It Matters

It Matters

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

I used to work with someone who professed vehemently to be a Christian. In theory, the confession was absolutely true. This person would tell others that God was in control… which He is. Serving in church attending all the services and sharing the experience. Feeding the soul with the Word and good teachers – conversationally this person was living the life. However, at work this person was not a faithful employee. Arriving late, leaving early, not coming at all, and when in the office doing others things. Poor performance and inconsistent contribution forced the company to eliminate the position due to the tremendous weight on the company. The employer was extra patient and completely understanding until it took a terrible toll on his business. Seeds sown for life now have left nasty weeds for others to uproot and plant good seed in its place. It matters. Life matters. What I say as a believer is not nearly as important as how I live? To live for Jesus Christ is to put my feelings, emotions and bad habits in check to represent the One I serve appropriately and faithfully. It begins in real life doing ordinary things as though I was serving my extraordinary God.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ.” This is the very reason why it is important that our life line up with our conversation. The Lord has given us the opportunity to live a new life as a new creation. I must set my sights on the “realities” of heaven. Let’s pause right there for a moment. Reality is important. It is resemblance of what is real. It is take the tiny seed called faith and plant it in every area of our existence until the life I live is based on heavenly concepts rather than worldly conformity. It would be easier if given a full heart transplant when coming to Christ but the truth of the matter is that the Lord did not come to you, call you and confirm you so that He could change you into someone else. You were born with the potential of God in you and eternity in your heart along with a measure of faith so that when the time came to pull it all together – you had everything needed. Coming to Christ, just activated God’s Plan and set the wheels in motion. He loves you. He made you. He have given you vast potential and called you to greater purpose. So how you live each day matters when it comes to God’s Process at work within you!

The reality of heaven is realized when Jesus Christ lives in us. To acknowledge Jesus is to recognize that our life is no longer bound by sin and grave. There is now more to live than this for those who desire and choose to live it. It is a conscious choice made every day to give up my way and follow Jesus.

Colossians 3:11 (NLT) In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Christ is all that matters…and He lives in all of us. Rather than dissecting and scrutinizing each other, what we believe and how we serve…what if…just for today…just for this moment, one considered the fact that the Lord has called us to one mind, one body, one heart and one purpose. This would mean that how I live my life directly impacts other people whether I know it or not. The things that I do each day reach someone. As the Light of the world by calling, others look to us for answers for practical life. My sights are set on heaven. I want to be with the Lord one day. How am I treating His Body? We are the Body of Christ. Jesus died for everyone not just one but all. This means that even those who do not believe – I am accountable to treat with respect. Why? Because my interaction with the Body should always represent the Christ in me and not the me He lives in. Let me take this home for a moment. When someone comes into our church, not my church but the one that each of us call home, how are they received? Is there condemnation as their appearance relays their choices? Are we judgmental? Are we fake? Do we ignore them? How do we receive them? Is it like the Father welcoming the prodigal son? See that is how Jesus would do it – He would run to them, wrap His Arms around them, genuinely receive them, welcome them, and love them in that moment not when they cleaned up nicely and fit our religious routine and could speak fluent Christianese. We are the Body of Christ. Even that homeless man speaking to unseen facing and caring on quiet a debate. Jesus loves him. He died for him. He desires Him. God has no favorites. It matters how we live our life when it comes to other people.

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Can I be transparent today? It is hard to live out the Gospel when it comes to people sometimes. Seventy times seven is a lot when you are the one who has to forgive and forget. We cannot forgive without forgetting and be like the Lord. He puts our sin in a sea of forgetfulness and justifies us just as if we never sinned. Can you say the same? I can’t and still be truthful. People can be downright difficult. BUT…since God chose (me) to be the holy (person) who He loves… I must clothe (myself) with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Ugh! As if that is not enough, I must make allowances for faults and forgive ANYONE who offends me. In the South, it might be called even those who hurt my feelings. I must forgive like Christ forgave me. He did away with a lot of junk and mess that’s for sure. Above all. Clothe yourselves with love. Walk around in it every day. It must be the filter through which every emotion, attitude and action goes through before it reaches another. I must be a lover. I must love all people. This will most definitely influence the choices I make and how I live because it matters. I am not representing myself any longer but the Christ who lives in me. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Colossians 3:22-24 (NLT) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

It matters how we live and represent the Lord not only in the midst of our congregation but especially in our everyday life. The daily interactions with others as our character is revealed. Each day is the opportunity to be the Light for someone else but it requires strict attention not to others, how they live, what they do or even what they say. People have no influence over my purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are my purpose in the Lord. For me to live is Christ and die is gain. This must be the reality of my life.

Work willingly at whatever you do as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Think about the tasks on your to do list. The places you will go today. The things that you are planning to do. There is no better representation of Jesus Christ then to do it all wholeheartedly as if working for Him and to love everyone in the process. Your pay grade doesn’t matter. The people you work with do not control your destiny. You will be rewarded abundantly for every seed sown in love and faithfulness. The Word of God tells us that as long as the earth remains – there will be seedtime and harvest. Those who live in drought and famine must carefully evaluate the seeds being planted in their field called life. Grumbling and complaining just grows into bitterness. Unforgiveness creates a wall that love cannot find its way around. Discontentment lead to discouragement but hope never will take you there. God has something far better for us hidden in Heaven and He promises His Goodness is for us in the land of the living. I do not pursue the Hand of God but rather His Heart so I must live according to what is found there – love, grace and mercy that gives way to faithfulness and obedience in all things. A diversified life is at risk. To fully invest my life in the Kingdom and have its reward requires a wholehearted effort to live, move, breathe and exist in Christ while I live this life. It matters. It all matters. Do not let the enemy convince you otherwise.

I Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The greatest ministry in life is not found in a position at the local church. It is not given the title of pastor, preacher, teacher or apostle. The greatest ministry is the life of worship lived by men and women who commit each day to work enthusiastically for the Lord in all things. To erase the line drawn between life and ministry. To decide that Heaven came exist on the earth and work diligently to make it so. It all begins by believing in the reality of Jesus Christ. He has flooded the earth with gracious, overwhelming, overflowing and unconditional love that is in us. We must decide to make it the reality of our life and decide each day matters to the Kingdom. Jesus set us free to live the life of our choosing but He clearly shows us the life that He desires for us and the promises that come with it. I want that life. To live a life that matters.

Ephesians 6:7-8 (NLT)  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Grab a Shovel

grab a shovel

I Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT)  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

A visiting minister was sharing his heart on faith and prosperity to our congregation. He spoke of the intangible and tangible blessings of God that is the inheritance of God’s Children. He said, “People pray for God to move mountains but refuse to ever pick up a shovel.” His words made me chuckle audibly quickly looking around to see if anyone heard me. I have been at this whole faith thing a while. Just when I think I have it all together, I realize that I have only just begun. It is an adventure now. Deep cries out to deep so I swim a little farther until my feet can no longer touch and I call out to my Savior to come and get me. He calls me a little higher and as I quickly step up – I realize in my flesh that I really am not a fan of heights and my fear of falling reaches for God to catch me. Hebrews 12 reminds us that the raceway is crowded with many witnesses. In the midst of the great cloud of witnesses is an enemy who wants to get me tangled in worthless words and caught up in bold-faced lies. His response to my faith is to remind me of every insecurity that is hidden in my thoughts. To tell me that I am not good enough, missed the mark, or will fail like before. But I have been in this race for a while now, and what I have discovered is just about the time that I am grow weak or weary yet decide to take just one more step – that tiny seed of faith in my heart grows just a little bit bigger.

The Lord has planted a seed in our heart from the very beginning. Ecclesiastes 3 – it tells us that God put eternity in our heart. If it were complete it would not be hidden, but before the Lord tells us this secret – His Word holds true – God has made everything beautiful in its own time. Time. The most precious commodity given to humanity but so often wasted on useless and ordinary things. I find it a bit ironic that in all the places this could have been put in the Word of God that He chose to scribe it in Ecclesiastes. Written by the one who asked for wisdom to whom it was granted and who wasted in on many futile endeavors in this life. God has planted eternity in our heart. We will journey through life to eternity. We have been given absolute freedom in our relationship with Jesus Christ to do with it what we will. But what I am discovering as time goes by is that if I am not carefully many seeds will never be given the opportunity to grow not because I do not have them or they are being watered but I do not have any faith in the process.

I Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.

Growth is a process. It takes an investment or sacrifice if you will. The seed must die to its presence forth to release the hidden potential inside. For the believer, death gives way to life. Resurrection power is demonstrated in each seed that is planted with the promise of harvest. God did not limit seed time and harvest to the earth but through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ empowers us to experience rapid and expansive growth in every area of our life that is committed to sowing and reaping including the hidden growth process called faith. As faith becomes confident, it increases our life. All areas of our natural, physical, emotional and spiritual life are open to God’s Reproductive Process called Prosperity – with no limitation to increase and growth.

Though so simple, people cannot seem to grasp the concept of seedtime and harvest in every area of life. We claim to have faith but our actions tell on us. We profess to belief yet our lives do not emit the Glory of God or Goodness of the Father. It is no wonder that the church buildings are empty. Congregations closing down. Who wants a disempowered god or disloyal parent? Life is full of disappointment. Hope never leads to disappointment but is it the harvest of our life? Those who sow will reap. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who sow generously will reap generously. Every area of my life should prosper because the seed of God’s Word has been planted in my heart. It is watered as I seek the Lord and choose to follow Christ. Where is the increase that He has promised? Why are there areas of lack in my life? The Body of Christ will never be attract to lost and dying people if there is nothing to offer them. If following Christ leads only to more disappointment, why bother? Intentional faith plants seeds in every area of life. Faith waits for the seed to die and begin to grow. Faith oversees the field and waits for the harvest.

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.

God provides seed for the farmer and bread to eat. The difference between disappointment and satisfaction is defined by expectation. Every day is filled with expectation. Hope never leads to disappointment based on the fact that God dearly loves us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love. Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Are you rich? Wealth comes in many forms from wisdom down to finances. Are you satisfied? God has placed eternity in our heart. To settle for anything less than complete fulfillment is to leave that seed unsown in our life. Ordinary and natural outcomes are for those who sow sparingly. Extraordinary and supernatural who make it a point to put every seed in the fertile furrows of our heart expecting God to make it grow rather than abandoning the field to eat the scraps under another man’s table.

Why would the Lord command us to be generous and then withhold the resources to fulfill that command? It just doesn’t sound like the God I know. Yet, there are areas in my life that I have not been sowing into. When our son was battling cancer, my faith was completely focused on sowing seeds of healing. I was continually studying, praying and exercising my faith in that area of God’s Plan. So much so, that I now have total trust and confident hope in the Lord when it comes to healing – medically, miraculously and mercifully. However, at the end of his fight and entrance to remission, I realized I had put it all out there. Like an athlete who won the Super Bowl or World Series, the morning after was a little rough. Celebrating victory and realizing that I had just left it all on the field. God gave me time to recover but then immediately started pressing my heart. Faith is not just for healing. It is not just for one thing in our life but God has given us faith to prosper our life and lead us to confident hope that completes us so we will lack nothing. I have been able to share our son’s story including his victory and our experience related to faith in Christ freely and openly because it is worth sharing and I believe it to be true. Faith and confident hope can never be given to others until you have a supply from which to give.

Matthew 13:3 (NLT) “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.”

Going back to Genesis 1:28 where God blessed humanity to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and govern it.” It was no small order. God blessed us. He gave us the ability to be fruitful and multiply. The gift of increase was given to us in our DNA. From the very beginning, the reproductive gene is in our body, mind and soul. It is not just in physical reproduction but when Jesus gave us His Spirit – it was with the promise of spiritual reproduction as well. We pray “may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom. Grace empowers us in our weakness. Like a seed planted in the ground, the more of our life invested in Christ the higher the dividends across the board.

Matthew 13 is all about planting and harvesting. Reading it today, I discovered four seeds that it eludes to. These are the seeds that grow into harvests worth having in life. Matthew 13:18-23 is the harvest of the heart. God’s Word is planted in our heart but the condition of our heart determines its ability to reproduce. A soft, fertile heart is conducive to successful harvests. ”Good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Before any other area of my life will produce a harvest, it must begin in my heart. I must believe that God is able and will do everything that He promised. I have been guilty of being the one who lets thorns get in the way. Worries and cares of life that overtake my heart and mind. Well, not anymore. I have experienced the productivity of faith and decided to dig up those things that are not worth of faith and trust to replace them with good seed that promotes constant growth.

The seed of Heaven is covered in Matthew 13:24-29. God has given us a plan. A good plan that leads to prosperity as our soul prospers. We must only seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If my treasure is heaven, there the desires of my heart will be as well. (Matthew 6:21) Once my heart is set on heaven every other increase in my life is blessed. Prosperity is not the problem. Riches, power and influence do not have the ability to change a person’s heart. They magnify what is in that heart. God’s Blessing comes without sorrow. If having more leads only to disappointment, then the heart was not set on heaven in the first place. God will grow good things from good seeds in our life naturally and supernaturally. Hope is the only thing that does not lead to disappointment.

The seed of hope is found in the Parable of the Mustard Seed. When a person comes to Jesus, the measure of faith hidden in our heart is discovered. To take this teeny, tiny seed and plant it is to release our life from human expectation and seek something greater. I believe this is the turning point of harvesting and increase in a person’s life. The realization that I am nothing outside of the Christ who lives in me and the grace that Jesus has given me. It is at that moment, heaven and earth connect as the Keys to the Kingdom are used to unlock God’s Hidden Treasure kept safe for us. The handle to the shovel that breaks the ground to bury our faith is marked with “obedience”. The head on the end of that handle is embossed with the word “trust”. God is faithful. What you sow you will reap. When we allow our heart to become fertile and accept God’s Word then begin to seek the Kingdom of Heaven something begins to grow in us as our roots grow into God’s Love. Suddenly, we begin to prosper as our soul prospers. Life is good. Things are getting better. But we must not and cannot stop here…we must keep digging, planting, and harvesting.

The seed of harvest is one that is probably the most difficult to press for so God allows testing, trials, and troubles to apply a certain pressure to our life. The faith discovered in the trial of cancer for our family meant applying all that we had learned about it and putting it all on the line for our son’s life. To say, I trust you God no matter what. At the end, I wasn’t sure I could venture out on faith much farther and stepped back for a moment. Seeds in the ground must die to self to grow. However, if we do not abandon the field, quit or give up – there will be a harvest far greater than we can think about, pray for or even imagine. After a period of rest, the Lord has challenged me. He has put the shovel back in my hand and challenged me to dig some fresh holes and plant more seed. In fact, our life is filled with all kinds of wonderful and valuable seeds that are overlooked because of all the cares and worries that fill our busy lives.

The mentality of just enough seems noble but God says He is the God of more than enough. The last thing the enemy wants us to do is plant seeds and cover them with faith. As the Body of Christ become consistent and confident farmers of God’s Word, the Glory of God will begin to shine from a church full of believers who lend and not borrow, become the head and no longer the tail, are independent of the world’s fluxes in economy or do not trend with society. They are confident in their God who supplies all of their needs as evidenced in the harvest of their life. Complaints are silenced by completeness. Flaws are filled by fulfillment. Who could resist a God who does not lie or change His Mind, but blessed His People as evidenced in their prosperous lives? We cannot offer revival until we experience it. As our soul prospers so will the church.

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.

As I am challenged today, I am asking you to pick up the shovel and begin planting seed in your life again. What area is lacking? It is the perfect place to plant. Where is dissatisfaction or disappointment? Dig into God’s Word and find His Solution – plant it in that barren field and watch what the Lord will do. It is God’s Will for us to prosper and experience increase in every single area of our life. We are His Children. He is a Good Father. His Kingdom is filled with a priceless inheritance with your name on it. It cannot be stolen or taken unjustly but those who faithfully plant God’s Word in their life will have a harvest. The Lord is bound by His Word. It cannot and will not return void. It will do exactly what He said it will do if we trust Him enough to plant it in our life and wait for it to grow. Survey your life. Take inventory of your heart. Grab a shovel and begin to dig up the hard areas that have been overgrown by doubt and disbelief. Water it with His Word. Plant that promise and wait for it to grow. Sow some seed. Real seed. Tangible seed in that area. God is faithful. It will always grow!

2 Corinthians 9:6 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 

Prosperity for All

Prosperity for All

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

I have a good life. I would even say that I live a God Life. Jesus is everything to me. He has filled gaps and spaces in my existence healing old wounds and exposing old ones that I did not know existed. This year, I have felt this stretching in my heart. God is eluding to the fact that there is more to Him than I am aware of. He keeps telling me and reminding me – don’t stop. I am ready to do more than you can think or ask. Secret things and hidden blessings that you do not even know to ask me for. Isaiah 55:8-9 say, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Depending on one’s perspective, this verse can be comforting or daunting at times. Our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God must include the instruction and guidance of His Spirit and a constant meditation and marination that keeps it soaking and saturating our mind. What we cannot grasp or comprehend will not be applied to or adhered to in life including faith and confident hope that allows us to trust the Lord when it comes to His Thoughts beyond our own understanding and His Ways far greater than our own. His Thoughts for us are so much higher than we think for or of ourselves. Reading this verse today in consideration of Psalm 1, maybe just maybe God is trying to tell me something new. It isn’t new to the Lord but the introduction of a higher level thinking that I could not grab hold of before.

Isaiah 55:10-13 (NLT) “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

I have learned in studying God’s Word to always keep reading. Read what comes before great revelation and what comes next. God’s Word is complete. It is all true. One precept leads to the next new concept. It takes a lifetime of reading, studying, mediating and applying and our humanity still cannot possible extract all of its goodness and wisdom. But at least, one can try. Our life is lived in seasons. We adapt our behavior and lifestyle in preparation of the next natural season. It drives our economy. It fuels our resources. It is the perpetual nature of sowing and reaping. Planting and harvest. As God calls us to new things, bigger thoughts, new ideas, and new innovations in our life, it takes us a step higher in our faith to comprehend and apprehend the unthinkable and once unattainable in life. However, the Goodness of God in our life flows through us to display His Glory. I know that before I experienced the wholeness of God’s Word, His Spirit and His Presence – I struggled at sharing the Gospel or Good News with others. I had not experienced its Power and therefore, I wasn’t completely sold on it or serving God wholeheartedly either. However, once I began applying God’s Word like the seed it is referred to in the Gospels like Matthew 13 – the fruit of my life was worth sharing. This has nothing to do with me or things I do but the things God’s Word is doing in my life. Every time I have pushed a “seed” in the ground, covering it, caring for it, committed to it, and confident in it – it has produced something far greater in my life. Something worth sharing. Something valuable and desirable to others. We were created to prosper here on the earth. Yes, heaven is our destination but it is not God’s Plan for us to struggle and strive all the time – we were made to thrive. Not only in the Fruit of His Spirit, but as a byproduct of it.

Proverbs 16:3-4 (NLT) Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Commit your actions to the Lord. Serve Him wholeheartedly in every effort. The Lord of the Harvest doesn’t live in the local church house. God wants to live in your house. The Holy Spirit lives in our heart. His Purpose is to instruct us and guide us according to the Word of God. It says right here in black and white that if I “commit (my) actions to the Lord” that “(my) plans will succeed.” Once properly aligned with the God’s Word, His Will and His Way – I will be successful. Let’s flip the script for a moment, does that mean that if my life is not successful I am out of alignment or possibly disconnected? Yes. You are in good company because we all have more to do. A life committed to Christ will prosper in all they do. If every attitude and action is committed to Christ likewise our plans will succeed.

Have you ever tried to drive a car whose tires are out of alignment? Essentially each one has a mind of its own and the vehicle will pull in the direction of the misalignment. The faster you go the harder it is to control the direction of the automobile. Is your life pulling to the right or left? Jesus promised to align His Way with you if you will come to Him. Yoking our life to the Lord means yielding our way to His Way. It is to slow down. Evaluate our direction. Examine our heart. Weed out those things keeping us from completely grafting into the vine and becoming His Branches. Those who get it right will prosper “in all they do” and have “plans that succeed.”

Genesis 8:21-22 (NLT) And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

In Genesis 1:28, God blessed mankind with fruitfulness and prosperity. He gave us power and authority basically dominion over the earth. Sin did not separate us from the earthly blessing, but rather separated us from right standing with God. It ended our partnership with the Lord. We could have a good life with a lot of hard work but as far as the Goodness found in His Glory – yeah it was game over. Looking ahead man’s sin took over, so God took the only righteous man and his family to safety while he wiped out the planet with a flood. Noah got off the ark and offered a pleasing sacrifice to God and in exchange God blessed the ground. This is important. Seedtime and harvest is very, very important because it restored man’s ability to prosper on the earth.

In the Garden, prosperity was given to us with God’s Blessing. However, we didn’t need the earth to produce because the blessing in the garden produced everything humanity needed to thrive. Sin separated us from the Presence of God. God gave us goodness in the earth again. He is such a good Father. This would be the beginning of grace for the world and its inhabitants even though “everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil”. Hang on…now where have I heard something like that before. Oh wait a minute, it is in the context of my life verse for 2017. “Now all glory to God, who is able, through the mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might think or ask.” His Goodness produces a Glory that is beyond my comprehension. The Truth is that despite my stinking thinking and sinful recollections that God is still trying to get His Goodness past what I think is possible to the impossible things that He has planned for me. He wants to do more than I think I am capable of. He wants to take me higher than I think possible. He wants to give me the life that Jesus Christ died for me to have rather than the one that I try to settle for day after day.

I Chronicles 4:9-10 (NLT) There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

In 2000, Bruce Wilkinson wrote a little book/commentary called The Prayer of Jabez. Many applauded the writing as pure revelation while others called it just another scripted effort in the prosperity gospel. I read the book. I prayed the prayer. I have seen its fruit bore in my life. Jabez was honorable humbled at birth by difficult circumstances. His mom called him a pain. His name actually means “pain”. I can’t imagine the humiliation others must have projected on Jabez. How insignificant his life must have felt as his mother looked at him in disdain. Childbirth is painful. I get it times five but I wonder what his mother must have been going through in her life. With each birth somehow a mother’s love overcomes the pain of the process, but for his mother it did not. He prayed to God, “Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain.” If you wish to term this “prosperity gospel” be my guest because it absolutely is just that. God called us to leave the borders of our natural life and step out by faith into the prosperity that He has promised His People – His Children. He is a good father who offers us a rich inheritance. If your mind can only see financial or tangible blessing in that as you pray God will change your heart and mind to see that as your soul prospers so will the rest of your life. To disconnect the blessings of God for our natural life as part of a crucified life silences the Gospel in our life. God blessings His People. By grace you are saved through faith that restores a right relationship with God. What Father withholds goodness from His Children who live with them? Parents bless their children in a right standing relationship. Why wouldn’t God? He tells us over and over that He has planned for our success. He will prosper us in every season. In Leviticus 26:5, it even says that though there are seasons that to Children of God they do not apply negatively but overlap in prosperity. Deuteronomy 28 outlines the blessings of obedience which are intangible and tangible. He also tells us that an impoverished life is in direct correlation with disobedience. Did God lie? No. Did He change his mind? No. Did He mislead us in any way? No not at all. We have set the boundaries of God’s Goodness and overflow in our life. We limit the Gospel because His Grace is only as sufficient as it operates in our life. If I limit my life according to what I can do or will do – it is not God’s Plan but my own in operation.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” The Lord has been good to me. He has been so much better than I deserve. It is easy for people to settle for the Goodness of God. The Word of God opens our eyes to the Truth that His Goodness has surrounded us from the moment that we were born – it is now that we can see it as magnified by His Word.

Through the battle with our son, bits and pieces of my life that I thought really mattered began to break off of me. The idea that I was somehow in control of anything in my life quickly subsided and the reality of my life is worth nothing outside of Jesus Christ. I was born to teenage parents. They struggled but just could not survive the statistics. They both had to find their own way leaving two little kids in the aftermath. God was with us. He gave us godly grandparents who took care of us while our parents sorted their lives out. My father married a wonderful woman who would become my mom, too. The Lord knew I needed her. My birth mother struggled for the rest of her life and died after a long battle with alcoholism that separated her from the ones she loved most. I discovered the love of God at eleven. Gave my life to Christ as a teenager. Rebelled for a decade. Ended up divorced with three kids and no hope for a future in my own eyes. I failed my children, my parents, my God and myself. God had a different plan and presented my soul mate. When I came back to Jesus, I set out to make things right to do all I could to make up for all that I had done wrong and thought I was doing pretty good. God blessed our life. My husband and I had knit together a family, achieved great jobs, built the perfect house, and life was good. Then came the moment that I realized it was all a façade, it came crashing down in October 2011. Could this be my fault? Repayment for a life wasted? No, God is good! Right? I could not save our son. I was helpless. God whispered, “Do you trust me?” I whispered, “Yes.” I meant it but had no idea the journey that I was embarking upon. At the end, I was broken before the Lord. I was empty. It was then everything changed. This was when God’s Grace became truly sufficient for me. You may say, “Well, of course it did! Your son is alive.” To God be the Glory – you are right he is. He had a 2% chance of survival. God did the impossible. However, what you do not know is that the doctors only believe he will live about ten years. The treatment is as deadly as the disease apparently. We are in the third year of remission. He experienced a long list of side effects that we must still believe God to take care of. See trust didn’t end in that moment, it was only beginning. The verse that carried me through treatment right now as he lives in remission is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose.”

Your life may not look like you thought. The disappointments might be a list longer than your arm. We get lost in our failures. We get tangled up in the lies the enemy is constantly trying to trap us with. We stop and settle because faith is just too darn hard. God’s Plan, His Future, is never at stake. He will absolutely do more than I can think or ask for. The only thing I must do is decide if I will live in His Presence or stay in the present. God’s Goodness is in your life right now. He blessed you from the beginning and called you to greater things. He ordained you for fruitful increase in every season. The righteous are not supposed to live in lack. Spiritual lack. Physical lack. Financial lack. His Goodness provides more than enough for us. But for those who desire His Glory – the kind that sparks revival – it is up to us whether we will step over the boundary of self and wealth into the place of prosperity called His Presence. Those who do will never experience disappointment again because their expectation is not on people or earthly provision but God’s Glory to fill their life and overflow. God has called you to prosper. He has already blessed the land on which you tread. He has gone before you and cleared the enemy’s camp. Will you go? Will you plant? Will you harvest? Well friend, that is up to you! I break the boundaries of human thinking that have trapped you in just enough in the Name of Jesus. I challenge you to let God do more than you can think or ask but stepping out in faith and trust in the Lord who always wants to do more than we can think, imagine or ask. As your soul prospers, let Him prosper you in all things.

Psalm 27:13 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

Soul Prosperity

Soul Prosperity

3 John 1:2 (AMP) Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

What is prosperity? According to the Random House Dictionary, prosperity is a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. Do you believe that the Lord prospers His People? In 3 John, the author writes to “beloved and esteemed” Gaius. This man is not identified further. The next verse gives way to a new way of thinking. I pray that “in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health” just as your “soul prospers.” As a believer, it is God’s Will for you to prosper both physically and spiritually. However, like every other benefit available to us through Jesus Christ, the Cross and Resurrection, it is completely up to me if I will live in the blessings of God bestowed on me before I ever breathed a single breath. You are blessed. You were made to prosper. However, the enemy has done his best to make people believe otherwise. I hope to change your mindset and motivate you to seek out the Lord’s Will for your life including the prosperity hidden beneath layers of lies that the enemy has used to overshadow the true potential of your new life in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 1:27-28 (AMP) So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

When God created man and woman, He blessed them. Do not go any further, stop right there. I did when our pastor shared this verse and the wheels of my mind began to get in gear with my spirit man. I am blessed. God released a blessing on people that cannot be revoked. Once God blesses, it stands. He does not lie or change His Mind. When He decided to bless us, the release was instantaneous. So where is it now? God SAID to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate (putting it under your power or subdue) it.” God’s has now issued a directive to His People. Rule over and dominate all living creatures and every living thing that moves upon the earth. Oh, but what about the fall of mankind? Well, that’s true. But can I introduce you to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. In Him, “we live and move and exist”. (Acts 17:28) Everything is brought into existence through Jesus. (John 1) Thanks to Jesus – our sin is removed and live restored to us. So the blessing on our life still stands as long as we live.

God was clear in His Directive to His People. Be fruitful. We know that the Fruit of the Spirit is the very thing that feeds and nourishes our soul changing us from death to life. (Galatians 5:22-23) To be fruitful is not only physical but a spiritual accomplishment as well. He told us to increase. Prosper. To live a limited life does not represent an unlimited Lord. Fill the earth. I believe that as true believers our life should overflow in goodness and grace in all things to all people. A life of generosity is a life of fearless abundance for those who are not afraid that our God has a small supply but exceedingly more than we can think or ask. Finally, to subdue the earth. We have authority and power locked away in these weak vessels of human bodies that is ready to take over every sickness, oppression and bondage that has people held captive. Greater is He who lives in us. We have the Keys to the Kingdom. Rather than shaking them all the time, it is about time God’s People started using them to unlock the captive and lock up the enemy.

Psalm 103:1-5 (AMP) Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

“Do not forget any of His Benefits…” Have we forgotten the blessings and benefits of God? Or did we ever have a clear understanding of who they are for and how to receive them? Hosea warned that people die from a lack of knowledge. It’s true. God has blessed me. He has blessed you. I have the same benefits available to me in Christ that every other person born is given. It is up to me if I take advantage of these benefits. My husband’s company offers health insurance including dental and vision. It is a benefit offered to all associates. Some consider the cost to high and opt out completely. Others, pay for the insurance but do not understand all it comes with and do not take full advantage of the benefits. Then there are others who have read the policy and procedures who utilize as many of the provisions as possible to get their monies worth. Where do you fall in this picture? Do you know the benefits offered in Christ? Do you take full advantage of them? Do you read the Word of God? Study it. Use it. Apply it. If not, you are missing out on blessings and benefits that are carefully detailed in God’s Word and waiting fulfillment in your life.

In Deuteronomy 28, the blessings of obedience are outlined in great detail including the “abundant prosperity” those who obey God. Before you exempt yourself because of sin, is the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ enough to cover your debt? Is the Blood of Jesus still strong enough for the remission of sin? If it is (and it is), all these blessings are still in good standing. Jeremiah 29, tells us that God has a plan for our life that includes prosperity. The only thing I have to do is seek the Lord wholeheartedly. What’s the catch? You have to believe enough to use your faith to trust the Lord at His Word. How do I trust God? Simply do what His Word says while seeking His Presence wholeheartedly.

In Jesus Christ, I have been given every spiritual blessing from the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3-6) Digging deeper in God’s Word, there is a recurrent theme. Obedience. Knowing God’s Word, and doing what it says will prosper my life spiritually and physically. I have the potential for success in all things. However, it is not obtained religiously as some people and churches might want you to think. Prosperity gospel is nothing more than multi-level marketing in the church. As my soul prospers, God will prosper my life. No man has a say on the level of blessing in my life. God has granted me all blessings in Heaven and Earth according to His Word and I find it in obedience. What is obedience? I cannot possibly do everything right. Of course, not but it is in pursuing righteousness in love that it all belongs to us. What is that?

Proverbs 16:20 (AMP) He who pays attention to the word [of God] will find good, and blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who trusts [confidently] in the Lord.

When asked “which is the greatest commandment in the Law”, Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first commandment. He didn’t stop there but went on to say, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Love. It is all about love. To seek God’s Presence and live in His Love prospers our life. As our soul gets it right, suddenly the windows of Heaven open and His Blessings begin to pour out all around us. It take energy, effort and commitment. Loving God and obeying Him is contradictory to human nature. Sin separates us from the Presence of God and limits our life. (Proverbs 28:13) Everything we do has the potential to prosper in God’s Love. (Psalm 1:1-3) His Way is always prosperous. (Psalm 10:5) Obedience to God equals prosperity every time. (Psalm 128) Prosperity is all about love and faithfulness (Proverbs 3:1-6) because it is an inheritance. I cannot earn God’s Love. He just freely gives it to me. I must choose to be faithful to my first love. Righteousness lived out in love with Jesus will prosper our life as our soul prospers. (Proverbs 21:21) Perfect love expels fear from our life so the sky becomes the limit. Dream it. Believe it. Do it. There are no limits for those who live in love with Jesus Christ.

Luke 9:24-26 (AMP)For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the [heavenly] Father and of the holy angels.

To prosper in our natural life is the ordination of God beginning in Genesis. He did not change His Mind when people decided to find their own way but rather provided THE WAY (Jesus) to come back to Him in righteousness again. The choice to follow Jesus Christ is a personal one. Some will do so religiously and find great frustration. Those who decision to enter a real relationship with Jesus changes the outcomes of life. Seeking the Lord wholeheartedly means there will be things I choose to do and not do in His Name. My primary motivation and soul prosperity is in loving Jesus wholeheartedly and seeking Him that way. In doing so, I have many benefits available to me that He is ready to release in my life. It is up to me if I will have them or not according to my willingness to accept them. When my life means nothing outside of Christ, the things of this world fall down my priority list. As the Lord and His Spirit begin to make my heart fruitful, I find that things like love, joy and peace are the precious commodities of my life. As my soul prospers, my life naturally does as well because now I have a better perspective on how to use my resources for God’s Kingdom and His Glory. I can be generous in all things because things are not as important as My King. If the tangible blessings of God will in any way remove you from His Presence, you are not ready to naturally prosper. When your whole heart is invested in loving Jesus, then and only then will our natural life resemble our spiritual condition.

Friend, God’s Blessings belong to you. From Genesis 1, God has called us to live in a successful, flourishing or thriving condition especially in financial respects and good fortune. His Favor belongs to you as His Child. You have every right to the benefits of your salvation. All of this secured God’s Love for us and released by our love for God and our ability to transcend that love to others. In love with Jesus, our soul prospers and then so will the rest of our life. God will not put it in your hand until He has your whole heart. Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Exceedingly Abundantly

Exceedingly Abundantly

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

The Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His Power that works in us. This is a bold statement which may be interpreted many ways. The definition of exceedingly is to the extreme and to an unusual degree. Abundantly is to be present in great quantity, more than adequate, and overly sufficient. Do you believe that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think? Obviously, the immediate response of most Christians would be “yes” or “of course”. But before you answer today, let’s examine our heart and mind for the real answer. Do I believe? I believe that I have faith but the Word of God is clear I that faith without works is dead. If the estimation of my life is based on the factors including circumstances and conditions present than it is limited to the natural and prohibitive of the supernatural. If ordinary suits me just fine, my bills are paid, marriage is rocking along, kids are doing well, and no major illnesses – praise the Lord – but your life will not be extraordinary locked in the promised provision. Christians spend a whole lot of time trying to make better choices, spend more time in the Word of God, and come up with the right prayer language. God has already prepared a plan for us with a future and hope. It is available to all who seek Him wholeheartedly. To seek God wholeheartedly will open up a new realm of heaven that contains the exceedingly abundantly above commodity most believers never tap into and don’t even realize is available.

2 Kings 4:2-6 (NKJV) So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. 

How big is your God? God is not limited in size or power. We are the limited resource that keeps exceedingly abundance from flowing through our life. I love the story of the widow woman who had a dilemma. Her husband a prophet had passed away. I am assuming that they had both served in the ministry many years. Now with no way to pay the bills, creditors were coming to enslave her children to pay the family debts. When Elisha came, she expressed her concerns. He asked her, “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” What’s in your house? What’s in your wallet…as the popular credit card commercial asks? What’s in your heart? Oil represents anointing. The woman’s life did not line up to the Will, Way, Word or Work of God presently but she had the secret all bottled up on a shelf. Elisha told her to “go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors – empty vessels.” He only wanted her to gather the empty ones. He was not telling her to go beg from her neighbors. This is important. He was not telling her to put her faith anywhere else but in the Lord. Where is your faith today? People, job or personal ability? The widow did as instructed.

How big is God’s Supply? God has an exceeding abundance for our life that is much greater than our human perception. The woman and her sons gathered together the jars and brought them to Elisha. Once inside the house, she was to “shut the door”. There are things that we need to “shut the door” on in our life to hear the Voice of God, to actively participate in our relationship with Him, and live in His Presence. When the Lord instructs us to do something, how often do we add our own spin or share it with anyone and everyone who will listen? She went inside with her sons and she “shut the door.” Obedience. Distorted or delayed obedience is disobedience. What if God has a miracle that is exceedingly abundantly more that is limited only by our unwillingness to obey His Directions? What if it is us deferring our blessing and not God at all?

The final instruction – pour it (the jar of oil) into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones. The widow did exactly as she was instructed. She did not take her small jar and compare it to the much larger vessels. She did not question the prophet. She did not delay. She did exactly what he told her to do when he told her to do it. The oil did not cease flowing until she ran out of jars. What if within us is the resource needed to produce exceedingly abundantly more and our limitation is our faith? Is it possible? Oh my friend, it is more than possible it is probable. The woman was desperate to save her sons. I understand that kind of desperation. The point of no return is the best place of all when it comes to faith because it is when the end of self is found and the prosperity of God in full measure can fill our life. You have the anointing. Christ lives in you today. You just have to become an overflowing vessel so He can pour it out in your life.

Ephesians 3:13-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It is much easier to make excuses and find all the reasons that we are not blessed or prospering than to commit the time, energy and discipline necessary to making exceedingly abundantly the reality of our life. Doubt tells us that the Goodness of God is too “good” to be true. Shame and guilt persuade us to somehow believe that His Grace is insufficient when nothing could be further from the Truth. There is no boundary to the Love of God concerning us. The death of Jesus Christ was absolutely enough to secure a right relationship with the Father, but we refuse to come home. God’s Goodness is for us in the land of the living, but pushing it off to the future allows us to attempt to maintain some form of control. It is when faced with desperation at the end of all possibility that God becomes our only option and mode of survival, yet God didn’t put us here on earth to survive but has ordained and anointed us to thrive.

God’s Love for me is so wide, long, deep and high that I will never reach the edge of it. When I allow faith to root and ground me in that unconditional and overflowing love – I become fearless. I can reach for the Lord and all that He has without fear of disappointment. God loves me. He is for me. He wants to do everything in His Word in my life. I must simply become the vessel that is needed to be conducive to such an overflow. Yes, it means provision. Yes, it means prosperity. Yes, it means healing. It means every good thing God has in Heaven is possible on the earth for those who believe. Do you believe? Lord, help our unbelief today!

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly Places in Christ. He didn’t do this because I asked Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. He ordained my birthright and inheritance before I was ever created. I am predestined to be blessed. Sin sold my birthright for a meal like Esau. Jesus gave it back. The Spirit of Adoption is complete. Why? Why does the Lord bless us? Why would He still do good things for me when I fail Him every day? It is not about me. It is His Good Pleasure. Blessing me blesses the Lord. He decided it gave Him pleasure from the start. To not actively pursue the Blessings and Promises of God for my life is to say, “No, thank you to Jesus!” To truly believe that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than one can think or ask would certainly facilitate faith on our part to have it in our life. Christ lives in us. He is more than enough. We must use our time, talent and treasure to be the vessel conducive to reproducing that anointing in our everyday life. It is not just for church. It is for our life. Every moment, every season, and every activity. We just need to be a bigger vessel so God can pour out His Blessing in our life.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

God has a purpose for our life. He wants the Light of His Love to shine for all the world to see. He has hidden that Light in these earthen vessels. It is a treasure to be discovered. It can only be discovered when allowed to shine for all the world to see. Who wants a God who does nothing? Who needs a Lord of the ordinary? Grace makes God’s Power complete in our weakness. What if the season you are in is just breaking the seal off the prosperity of your future? What if the oil in the jar sitting on the shelf unused is the very thing that will overflow abundance in your life? Maybe the secret to your success planned by the Lord is that idea or thought you have been mulling around in your head afraid to step out in faith to try? What are you waiting for? You only fail if you do not try. Faith releases God’s Anointing in our life that leads to success. It is the key to unlock the exceedingly abundantly that is beyond anything you can envision or dream. What are you waiting for? Shut the door on negativity. You don’t have to tell everyone what God has promised but let the Light shine as He completes His Work in you and through you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you step out on faith to dream the impossible and do what the Lord is telling you to do. Who cares what the world thinks! Let the Christ in you have His Way today! You are a Child of the King. You should live like one. God’s Full Potential and Purpose for our life is that we will live up to the full standard of Jesus Christ to be complete lacking nothing. God is ready to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can think or ask. Are you ready to receive it?

Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Psalm 32:8-11 (NLT) The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

Regret is to romance the past as if it were a long lost love. Many people live in regret in the midst of consequences that seem unchangeable. How can I go back? You can’t. What’s the point of trying? All these circumstances have created a barrier around my life now? Regret is a sense of loss, disappointment or dissatisfaction that can literally suck life even new life right out of you. It is to put a hand to the plow paving your future but using your other hand to point back. God promised to make all things new. If our heart is still set on the past, the forgotten, the lost or left behind, it becomes quite difficult to reach forward. We must stop looking in the rear view mirror and begin to look ahead. God’s Purpose for your life is alive and well if you are, in fact, still breathing. Nothing is lost. Yet, nothing ventured is nothing gained. I cannot make the same choices tomorrow and expect different results. It would be foolish to travel the same roads but expect different destinations. My potential as God’s Masterpiece is limitless. His Promises are limitless. I must simply choose the right path. Yet, it is too often the road not taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth…

The words of poet Robert Frost are true in so many ways. Standing at the crossroads of life, one must choose the path of life. It is a strain to see too far down it as it surely gives ways to twists, turns and curves making it impossible to see the end from the beginning. Our ways are not like His Ways. His Thoughts so much higher than our own that I am convinced it is humanly impossible to see much further than the next step down the right path because surely we would not take it. Our purpose, potential and promises hidden in His Way lead us to a rich and satisfying life. However, trust issues keep us bound at the crossroad in the crosshairs of the enemy who is waiting to steal, kill and destroy that dream God is about to make our reality. A life rich in love, joy and peace full of wisdom and grace that always leads to hope and never disappointment. He must lure you another way in order to have his way. Yet there is a still small voice saying, “Follow me.”

Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT) “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG) “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

The road not taken. What does that road look like to you? Is it a time when you think you should’ve have done one thing but did the other? Maybe you decided not to go to college, and now feel as though your earning potential is locked because you do not have the key labeled education? Or perhaps, you settled for something or even someone who you think was less than God’s Best now filled with regret tinged in bitterness – you have lost all drive and motivation – lost in the monotony of life things seem a little hopeless and lifeless – now what? You are at a crossroads. Every detail of your life leading up to this moment can be used for your good and His Glory depending on the road that you choose next. The pathway of trust leads to new life. Revival, renewal and restoration from a Resurrecting God through His Son doesn’t change our circumstances and conditions but cures them. He is the One who brings out all the potential hidden in our past and uses it to show the watching world that He really is God who makes all things new and brings dead things to life.

Are you committed to the road not taken? It requires only one thing. Trust. Absolute and total confidence in Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. It means that we make Jesus, not only Savior, but Lord of our life including every decision from this moment forward. It means leaving the past behind us, keeping our eyes fixed on the future and not turning around again. Are you romancing regret or revival today?

Psalm 18:32-36 (NLT) God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

The prophet Joel warned, “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision.” Where are you today? Salvation is more than asking Jesus to be our Savior. It must be solidified by faith, In other words, we must believe. It cannot be assumed that He will come sweep us away just because I bowed my head and recited a quick prayer in some fancy prayer meeting. Heading down to a river, or into a baptismal did not seal the deal, but opened the gate to my future. Trust is the act that God is waiting for. The first step in my future is called trust. It is moving in that new direction that doesn’t make sense is not logical and most often completely contradictory to human nature but simply an act of obedience as we learn to trust God at His Word. I believe the “thousands” in Joel is not an example of those who are lost but rather those who call on the Name of Jesus but cannot truly grab hold of Him in belief. Those who want to have faith but refuse to trust the Lord.

The Lord has made a way that is exclusive for His Children. (Isaiah 35:8-10) Do you trust Him enough to follow it home? We pray for the Lord to show us His Way crying out for His Glory. The church requests His Spirit to come and revival to fill us yet do not do our part in securing its way. Trusting the Lord does not clear our path but provides an unseen way. Remember the Children of Israel, stuck between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. They expected death that day either at the hand of the enemy or by force of nature. But God had hidden a road under the Red Sea that was exposed by trust. Even as the wall of waters made the way for their escape, I am sure some were skeptical. Those who chose to trust the Lord that day made it safely to the other side. It was not logical or conventional and so it is with Jesus.

God uses our journey in life to prepare us for victory. He doesn’t want us to simply walk through this life meekly but instead is read to prosper us in every way. The Lord has already imparted to us every spiritual blessing possible so where is it? Maybe it is on the road called trust that has not been taken. Perhaps if we put one foot out – we will begin to see that God made a way. I just wasn’t walking in it. Those who choose to trust the Lord and follow Him are promised the following: God will arm us with His Strength. He makes our way perfect. He makes us surefooted or confident. He enables us to stand fearlessly. The Lord trains us for the battles. He makes my arm capable of holding the shield labeled faith. He supports me. God helps me. The path of trust is surety and it becomes wider as we walk in it so it is not a slippery slope any longer. Psalm 23 promises me that He is a Good Shepherd who goes with me every step of the way when I choose to follow Jesus making Him the Way and the Truth for my life.

Jeremiah 6:16-17 (NLT) This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ I posted watchmen over you who said, ‘Listen for the sound of the alarm.’ But you replied, ‘No! We won’t pay attention!’”

I am attending a conference in the beautiful Bahamas with my husband this week. The property is absolutely massive. The scheduled meetings are not in the main tower of rooms where we are staying. It would be easy to get lost. However, when we start in the direction of the next event there are signs directing our large group to guide us. From stepping off the elevator, clear directions with people holding signs with our group name and freestanding banners mark the way. It is impossible to get lost unless, of course, one decided not to follow the route. Trying to find a shortcut to avoid the crowd of people or shorten the distance, they might choose another way. I have that choice, but I do not allow myself to give into it because clearly these people can get me there just fine. What about the Lord? What if my frustration is caused by my unwillingness to choose His Way? What if my lack of trust is keeping my life from fulfillment and prosperity? What if it is me? What if I am not taking the right road or choosing His Path? What if my regrets hold my full attention and letting go is not an option? Could it be me? It usually is friend. My experience is that when my life doesn’t line up to God’s Word, it is time to evaluate my position in life. It is easy to become detoured which leads to delay. Delayed obedience is always a deterrent that stops us heaven’s overflow. God is pouring out His Spirit. He has already given us every spiritual blessing. My purpose is part of His Plan that leads to a future called hope but am I seeking Him wholeheartedly? Trusting Him with my life? Could it be the road I have not taken marked trust that leads to faith and confident hope? I intend to find out and make the right decision. I want to arrive successfully at the right destination. I want to endure this life which is salvation to my soul. Show me the right path today, Lord.

Psalm 25:4-5 (NLT) Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

Early Check In

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Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The date circled on the calendar months ago has finally arrived. For the past week, I have been picking out clothes, preparing to pack, organizing the house, making a menu, listing instructions and informing our kids of our expectations while away on a trip. Not just any trip, but a trip to the Bahamas provided by my husband’s company. The resort is picturesque. Amenities ample and prime. It is a place many only dream of that the Lord has blessed us with. I have anticipated the trip and tomorrow it’s off to the airport. This morning, I went online to check-in and get our boarding passes. Our flight leaves around 7:00 AM. After providing all the information required by Homeland Security, a layout of the aircraft is provided with our seats clearly marked. After agreeing to all terms and conditions, a final notice marked “Check-in Successfully Complete” flashes on the screen with a “Enjoy Your Trip!” As I put away all the necessary documents and sealed them in the bright-colored pouch from the travel agency, I couldn’t help but wonder – Lord, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do the same spiritually? Log in to Heaven.com or WeRSaved.com and make sure there is a place for me ahead of time. To be sure that I am doing the right things, living the right life, and making good choices so that I won’t be turned away at the gate…the pearly gates that is. I know if I made it to the gate for my flight tomorrow and they wouldn’t let me board that I would be very sad and disappointed. I don’t even want contemplate how I might feel if it was standing before Jesus and He said, “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”

When the details of this glorious trip were sent to my husband who forwarded them to me, I immediately put the dates on the calendar at work and in my phone. Planning. Now that I knew it was coming, it would be good, and I wanted to go – I made plans around the trip. It became a priority of sorts. The destination of my faith is a placed called confident hope. It must be something that I desire and decide to participate in. It must become a priority in my life. Faith is established in my relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be my priority. Prepare. I have spent several months planning and preparing for this trip in advance. I have children who need to be cared for. Details to be decided. Faith requires preparation as it develops characteristics contrary to man. Our flesh chooses immediate gratification over endurance. It would rather give up then persevere. It prefers the easy way rather than the Highway of Holiness which is a narrow road with a small entrance described as harder to get through than the chances of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. What if the destination called Heaven, His Kingdom, Eternity and Forever were as highly anticipated, planned and prepared as an exotic vacation of sorts. What would happen if we invested an equal amount of time planning for our future as we do to have fun?

Ephesians 1:18-20 (NLT) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

Flying is a love/hate relationship. I love the fact that from start to finish it will only be four hours. However, for those four hours, I must trust the craftsmanship of the airplane, the mechanics who maintain it, and the pilot who will fly it, so trust is an issue. As I enter flights, just before walking in the doorway I lay hands on the airplane and pray. It is quick and brief and most people don’t even notice although one stewardess in Atlanta did whisper, “Amen!” with a wink and smile. Trust is an issue of faith. We must trust the Lord with our life. I believe that to try to do so blindly is ignorance on our part that leads to death and destruction. I cannot trust God outside of faith. Faith is found in the Word whose Name is Jesus. Jesus is the Word. To try to know Him, let alone trust the Lord, outside of the Word of God is impossible. You are setting yourself up to fail. The Word cuts flesh from bone exposing the innermost parts of what we have been taught and our new life in Christ. I cannot know the blessings, benefits, promises, purposes and process by which it is achieved in my life if I do not strive to know the Word of God including Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. I have studied the packet provided by the agency in detail. I have confirmed our flight. I have retrieved our passports. I have visited the website of our destination and I am almost packed. Do I give this much attention to the Lord and my destination in Him each day? Each week? Consistently? Confident hope is born of constant trust that develops and matures our faith.

Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLT) Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

I am excited about the time of rest for the next week. Time with my husband apart from hectic schedules, rigorous routines and the busyness of life. Rest is also a blessing of the Lord given to those who find their place in Him. Jesus promises rest to those who yoke their life to Him. (Matthew 11) Those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him and the future and hope that He holds for us. (Jeremiah 29:13) What if we planned and prepared each day for the place called Heaven and Eternity with God? What if His People anticipated it for the Glorious Destination that it is? Far more wonderful than a week in some tropical paradise from which you are dumped right back in the rat race called life. To be with Jesus Forever apart from fear, worry, anxiety, stress, sickness, pain and brokenness, to live forever in the Light of His Love basking in His Glory. It will be so much better than any of His Creation. We must believe it enough to anticipate it.

Faith given the opportunity to become confident hope is our boarding pass. To trust Jesus with the details and simply live in wholehearted pursuit of Him. To follow His Way because we want to be where He is. He must become our desired destination. The only way to become confident in the Lord is to try trusting Him at His Word. I am trusting the travel agent who planned and prepared this trip for us. Just a person doing her job who doesn’t know us at all. She is just doing what the company instructed her to do. Yet, I am trusting her with the details of the next week. Hmmm, so what about Jesus? He died to offer me a place in His Kingdom forever. His Love, Grace and Mercy to transport me from sin to salvation. His Blood to cover me so that when God sees me I will be white. My boarding pass is ready. I just need to check-in. If I go over the details of my walk with Christ, it is easy to see the areas that need my attention. To locate the places where other things have maybe become the priority and need to be reorganized. Jesus should be at the top of every list. There should be no other books unless I read the Bible every day. There should be no other conversations until I converse with Jesus first in prayer. The most important place I go before heading out the door is His Presence. Who lives like that you are asking? I do if I want to be where Jesus is forever. If I want confident hope, I must engage in trusting the Lord and building the foundation called faith. Faith will always produce confident hope so I do not have to wonder what will happen after I take my last breath. I will already know and have inexpressible joy!

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Life in a Pressure Cooker

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

The pressure cooker was invented by a Frenchman, by the name of Denis Papin, who was a scientist rather than a renowned chef. His goal was more of a science experiment in physics more than a culinary innovation. The first pressure cooker was called the “Digester”. A solid metal pot with an airtight lid and steam-release value on top to adjust accordingly. The early models of his invention resulted in many explosions that ultimately led to the development of the piston-and-cylinder. The Digester was also the forerunner to the autoclave used to clean medical utensils before and after each use for hygienic purposes. I have never used a pressure cooker, but have had food cooked in one. The high pressure cooking brings out the moisture in food making even the toughest meat tender. It cooks much faster than normal as the boiling point is raised from 212 to 250 degrees. However, by design, it can be a bit intimidating with the bubbling value that shoots out steam under pressure. Though I cannot relate to cooking with pressure, I certainly will “amen” that I live under constant pressure.

“Pressed by every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.” The pressures of life though unseen can feel unbearable at times. Pressure is force upon the surface of an object. Life is fueled by expectation influenced by society, culture and even religion. Certain expectations that create external pressure to perform up to the level of the expectancy of others, self and yes, God. We have the Light of God’s Love within us and it is trying to make its way out. All the while the enemy tries to snuff it out with half-truths, lies and deceptions meant to make us give in, give out and buckle under the pressures of life. But what if the pressure you are feeling is not from external force but internal resistance trying to extract our purpose and fill our life with God’s Goodness to His Glory. The Light in us resisting the darkness around us and we are caught in the middle. What if the pressure is not to crush us but promote us to the position God intended for us? We are filled with a Great Treasure not meant to be hidden under a basket but positioned on a hill high above the city for all to see. Our life is not supposed to be ordinary but extraordinary thanks to the God in us. Natural gives way to supernatural by allowing God to move through us … the process that is used most by God is pressure. Pressure to change. Pressed to release. To be pressed down, shaken together so the Lord can run over in every area of life. Are you feeling the pressure today?

Job 23:8-14 (NLT) I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

One of the most challenging things about God and a pressure cooker is that you cannot see what’s going on inside of them. The pressure cooker is sealed for the entire time. Who can see or really know what God is up to inside of us? During times of testing, it is only natural to feel like God has abandoned us when nothing could be farther from the Truth. He prepared you for this moment when pressure surrounds us. He has been positioning you for such a time as this. When taking a test in school, does the teacher give you the answers during the exam? No, the answers were provided before the day of the test. God prepares us along the way with His Word. He teaches us discipline. He gives us discernment so that when the time comes to be tested – we will pass. If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. (Proverbs 21:10) Job expresses this very feeling in Job 23:8-9 but comes to a very important conclusion by faith – “But he knows where I am going, and when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”

What is the purpose of the test? God is working to develop faith in us to be used to overcome and prosper. To be successful in all we do demands obedience to His Word, Will and Way. This is not about a religion or church guidelines. No, this about purpose and destiny inscribed on your heart and brought about by Christ living and breathing inside of you. Too often, we do what people say and don’t listen for God’s Voice or study His Word or follow His Way. Instead we rely on people to take us somewhere they have never been and do for us only what God can do. God applies pressure so that we will not settle for where we are, who we are or what we have. He wants His Goodness and Glory to overflow in us and around us.

In Psalm 23, David writes “even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Like Job, David understood the Presence of God all around him. He knew that “rod” of discipline and “staff” of direction were absolutely necessary to make it through the shadows and valleys of life. Everyone has tests and trials in life. Everyone experiences pressure. It is our response to these things that dictate our destiny. David knew if he remained faithful and followed the Lord through these hard times and did not succumb to pressure that he would experience tremendous and overwhelming blessing despite his hardship. How about you? What do you do when pressure bears down on you? Is your strength in the Lord strong enough to endure? To seek relief from the pressure is to start the whole process over again. If I release the pressure cooker value before my meal is done and ready to eat, I must begin the process over again. God’s Way is perfect. His Plan is fulfillment. To comprise and give in to pressure will result in costly do overs and lengthy delays in reaching our destination.

Job decided it was better to remain faithful and true to God’s Word, Will and Way. He made the choice that when his world fell apart around him to continue to honor and serve God despite the horrors he faced. He did not give into the pressure of life. When others would have cursed God and died, Job made the right choice yielding to the Lord and walking in His Ways despite his pain, heartache and complete devastation. How are you responding to the pressures of life today? Jesus tells us in His Word that we must endure to be saved. Pressure produces endurance in the heart secured by faith and confident hope. Is that you today?

“But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does so he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.” I love Job’s declaration in the midst of devastation. Job surrenders to the Lord. God’s Way is perfect. Say that with me: “God’s Way is perfect.” Even though it may seem perfect – He is always working to perfect that which concerns us. (Psalm 138:8) If He is working everything for our good like His Word says, we must trust the Lord to complete this work that He began in us. I cannot work God’s Plan – He will work it out in me. I must simply surrender and submit to the Lord every area of my life. To endure the pressure to make it to the gold inside of me. To know that God is love. God is good. God is faithful. God is steadfast. His Love unfailing. His Grace neverending. All this means nothing, if I do not believe. Belief is demonstrated in trust. Do you trust the Lord today? If you do, you will not be tempted to turn the knob of rebellion and give up midway again. You cannot seek to relieve the pressure but endure it so that what God has placed in you, your potential will be refined and released as purpose.

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

Would the Lord really tear us to pieces? The Lord works best in our brokenness. His Grace is perfected in our weakness when His Power can completely overtake us. When a colt is introduced to a bridle and bit, the first urge is to resist. It shakes its head and tries to go its own way trying to wrestle the reins from the trainer. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. The Lord will not make you follow Him. He will not force blessings and prosperity in your life. Simple obedience provides basic provision. Radical obedience produces an abundance of prosperity. Not because of what you do, but because of where you are going. The deeper in love I am with Jesus the greater my desire for His Presence. The more I seek Him, the more I find Him. Where He is – there is my greatest treasure. The only thing that gets me closer to the Lord is faith and trust. I must learn to not give in to the pressures of life and rather rejoice that the Lord is up to something wonderful and if I don’t give it – it will come to pass in my life. Trusting the Lord keeps us steady under pressure. In the meantime, let us press to know Him more.

Psalm 119:143 (NLT) As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.

As I have shared before, transition is the final phase of childbirth. It is also the hardest. You want to give up. You don’t think you can do it anymore. The pressure seems unbearable. The promise is so close. The very thing God is birthing in you is in transition. It is closer than you think. You cannot give in now. Get your hand off the release value, you are going to see this thing through. Maybe the pressure around you is not intended to break you down, but bust through the darkness to let your Light shine. Perhaps, it is your purpose about to break down every wall between you and prosperity. God uses pressure to promote us but only those who endure will know the sweet taste of victory. Are you feeling the pressure? Dive into God’s Word find your promise. Let Him strengthen those weary hands and weak knees today. Those who do will learn to rejoice under pressure because they know God’s Promise waits on the other side. Release is coming. Everything is going according to plan! God’s Plan. The Holy Spirit is cooking up something wonderful in you so taste and see that the Lord is good!

James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

 

Are You Being Sifted?

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Luke 22:31-34 (NLT) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

My grandmother baked the finest Tollhouse cookies ever created. They literally melted in your mouth. She made them completely from scratch. I tried to replicate her recipe once but mine just weren’t the same. My children prefer those that come in the bright yellow package, marked Tollhouse, yet you break and bake. Of course, they do. They are ready in minutes. You can back them on a whim. There is no recipe to follow or ingredients to gather. One of the secrets to the success of my grandmother’s recipe was the sifting process. She would take the flour and pour it through her old sifter. It was made of tin, weathered by age. It had a little handle on the side with a tiny wooden knob just right for little helpers. I would run the flour through and show grandma. She would say, “Do it again.” I continued to sift the flour, baking soda and salt together over and over again until it finally met her approval. I was not a patient child. I am barely achieving patience in my fifty years of life. Each time she would send me back to sift again, I would head off with a heavy sigh. Mumbling under my breath, not sure what the point was, the flour looked just fine to me. She would take the fruits of my labor and mix it with the carefully creamed butter, sugar and egg dumping in some chocolate chips and pecans. After a good ten minutes or so, she would give me a slightly cooled yet still ooey gooey cookie with some cold milk. Heaven in my mouth, I assure you.

Jesus had already prophesied over Peter that he would be the rock on which the church would be built. His potential was clearly labeled from the start. Yet throughout Peter’s time with the Messiah, it is clear that his faith was struggling a bit and his ability to believe beyond what he could see challenged by all the distractions of life. The night before Jesus would be hoisted up on the Cross, he gathered his disciples together. At the last supper, he told Peter, “Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” Is the enemy sifting you today? Are you feeling the pressure? Is life more specifically your “faith” life a struggle? Do you feel like giving up? Are you confused in your calling? Jesus told Peter, “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith would not fail.” Sifting is part of the process that the Lord uses to refine our faith while the enemy intends to steal, kill and destroy our potential and purpose in Jesus Christ. It is up to us whether or not we give in to the struggle or learn to strive.

To sift means to separate, examine or question closely. Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. No wonder it requires such a rigorous process to be defined and determined. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, it is imperative in the life of every Christ that sifting occurs. However, our response to such an intrusive is clearly evidence of progress in our life that allows us to see what needs to be disciplined to finish the race and claim our prize. The word “sift” comes from the Old English word “siftan” which means to pass through a sieve. I wonder if this can be compared to the difficult of reaching the Kingdom when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) Our family has always traveled with four girls including myself. Luggage space was at a premium as the girls wanted to dump their entire closet in the back of the SUV. Many times, they had to rethink, reorganize and repack their clothes, shoes, straighteners and makeup into one bag. They would have to empty the contents considering what they really needed and wanted to take. Sifting in life causes us to empty the contents of our heart and life, examining it closely for one thing – faith. Nothing else is worth taking because nothing else will gain us access into forever. All the other “things” in life are left this side of Heaven.

Job 1:1 (NLT) There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

The very thing that you are going through is the opportunity to sift through the contents of your life and reprioritize. Good people still must go through some things in life because our goal is godliness. Job was a good man. He was blameless in the sight of the Lord living in complete integrity. He feared the Lord and obeyed the Word staying far from evil. Yet, still he lost everything. What makes it even more difficult to understand or comprehend is that it was actually God who recommended his servant to satan that day…

Job 1:6-12 (NLT)  One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Have you counted the cost for the faith you desire? How you considered your contribution to a new life in Christ? It requires our all. We must be willing to give up this life to save our soul, it sounds good and even looks pretty good on paper until it is required of us in the natural. This is the turning point for many Christians called to the Lord. They cannot leave this world behind so they turn back to this life. God had a plan. He knew exactly what He was doing in Job, through Job and for Job in the process of testing. The only thing Job had to do was to trust the Lord.

I used to talk a good faith talk. I desired to have a faith walk. Continually crying out to the Lord to grow, develop and mature my faith, but never really understanding what might be required of me to do so. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord asked simply if I trusted Him and I quickly agreed having no idea that a three month treatment plan would turn into a three year battle that would leave me with little left but a mustard seed of faith. It took me a good solid year to decide if I had it in me to continue to seek more faith and trust God more. I was wore torn and battle weary. There was no more of me to give to the good fight of faith. I was empty, depleted and needed Jesus more than ever just to make it through each day. What will it take for your life to come down to faith? How many layers of security must be removed? How many trials and tests to find the relevancy and validity of this tiny seed called faith that we must live by? It really is up to each one of us. Our purpose and calling are never withdrawn. God does not change His Mind about the Plan that He has made for us. We decide if it is the life that we want, need and desire above all things.

Job 41:31-34 (NLT) “Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment. The water glistens in its wake, making the sea look white. Nothing on earth is its equal, no other creature so fearless. Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts.”

Leviathan is the enemy’s partner. He lurks under our skin and in the recesses of our mind. He is the one who questions every decision or notion to follow Christ. He challenges us with lies and half-truths designed to distract, detour and delay with his prime goal being destruction. Commotion and chaos are not of God. When our life doesn’t make sense according to the Word of God or we begin questioning His Call or even considering giving up the good fight of faith, Leviathan is lurking beneath the surface stirring things up. We are not fighting flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6) We are fighting against evil around us and pride within us. The world produces a craving and desire for physical pleasure, wanting everything we see and pride that is in our achievements and possessions. (I John 2:16) Peter thought that he was ready to die for Jesus but the truth was that he had not yet died to self. The moment one decides to give their all to Jesus – our flesh immediately fights back. The real struggle begins because to give everything to Him requires total crucifixion of our flesh. My old self must be crucified with Christ and only that birthed of His Spirit, our new life, must be allowed to live. (Galatians 2:20) To live for Jesus is to trust in the Son of God who loves me more than myself. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith must be refined and tested until all of the impurity marked by self is removed and Christ is allowed to rule and reign in me so that every day and every choice is subject to the Cross, His Divine Plan and Perfect Will. Satan is the author of confusion and the father of all lies. He will make quitting seem like the right thing to do, giving up like surrender when it is not, and the enemy hates what God is doing in us and through us and will stop at nothing to sideline us to steal our victory.

Job 42:10-12 (NLT) When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.

The Lord had a plan including a future and hope for Job. I read recently that the Book of Job is really an account of one man and his fight against pride. Pride is the exaltation of self above God put quite simply. Pride is in control when we stop trusting God and decide to do it. The times when God’s Way seems too hard or challenging so instead partial obedience seems to be a better route. We are conflicted. In such a state, we cannot serve both masters. Partial obedience is actually disobedience. The enemy stirs the water of our life with commotion fills us with confusion and suddenly the vortex of stress and pressure quickly overtakes us. Ready to give up or give in – suddenly the price to follow Christ becomes more than anyone is willing to pay. We have exactly what we need to give our all to Jesus because we are all that He desires. The question is really “Am I willing to?” Am I willing to give up my way completely? Am I willing to give up this life for forever? Am I really willing to trust the Lord? Friend, the enemy is out to sift you like wheat today. He knows every doubt and insecurity in you. He is well aware of your weakness and hears every complaint you have against God. He is absolutely hell bent on using it all against you. You are in the Hand of God and he cannot come near you unless God allows it. God promises to take every detail of our life and make something good out of it for His Glory. Our part in that is simple – trust. Do we trust Him enough to stop struggling and begin striving for the prize again? Or maybe for the first time ever? There is a hidden blessing far greater than worldly wealth waiting for those who do. It is called faith and confident hope.

Zechariah 13:7-8 (NLT) “Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Why sift flour? Sifted flour is lighter. It blends with other ingredients to form a consistent batter without all the lumps and bumps. It rises better when baking as well. Removing all impurity, it refines the flour to do its job and fulfill its purpose. The enemy uses sifting as a means to destroy God’s People. But the Lord uses it to rid our life of everything hindering us from fulfillment and full satisfaction in life. The struggle is real. We must contend with difficulty. There is a real adversary to our new life in Christ. It will take violence to advance into the Kingdom. When we decide to surrender to the sifting process, and allow God to fully examine our heart and life removing every impurity, casting down every thought contrary to His Word, Will and Way so that we can run without the extra weight of sin or even ignorance – it is then that our struggle becomes striving. Striving is to exert our self vigorously in that which is desired. If that is faith, then giving up on the good fight is not an option. It means rather than fighting for compromise, we try harder to be disciplined and committed to Jesus Christ. It is to make strenuous efforts toward the goal and not focusing on our weakness, problems or feelings anymore. It is to define our purpose in God as valuable and worth the price of self. In Zechariah 8 – God talks about a “remnant”. I believe that this verse in Zechariah 13 sums up the process by which His Remnant is revealed. They are tested. They are tried and most of them give up or fall away in the effort. Those that choose to submit to this process called sifting or refinement and pass the test by faith and trust will be the remnant of God. I do not want my faith to fail me. I desire nothing more than to live in confident hope. I want God’s Will, His Word and His Way to be my every moment. I want to be that person. I want Him to be MY God!

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

Wholeheartedly

wholeheartedly

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

How do I give all the pieces of my heart to Jesus? Wholehearted is to be done, enacted, given with total sincerity, enthusiasm and commitment. It means that I am fully and completely committed to that which my heart is given. What is that exactly? I instructed in God’s Word in Deuteronomy and confirmed by Jesus that “I must love the Lord (my) God with all (my) heart, all (my) soul, and all (my) mind.” This is called the first and greatest commandment. In Jeremiah, it is the established way of attaining God’s Plan for our life with the future and hope that comes with it. I wonder sometimes if in our plight to perfect a way easily followed that this is overlooked in the modern day church. Righteousness becomes rightness. My righteousness is found in Christ alone but there is some sense of natural security that is assumed by doing what is right. This misconception is nothing more than a lie of the enemy meant to deceive God’s People. Our sole pursuit in life must be to love God wholeheartedly for that is how to find Him.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NLT) “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Our pursuit of God and His Righteousness begins with the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made into flesh to dwell among us. To know, understand and begin to comprehend God’s Love demonstrated in Jesus Christ is to study, meditate and pray the Word of God in our life. God speaks to His People through His Word. It is a foreign language that must be learned and committed to memory. It must be incorporated in everyday life. We must study to show ourselves approved. Ready to share the Gospel in season and out of season. The Word brings wisdom that is more valuable than precious gems or the purest gold. Jesus is the Bread of Life that feeds and nourishes our spirit so the Holy Spirit can cultivate His Fruit in us. We must commit wholeheartedly to the words of God and Jesus Christ. The Word of God is life. It takes all the pieces of our heart no matter how broken, binding them altogether with the promise that everything is going according to His Plan.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT) “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

God has not and will not ever force anyone to serve Him. He does not need servants to attend Him or workers to do His Business. God desires our love. The Spirit of the Lord set us free allowing us to choose who we will serve rather than keeping us captive to sin. He offers us a plan with a future and hope to live and not die. It is a personal choice. We must choose carefully. Amaziah I is noted in 2 Chronicles 25 as one who did what is right in the Lord’s eyes, but did not do it wholeheartedly. Hezekiah is later noted in 2 Chronicles 31 as one who also pleased the Lord but he did it wholeheartedly. The Lord is looking for those who do not just seek to please Him for His Goodness but desire His Glory wholeheartedly. God fills our life with good things because He loves us. The rains falls on the wicked and the righteous because God is good. When I do what is right in His Sight, I will experience more and more of His Blessings because they are already provided for me. It is simply a matter of positioning myself in the right place at the right time doing the right thing as His Word and His Way indicates. But that is not enough for me…not anymore.

To do what God desires will benefit our life. It will expose hidden blessings just because we are honoring Him with our attitude and actions. I want more than that. I want the full and complete standard of Jesus Christ that creates unity of faith and knowledge. (Ephesians 4:13) I don’t want anything left out of the Glorious Standard of Living that sin was kept from me. I can have it now because Christ lives in me. But if I do not have a relationship with Jesus, I cannot be a Child of God. Doing what He wants just makes me a slave to God rather than sin. (Romans 6:16-18) When I decide that I love God wholeheartedly is when I begin to experience the truest freedom that is to become a Child of God.

Jeremiah 32:39-41 (NLT) They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

God desires a relationship with you today. One that you have not every experienced before and that your flesh rallies against daily. To give up this life in pursuit of forever seems like a risky investment. What if I am wrong? What if there is not a God? What if God is not as good? What if Jesus is not real? I cannot convince you of the existence of God or the vastness of goodness or fathomless depths of His Love. You will have to experience them for yourselves. What I do know is this? No one can convince me otherwise. If I die, I will not be disappointed. My hope in Jesus Christ is secure. But for argument’s sake, what if I am wrong and there is nothing after this life? Well, I can honestly say that loving God and serving Him has only benefited and blessed my life in inexplicable and inconceivable ways. If God were only a myth, it would still have been worth giving my life to Him. I want more. I want to love God with ALL of my heart, ALL of my soul and ALL of my mind. Daily I must make it my passionate pursuit to love Him with more of me. God desires an everlasting covenant. He wants to be one with us. We avail ourselves when we seek the Lord wholeheartedly.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Lord, if I have withheld pieces of my heart, my soul or my mind from you – I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas so I can give more of me to You, God! We have been given an opportunity to enter into the greatest love story ever written. To experience a love so great that the boundaries will never be seen. To experience the Glory of God so overwhelming that it melts us in His Presence. What if for a moment – we stopping working so hard and try worshipping the Lord more? Taking time to enter His Presence, sit at His Feet, listen to His Words and hear His Heart. God desires a relationship with us. He wants you. He longs for me to be with Him forever. What if I am trying to impress God with my actions and all He really wants is my heart? My time. My talent. My treasure mean nothing outside of His Power at work in me. Nothing I can ever accomplish on the earth in my power will ever outshine the work of Jesus on the Cross. God simply wants to raise my standard of living so that I can live in His Glorious Standard as any good parent would do. His Love is completely overwhelming but so very simplistic. For God so loved me that He gave His Only Son that I might be saved. There is nothing I can do, say or be to cap that kind of love. All I can give is all that I am for all that He is.

What if God only desired our true love? What if He really is not impressed by what we do for Him but how we love Him? I believe that if we came back to our first love as it tells us in Revelation that becoming the church that the Lord called and created us to be would not be quite so complicated. As believers if we would choose to love God wholeheartedly, there would be a shift in the dynamics of the organization and institution so that it would become the living, breathing and healthy Body of Christ again. No longer would there be politics or personal agendas leaking into the walls of the church but the Power of God called His Glory would emanate from it pouring out into our communities, our country and around the world. The same message would be spoken. It would be all about love. Agreement wholeheartedly would produce a sound message that the world would hear clearly. God is love. God is in love with you! My life is worth nothing until the Love of God overtakes every part it so that I can effectively communicate God’s Love to a lost and dying people in a cold, dark world. Lord, I give you my heart, my soul and my mind. Make it whole according to Your Word, Your Will and Your Way today so that I can give it back to You!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Ezekiel 36:26(NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.