the old. Fear wants to remind us the difficult of the past to prepare for the future. The Lord is doing a new thing in each new season. Fear is not welcome there. We must get rid of the fear that wants to linger from our past to fully embrace the Love of God that changes moment by moment, day by day and season by season.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT)

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

Before you discredit this word as not for you because you or your child or your family has not gone through a life or death situation, this applies to every man and woman who is born again. If you have lived to the age of accountability, I am quite certain you have experienced seasons of life and indeed have a past of some sort. Whether or not you inflicted the pain in your life or it was at the hands of another, doesn’t really matter? The Lord wants to heal your mind, soul and body today. He wants to cut away the old scar tissue that binds your heart from receiving more of His Love to create a soft, pliable heart that is ready to be filled to overflowing. You cannot compare your life to others. You cannot decide that God’s Love is not for you based on how you live or what you are doing. God requires one thing from us. All of us just as we are. We cannot do a single thing to make our relationship with God right again, Jesus did it all. We can only accept the precious gift we have been given. It is a brand new life. It is not something that happens overnight but through season. If we will learn to release the past and fear associated with it to fully embrace the changes that God is making in us and through us, we will become the new creation that He promised we could be… in Christ alone. We make the decision to leave the past behind. God will not rip anything from our hands but simply offers us something better. Our trials and hardship can have meaning and purpose when we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus holding tight to the hope we have in Him, remembering His Promises and living by faith alone. Fear has no place in you today. His Perfect Love is driving it out. So out with the old and welcome your new life in Him again and again with each new season!

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.