To Prosper

To Prosper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Through the Fire

Through the Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Gate

New Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Keep Striking the Arrows

Keep Striking the Arrows

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith

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

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

Endurance

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

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

Patience

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

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

Humility

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

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

Obedience

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

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

Perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Where’s My Blessing?

Wheres My Blessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

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

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

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without Further Delay

砂時計とお金

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

A young woman who was quite intoxicated made the fatal decision to livestream from her car while driving. In the video, she loses control of the vehicle which flips multiple times. You can hear the screams and moaning of her passenger. She continues to livestream from the accident as her fourteen year old sister succumbs to her injuries. The newscaster sharing the details of this tragic and terrible story says, “What has the world come to? Is it going to get any better? It only seems to be getting worse.” Senseless death and the memorialization of horrible events such as this happen every day. Children committing suicide on the air. People mocking a drowning man rather than saving him. What once was hidden is now broadcast on blast. The modern day anchor-now-prophet declaring to the world on national television – things are only getting worse. He wasn’t talking about the economy or the healthcare system. He was talking about human beings. The love of many has grown cold while the lukewarm hearts become stone cold. Sin is rampant. I remember my grandparents telling me how sad the state of affairs of the world had become and that surely Jesus was coming soon. Now as I await the birth of our first grandchild, I realize they were right. Jesus is coming back. As the details of God’s Word become the chilling reality in which we live – there is no reason to fear. Instead, it is a call to action.

Some will stop reading right here. Isn’t there enough bad news in the world today without the added stress or pressure of the end of the world? For those who know the Lord, the end is only the beginning. God is not slack concerning His Promise. Jesus will return to triumphantly claim His Bride. It all sounds like some fairy tale. However, faith tells us that is not fiction but the fact to live by. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack. He is not in any way delayed. His Longsuffering and His Heart cannot accept that any of His Beloved would choose to die rather than accept eternal life. The new life that comes to those who are a new creation. It all sounds wonderful and almost too good to be true. As God waits, it is time to take notice. He is not delayed. You are not deferred. He is waiting for us to respond to Him so He can receive us.

Romans 6:15-17 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are no longer slaves bound by debt or obligation. The Son has set us free and given us His Grace. The Blood of Jesus Christ paid the price of sin fully so now freedom takes over our life. We choose who we serve making us servants. I can choose the master of my life each day. Who do I choose to portion my life to? Who do I give the best of my time? What is the ethical and moral outline of my life? The process of salvation is grace giving way to faith that produces obedience to the Lord. Salvation is only the beginning. If salvation does not make our life better and more productive, we are not fully utilizing the promised provision, every spiritual blessing and exceeding abundance that God has ordered for His Children.

All things become possible to the one who believes. If the process of God is not producing these things in our life, it is up to us to find the disconnect. Why? Because by grace, we are saved through faith. Faith is the productivity of our life. If we believe, all things become possible because God does not lie or change His Mind. If He releases His Word, it cannot return to Him without first accomplishing all that it set out to do. This is all from the Word of God to the believer but we must accept it as the Truth of our life for it to change us from the inside out.

The girl who foolishly caused her sister’s life to end is greatly desired by God. Acting out in her personal freedom, she will now likely give up the rest of her life to captivity in prison for a single moment. Yet, it did not diminish God’s Love for her in any way, shape or form. The crack addict wasting away in a building is His Beloved. The madman who killed a warehouse full of people or human smuggler who allowed eight human beings to suffocate and die in a tractor trailer – all these people Christ died for. The goal is that none would die and all would come to know Jesus and receive His Precious Gift. We are not in this for ourselves but to build a Kingdom based on the Grace of God filled by faith in God rising up from the obedience of God’s People in expectation of the return of their Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

Luke 12:35-37 (NKJV) “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.

In Ephesians 6:14, it says, “Stand therefore, having girded your wait with truth.” The Truth of our life is found in the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To know the Lord it is important to know His Word. Not just to know it but to “gird” our life in it. What does that mean? To gird means to surround, enclose or hem in. It is to prepare for action. To provide, equip, or invest as with power or strength. “Let your waist be girded.” Are you girded and fortified by God’s Word today? Could it be that your provision, promise or prosperity is delayed simply by ignorance that produces disobedience?

The wise servant keeps his light burning waiting for the Master’s Return. Jesus is the Light of the World. He has put His Light (His Love) in us to spark passion for all mankind and lead as many as will come into the Kingdom. Is our light burning bright? The Light of His Love is a powerful force that will draw even the most callous heart to be broken. It is not a haughty position but humbling of our life to represent God’s Love. Faithful obedience is demonstrated in unfailing love. To love God with all our heart and others more than ourselves. There is no greater love than to lay down our life for another. To forsake convenience, comfort and even control so that another might get a glimpse of God’s Love for them. When was the last time you gave up your personal comfort to be a blessing to someone else? To consciously serve another over serving yourself? God’s Love is exhibited through His People. It is not a live and let live but a daily giving up our very lives to pursue others as the Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one.

It is not enough to serve the Lord but we must also sup with Him. To live in communion with Jesus Christ building a strong relationship not just a religious connection. Many know the Name of Jesus, some even believe in its power but few yield their life to faith in His Power that gives way to obedience. We rely on His Grace to save us but not change us. There is power in our weakness when we give His Grace an opportunity to work in us and through us. When we allow His Spirit to produce the good fruit that is promised, it becomes prosperity in our life that is easily shared with others. To know and experience God’s Love through a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ causes us to become a new creation, a living love story, and true testimony of God’s Power.

Psalm 119:60 (NKJV) I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.

The watered down gospel of today does not offer the supernatural power given to us by Christ. It invites people to experience Jesus Christ but does not fully expose the power workable through His Grace. Our life was not meant to be like it is now. God’s Design for you is a masterpiece. Consider the Word of God the paint by numbers that gets us there. All throughout the Bible, we cry out to the Lord to make haste in His Coming. What if He is waiting on you? What if the grace being provided is for you to finally believe? This passage hidden away in Psalm 119 demonstrates a change of heart that invites the Lord to have His Way in our life. “I made haste.” Has the Lord been speaking to you about something? Has your heart been heavy? Is there something you want to see changed in your life but keep procrastinating? The word “haste” means swiftness of motion or speed. It is urgent need of quick action. “I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.” The Lord is inviting us into a union and partnership with Him today. An opportunity to have every provision, promise, and prosper in all we do beginning with obedience.

I love to find new recipes on Pinterest. Changing up the family mealtime and trying new things. When I find a recipe with many favorable comments from those who also tired it and liked it – I make it for our family. I must follow the recipe line by line. There are instructions on how to prepare the food, set the oven and steps to be followed in order to have the desired result, I follow the recipe. No one forces me to try it. I want to. Did you know that is exactly what obedience to God is like? Growing tired of the same old thing, I try something new. The Lord has promised that you will be a new creation. I do not feel imprisoned or any way hindered during the process no matter how long it takes or painstaking it becomes because I want the end result. The enemy wants you to believe that obedience to God is the absence of freedom. Nothing is further from the Truth. It is the opportunity to yoke our life with Christ and claim every promise for our life. It is not burdensome as some might think but leads to victory after victory. We must make haste to know the Word of God and follow the steps to prosperity as a way of claiming all that Christ died for us to have and to become which is exceedingly abundantly more than I could ever think, ask or imagine.

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (NKJV) For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

In 2 Corinthians 9. Paul is speaking to the cheerful givers. Salvation is a Gift from God to be sown in our life. God gives seed to the sower. Those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. Those who take the seed of faith and sow it obediently will produce enough in their life to become givers. It goes on to say, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” The Grace that God has given us is the beginning of many great things that He has for us. While this passage refers to tangible giving, our life has nothing to offer anyone else outside of grace that claims faith and uses it for obedience. Obedience prospers our life increasing our offering. People don’t need more stuff but rather the tangible substance of faith that finds love that is passionate, reckless, all-consuming and unconditional. I cannot give that kind of love away unless I have a commodity of it in my life. God increases me as I come to know Christ and He becomes the reality of my hope. My life is to glorify God for obedience that confesses not only that I know who Christ is but I believe in who He is and what He came to do. God supplies us in surplus so that we can give from the abundance and increase of our life. If you are not a receiver of God’s Love, you cannot be a giver of it. If you have not accepted God’s Grace fully, you cannot share it with others. If you do not believe the Word of God, you will have nothing to encourage others. We must believe in God who rewards those who diligently seek Him with wholehearted and hasty obedience in order to stay in His Service.

Matthew 25:6-13 (NKJV) “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

In Ezekiel 12, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet to tell the Children of Israel that they were making a mistake. They believed that the postponement of God’s Judgment was actually an annulment. Despite the cries of men like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, the people decided that God had changed His Mind and granted some kind of reprieve. The Lord spoke to them. “For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’” We must not ignore the signs of the times. Jesus will come back. Will you be ready? Will I? The answer is within each human heart.

God is not delayed. He is waiting on us. Jesus wants us to be with Him. He wants us to know Him so that He can say that He knows us. The Lord has not left us but lives in us. He wants to consummate the relationship fully as salvation plants seeds of faith and obedience creates a bond stronger than death and greater than the grave. Jesus wants us. He desires us. He is waiting for us. He will not wait forever. There is a day that will come when He will return. It will be a day of great victory for His Servants and huge regret for those who missed the opportunity. It is my privilege to serve Christ not my responsibility. To know Him is to love Him and it is from this place faithful obedience is born…not because I have to but because I want to. I want Him. I desire the Lord above all things so I pursue Him wholeheartedly by faith and obedience His Grace empowers me. One day there will be no further delays. I intend to be ready. What about you?

I have been married for almost two decades. My husband likes things neat and tidy. When I get home each day, I will clean up the house and put away the things our girls leave strewn about the house. I do it just about every day if I beat him home. He doesn’t require me to do it. I know that he likes things in order. This daily act of obedience is not because he makes me do it but because I love him and know he likes things that way. I do it out of love not responsibility. Our life with Christ is like a marriage. When our obedience flows from love, it is not a burden or challenge but an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and please our beloved.

Philippians 2:5-10 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Where You Go

Where you go

Ruth 1:16-17 (ESV) But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

What caused Ruth to make such a declaration to Naomi? Reading this passage today, I am struck by her commitment to her mother-in-law. Naomi was obviously grief stricken and hopeless. She had lost her husband and both of her sons. Her other daughter-in-law had taken her advice. Why was this one being so stubborn? Something in Ruth would not let her go back to where she came from and she could not return to the way it used to be so she made this commitment to her future – “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Ruth became attached to Naomi’s hip. She would venture into a new place and find a new husband. The future of both women would be secure for the rest of time and they would find their images clearly set forth for others in the Word of God. Ruth made a commitment to Naomi that day that would change her whole life. What would happen by doing the same thing to Jesus Christ? What are the possibilities if rather than running from place to place looking for immediate gratification or rainbows rather than rain? What might happen if someone…anyone…decided to see where faith might take us and just what hope really looks like? Nothing is impossible for the one who believes.

Genesis 28:10-17 (ESV)  Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I think everyone will agree that life does not always turn out as one expected. Jacob was running from his brother. His own flesh and blood who Jacob bought Esau’s birthright with a single meal and tricked his father into releasing Esau’s blessing. Esau hated Jacob. Joseph dreamed of his brothers bowing down to him but wound up in a pit, sold to slavery, falsely accused, sitting in a prison, still being faithful yet forgotten. No one for sees the hardship that leads to fulfillment. Those situations and circumstances that turn our hearts back to the Lord. We must live not only hand in hand with the Lord carefully walking His Way but chose to live heart to heart with Him. Since it is our calling to walk by faith and not by sight, the vantage point of our voyage is not always a clear cut perspective of the pathway to promise. We stumble along groping to see God in the chaos of our life. Jacob was no different. Life had not turned out as he expected. He was in the middle of nowhere and weary so he found a stone to lay his tired head on.

Perhaps, you can relate. You love God. You love Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life has been a struggle. Times just a little too tough. The enemy is chasing you into the wilderness of the unknown or at least you think. There is no one left to rely on or call out to. All your family and friends are too busy or long gone. Now what? The Lord came to Jacob that night to give him a new perspective. Could it be that is all that is needed by you? To see that God is with you. He is for you. He will never leave you or forsake you even in the most unlikely of places. I know I need that, too.

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it…

What is your dream? Where is your destiny? Are you desperate to find your way through the wilderness to the promise of God? What if you have to stay right where you are to find Him? What if the course of life you are traveling is exactly what God has for you? It is important to see God in the moment rather than looking all around. Christ lives in us so the atmosphere around us has no impact on faith and hope. No matter if life is beautiful or barren – God is with us. He is for us. He will stop at nothing to have us or to be sure we have His Promise. In that place, God opened Jacob’s eyes to see Heaven on the earth. Is it possible for us to do the same? To see things from the heavenly realm rather than being immersed in reality? I believe that it is. What if it is not in a dream or vision but so subtle that the human eye cannot perceive it? The disciples lived, ate, and existed in the Presence of God while Jesus was with them yet they all struggle with doubt and unbelief. They could reach out and touch the Messiah with their hands. Talk to Him. Know the Lord intimately and conversationally. Yet, still it was hard to believe.

Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel… 

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head. He set it up for a pillar. He poured oil on top of it. He called the place, Bethel, House of God, or the holy place. What if you are standing on holy ground right now and don’t even know it? Where you go I will go Lord? The same Lord that orders our footsteps will fill them. He fills them with His Love, Grace, Mercy and Faithfulness so that our foundation is solid if only we will walk by faith. From the highest of hills to the lowest valley, He is with us pursuing us with unfailing love and goodness but it doesn’t always look like sunshine and roses. It might just be weariness that gives way to worship. Brokenness that opens up blessing in our life. The very thing that was the most uncomfortable the most fruitful. Jacob woke up from the dream and vision God had given him in the very same place but with a new perspective. He took the hard stone that was once his pillow and made it a pillar before the Lord.

Isaiah 43:18-21 (ESV) “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Human expectation is the driving force of our flesh. It sets up our school of thought. It becomes our way of thinking. The flesh needs some sort of control. We take the Word of God and rather than allowing it to mold us, we try to shape it into some logical and applicable form according to our natural life and normalcy. When God does not do it that way, it becomes a fight in our mind and soul for ultimate control. God is doing a new thing in our life. It is for our good. It is to His Glory. If it can be explained away logically, who needs faith? God works in the impossible. Does your life look impossible to you? Is it hard to see the forest for the trees? Take off your shoes. Get on your knees. Raise your weary arms. You are not in the wilderness but on the way to your promise. The less logical life is the more miraculous it becomes.

Forget the former things. Do not conform your thinking to tradition. God is doing something new in you and through you that is not comprehensible in the flesh but must be observed solely by your spirit. Once you take hold of God’s Perspective, a life of worship is inevitable especially when you find yourself in the wilderness, wandering and wondering until worship finally finds you because you know God is with you! I have come to the conclusion that no matter what it takes I want the Lord to keep me right here until His Word is fulfilled. Some days it is easy. But there have been many more when the giants seem to get bigger and the promise even farther that I have to remember and remind myself that this is holy ground. My life is God’s Masterpiece and it is not ready yet. I must make the commitment like Ruth to Naomi that day, “For where you go I will go…”

Matthew 8:18-22 (ESV) Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

It is easy to get caught up in emotionalism and zeal for the Lord. To get all pumped up in church and crash into life just outside the door. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the only way that you and I have access to the Father. Do we follow His Ways impeccably? To we know the Truth from cover to cover? Is it the wisdom of our life? Jesus understands our weakness. He was human once too. He knows that we struggle with our faith and ability to believe. His Words to the scribe seem harsh, but they are truth to feed our hungry, thirsty and weary souls today. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Bummer right? Jesus was not saying looking for pity. No, the Lord was setting up expectation. Don’t make your home here. Set your sights on the heavenly not the earthly things. Jesus did not come to save the world but to save us. To move us from this life to eternity. “Follow me” is not a call to a better life but a new life. It is not an invitation for new comfort and convenience but to become a new creation. To be molded, shaped, pressed, crushed and broken so that the Lord can make you into a Masterpiece.

Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When God met Jacob in the desert that night, He did not divinely change his situation but confirmed his position. He reiterated the promise and potential of Jacob’s life to change his perspective. It worked. Will it work for you today? The hard place is giving way to a new life filled with promises and prosperity for the one who says, “Where you go, I go!” We must set our minds on Christ where He is and not focus on where we are. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and that’s a good thing for us. He is interceding for us. He knows our weakness and His Spirit helps us when times get tough. My new life is hidden with Christ in God. I find new life and full satisfaction when I live in His Presence even in the pits, prisons and problems of life. My situation cannot change the Way, the Truth and the Life living in me. It is all just temporary. Lord, help me to see You today. To take this hard thing and build into a new place of worship. Jesus, where you go – I will go! You will be my God and I am Your Beloved Child!

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

Secrets of the Deep

Secrets of the Deep

Psalm 42:7-9 (ESV) Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Life is crazy. Change is inevitable. Becoming a Christian, inviting Jesus to live in our life doesn’t exempt us from such extremes but rather invites us to a place of utter chaos. Religion is man’s attempt to string together all the details and bring people to some form of order. The truth of the matter is that God comes to each of us on an individual basis – Jesus invites us to live in love with Him – the consummation of such an experience is the Holy Spirit. After that buckle your seatbelts as your existence is completely undone. Believers who act like that have it all together project a farce. It is not in the doing that God accomplishes great things but in our undoing. It is not when we have it all together that His Light shines through us but through our broken heart. It is not because He is cruel or controlling but rather because God created us with a plan much bigger than our finite thinking and prepared us for much more than perceived by limited sight. It is in those moments that lack understanding or make no sense at all – our inability to cope or control – that the deep surrounds us.

My husband and I were walking and talking. It would begin like most other nights. Going over the events of the days, activities of children and sharing life experiences. But last night, he dared enter the unknown. Asking the complicated question that most men would avoid – “What are you really thinking about?” I hesitated. The thoughts circulating in my head and swirling through my mind were questioning. Wondering. Contemplating. The details of life overwhelming and chaotic churning through my thoughts. The last week or so an emotional roller coaster of high highs and low lows. I feel like the toy our puppy plays with that has been shaken and pulled apart even frayed. I lay it all before my husband and become only more convinced that God has to be in all these deep places. He is ready to fill voids, level mountains and make a clear path. I have walked through deep waters before and always prevailed by His Mighty Hand and Loving Heart. I hear deep calling again. My spirit says, “Yes!” but my flesh begs “Lord, not again!”

Isaiah 35:3-8 (ESV) Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

I believe that God is good. I know that His Plan for my life contains a future and hope beyond my comprehension. His Thoughts are higher than my own and so therefore His Ways must be also. It is in my lack of knowledge and understanding that challenge me. The deep is God’s Invitation to grow in these areas. It is not in knowing what or how God works that builds faith and hope but in knowing God that makes all things possible. Faith is what pleases the Lord. Faith is not living by what we see but rather living in constant knowledge of who God is and how much He loves us. It is to put our trust in His Character and not life’s conditions or circumstances but to become fully enveloped in His Love and Grace each day. Strength, courage and fearlessness are not achieved by human sufficiency but when our confidence is completely invested in the Lord and His Process.

The Highway to Holiness unfolding before us is the pathway to victory. Holiness is not anything we do but rather what happens as one becomes the much coveted new creation Christ promised to make us. Religion has attempted to change our appearance but the Lord promises a new heart. A heart set on a pilgrimage to where He is, to do what He is doing, and make the commitment to remain in the deep as long as it takes to enter the Light of His Love.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” What if the deeper things of God are entered into not by our own strength or willpower but rather the moment of letting go and allowing the Lord to do it all. Weak hands let go relinquishing to His Power and Control. Feeble knees stopping trying to do it all and walk it out allowing the Lord to carry us through. Dependency on the Lord is established in the deep when we cannot see or do what we used to. Maybe this is what it means “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”

Daniel 2:20-22 (ESV) Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

The Lord gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what is in the darkness of the depths and the Light dwells in Him. In Genesis 1:1-3, the whole love story of God begins with the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the deep. Read it. The earth is formless and void and then God spoke. Life perpetuated life from that moment forward. God and His Spirit were there. Jesus is the Word. When God spoke – Jesus was and is and is to come. Knowledge of God is found in the Word which is the story of Jesus Christ wrapped in flesh who came to give us life just like in the beginning. (John 1:14) The Word is our wisdom for life. We read it. Apply it. In that moment, God’s Wisdom becomes power in our life. Our words begin to line up with His and there is agreement. (Proverbs 18:4) Understanding extracts the secrets of the deep hidden there for human discovery. (Proverbs 20:5) Where can wisdom be found? It is not in the deep but the One who keeps us in the deep. (Job 28:12-14) God has had complete control over the deep forever. Darkness runs from the Light so even in the lowest valley or deepest sea the Light of His Love will surrounds those who are His Children.

It may be dark all around you today. No relief in sight. The wait may be one minute longer than you can do it. The pressure overwhelming. The pain beyond enduring. The night won’t last forever. Joy comes with new mercy each morning. God is not calling you to drown you but to drench and saturate our life in His Goodness. It is the opportunity of obedience to walk by faith and not what you see. But you know what I have found to be the greatest blessing of the deep…

Romans 8:26-28 (ESV) Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

When I venture into the deep, ready to obey, willing to trust and thrust my heart in God’s Hands – He is always faithful. His Spirit, the same one who was with Him in the beginning, helps me. When I am at a loss for words or strength to move, His Spirit takes over. The Lord searches my heart removing weights and hindrances until the only thing holding me is hope that strong anchor. Somehow and some way – everything keeps working together for my good and His Glory despite my weakness and whining. I find that as I surface again – His Purpose is clear…

Romans 8:36-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Through all the peaks and valleys and even in the deepest depths of life – God’s Love has never let me go. I am more than a conqueror – an embattled and scarred warrior for sure – but I refuse to put my sword down. I will fight to the end to maintain this faith I have been entrusted with and keep my deep abiding affection and trust in the Lord. It is a fight when the deep closes in around me. I feel panic and distress where peace once abounds. Then I am reminded of all the times before when His Love rushes in and He breathes new life in me. When His Perfect Love has expelled my fear – so I keep going.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The details of my life are stretch from elation to exhaustion. I cannot put into words how I feel or the emotions running through me. It really doesn’t matter how I feel now does it. My success today is based on my ability to enter the deep based on what I know. I know God loves me. I know that He has victory in store for me. I know that He is blessing me but it is only the beginning of the abundance growing in my life. One day it will be increase that will only be attributable to the faithfulness of God. Until then, I will continue to plunge in the deep when I am called. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain in obedience and trust. The deep exposes us in our weakness and insecurity to God’s Love. The width, length, height and depth of His Fathomless Love for us is evident when we can do nothing but must rely on the Lord for everything. These are the times when faith are rooted and grounded in a hard heart now broken and fertile. The Lord is letting us know that His Love surpasses our knowledge and ability to understand. He is filling our voids with the Fullness of God. The opportunity of the deep is simple. It is to invest our life and all that we believe in the Lord who desires to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to His Power at work in us! Welcome to the deep! It is full of God’s Secrets and Hidden Opportunities of blessing and prosperity for those who decide to enter in.

Ephesians 3:20 (ESV) Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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.