Invisible Ink

invisible-ink

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Many Christmas’s ago, my grandparents gave me a science kit. It had various little experiments that were quite intriguing including invisible ink. After writing a message, it would disappear leaving a clean white page. There was a super-secret special chemical that would bring the image back when applied. I found it quite fascinating. On Valentine’s Day, I also liked the scratch off cards  with sentiments hidden under metallic-like seals. My kids have always enjoyed scavenger hunts. A series of messages leading the chase to a gift tucked away somewhere. The thrill and anticipation of the chase before realizing the blessing seems to be enjoyable to them. They are definitely my children.

After fifty New Year’s celebrated, this morning I have invisible ink and hidden messages on my mind. I have made more resolutions than I can count. Some have become useful habits and others long since forgotten. I have had many revelations since coming to Christ which culminate on the famous eve as prayers and commitments for the coming year. So this year, I am all out of ideas. I want Jesus. I want His Way, His Truth and New Life. I have seen many social media posts that indicate “today is the first blank page of a 365 page book” going on to encourage people “write a good one”. Well, I have tried this approach for many years now and find that this may not be the approach I will continue to take.

“Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.” On this first day of the New Year, as I consider resolutions and revelations that might promote new habits for a better life, I cannot help wonder if I have gone about it all these years. I posted many years ago, that my resolution was “instead of deciding what I want to change or telling God what I am going to do…this year all I have to say is ‘God change me into who you want me to be the way you want to do it!’” I may have been on to something back then, but it is not necessarily the way things turned out. It was the first Christmas after our son’s diagnosis. We thought he was in remission, but little did anyone know that it was only for a moment. Would I have prayed that prayer knowing what was to come?

Our life is a mystery. It is already prerecorded by God. It was written before our conception at the time of our creation. The same time when God the Father prescribed everything I would need to live a complete life. How many times as believers do we forget this important detail? Thinking there is something…anything in us that has the power to perfect our life and make positive change outside of total surrender and submission to Jesus Christ. If it were possible, it would have happened long before desperation and devastation came to call. The inner power and strength of self would have been able to change our situation, endure our condition, or overcome our circumstance… but it didn’t. His Grace is enough for me and His Power works best in my weakness. Jeremiah 29 reminds me of this perfect plan elaborated upon in Psalm 139. It also tells me that the only way to find it is to seek Him wholeheartedly. This is how new life is revealed. I can do nothing. But through Christ all things are possible.

Psalm 138:8 (NLT) The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

The Lord will work out His Plans for my life. This is my revelation for 2017. I have tried everything that I know to do to make God’s Plan manifest in my life. I have “done” the things I thought were required. This year, I am doing the one thing that I know is required. I must seek Him wholeheartedly. I cannot look for something if I think I found it. I cannot search for what is already revealed. Deep is crying out to deep today because my life is not complete. I am not completely satisfied in my proximity to Christ or content with the fruitful productivity in my life. Yes, there are some habits I intend to change and new attitudes I am working on but that is for this life. It is not for the future and hope that I have in Him. This year I will not work for the church but become the church. I will not wait for the move of God to come but let God move me so I become the current that brings revival. I cannot offer the world something I have not found or attained. I need Jesus this year.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 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.

Reading this today, I am reminded that His Glory has not completely filled my life…yet. God knew (me) in advance. I am called according to His Purpose for me. God knew me in advance as evidenced and recorded in Psalm 139. He gave me a future and hope as delineated in Jeremiah 29. Having chosen me, God called me to come to Him. Having called me, I have the right to stand with Him. Having given me right standing, the Lord gave me His Glory. If I do not see God’s Glory manifested in every detail of my life, it is because I have not fully assumed my position standing next to God in righteousness. The only way to come to the Father is through the Son. If my life does not line up to God’s Written and Spoken Word in my life, I just need to move a little closer than before. Skip all the fancy fasts and habit changes. Fasting is good. It is an act of not service. To fast without prayer and true repentance is a diet. To do more is not the design or plan of God but rather to give more of my life to Jesus.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them. Did you know that? It says, “And we know…” Knowing is not the same as believing. I know a lot of useless information that I do not necessarily believe. You cannot know until the idea or thought is tested. This mystery called life is not a mystery to the Lord. If I put all of my life in His Hands, it becomes all that He planned and purposed it to be. Every single moment of my life becomes seed to be sown. Every tear is caught. Every sorrow is recorded because My Redeemer lives today. It is only by investing all of the real estate of my natural life in Jesus Christ that I gain the Kingdom.

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

My new commitment for the coming year is for clarity. To continue to pursue God wholeheartedly and give more of me than ever before to Jesus Christ. It is important to realize that even if we think our life is almost sinless and perfectly aligns to the doctrine our church completely dedicated to serving Christ that it is still “partial and incomplete”. I will not know for sure that I worked out my salvation successfully until I stand before Jesus on the Day of Judgment. It is then that completion is realized. Tears redeemed. Sorrow satiated. I am humbled by the thought today that no matter how far I have come…I have so far to go. His Plan is for my whole life not just bits and pieces.

Revelation 3:5-8 (NLT) All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

Welcome to a brand year! It is a mystery to you and me what God has in store for us, but He knows exactly what is coming. He has provided everything that I need to get over the mountains and through the valleys. He has lit every dark place and gone before for me to prepare the way. Doors are opened and shut soundly around me. I must simply trust and obey. There is nothing more “I” can do. I must seek the Lord wholeheartedly. He is working every detail for my good. Examine my heart today, Jesus. Reveal any part of me that is not in complete alignment with Your Will, Your Way or Your Word. Wash me in Your Blood and rinse me in Your Word so that the magnificent masterpiece called Your Purpose is revealed in me more than ever before in 2017. Show me my wanderings and lead me back to Your Way. Show me my rebellion so that I may submit to Your Will. Lord, thank you for Your Word today that sheds light on my life. Let the invisible mysteries be visible to me according to Your Plan for my life. It is a good one. Be with me this year Lord, as I seek You wholeheartedly.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NLT) “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

 

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Wasteland

wasteland

Isaiah 43:18-21 (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. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

The New Year is finally here. On this last day of 2016, what is your outlook for the coming year? Have you written down carefully thought out goals and aspirations of dramatic change? Have you prayed and sought the Lord on what His Desire for you might be? Are you merely just trying to get through today after a long hard holiday? Maybe you really are only trying to pick out an outfit and clean yourself up for a fancy soiree or one last family gathering, plastering on that smile to hide your pain, and make people think you are happy and whole when deep down inside there is broken despair? When the ball drops at midnight in the midst of Times Square where will you be? What will you be doing? What are your thoughts or whispered prayers?

Full of anticipation yet the lingering fear that next year will be the same as the one that is left. I feel this way every year. I hunger and thirst for the Glory of God. Like many there are days when the valley seems so deep and dark and life a barren wasteland despite the Goodness and Favor of God all around me. I have so much to be thankful for that this need for more sometimes makes me feel so unthankful. Yet today as I read Isaiah, I am reminded that is in the wasteland that God creates waterfalls. The thought that there must be more to life than this is not necessarily born of our flesh. No, I believe that God allows us to experience wastelands, barrenness, and dryness for the purpose of desire, hunger and thirst. The more I read the Word of God the more evident it is that my life has way more potential than realized today. To enter His Presence only makes it clear that I have only scratched the surface of the vast depths of His Love and Goodness. His Voice a whisper that beckons me closer to hear what He is saying in His Close Proximity. God wants to refresh us. His Greatest Desire is to restore us. However, personal satisfaction and human fulfillment can often stop our progress in faith and eliminate our need to trust the Lord so we enter wastelands. Are you in a wasteland today? On the verge of giving up? Do you have hope for 2017 or expect the same hard life as every year before? God wants to turn your wasteland into a waterfall. Are you hungry and thirsty in the depths of your soul? God wants to refresh, restore and renew you like never before.

Psalm 105:39-41 (NLT) The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.  They asked for meat, and he sent them quail; he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven. He split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland.

Psalm 105 details the Way of God with His People. The movement and progression of tests and trials that lead to trust and faith. Salvation comes about only one way. It cannot be reconstructed by a man or his hands. It can only be accessed with our heart. So often, we take what we need from the vast depths of His Love and Goodness thanking Him for the immediate help but then wandering off to make our own way, maintain control and hope for the best. Yet the Plan of God is too perfect just like its Maker and He will not relent allowing us to settle for less than His Best. God is always working all around us for our good. He goes before us. Stands with us. Falls in behind us. This is obviously too much for human comprehension but one’s inability to understand the Truth does not render it void. So the Lord presents us with opportunities to trust Him more and depend on Him. If only in 2017, each one who claims to be a Christian and professes belief would decide to stop looking at the barrenness and brokenness of current conditions and circumstances to see what God is doing up ahead. Sometimes it is important to shake off the reality of human perspective to gain godly perception. Our life has purpose not in our natural ability but supernatural potential hidden in disbelief behind a barrier of sin. Pride builds tall walls to protect what is left of our almost broken heart. The knock on the door is not the enemy trying to take what is left, it is the Lord who wants to come in and commune with you. He wants to plant seeds of righteousness. He longs to fill you with hope. What is keep 2017 from becoming the year that hope is restored, life renewed, and dreams fulfilled? You. Me. Our pride. Doubt. Disbelief. Disappointment. Today we have an opportunity to pack what is worthwhile and take out the trash readying to move forward and take the land as the Lord promised.

Job 39:-8 (NLT) “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom? Who untied its ropes?  I have placed it in the wilderness; its home is the wasteland. It hates the noise of the city and has no driver to shout at it. The mountains are its pastureland, where it searches for every blade of grass.

I have been called stubborn by just about everyone who knows me. I prefer the word “driven”. I decided as a young person that there were some things that must change in my life and set off on my way. Not consulting anyone but relying solely on experience, I fell flat on my face. When I did commit my heart to Jesus Christ, I really don’t think anyone believed me. So I couldn’t rely on what others thought of me but only the Lord to cultivate good fruit and be my encouragement. Over time, it didn’t matter what people thought but spiritual pride and religiosity took over.

In 2011, my entire world fell apart and my heart was broken irreparably. I should have died in that moment. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think beyond the next sixty seconds. After a desperate consultation with the Lord in my complete devastation, I was asked to trust Him. Not just with my life, but with my precious son. I said, “Yes.” I had no idea the journey ahead that would span three long hard years and even now two years into remission haunt me from time to time. Yet, I can say with transparency and complete honesty while I would have never chosen to go through or for our son to be put to such a test, I would not trade the faith obtained in that moment. I cannot humanly explain the course of events any more than the medical team involved. All I know is that I trusted and believed. God delivered.

With this in mind, consider the trial and test you are in right now today. When the clock strikes twelve, it will not dissolve or go away. You can resolve to trust the Lord. You can decide that this year your faith is going to reach a handbreadth farther than your fear. Your doubt will be overshadowed by the Light of His Love by basking in His Word, finding a promise, and letting it shine in the darkness. Freedom is found only in Jesus Christ. Who the Son sets free is the one who is free indeed. I can claim freedom but not necessarily live in it bound by sin, shame or a number of other foolish emotions or temporary things. God is attempting to move us from slavery to Sonship. We can only achieve a new destination by leaving our present position. The Lord wants to take you higher than ever before. Are you willing to go through a wasteland to get there? Friend, you are already in the wasteland looking for a waterfall. Faith splits rocks. It moves mountains. But first – it must move you!

Isaiah 35:1-10 (NLT) Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

Life is hard. The past was difficult, today has troubles of its own, and next year will present further complications. Welcome to a world infiltrated by sin. This place called home will end one day and be completely destroyed. The only thing capable of lasting is the human soul. A diversified life yields no real gain. To live in the gray zone never truly committed to Christ but not really living for the world is called lukewarm mediocrity. The Lord would rather you be hot or cold. I am not trying to paint a dim picture or cause you to relinquish the last bit of hope you hold on to at all. Just gain a clear perspective of what is and what is to come.

It is time to decide if our dedication is sincere. True repentance or turning can only be accomplished once the course is set. Otherwise it creates an endless merry-go-round spinning but going nowhere. Before you set goals for the future, one must truly evaluate where it is you are today. Examining our heart reveals the truth of our commitment to Christ. Are you willing to look past your pride to see the real you? I can fast and pray in the New Year but I stay the same nothing will change or come to pass. It is in the complete surrender of all that I am to all He is that creates a catalyst for change. I cannot achieve deeper levels in God if I am not willing to move from my present position of comfort, convenience or complacency. Rather than leaving the valley, I must go through it. It’s called endurance. Rather than crying for rescue, maybe a little refreshment is all that I need. Hunger and thirst only come in the absence of sustenance. Perhaps, I have been relying on others or even myself to provide when God has Goodness stored up for me that He is desperate to deliver.

Is your wasteland really a wasteland today? I leave you with this thought to mull over while you cook the meal, or prepare for guests or get gullied up for the grand event. Think about it. A wasteland is a barren place or one that is uncultivated. It may be a devastated area. We all have some places like that. It is considered to be something that is spiritually or intellectually barren. To be barren means unproductive or unfruitful. These are not qualities characteristic of believers because the Holy Spirit works day and night to produce good fruit in us. The wasteland you are in is the gateway to your future. You must go through it to get there. The promise was on the other side of the Egyptians, Red Sea, wilderness and Jordan. Not everyone made it. Many died in their wandering looking for God’s Promise their way. When Jesus came, many died in their own expectation because how could the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords not be of noble birth or die at such a young age. They died in disbelief when the Promise was an arm’s length in front of them. Perception can cause us to lose sight of godly perspective. Hope is not seen in the reality of this life. It is perceived by us through faith that sees past the valley and through the wasteland. It requires trust. Is your wasteland really a wasteland today? I encourage you. I implore you today. Before you make a long list of resolutions, get this revelation. Trust God in 2017. Trust Him with your life. Your whole life. If we can do this one thing, wastelands will soon become waterfalls overflowing in the Glory of God and filled with His Goodness.

Isaiah 40:3-5 (NLT) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”

Seeking a New Position

seeking-a-new-position

Exodus 14:15-18 (NLT) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

I am seeking a new position in 2017. While maintaining my current earthly roles of daughter, sister, wife and mother including friend and co-worker, I am determined to achieve a higher position in my walk with the Lord. It is attainable. The door has already been opened and I am qualified for the position. It is mine for the asking. If I seek it wholeheartedly, it belongs to me. I have grown bored with yesterday. I no longer desire the past. I am set on the future and to press to the mark of the High Calling. I was made for more than what I am currently maintaining in my power and under my control. Now is the time to move into the new thing that God has prepared for me, secured on my behalf and calls from the deep for me to come to!

Where is my motivation? What is this inspiration? It came to me listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music. I have heard this powerful song of deliverance and freedom countless times and yet the epiphany so overwhelming it left me shouting in the car on the way to work. Stuck with me throughout the day, and played in mind until morning. I am a Child of God. Of course, I already knew that. But sometimes it is a position that believers struggle to fully achieve and maintain as a way of life. It is not easy to comprehend a God that loves unconditionally and is ALWAYS good especially when things don’t seem to be working in our favor or completely falling apart.

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it…My fears are drowned in perfect love…You rescued me and I could stand and sing…I am a Child of God…” You (God) split the sea (created an opportunity) so I could walk right through it (faith) my fears are drowned in perfect love (confident hope) you rescued me (He did it, not me) so I could stand and sing…I am a Child of God!

There are three positions evident in the journey of the Israelites from bondage to total freedom. Slave, servant and Child of God. They were chosen by God from the beginning. You and I were created and chosen by God as well. He gave us a purpose that includes a future and hope achieved by faith. Faith means totally and wholeheartedly seeking an unseen God based on His Promise and not the evidence portrayed in our current life and conditions. The Israelites had nothing to go on but the word of Moses given to him by God.  They were slaves to the Egyptians. This was not an acquired position which was sought after but rather rebellion to God landed them there. Sound familiar?

Romans 6:4-7 (NLT) For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

I am no longer a slave to sin. The Blood of Jesus Christ has washed away my sins as far as the east is from the west. Though I try my best to avoid sin, it happens every day nevertheless. If my desire is to become a servant of God, I must be willing to move from my position as slave to sin. When the Israelites were given the opportunity to be free again, they jumped at the offer. However, when things became inconvenient and uncomfortable – they decided they wanted to return to Egypt and the life of bondage they knew. We come to Jesus at His Offer of freedom but when it compromises our convenience and comfort many will just return to their old life rather than taking a chance on change. There are people today with great potential and hidden talents that will not leave their current employment for the very same reason. There are job posts every day for promotion. If you see the advertisement and desire the new job, yet do nothing to obtain it – whose fault is it if you do not get the new position. Jesus Christ has given us an opportunity called salvation. To live in complete freedom in this life moving into forever with Him one day as a part of His Kingdom. If you desire this position, you MAY have it but you MUST do something to make the move.

Hebrews 3:5-9 (NLT) Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts
as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.

When God parted the Red Sea, the people had to make a choice. If you consider what that must have looked like in the natural, I am quite sure it took every ounce of courage they could muster to walk into the middle of two towering walls of water in faith that God would not let them go and destroy them all or they could remain behind and be led right back into slavery. The people chose to step out in faith and move from slave to servant.

What is the difference between slave and servant? Slavery is a forced position maintained by power and control. Servanthood is service offered with freedom of choice. Some slaves released by their owners in Biblical times would choose to become a servant if their master was fair, honest and good to them. We are no longer slaves to sin but will we move to become a Servant of God? Will we change positions? Will I choose bondage again or freedom of service? It is completely up to me.

In Exodus, the Lord told Moses to divide the sea so that the Israelites “can walk” not will walk or be forced to move but “can”. It was totally up to them to seek a new position. Once they made it through, now they were servants of God. What did they do? Rebelled. Over and over again. What is rebellion? Any time I do it my way and not God’s Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To have all of His Promises and achieve every bit of personal potential deposited in me by God means doing it His Way…not my own. Good servants do what their masters ask. Grace is the credential allowing me to move from death to live and slave to servant. Faith is the ability to progress. Total trust takes time. Your current placement does not fully reflect God’s Potential in your life. You were not created to be just a servant of God but redeemed to be a Child of God. If you desire such an adoption but if you choose to remain like a hired hand it is completely up to you!

Luke 15:17-24 (NLT) “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’” So the party began.

This is probably the scenario that is most accurate for most of us. We come to the Lord. Fail miserably. Decide that grace is not given but must be earned. Return to the Father seeking the position of “hired servant” because it most closely resembles the way of the world and what we are accustomed to and never realize our full potential as sons and daughters of the Living God. You are a Child of God. It doesn’t change because you took the wrong path, made a bad choice, or rebelled in any way. You still have the same potential that you were born with. It is up to you and me to seek new levels and positions in God by faith not facts.

The son just wanted to have a comfortable life. His father loved him completely and filled with compassion intended to give his son his entire estate. Your Father’s Unconditional Love and Limitless Compassion accompanied by Overflowing Grace is always ready to hand you “back” the Keys to His Kingdom. Are you willing to seek the position? Will you return home in humility to be elevated to new levels of His Grace? Faith is a requirement. Faith will never be comfortable. It is not convenient. It pushes us to the edge of ourselves and the very end of self in order for us to solely rely on His Grace as sufficient for us. When we do, it creates change and movement in our life to fully assume the potential invested in us by God who is ready for us to become His Masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

How many miraculous opportunities do we brush off because of fear and a lack of confidence in our Father’s Love for us? How many times have we taken other way when He offers to be the Way? Why do we continue to gather crumbs under His Table rather than sit at the feast in the presence of the enemy? What is keep you from fully assuming your position as Child of the One, True, Living God? Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it comfort? Is it control? Is it pride? Is it selfishness? Whatever it is it is keeping you from enjoying all the benefits and blessings of God’s Kingdom because whether you have assumed such a position it is the one predestined for our life.

John 1:12 (NLT) But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 

The New Year is fast approaching. You have the freedom to move into a new position and higher level and deeper place in the Presence of God. He is ready to promote you. The potential inside of you is untouchable by sin, shame or any other rebellious thing you can do. It is His Promise for your life released by faith and maintained by confident hope. The only limit on your future is put there by you. The only cell that you are locked in is held tight by your hands. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. What is your choice today? Will it be another year of slavery? Being led to and fro by fleshly desires and opinionated people who exhibit invisible control over you. Will you move into servanthood? Trusting that God is always good enough to begin serving Him with your life. It is the next step to total freedom. It is the one that allows us to experience some of His Many Benefits to test promises revealing their truth and validity. Are you ready to take the biggest leap of all and become His Child? I want to live like the Child of God that I am in the coming year.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.

Why are you still crying out to God for what is already preordained and designed for your life? This is my revelation as I seek a new position in 2017. Why am I asking for that which is given? I must muster enough faith to do it. Trust to attempt it. Confident hope to receive it. See God has already done His Part. Jesus said, “It is finished” on the Cross completely His Role as well. The rest is up to me. God is ready for me to seek a new position in life and move into it. He has given me the opportunity so the rest is up to me. Can I? Will I? So I may? These all hand the baton to me to finish the race and win the prize. Can I do it? Yes, I can. Will I do it? Now that is an entirely different question yet to be answered. It is time for me to get moving. I am seeking a new position in 2017. How about you?

Acts 17:27-28 (NLT)  “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Exceedingly

exceedingly

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

In a study published in January 2013, it was determined that the annual income of the wealthiest 100 people was enough to end global poverty. Not once, but four times over. These individuals received a net income of $240 billion in 2012. Think about that for a moment, this was their net income not the gross. This is what they received after taxes, interest, depreciation and other expenses. There is more than enough money in the world. The problem is distribution. Knowing there is more than enough wealth to sustain every man, woman and child is not enough. It is to receive the portion needed to survive or even thrive that changes lives and improves one’s quality of life.

Let’s bring this home to the United States. Our country is believed to be #1 in total global personal wealth, according to Fortune magazine, holding a whopping 41.6%. The next country on the list is #2 China who secures only about 10.5%. The problem is not a lack of funds but unequal distribution of the wealth. The rich get richer and the poor only poorer. This is not a political platform but I use this information to reveal a Bible principle. The divide between wealth and poverty holds many people who make the personal choice each day to continue to strive for the American Dream or succumb to their situation, circumstances or condition. If there is in fact a surplus of funds available in the world, why can’t I have it? How do I attain it? Why am I struggling?

The wealth of the Kingdom of God is not money. The Lord warns a love for money can overtake us and become a fleshly drive in our life. So let’s talk about Kingdom inequality. There is none. If you are dissatisfied with your quality of life today, you can change it. I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. You can be, too. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. He has the authority and power to remove my sin making me eligible for every blessing once forfeited by it. God chose to bless me when He created me. He set aside a portion of His Kingdom vaster than any other place for me. Upon my adoption and return to Him, it becomes mine again. Where is it? Why do I not have it? Why am I not satisfied or content with my life? God blessed me according to His Good Pleasure so I do not need to earn favor because I have it. I do not need to repay the debt sin created because Jesus said, “It is finished.” I am His Beloved. I am well cared for. So why do I lack?

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

Anything is possible if a person believes. Jesus told the father of the tormented son, who asked the Lord, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” How many of our own prayers end the same way? Lord, if you can. Well, Jesus answered him directly, “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.” What will it take for you to believe that God has granted you every spiritual blessing in the Heavenlies? It is that very thing that will increase your quality of life, confidence in God and pursuit of His Kingdom. Our heart allows follows our treasure. Our mouth speaks from the abundance of our heart. If you believe your current life is as good as it will get, well than you are more than likely to remain in the same situation from year to year. But God offers us a life that is transformed from Glory to Glory. Those who receive it are those who believe it. Those who believe it will seek it. Those who seek it will speak it. All the rest will watch from the sidelines – jealous, envious and without.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14 (NLT) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.

Every single day men and women gather up their families headed to the United States to pursue the American Dream. To consider the wealth monetarily of our great nation and the poverty of other countries, it is no wonder people literally die trying to find hope for a better future. This nation was established as one nation under God. I cannot help but believe that is why the Hand of God and His Favor have impacted it so heavily. Pressing on to my point, as not to digress, if my life is not representative of the life that God describes in His Word. It is not a God-problem. I bear total responsibility for the lack in my life.

God provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. He will provide and increase your resources. He will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. You will be enriched in every way SO THAT you can always be generous. Generosity. Could the lack in my life be two-fold? I am not pursuing the Kingdom and if I do I am doing it only for myself? Yes and yes. What is the point of personal monetary wealth to a Christian who does not give? There are many who give tithes and offerings to be obedient to the Lord, but never experience increase in their life. Why? Seed. Are we using what the Lord blesses us with to plant seed or whisking it away to hoard it for self. This is not about money but every resource in our life – physical and spiritual! Seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping are New Testament principles that carryout through life. You reap what you sow.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

God provides all that I need. He is a good Father. If I am not planting, sowing, and giving, I will only have enough to maintain my family. Why? I don’t need anymore. There is no purpose in surplus. You will always have everything you need AND plenty left over to share with others. The Fruit of God’s Spirit produced in us is for others, too. If I want more love, I must give more and so on and so forth. If all I want is God’s Hand and do not possess God’s Heart, I will probably experience lack of satisfaction and discontentment for the rest of my life because my purpose was wasted in surplus.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NLT) It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Enoch walked so close to the Lord that one day the Kingdom simply consumed him and he was gone. God just scooped him up. It is impossible to please God without faith. Faith must be progressive releasing us from this world to be overtaken with the hope give in Jesus Christ. This can only happen when our heart longs for God’s Heart rather than His Hand. Too many times God examines human hearts only to discover that they really didn’t want Him but for His Hand to open and release the money, power and influence to make this life better. How can one improve a condemned building marked for destruction? It is uninhabitable. Our faith must grow beyond our natural resources to supernatural living. You cannot save this planet. Take care of it. Maintain it and be a good steward, but one day it will all disappear. Our efforts must be focused on building the Kingdom and finding our way there. Becoming one with God so much so that I am consumed by love for Him and passion for His Kingdom.

We may never end the inequality of wealth on the earth. In fact with love growing colder by the minute and sin rampant, it is highly unlikely if not impossible. But with God all things are possible, if you believe. We can all establish a Kingdom lifestyle when we live according to Kingdom principles rather than the law of the land or the doctrine of each church. We must strive with all our might to seek the Kingdom of God first above all things to have all that God promised which is more than enough. Money and personal wealth will not change your life. It only magnifies that heart that keeps you alive. If money, power and influence is given to a selfish person, it will magnify pride and greed in them. Only those who truly seek the Kingdom will experience an abundance of satisfaction no matter where this life takes them knowing they are on their way to a Kingdom without end.

Matthew 13:44-46 (NLT) “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

I shared a story not too long ago about a fisherman who discovered a gigantic pearl. His fishing net got tangled up on a giant clam which he brought to his boat. When he opened it, he found a hidden treasure. He took it home and put it under his bed where it was hidden for ten years. The pearl is estimated to be worth more than $100 million. Where is your treasure today? Shrouded in doubt? Buried in disbelief? Blinded by disappointment? Left behind for other things? Have we become so consumed with making this life better that believers have lost the Keys to the Kingdom?

Faith will never be evident in what we can see but our constant and steady pursuit of that which cannot be seen but is hoped for. Hope is our future. It is not living in this moment or today. It is about investing every ounce of energy in pursuing God’s Kingdom and building it up. Are you mega minded or mission minded today? Those who are mega minded build store houses to protect their money, feelings, emotions, and self. Those who are mission minded give it all away just to know Jesus more and build His Kingdom. It is up to us if we live a life of full satisfaction. We make the choice how to live and what we are after. Choose well. This is my intent and full motivation for the coming year. To step out of lack and live in fulfillment. This is not necessary a wealthy endeavor but a worthwhile life.

Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

In the New King James version, the last verse is translated “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Exceedingly abundantly. That’s a lot my friend. God can, will and wants to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. You and I cannot comprehend the riches in His Glory ready to be poured out in our life. The Ephesians were members of the Church of Ephesus. The same church that did every “thing” right but for the wrong reasons. (Revelation 2) They had become a loveless ministry full of good works. I don’t want this to be the description of my life. Religion is not for me. I want a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ that insures my entrance into His Kingdom above all else. Christians must evaluate their life, motivation, attitudes and actions for authentic faith that is seeking the God’s Heart and not just His Hand. It is easy to become distracted. The flow of society sucks us in with supply and demand rather than sowing and reaping the blessings of life. What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose my soul? What is it worth to have everything and loved ones in hell? The church should be bridging the gap between earthly inequalities rather than creating a further divide. Where is the generosity of resources and heart? God’s Grace is enough for me…and you… and every other person God ever created. No one is greater or lesser in Heaven. We are all the same. Have I lost my first love? Have I forgotten all that I am and all that I have is by the Grace and Love given to me by Jesus Christ? Sometimes…I do. Do you?

Let’s regain our focus in 2017. This could be the best year of our life. It all depends what you are willing to sow in your life today in 2016. These are the seeds that will grow into our harvest. What are you sowing these last few days of the year? Will it be tears of repentance? Will it be the broken pieces of a contrite heart? Will it be willingness to surrender those parts of life previously withheld? Will it be what you have? Will it be what you don’t have? Will you put all your expectation and energy into knowing Christ more and chasing the world a little less? It is my intention to know, understand and experience this thing called exceedingly abundantly. How about you?

Luke 9:24-25 (NLT) If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 

 

Time to Take the Land

time-to-take-the-land

Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT) “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

What is going to make 2017 any different than 2016? Was 2016 just like 2015? What makes this the time? What if it’s not? Oh, but what if it is. The more my heart and mind stir that this is the year of God’s Favor and that it is time for revival – the more I am aware of the steps leading up to this moment. When God says, “Now!” Will I be ready to go? Have I properly prepared? Will I be lost in the moment? Or will it He speak to me the moment after I have given up, given in or decided to walk away? I can only imagine how Joshua felt in that moment when God spoke to him. Moses was dead. He was named leader of a stiff-necked, rebellious people always pursuing other things and new gods. “I promise you what I have promised Moses…” But Moses was dead. Did the dream die with him? No the promise never dies even if the people who see the vision or have the dream of revelation do. God’s Word must come to pass. It cannot return to Him void. “Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you…” Is it too good to be true? Can I really let my guard down? “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses, I will not fail you or abandon you…” God is speaking to my heart today. The time is close. It is coming. I have been lining you up for this moment. It is time to press in and take the land…obtain the promise…fulfill potential… do you believe?

In Joshua 1:6-9, the Lord encourages Joshua. He tells him three times to “be strong and courageous”. I believe in these three verses lie the secret to success and encouragement needed to step into the Promise of God for each one of us individually and corporately as a Body. This Christmas, it seems that the songs I loved the most spoke of Immanuel or God with us. I find comfort, peace and solace in those words. They have been proven in my life by test, trial and fire. I know that if God is with me – I will not fail. However, I cannot see Him or touch Him as I would like to. I cannot rely on “feeling” Him because human emotions are unreliable. I strive to hear Him but some days the Voice of God is drowned out by the lie of the enemy and other distractions along the way. I want to taste and see that He is good but my circumstances cause me to experience the bad things and forget all His Goodness. The only thing that will see me through to the end of this journey called hope is faith. I must believe that God is with me. He has gone before me. I have a promise worth having enough to be strong and courageous. I must believe.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

Has God given you a dream, vision or Promise too good to be true? Does it defy human logic? It is something that is beyond your natural strength or ability? Does it seem impossible? Awesome! It is definitely God. The promise that the Lord gives us are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus Christ. The only thing standing between me and what God has predestined for my life is His Timing and my faith (or lack thereof). I wait and persevere. I must submit my life as a living sacrifice so that the Lord can remove those hindrances that keep me from completion and fulfillment. If God said it – we must believe it.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011, I burst into the Presence of God demanding some answers. You think I am kidding? No, I was a Christian. A born-again believer of many years. I knew enough of His Word to know that this disease did not line up with what I read or believed so in complete devastation and desperation – I went straight to the source. After yelling, screaming, crying and pleading in a hospital bathroom with an unknown stranger guarding the door, I heard His Voice. It was quiet. It was confident. He was persistent. He asked just one question, “Do you trust me?” I said, “Of course, I do.” Well, in my own “Peter” moment, the Lord asked me again, “Yes Lord, I do!” He said to me, “Your son will live and not die to declare my good works.” Boom! Promise delivered. I would struggle to hold that promise tight until this very day. Our son fought cancer for three long tedious years before entering remission two years ago. Against all odds and overcoming the impossible, he is alive and soon to graduate college. Yet, to this day, I must recall the promise over and over.

Holding on to God’s Promise is not for the weak. It drains you of every ounce of personal strength and causes one’s emotions to run amuck. The enemy takes our weakness and tries to turn it against us so that we accept defeat and give up the glory of God coming to us. Have you given up? I gave up on a lot of things over the course of the last fifty years. When it came to the life or death of our son, it was not an option. Giving up and giving in would not do. I believe that it is with such purpose and drive that God’s People receive those precious and perfect promises. It is never because the Lord gave up on us or gave in to the lie of the enemy. He overcame to hand us the Keys to the Kingdom. What are we doing with them? Are they jingling in our pocket? Or are they opening the doors to freedom and the gifts God has for His People?

God’s Word will accomplish what He sets it out to do. Will I be ready to receive it? Will I be there when it arrives? Will I allow the enemy to steal it from me? Not this year, I am determined to dig up, dust off and see God deliver all that He has promised me. I must do my part. I must believe recall those promises and recite them in my life. His Word is not only my title deed claimed by faith, but according to Hebrews 4:12 it is my provider and protector. It cuts away those things holding me back and removes the lie of the enemy. A lie can no longer remain in light of truth. With this in mind, be strong and courageous! God’s Word for your life, His Promise is true and valid even when it is buried by time, trial and temptation.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Proverbs 3:1-6 (NLT) My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Notice that the second time, the Lord told Joshua to “be strong and VERY courageous.” Trusting and believing God at His Word is not for the timid or weak. To step out of logic and walk by faith is not socially acceptable. It earns labels of “crazy” and “fool”. You cannot know the Way of God or discern the Will of God without the Word of God. It is the seed that His Spirit uses to produce a harvest in our heart. Each day we must sow His Word in us to strengthen our faith in God and His Promises.

Trusting God for “a” promise requires trusting Him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:11 is unattainable if one does not seek the Lord “wholeheartedly” (Jeremiah 29:13) Straddling the fence and wading in the gray areas of life is not for those who desire the Promise of God for their life. It is a life of true repentance, go for broke generosity, unconditional love, and extravagant grace that His Promise is revealed to us. Many will call on the Name of the Lord to be saved. Some will call Him Lord. But is that enough for you today? I want to be strong and very courageous. I want to jump out of the boat even if it means getting wet sometimes or nearly drowning in my own doubt and disbelief. I want to know Him as Savior. I want to make Him my Lord. I want every promise God has for my life enough to give Him this life to have it.

In December 2007, I began praying for the coming year. What could I give the Lord? We were preparing to fast but food was no longer enough. I needed to give something more. The Lord impressed it upon me to begin getting up thirty minutes early each day to study His Word. I began to blog about my quiet time as an accountability partner. For years, I attempted a morning quiet time and failed miserably – I am not a morning person. I thought it would be my “offering” to the Lord. It was something that “I” was doing for Him. The reality is that those first few years sowed seed in my heart to carry me through the darkest days of my life. I wasn’t really doing anything for Him, the Lord was doing something in me. This has been my experience time and time again.

Every “little thing” that I submit, surrender or sacrifice to the Lord is used for my good and His Glory. When I read His Word, study it, meditate on it and believe it – the seed produces a harvest in my heart for the future. It may be the very thing that sustains me through great temptation and trial. It makes all the difference in the test. It is the only thing that always produces good in our life. We cannot live without it. We cannot be confident in anything else and succeed.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Are you afraid? Have you become discouraged? Have you wandered from your walk with the Lord? Be strengthened today. It is a known fact according to His Word that when we are weak, His Strength is manifested in our life. We cannot reach Jesus until realizing that it can no longer be accomplished by self. You haven’t failed unless you refuse to get up. You may have fallen but He will lift you up. Your heart may be broken. This is when Jesus is the closest. When no one can do for you what the Lord can do is when we come to Him in complete humility. This hope will not lead to disappointment. You must hold it with all that you are. God is with you! He goes before you and falls in behind you. He is with you every step of the way. He prepared the path before you. Dead dreams can be resurrected. Lost vision can be restored. Your “time away” did not hinder the process of God – it was part of His Plan and Preparation. The Promise God made you belongs to you. It is titled and deeded to you obtained by faith alone. His Grace is enough to overcome every obstacle and boundary between you and God’s Glory for you. God has done His Part and Jesus, too! The rest, my friend, is up to me and you.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT) Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

In preparation for the New Year, I am examining my life from God’s Point of View. Before I attempt to “do” one more thing for Him, I am asking the Lord to reveal to me the things He has been trying to do that I have given up on. To reveal every lie that I have given into. This is not about “new things” but dead dreams that need resurrection life. Words spoken to me and over me that have not come to pass but are not impossible by faith. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to completely overtake my life. It will require strength that can only come from the Lord. It will require courage that is born of complete confidence and trust in my Lord.

We need each other. The people took the land together. You are not an island. We are part of a Kingdom. It operates best together. God loves harmony, unity and wholeness that represents fully the embodiment of His Son, Jesus. We must get it together church. Apart from doctrine, religiosity and mission statements to open wide our hearts to every man, woman and child. There is strength in unity. Strength and power needed to take the land and build His Kingdom. We must encourage, build up and fortify one another to be confident and courageous. We must decrease and let Christ increase in our lives. I must decrease, He must increase in me. It is time to take the land!

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

Hope for the Future

hope-for-the-future

Jeremiah 29:10-13 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Most of us have heard the age old expression to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Could this be the same thing as being stuck in a rut? I don’t know. I often feel as though I have stepped out of the boat by faith and Jesus is just out of reach – so now what? Welcome to the realm of hope. The uncomfortable place where faith is expended but hope not yet realized. It is the place offered as deep cries out to deep. It can also be the very place the enemy meets us when he knows fear may be stirring and doubt beginning to rise like waves just before the storm. The place where mockers cry out foolishness from the shoreline. Christians call out from the boat, “Are you sure it was God?” and Jesus waits with His Nail-Scarred Hand extended. He said, “Come.” And you responded. Now what?

Welcome to hope. The so-called “anchor of our soul”. The place where faith takes it first step and leaves us in an abyss of swirling thoughts and the vortex of our mind attempts to suck us in and pull us from every single promise engrained in our thoughts. Why? Why do we struggle? Why is life so hard? There really must be an adversary who wants my soul. Who desires every good thing God has given me in this lifetime. He wants my faith. It is the only thing that can save me. He wants to rob me of hope and a future more glorious than can be imagined. Joy so wonderfully secure that it is inexpressible. Do you have plans for the future? Maybe a birthday coming up or an anniversary. Perhaps, you are awaiting a birth be it a person or a promise. Are you taking a special trip? A promotion coming down the pipes. Whatever it is that lies beyond today and this moment are not promised. Only today. This moment. This breath. What will you do with it?

Jeremiah 29:10 hints at a lifetime. Mankind did not have a prescribed lifetime until sin entered him. God offered death as a release from the effects of sin in our life. He limited our years to 120 in Genesis 6:3. The psalmist eludes to a further shortened existence of just 70 years in Psalm 90:10. God’s Grace would not allow His People to suffer as a demonstration of His Unfailing Love and Compassion for us. Jeremiah 29:10 says “You will be in Babylon for seventy years.” Could it just be a coincidence? Or is our future truly vested in forever? We want the future and hope that is mentioned in these verses but so often design it by our choice and preference when it is all by predestination and God’s Master Plan and Design. If our future and hope is hidden in Jesus Christ, one might be wise to decide what am I doing to invest in this future and hope rather than in the one scheduled to end a few decades or less.

“But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. I am captivated by the future today. What is to come? This week between Christmas and the New Year evokes this response more and more each year I am alive. Since becoming a Christian, this has stirred excitement in me to move into the new thing God offers with each year of life. Our life comes with a plan. It contains a future and hope. Every step of this life has the potential to lead us there. However, our thinking must grow and expand from thoughts about daily life, current conditions and all the circumstances surrounding our existence beyond this life to forever…now. God planned good for us forever. He plans a future in Jesus Christ. We have hope that can only be realized after our departure.

In Matthew 24:36, the Lord tells us that we do not know the day or hour of His Return and that only the Father knows. In Romans 8:28, God promises to take every detail of our life and use it for our good…for those who love Him. What you desire, you pursue? We pursue many things in life based on our wants, needs and desires. Investing our time, talent and treasure in passions and pursuits to improve our standard of living naturally. Will we allot the same amount of energy and dedication to a future and hope that is never experienced by the five senses and only confirmed by His Spirit in us. Will we take a single step of faith when the rest of the process is unclear? Will I waste my time with no guarantee other than one that is promised in ancient text and whispered by an unseen Spirit? I must if what I am after is eternal life and forever with the Lord. I have no idea when He is returning or the day I will meet Him face-to-face, but what I do know today is that I must invest more of me into the process of finding Him in order to have faith that is secure and hope that is confident.

Romans 8:22-24 (NLT) For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.

I believe that the church does people an injustice when they do not teach the meaning of hope. I have hope because I have Jesus Christ. But the hope that I have does not exempt me from trials, heartaches, disappointments, and seeming disaster sometimes. Heavenly hope in Jesus Christ does not lead to disappointment, but how many times do we invest our belief in something other than the Word of God, His Truth and His Way? We diversify our faith. Giving some to God, some to man, some to money, and some to self just to name a few. All the while, wondering why we are stretched in so many directions.

We are given hope when we are saved. Hope that will never be fully realized in this lifetime. I remember the first time I heard “realm of hope”. It was sitting in an infusion room when the doctor was trying to tell me that the third relapse of cancer in our son may be his last. As I asked her a flurry of questions, the physician who was always so optimistic and encouraging could not make any promises. When she said those three words, “realm of hope”, something in me leapt with exhilaration. Would this be the place where God took over?

Later in our conversation, she used my other favorite word. She said, “Impossible.” In every trial of life I have endured so far, when someone uses the word “impossible” or “forever”, I have seen the Hand of God intervene. He is the God of our future and no one can dictate the outcome of His Children’s future no matter what. When man says our situation is impossible, it means our faith must be fully shifted to the God who makes all things possible. In our utter devastation and weakness, it is human nature to call out to the One who is higher. He answers our call in that moment of pure desperation. This is the moment when His Power becomes enough for us because it is all we have to hold on to. Life drives us to this point by design. God desires us to live forever with Him. He wants to give us a future. The Lord is making all things possible for those who believe enough to pursue hope wholeheartedly.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT) For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

“You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” In my fifty years of life, I have seen the Hand of God come close to the earth and do great and mighty things. I have also wandered in darkness so deep that I thought I might not return. I have joined many churches and left most of them, too. I have seen ministers step up and sit down. I tried religion for many years struggling with all the “do’s and don’ts” of doctrine and regulations of religiosity. I have been built up by pride and shattered in brokenness. I have come to this revelation today. All of these things are trivial and do not matter if I do not have hope. One glorious hope for the future. It is the commonality of Christianity that is lost in hidden rivalries and mass marketing but remains the same day after day. My future is in Jesus Christ not my ability to work or invest appropriately. Nothing I do, say or become outside of a Child of God really matters. We must focus our attention on one hope in order to experience the revival the Body of Christ is calling out for. It is time to liquefy our lives as an offering to God.

There is one body and one spirit. We are the Body of Christ. We are not functioning as one body currently. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. We do not act like it. Our hope demands unity in order to fulfill our future. My future, my forever is in Jesus Christ. I have made it about so many other things. “You have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” Me, too. How do we get there from where we are now? If we all are headed there, why can’t we get it together?

Ephesians 2:6-7 (NLT) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.  So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

The Ephesians were “members” of the Church of Ephesus. Do you remember them? In Revelation 2 they are applauded for all their “hard work” and “dedication”. They were known for their patient endurance. The picture of “Christianity”. They were victorious in many ways and touted for not being quitters.  The model church, right? Wrong. What does the Lord say to them? “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” The incredible wealth of Jesus Christ is His Grace and Kindness toward us. His Great Love for us is our hope. He is our future and forever. Have we taken back our heart? Are we pursuing God with some of us and the world with the rest of us? If our heart is not invested in our pursuit of Christ, are we not just lusting after His Hand?

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NLT) In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

What am I currently pursuing in this life? What are my passions? What do I desire? Where is my treasure? My future and hope are in Jesus Christ. I must align my life with Him in order to have that which I hope for. It is time to repent. It is time to return to the Lord wholeheartedly. It is time to pray more than ever before. It is time to examine what is precious to me right now in this moment and determine if it is my Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. Do I love Him like I used to? Do I love Him more than ever before? Have I lost my first love? My one true love. Are there things in my life that have taken God’s Place? Have I chosen to hold more tightly to this life than my future? Am I gaining the world but losing my soul? Is there anything worth more than your soul today? Jesus certainly doesn’t think so. He died to give us one future, one hope and life everlasting. Do I want it? I do. How about you?

Matthew 26:25-26 – “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

Good Deeds

good-deeds

Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

The New Year is less than a week away. I love the New Year. It is a new start. A great place to make certain changes in our habits and routines to improve our life naturally, physically and spiritually. I am pumped. I am ready. Many wonder things have come together in 2016 that have aligned us with our next great adventure with God. All of us, yes even you. I have many family and friends who might say that 2016 was the worse year of their lives. They want to leave it in the past forever never looking back but pressing forward. I completely understand and couldn’t agree more. However, we must not invalidate the Presence of God in our tough times and hardships because He is the reason it is over and we made it through. During that time, seeds were planted for our provision next year. Roots were established for storms brewing ahead. God never leaves us the same as before because He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called. (Romans 8:28) With this in mind, it is important that in the midst of taking down decorations, returning or exchanging gifts, and throwing out leftovers that His People take the time to evaluate last year and seek His Voice for the coming year just around the corner.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Was my salt salty? Was my light bright? Did I get my feet wet stepping out of the boat? Did I cast my net on the other side of the boat? Did the fruit in my life sustain me throughout? Are doors yet unopened? Did our good deeds shine for all to see? Did revival come? All of the questions could and should be asked while preparing for the coming year. If our mission in life is to seek the Lord wholeheartedly – one must put some effort into evaluating our purpose and progress in the process. Honestly. Earnestly. Intently. All these things are so important in our spirit growth. Good deeds are evidence of faith in action and spiritual progression in our life.

James 2:14-17 (NLT) What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” Can I ask you a question? If your church attendance is not important to you, why would it be to those you invite? To those lost or wandering family members who you pray for and encourage to come, yet see you choose other priorities than attending the House of God on a regular basis? What about those who come and serve all the time? Never miss a service, but are gossipers and backbiters. Those who tell of a loving God but then cut down every sinner who walks through the door hitting them with a long list of rules and regulations which they cannot abide by. What about living high on the hog while others are scraping through everyone else’s scraps? We give to faceless names during the holiday season, but how do they survive the rest of the year? We are too worried about why they fell on hard times and judging their expenditures rather than sharing the Love of God in the form of perpetual generosity. We are to be the salt of the earth. Salt that loses its flavor is useless. We are to bright lights on the hills and rooftops of each city. Where are our lights shining? I am asking myself these questions right now because I want revival in my family, home, joy and especially in ministry this year. I cannot do the same things and expect change. God has set me up with all that I need, every spiritual blessing, perfectly positioned and ready to see His Glory and experience His Favor in 2017. I guess the question is – what will I do about it? Good deeds produced by our life of faith allow us to evaluate our spiritual progress to set our purpose for the next season of life. How’d you do? I am asking myself the same question.

Romans 7:4 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.

I am united with Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives and breathes on the inside of me. He is producing purpose and potential in me to see the dead come to life. Yes, resurrection power. Now I can say that nothing is impossible when I believe, but do I really believe it. If I do believe, I will begin jumping out of the boat to get to Jesus rather than waiting for Him to come to the shore to pick me up. God has perpetuated thoughts and ideas in the form of what if. He says, “Come on, I’ve got you.” But looking at the winds of change and waves of uncertainty, it is easy to say that you are waiting on God but really you are just too scared to move. I can produce a harvest of good deeds for God when I walk by faith and not by sight.

Greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world, but who am I listening. What voice do I follow? When the Good Shepherd calls me, am I willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death to sit at the table prepared for me in front of the enemy? Or am I awaiting a formal invitation with transportation provided to sit at a lavish banquet served by waiters in a climate controlled environment without a single inconvenience? For example, if God called you to ministry, are you willing to work for free? Will you quit your great job with good benefits to answer his call for more hours, less pay and no benefits? If He tells you to move, will you do it? If He tells you to stay right where you are, will you wait? The Voice of God is speaking but too many times we only listen and respond when the Lord tells us what we want to hear. Am I listening? Am I doing? Am I following?

Titus 2:12-14 (NLT) And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

This is not a Word for everyone, only those who want to be history makers and world shakers for God and who love Jesus desiring Him wholeheartedly. I don’t want live a comfortable and complacent life that leads to complications when I meet Jesus face-to-face. The words “well done good and faithful servant” mean everything. It is the difference between life and death. It defines a life wasted over one that gave glory to His Great Name taking full advantage of amazing grace.

I fully believe that if the Church (Body of Christ) truly is committed to revival – it is absolutely vital that every single one of us desire, seek and do everything in our power to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. Do that thing you have never done? Pray that prayer you have been too afraid to pray? To be the change you are expecting in the atmosphere around you rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Forgive the unforgivable. Read the Word. Study the Word. Live the Word. Devote every attitude and action to God the Father relying on the Power given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ. Love like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Otherwise, let’s abandon this notion of revival. It is insanity to expect different results doing the same thing over and over again.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NLT) And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Generosity is a characteristic of grace that must be evident in the life of true believers. You cannot accept God’s Grace in totality without the inner need and drive to give it back. His Grace changes us from the inside out when allowed to have His Way in us. We can expect seed to sow if we are not sowers. We cannot be planters without the preparation for harvest. If I am unwilling to dedicate my time, talent and treasure to loving and caring for others with genuine love, compassion and commitment just as Christ cares for me, I am not a candidate for revival power. I have to give my life away to receive His Power and His Provision for such an outpouring.

Lord, examine my heart today. Change my mind where I am unwilling. Clear away every barrier and boundary that is keeping me from experiencing Your Glory and fullness of Your Favor in my life. Teach me to give selflessly. Forgive always. Live a genuine life. Be a light. Keep savory. Lord, I want to see revival in 2017. To see men and women radically changed by Your Power. To experience a surge in the Kingdom only attributable to Mighty Move of God and nothing else. We need You – Jesus in epic proportions. Work in me, Lord. Produce good fruit and deeds in my life that will nourish Your Body and build Your Kingdom. I am ready, Lord.

How about you?

Psalm112 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

Time to Activate

time-to-activate

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NLT) For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

The email was tempting. The newest IPhone at a great price. It was so enticing that I opened it surely too good to be true. It all checked out. Up to this point, I had not been able to decide on a Christmas gift up to this point. I consulted my technology team (hence my daughters) who approved and encouraged me to act. I have an extremely difficult time doing things for myself. It is easy to gift good gifts to my family and friends. However, I do not like doing for me. I didn’t act right away but thought it best to sleep on it. The next morning, I got another email – “Hey, did you leave something in your cart?” After way too much deliberation and too much time thinking about a dumb cellphone made the decision and pushed the button.

A couple days later, I received the brand new shiny rose gold phone. Much larger than my old one, I carefully put it back in the box to await the protective case I had also ordered to arrive. Boxing it up carefully, I put it on my dresser. Another couple of days passed by and the case arrived, I put it in the box with my new gift. The box is still sitting on my dresser. I have not activated the new device even though everything I need to do so is right there. What’s wrong with me? I can psychoanalyze this all day long. I do not feel worthy of something so awesome. I do not want to take the time to go through the steps. I am afraid that I might be disappointed if I run into trouble.

God has given me many promises for my life. Promises that are not currently active in my life. Jesus Christ made every single gift and promise available to me through His Grace. When He died on the Cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” When I finished wrapping all the gifts, it is with great satisfaction that I look at the tree with all its treasures for our family. The blessings of God evident in our life in a snapshot. I wonder if Jesus from His Place next to God looks at us wondering why we do not open and activate all the gifts given to us directly when He finished His Work on the Cross. What if on Christmas morning our children did not rush out of bed to open their gifts? What if they didn’t like them or chose not to use them? How would you feel? I would feel like I was taken for granted and my hard work wasted. Wouldn’t you? Does the Lord?

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 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. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

I love Christmas but my favorite is New Years. The chance to start over with a brand new year, make new commitments, to start fresh and all the hope attached to change. I love it. About mid-December each year, I begin to look past the coming holiday to the New Year. It is with such a mindset I do not look to make resolutions but seek divine revelation from the Lord. I want more of Him this year. I want to see the Promises laid on my heart so long ago come to pass. With this in mind and spoken in my prayer time a lot right now, the Lord laid the word “activate” on my heart today.

To activate means to make active or cause to function. In physics, it means to excite. Chemistry uses the word to refer to the hastening of a process or to make it begin to work. For those in the military, it is to be stationed or placed in position. All these things speak to me today for the coming year. Are there gifts and promises in my life that are simply not activated? Yes and amen. Jesus is yelling, shouting and jumping up and down (in a dignified godly manner, of course). He is cheering me on! Saying – “just do it”, “go for it” and “what are you waiting for.” See so many times we don’t see the potential of God’s Promise around us because we are too busy looking at ourselves with every flaw and imperfection listing all the reasons why it cannot and will not come to pass. What if the only thing keep you from fully achieving God’s Purpose for your life is that you simply refuse to activate the Gift within you? It is not only possible, but highly probable.

Why? Why me? Why now? What makes me so special that God would give me such good and perfect gifts? We are His Prized Possession. It really doesn’t matter how one perceives self but how we respond to God’s evaluation of us. Our faith is not in our personal ability or attributes but the Living God who is in us making all things possible. We are our biggest critics. No one beats us with a bigger bat. No one can inspect us any closer than we examine ourselves. What does all of this do? Lower our expectation. Raising fear and doubt. My worth is not based on my physical, mental or natural ability but solely on Jesus Christ inside of me. The gift of salvation activates every other gift in us when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. There is no other reason than I am a Child of God.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) 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.

Activating this phone has opened a whole new revelation in my life. In preparation, I realized that my old phone with all its contacts and photos has not been backed up since April of this year. So I plugged it into the computer and downloaded all the new software. I just got a message in order to fully activate the new information that I must restart my computer. I pushed the “not now” button. The minute I did, I could feel the Holy Spirit tug on my heart. How many times do I put off time with God? Doing what He says? Seeking His Direction? How many gifts are left unopened in my life while I settle for lesser more comfortable things? Change is not comfortable or convenient but completely necessary to move the past into the future.

As I prepare for the New Year, my word for the coming year is “activate”. It is my goal to look within my heart for all the hidden things that I am holding on to which need to be surrendered by faith to have the hope that is reserved for me. God has blessed my life already so much that I feel unworthy and undeserving but that does not change the fact that He has blessings and promises yet to be filled. I must “fan into flames the spiritual gift God” has given me. All of them. Not just the ones that I am comfortably in control of but also those that take me out of my comfort zone with bold confidence that He who has promised is able. God did not give me a “spirit of fear and timidity” so if it exists in my life it is not of God but a ploy of the enemy in a vain attempt to keep me from assuming my position. Finally, Jesus gave me the Holy Spirit to be my helper. It is the Spirit of God within me that activates “power, love and self-discipline.” I must acknowledge His Spirit and depend on Him fully to step boldly into God’s Gifts and Promises all ready for me. It is up to me if 2017 will be just like 2016 or if I will activate all that God has for me. Will I function according to His Word and His Will? Will I be excited about the Lord? Will I hasten the process and allow the Lord to work in me through complete submission and full surrender? Finally will I take my position in the Kingdom of God and live like His Child? It is up to me. It is time to activate.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 

Brand New You

Brand New You

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

It’s that time of year when people decide to make positive changes and pursue better choices in life. I have not made resolutions for a number of years now. I do have goals. I live by the list if you will. I am constantly writing it down, mulling over it and going after it. Whatever “it” is. I wasn’t always that way and I am really not sure when it happened. Some call it maturity. Maybe it comes with age. As a young person, I seldom finished what I started. But in 1990, my life changed for the better. I became a mother for the first time. I felt meaning and purpose in that little baby’s existence. I had achieved what I know now was one of God’s many callings on my life. I relished it. I enjoyed it. I was challenged by it. The Lord blessed us with five amazing children. They are all different and unique filled with purpose and potential that it is our pleasure to see unfold in their lives.

In the past five years, there has been a subtle shift occurring slow in coming. When you have a houseful of children and not a moment of silence, it seems like the day will never come when you and your spouse have time alone. We have always had children with us. With two boys grown and gone, the house grew a little (or a lot) quieter. The pantry seemed fuller. Our daughter married and moved away. Now there are empty rooms and it seems like our house just got bigger overnight. Suddenly, I am faced with the task of finding the new me in the midst of transition. With only two girls left at home, one on the verge of adulthood it is clear that it is only a matter of time before my purpose will change and transform to the new one that the Lord has for the next stage of my life. Change is hard. Especially if we do not want it or like the ways things are. When our life is bettered by our relationship with Jesus, it is easy to become comfortable and complacent with the change so far and stop seeking that “glory to glory” promised in His Word. Guilty as charged. I was not sure that I wanted this new role that is coming. I like being a mom. It is who I am.

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old one is gone. The new is here. We are the message of reconciliation to the world. However, what I have decided through the Word of God and a whole lot of prayer in this transition is that new is not like the world offers it. It is not an overnight process but the process achieved as we live our life constantly moving closer to the Lord. What you think you are today may not be who He created you to be tomorrow? I can set goals. I can make plans. But ultimately it is the Lord’s Plan that will prevail in my life. (Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21) What does this mean? To live the life that God created you to live and Christ died for you to have means reconciliation to Jesus Christ not once but every single day of our natural life. It requires change that may be uncomfortable and even unwelcome.

Romans 5:9-11 (NIV)

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

When sin made us God’s Enemies, Jesus died for us to be reconciled back to God and attain right standing or righteousness again. There are many differing opinions about this process. I think I have lived them all. I have been the one who wandered down the aisle to pray and receive Christ not really knowing what I was doing or what I was asking. I have been the one who answered a pastor’s call to return to Christ because all that was required is calling on the Name of Jesus. Left the church and wandered right back into the wilderness of life. It was not until I completely wrecked myself and figured out that the way I was living amounted to nothing but devastation and destruction that I realized until I walked down to the altar ready to give something back I would continue to leave unchanged. I do believe in once saved always saved. It is more than words mumbled in regret. It is not one prayer but a life of communicating with our God, Savior and Lord with the Holy Spirit’s Help. To come before God with no intent to change, be delivered, healed, changed or restored is not going to ever amount to anything. The first act of reconciliation is to come to Jesus Christ with the express purpose of asking Him to be our Savior which means leaving sin, shame, guilt and regret behind to become the new creation that a life reconciled to God produces.

Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation. How much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through this life? There is more to life than an altar call and simple prayer. You are not forced to live in freedom. You do not have to walk in the Blessings of God. You do not HAVE TO DO anything. Reconciliation is the act of reconciling. To reconcile means to bring into agreement or harmony and make more compatible. When we give up sin to accept salvation, this is immediate. It is how we achieve right standing with God the Father. But it is not the end of God’s Creative Process in our life. To reconcile means to settle (Isaiah 1:18) and reconsecrate our existence. To give our life up for greater purpose. It is an active choice with great reward. As we reconcile our life to God, lining up our life to His Word, Will and Way something wonderful begins to happen and we are restored.

Romans 6:5-7 (NIV)

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.

 

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 (NIV)

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 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.

If you want to be a brand new you this year, there are certain things that must occur. You cannot do everything the same way that you did them last year. You must pursue positive change. If your desire is a closer, deeper and more meaningful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ it will require reconciliation in a two-step process. First, you must take a walk to the Cross and give up your old self. I venture to the Cross daily because I need His Grace more and more. The more I live the more I know I cannot make it a day without God’s Love and Mercy in my life. I can stop right there and live in the cataclysmic cycle of sin and repentance that leads nowhere but circling the wilderness. Constantly battling my flesh without resolution, I can never move on to what God has purposed for me to do or fully see the potential of my creation or salvation. Merry-go-rounds are fun and entertaining unless you have to live on one that would be insanity.

We must not only reconcile our sin to the Cross but our life to God. He doesn’t leave us high and dry but gives us His Spirit to live in us and partner with us in our pursuit of complete reconciliation. To be new is not something that we do, but what Jesus does in us taking the good that is placed in us and allowing it to grow, develop and mature into the new creation hidden there all along. We are not competent to produce such change in our life that leads to completion only compromise. It is the God in us that restores us to His Glorious Standard of Life.

 

Colossians 1:19-23 (NIV)

 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

As I venture into this season of change and become who I am in addition to being a daughter, wife, mom, friend, church member and employee – it is with great expectation. I have decided to quit trying to reconcile my life to human expectation. I didn’t even make a list of personal goals for the coming year. Like many years in the past, we are fasting and praying for 21 days. We have been doing it for two and it is clear that the Lord has been trying to get my attention for some time. This is a brand new year. It is a new season in our life. It is time to embrace the new things that the Lord is doing. I can only do this by reconciling my life to Him.

Last month, our bank account did not add up. I am one of those crazy people who still keeps a check register even though I do not write checks. Everything that goes in and out. When my account balance and the register did not agree, it began to drive me nuts. I thrive on order. Character flaw for sure. Finally, I sat down to review each transaction and found the problem. I had made a mathematical error. Even though it was a costly one, I was satisfied when I fixed it because things were in order and right. Life is not random. We are created with a purpose and plan that is made by a Sovereign God who does not change His Mind or make mistakes. Even when we deviate from the Truth, it does not change anything about our life. His Plan is still intact. His Purpose will continue to prevail. Our participation is that of reconciliation. If I want God’s Best in my life, I must continue to live in agreement and harmony with God’s Word, Will and Way because He is relentless. Not because He is a mean god, but because He is a Good Father who is intent on the very best for His Beloved Children.

Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

 

It is pointless to participate in a religion without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is proof that someone intends to live in unity, harmony and agreement with their Savior and make Him their Lord. What is the point of going to church and doing good things if in the end you still die? You’ve left your mark on the world. What does that matter – this world will die and pass away? Unless we have established a place in the Kingdom of God, we will go with it even our good reputation and earthly legacy is nothing when the end comes. But those who endure to the end will be saved.

Today is the Day of Salvation and beginning of a new life of rebirth and renewal that has the potential and promise to carry out every purpose and plan that God intended for your life. Jesus came to give us a full and abundant life with complete satisfaction so that we lack no good thing. His Spirit completes this process in the yielded life that pursues reconciliation with God completely accepting His Standard of Living that far exceeds what we can even think to ask for. It is a new season for you. It is a new day. God’s Favor is ready and waiting. It will not begin with anything you do or say. It is not according to how much self-control, motivation or determination one can muster. It is a commitment to become the new creation and accepting the new life offered by Jesus Christ and learning to reconcile our entire existence to God and His Kingdom. I want to be that brand new person in 2016. How about you?

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Careful Consideration

Careful Consideration

Luke 8:16-18(NIV)

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Consider carefully how you listen. Yesterday, I was reorganizing files on my computer. From the first day, I began this blog until today each tucked in its own year, organized by month, and titled with the date. Years of chronicling time with the Lord did not lead to a boastful thought but a humbled heart well-aware of a Living God who desires to communicate with me. I would love to say that all those years were filled with faithful obedience and diligent service, but I am only human. When I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to spend time together, I had no idea what the purpose was other than to establish a quiet time each day which I had failed miserably at all my life. I would try to wake up early but oversleep. At night, I would fall asleep the moment I tried to open the Word and pray. It really was about me though I called it a godly pursuit. It was a religious act to add to my repertoire.

Once I met the Lord, I wanted to know Him. I believed that God existed. I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord at just eleven years old. Life happened. For many years like many others before me, I drifted in and out of church. There were days I wanted God and then forgot all about Him. When I finally surrendered my heart, mind and life to Jesus – it was clear that I had made a mess of things. Over the years of learning, growing and finally beginning to understand the Grace of God, I once again felt useful. Old dreams long ago buried in a mountain of sin were beginning to surface. One night delivering dinner to a pastor friend and his wife, I was introduced to prophecy and a prophetic word was spoken over my life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the man read my mind. He could see inside my heart. The things so lost and broken that he dare to give new life. I was completely blown away. Yet, the things that he spoke still did not come to pass. Years have passed since then…

As I reorganized the computer files for the New Year, I came across the beginnings of the book that God laid on my heart. I read the introduction. The next file contained an outline of contributing blogs. There were a few different elements pointing to my attempts at fulfilling the call of God that represented starts and stops along the way. But as I continued to read, I began to notice the dates of all the different files. It was then that I realized my dream was not dead. My purpose was only yet to be fulfilled. I could not write what I had not lived. Now that I have lived it, the Lord is telling me to write it. I mention this to you to say that before you give up on that thing that you have considered and contemplated your whole life, could it be that it is still in the making. Is it possible that you have not passed your purpose but that the Lord has been preparing you for it all along?

There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed. The eternity in our heart produces a desire that often culminates in dreams and visions for our future. Of course, then life happens. We are hammered into reality and hope become deferred which makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) Perhaps, it could be possible, that the thing you dream and desire is not dead but simply you are not ready yet. When we decide to survive in our walk with God and do not press on to thrive, these things happen. When we do not pursue understanding and knowledge of His Will, His Word and His Ways, there is no place for wisdom that leads to the everlasting. God has a plan for you. He created you with a purpose. His Promise will come to pass in your life but not without careful consideration.

Psalm 143:3-6 (NIV)

The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

We know that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy us. Before Jesus, he already had our soul. Dead to sin, there was no point in coming after us anymore. However, when we choose Jesus and He saves us it is with the intent to give us a full, rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Now we have something the enemy wants, he will wrestle with us daily to take it. No wonder our human spirit grows weak because the battle rages in us. Do we dare hope? Should we believe? What is the point if my life is to be compromised? It all depends what you are after. If you want a full life complete lacking no good thing with godly satisfaction that wants for nothing but rests in His Presence, you better get ready to fight for it.

What do we do to continue to fight when we are weak? Today many Christian believers will begin a fast of some kind. Honoring God with their body while pursuing Him with their heart, they will give up things that their flesh likes, wants and desires to have more Jesus than ever before. Some will pray for direction and revelation with specific pursuits during this time. Others just want more of God not really knowing what to expect or how to go about it. Sadly many will not make it the seven to twenty-one days set aside when their flesh grows weak and their bodies tired from fighting for control. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Yes, it is hard to tell your body no and yes to the Spirit of the Living God. He didn’t say it would be easy, but it will be worth it.

I remember the days of long ago. Do you remember the day you met Jesus for the first time? What about the day you fell in love? How about the moment you surrendered your life to Him? He became your first love that day. Is He still your first love? We must always remember our First Love to remember what we are fighting for. Our flesh demands immediate gratification but our hope in the Lord is not based on what we can see or produce in our own life but on the impossible that He is preparing us for and for us. I meditate on all your works. We must never stop digging in the Word of God. It is the Bread for our Spirit that strengthens our soul. Man cannot live by bread alone, but every word that comes from God’s Mouth. (Matthew 4:4) Consider what your hands have done. To consider all that the Lord is doing is to reflect on the past, present and future of our life. His Plan for us incorporates all of it. Remember, He works every detail for our good. (Romans 8:28) I really had a difficult time grasping this as there are times in my life that to me are not worth remembering or using for anything other than to bury it deep and let it die. But God wastes nothing in our life and there is potential in every mistake, failure and defeat that we have faced. Every trial, test and trouble we have faced win or lose – God can and will use for His Glory if we allow it. Prayer and fasting are summed up in Psalm 143:6 “I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.” Are you ready for God to make beauty from your ashes? Are you ready for the Resurrection Power that brought Jesus from the dead to bring those dead dreams and dry bones back to life? You have such potential if you carefully consider all these things.

Psalm 119:57-60 (NIV)

You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.  I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. 

Considering my ways is essential in my progression in Christ. I must take my dreams and desires and lay them next to God’s Word. I must carry them into His Presence to discuss them with the Lord to decide what His Will is and clearly what is not. Confirmation is important because when we call on the Lord – He will answer. (Daniel 9:22-23) In fact, a command is issued in Heaven. It matters what we ask for. When we make a vow, it is important that we know what we are after because such promises come with expectation. (Proverbs 20:24-25) Vows form expectations. We make that promise in exchange for that which we expect. Vows make covenants. It is important to know all the benefits of our covenant with God to form godly expectation.

Where does all this come from? When I began to read the excerpts of what I thought might become a book, I had not lived them. Now I have. How could I write about things that I had no idea were coming? How did I know? God was preparing me. He led me to a closer walk with Him compelling me to spend more and more time with Him because He knew what was coming and wanted me to be ready for the fight. He also had given me a promise that in the end when it was over that He would create beauty from those ashes which I believe will be this year.

Every facet of your life has meaning. More meaning then you realize. The world works diligently to separate our spiritual life from our natural one. God created us…and everything in this world. It is not separate endeavors. He will work our whole life in order that we may know His Son, become free by His Spirit and fulfill the purpose of our creation. He is always good. He will never stop trying to pour out His Blessings in our life. He leaves clues all along but we fail to see them. When we decide to make Jesus Christ our whole life, even our natural life begins to make more sin. Those times away from the Lord possess meaning when the Light of His Love shines through us. Careful consideration is required. To see your life through His Eyes will change your perspective. It will empower your future. It will bring those dead dreams to life.

Romans 4:17-21(NIV)

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.