Tearing Down Walls

Tearing Down Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Heaven Opens

When Heaven Opens

Deuteronomy 28:11-14 (ESV) And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Last week, I had this revelation in prayer. An “open heaven” is the prayer of believers. To have the blessings and benefits of heaven make natural life supernatural. Miracles, signs and wonders are the epitome of the concept of an open heaven. Are you living an ordinary life or an extraordinary life? The open heaven is an existence that defies human reality defined by faith and confident hope that produces God’s Fruit in our life. When the Glory of God pours out, it has a definite purpose prescribed before time began. From beginning to end, the story has been written before it is time to be lived including every provision, promise, and purpose. If an open heaven is our truest desire, than we are asking the Lord to wreak havoc on our natural life.

Why? If God is good, and His Way perfect, then our imperfection and weakness must give way to His Perfection and Strength. God is Sovereign. He does not change to accommodate my flesh, preferences or demands. He is a Good Father. He knows what is best for us. To request alignment with the heavenly realm and open the windows of it, one must be ready for an undoing like never before. The Glory of God interrupts our plan to make way for His Plan to be revealed. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity. This is an absolutely true statement in the covenant made between God and all of his people…even you. God’s Prosperity begins in our soul and makes its way into our natural life. There will be no abundance in our hand until it begins in our heart.

The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands.

A treasury is the funds or the revenue of a government, corporation or institution. It can be defined as the “place where treasure is stored.” The enemy cannot take a single blessing or promise God has in store for you. Nothing can be taken from God that belongs to you. The only way to access the blessings and benefits is for the Lord to “open to you His Good Treasury.” His Good Treasury is the heavens. What opens the windows of heaven? What gives us open access to come and go? Obedience. Obedience is the next step of salvation. It is when Jesus becomes our Lord. Can I go to heaven if He is only my Savior? Absolutely. You miss all the benefits offered in salvation if He does not become your Lord.

People sow seeds every single day. The productivity of life is time, talent and treasure sown into life. When heaven opens in our life, seeds once dormant will receive new rain. God will bless the work of our hands. Obedience begins in the sowing of our life. To align our planting with God’s Timing and wait for His Season allows abundance and prosperity that worldly timing and expectation will never produce.

Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV)  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

There are two kinds of obedience in the Kingdom. There is religious obedience and relational obedience. One is driven by love of self and the other is a passion fueled by love for Christ. Religious obedience is based on my ability to follow the regulations set forth in God’s Word. I do it because I want the associated blessing or benefit. God will bless religious obedience. However, this is not the kind of obedience that the Lord is after. He desires a relationship with you. The Love of God for us is unfailing and unconditional therefore it is not impressed with how obedient and faithful we are to rules and regulations. No…Jesus is looking for those who obey because they love Him too much not to. Obedience offered in radical love is the kind that pleases the Lord.

Why did Jesus get baptized? Hmm… I had to think about it. The first thought was because it is what the Word instructs us to do. Well that’s silly, because Jesus IS the Word. When Jesus obeyed God, not because He had to but because He knew it would please the Father, look what happens next – “the heavens were opened.” Could this actually be an illustration of radical obedience based on ridiculous love? Grace has already paid the debt for our life. God’s Favor is upon us. His Spirit lives in us. When we decide to live according to love for God everything changes as obedience opens heaven in our life. Choosing to follow Christ because we love Him leads to a way different existence than that of religious obedience.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

To request an open heaven is to commit to a life of faithful obedience. The Word of God is clear that it is His Intention to overtake us with blessings. Jesus came to give us an abundant life. He will withhold no good thing from those who love Him and seek Him wholeheartedly. Obedience must be a heart choice and not an intellectual decision. It must be a willing surrender of our way to embrace a pursuit of our beloved. Who do you love? Who would you lay your life down for? Would you do the same for Jesus Christ? Logical faith must become practical living if our goal is to align our life with Kingdom Blessing. This means that our treasure is in heaven not on the earth but it is our full intent to open heaven and flood the earth with His Presence.

Matthew 27:50-53 (ESV) And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 

Once again the Spirit of God is poured out. The first time it came to rest upon Jesus. Then after His Death, Jesus released His Spirit to the people. The first time people could not receive His Spirit because of sin. After Jesus died, paying the price for sin, His Spirit was released on the earth. Immediately the temple veil was torn so religion was no longer a requirement and the graves gave up their spoils. Death rendered powerless to life that day. Everything changed because now heaven was accessible to all God’s People.

When heaven opens in our life – things begin to change. The more of our life given to the pursuit of the Glory of God found in His Presence – the more intimacy that is desired. Moving closer to Jesus means a displacement of self to make room for His Spirit. It will begin to change us from the inside. In the meantime, we must continue to sow good seed and wait for His Harvest. It will come. When our obedience is established in relationship – the Kingdom becomes our home.

How do I evaluate obedience? Well, the results of godly obedience that characterize a prospering soul are not selfish. If I can do it and it has no cost, it is not relationship but religion. It is the moment that I cannot give enough of me to Jesus that radical relational obedience is perpetuated. When there is a desperation to give more, do more, and be more that is beyond anything I can give, do or be – transformation begins. Why doesn’t God just open heaven over His People? Because most of the church couldn’t handle it.

The Powerful Force of His Perfection colliding with our imperfection would kill us. When our stubborn rigidity meets with His Overwhelming Grace it would destroy us. God is waiting for our heart to fall in love with Him. Our heart to be full of Him. Our soul to prosperity in Him just so we can survive His Goodness pouring out on us and in us and moving through us. I want an open heaven. To have it begins with the plea – God change me into who I need to be to absorb your Glory when it comes.

Mark 2:21-22 (ESV) “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

Most Powerful Resource

Most Powerful Resource

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NLT) 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.

Christ in us is the most powerful resource possessed by the believer. As the year winds down, I am challenged by the things not yet completed. Those dreams and visions of God placed in our heart to attract our faith and become the prosperity that He promised from the start. I know that God prerecorded a plan for my life marked by salvation. I am absolutely certain that the blessings He promised are for me. According to Psalm 139, I am fearfully (thoughtfully) and wonderfully (perfectly) made by the Lord. I have potential. In Jeremiah 29, He promised that the packaging of my life comes with a future and hope. I have not yet fully discovered all that it entails. As chapter 29 continues it instructs me to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and it will be mine. Over my lifetime, I have made many mistakes but in 2 Corinthians12 it tells me that His Grace is all I need to overcome the penalty of sin. All my mistakes can never amount to a blockage or barrier from what the Lord has for me because His Love is always pursuing me even in my wandering (Psalm 23). God promises that nothing can separate me from His Love and that He is working every detail of my life for my good. I have so many promises packed in my life. Now to learn how to get them out…

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

I love the story of the widow woman with her little jar of oil. The story is an inspiration that I return to quite often. Again today, I feel like it holds God’s Hidden Secrets for me and I must squeeze the last bit of oil from flask to jar. There is meaning here for those who long to be satisfied. Unmet expectation finds new inspiration in her plight. The prophet only offered perspective with a hint on instruction. The woman put her faith in his words and obeyed. She reached fulfillment not by a miracle but in her method. Lord, help us learn from this woman who thought she had lost it all but instead found new hope.

Her Situation – Shattered Dreams

The woman is the widow of the prophet Obadiah. He is now dead and the creditors have come to claim unpaid debts or threaten to take her children. The life she once knew is now gone. She is in a desperate situation. Desperation is often born of unmet expectation and shattered dreams. The moment the life built by our human expectation gives way to desperation. When life is not what it seems and the harsh reality of it comes crashing down around us. Where is God? Why has He abandoned me? I thought He loved me, cared for me, and was with me. She went to Elisha. She was looking for some answers. She cried out the details of her distress, desolation, and desperation to the prophet. My husband is dead. I am in debt. They are coming to take my children who are all I have left. The “new normal” produced by such situations will be the transition point from destination to destiny.

Our life in Christ can produce unrealistic expectations limited by experience. We build our own vision or dream according to what we can do or produce ourselves when God has so much more in store for us. The woman had depended on her husband and maybe even built her life around serving Obadiah as he served the Lord. Wives are to submit to their husbands. They must submit to Christ first and then the man God has given them. Sometimes these orders can shift unintentionally putting faith that belongs to the Lord into a human being. Now the man is gone so she turns to the Lord. Trial, temptation and tragedy have a way of turning us back to our first love whether we are willing to admit it or not.

The enemy continually threatens the life of a believer with lies. Lies that build strongholds around us. Notice the woman said that the creditors “threatened” to come take her children. The only thing the enemy can take from you is what you willingly give to him. Think about that for a moment. What have you allowed the enemy to apprehend with a lie? You can’t do this. You cannot have this. You are not good enough. Your life is never going to get any better. I cannot change. I am too old. Too this or too that. Too broken. Too broke. Whatever the lie the enemy has threatened you with today can be overcome by the Truth! The Truth of your life is the Word of God. It never grows stale and does not have an expiration date. The door to the cell you may be living in is not locked for who the Son sets free is free indeed.

Her Solution – What Do You Have In Your House?

The prophet asked the widow, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” I am quite sure she did not find his question amusing. She may have sighed in exasperation. Was Elisha not listening? Did he not hear her story? Did he not understand her plight? The word “house” can be translated into family, clan, building or home. It can also be translated to the word “temple”. “Tell me, what do you have in your temple?” Now this changes everything for the modern day believer who hears this story in its proper translation.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (I Corinthians 6) The woman did not have resources in her home but in her temple she had more than enough. We are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit who takes our faith to produce more than enough in our life. The things our hands can hold, feel and touch in the natural become abundant and resourceful when our faith is in God’s Spirit. We are anointed with the Spirit of the Living God. He produces good fruit in us that will prosper our life once our soul is properly prospering. Her desperation turned her to God. She planted her faith in God and the resources she needed in the natural came pouring out in abundance. Enough to fill the jars she collected. Do you have a flask of oil in you untapped?

The anointing of God within us can do nothing around us until it completes its work in us. She had lived a life of faith with her husband. More than likely, her faith was in her husband and according to his faith. Now the Lord is asking her what is in her “temple”, she discovered faith. How do I know? She was obedient.

Her Salvation – “So She Did As She Was Told.” 

What if the limitation on our life is self-imposed? What if everything we need to prosper is in us? What if the Spirit of God is just waiting for faithful obedience? We want God to do it our way, in our time and according to our will most of the time. But what happens when He does it His Way, in His Timing and according to His Will. Do we obey the Lord or trek off on our own merry way? When met with seasons of hardship, it is our nature to turn to the Lord for answers, explanations, gripes and even complaints. God’s Plan for us is unchangeable. Once He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, the Lord does not take it back. He cannot lie or change His Mind. He does not withdraw His Call on our life because our faith is lacking or obedience waning. He waits on us. When unmet expectation comes or dreams are shattered, He is usually who we run to. When we do, the Lord comes close to the brokenhearted and fills us with new life. New inspiration of His Spirit and revelation for success.

When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” The woman put faith in God and He provided all that she needed and more. I wonder today if there is something in my temple that I put on a shelf for another day. Is it the very thing I must pour out to receive full satisfaction and live a life of fulfillment? Obedience is essential for our faith to become that which we hope for. If we are unwilling, then we will remain unfulfilled? God’s Word for our life is true. It is activated by faith in God’s Word, Will and Way. We must be willing to be faithful in hard times and drought to see the abundance of God that leads to absolute fulfillment.

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

The woman had a jar of oil. She poured it out as instructed and it filled more jars than she gathered. Abundance. God wants to fill your life with abundance today. Have you left the cap on your flask? We hold on to what we have out of fear. Doubt tells us if we empty ourselves there will be nothing left for the future. This is not the mindset of God’s People. We must change our mind. Taking our confidence and putting it fully in Christ which may mean gathering all the jars of expectation spread out among lesser things. God’s Anointing of His Spirit in us is a guarantee to prosper, but the Spirit must be poured out to every area of our life. His Promises are always “yes” and “amen”. It is our fear, doubt and security that mark them “maybe” or “probably not”. What’s in your house today? What fills your temple? What is the truth that governs the economy of your life? The principle of sowing and reaping is facilitated by obedience in the life of every believer. It is also a governing principle in our natural life. If you release it, God will increase it. Lord, increase our life. Give us the faith to release it so You can increase it. Holy Spirit align us with the Father and encourage us to have faith.

2 Corinthians 9:10 (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.

 

Too Important

Too Important

Galatians 6:1-3 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

If another is overcome, gently and humbly help the person back on the right patch. Be careful not to fall into the same trap. Share each other’s burdens. Obey the Law of Christ in this way. If you think you are too important to help…am I too important to help another? What is it that keeps me from reaching out to or aiding another believer or any other living breathing thing? Who is considered collateral damage in the battle for the Kingdom? No one. According to Jesus, all of Heaven rejoices when the one who is lost returns. So I wonder today, if the trap in which I have fallen is that of becoming too important?

We all fall in the category of “too” something at any giving time. Too busy, too tired, too stressed, too overwhelmed, too broken and, yes, even too important to do the work of Christ on a daily basis. The enemy has a plethora of excuses that he introduces as valid to use to explain our lack of obedience to Christ. They all may be true but not necessary. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed and given the same number of hours in any given day. From that point forward, we make the choice of how to spend that time and invest ourselves in this thing called life. I love to hear someone tell me about how busy they are or hard they work. I have been guilty of boasting the same. The truth is the investment of our time is only as good as the seed sown in the space of it.

Maybe time is not the issue you are facing, but trouble. Sick of all the trials and troubles in our life – people build a wall around their heart and make the conscious choice to disengage. Enough is enough. People are not perfect and when expectation is given to them – they will fail. Everyone does. It is not a lack of wanting to be faithful and true, but simply the sad condition of a fickle heart and wayward thinking that keeps us from always doing the right thing. Paul summed it up in Romans 7 – we want to do what is right but inevitable do what is wrong. Thank you God for your unconditional love, overpowering grace, and endless mercy that allows me to try again each day despite yesterday’s shortcomings or total failures.

Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT) Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

I am responsible for my own conduct. Talk about straightforward. Pay careful attention to my own work in life, the Kingdom and relationships and then I will find satisfaction. Comparison is a joy killer. Not only that it paints over the picture God has painted in our heart and mind for fulfillment with some kind of replica of life that is not for us and we are not prepared or predestined to live. Comparison creates an image of a standard that is not God’s Standard for my life. If I allow the world to influence my standard of living, I miss the blessing that comes when I align my life and choices with God and His Word. Comparison kills contentment allowing jealousy to take over and kill any satisfaction that faith is growing in me. It chokes it out with a root called bitterness that excuses my lack of attention or commitment to faithfulness as I begin to build something that I was never intended to live in a place I was not supposed to be. The grass is always greener on the other side, if I keep my eyes on other people’s grass it will kill my own.

Galatians 6:7-8 (NLT) Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Because Christ has given us absolute and total freedom, I choose how to live and the seeds sown in my life each day. Am I sowing willingness? Obedience? Faithfulness? The Fruit of the Spirit is known to be:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When these are the seeds sown in our life according to God’s Word, they are the fruitful reproduction within us. What are you “too” important to do today? It just may the stronghold limiting you from achieving your maximum potential.  If something is needed, are you willing to do it to the glory of God? Or is it subjected to your pride first? As pastors, ministers, leaders, teachers, and true believers, there is not task beneath us. If our church sidewalk needs to be swept, we do it. If a toilet needs to be cleaned, we do it. If it means forgiving for the umpteenth time, we do it. If it means offering love and kindness rather than taking offense so be it. No matter what the task or responsibility if we are not willing to do it – then it is not good enough for our brother or sister to do. I wonder what might happen if we humbled ourselves to Christ rather than striving for some higher position. What if we were willing to sweat for the Kingdom? What if we decided to get dirty to build it? What if we would humble ourselves in all things? I believe this is the kind of brokenness that gives way to true stewardship in Christ. It is not what we are willing to give that is an acceptable offering, but rather when we will give our all for the Kingdom of God no matter how messy, uncomfortable or chaotic it may be just to because we love Jesus Christ.

Galatians 6:9-10 (NLT) So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Are you tired of doing the right thing? Are you sick of always trying to be good? Are your ready to give up? When dealing with life and people, sometimes these feelings rise up within us. God is greater than our feelings. Pride must go down for His Glory to rise up through our humility. “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.” This transcends to every part of our life from our family to friends to fellow church members to acquaintances to complete strangers all the way to our enemies. Ugh! That’s a lot of good on days when I don’t feel like it.

Matthew 19:29-30 (NLT) And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

I don’t always make good choices. I do not always keep my flesh and feelings under the tight rein of the Holy Spirit. There are many times I do the absolute opposite. The world sets a standard for comparison that never has a finish line. Just when you think you arrive, the destination changes and so do the expectations. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His Standard of Living does not change. It is a life of humility. It is to forsake being the greatest so that others can see the Light of His Loving shining from within. When we are too important to share the love of Jesus no matter who they are, what they do or how they treat us – we miss the mark completely. Our standard is to love God and love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. The long list of excuses marked “too” begin with a feeling of self-importance that allows pride to live in us. Pride will always take God’s Place in our heart and mind. It will keep us from the blessing that comes with knowing Christ and eternal life. God show me the areas of my life today where I feel “too” important and help me to eliminate them by sowing new seeds from Your Spirit today.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

To Prosper

To Prosper

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It is God’s Will for you to prosper. He created a plan for you which is to prosper without harm and to give you hope and a future. It is plainly and clearly written and easily discernable in His Word. If you stop with just this one verse in Jeremiah 29, you miss the whole point of the passage. It is God’s Plan for you to prosper but the how of it comes in the next two verses. Prosperity is produced by relationship.

“You will call on me and come and pray to me.” Righteousness is established when one turns from their old way to receive God’s new way. New life comes to us by way of relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Word is so bold to say that there is no other way to the Father. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. To prosper body, mind and spirit requires new life given to us by Jesus Christ. As we become a new creation by planting seeds of righteousness in our fertile and broken heart, feed on the Bread of Life and continually bask in Living Water there is an inner transformation performed by the Spirit of God that produces life and life more abundantly. It is all about relationship. Faith turns to trust and the impossible changes to possibility in our life according to the hope we now have.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Relationship is a heart investment that prospers into an overflow from our life. The beginning of any relationship begins with an encounter. The encounter such as repentance creates an experience. The experience impacts of one of two ways. To prosper the experience must produce pursuit. You cannot overtake something you do not decide to pursue. For example, I met my husband through a chance encounter with friends. He caught my attention. I decided that I wanted to know him so I pursued him. We have been married almost two decades and I still pursue him in our relationship. Our relationship has prospered over the years into more than just an encounter. God wants to invest His Kingdom in our life. We must make room for Him and pursue Him with our whole heart. The more of our life given to Christ the more likely abundance will produce an overflow in all of our life.

Deuteronomy 30:15-16; 19-20 (NIV) See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Love is a choice. Pursuit is a choice. Obedience is a choice. These are the choices made by those who desire to prosper in life. God has set it all before us in His Word. The Word became flesh to come and demonstrate God’s Unconditional Love for us and provide the way to prosper in a right relationship with God again. We choose our path. Life and prosperity are options but so are death and destruction. God does not set conditions on us and therefore does not control the consequences of life. It was preset before time began. Sin leads to death. God is life. Jesus gives us eternal life by paying the penalty of sin. God could not exempt His Own Son from the consequence of sin. Jesus bled and died to pay the price. Our choices lead to consequences. Repentance leads to grace and prosperity. New life is created by making a better choice. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ, yoke our life to Him, accept and replicate His Way in our life will make a difference, we will prosper according to His Words and Instructions. You can live under the mandate of grace and never receive the full benefits of His Kingdom. It is all about choices. “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

Psalm 128:1-2 (NIV) Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) If relationship produces prosperity, our relationship with God will reach our home first. Our union with our spouse and/or children will begin to produce new fruit under God’s Careful Instruction. If our house is out of order, it will be unfruitful or produce bitter fruit. The roles in each home must fall under the guidelines of God’s House in order for the home to prosper. We must serve the Lord and respect His Commands in them. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the church. Wives must submit to their husband’s leadership. Children must honor and respect their parents. There must be sound discipline. Love abounds in God’s Household rules and grace abounds even more. When we invite the Lord, His Presence and His Spirit to dwell in our homes and live in our families, we will prosper in these relationships. The world today defines family as anything goes, but the Lord has set parameters for the household. They are not stringent or regulatory but absolutely necessary to prosper according to God’s Word.

Proverbs 16:20 (NIV) Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

If relationship is a product of trust, then prosperity must include trust as well. True repentance is to accept God’s Grace and to turn from sin and darkness to live in love and light. We trust the Lord to do what He promised as we give up the known to pursue the unknowns in God’s Fathomless Grace. The one who gives heed to God’s Instruction and does what they say will be like a tree by streams of living water able to prosper in every season. (Psalm 1:1-3) Some seasons are not favorable, but hard, cold and dry. We live in a loveless world full of sin and darkness. Righteous living is not always welcomed. In fact, the enemy prowls around seeking who he can steal from, kill or destroy. The Light within us is a beacon only riles his anger and draws his attention. We must trust the Lord in those seasons even sowing seeds among our tears knowing that His Joy comes in the morning and we will harvest every seed sown in righteousness no matter how hard the seasons sown in might be.

Proverbs 11:10 (NIV) When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices…

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

When the righteous prospers it blesses their community. I wonder if the church of the Living God is not prospering because it is not a generous church. Are we reaching our communities with credible love from tangible offers of time, talent and treasure or meager offerings reluctantly given? The more sown into relationship the greater prosperity the church will experience. The overflow is produced by a current. The current that influences overflow is giving. Prosperity is produced by relationship. The greater the relationship the more prosperous it becomes. The righteous are promised prosperity. It is only accessible through relationship. Relationship with God. In our homes, churches and yes, our community. The limit on prosperity is our willingness to engage in relationships. As our soul prospers, so will we. It begins inside of us and increases in overflow in our obedience to release it. It is the seed that creates new harvests. To prosper begins with relationship. Lord, may the promise of prosperity sown in my heart be a blessing that overflows in every area of my life through unity, harmony and sound relationships that bring honor and glory to your Great Name!

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Isaiah 54:16-17 (NLT) “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy. But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!

How can it be only Wednesday? I feel like a whole week has been shoved into two days. I am tired. I am weary. I am drained. It has been days of warfare. I cling to the promise that no weapon turned against you will succeed. Sometimes in life it is not the major problems or troubles that overtake us but the minor issues that pile up. My Bible flipped open is like a weight on my desk while these words apply pressure to my chest. Why has it been so hard for so long? I am not in the midst of a pity party rather a sojourn to survey the success of my plight. To be honest and transparent, my current assignment has been a challenge from the start. I am usually up to the test. Ready to take on the impossible. Driven to live in obedience to Christ. In this moment of introspection, I must take into account the cost of the Cross. Is the price too high to follow this destiny? What more will it take to reach my destination? This heaviness is like iron. I had to fight for my quiet time. Silence the voices in my head to hear His Spirit in the dark. God I know you called me to this place for such a time as this. I know you have supplied all that I need. This is a fertile field ready for seeds to be planted, nurtured and grown.

When reading the Word of God, we like to pick and choose among the verses finding the Bread of Life most palatable to feed our starving flesh. The living water needed to wash our wounds and sustain us for another day. This hunger and thirst finds no satisfaction. It continually cries out for more. The flame in the fire keeps getting hotter. I am reminded that to fully understand I must read the entire book – not just the scripture that is appealing. Every entrée has a recipe. Every product has instructions. The words proceeding the overcoming passage I am clinging to today are not the encouragement I am after but rather “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons for destruction.”

2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT) One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

The prophets were on a mission. Their plight to build a bigger place of worship was stamped “approved” by the Lord through His Prophet, Elisha. The place they were sent had provision to complete the project. They even invited the Presence of the Lord to join them asking the man of God to come along. They began their work and immediately encountered opposition. Ugh! There is always opposition while pressing and pushing through to God’s Plan. He gives us provision, provides us the place, and even gives us His Presence. So why the pressure, pain and problems? It seems like cruel irony (no pun intended). To position us to prosper and then allow such things to happen. Has the Lord set us up to fail? Is He trying to punish us for something in our past? Why does it have be so hard and hurtful? The process of God does not only have purpose around us but it always has a purpose in us. To see God move around us it must first begin within us. The pain, pressure and problems give way to persistence and perseverance. You will need it down the road. The greater the potential the greater the opposition. At some point, the haters must become our motivators. The impossible the birthplace of miracles.

The man who lost his borrowed ax cried out to the Lord. Elisha answered with a miracle. A sign to him that God had kept His Promise and indeed was with them. The impossible gave way to a miracle. I wonder today if the problems I am facing is the Lord’s Attempt to prepare me in this seemingly impossible place for His Power and Glory that is coming. My ax head is definitely sinking today. So I will call upon the Lord, my energy is zapped and efforts are failing.

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NLT)  When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.  “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

Awesome sauce! Reading farther down the chapter, now there is a battle. We must fight for our ground. The ax was already heavy now must I beat my plowshare into a sword? The king of Aram waged war against Israel. The struggle is real. The Kingdom of God is always under attack. We must take it by force. Not the force of our own strength, but rather total reliance, dependence and trust in the Lord. Faith must give way to confidence that doesn’t look through natural eyes.

When the servant came to Elisha overtaken by fear, it was rightfully so. The Aramean army had surrounded them and wanted Elisha. Elisha instructed the king of Israel sharing secrets that no one could have known but a spy. The servant saw the vast army and knew they were done but God didn’t see things that way and neither did Elisha. When the servant’s eyes were open by the Lord – it was then that he could see the army of the Lord which was larger, stronger, and surrounding then the opposition. Sometimes in the heat of our battle, we must find some time to hide in the Presence of God allowing Him to open our eyes to see our Avenger. Christ is the ultimate overcomer. He lives inside of us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (NLT) We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

We do not wage war as humans do even when there is an army at our door. We use God’s Mighty Weapons. They are not like worldly ones designed to kill. The weapon is the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit used to expose every lie the enemy has touted. We have a shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and a breastplate of righteousness for the ones that make it through. We have been given a gospel of peace. Yet if peace is what you after it might be best to prepare for war. What keeps us from seeing God, knowing His Plan and following by faith is not the opposition but rather the proud obstacles, rebellious thoughts and interworking of our own treacherous mind and traitorous heart that get the best of us. It is in full obedience that victory is claimed. God is forging our heart and mind. He is engrafting us fully by burning away everything in us contradictory to His Word, Will and Way. He is perfecting His Plan in us so the potential fulfillment of purpose will be achieve. The heat is getting hotter so that these trials will prove that our faith is genuine.

2 Peter 1:7 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

“I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction.” The fire of refinement is not meant to destroy us but to reveal that which is within us. As our soul prospers, so do we. The once ironclad heart is refined and turned into a faithful heart that is considered far more precious than mere gold. He is strengthening our faith to make us powerful. He is preparing us for His Promises. The Lord has given us purpose and potential with a plan for successful abundance. He is getting me out of the way. When this work is finished, it will not be for my glory. It is for His Glory.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) When King Nebuchadnezzar turned up the heat of the furnace seven times hotter, the three Hebrew men were not cheering. They did not goad the king. They simple stated their faith. God will deliver us or redeem us either way we are not bowing down, giving in or giving up on the Lord. (Paraphrase) The heat of the fire may seem hotter than ever before – it just means that there is purpose and potential inside of us yet to be discovered. God is burning away every impurity because of His Love, Grace and Mercy we will not be consumed. He is faithful. His Word is true. If we must go through the fire, He goes with us. The Lord will not leave us or forsake ever. He is with us always even to the ends of the earth. Lord, give me strength, endurance, persistence and perseverance to make it through the test to triumph. I want to live for your Glory and if that means walking through fiery trials so be it. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world!

Romans 8:34-37 (NIV) Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

 

New Gate

New Gate

Psalm 84:10-11 (NLT) A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Have you ever heard the expression “like a cow looking at a new gate”? You know the look of bewilderment, perplexity, uncertainty or even just a dazed and confused expression. The same look when you get by asking our kids to clean their room for the umpteenth time like it is a new rule in your house. I wonder if that is how the Lord feels when the gateway of opportunity swings wide yet our faith cannot seem to muster the first step because the next one is not clearly visible. Who will dare to enter the open gate? Who will seize the day? Who will walk in the new thing set before them with the same bold confidence of the past things that God has done? His Faithfulness is not in question. The Lord offers us new opportunities to love, trust, obey and be blessed by Him.

I wonder what “new thing” God is doing in your life today. Is it similar to mine? Is it the same gate I have passed through before, am coming to now or will navigate in the future? Each day is a new opportunity in the life of every believer. His Mercy meets us and His Unfailing Love and Goodness continues its pursuit of the believer. His Potential, Purpose and Promises are all lined up ready to go. Can you see them? Do you feel them? Can you reach out and grab hold of them? Yeah, me either. Dreams and visions fill my head. Thoughts form and circle that there must be more than this but how do we live behind the mediocre and mundane to explore miracles. How do I stop being ordinary to embrace extraordinary? Do I really want to settle for less than God’s Best or select substitutions to cut corners and make time speed by? The answer is “no”… I want all that God has for me. I desire that which Jesus died for me to have coming back to life on the third day to hand it to me. Finally, His Spirit lives in me. The driving force and motivator of more faith and the one who builds confident hope within. There is more to life than this and it is inside the new gate.

Genesis 28:16-18 (NLT) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it.

What a fine mess? Family drama and dysfunction at its best. None of us would know what that is all about now would we… Jacob is fleeing the wrath of Esau. He stole his birthright out from under him and take the blessing of the first son as well. In fear his mother arranged for him to give live with his uncle, Laban. So Jacob left his home. As he laid down his head that night, I wondered if he felt a twinge of regret mixed with loneliness. Was the blessing that didn’t belong to him worth it? Did he feel sadness that he was now separated from his family? While he was sleeping, Jacob had a dream. He saw the heavens open and a stairway connecting heaven and earth. Angels were traveling up and down the stairs. At the top of the threshold was the Lord who told Jacob, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

What happens when the access point of opportunity to inherit the blessings of God do not look like what we thought they should or do not come the way we decided they would? What happens when things get worse before they get better? What happens when our expectation is not immediately met but predestined to take time, endurance and patience? What about those times? God opens new opportunities to us each day. His Promise to work every detail for our good means that in every situation a miracle can happen and His Word still will come to pass even when the gate marked “change” is not what we wanted or has left us broken in the field.

John 10:1-4 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.”

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6) There are no shortcuts when it comes to our relationship with God the Father. No one is righteous – not a single person. It is only through Jesus Christ, we are made right with God the Father. Who the Son sets free is free to choose the gates entered and bypassed in life. Righteousness does not always mean that people will walk in the blessings and favor of God. It is a personal choice to pursue the Lord and walk in His Ways. By faith, new gates are crossed over and new life achieved.

Psalm 24:3-8 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.

It is from this place of underserved and unearned grace that God’s Glory is on the verge of pouring over from Heaven into our life. We have the opportunity to walk in the Favor of God but our willingness is up to each of us. Who can climb the mountain of the Lord? Submitting one’s life and surrendering to God’s Way begins in His Word. The Word of God is who Jesus is. It is how we know Him and identify with Him in our life. True repentance begins the climb to a higher standard of living yet a lowering of our heart to humble ourselves before the Lord. All relationships take effort. It is work to maintain a good one. Maybe it’s not the gate you find perplexing but the mountain on the other side.

Jacob was all about acquisition, but what was coming was acquiescence. God is all about establishing a strong, solid relationship with His Beloved. (That’s us!) He desires us more than anything yet too often we desire everything else but God. Pouring our life out for our families, jobs, causes, and hobbies – there is nothing left for the Lord and very little energy or interest in what lies beyond the new gate. Can I just get some rest? Take a nap? Steal away a few hours for some “me-time”? Jacob saw heaven open before him and ministering angels going back and forth from heaven to earth. Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but when presented with the new gate – Jacob entered in. “Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22) When adversity came Esau rebelled, but Jacob chose obedience.

Isaiah 26:1-4 (NLT) In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

No matter what lies in the past, peace is always our future in the Lord. Our city (His Kingdom) is strong! We are surrounded by God’s Salvation and filled with His Spirit including resurrection life and power accessed by faith in God. The righteous ALWAYS have access to the Kingdom. It is never restricted or limited. We are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ that leads to true repentance. Turning from our old life, and pursuing new life. Opportunities are presented to us each day. His Word is filled with instructions to claim promise after promise and experience blessing after blessing. There is no limitation in the Lord. In fact, He meets and exceeds all expectation. We must only trust Him to boldly and confidently pass through the passages of life with our eyes on the Gate and willingness to enter in. Trust the Lord always and He presents those who do with perfect peace. The same God who gave Jacob peace and promise in a dark pasture on a lonely night is ready to do the exact same thing for you and me.

Psalm 118:19-21 (NLT) Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

New challenges. New trials. New opportunities. In all of life’s changes, God is with you. He gives us victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what lies in the next season just a step over the threshold of a brand new day – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is with you in your past, with you in the present and with you in the future. The Lord feels the same about you whether yesterday you lived in victory or experienced the agony of defeat. All sin is covered. All mistakes potential messages. Every test may be your testimony. You overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. His Name is Jesus. He is the Gate. You can enter in knowing He loves you. He will care for you. He will make you victorious no matter how impossible it seems so enter His Gates with thanksgiving and praise!

Psalm 100:3-5 (NLT) Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 

 

Keep Striking the Arrows

Keep Striking the Arrows

2 Kings 13:17-19 (NLT) Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.” Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

Have you ever tried to tackle closet that is too full? The spare room or office that has become a catch-all? When I was visiting my daughter a week before her move, there was not a box packed or closet emptied. She was overwhelmed. Pregnant. Relocating for the second time in just a few months. A 21-hour plus drive from the north to the south. The journey from promise to reality is no joke. Anything worth having requires an investment. It is not uncommon or unusual to get dismayed when our process seems delayed, detoured or distant. The Lord often has to undo us to redo everything for our best and according to His Glory. We become uncomfortable as our life is inconvenient. Things seem chaotic and out of control as God remakes our life, shapes us and molds our character. His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts so much higher.

I guess I am at the place some call middle age. It doesn’t bother me too much other than there are some things that God has promised that haven’t come to pass. In fact, there are some things that seem downright impossible. I am the person who loves spring and fall cleaning. I love to take things apart, put them back together, organize and reorganize. Chaos is not my favorite. I prefer control and insight rather than those times when the Lord keeps us in the stillness of waiting without the ability to see what lies ahead. Yesterday, I did a gut check. I sought the Lord on my current position. Am I where you want me, Lord? Am I doing what you want me to do? I need to know what to do, Lord. “Keep striking the arrows…” Hmm…

Romans 4:20-24 (NLT) Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

I have heard this message taught about the king who sought instruction from Elisha. The potency and power in his words may just be that it was the final ones of the prophet’s natural life. The first arrow shot from the window was the “Lord’s arrow” and I believe it marked the promise. The promise that was in the distance. The promise of victory not yet attained. Do you have a promise? Does it seem like it is taking forever? David was anointed to be king 22 years before it happened. Joseph had a dream but did not know that it included a pit, slavery, false accusations, and famine. Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations but it took 90 years to have his first child. God is not a man. He does not lie or change His Mind. The promise and plan for our life is secure. His Call is irrevocable. His Word cannot return to Him lacking fulfillment. This does not mean that the Lord will hurry it up, change it up or in any way lessen its perfection or completion to accommodate our confidence, control, comfort and/or convenience.

With this in mind, my attention is drawn to the other arrows. I know the Promises of God spoken to me and outlined in His Word. Some have manifested and others just out of reach. In order to reach fulfillment, I must “keep striking the arrows.” What does that even mean? If you are like me, too invested to go back now and looking in the distance as if it is too far – I believe this is for us today. Tired of running the race, but too stubborn to give up now.  Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. Elisha grew angry with the king. Why did you stop at just three times? Why stop short? What if these arrows had inscriptions on each shaft? Instructions written by the Hand of God to encourage us today.

Faith

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

As believers, we must strike out in faith every single day. Faith is the very thing that pleases God. Without faith, there is no righteousness. We cannot come to the Father except by having faith in His Son, Jesus. The first arrow is clearly marked faith. Faith in Jesus. Faith in God. Faith in the promise. Faith that cannot give up on the reality of confident hope in our life.

Endurance

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Endurance produces character in Christians. (Romans 5:3-4) Jesus said that the one who endures to the end will be saved. We must work consciously every day to strip off the weight of sin and even laziness to purse God. It is important. The second arrow is marked endurance. This arrow is haggard and a bit ragged but will be the one that goes the farthest in achieving godly purpose and wins the pursuit of righteousness but it ref uses to fall short.

Patience

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

The ugliest arrow is marked patience. No one likes to wait. Everyone is always in a hurry. Patience is not optional but integral when it comes to the things of God. Everything has a season and time in our life. It doesn’t mean that it makes sense to us but is sequential to the fulfillment ordered by the Lord for your life. Patience is our response to God’s Promises. It is the supplement of faith that keeps us yoked to the Lord. It quiets our busyness. It softens our timeline. It allows us to step back and see things from another perspective. We must learn patient endurance to make it to completion. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Patience is better than pride that insists on its way in its own time. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Humility

James 4:18 (NLT) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Humility is the broken arrow. The arrow that finally gives way to God’s Will. This arrow has been through some battles. It has won some and lost many in its own vain attempts at glory. Now full accepting the grace of God it gives up its own way to follow Him. The Bible says that we must clothe ourselves in humility. God creates humbling opportunities but ultimately it is a personal decision to surrender our will and way to Jesus Christ.

Obedience

I Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

God’s Word is our instruction book for life. Like any list of instructions, if you skip one, your expectation should change as well. To expect the same results with only partial obedience is silly. If you skip a step in a recipe, you risk ruining the meal. We must read the Handbook of Life which is our directions. The arrow marked obedience is essential. It is a quiet arrow that listens more than it talks. The Word sharpens its tip so that it will not fly off course. Jesus is our example of complete obedience. (Philippians 2:7-10)

Perseverance

I Timothy 6:11-12 (NLT) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Perseverance is steady persistence. It is continuance in a state of grace to the end. It is to continue to fight the good fight of faith even when you don’t feel it, see it or know if you really want it. It is the arrow that is the heaviest because there are times you cannot even lift it… but somehow by His Grace you do. These are the arrows to strike the ground with. They are not aimed at the enemy or other people. Jesus Christ has made you victorious. He has overcome the world. He has handed His Victory to you. Live like it.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT) All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Hebrews 12:11-13 (NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

May the Lord give you a new grip today. To grab hold of these arrows and continue striking the ground until your victory comes. Do not give up. Discipline is essential. It is not always pleasant but will always be worth it. The satisfaction of finishing far outweighs the trouble it took to get there. You can do this. You have all everything you need at your disposal. Run with purpose in each step. Don’t shadowbox. Your time is worth more than that. Take a rest. Don’t give up or give in but press in to the Father today. He is for you. Jesus has handed you the victory – pursue it. Keep striking those arrows and surely it will come to pass!

 

 

Where’s My Blessing?

Wheres My Blessing

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

God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. I am united with Christ. Where is it? Where is the “every spiritual blessing” that is clearly indicated in the Word of God? Why don’t I see it manifested in my everyday life? His Word says also that the Lord’s Goodness is for the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13) Confidence plays a key role in accepting every spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly realms. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6) The access point to reestablishing a relationship with God the Father. He is the only way to the Father who has our inheritance. An access point is only as relevant as our ability to enter it. To walk through it and move in the appropriate direction. In order to receive spiritual blessing, there must be a turnaround and movement in the appropriate pathway to have what is beyond this point. Many will open the doorway to heaven, but few will enter it.

The first step of the journey is faith and confidence is the momentum that keeps us going in the right direction. Believing is not enough if trust never produces movement toward that which is desired. Demons believe in God and His Son, Jesus. They tremble at the mention of His Name. If only God’s People might do the same, given a free will – obedience is the response to such revelation. Those who choose to obey will step into every spiritual blessing reserved for them in Heaven before stepping into eternity.

Numbers 20:9-12 (NLT) So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”

“Because you did not trust me enough…” I am convinced this is the limitation in our natural life. We do not trust God enough. Partial obedience demonstrates a lack of trust in God. God tells us to do something so controversial to what He has done in the past or that which has ever been done so we cut corners or compromise on His Word. To review, the people were complaining to Moses and Aaron (as usual) this time about their lack of water. They were thirsty. They approached the men with their complaints, whining, moaning and groaning so the two retreated to the tabernacle to seek God on the matter. The Lord gave Moses and Aaron explicit instructions to satisfy the people and demonstrate His Glory. Everything seems good so far…right? We pray to the Lord and He answers with careful instruction. The Spirit of God convicts us with nudging and urgings to trust the Lord and do what He says.

Moses went before the people just like the Lord said to do. But rather than raising His Voice which God told him to do, Moses struck the rock as he had done in the past. Ugh! Water came gushing out. Yay, God! Wait hold on! The people were satisfied. Everyone was happy. However, God was not pleased. Moses did not obey the Word of the Lord completely. He did what he had done before. He relied on his previous experience rather than stepping out in faith. He kept control and did what he was comfortable doing and God delivered to the people but Moses would pay a terrible price. The Lord told his servant, “You will not lead them into the land I am giving them.”

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT) “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) From glory to glory – God changes us to be more like Christ through radical faith, constant confidence and absolute obedience. The Glory in us is the Light of the World – Jesus Christ. As we submit our way to Him and yoke our life to Him – His Glory resonates through us and around us including the windows of Heaven opening and pouring out spiritual blessing. He will not do anything in our life without doing something in us first. I was made for the Glory of God. I was made to give glory to God through His Son, Jesus. My life should point to God’s Grace and Goodness and nothing I do. With this in mind, the error of Moses serves as revelation to us. We can reach heaven and still miss heaven on earth.

Moses did not enter the Promised Land for which he labored in leading the people. Why? He did not obey God fully. It did not exempt him from eternity but robbed him of success on the earth in this area. God made water flow from a rock in Exodus 17. When it came time to go before the people again, Moses reverted to experience rather than the new way God had instructed. Comfort over confidence – it happens all the time. The three C’s that threaten our confidence in God and ability to trust Him are comfort, convenience and control. God is going to move you out of your comfort to experience His Glory. Faith is often inconvenient. His Glory is beyond our control. You must decide that you will obey God to the very end and in every detail to have the fulfillment attached. The promise is accepted when faith and trust overcome fear and doubt.

“For I am about to do something new.” To walk by faith and not by sight means God’s Way is not always clearly visible or humanly logical. That’s why it requires faith. We are becoming a new creation. God is always doing new things. Miracles require the impossible. God gets the Glory completely when we lose all control. When there is nothing left to do but trust the Lord – His Light shines from our life. Obedience connects us to every spiritual blessing. Why? God doesn’t lie or change His Mind. His Word cannot return to Him void or without doing exactly as He said. It will not change course or redirect for you. Therefore God’s Mind is made up long before the trial or trouble comes our way. He already made a way. We just have to trust Him enough to do what He says completely.

Deuteronomy 28:1-8 (NLT) “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.  “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!  “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands… What if we made this the mandate of our life? God has given us this Book of Instructions like a cookbook of delicious recipes. Each one leads to spiritual blessing, increase, favor and abundance. We want the outcome but chose partial obedience. Picking and choosing those things that do not compromise our comfort, convenience and/or control but then wonder why we are not experiencing the success and prosperity promised. If you pick and choose to obey some of the steps in a recipe or substitute the ingredients you will alter the outcome. You may like what you get or maybe throw it in the garbage as inedible. The moment you decide to compromise is the same time when you decide for a differing result. A pilot must set the coordinates of the airplane with precision or risk reaching the destination. Obedience is not forced upon us, but a God-given choice every day. I don’t understand why one would pray for financial provision from God when they do not obey the Biblical mandate to tithe. That’s like going to a bank I do not have an account in and asking for my money. If you pick and choose obedience, you pick and choose your blessing right along with it.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) 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.

Who doesn’t want the blessing of the Lord on their life? Who would shun God’s Favor? Everyone wants to prosper in their home, church and business? Those who are serious about basking in the Glory of God will seek Him wholeheartedly which includes obedience in all things. God has promised every spiritual blessing. He is our Provider. We have an ample supply of whatever we need and the means to do it for His Kingdom. Like the widow woman, we must act obediently first with finding what we have and then using it for the Glory of God. Her supply did not run out until her jars did. Our faith is the conduit of blessing in our life. To believe will lead to obedience. Obedience always releases the full blessing of God when it is wholehearted and uncompromised. So try something new today? Go to the Lord. Seek Him in His Word. Do exactly what it says. Spiritual blessing, prosperity and abundance will follow when we take Him at His Word.

Psalm 84:11 (NLT) For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV) Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In a little classroom after a powerful church service, the leaders gathered at the pastor’s request. I knew what was coming, it had been stirring in me for a couple weeks. He called a time of fasting and praying. Ugh! The moment the words came pouring out of his mouth, my stomach responded. Suddenly, all I could think of was my next meal. It’s funny how our flesh reacts to discipline. It doesn’t matter how many times diet, exercise and yes, even fasting and praying has yielded positive results – our flesh hates discipline on every level. Spending time with the Lord, I have heard over and over again – it’s time to give up comfort, convenience and control. It’s time to press harder and reach farther than ever before. Not that I have already attained it…not that I am already perfected…but I press on…

What’s all the fuss? I mean really isn’t fasting Old Testament living. Is it religious? What’s the point of self-denial? Discipline is the heart of discipleship that yields results in us and through us. I used to go to the gym three or four times a week. My physical condition was better than even my youth. Why did I stop? Responsibilities took the time. I moved away from the convenient location of my gym membership. I became overwhelmed by work and church. No matter how positively my life was impacted or what my excuse, I gave in to comfort and became complacent about my health. Excuses limit our life. I am too busy for anything means that you have decided to spend your time and are not satisfied with how it is portioned. Everyone has the exact same amount of time and the freedom to use it by our choosing. Responsibilities is the yoke that is chosen. Taking on too much is a human choice not God-given calling. Who He calls He equips! So here I am the day before the fast begins arguing with myself – truly flesh and spirit are debating.

I am sharing the details not to point to anything good in me. I am not telling you to fast or not to fast simply what fasting can produce in a life yielded to God by faith. I have successfully accomplished times of fasting and then others when I have failed miserably in my flesh. When I sat down this morning, it was with mixed emotions. Isn’t that what faith is sometimes? We want what God has promised but do not want to do what He says to have it. Faith is not pretending but believing God with our natural life including all conditions and circumstances. The fine line believe confession and confidence is achieved by silencing one of the two. Fasting kills our flesh and enable our spirit to regain control.

One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…

Experience is a form of education. It conditions the mind as far as expectation. Even living a Christian life, our expectation is constantly being molded and shaped by experience. It is important to evaluate our expectation and live in expectancy. God wants to accomplish more than we can think or ask in our life. He does this through faith. Faith occurs when we stop trying to do something by our own efforts and trust someone else to do it for us. Faith is the one attitude that is exactly the opposite of trusting ourselves. Faith is not pretending but living in confident belief of God’s Power in our life and that He is willing to do the impossible for us.

I have experienced miracles firsthand. The unexplainable and undeniable move of God completely independent of anything I could have accomplished on my own or that which anyone else could have exacted in my life. Just as important as forgetting the past including shame, regret, failure and frustrations, we must not attempt to reproduce yesterday’s move of God in the present. Religion is the art of repetitiveness. A relationship with Jesus Christ is Resurrection Power and New Life as a new creation. He wants to do something new and different every single time. Experience is like a recipe made over and over producing the same thing. God is not looking for sacrifices of old, or fasting in the form of routine. He is looking for a rending of the human heart so He can produce new life and new glory in His People.

Lukewarm living takes over when church becomes a service. When our religious routine loses its willingness to do whatever it takes for God to move in our midst. My life is better knowing Christ. Preachers encourage me in the Word of God. The Word of God washes over me and refreshes me each day. His Spirit works in me to renew my thoughts and motivation. Prayer keeps me connected to Jesus and the Father. But still, like any relationship, we must work to avoid monotony that leads to disregard for the precious ember and burning passion that brings love to life. Living not by “you know that I love you” in the realm of “I am going to make sure you KNOW that I love you”. Dead church does represent the Kingdom because His Kingdom is a remnant of living breathing bodies pursing Him day by day by faith and trust in the God of the Impossible and His Viable Interest in us as His Children.

Reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Joel 2:12-13 (NKJV) “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”

Living in waves of amazing grace, it is easy to become complacent. Our life is better than we hoped for but not all that God has promised. We settle in the place of comfort afraid to test the limits of God with radical obedience. What if there is an end to His Love? What if grace has a capacity? What if God is not the God of the Impossible? What if hope only an elusive dream? Why push it? When the end comes, will Jesus know me? I wonder if in taking advantage of His Grace, we miss the open door of opportunity marked obedience. Obedience to Christ is more than just doing, serving and ministering. Full obedience is giving Him our life. All of it including every facet of our being, living, doing, working and loving. We do not HAVE TO but do it because we want to. Freedom will never require anything of us that we are not willing to give or liberty is lost. Fasting and praying rends our heart and allows God to inspect the contents removing those things that keep us from fulfillment.

Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; our sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:32 (NKJV) And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

A remnant is a small part or quantity. God is looking for a place and people to literally pour out His Spirit to. Will it be me? Will it be you? There is only a remnant of believers who will experience such an outpouring. It comes at the price of self. We must be moved out of the way in order to make room for Christ to expand and be expressed in our life. He must increase and I must decrease. Fasting is the vehicle of miracles. It is the place where faith is exercised and used in order to be strengthened and renewed. It is the place of dreams and visions becoming a reality as in our personal weakness – God’s Power is manifested. In those days…meaning it hadn’t happened yet. We are the remnant church. Those who continually seek to know Him more and exchange comfort, convenience and control to drain the depths of complacency giving way to an outpouring of God’s Spirit in us and through us. We must reach for it. Press toward it. Strain our flesh to obtain it. We must answer the call to fast and pray like never before.

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:16-21 (NKJV)  Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 

Faith is the art of heavenly acquisition. Pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ requires faith. The thing about faith is it is likened to a mustard seed. Seed holds potential. Seed reproduces. Seed is filled with perpetual life. If we put a seed in the ground, it must grow, develop and mature to reach its full potential. It must endure many seasons. A seed’s potential is not evident in its present form. It must be planted deep in the ground and hidden in darkness for the work to begin. There is a process. If the seed never makes it through the hard layers of fear, doubt and insecurity into our heart, it cannot grow and reach its full potential. We must rend our hearts in order for the potential of faith evident in God’s Word to become the reality of our life. Faith is absolutely essential in the fulfillment of God’s People. Not sometimes faith, yesterday’s faith but the perpetual planting and harvesting of new and greater faith in God.

Abraham is the father of faith. God who “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” is ready. What is dead? What is dormant? There is a difference. The dead things in us must go so that God can awaken that which has only been dormant. Impossible things are possible by faith in Jesus Christ. All those dead dreams and lost visions are not gone forever just submerged in the comfort, convenience and control. Once complacency becomes confidence in the God who brings dead things to life and speaks invisible things into reality suddenly your natural will become supernatural. It is going to take some effort on your part to haul your flesh to the altar binding it with strong faith. Is it time to call a fast? I wonder…may I ask you a question? What are you trusting and believing the Lord to do in you, through you and for you? Can you do it yourself? If not, fasting and praying brings the impossible to endless possibilities by faith! We must be fully convinced that God will do what He promised and is able to perform it.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NKJV) And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I often joke with people if you see me running you should run to because something must be chasing me. I am not a runner though I would love to run a marathon one day. I think the Princess Run at Walt Disney World would be so much fun. Trekking along in tiaras and tutus, call me crazy. Anyway, I cannot imagine finally entering a marathon, running the course, and finding no reward at the finish line. Just a line to cross without any cheering or medals essentially no victory or glory. Nothing to celebrate, just getting in the car and heading home. When we compete it is for a prize, the thought of disqualification is bad enough but if there is nothing to gain why do it?

Am I comfortable? Am I holding on to convenience? Am I maintaining control in my life? Am I confident in Christ or my own ability? Am I fighting the good fight of faith or simply beating the air? Am I a true disciple or just following a crowd of Christians? Am I complacent? Lukewarm? I would like to answer a resounding “NO” to all these things but I am not sure. The only way to be confident in our hope is to fully accept God’s Grace, Mercy and Love by faith. Faith that is not reliant on what we see but who we know. If there is no passion in my praise, worship and obedience to Christ, then I am in danger of being disqualified. This love affair is not ordinary but extraordinary. To be successful, I must endure to the end. Am I holding on by a thread?

Tomorrow begins this new journey with new expectation. Subjecting my flesh to discomfort, inconvenience and surrendering control of my entire life to Jesus Christ all over again. Confident hope and complete faith marked by total trust requires a challenge or test. I am called to God so must strive and reach for Him daily to achieve it. Is God calling you to fast and pray? If your first response is absolutely not or no way – you might consider it as your flesh speaks out against it. I encourage you to try it. It doesn’t have to radical just ask the Lord to reveal something to you to give up and fill that time with prayer and create expectancy by releasing all of yesterday’s expectations and experiences to fully embrace fulfillment in Christ.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Psalm 27:7-8 (NLT) Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”