Same Old Way

Same Old Way

Psalm 18:30 (ESV) This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Oh how I hate stains. They are my arch nemesis. It’s funny that the older I get the more like my grandmother I become. She was a nurse back when the profession wore bright white uniforms – spotless and starched. She never used bleach yet her uniforms meticulous. She always hung out her clothes and rarely used her clothes dryer. She believed the harsh chemicals and high heat were not good for fabric. I have taken to some of her ways. So when our little grandson stained his onesie with baby food with blueberry and blackberry, I was in a frenzy to get the purple spot out. After a quick treatment and run through the wash still showed a faint mark where the bright colored stain once was – it was time for stronger measures. I tried everything I could think of while in the back of my mind I was telling myself it is probably less than $5.00 to replace it but now it was the point. Standing over the sink, surrounded by modern day cleaning solutions, and staring at my ominous opponent, I remembered my mission trip to Africa. I brought a white skirt and it was soiled in the orange clay indigenous to the area. The ladies who did the missionary’s laundry had my stained garment laying over a rock in the sun while hanging the rest on the line to dry. Applying some baking soda and a bit of lemon juice to the blemished apparel, it was now laying out allowing the sun to finish the work. The skirt was spotless by the end of the day. I tried it on the onesie minus the sun and the spot disappeared. Oh glorious day!

This God – His Way is perfect! Too many times – God’s Instructions for life are disregarded as out-of-date, old-fashioned, and impossible in this world of settlements and substitutions called compromise. We disregard the lessons that seem simple for the much more elaborate plans of society forgetting that normal will change with each turn of the calendar page. God is sovereign. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. But that’s not all – He is filled with unfailing love, unending grace, overwhelming thoughts, and forever patient with us. With all this in mind, before our first breath turned into a cry, the Lord predestined us with potential and purpose carefully handwriting the details forming His Plan. (Psalm 139) As I sit here pondering how simple removing the stain and achieving victory was a few moments ago, I cannot help but consider the missed opportunities caused by choosing another way rather than trusting and believing that He is the way! God’s Way is perfect!

Deuteronomy 32:3-4 (ESV) For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Is this the declaration of your life today? Is it the dedication and determination of your life? To declare it is just words but when it becomes our dedication and determination which turns into discipline everything changes. Our declaration turns into the prophetic voice that leads us to destiny. To ascribe greatness to God and never move from this season or exceed your current condition is evidence that though your voice says that God is great – your heart, mind and soul are yet to agree. When our soul prospers so does the rest of our life. It is a natural reaction to the supernatural response of those who choose faith and trust to back up their words. God is the immovable rock which is good news for us. We will never have to wander to find Him or wonder if He will be faithful. The Truth is His Word. The Word is His Son. Jesus always leads us from grace to grace and victory to victory.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. Both of these characters will always produce new life. Choosing God’s Way is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was the Word. When He came to the earth as a man, the man obeyed the Word set forth flawlessly. Since sin had separated mankind from God, Jesus died to allow us to enter the Presence of God and become His Children. The Word did not change in order to accommodate our sin but paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God doesn’t change so it is up to us to align our life with God’s Word. I cannot have a fully functioning and flourishing life as a believer outside of obedience to God’s Way. His Word. Jesus.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (ESV) Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Could it be that the Lord is calling us to be the “repairer of the breach” or “restore of streets to dwell in”. It is not our mission or the great commission to save the world. God’s Heart and Mind is set on His People. To prepare the way of the return of the Lord to bring us all together as His Kingdom. The unity and harmony called Kingdom starts with agreement to terms. The terms and conditions of our life do not change. God has set them forth in His Word. The Word is a guide to success and prosperity as a direct result of salvation. Obedience is the only requirement. It is our choice thanks to freedom. It is silly to get mad when others are blessed or prospering when it is an opportunity in our life as well. The terms of God’s Word are non-negotiable or He would be like any other man who could lie or change his mind. God is perfect in ALL of His Ways.

I cannot help but examine my heart today for obedience in all things. I must continue to study God’s Word, apply it first to my heart and make it my lifestyle. It is in such agreement that the Power of God who is Christ in me is released to change the atmosphere. I believe that it is his message to us today that it will be simple repentance and obedience to His Word that will cause the radical revival that the modern day church is desperate for. It begins in me. I am the rebuilder. I am the restorer of the breach. I must simply rely on the Rock who is my refuge and Jesus (the Word) who is the foundation of my faith.

Psalm 118:21-13 (ESV) I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Advertisements

Abraham Moments

Abraham Moments

Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Abraham waited 99 years for the birth of his promised son, Isaac. Well advanced past the age of child bearing, it seemed impossible that his wife, Sarah, could conceive yet just as the messenger of the Lord prophesied she would she did. Now years later – some scholars believe that Isaac was in his mid-thirties when Abraham led him to the land of Moriah as God instructed. More than 30 years old means a life of memories, watching his son grow, mature and develop into a man and now God asks his father the one thing that is most precious to him. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Why would Isaac freely go to the altar realizing full well that his life would be required? There is but one word to describe it and you don’t want to hear it. Obedience.

Obedience smacks our pride in the face as it always requires more than our flesh wants to give. Like a hot poker, striking the most sensitive part of our heart to refine us and make us holy and willing. The purpose is to prosper us but it feels like death to that not so freely given. The sacrifice of God provided by His Son, Jesus, is demonstrated by the Abraham moment. Are you willing to give up that thing most precious by faith trusting in God’s Plan? The realm of hope yielded the promise now the promise is required for more. How quickly people stop praying when the answer comes? How immediately is yesterday’s miracle forgotten and tomorrow’s worries consume us again? Taking that which is good and forgetting that our life in God is always ready to yield more. Are you having an Abraham moment? What is the Lord requiring of you today? God is not looking for a sacrifice. He is only searching for obedience.

But what if He doesn’t provide? What if He doesn’t do what He said? What if… We as believers do not serve a “what if” God but a “when He does” kind of God. He is always faithful. He is always good. He is not like man that He should lie or change His Mind. Why would a perfect God change His Perfect Plan? We must be changed. Our hearts soft and reverent in our pursuit of Him. There may be something good required but it is only God’s Greatness that is in store. In fact, He promises it will be more than we can think to ask for or even imagine. Faith is born in obedience. Faith will always require trust. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our faith is weak until it is tested. Will you place that thing on the altar of the Lord and wait for Him to act?

I Samuel 15:21-23 (ESV) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

When a young soldier attends boot camp it is with the intent and purpose to tear down and rebuild the person and develop strong character. The kind of character that relies on obedience to guide each action. This is imperative to the strength of the troop and success in each mission. If there is rebellion or division, the entire group is compromised and in danger from the enemy. It is complete unity and absolute obedience that a strong front is presented. Obedience requires absolute faith and trust in the one who is in charge. To literally put your life and well-being in the words and commands of such an individual. It is no different with the Lord. Completion in Christ requires obedience. Too many times like poor Saul, our power and authority are taken from us because sacrifice is misguided by doing what we want rather than relying on absolute obedience. Tired of waiting? Pressing on wearing you out? Persevering uncomfortable? I encourage you to continue in your well doing and do not grow weary. God desires full obedience because He already made the perfect sacrifice. He wants you to hear His Word and do what He says even if it means lugging to the altar what you value the most. He is really pulling your heartstrings to see if you will meet Him there.

Romans 16:17-20 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Success in the Abraham moments of life changes every outcome for the better. What is sacrifice anyway? It must be something we have to give. Well, every good thing in our life comes from God so it is not our sacrifice. The sacrifice can only be one thing. It is our freedom. Freedom to hold on to that which is good and give it back to Him as required. To sacrifice implies that something I have is of greater worth than anything given to me by the Lord. Think again. It all is from God and it all belongs to Him. My very life once given to Christ in exchange for salvation is not my own any longer. Obedience is my free will to give the Lord what He is asking for. It is the very thing that pleases Him.

The power of obedience is its ability to “the God of Peace” who will “crush Satan under your feet.” When we obey the Lord, the enemy loses all power in our life because there is nothing held in higher regard than our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. It is a full demonstration of allegiance to His Kingdom which backs our stand with armies of angels at the command of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The empowerment of God by faith and trust is when in the midst of great loss or suffering – obedience is chosen over any other act or reasoning. It is the moment that every argument is cast down and our hope fully embraced. When arguments and lofty opinions give way to punishing all disobedience and living in the freedom of total obedience. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) A mind made up in God will always strive for obedience in God’s Word and His Way because it is our connection to His Kingdom. Which leads me to our primary example…

Hebrews 5:7-10 (ESV) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

The act of obedience demonstrated by Jesus Christ is our example. He prayed for God to deliver Him from the Cross and when God asked for obedience that is exactly what Jesus gave Him…and for us. There is no temptation or trial that overtakes us because even in death there is victory for the believer. The struggle in this life is to have faith and trust God in all things. We have Abraham moments when the Lord tests us looking for obedience. He loves us. He doesn’t want to harm us but to make sure that our heart is set on Him above all things. Idols in our life are quickly identified when God asks us for it. Pride is exposed when our answer is an excuse. An outright “no” driven by fear reveals hidden doubt keeping us from God’s Promises in the first place. Obedience is not God’s Punishment it is a privilege to come to Him and in return, He can do exactly as He promised. What is God asking of you today? Will you obey? Jesus did. Will you? Will I?

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

At the Carwash

At the Carwash

Psalm 19:7-8 (NLT) The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Thankfully my to-do list for Saturday was not too long, but on it was the task of washing the car. I believe that if I take care of the vehicle that I have that the Lord just may bless me with the vehicle I want. My minivan turned into a Suburban which turned into a Honda so who knows… I was all set to wash it in the driveway when my sweet husband suggested the carwash. Living in Florida, it is near 100 degrees before midday. One of our daughter’s friends chimed in that there was a free vacuum and other amenities included so why not? Armed with my list of errands, I drove to the brand new establishment. It was definitely busy as others lined up for services. Pulling in there are a series of arrows guiding cars through the area to the actual car wash line. There is a virtual cashier to select a level of clean and pay the fee. Pulling forward a host of service folks, tape down wipers scrubbing windows and bumpers. One of the attendants guides you forward to engage your vehicle in the machine until your wheels lock into place. At that point, she points to three simple instructions: 1) Put the car in neutral; 2) Take your foot off the brake; and 3) Let go of the steering wheel. Once I had done all these things, my car went through the cycles of the wash until I was depositing back into the glaring sunshine. One last choice, do I turn right and head out or left to finish the job. Choices. Life is full of choices. Each day we must determine whose instructions to follow.

Two or three minutes doesn’t seem like a long time to think but the hamster on my wheel runs really fast. My thoughts were flooded as soapy water covered the car. As an adult, there are countless decisions in a single day. We choose the life we live according to those choices and the consequences of each action. My husband did not force me to use the carwash yesterday. He simply suggested it as an option. I chose to take his advice. I was not disappointed. I was able to choose the cleaning level and pay for the service. I was satisfied. At the end of the carwash, I turned left to wipe off the leftover water and vacuum the car. I made those choices. Now my vehicle is shiny and smells good. How many times that the Lord offers simple instructions for life that I choose to ignore? Each new day comes with mercy and probably simple instructions like “put it in neutral and let me lead you”, “take your foot off the brake and move into what I have prepared for you” or “take your hands off the wheel, I’ve got this”. Simple instructions for life that will refresh and revive even the weariest soul. Our heart and mind would get a much needed rest if only our daily dedication was to seek the Lord’s Instruction and do what He says.

The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Though it looked complicated with all the arrows, directives and barriers as I made my way through the process of the carwash. It really is a simple system. The end result was exactly as I expected. The decrees of the Lord are simple. It is our sinful flesh that longs for control that complicates our life and drowns out His Voice. I can trust the Lord in all things. Faith isn’t about seeing it’s about hearing the Word of God and doing it with full assurance. The Lord is faithful it is our own fickle heart that struggles.

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. One of the greatest fears of a Christian is the doubt that what the Lord has planned is better. Will I like it? Love it? Want it? Fear of disappointment overshadows the Light of God’s Love revealed in His Instructions that produce new hope and never leads to disappointment. Inexpressible joy is found in Jesus Christ. He is the Word. He is giving us good instructions and sound wisdom to live the best life possible now and forevermore. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

Psalm 119:17-18 (NLT) Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

Open my eyes, Lord. Yesterday, at the car wash inside the machine, I simply sat in the air conditioned comfort of my automobile as it was cleaned for me. I did not have to drive or steer just ride along. The car was cleaned. Tires shined. I didn’t even break a sweat. We work so hard to please the Lord. Finding new ways to serve Him. Trying to impress people. Doing, doing and doing some more. As I sat there, it hit me. Maybe all the Lord really wants us to do is what He says. God is good. He is good to us. He pursues us with unfailing love and goodness all the days of our life. Yet, we keep trying to do it our way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Word. To find life, it is Jesus who must know us. To know Him is to simply know His Word and trust Him enough to perfect it in our life. His Word is perfected in our life through obedience. Just doing what the Lord tells us to. It is not a big deal. It is very simple. Obedience begins with a choice. To choose to trust Him in each step…moment by moment…day by day!

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus… just to take Him at His Word…just to rest upon His Promise…just to know thus saith the Lord!”

Psalm 119:164-165 (NLT) I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just. Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.

The Willing

The Willing

Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

How far will you go? What is the promise worth to you? Four years ago, after multiple rounds of chemotherapy to no avail and fighting the insurance company to the end, our son received a bone marrow transplant. After a lengthy battle against cancer of about three years, the nightmare ended and he was finally in remission. Those who endure and survive the process now have a “new” birthday as such a procedure resets the immune system to an infantile state. Looking back, it never occurred to me not to fight the disease or advocate for our son. Giving up was not even a consideration and faith was the only option especially when crossing over to the realm of hope. Going into the transplant, he only had a 2% chance of survival. Without it, 100% change that he would die. Worth it? Absolutely as I look at the young man who has since graduated college and a very bright future. The potential of faith is revealed in obedience. Willingness comes when counting the cost to discover the worth. Our son’s life was priceless. Today, I must also consider the promises yet to be discovered. What does the Lord want to do next? Will I consider it “worth” my time and invest willingness to see it come to pass?

What is the worth of your hope today? When considering hopefulness in our life, it is relative to the perception of its value. The Lord promises that hope placed in Him will never lead us to disappointment yet still it is a struggle to follow Him sometimes. When the process includes endurance, waiting, patience and perseverance that challenge our flesh – heart, mind and body – what is our response? To be willing is to be cheerfully consenting, ready, and inclined. Religion requires obedience but a relationship consists of willingness. Unforced rhythms of giving ourselves willingly to oneness. Are you willing today? As Jesus prayed the night before Calvary, the Lord asked His Disciples to watch and pray. He found them sleeping. It is in that context the Lord reveals that though our spirit may be willing – our flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41) The weakness of our flesh is pride. Pride is the adversary of willingness that may keep us from the renewal, restoration and revival promised in God’s Word. Willingness defined by worth will become the sacrifice that God desires in our life.

Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

God desires a broken spirit. He longs to find a broken and contrite heart. God doesn’t despise these two things because it is the very thing that produces willingness in us. Obedience can be produced by our own motivation, hard work and discipline. Sacrifice is something that can be offered while self is preserved. When we put our self on the altar of God – it is the broken spirit that is willing. The broken and contrite heart becomes desperate. The Lord is not looking to tear us apart but rather create a beautiful masterpiece of the broken pieces. We must learn to submit our life willingly to Him rather than begrudgingly. To preserve our pride will often exempt us from the place of true sacrifice that honors God in the giving of ourselves – all of us to Him for renewal, restoration and revival. How far will you go to have the life that God has promised? How much of yourself will you give to the process in order to receive the promise? Is it worth it?

2 Kings 5:9-14 (ESV) So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Naaman was a commander of the army of Syria. A decorated soldier held in high esteem with the king. He was a great man who was highly favored. He was a godly man as indicated by the fact God’s Favor was upon him in the battles that he won. Naaman was a mighty man of valor according to the Word of God. Naaman was a leper. A servant girl told his wife that Naaman should go see the prophet in Samaria to seek healing. So Naaman went to the king who sent a letter to the king of Israel on his behalf. When Naaman came to the Elisha’s home, the prophet did not come to meet him but gave him the instructions to wash in the Jordan River seven times and that he would be healed with skin fully restored. Naaman’s pride almost kept him from his healing. The prophet did not greet him and then sent him to bathe in the filthiest river of them all. It would be his servants that encouraged Naaman to do the very thing that he was told to do willingly. Pride can be quite persuasive. It can dim the light of promise in a shadowy darkness of self-revelation of the ugly truth that God isn’t finished with us yet.

For example, if God is in the process of restoring a relationship. He may impress upon our heart to apologize even when the offense is unintended or not our fault. Instead, it is human nature to try to move on without it because it insults our pride. Our unwillingness will keep us stagnant and soon other relationships begin to fall victim to our stubborn stand. We want more of God but are unwilling to create a void through repentance and forbearance to allow God to heal us and the relationship. We must then determine the value and worth of the relationship in comparison with prideful preservation. True obedience to God begins with a willing heart. Are you willing today?

Isaiah 1:18-19 (ESV) “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land…”

Jesus Christ stepped down from His Throne to give up His Life for me. He took on humility when His Absolute Perfection did not have to do it. To be a true example of Jesus is not in just obedience. It begins with willingness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. God will not force you to do anything. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way to gain access to the Father. We can walk through life in full obedience and live a religious existence. Jesus did not come to aid religion but give us the opportunity to live in a relationship. We enter relationships willingly for if it were by force it would not be love. Sometimes we must evaluate the Gospel and all its words using some form of reasoning. It is not complicated but simple. We add the details because it makes us feel important when we “do” certain things. The bottom line is that God is always looking for those who are willing. Obedience is second to willingness. God can work with the willing. He can do miracles with the impossible. He has a Great Plan for you that only requires your “yes”.

Plenty

Plenty

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

The word “plenty” means a full or abundant supply. It is the open invitation when unexpected guests arrive at dinner time. Here in the South, the surprised host might say, “Please stay…there is plenty” knowing full well it will be a scramble in the kitchen. Somehow it always works out though. I wonder if the food in our pantry mysteriously doubles in the invitation to others. Could it be the meat in our freezer magically grows and expands to meet our hospitality? Who knows…but all I know is that there always seems to be more than enough.

God has promised us an abundant life. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. The Word of God tells us that He has already supplied all that we need. There are many stories of plenty in the Bible. The key to plenty in the Kingdom of God is obedience. To give with the full expectation that God is enough and Christ in us is sufficient as our Source and Supplier. When Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness, somehow the Children of God left Egypt with a rich supply for their pain and suffering. So much so that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. In the Book of Exodus, an opulent design is set forth for the Tabernacle’s construction and design including the wardrobe for the priesthood. Rich and luxurious lacking nothing completely extravagant. When the time came to build it, the people began bringing in the offerings. In Exodus 36, Moses commands the people to stop bringing gifts because “their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” They fled Egypt with only what they could carry yet still make it out alive. They had enough. In fact, they had more than enough. How is it even possible?

What about the widow woman in 2 Kings 4? Her husband, a man of God, has passed away and the debt collectors are threatening to come take her sons. She seeks out the prophet, Elisha who inquires, “Tell me, what do you in the house? The woman replies, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Oil often represents anointing. We are anointed. Christ, the Anointed One, resides inside of us. It is in her obedience to the prophet’s instructions that the flask of oil becomes barrels of oil. Watch this – the woman does as instructed. The oil stops when the vessels are full. She had enough to pay her debts AND to live on the leftovers. God is ready to pour out plenty in our lives. In fact, the Great Multiplier is already inside of you and me as believers. It is in obedience that plenty becomes the abundance that we are looking for and satisfaction is discovered.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. The secret to satisfaction is contentment. Not that God would ever prescribe us to settle for less than enough or living in lack but to learn to be content. This requires setting our full expectation on God the Father and depending on Christ in us for everything. Our needs, wants and desires are important to the Lord. His Spirit cultivates good fruit in us to feed our hungry soul the kinds of things that lead to satisfaction. As our soul prospers, our life will prosper in the expansion. God loves a cheerful giver. How much of your life are you willing to give to God’s Cultivation called prosperity? It begins in our heart. We must learn to trust in God’s Perfection and Planning. He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Matthew 14:15-21 (NLT) That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Church folks love fellowship! You cannot get into the local restaurants on a Sunday around one o’clock where we live in the Bible belt. Everyone is ready to eat and commune together in the local diners and buffets. The crowds came to see Jesus. To hear what He had to say, and now it was dinnertime. The disciples weren’t about to make a fast food run, but rather send the folks away. Jesus told them to feed them. Say what? The men had a borrowed lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people. Jesus took the meager meal and blessed it. He thanked God for it. Then He broke it into pieces and gave it away. In the end, everyone was full and there was more left over than what they started with.

Do you feel pressure today? Are you dissatisfied? Are you wondering why you do not have plenty but barely enough to survive? You want to give your life away but I dare say that until it is blessed and broken on the inside – there is nothing in our hands or homes worth giving. What is meager in your hand becomes mighty in God’s Hand! What seems mediocre in life becomes magnificent in the Kingdom! What seems impossible to you right now is miraculous when Jesus takes over! Maybe the pressure is your ordinary life about to give way to something extraordinary. All these stories seemed like not enough but became more than enough through obedience. Godly obedience will always include giving because that is how He supplies us.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Lord, I have all that I need today to live in the land of plenty and to experience the abundant, rich and satisfying life that you promised. It is here in the now. Bless it, God. Break it. Use it for your good and glory in my life and to those around me. In Jesus Name, AMEN!

 

Every Blessing

Every Blessing

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

I am blessed. Truly blessed. I am blessed beyond that which I could have ever imagined. To think that there could possibly be more is incomprehensible if I assess my life from the beginning. All the times I messed up, fell short, wandered off or completely rebelled against God – yet somehow sitting at my desk, looking outside, hearing the birds singing, smelling coffee brewing in the air conditioned comfort of my home – I am definitely blessed. I am a sinner. I sin every day despite every effort not to. I serve God yet still get lazy or remiss in my duties. I read His Word every day yet still stumble over lies and half-truths. My imperfection puzzles me when it comes to the blessings of God that still overtake me. How about you?

How is it possible to be blessed in our imperfection? How can God take all the details of our life and make good of them? Falling short and failing often – how is it even possible that every spiritual blessing is still available to me? The beginning of blessing is perspective. Perception is everything to those who walk by faith and not by sight. We must see our life through spiritual eyes guided and led by the Holy Spirit to walk in the blessings and prosperity of God. To live a life of rejoicing in every small beginning and victory rather than focusing on what we do not finish or have not won…yet. If I can learn to comprehend God’s Blessing – where it is and how it works? I will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God’s Blessing is not a product of my ability to live right but provided by His Righteousness. The Spirit of Adoption makes every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places mine simply because I am a Child of God. The only thing I do is to accept my position in the Kingdom through salvation and repentance. Repentance is not kneeling before God constantly confessing what a terrible, weak person I am. It is turning over my sin and weakness for grace and power. I can only be holy and blameless through Jesus Christ so I must surrender my life to Him. He is the One who causes the seeds already planted in me along with faith to grow into the blessings and promises already ordained for me as my inheritance. By the virtue of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed and granted every blessing hidden in me once buried under sin and shame.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (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. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Do you get mad when instructions for some assembly required are included? No, you get mad when they do not include instructions so you must either figure it out or wait for one to be mailed to you. Do you get frustrated cooking because the recipe has twelve steps? Do you get irate when shortcuts produce a less than fantastic meal or dessert? When the map application on your phone carefully details a route to your destination? What do you do? Follow it. If you decide to head off in your own direction and miss your destination, are you shocked and dismayed. Of course, not. Instructions guide us to success if followed and adhered to closely. Most of the time, you will get the intended or expected results. So why in the world do believers forego God’s Commandments? Instructions? Guidance? It is called the Law because God is Sovereign. He is not a man. He does not lie. He does not change His Mind. His outcomes are consistent. “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 God will set you high above all the nations of the earth and all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.” Obedience is a choice. Blessing is always the outcome of obedience.

Now the mind-blowing revelation of it all…where is the blessing of God? It is not in His Word. It is in you! Seriously. Every spiritual blessing is hidden inside of you right now. You came into this world prepackaged with every spiritual blessing that would give you a rich and satisfying life. You even came with the fertilizer called faith. God gave you everything to prosper from the beginning to the end. It is all inside you. The blessing of God comes in the form of fruit. Read it. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Fruit comes from a seed given the place and time to grow from a seed into its full potential. All your fruit is blessed. However, seeds must be sown to grown. Seeds must die to their present form to release the fullness called potential. All seed have a purpose. You are filled with seeds of spiritual blessing. You take it everywhere you go inside of you. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

Further in Ecclesiastes 3, it says, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted…” Seasons are important in our life. Every single season from birth to death have meaning in the acquisition of spiritual blessings. To prosper means engaging in each season and continue to sow and reap along the way. God has a time appropriated for every matter under heaven. It is all under His Careful Watch and Control. What is His Purpose for us? Sometimes in the midst of drought or famine – our fear and doubt begin to attack our growing and developing faith. God does not help those who help themselves. God helps those who trust Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 (ESV) What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 

The gain of a worker from his soil is dependent on the worker. Busyness can become a distraction. We look without for what lies within us. God will bless the work of man’s hands. The principle of sowing and reaping is not only spiritual but natural. Seedtime and harvest puts food on everyone’s table. I can invest all my time and energy in the workplace and have nice things. I have sown into it so I will yield something from it. Faithfulness will always have a reward. God placed eternity in our heart to reach for something higher than basic living. He has given us a measure of faith to sow with each seed. He has filled us with spiritual blessing. It comes in the form of seeds that will produce good fruit. It must be sown. It must be cultivated. It must be remembered. Many seeds produce fruit but the harvest is given to others because we abandon the field. God makes everything beautiful in its time. He does not forsake His Seed. We are not created or destined to beg for bread.

3 John 2 (ESV) Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Spiritual blessings come from a prospering soul. Our life will not prosper or go well until it is well with my soul.

Galatians 5:23-25 (ESV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 

The Fruit of God’s Spirit feeds our soul. It prospers us from the inside out. We must live by the Spirit first and every spiritual blessing will follow. It is not determined by a long list of rules and regulations but rather a covenant. God’s Love for me provided me with a blessed and prosperous life. Jesus Christ died to pay the debt that kept me from it. Grace provides access to those blessings in my life. When I apply faith to every facet of my life starting with my heart and soul, something miraculous happens. The Favor of God called fruitfulness is restored and ordinary becomes extraordinary as the Heavens are accessible again. The enemy is attacking you because of the seeds of blessing and prosperity inside of you. As faith grows and godly potential is released, you become unstoppable because of Christ flourishing inside of you. Nothing is impossible for those who believe.

Proverbs 28:19-20 (ESV) Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

God has filled us with every spiritual blessing. I am blessed. You are blessed. My “land” belongs to me. It is my life. I choose what to plant in each season which determines the yield of each harvest. The blessings of God within us cannot be accessed apart from Jesus Christ. He calls himself the vine. He connects us to the source of life so that by faith each seed in us can prosper and grow. If you are only after God’s Hand, you are considered a robber and thief. The Kingdom of God is accessed through His Heart. It is a covenant relationship between the Father and His Children. As our heart and mind aligns with God and His Word, the productivity of our life will turn into prosperity. Every blessing is inside of you. It is a seed. Will you sow it?

Proverbs 10:22 (ESV) The blessing of the Lord makes rich and he adds no sorrow with it.

Keep the Wheel Turning

Keep Spinning

Jeremiah 18:2-4 (ESV) “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

The image was vivid and clear. A bicycle wheel spinning when a stake appears in the spokes. The movement is halted and what once was an image of symmetry in motion halts abruptly. What is stopping us from turning? Repentance is turning our heart, mind and life over to Jesus Christ. The vision I see makes me wonder what in me is not turning properly. Is there something I have allowed to enter what once was fluid and now is stagnant? Christian living is a perpetual and constant turning of our life over to the Lord. Salvation is only the starting point of redemption. We must redeem our life piece by piece reconciling our way and will to the Father for recreation through His Son – Jesus Christ. There will never be a point in our natural existence when repentance will be complete. Our purpose and destiny in life is achieved by faith in the process of God that is repentance.

Arise, and go down to the potter’s house…

The instruction is clear. It is not open to interpretation. It is an invitation to leave one’s current position to enter new destiny and possibilities only available in the Presence of God. Who will go? It is a choice. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. You have to decide that new life is the desired pathway for your life. Arise. Get up. Move. Go down to the potter’s house. It doesn’t say go “up” to the potter’s house, but rather go down. Humility is essential in engagement with God. You cannot come boldly before Him in pride which is self-confidence and reliance but must enter confident in the work of His Son and its availability to us. Will you arise? Will you go down to the potter’s house today?

There I will let you hear my words…

The act of true repentance positions us to hear God’s Word and understand what exactly He is saying. We must arise and go down to His House – entering His Presence. God is speaking. He is always whispering to us in a still small voice. The distractions of life do not silence His Word. They keep us from hearing Him. It is the act of sacrificing our time and surrendering our priorities to wait for Him to speak and give us understanding that allows the transformation process to begin. We must have a desire to hear the voice of God and do what He says. Keeping His Commands are essential. It begins with the simple summons, “Come.”

So I went down to the potter’s house…

Repentance will always lead to obedience. Obedience is the key to opening the potential and purpose hidden within us. Faith holds the key that opens the door to all that heaven has hidden for God’s People. We cannot experience God’s Blessings or Promises apart from His Instruction. You cannot have God’s Will – your way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Word that is written is breathed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Word. We cannot and will not ever reach maximum potential in Jesus Christ apart from the Spirit and Truth connecting in us. Will you meet Him where He is today?

There he was working at his wheel…

This may very well be my favorite part of this passage, God is faithful. He is always faithful to His Word. He does exactly as He promised to do apart from our departures and wanderings. When returning to Him, the Lord is still there working everything out for our good. (Romans 8:28) I am so thankful that God is not a man. He doesn’t lie or change His Mind. Nothing can separate me from His Love – not even me. When I repent, turn back, humbly enter His Presence, God is exactly the same as when I left Him last time. My faithfulness is not primary in my relationship with the Lord. His Faithfulness is everything. It means that I can be exactly who He promised and fulfill my potential in Him no matter how many times I wander off or succumb to weakness. His Grace is always enough. His Grace is sufficient.

The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand…

God is not shocked or dismayed when I fall short. He knows exactly what I am going to do before I do it. He keeps me safely tucked away in His Hand. He knows me inside and out yet still chooses to love me unconditionally, recklessly and completely. He waits for me to respond to His Promises. Lovingly and securely I am in His Hand. No one and nothing can take me from Him. Isn’t it a relief to know that God knows us, yet loves us just the same. He doesn’t throw away “spoiled” clay but holds us in His Hand until…

He reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

No vessel is ever too broken for the Lord. Jesus knows exactly who He invested His Great Love in still choosing to give us His All. Our undoing gives God the opportunity to “rework” us into another vessel. One fit for His Use, His Service, and His Glory. God has already promised that He has a plan for our life containing a future and hope. It is by faith that our confidence gives way to trusting the process of brokenness. To allow God to begin to reshape us through renewal, restoration and revival from the inside out. It begins with repentance. Repentance allows the potter’s wheel to keep spinning. It is the very thing that ends stalling in our process and gives way to our potential. Is there a stake in your spoke today? The Lord will carefully take it if you will surrender it to Him. God is ready to reveal your divine purpose and release your full potential today. Will you arise and come to the potter’s house with me? He is ready to make us a masterpiece.

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Good Fruit

Good Fruit

John 15:1-4 (NLT) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”

“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8) Have you inspected the fruit of your life lately? Is it fulfilling? Is it satisfying? Are you hungry? Our alignment to Jesus Christ is vital to survival in the Kingdom of God. It is the access point of divine productivity. If pursued by Children of God, it will produce disciples. There is a certain discipline involved by virtue of title. To be a disciple will always require discipline. A branch cannot produce the fruit of the vine if separated. To be fruitful requires our connection to Christ.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. The fruitfulness of God in our life is produced by His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is specific in nature to include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is important to understand the fruit of God’s Spirit to find satisfaction for our soul. The soul’s appetite must become the spiritual fruit of God cultivated by His Spirit in order for its own prosperity. As it grows, our life becomes abundant and satisfied because the soul is prospering. (3 John 1:2) The Holy Spirit is Christ in us. His Holy Inhabitation that produces intimacy between us and forms a lifelong partnership destined for eternity. We must remain in Christ and He promises to remain in us. Why not the other way around? It would violate our freedom. We choose where to invest our life. God has given us such an opportunity. His Purpose, Plan and Promises do not change and are always accessible through Jesus Christ. It will always be our personal choice.

John 15:9-15 (NLT) “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Our life alignment with Jesus Christ is facilitated by careful and thoughtful obedience. Proper alignment produces overflow. Obedience that follows clear direction without deviation…ideally. However, we are only human and undisciplined by nature. Selfish in our desires and passions. Pursuing lesser things for immediate gratification rather than waiting on the Living God to produce lasting fruit. There is no one who has not fallen short of God’s Glorious Standard, which is not a behavior, but a lifestyle. In Genesis 8:22, the principle of seed time and harvest was established and the promise that goes with it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you choose to sow in your life is exactly what will be. It is science. It is truth.

Our friendship with God is established by faith in His Son, Jesus. Faith is evidenced by trust. Confident hope is secured by faith that does not waver with life’s conditions but holds tightly to the covenant promises of God through every season. God does not lie or change His Mind. The calling on our life was established during our creation and put in to motion when God gave us our first breath. He will pursue us with unfailing love and goodness every day of our life. It is up to us whether or not grace is claimed through faith and abundant life secure.

Matthew 7:18-19 (NLT) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When I came back to Christ almost twenty years ago, I had made a complete and total mess of my life. I chose a church completely contrary to my upbringing. As I tried to explain my rededication to my grandmother, she lovingly and gently inquired as to some of my choices especially in denominations. I had only one response for her – “Just watch and see what kind of fruit I produce.” There is no way to make excuses for our sin or fully explain the salvation that has been given to us. The best way to share the Gospel is to live the Truth. The fruit of our life will satisfy the wary hearts of others and share a story to incredible to believe. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!”

 And immediately the fig tree withered up.

We must be very careful not to create artificial fruit. Appearances are for people. Religion paints a pretty picture and produces quite a display. To those who are hungry, thirsty and broken a perfectly composed Christian has nothing to offer. The one who has endured the process necessary to produce the Fruit of God’s Spirit will give them something of substance. Jesus has no time for fake. He is looking for faith. Those who will give up their life to have a new life. The ones who will endeavor in a relationship rather than be excited about a religion. The Lord is looking for trees planted along the riverbank bearing fruit in each season. They do not wither. They prosper in all they do. They are connect with deep roots into the Source of Life and the fruit of their life is from His Spirit. We must evaluate our life by our connection to Christ. There is nothing or no one else worthy of comparison.

Matthew 12:33 (NLT) “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.”

We are created to produce good fruit. Jesus makes the fruit of our life good. His Spirit is always ready to cultivate such seeds in a fertile heart. A broken heart. A ready heart. A responsive heart. A heart that passionately pursues God’s Way, His Will and His Word will produce good fruit.

John 15:16 (NLT) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

The rich and satisfying life promised by Jesus Christ is cultivated and reproduced as lasting fruit. It is the kind of fruit that completes us and never leaves us lacking. It is not in a natural sense though I find the deeper into the Lord I sink the more He prospers my life. The minute I stop worrying about provision or problems – it seems that the Lord provides sustenance and solutions. I must abide in Christ. Cut away those things the rob me of time, treasure and talents to fully and completely align my life with Jesus Christ. To pursue greater intimacy with Jesus than ever before because He chose to love me. It is the only reciprocal response possible as He has already given His All for me.

Matthew 21:43 (NLT)  I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.

God is a God of order. His Design is not chaotic but confirmed. He doesn’t change His Mind simply because He got it right the first time. God produces proper fruit in our life. His Purpose is not temporary but eternal. He will not produce any kind of fruit in our life that will cause us not to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The greater our pursuit of God and passion for His Purpose the less time given to lesser and worthless things. Proper fruit includes proper timing. No farmer plows a field and sows seeds today then goes back tomorrow ready to harvest. We must learn the art of endurance, patience and timing. Pulling up the plants prematurely will end the potential harvest hidden within.

Philippians 1:11 (NLT) May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

It is easy sometimes to become caught up in natural productivity and abort the productiveness of God. To live in Christ is a decision to invest our life in Him and live in alignment with the Word. Jesus is the Word. We see things a certain way even though faith tells us to wait for something better and long lasting. We decide whether or not to trust the Lord. He has given us the freedom to do so. If upon inspection the fruit of our life is not what it should be, then it is up to us to engraft our life back in Christ. The vine cannot leave its position. We must become one with Jesus for He is the Way, Truth and Life. He is the only way to the Father. Do not compare your life to others or its productivity. They do not have your purpose or potential for it is uniquely given to you. May we be filled with the fruit of your salvation today. May the Holy Spirit produce new fruit in us and prosper us from the inside out. As my soul prospers, may this life be lived in the abundance of God given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen and amen! Lord fill us with good fruit!

Colossians 1:9-11 (NLT) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

 

Purpose

purpose

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.

This morning has gotten away from me. Too many things and not enough morning. Over the years, I have become very disciplined almost religious in my morning routine. When the alarm went off at 4:30 AM, as it has every morning for the last several years, I still moan and groan but get up to face the day. Some say that making your bed every morning leads to success. To discipline ourselves to clean a little bit each day will make for a clean house. The people who have experienced such a life obviously do not have teenagers or animals roaming about sabotaging all their hard work. If achieving one’s purpose were a work of the hands alone, I believe that people would find such a life easier than it is. The real achievement of purpose comes from the contents of our heart. God placed eternity in our heart. He also put faith in us to begin the process. Only God sees our life from beginning to end and knows exactly what it will take for our soul to prosper into the purpose that brings full satisfaction and abundant life. There is no satisfaction in life apart from Jesus Christ. He is the starting point of everything that brings us abundance in our life. His Spirit starts within us weeding out all the worthless things taking the place of the worthy things that the Lord is doing in us and through us. Oh if we could learn to discipline our heart like we do our habits. To pursue the purpose of God and allow Him to produce the prosperity that we have yet to only dream about. His Promise to those who do is that He makes everything beautiful for its own time.

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

Our youngest son works in my office. He is an engineering major who is learning the insurance business. He is great at math. It is his second language. I work with the regulatory side of the process. Presented with a complex issue in rating, and already knee deep in a project. I asked him to run through the algorithms and spreadsheets as the company had a question. I knew this project would take me hours to figure out. I am not a math wizard. I really only was hoping that he could at least explain it to me. Within minutes, he returned to my office and explained the confusing and complex issue. Math and science are second nature to this kid. The two subjects have always been very easy for him. All I did was give him a simple task, and within minutes his purpose was confirmed yet again. His worth to our company revealed in simple obedience. In that moment, my kid became the answer to a problem. His purpose came out in living color and his place in our workplace secure. See you never know when what God put in you will coming pouring out into purpose and prosperity.

We KNOW…God has a purpose for us. The problem is how you extricate that divine deposit from the inside of our heart to fruitfulness in life. It is way easier than we make it. We do it. Simple obedience releases purpose in our life. God has worked out all the details for us. We pursue purpose through Jesus Christ. He came to give us a rich and satisfying life. An abundant life. On the Cross, He deemed His Work finished. Coming out of the grave, He proclaimed victory over sin, death, fear, doubt, and insecurity. He released His Spirit to us to be our guide, teacher, mentor and more. We have all the components of success within us. They fill the human heart from our first cry to final breath. Christ commands our destiny. So why do I feel like a failure?

John 10:10 (NLT) The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

The purpose will die within us if not cultivated by faith and trust in the Lord. There is a thief. He sows weeds called lies in order to choke out God’s Word which waters our faith and grows into confidence. He compares us to other people when there is no comparison. God has no favorites. He created us individually to live corporately as a Kingdom. Each has their own place and purpose which is designed to work for unity and prosperity of the Kingdom. You have no rivals. God has created you fearfully, wonderfully and marvelously to achieve your divine destiny. The only way to lose is to give up, give in or forfeit. How do I know God has purpose and it will prevail? Well…

Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

God’s Word does not return to Him void. It will accomplish exactly what it set out to do. I believe that, do you? The word “prevail” means to prove superior in strength and power. It means to succeed, dominate and win out. To achieve the purpose set forth in me by God and given power and authority by Christ means all I have to do is rely on grace, trust the Lord and do what He says. Just do it! It works for Nike. It works for athletes. What about you? Have you considered simple obedience? You have wasted most of your life worrying about things that never happened. Fearing something that was just a thought. Carefully planning for the future, but not living in today. What would happen if you lived on purpose for God today?

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.

What if for one day? One set of 24 hours – you dared to believe! To trust the Lord with your life for a day. To discipline your mind to believe that He is faithful and will do exactly what He promised. To not complain about the conditions and circumstances surrounding your mundane routine and decided to praise Him confidently that every detail is handled by His Hands according to His Will. To begin to dream again if only for a day. To weed out doubt and speak life into the dead things given up in the name of foolishness and folly that really were God’s Destiny for your life. You are never too old. Too lost. Too broken. Too whatever to step into the fullness of what God has planned for you. You just have to discipline your heart and mind to accept that God isn’t finished with you yet. In fact, every detail of your life led you to this moment to read this word and say, “What if she’s right?” What if God’s Word is true? What if God really does have something planned for me? What if I can win? What if I really do have potential and purpose hidden in this hard heart? Would it be worth breaking your routine and interrupting your schedule for? Life interrupted is when God has time to work and His Spirit space to move.

Isaiah 49:3-4 (NLT) He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”

We belong to a Mighty God. His Kingdom is vast. It is easy to compare our gifts, talents and abilities with other people, but that is not God’s Plan. You have a purpose. You have eternity in your heart to start the pursuit. You have faith to prosper in it. You just have to believe. Believing leads to trust which produces confidence as the Lord continually shows that He is faithful. Simple obedience. Radical change begins in a single step. To decide that you have worth to God and His Purpose will bring full satisfaction will make it your worthwhile pursuit. You are not useless. You were made for God’s Glory. You are His Treasure. The Lord is with you. Living inside of you and working on you to complete the masterpiece that He created you to be! You were made on purpose, for a purpose, and with purpose! God’s Purpose!

Proverbs 16:4 (NLT) The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Deep is Calling

Deep is Calling

Psalm 42:6-8 (Message) When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, from Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me. Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer.

“Deep calls to deep” is a verse read many times. It is a sense of longing for the gentle whisper that requires a response. Reading the same passage in The Message translation is a more apt description of what the deeper things of God feel like. Chaos calls to chaos. The violent shaking of the storm with the wild winds and waves tossing us from the complacency of what is to the confident hope of what could be if we walk by faith and not by sight. Deep calls out to deep as the Lord beckons us to come closer to step out of the proverbial boat to walk on water with Him. We call out to the deep but prefer wading. There is no real interest in what is beneath the ocean’s surface where grace turns to obedience and calling becomes our destiny. When our soul begins to slump, it is in that moment we look for the Living God to bring His Power and New Life. When He rushes in and change begins to unravel our comfortable, convenient and seemingly controlled existence – we are shaken from the security of what is and to be completely undone to new possibility.

Living in the south, our physical intuitiveness can feel the rain coming. The humidity descends with all the damp pressure. The air is thick. The clouds circle overhead and it becomes overcast. The thunder begins to roll and lightening begins to flash. Sometimes just a few gentle droplets or a torrential downpour – its all the same. Spiritual discernment sees pasts the rising waves. It perceives the winds of change sweeping through our life. Our heart comprehends what our mind does not want to accept – transformation always requires a transition. You cannot stay where you are and find a new position. You cannot remain who you are and assume a new identity. You cannot hold on to the past and fully embrace the future. God put this longing to answer His Call in our heart and mind calling it eternity. He planted a measure of faith in us to achieve that calling equipping us from our creation with exactly what is needed to be who He created us to be. Nothing in this world can stop God’s Plan. We must only answer His Call.

Hebrews 12:25-29 (Message) So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

“He is jealous for me… Loves like a hurricane… I am a tree… Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy… When all of a sudden…. I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory… And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections for me… Oh how He loves us so.”  (John Mark McMillan)

We sing this popular worship song often not really listening to the words but repeating it from memory. What if God’s Love for us produces violent shaking in an effort to make us release the ordinary and receive the extraordinary? What if our hunger and thirst is to seek more and discover full satisfaction? Could it be that all the “chaos” in our life is to stir up the inner gifting and anointing planted by God for His Purpose? God wants to prosper us. It begins in our soul. Makes its way through our heart. Enters our mind. Changes our thoughts. Transitions us from fear to faith and we become courageous in confident hope. See God is doing something in us far greater than the immediate gratification sought after by a weak flesh and fickle heart. He knows exactly what it will take to draw us into the deep. He creates the vortex that will soon overtake us.

Our God is likened to an “all-consuming fire.” Like the burning bush before Moses, thought engulfed with flames, the bush remained. God loves us like that in an explainable display of His Glory that complete overtakes our life yet within Him – we are safe and secure. Like the three Hebrew boys cast in a fire, yet they were never forsaken and certainly not alone. The Lord was waiting in the fire for them. He accompanied them until it was time to come out. Not a hair singed or garments reeking of smoke, they were presented to the people no worse for wear. The people recognized the Living God in that moment. Our calling will always include those who are watching for and waiting on the Kingdom of God to be presented.

Psalm 93 (Message) God is King, robed and ruling, God is robed and surging with strength. And yes, the world is firm, immovable, Your throne ever firm—you’re Eternal! Sea storms are up, God, sea storms wild and roaring, sea storms with thunderous breakers. Stronger than wild sea storms, mightier than sea-storm breakers, Mighty God rules from High Heaven. What you say goes—it always has. “Beauty” and “Holy” mark your palace rule, God, to the very end of time.

The deep calls us to be drowned in His Grace. It is an invitation to die to self and be overtaken with life. If you find it easy to exist in God – there is so much more to discover. The deeper you go the less likely it is that your flesh will survive. Full surrender is required to fully accept salvation and eternal destiny. God is King. He is Sovereign. He is All-Power, All-Knowing and everywhere at the same time. He knows us inside and out. He created us with a purpose and definite plan that is in full execution. The answer of our heart to the deeper things of God is always the same – “yes”. It doesn’t have to loud or dramatic. Most often it is in the darkest place or most dangerous height when a single step of faith seems illogical and impossible – and the Lord says, “Do it anyway…” Will you? Will you allow the chaos of calling overtake you? Will you answer His Call to come deeper? Will you let God mess up your ordinary life to make it extraordinary? Will you say, “Yes” to it all? Delayed obedience is considered disobedience. It is a quiet rebellion that denies the impossibilities of miracles to accept the ordinary. God has something waiting for you and me that is just beyond our comfort zone, outside the boundaries of convenience, and just outside of our control. Do you want it? Do you desire the Lord above all things? Deep is calling deep. Chaos is crying out to chaos. Our destination is called beautiful and holy. Do you want to meet Him there? He is calling you deeper… Just say, “Yes!”

I Peter 2:9-10 (Message) But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.