As Soon As

As Soon As.jpg

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (Message) This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

“As soon as”…the prequalification or prerequisite factor – the waiting game called life. As a child, such a statement seems terminal when it calls for patience that last more than five minutes. Sometimes even that is a stretch for those with infernal impatience such as myself. At least in the natural when someone says, “as soon as” there is an element of gratification as one can watch and see as they fulfill the ordered list on the way to fulfillment. And then there is faith, hope and God. God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as”… then I will.

These words are the most difficult because it is hard enough to see the Lord’s inner workings or His Mighty Hand come in to play. Hindsight is generally 20/20 with God but what is right in front of us elusive. Faith and hope are the qualities that God is developing in us by teaching us to love, lean and trust Him more. Oh what a difficult task especially when the stakes may seem quite high. As soon as…and not a day more. Faith keeps us waiting until as soon as comes. Hope makes waiting worth every minute. In the meantime…

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.” There are days that I feel as though I am living in exile. Those seasons when the conditions and circumstances of my life do not line up with the Word of God. The times when I stepped out in faith and feel like I am still floating rather than walking on water or swimming in the depths of the deep to which He has called me. These are the times when trust is our portion and confidence is our hope. The “what we know” of God and foundation called Christ keep us from falling. God promises that He will show up. He will do just as He promised. There will be the rejoicing of “being brought back home” from this place of invisible exile…if I am just patient and wait on Him.

“I know what I am doing.” Depends on who is driving…I guess. I remember getting in the car with our first new driver. The moment that he started the car, I knew I was in trouble. He was ready to throw it in reverse and speed out of the driveway. I patiently (or at least I thought I was calm) asked him to wait while I reiterated instructions and safety measures that I felt necessary. He rolled his eyes and told me, “I know what I am doing.” I did not believe him. He pulled out, slammed on the brakes, changed gears, and floored it the three houses to the corner and stopped for the stop sign halfway in the road of the intersection. He then graciously turned on the blinker and before I could catch my breath was off again. The only word that I could utter was “stop”! He seemed confused. No, I demanded he stop right there and pull into the neighbor’s driveway. I got out of the car and walked all the way home officially resigning from my position as driver’s education mom. Walking in the house, my husband said calmly, “That was quick, how did it go?” “Terrible.” I responded. He inquired as to the well-being of our son with “Where is he?” I replied, “Probably in the driveway up the street where I left him!” As I walked into our room and shut the door. Like any good dad, my husband retrieved our son and taught him how to drive.

When I got into the car with our son that day, I knew full well that he was a newbie. I was well aware of his inexperience. It was his lack of trust and unwillingness to pay attention that drove me out of the vehicle that day. God keeps telling me day after day, “I know what I am doing.” Some days I sit back and enjoy the ride trusting that He is God. He is a good father. He loves me with all of His Heart and knows what is best for me. And then…there are all those other days when I don’t and try to take the wheel and drive to my own destination.

I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Psalm 139:16 tells me that “like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” If this is true (which I believe that it is), it means that God knows every moment of every single day of my life before I take a single step or breathe within it. He knows all the good times and all the not so good times that will come. He understands that some days I will get this thing called faith right walking in faithful, humble obedience and then days that I come in like a wrecking ball. Like a carefully constructed school lunch, God gives me mercy each morning and on every bad day, a snack of grace at night. I have everything that I need to successfully live out God’s Plan and Purpose despite my fickle heart and rebellious flesh. God prepared it for me when He designed my life. Challenges are opportunities to experience the championship of faith. Pressure gives way to Presence in my life. Every difficult thing interwoven with His Plan for my Destiny and Divine Destination.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28 MSG) The come-from-behind promise of God that ensures as His People, as His Precious Children, that we cannot and will not miss an ounce of His Goodness or single provision of His Plan and Purpose is that He works “every detail of our lives” into something good. All that is required is loving Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (Message) “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

What if while waiting on the Lord, I am not waiting on Him at all but rather He is waiting on me? Is it possible that God has His Act together but I am the one struggling? Sure it is. We take an ounce of knowledge and try to work it into absolute wisdom. God’s Thoughts are higher than my thoughts and so are His Ways, yet somehow in my human finite thinking I take a word or wisp of truth and try to build my whole life on it. I know I am the only one so just bear with me while I work this out. What if we replace the word “when” with the words “as soon as”? It would go something like this:

When As soon as you call on me, when as soon as you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When As soon as you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when as soon as you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

What if the ball is in my court and rather than “as soon as” being God’s next move rather He is waiting on my next move. Will it be closer to Him? Will I decide to come to Him? Will I decide to pray? Will I begin searching for the Lord wholeheartedly? Will I get serious about this life after God’s Own Heart? Will there be a day when I want Him MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE? The promise to those who make their way to this place is that the Lord will “make sure you won’t be disappointment.” Hope never leads to disappointment. Hope is not reserved for what we can see, do or logically make happen in our life. It is evidenced by faith in the substance that we cannot perceived naturally with our senses or logically with our mind but know to be true because He lives in us. Perhaps, I need to spend my time waiting on the Lord doing something different. It is not God’s Move but mine that He is waiting on today.

Psalm 27:7-9 (Message) Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs: “Be good to me! Answer me!” When my heart whispered, “Seek God,” my whole being replied, “I’m seeking him!” Don’t hide from me now!

“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 NLT) I love this verse so much. It has been on my heart a lot lately. You know with five kids, I hear the word “mom” all the time. It catches my attention even when it is not my own brood. My husband and I were riding in the minivan one day filled to overflowing with all the children. I was driving and not really paying attention to the banter in the back. When suddenly, he blurted out in a stern voice, “Don’t you hear them calling you?” Apparently, the peanut gallery had been saying, “Mom…mom…mom” and I didn’t respond to them because basically I had tuned them out. It happens. However, let one of them cry out in fear, hurt or distress and I can hear them across the house, outside, down the street or in the next county. There is a difference in the sound of their cry. I believe that God always listens when we speak to Him. He hears our every word. However, I also believe that our conversations with the Lord become mindless chatter over time. A check off on the to-do list of godliness rather than a personal and intimate conversation with the Lover of our soul and the One our soul loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Message) How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“As soon as” can mean waiting on the Lord but most of the time I believe that He is waiting on us. Our response to God’s Promises is faith and confidence that this hope we have is valid, authentic and real enough to pursue with passion each day. We put our passion into so many worthless things when the reality of Christ is that God has already blessed us with every good thing that He has. We are made with purpose on the verge of prosperity if only one might make their way into His Presence choosing to live there. His Presence is our promised land. It is not a religious place filled with routine, ritual or tradition. It is not a place of performance or service. It is the place where we come to know and respond by wanting Jesus more than anything else – as soon as will be accomplished. Everything I need, want and desire is fulfilled in the rich and satisfying life that Jesus Christ is offering me. I have more than enough. I am more than enough because Christ lives in me. Nothing is impossible for those who live by faith not fear. As soon as, I learn to live, move, exist and breathe in the midst of His Presence – I believe that the time will pass and so will the season. It will be time to harvest from all those tears, find joy in the midst of mourning and I will be restored, revived and renewed just as He promised. As soon as…

Isaiah 30:18 (Message) But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

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Passion Fruit

First Fruit

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

When taking on large projects or tasks, I usually comprise a “to do” list to keep me focused. I write down everything that needs to be done and then decide on a game plan. I will be the first to admit as a young adult – I was a procrastinator. Chronically late, I lacked conscious respect for other’s time. I would stay up late and wake up later. I live a completely disheveled and disorganized life. I will even admit that there would be days or even a week that I did not make my bed. This chaotic existence was not the fault of my parents who built a structured home and attempted to teach us discipline. When set free into adulthood, I was able to choose how to live my life. What changed? Children. When my first child was born, I discovered this little thing called responsibility in a whole new way. This little perfect person was depending on me for everything. I was to mold him, shape him, and care for him as he was now my responsibility. Suddenly – I wanted to be a better person and the perfect mom. Love produced a change in me.

Purpose is a wonderful thing because it sparks passion in us that burns away things that used to hinder us. It ignites a change inside of us that requires careful attention to build momentum and see the results. As my family grew so did I, old habits gave way to new and improved drive to be organized and skillful in the things “good moms” do. But despite my best intentions, looking back, I realize that even though I tried really hard to be the best mom ever and never make mistakes with my children. I blew it on several occasions. There were days that I took the responsibility of parenting too seriously and needed a little more grace and love. My desire to be perfect overshadowed my purpose which was to love my children with all that I had and give them the life I thought they deserved.

For the Lord is the Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Freedom to live a life of full satisfaction apart from perfection but marked by passionate purpose. The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His Glorious Image. I am struck by these words today. I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is my beloved as I am His. As in any partnership, I must learn to find ways to remain faithful to Him even when my flesh doesn’t necessarily agree. The first fruit of God’s Spirit – who is now recognized as Jesus is love. Love produces passion. Passion fuels purpose. How do I take the natural love I have and use my freedom in Christ to expand it and fan it into burning desire? I must live by the Spirit.

I am tiptoeing here. So please bear with me…I am challenged today! I want to live in the Glory of God. I don’t think the church or people who call ourselves Christians really know what that is or how to achieve it on a regular basis. We are to live in the Presence of God. Well, if Christ lives in me doesn’t that mean God is present all of the time? Yes! Am I present all of the time? No! Let me explain – there are times when my husband and I are sitting in the same room and one of us will begin to speak to the other. While lost in thought or completely engrossed in what we are watching or reading, the other may not hear what he or she is saying. Suddenly shaken from our stupor – we will respond to the other with apologies because our attention was elsewhere. God’s Spirit lives in us. His Name is Jesus. He has granted us freedom. Freedom is the opportunity to choose our life and how we live it. To become aware of the Glory of God in us and His Goodness all around us would be the most advantageous use of the gift of freedom – but sometimes we have our heart and mind set on other things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Jesus lives in me. His Spirit has set me free. This freedom is made strong as it is nourished by the Fruit it provides us. The first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot love anyone else until I fully conceive the Love of God for me and living in me. See God’s Love IS His Glory. When I love like Jesus loves and inspired by the selfless and unconditional Love of God – I reflect His Glory. God gave us freedom to choose a relationship with Him as His Child. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us that allows us to have a rich and satisfying life beginning with love and ending with self-control. Religion gets this all out of order. We attempt self-control outside of love which leads us nowhere. The passion of our love for Jesus Christ will inevitably produce self-control as the final fruit not the first fruit.

Galatians 5:24-26 (NLT) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Those who belong to Jesus must nail their passions and desires associated with their sinful nature to the Cross. Do not think about the seven deadliest sins and most horrible offenses you can think of, but consider this – if our passion promotes anything other than sincere and persistent love for people – we missed the first step of full satisfaction in the Glory of God. Love produces joy. Joy gives us peace. Peace affords us patience and so on. “Since” we are living by the Spirit as God’s Spirit is manifested as Christin us…we must follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Love is the first step of freedom yet the hardest to overcome. Love puts others before our own wants, needs and desires. It is not a me-first position and therefore considered the greatest vulnerability. But if Christ truly lives in me – I am free to do so because greater is He who lives in me. The greatness of God’s Grace is His Love. His Glory is His Presence that is possible by His Love. Everything begins with and ends with love.

Luke 12:49 (NLT) I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! (Jesus)

Have we misplaced our passion? Have we focused heavily on producing fruit from our self and not of the Spirit? I can pretend to have all of God’s Fruit in my life but my life is not surrounded by His Glory and defined by His Love it is just another pointless pursuit. Jesus came to set the world on fire. His Love could not be denied for His Sacrifice complete. He empowered us with His Grace which is totally sufficient to overcome every obstacle and live in His Glory now and forever more. However, this would require giving up our way first.

When I think about the Glory of God, I hear the churches outcry for revival. Revival is new life that will take the place of our old ways. Like the relationship now possible with God through Jesus Christ removed the “veil” that once separated us from God’s Presence. It did not open the curtain so we could step behind it. It tore it right down the middle. When Christians live according to the rules and regulations of the Law, it is not freedom but a foray back into judgment. In Christ there is no condemnation. Christ is alive in me so I am no longer condemned so think about this…

If you come upon a burning building, it would probably be your immediate instinct to call 911. You may decide to be a good Samaritan and get out of the car to offer assistance. If you hear cries from within the inferno, you may try to find a way to get inside and save those who are trapped. Only a few people might risk their life to go inside despite the danger to pull people from inside. However, if the house is your home everything changes. Your love will overcome all fear and insecurity to get your loved ones to safety pulling them out of harm’s way. What if Jesus meant to set the world on fire so we would develop a passion from His Love? What if it is a test of our first fruit to see how willing I am to use my freedom to love people enough to reach them right where they are rather than standing outside calling them out?

Jude 20-25 (NLT) But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

The potential of my life is the Glory of God because Christ lives in me. I have a new love that has given me a whole new purpose. I am a new creation. The law is no longer relevant to me as it has been made complete in Jesus Christ. His Grace is truly sufficient for me. As long as I choose to live free from the Law, I am able to pursue with passion the First Fruit of the Spirit which is love and believe that as every other fruit is born of its seed that I will someday learn self-control. If sin separates me from Jesus, my love for Him will keep me from sin. Apart from God’s Love there is no glory. His Glory is His Love. His Love must be perfected in my life. It does not require me to be a perfect person just perfected by His Love. Passion must be examined and evaluated in our life to determine its origin. It is easy to become religious in our pursuit because habits come and go every day. Love does not. Love is the most difficult to obtain and arduous to keep because it is the constant consummation of self. We must invest all that we are into the Christ living in us so He takes over. Jesus would not think twice about going into whatever hell we wander into and pulling us to freedom if we cry out to Him. My response to others must be the same. Lord, I ask you to examine my heart, my mind, every motive, attitude and action for love. Love is the first fruit produced by Your Spirit, and I want to know I am living a life guided by Your Spirit. Help me to love like You do. Teach me to love like You. Complete me in love as You do. I ask you to grow the first fruit of love in me so I can share it with everyone else and be a true reflection of Your Glory! Fan the flame of love in me until it burns like an all-consuming fire with passion for You, Lord! For without passion – love quickly grows cold!

John 14:26 (NLT) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I Timothy 1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Hobby, Habit or Holiness

hobby habit or holiness

Luke 14:26-30 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.

In January, my husband and a group of men arranged to go duck hunting. They planned the excursion for months. Purchased mounds of hunting gear and ammunition. Planning included requesting leave from jobs, making hotel reservations and mapping out travel. Everyone paid their portion of the hunting lease and provided for meals and expenses. When the calendar finally fell on the travel date, the weather conditions took a dramatic turn for the absolute worst. It was below freezing. The lakes and ponds frozen over. Each morning they would trudge out to the field, break through the ice, set the decoys and lay in the blinds in the frigid conditions. They didn’t get a single one. They paid a high price yet got a miserable return other than the lease owner offering them a free return visit at the beginning of hunting season. This hunting hobby is new to our family.

We all have hobbies in life. It may be a variety of different things. Activities or interests pursued for pleasure and relaxation but no as a main occupation. I recently began repurposing old furniture. Reconditioning them is therapeutic to me. I was purchasing some pieces from a new acquaintance who encouraged me to sell the pieces rather than giving them away. I don’t really want to do that because I do this to escape the world and get lost in something creative. It is a hobby. Since most pieces are this side of tossing in the garbage, my investment is limited other than time spent cleaning, repairing, sanding and painting. It brings me peace. The great thing about a hobby is that I can choose how much of my time, talent and treasure that I invest in it. If I walk away for a few weeks, a month or so – it has not impact on me, my family or future other than a few choice words from my husband about the clutter in the garage. It is good to have hobbies in life.

What about habits? Those things that are not necessarily for pleasure or relaxation but driven by routine and schedule. Most adults have certain habits instilled by the values imbedded by the example of their parents or mentors. Some habits are formed by a desire to change certain behaviors, trends, circumstances or conditions. Habits can be good or bad. It is just what we do, who we are, and the choices we make. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern regularly followed until it becomes involuntary. The word “involuntary” means independent of our will and not by our own choice. There are habits worth giving up for better health, emotional wellness, and spiritual awakening.

Church can become a habit. Religion is the routine of the church for organizational purposes. Habits and routines are comfortable. They give way to complacency in life and love. We must evaluate our habits as often as our heart to see our motivation. Do I do the things I do because I have always done them this way? Is there a better way? Is this a Christ-like endeavor or just something I do to fit in to my social group? Church is known for cliques and many times it is the birthplace of complacency as our pursuit of God is tempered by the other sheep in our fold. Is church a weekly habit? Is it an occasional hobby? If our relationship to Jesus Christ can be defined as either it is up to us to count the cost of becoming a disciple. Hobbies and habits do not produce holiness. It is not the way of those who desire God’s Kingdom and His Riches in Glory. It is just another way the enemy is keeping our churches and communities from experiencing revival.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NLT) For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

When Jesus died, He released the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord made it clear that the new dwelling place of His Spirit was in His People. Those who opened their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and desired Him as Savior and Lord would house His Spirit. The church moved from the outside world to inside God’s People. Empowering them with new purpose and new power. When Jesus told the people that He would destroy the temple that it took 46years to build and rebuild it in three days, (John 2:15-21) He was referring to His Death which destroyed religion and His Resurrection that move His Church from buildings to bodies. As believers – we are the church. Not just any church of any denomination, we are the Temple of the Living God. Holy inhabitation is the cornerstone of holiness. Holiness is not a hobby or habit. It is who we are in God through Jesus Christ. We must become holy because God is holy. (Leviticus 19:2) His Presence in us forces an evaluation of our contribution to the Kingdom. Are we mere contributors or fully committed to the Cause called Christ in us?

Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Have I made a rash (acting too hastily without due consideration)? We all are prone to say, “Yes” to many things without proper consideration or careful contemplation. Why? Who doesn’t want the affirmation and acceptance of others? Our “yes” is often based on meeting the expectation of others rather than fully consideration what it requires or what the desired outcome may be. We must count the cost of discipleship and decide if it is the life desired. Why is this important? At the end of my life, I will meet Jesus face-to-face. If I invested in the Kingdom as a hobby, I do not believe that He will say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant!” A hobby is something I do for me. Me alone. It is for my relaxation and my personal pleasure. Is that what I signed up for when I came to Jesus Christ? Is that what He was really offering? I don’t think so.

Is my commitment to Jesus Christ a habit? Has it become just another routine and scheduled event added to the long list of responsibilities in my life? Is it my religion or a true relationship? The truest test of religion verses relationship is passion. Am I passionate about loving, knowing, serving and following Jesus for the rest of my life? Or do I just go with the flow of the local church? Is my spiritual temperature set by the thermostat of my church or is it a flame being fanned and fueled by an All-Consuming Fire and burning desire to become His Disciple? To go where He goes, do what He does, and experience His Kingdom (as promised) on the earth as it is in Heaven. Hmm… makes me think. How about you?

Luke 14:26-27 (NLT) “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

Holiness is not a religious preference. It is not an organized denomination. Holiness is God’s Mandate on the life of the believer. To be wholly consumed and filled with His Spirit. To passionately pursue the Calling and Purpose found only in Christ as He calls us a new creation. To bring Heaven to earth in our own life while connecting the Body and its intricate membership and parts coming together with one heart – one mind – and one purpose. To make Him greater and greater while I disappear in His Presence. Sounds good until one begins to count the cost. We decide if we will carry “our own cross”. Jesus died to set us free to choose the life we live. To “take up our cross” is become responsible for our membership as one part of the Body of Christ. I cannot live, breathe, move or exist as an effective part of the Body unless fully connected to and directed by Jesus Christ. He must be my motivation. He must be the One Thing that I am after. I hear you. Family comes first. It does right after Jesus Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to discipline my body, mind and spirit that in all things Jesus is first which means if anyone else makes a contrary decision that it does not influence or impact my partnership with Jesus.

Love and grace are the foundation of this wonderful relationship. I cannot have my way and live successfully in any relationship. My relationships (all of them) must have Christ as a foundation. Even my relationships to my perceived enemies, even those who are considered a threat or constant thorn in our flesh have purpose in our life. God put them there for a reason. We do not systematically cut off difficult relations or those who don’t understand our faith and marriage to Jesus. We must learn to put all our expectation in Jesus Christ and trust Him with every other relationship that we have engaged in. We must always take up our cross and follow Jesus.

What do I give my life to? Is it possible to graph the timeline of my life? Of course, it is but do I really want to. How much of my day is focused on this cross I have chosen to carry versus all the other endeavors in my life? Ignorance is not bliss but the death of the good seeds ready to be planted and harvested in our life. The secret to a successful partnership with Jesus is found in His Word. Simply because Jesus is the Word. To decide not to know releases us from responsibility is not ignorance it is foolishness when all of creation displays the Glory of God. If I refuse to follow Christ – the Word of God tells me that I “am not worthy to of being called mine.” Holiness requires shirking off the filthy rags and donning a robe of righteousness. It means picking up the full armor of God to step into a victorious life. It means to put away pride and live in humility. It means giving up my way. If I cling to this life, I will lose it. If I give my life to Jesus fully, I will find my true purpose and live in fulfillment forever. (Matthew 10:37-39) It is a daily choice. (Luke 9:23)

Luke 14:28-33 (NLT) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

Our life is comprised of three things of worth: time, talent and treasure. These are the things that we have to invest in something or someone. It is totally up to me how I invest my life. Time is the most precious commodity because it is irreplaceable. Talent is only as valuable as the realization of that potential in our life. Treasure is every tangible thing we own whether we think it’s worth anything or not. To become a disciple of Jesus Christ and live a holy life is not what so many have made it out to be. It is to live our life fully consumed by Jesus Christ. To step out of self and into Christ completely. It means investing my time, talent and treasure into His Kingdom. It is to combine our resources with the Lord completely. Giving Him all our time. All of our talent. All of our treasure. Then stepping back and letting Him use it for His Glory. The problem is that we give our hobbies and habits too much time and there is not enough to pay the price of discipleship. Divided interest and diversified investments may create natural security by not putting all our eggs in one lifetime basket but if my heart and soul are set on Eternity – I must take all my life and invest it in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NLT) For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

When Jesus handed us the Keys to the Kingdom, the first key is marked “freedom”. I am now free to choose how I live my life. I choose my master. Asking Jesus to be our Savior is not enough, we must make Him our Lord to pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God. I choose death or life each day. I choose blessing or otherwise. I decide if today will be to the Glory of God or pursue selfish interest. I get to choose. When I do, it determines my destiny. I cannot choose one course and expect to become part of the Kingdom. There is no middle of the road or gray compromise. Is my relationship to Jesus Christ a hobby? Do I do it for my own benefit and blessing but nothing more investing what is left of my time and energy? Is my relationship a habit? Do I take Him for granted? Rather than pursuing Him do I just pencil Him in? Is He part of the schedule or a routine measure? Do I every even think about Him or just do what I do and have done traditionally? Is my life ordinary? Is it just mediocre? Where is His Glory? It is not for the hobbyist or habitual Christian. It is for the intentional believer whose one desire is to be one with Christ. To put everything second. To give God the surplus of our life trusting Him with all of it. To follow Him relentlessly and passionately from beginning to end, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain – no matter who comes with us. Does your love affair with Jesus have passion? Do you think about Him most of the time? See we have made this thing called discipleship a production but its not. It is the process by which our life, entire existence, is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. It is how we achieve a state of holiness. It is not a hobby. It is not a habit. It is a relationship with the One who thought we were to die for. He gave up everything for me. I must reconcile my life to Jesus Christ to live a holy life. I must use my freedom to bring every part of my life into agreement with His Word, His Way and His Will. It is personal. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? Lord, examine my heart and evaluate my life. Reconcile everything to you, Lord.

Acts 17:28 (NLT) “For in Him we live and move and exist.”

Love You More

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Romans 6:15-18 (NLT) Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

As I began reading God’s Word this morning, two words weighed heavily on my heart. “Free will.” God has given us a free will and truthfully not many people are quite sure what it means and how to use it. Can I get an “AMEN” from those who have fallen and failed along the way? Why is freedom a good thing when I have no idea how to use it properly or what to do with it on a regular basis? It feels like a loaded gun in the hand of a toddler sometimes. Paul sums it up in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Every Christian wants to please God. Every believer sins. It is our human nature’s desperate attempt to remain alive as it is crucified daily with Christ. How do I move from sinning more to godly living more? You must love Him more.

God’s Grace set us free from the Law. The Law set forth as rules and regulations of righteousness that our sinful nature balked at and quickly rebelled against. It came with measures of sacrifice and offerings to repent and make concession for our inability to remain righteous. We still keep falling short so Jesus came and sacrificed His Life. The reward was our absolute and total freedom from sin. All we have to do is accept it according to His Grace. Jesus did not come to condemn people but to set them free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Our suspect mind wants to know what the catch is. The offer is simply too good to be true. Well friend, that’s the God I serve. He is always better than I deserve. Doing more than I think possible. Loving me more than I could ever fathom. I have been set free to discover the capacity of God’s Love.

The choice is made evident in God’s Word. We can choose to be slaves or Children of God. It seems so clear cut, if only it were that easy. We become slaves to that which we choose to obey. What do you respond to more frequently, flesh or spirit? What we respond to most is the driving force of our life – knowingly or unknowingly. We must understand this covenant entered with God when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. To see that the Law has been satisfied and love is all that matters. Truly love is the only thing that matters once a soul is set free. No strings attached. No new set of laws, rules or regulations no matter how convincing religion may seem. Our sin was great but His Love much greater. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus so now what? We must learn to love Him wholeheartedly…to love Him more.

John 10:9-10 (NLT) Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus used the representation of a gate to illustrate our new life in Him. Those who enter through Him will be saved. Not can be, but will be! “They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” Whoa! Wait a minute. They will come and go freely. Jesus was clear if He set us free than we are free indeed. What about all the guidelines and restrictions? They are still their but the “penalty” that takes us captive has been paid in full. By His Grace, I am saved through faith not anything else. I just have to believe. Do you believe today? Do you believe that you are free from the penalty of sin in Jesus Christ? We must understand what freedom is. Because Jesus came into the world to set us free, so that we could make a choice – there is no condemnation in our Savior. People condemn, convict and judge. Jesus came with one thing in mind – freedom.

When Jesus left the wilderness at being tempted by the enemy, He went to the synagogue as He was accustomed to doing on the Sabbath. The scroll was handed to Him and He read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” The Spirit of the Lord brings freedom. If we use our freedom to exchange one captivity for another – we remain slaves. If we use our freedom to love, we become God’s Children. The choice belongs to us because in Christ there is freedom. The power of that freedom is love. To accept the unconditional love of the Father as true and valid though we cannot see Him it is completely attained by faith. Just as my husband cannot show me the love in his heart by taking the beating, throbbing mass out of his chest to hand it to me – my beloved does so by daily attempting to show me that he loves me more… More than any other woman, more than any other person, more than any other thing, more than any other pursuit or passion in his life – his whole heart belongs to me. What if that is what our freedom is all about? That is our freedom. When I decide to love Jesus more than anything else, and live like it.

John 8:31-32 (NLT) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

When Isaac was speaking his blessing over his son, Jacob, he said, “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” Jacob had tricked his brother stealing his birthright and blessing. Taking advantage of the bond of brotherhood to the point of bondage, he was forced to flee from Esau’s wrath. Isaac gave his son sound wisdom. “When you decide to break free…” Are you ready to experience freedom? The kind of freedom promised in God’s Word. We do not have to force the door open or wrestle against the chains that have us bound. We must simple desire to be truly free. Jesus did the rest. We are free to come and go through the gate. We must only believe in Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd. (John 10:14-16) We choose to follow Him or stray away. Those who choose to walk with Him benefit from His Care and Protection. If we choose our own way, much like Jacob, we also decide when we will break free from the oppressive yoke of sin and shame.”

I Corinthians 1:7-9 (NLT) Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Plan for our life is good containing a future and hope that is not defined by my goodness or ability to live a sinless life. It is secure in my decision to live by faith and to trust Him more and more as I pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. It is giving Him my love without coercion but a strong desire and commitment to know the Lover of my soul and love Him more. More than sin. More than this world. More than my rights. More than my pride. More than promotions. More than anything else. When I use my freedom to love Jesus and others – I will enjoy every spiritual blessing and the rich satisfying life that He promised. Love makes avoiding sin reasonable because we are not in bondage to our flesh. Our love for Jesus makes it possible. I am satisfied with my marriage. I am content with my husband’s love. It makes me want to honor him, respect him and love him more. How much more does this apply to Jesus?

What is your struggle today? Is it a person? Is it a recurring temptation that always leads to a bad choice? Is it disappointment? Is it lost hope? Is it pride? We all have daily struggles, temptations and tests to endure. God wants us to know how much He loves us. He has set us free by showing us far greater love so that we would learn to love Him more than all those other things in life. The Holy Spirit woos us with the choice fruit of righteousness so that it feeds our spirit along the way with things like love, joy, and peace that cannot be found in this life but well up in us from the inside. He prospers our soul which was once headed for death with new life day by day, season by season, until we reach the end and step into forever with Jesus. I have to believe that God’s Love is greater for me than that which I currently show love, affection and attention to more. The thing that compromises my love and trust in Jesus is that which is robbing me of my blessing. The Lord withholds no good thing from us. Our inability to accept, live in and thrive in freedom keeps blessings and promises just out of reach. Jesus loves us more. When the first priority of our life is to love Him more – those dreams and desires will become attainable by faith and confident hope in His Great Love.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT) Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son. True love gives it’s all. Withholding nothing. All of me for all of you. We cannot be one with the Lord if we do not commit all of our love, faith and hope to Him in exchange for all that He is. His Love seals our heart to His Own Heart. Love is freedom to choose who we love and how it is expressed. I want my husband to know that I love him more. I want my children to know I love them more. I want my friends and church to know I love them, too. But does Jesus know that I love Him more… that is the secret of success as a believer. When I love Jesus more than sin, I will stop doing those things I do not want to do. When I have experienced God’s Love testing all of its parameters it is clear that it never runs out for me. I cannot overstep it, outlast it, or move far away from it. It is pursuing me. Unfailing love that I am incapable of but am offered every day with the new mercy when it arrives. Nothing can separate me from God’s Love other than my decision to reject it. Even in bad choices, God’s Love remains, His Grace sufficient and His Power available to me. I cannot shake off, sin way or kill God’s Love for me. How about my love for Him? Do I love Jesus more today? It is the very thing that empowers our choice called freedom. When we use our freedom to love Him more, we will have the rich and satisfying that the Lord has purposed for us!

Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Joy of Obedience

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Psalm 119:1-3 (NLT) Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

Our oldest son was a challenging kid. High energy and very impulsive, he was a handful to say the least. He loved to find the line and cross it. He struggled with obedience and the household rules always intent on overstepping boundaries. When he entered high school, he joined the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) which was offered as a course. I really didn’t think too much of it as he had always been interested in history and military. His reading collection demonstrated his interest and his choice of programs made it clear that such things were fascinating to him. My father is a Vietnam veteran so he also engaged him as well in things of that nature. I did not link his interest to his purpose until he came to us his junior year to express interest in enlistment. Thank God for the grace given to us as parents. It seems that wisdom comes with age so the first kids produce it while the younger children benefit from it. I honestly laughed.

When our boy took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, he scored off the charts. On his first time, cold, his score was impressive enough to earn the attention of recruiters. Even though I knew he had done exceptional on the test, enlistment was a total commitment. He felt like this was his purpose in life to defend his country and the people in it while upholding the constitution. Please understand it was never my intention to dash his dream, but at this point, he was barely making it through his school. Not only that, our buddy had a problem with authority. He struggled with basic obedience such as making his bed. He ignored house rules and curfew, but how expressed a deep heartfelt desire to become a soldier who must respect authority and become radically obedient. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He did go on to join the military and still serves in the National Guard today. He has also joined the brotherhood of law enforcement. I am proud of him. Truthfully, I was proud of him before but now I understand more fully the quality that promotes obedience in life – it is called purpose.

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His Laws AND search for Him with all their hearts. Jeremiah 29:11-13 eludes to the very same. God has a plan for our life that includes a future (here) and hope (eternity). The catch is that those who desire such an existence and promise must seek Him wholeheartedly. Just as our son had purpose in his heart at a very young age, we all are born with purpose in our heart. God placed it there along with eternity. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is in the pursuit of one’s purpose that satisfaction is produced. Here is the catch: “they do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.”

So our son decided that he would enlist and did so his junior year in high school. The Army at that time offered a split option enlistment. He would go to basic training during the summer before his senior year, come home to graduate, and then finish training before immediately being deployed. I was skeptical. I have to admit, but something changed in our kid that summer as his potential started to become his passion. Upon his return, he carried out each task with his heart set on the future. His grades somewhat improved. His character was changing. During a counseling appointment, it was discovered that to graduate he would have to have almost a perfect GPA that semester. School had been a challenge for years. He graduated with just one B on his report card. Purpose releases potential in our life. When we discover our purpose and begin to walk in it our life begins to yield the potential locked away. It is our motivation. It becomes our passion and we pursue it. What is your purpose? What is the promise of God not yet evident in your life? Partial obedience will never allow us to walk with purpose.

Psalm 112:1 (NLT) Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.

God’s Purpose and Plan for my life is different than yours. It is the calling on my life. You have one too. The Body of Christ has many members each one diverse and individual. The human body is evidence of that design. Each part has its own function that keeps our organs working, limbs moving and maintains overall health. If one part of my body becomes diseased or dysfunctional the entire design is handicapped. The purpose God has placed inside of you benefits the Body of Christ and you.

The blessings of obedience are listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 112 as well as many other places in God’s Word. The most obvious is joy. How is it possible to “delight” in obeying his commands when they challenge us each day? There are benefits to obedience such as provision, protection, prosperity, promotion and many other things detailed in God’s Word. In order to enlist in the Kingdom of God, one must believe that God is good. His Love is unfailing. His Grace enough. His Plan perfect. Hope secured. Faith is required to achieve one’s purpose. Many claim to have it but few will make the conscious choice to walk in it. Those who do will find joy in the face of danger, obstacles, trials and even pain. Purpose gives way to passion that yields our person to Jesus Christ. When I am convinced that God is good and His Way perfect, I will find my purpose in Him along with every promise.

Romans 4:16 (NLT) So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.

The promise of God is received by faith. The idea of obedience is overshadowed by ignorance. Obedience is not required. However, those who believe will obey. Why? They believe in the God of Abraham who “brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” If you have faith in God the evidence is obedience. Grace is sufficient in our weakness to release the power of God in us. This occurs not because we choose to willfully sin due to human weakness but because we have strived to obey God’s Word and fallen short due to human weakness. His Grace is sufficient to bridge the gap between my inability and God’s Perfect Plan for my life.

Our faith allows us to hope when there is no reason to hope. To believe based on God’s Word backed by all His Power and Authority so that no matter how things look now I can press on passionately and persistently until purpose and promise come to pass. It makes life worth living. It changes who I am into God created me to be. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s Promise. It took his whole life pursing God to find His Purpose, Isaac. God then required Abraham to make a choice. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises…are you?

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT) Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

No matter what one’s potential in life – if we obey the Lord it will produce His Promise and Prosperity in our life. He gave you that purpose and it is directly linked to our willingness to obey. Hence the psalmist prayer, “Restore to me the joy of salvation and make me willing to obey.” In I Samuel 15:22-23, God had appointed Saul as King of Israel and things were going good. That is until Saul chose partial obedience over willing obedience. What happened? God removed His Ordination and David would become the new king. Why? God views partial disobedience as rebellion. The gray area or middle of the road called compromise is a manmade creation made to make us feel better despite our shortcomings and inability to always do the right thing. Grace is made for those who desire God and yet still fall short. Saul did not obey the Word of the Lord and the Lord told the prophet to tell him, “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 worshipping idols.”

The act of willing obedience to God is connected with one’s ability to have enough faith to trust the Lord. Not when I can make a way, but when there is no way and I still choose to trust and obey God. I Kings 17 tells of a woman and her family in the midst of famine. The prophet comes requesting a meal. Luck would have it she was about to prepare their last meal. There was no more food. She had decided to give up. Elijah did not thwart her plan but told her to go ahead but first…”make a little bread for me…” Obedience. She obeyed. God promised her that if she fed His Servant honoring the Lord with her obedience that there would “always be flour and olive oil left in your containers” to last until rain produced new crops again. She didn’t give much. She gave what she had to the Lord first. Obedience. The Bible says that God was true to His Word and she was well supplied. This was not the end of her story but only the beginning, when her son became sick. He finally died. Elijah came to her. She was obviously hurt and grieving. The prophet took the boy and God returned Him to life. She had faith in God. She trusted the Lord. She obeyed Him fully in the smallest measure so when it came time to trust Him for her son. She had the faith to bring resurrection life to her family. Our obedience to God leads us to everlasting.

1 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.

God created you with purpose. You have far greater potential within you than you will ever express according to your own ability and strength. It is our connection with God through the Blood of Jesus Christ that makes sacrifices unnecessary. Our position as Children of God secure in order to have all God promised – we must simply obey. Willing obedience that understands any other way is rebellion and stubbornness stagnates our purpose within us. There is purpose in every single step taken no matter if it results in good things or bad times because God promises to turn every detail into something for His Glory and our good. Obedience is evidence of burgeoning faith that dares to trust God in each step. To try His Way. Decide to have His Will. To live according to His Word. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Love will always add passion to obedience. When God’s Love consumes every fear, doubt and worry so boldly each day is an exercise of discipline to walk closer to the Lord than ever before. To know that sin separates us from Him so we will work to avoid it. To know that my full potential becomes purpose when connected with the Kingdom is all I need to press, push and pursue Him in each step in each day. Lord, give me a willing heart. I want to be obedient in all things. I don’t want to be disqualified but my promise, potential and purpose fully realized according to Your Will, Your Way and Your Word. In Jesus Name – this is my humble prayer today!

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

To Be A Champion

Confetti and trophy

Hebrews 12:1-3 (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. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Can I encourage you a little bit today? To all those who are tired, weary, and on the verge of giving up, can I offer a little insight today? Does this race of faith seem just a little too long? Is endurance a longer word than you thought? Is persistence requiring patience you just do not have? Do not give up. Stay right where you are. You can be a champion. If Jesus Christ lives within you and eternity is etched on your heart, there is no fall to far, failure to fatal or loss to bad for you to be the victorious overcomer that the Lord has called you to be. In fact, champions are not winners all the time. Yes, you heard me correctly. It takes losses to be the lessons. It takes weakness to find new strength. It takes humility to overcome the pride that wages war against our flesh. You must breakdown fat to find muscle. You must have a broken heart to be saved.

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. What is slowing you down today? What is tripping you up? What is the obstacle that you named Goliath too big to overcome? Goliath came crashing down with a little stone marked faith planted square between the eyes. What are you hurling at that mountain refusing to move? Are you being tossed to and fro by the wind, waves and storm swirling around you? Endurance is needed for athletes to become champions. Persistence is the pays it forward for them to overcome losses to obtain the big win. Champions overcome failure to grab hold of victory. Failure does not make you a loser. Never trying again is what labels quitters. Jesus is our example. He was not a failure. The Lord never quit, but that didn’t mean in human form it was not a temptation. Jesus is our champion. He gives us the ability to be a champion, too!

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” What makes Jesus our champion? Dying on the Cross did not give Him that honor. If Jesus had died for our sin, and remained in the grave – He would not be a champion. What made Jesus our Champion is the fact that after He died – He did not stay in the grave but came walking out with the keys to death and the grave firmly in His Hand! This is our encouragement today. To fail a test, lose our way, or give in to sin now and again does not take away our potential to be overwhelmingly victorious in life. Grace would not be necessary if this were the case. God would not give us new mercy each day. Renewal, restoration and revival would not be promised if one pitfall was all it took to take away our victory. Those who endure to the end will be saved. They will obtain the crown of righteousness offered by our Champion – Jesus Christ. Somebody needs to hear that today. You are not defined by your past, your today, your failures, your shortcomings, your weakness or even devastating heartbreak – what makes you a champion is when you decide despite all things I am going get back up and do it again.

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.

Champions realize their purpose and capitalize on potential. Perseverance is an act of discipline. It is to push our mind, soul and body past the natural limitations of our flesh and decide that faith is our primary goal. Faith is never a natural thing but always dependent on the supernatural. It is all about what we cannot see, the highly unlikely outcome and even the impossible that is promised to us in God’s Word. It is the thing that makes us send away our Hagar and Ishmaels because God promised us Isaac. It is the determination to put away the things of this world to make room for His Kingdom. All athletes are disciplined in training. They set a goal in their heart long ago that is not dependent on their team but solely defined by a heart that refuses to quit and sees the glory of their goal. We must decide as believers what our true purpose is in Jesus Christ. What has He called you to do? What is your calling? Calling is not what you feel necessarily qualified to do. Purpose defines the potential of our life. It is in the commitment of our natural life to godly purpose in each step of every day that will bring it to life as we discipline our mind, soul and body to keep persevering and never give up on what God is doing in us and Christ died for us to accomplish.

Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

I love that the Lord inspired this passage in the Word of God. We need to see the humanness of Christ in order to understand that Jesus is truly a valid example. He saw the future. He knew the agony not only of the physical nature of crucifixion, but the torture of each sin to be laid upon Him in that moment. His Father, God, was going to turn His Face from His Son. Every wretched disease would soon leave a strip down His Back. Jesus was God incarnate but His Flesh was real just like ours. His Body would feel every terrible torture that would be endured to set us free. He asked God, “If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Jesus knows what it feels like to come to the end of self. He knows the feeling of weakness due to the oppression of flesh. It doesn’t matter how willing our spirit is to follow in His Footsteps, the weakness of our body will always try to stop us.

There are many athletes who must overcome weakness, pain and injury to become a champion. It is not the absence of such things that afford them the title but their mindset that no matter what they will give their all. They are persistent in training and strengthening of their body investing countless hours in training. They give up time with their family, friends, hobbies, and just loafing around to preparation. They endure insult and injury to play the game they love so much. Pain doesn’t stop them – they push through it willing to pay the price when it’s over. Champions see the potential and prize ahead of them and refuse to give up. They may be taken out of the game but a true champion will never leave the game willingly.

2 Corinthians 6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

God has filled each human heart with purpose. It is marked eternity and labeled with the promise “made beautiful for its own time”. Champions pursue purpose. The potential to be the best is the drive and motivation of their heart. Where do you spend your time? What is the prevailing thought you strive for? What is life all about to you? When our passion, pursuit and purpose becomes the Kingdom it will change the pathway of our life. The Light in our heart is His Glory. It shines brightly in our brokenness and weakness as death gives way to life in us. With each step of faith – our purpose becomes more evident which means our opponent sets his sight on overtaking it. Nobody wants to play the loser. They want to play the champion to take away the crown of victory.

The enemy comes like a thief to steal, kill and destroy. His onslaught more pervasive when purpose begins to breakthrough sin, shame, doubt and disbelief. The moment you believe that you will overcome – is the second you gain the enemy’s full attention. He is going to pressure you to give up and attempt to perplex you by filling your mind with lies tempting you to stop the nonsense. A stealth predator it is not uncommon for him to wait until you are alone, feeling somewhat isolated, and vulnerable to try to separate you from others. Champions are hunted. When they get knocked down, they get back up. Endurance, perseverance, persistence and discipline cause flesh to suffer but with each conquest new life is produced in us. These are the qualities that define champions. Though they are pursued they do not stop because they see the prize and desire it more than anything.

John 16:1 (NLT) “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.

John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

These are the words of Jesus before He ventured to the Cross. Before He felt the coldness of death and solitude of the grave. These were his parting words before marching straight into hell and taking back the Keys to the Kingdom which was about to hand to you. Jesus knew His Purpose. He was a champion. He won the victory over death and the grave. Super Bowl Sunday is just a little over a week away. We watched the division championships last weekend. I noticed that during the presentation of the trophy – it was not the most valuable player of the game, the quarterback or the coach who received it but in each case an elderly gentleman. The announcer would then acknowledge them as the owner of the team. He was not the one who engaged in the battle on the field, took a single hit, caught a pass or even kicked a field goal. He is the one who paid the price so each one of those players could pursue their passion and achieve their purpose.

Jesus paid it all. He overcame the world so our faith would be worth something. Our purpose is faith that produces such confident hope that we can give up pursuing lesser things and overcome in all things. My life “in Christ” can achieve its purpose. My heart will satisfied when eternity is mine. Until that time, I must remain in Christ who is my champion. I must follow His Example. He never quit. Jesus never gave up. He endured suffering, temptation, isolation and even death for me to have victory over all these things. It is up to me if I will join in. Will I choose life over death? Will I pick blessing over the curse? Will I let the Light of His Love show through my broken heart, dead dreams and failures until His Glory overtakes my life? I cannot give up and be a champion. I may lose a few, but I win it all if I persevere never losing faith but always reaching for hope.

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Just to be clear, Jesus came to be a champion. He would secure victory over sin, death and the grave once and for all. What was the joy awaiting Him when Jesus stepped down from His Throne carefully placing His Crown on the seat to come to this world? He had all of Heaven. The only thing missing was you and me. He came to this earth for just one thing. His Treasure and Special Possession. He came for us. He left everything to have us with Him forever. You and me. Ordinary people who fall, fail and stray just about every day – but Jesus wanted us. He desired us above all things and gave up His Life to have us. Will I do the same? Will you?

Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ became a champion for us because He loves us. He was committed to love us even to the death, but that wasn’t long enough so He overcame death to give us a crown of righteousness so we could live as champions with Him forever. Are you fulfilling your purpose? Do you know the true potential of your life? Jesus did and He came up out of the grave to give you the power to complete it. The rest is up to you. When you feel like you have fallen too far, you haven’t the Lord is there to pick you up. When you think you have gone too far, His Spirit will lead you right back. When you wonder if it is worth it, ask Jesus because He sure thought you were. Choose to persist, persevere, pursue and prevail in every situation because in our weakness His Power is perfect. If you don’t give up but endure by faith until the end, you will win every time. Discipline is painful but defeat is agonizing. Celebrate each victory no matter how small. It is one step closer to winning it all. You are a Champion. Jesus lives in you. Don’t give up on victory today. Hold tight to your faith for it is the key. Be confident in Your Hope because God hasn’t given up on you. The best is yet to come if you believe.

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

Be Victorious

Be Victorious

I John 5:3-5 (NIV) In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Come in close. I need to whisper this as not to get everyone riled up. Closer. There are just 64 days until football season kicks off. Hallelujah! This will be the first game of the regular college season and our family gets pumped for it every year. We love our home team. It’s a fun rivalry with other state teams. A little healthy competition is fun, right? We live in a competitive world. There are many things vying for our time, attention and energy. To have a favorite hobby or pastime is good, right? It is! God did not put us here to hate life. We are not designed or predestined to leave in agony nor defeat. When God put people on the planet, His Purpose was for them to have dominion and power. To walk in His Authority and oversee all. What happened? Somehow we lost it.

I love college football. It really is the only sport I watch or follow very closely at all. The other day our son came over to watch some soccer. I am not a soccer fan but he is a huge one. During the game, naturally I was cheering for his team. It was in the final minutes. He was complaining about the score and declaring it a loss. There were a couple minutes left just enough time for a come from behind victory which is exactly what happened. There is no worse feeling then leaving the stadium in defeat only to hear your team comeback and win on the radio driving away. What if you had stayed? What if you had waiting until the end? You would be celebrating with them. Do we give up too soon? Is that the problem? How many times have we been on the verge of breakthrough about to cross the finish line of faith and claim victory when we just gave up?

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Key words to look at in these statements include “everyone” which includes you, “faith” is needed to establish victory in our life overcoming the world and finally, you must “believe” that Jesus is the Son of God and overcomes the world. We must believe that victory belongs to us enough to have faith and believe that we will always overcome.

Matthew 16:17-19 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

There is a team from a neighboring city who are constant rivals. Due to the close proximity of campuses, there is a mix of fans in both cities. You can tell who their team is by the mascots and emblems on cars, clothes, and displayed proudly in many ways. There are special chants for each team. We have hand gestures that go along with it. A lot of time, energy and money is invested in supporting these college teams. I have to be very careful not to get too wrapped up in the hype because it creates emotional tension in me. Close your ears honey, but football is just a game. After the stadium is empty, the lights go off, the concessions close and the last car leaves – the win is forgotten moving on to the next engagement. In the grand scope of life, football is a hobby just entertainment.

 

The knowledge of who Jesus is coupled with the understanding that He is not only Savior but our Lord gives way to a life of victory after victory as we overcome the world. Not by might or by power but by God’s Spirit invested in us because we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and made Him our Lord. Jesus told Peter in that moment that He would be the foundation of His Church, the gates of Hell could overtake it. He was handing Peter the Keys to His Kingdom. He empowered Peter to bind and loose things. We have the same power living in us. Why are we not victorious? Do we know Jesus as Savior? Most reading this would probably say, “Yes.” Okay well, have you made Jesus Lord of your life? What if we invested the time, energy and resources in following Jesus that we do our favorite sport, hobby or even television show? The world offers many distractions and detours to steal our time, talent and treasure wasting it on lesser things that are meaningless. Jesus is simply inviting us to win. Not once in a while or by a fluke but to walk in victory.

Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is love. He is full of compassion and unfailing love for you and I no matter how we perform in life. His Love is unconditional. He cuts no one from His Team but offers endless abounding grace to us all through His Son, Jesus. The first key word “everyone” is important because God intends to make every single person who He created victorious. Our life and choices do not exempt us from victory. We are not the reason it is given. It is simply God’s Love being shared with us. He is all-powerful. No one can overcome Him or His Love for us. We must believe that there is nothing and no one who can separate us from the Love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible says that Jesus overcame the world. (John 16:33) We belong to Jesus. When we make Him the Lord of our life living a life of respect for His Authority and Power – He gives it to us. You cannot have His Power until you accept it. By grace are we saved through faith and not of ourselves, you cannot earn God’s Love or deserve it so stop trying and learn to accept it and live it. Things will begin to change. You will find little wins popping up unexpectedly as He begins to release His Power as we begin to surrender our life to His Love.

Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith is our life investment. It is when we decide to operate in the Love of God for our life so we put our faith and hope in what we cannot see. We put our faith in the Promises of God offered through the Sacrifice of Jesus and sealed in our heart by His Spirit. No one likes to lose. Athletes do not pour their blood, sweat and tears into training and playing without the thought of victory. We will invest our life in the things we deem most important to our happiness and fulfillment. Too often we choose comfort and compromise over confidence and commitment in Christ and wonder why we live dissatisfied and defeated lives. We must evaluate the things that we give our life especially our time to. Are they worthy of our faith and trust?

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27) I am not an athlete, but a few years back my husband and I began working out together at the local gym. I am a cardio girl. I generally work out on one of the machines like elliptical or treadmill. Again, I am not a trainer or instructor but I do know this in my careful observation. You cannot possibly be giving your all to your workout or fitness routine, if you are talking on your cellphone the whole time. The breath given in your conversation could add to that workout. Your focus is divided and void of concentration. I am a “leave it all on the field” kind of person who is fiercely competitive in all things good and bad. Maybe this is why we are not living victoriously lives. We are not invested in God but everything else all at one time. Could it be that we are not giving it our all but rather living double lives? Doing halfhearted things? Looking at too many things but not focused on one? Could it be that faith is a tiny seed so we must choose where to put it?

I must have faith that in Jesus Christ that I overcome in all things. I must live my life committed to this cause willing to endure to the end even if it is in the final seconds. I must give my all to Jesus every day. If I do, I will be victorious. It begins with Jesus and ends with Jesus everything else is meaningless according to Paul. I am beginning to agree as seeds of faith are beginning to manifest in victory. How about you? Are you due for a win?

I John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Do you believe that the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world? We must believe that God is Greater than any other adversary or opponent in our life vying for out time and attention. We must believe with our whole heart in order to walk from victory to victory. How do I know when I am success? His Glory fills my life. After all isn’t that what comes in worldly victory? The victor is glorified. My Victor is Jesus Christ and when I win He gets the glory! Because I live in Him and He lives in me that means I get to experience His Glory, too.

God will always be our source of victory. (Deuteronomy 20:4) He always has been and always will be. There is victory in His Name alone. His Victory was given to us when Jesus paid the price for all sin to extend God’s Grace becoming our Savior. Salvation frees us from our indebtedness so that we can live a life of victory. Victory is established in Jesus Christ. To share in His Glory – we must make Jesus Lord of our life. No one will invest their life in something or someone they do not believe in…would you?

Legendary football coach, Bobby Bowden, said, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s the greatest strength I’ve had. It’s helped me through the hard times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put so much into coaching football games that they have nothing left.” Good advice. We invest our life in something. Why not faith? We need God’s Strength just to get through each day let alone win once in a while. Jesus overcame the world. Greater is He who lives in me. Through His Love, I have the potential to overcome the world and walk victorious through life based simply on the fact Jesus lives and He lives in me. What are you giving your life to? Those precious minutes that comprise each day. Is there anything left for Jesus? It is easy to make our passions and pursuits into tiny gods that demand our full attention. It is a choice to make Jesus our Lord and live in victory.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Change of Heart

Change of Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Dinner over. Dishes done. House quiet as all my people head off to find a place to digest and decompress left just me and the little dog staring at each other in the kitchen. The very clean kitchen within the pristine house after more than a week of scouring and purging. Every closet gone through and each cabinet in order, it looks like when we first moved in. Change is coming. No, change is here. In my peaceful resolve within my exhausted frame, compelled to take a walk and talk to the Lord, I grab the little dog harnessing her in and set off in the twilight as evening comes. She is more than happy to oblige.

 

The cul-de-sac was perfect. With five kids of our own, many days it was filled with more than ten to fifteen children at a time. Playing kickball and learning to ride bikes. Shooting hoops and tossing the baseball. The children have grown up for the most part and many moved away. We are moving. Today a sign will be placed in our front yard and the house that has blessed us so much readied for another family. As I kept walking, rounding the corner and up the hill, I am reminded of the emotion, elation and sheer excitement as the Lord unfolded His Plan all those years ago. Overwhelmed by His Goodness and Grace as a young couple with five small children that we were able to achieve our dream. The model home that captured our attention was sold long ago, but still looks as it did back then. Our home is different. In our hearts, we longed for a craftsman-style home, and to our complete and utter surprise ours would be the only one built in the area. The Lord knows our heart’s desire. We have had many wonderful days in this place and many challenging ones, too. Three little birds have left the nest. Another now driving and our last one a teen. Times are changing along with our heart’s desire.

 

Yes, I am a bit nostalgic and somewhat taken back how quickly things can change in life. Time goes by and we all find that yesterday’s dream now fulfilled or the promise made good is the past and we long for the future. People definitely mellow with age. The change that I am after is not to be matured and seasoned to the point of hiding away in the country until the Lord calls me home. No, I am challenged to move, grow and develop into the place and person that Jesus Christ called me to be. When the Lord is ready to change us, He generally moves us from our comfort zone and out of complacency with this call to action. No longer content with how things are, used to be or the direction that they care heading – our heart is motivated for more. God is not interested in saving us, healing us, delivering us and just leaving us in His Spirit’s Safekeeping until He comes. No, the Lord wants to move us from Glory to Glory. Though our bodies are aging and progressively dying away, we can be renewed day by day in His Presence. We cannot stay where we are and remain the same yet still expect His Glory to find us. His Goodness and Unfailing Love pursue us as we move through life, at some point we must respond and be captivated by it to experience the Promises, Potential and Purpose for which we are created.

 

Sometimes faith can feel like insanity except for the Mind of Jesus. The things we do because of belief in the unseen reality of the Living God often seem crazy and a bit extreme to other people who do not understand. One experience with Jesus in His Presence to hear His Word and watch it come to pass will make it impossible to ever be satisfied outside of the Lord ever again. My heart longs for the things hidden in Eternity naturally because God put it there. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) It is that thing that drives our dreams, fuels our passions and whispers there is more to life than this every monotonous day. As the Lord moves closer, keeping His Promise to renew us day by day, our heart changes. Our spirit, too. In the longing to align our life with the Lord abiding in His Presence – we discover that He does not change but we do. To be like Him, we must desire what He desires. Do what He says. In becoming like the Lord, we are moved. He stays the same. He is sovereign and unchanged by the tests of time or the rebelliousness of His Children. His Love is the same. His Grace is sufficient.

 

Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

Where is your treasure today? There is where you will find your heart. Our heart is fickle. It can waver and wander if left to its own devices. Passion is a heartfelt emotion that has the power to propel us uncontrollably through life if not bridled and contained by purpose. Passion possess a fire that must be maintained. It must have an enduring flame with an appropriate supply to continue to endure after the initial lighting. Too many times, we give up when things don’t appear to be panning out as we would like them to or as quickly as we think that they should so we abandon our dreams. The dream you have been given is from the purpose that God placed inside of you. It lingers as the Lord waits for you to pick it back up and add desire with a good dose of passion to it. The only way that our potential will not be realized or our purpose left unfilled is our inability to accept change and unwillingness to leave our comfort zone.

 

There are many reality shows on television where people risk life and limb forsaking all dignity just for bragging rights. There is no cash prize except maybe some future exposure. Many will lay their entire life on public display just to be noticed. It is sad. Truly, sad. My life is no longer my own. I gave it away. Not until I had made a complete and total mess of it, but then gladly and willingly handed it to Jesus. As promised, He began to knit together a beautiful life from all the broken pieces. On many occasions, I have taken it back intent to finish the Work that Christ began in me. Only to discover as I crawled back into His Presence that it was never me, but the Christ who lived within me that was my power, purpose and strength. So now, as I begin to rifle through my possessions, get rid of things no longer wanted, needed or used, discard the things well past their prime, and look at the perfect house filled with imperfections from being lived in, I am aware of the change that the Lord has produced in my heart. I am not sad in letting go. But ready to move on. Why? I have had a change of heart.

 

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NKJV)

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

 

I have a cousin who is a major league baseball player. If I mentioned his name, any baseball fan would know of him. He is a pitcher. But this isn’t about him, it is about Jesus. When he walks on the mound, he looks at home plate and watches the catcher who will begin to signal certain pitches according to the next batter up. If he likes the pitch, he nods affirmatively. If he doesn’t he will, wave it off until he is satisfied. I think we do that we the Lord many times. He will instruct us to do something. Encourage us to try. Lead us to something far greater but we wave it off like a bad pitch sure that we think our way is better. When the enemy seems to score against us, we look back at God like he is to blame when it was our unwillingness to trust and obey that caused our dilemma in the first place. The pitcher has confidence in his catcher and his discernment. It is the job of the pitcher AND catcher to be in educated concerning their opponent and in sync with the game plan.

 

God has placed a great light in the darkness and His Name is Jesus. Jesus gave you His Spirit so you have the spark that will become a fiery passion, if you choose to stir it up and fuel it with faith. God put the desire in this young man’s heart to play baseball for His Glory. Yes, I believe that every dream and desire is directly related to God’s Will for our life made to produce His Glory. When our passion and purpose is to serve the Lord, holding nothing back, our life becomes a platform. The tests and trials of life will burn away those things that stand between us and fulfillment. This particular ballplayer had his career immediately sidetracked by injury. The world was watching him based on his promise and potential until he got hurt. He was left behind and seemingly forgotten in the minor leagues hidden in the south. The stir died down to the next great graduate. However, when the Major League team ran out of pitchers due to plethora of injuries, guess who got called up? God has placed a purpose inside you that no matter how far suppressed keeps coming back up. What once was a dream becomes a nightmare as it plays over and over in our heart and mind. Why is there no release? It’s simple. God’s Word will never return to Him void. He sent it out with purpose tucking it deep inside our heart and it will not return to Him without accomplishing what it set out to do. (Isaiah 55:11) In the same chapter, the Lord always reminds us that His Ways are not our ways and His Thoughts so much higher. This is the very same God who will do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can even think to ask. (Ephesians 3:20)

 

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

 

I love this verse. Today, if you are unfulfilled, dissatisfied or frustrated with your life, it is time for a change. God is perpetually changing us from the inside out which stirs and renews the passionate desires and dreams hidden in our heart. But since we cannot see the Lord, we must have faith in what He tells us and see Him through His Word. If it sounds too big, too much or too hard – it usually has His Name written all over it. But I think the most important thing to know in every change, intent and motivation of life is that God wants to give us a new heart and new spirit day by day from Glory to Glory as we endure until the end are saved. We evaluate our choices by our bank account because that is where our treasure lies. We decide our future based on the temporary circumstances called to today. We commit to spend the priceless commodity of time on worthless things. But the Lord presses us, prods us, and provokes us to change beginning with our very fickle and human heart that becomes comfortable and complacent unwilling to change.

 

Proverbs 13:12-13 (NKJV)

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

 

Discontentment is not a fruit of God’s Spirit but produced by human expectation. We think we know what will make us happy or satisfy our soul, but when it comes it is fleeting. I have experienced miracles from God and still want more even though I know to experience miracles the impossible must exist. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Longing overtakes us. Impatience goads us to just move on. Doubt begins to rise up to get us moving again. Our kids would challenge each other to see who could hold their breath the longest under water. They would get in the pool and test themselves over and over again. Our lungs are made with elasticity that expands and contracts with air. The more they practiced the better they got. This was a personal challenge. No one told them to do it, they just wanted to win or be the best against their sibling. Passion is driven by our cause. What is your cause today? What is Jesus whispering you to do that you are waving off like a bad pitch? “Lord, I don’t have time. I am doing all these other things. I must work to provide for our family. I have to take the kids to ball practice or dance class. Lord, I am just too busy to pursue my passion, potential and purpose in You.” Do you find yourself in one of these statements or maybe all of them?

 

When desire comes it is a tree of life. Take it from someone who not too long ago, gave up. Put my sword down. Slowly backing away from God’s Call on my life to fade into the gray area of compromise, complacency and comfort. I fought the battle. We won the war. I was weary and tired and didn’t fancy fighting ever again. The price was just too high. I slowly began to fall apart until finally the Lord could overtake me in my weakness gathering all the broken pieces of my heart and give me a new one. As my new heart began to beat, purpose and potential came out. My spirit rose up adjusting my attitude and actions. Now it is time to change, it begins with a new heart. It will always require change. Has the dreamcrusher taken your passion from you today? Do you want it back? King Jesus will gladly snatch it from him returning it to you. But He will not leave you like you were before but He will also revive, restore and renew your heart, mind and spirit to make His Glory come to pass in your life? Ask the Lord today for a new heart and new mind. You were made for more than ordinary but to do extraordinary things. The possible does not dictate your future but the impossible defines your faith producing a tree of life.

 

Psalm 20:4-5 (NKJV)

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Burning Ember

Burning Ember

Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

We celebrated our daughter’s sixteenth birthday with a bonfire party. Our friends offered their home for the venue as they live on several acres and had already amassed a huge burn pile. Accepting their offer, I was amazed at the mountain of brush and debris before me. The height of a small building, it was sure to be epic once lit and burning. It was. When it began to burn, the heat radiated several yards away. It burned high and tall. The kids seemed energized by it. However, within just a few moments, it was a circle of burning embers. Once the dry and rotten branches were consumed and the other flammable combustibles thoroughly destroyed, they drew in closer to melt marshmallows and make s’mores. I didn’t really think much about it as we called them into the house to continue the celebration together.

 

The next evening enjoying some downtime with the kids, the television played in the background. It was a show called “The Human Race.” It was about a man and woman put in the middle of nowhere who must rely on nature to survive. Many shows are set on this premise and I really did not pay close attention or so I thought. When the pair came across a brush fire, they scrambled through the rubble looking for something. They found a small quarter-sized burning ember in the black charred debris. Building a torch with some kindling and dry grass, they carefully set the hot coal in the safe place. This ember represented life to them. It would create the fire that would warm them at night. Cook food. Purify water. So they continued the journey with the ember in the torch. It seemed that favor might be with them. As they slept warm and safe at night; caught, killed and consumed small game; and had plenty of water to drink. Continuing the journey, they came to a river bed with smooth rocks just beneath the surface. With great regard as not to drop the torch, they began to cross. But the slippery rocks got the best of the man and he tumbled into the water torch and all. The two scrambled to remove their life source and began tearing apart the torch hoping that beneath the wet outer layer the ember might be safe inside. I could feel their fear and anxiety. They were clearly distraught and disturbed. They feverishly were looking for the tiniest glimmer of hope. I stopped watching at this point as the conversation demanded my full attention again – thinking nothing more of their plight.

 

Sunday morning in church, the bonfire and ember came to my mind as our pastor talked about revival. Revival begins in us. It is that ember that was given when we first asked Jesus to be our Savior and set out to make Him our Lord. Our pursuit of Him fiery and passionate as a new found love. Our passion was enthusiastic, zealous and overwhelming. But as it continued to burn away the overt sin, ignite understanding and knowledge to be made into wisdom, and as we settled in to the slow burning sacrificial offering of worship – something inside of us changed. Now we take for granted the tiny seed of faith and flame of hope given to us by the Lord. We are to be living sacrifices – not burnt offerings before the Lord. Jesus was the sacrificial offering for sin that allows us to enter the priesthood of God and become those who keep the fire burning and lamps lit in preparation of His Return. We are revival. Or at least, that is who we are supposed to be.

 

I Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

 

If we embrace no other role in our relationship to Jesus Christ, we must fully participate in the royal priesthood. To be the chosen generation, a holy nation , His Own Special People that proclaim His Praises in the darkness calling others to His Marvelous Light. I cannot start a fire without a spark or flame in my heart that is burning. I have been given unconditionally love and acceptance by the Lord to live in His Light openly unashamed and unafraid. What I have to offer will always be better than what anyone has. Do I believe it? Do I live as a royal priest in the Presence of God or attempt to rob the altar of tiny embers just to make it through each day? Today I ask the Lord to start a fire in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of You, God. I want to have a fiery passion for Jesus Christ that burns hot and strong within me rather than a tiny ember under layers of flesh that others must dig to discover.

 

Exodus 27:20-21 (NKJV)

“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.”

 

The royal priesthood of Aaron and his sons were commanded to use the pressed olive oil provided by the Children of Israel to “cause the lamp to burn continually” in the Tabernacle. This was the place that housed the Presence of God in the beginning. This was not the altar of sacrifice where “burnt” offerings lay but rather symbolic of continual and ongoing worship unto God. (Exodus 30:7-8) This is the place past repentance when we find more of our life to surrender to Jesus to keep the fiery passion of pursuit burning giving off the Light of His Love to the world around us. This is a place approached when we move past ourselves, expectations of God and human desire to stand in His Presence and bask in His Glory. This place is reserved for those willing to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice withholding nothing from the Lord. In the Old Testament, the priests carried incense burners that gave off a fragrant aroma before the Lord. (Numbers 16:36-38) We are now the living sacrifices that give off the sweet aroma of praise, worship and adoration to our God thanks to His Son Jesus. Though the vessel has changed – its purpose has not. As living sacrifices who continue to burn for the Lord, we stand between the living and the dead. (Numbers 16:45-48) Are you on fire for Jesus? I know it is an old-fashioned term perhaps unfit for this modern and hip generation. The vessels have changed but our purpose has not. The lingo may have evolved with it, but God’s Word is clear. We must burn for the Lord once again.

 

Hebrews 12:29 (NKJV) For our God is a consuming fire.

 

The evidence of grace in our life doesn’t allow sin to prevail. I know what the famous preachers are saying but it is not true. It is a deviation for the Truth and can take one’s very life. Grace enables us to get past our sin and step into His Glory. God is a consuming fire. Anything imperfect will be devoured in His Midst leaving only that which can stand the test by fire. (Malachi 3:1-4) The parts of our life that remain are those acceptable sinless, dedicated and obedient portions. The good must outweigh the bad to endure and be saved. Acceptable sacrifices make it through testing and trials and are not consumed. Saul lived and loved the Lord until he decided to do what he wanted to do rather than obey the Word of the Lord. God told him to destroy the Amalekites. Destroy all they had everything including every person. But Saul spared King Agag and kept the best of his flocks and all that was good. Not exactly what the Lord told him to do, huh? So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” (I Samuel 15:22-23) How quickly things change? What about Solomon? God offered him anything for his obedience in building the Temple of God. He asked for wisdom and it was granted to him. He was warned by God not to get tangled up with the foreign women for they would turn his heart from the Lord. They did. The one who build the Temple soon built many shrines and began worshipping other gods falling from God’s Grace and Favor. (I Kings 11:4-7) Our passion for God will never survive the test of time without our careful attention to faithfulness and obedience as instructed by the Lord given to His People.

 

Isaiah 6:6-8 (NKJV)

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

 

Salvation offers us the Light of His Love. It is in that moment, a person is offered the Holy Spirit. Freely given but not always accepted, our life partner who enables us to keep ignite the tiny ember in our heart into a fiery passion for Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:2-4) Grace allows us to come into His Presence like Isaiah and say, “I am unclean.” The Lord takes an ember from His Altar to give us clean hearts and new minds to come closer, go deeper and fall even more in love with Him than ever before. But this position is sought after not imposed, the Lord will not make you enter the priesthood if you do not want to. Jesus Christ told us that He came to set the world on fire and wished it was already burning. (Luke 12:49)

 

Isaiah 62:1-5 (NKJV)

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

 

The coal from the Altar of God started a fire that would burn in Isaiah and grow stronger. Isaiah no longer lived for the world he walked in but for the Kingdom of God that was coming. So hot was His Passion that this ordinary man after an extraordinary experience with His God could paint vivid pictures of the reality of faith and portray confident hope of that which was coming. We have been empowered by God through the Sacrifice of His Son and delivery of His Spirit to do the same thing and more. Heaven can now touch earth in every man and woman who says, “YES!” to God’s Royal Priesthood. Those who embrace salvation and choose to walk by faithful obedience and total trust in God will have the signs, wonders and miracles once only uttered historically or evidenced in God’s Word. It will be an occurrence when men and women of God just pass by as the embers of their life give off the sweet aroma that attracts others rather than living complacent, compromised lives offering nothing to a dying people.

 

Luke 12:35-40 (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. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

 

“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.” (2 Peter 3:9) Are you tired of waiting? Tired of giving to God but never experiencing His Glory? Sacrifice is an all or nothing venture. It does not require all of you it is not sacrifice but an offering. Offerings are consumed on the altar. Sacrifices keep burning as God’s Lampstand. Maybe it is not God taking His Own Sweet Time or Jesus stalling? What if it is His Grace holding back until we finally get it right? This is very important. We must withstand the fire of judgment. We must be have something that will keep us through the Ultimate Test. Faith and confident hope belong to God’s Royal Priesthood who continue to long for, pray for, fast for and desire the Lord in the second and third watch of life. They do not climb down from the watchtower hungry or thirsty for natural things, tired of missing out on “life” but give their life to see Jesus when He comes. To know Him and for Him to know them.

 

Has your fire become a hidden ember? It doesn’t have to be that way. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7) The New International Version of the Word says, “to fan into flame the gift of God.” This is not a mandate for your pastor, Sunday school teacher, group leader, elder, parents, spouses, or anyone else who contributes to our life. This is our willingness and obedience to God on an intimate and personal level. Imagine the repercussions if men and women spent all week seeking the Face of God, fanning the flame of passion and purpose as directed by the Holy Spirit, praying and fasting in His Presence, so much so that when they went into church the Spirit of God would come bring all the benefits of God to that place. After a few weeks of that kind of incineration, those same people would begin to spread the fire of God’s Passion among the world in which they live until one day, like Paul, just the aroma of our presence so immersed in God it would heal the sick among us without us every knowing His Power was seeping, flowing or bursting from us because we would be too lost in His Love to notice. Life goals. This is my life goal to dig up the tiny ember burning in my heart for Jesus – and build it into a fiery flame that burns brightly for others to see and set this world on fire for the Lord. To bring the spark of salvation, deliverance, healing and revival again. To leave no person or place unchanged until He comes. I don’t want to be like the bonfire that started so bright and burned out so quickly. I don’t want to become engrossed with other things, and let the fire go out. I want to burn in the midst of God’s All Consuming Fire. Lord, let it be me today. Make me a living sacrifice. I want to be holy and acceptable to You.

 

Psalm 118:24-29 (NKJV)

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Like a Moth to a Flame

Like a Moth to a Flame

Like a Moth to a Flame

August 10, 2015

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NLT)

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Love flashes like fire, the brightest kind of flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned.

Love flashes like fire the brightest kind of flame. Everyone is looking for love like that portrayed in Song of Solomon. The kind that seals the heart. Displayed proudly for the world to see. Love as strong as death. Jealousy enduring as the grave. The love that everyone wants but few will ever find. Not because it is not out there but the soul ties created among humanity with all its unreal expectations, overbearing demands, imperfection in both parties mixed all together in a society that really has no concept of what true love really is. True love…real love…enduring love…forever love is not possible outside of God’s Love. My grandparents were married seventy (70) years when he passed away. They married as teenagers and clung together through a lifetime. My dad and step-mother who really is my mom married when I was in elementary school. They have been together more than thirty (30) plus years. My husband and I have been together more than sixteen years (16) years. I think if grandma and grandpa were still with us and all of us could gather around a table to discuss the success of our marriages – the central theme would be Jesus Christ. Love and respect for the Lord will change the way others are perceived in our life allowing us to love them without expecting our spouse or partner to be our God. This is vitally important to successful unions.

If our love for the Lord is foundational in our lifelong loves, it seems that to have such things requires a passion for God. We are drawn to God with the hope of discovering His Unfailing Love. Many approach the Lord with fairytale visions of a prince on a white stallion coming to the rescue. It is with an expressed need of fulfillment, acceptance and affirmation that we come to Him. The humility felt on the way to the altar is seldom maintained and our carnality begins to surface early in the relationship as people become demanding partners who want more than they can give to the partnership. Rather than love and affection showered on the Life Giver who rescued us from certain death, it becomes a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” arrangement. We give nothing expecting Jesus to meet our requests. I have a revelation. Jesus already did. He gave His All to this covenant. He died…yes. But He came back to life. When He emerged from the grave – He thrust the Keys to His Kingdom to everyone who calls Him Savior and makes Him their Lord. Boom! Done! We are free to choose to use those Kingdom Keys and take part in His Household as His Partner – His Bride or return to the world as its lover. We don’t “have” to love Jesus back for what He did for us. We don’t have to do anything for His Love. He just hands it all over to us. The problem is that sin prevents us from having the relationship described in Song of Solomon. We must fall in love with Jesus like He loves us! Drawn to Him like a moth to a flame, we must keep that fire alive in our heart every day to be His Bride.

I am jealous. When it comes to my husband, I have a ferocity in my heart that rises up without regard. There is no filter and from the beginning I have been candidly honest about it. I want his love and attention. All of it. But what if I said that I was jealous for him but ignored him all the time? Love is a commitment. On the good days, it’s a breeze. But on the not-so-good days, what then? If there is no commitment, we will turn and walk away. That is the societal norm. When you are done with something, simply throw it away. If you don’t want it, discard it. Recycle and Reuse is a relationship term as well as the products we use each day. The breakup and makeup syndrome is alive and well. Couples back and forth all around with children caught up in the crosshairs. Are you jealous today? What is the object of your jealousy? If you want all of God’s Love that He is offering you – you must become as jealous for the Lord as you are for the other things in your life.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT)

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

 

The question rose up in my mind, so why are moths drawn to a flame to such an extent that an idiom would be created bout their plight. For many years science pointed to the moon thinking that it was some sort of migrating tendency. But in the seventies, the Department of Agriculture made a discovery that may very well explain the moth’s attraction to light. It is love. The infrared light spectrum emitted by the candle’s flames contain some of the exact same wavelengths of light given off by the female moth’s luminescent pheromones. Who would have thought? We are attracted to the Light of God’s Love but few will move any closer to it afraid of its consumption. Moths dive straight into the flame of a candle in pursuit of love. What if we did the same with God’s Love? Allowed that tiny spark to become a raging fire?

God promises that the fire of oppression and flames will not consume you! Jesus handed all of Himself over for you. He loves you. He proved it. How far will we go to prove our love for Him? Are we willing to be like a moth diving into the flame?

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Our daughters attended two camps this summer. One was a huge youth conference in Atlanta, Georgia. A giant pep rally for Jesus Christ that encouraged young people to live what they believe and not be ashamed in their schools and among their peers. Famous Christian recording artists performed, popular worship bands led them into the Presence of God and mega preachers called them to accountability. The girls had a blast. But then we changed gears getting back to our roots and they attended an old-fashioned holiness camp in the middle of the woods. No flashing lights, loud sound systems, professional Christians to get their blood pumping. Just men and women after God’s Heart going all in and taking as many young people as would go with them. Our daughters came back from the conference fired up but like a match it didn’t last more than a day. When they returned from the other, they were changed. They did not come back with a “charge” something to do, a message to tell or a mandate to serve. No, they came back changed from the inside out with a personal passion for God that comes from encountering Him for ourselves. They are not the same. I am not the same from just being near them. Their faith, not their dad’s faith or my own, became real to them in that place. They didn’t want to come back. Now I am hearing different sounds coming from their rooms. I am seeing different children in the way that they live. I am encouraged to reach higher and go deeper in the Lord just to keep this flame alive in my children so they will have a passion for the Lord that will keep them in His Embrace.

“I remind you to fan the flames of the spiritual gift God gave you…” In the Old Testament, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. Why was Moses drawn to it? Because although it was burning it did not burn up or burn out just kept burning. (Exodus 3:2-5) His encounter that night in the desert changed his life forever. When the Lord spoke to the Children of Israel, it was from the heart of the fire on a mountain. (Deuteronomy 4:11-12) it was outside of them and because their sin was not yet paid for they could not step in. When Jesus died on the Cross – He released His Spirit. (John 19:30) In that moment, the curtain in the Temple representing the separation of God from His People was torn from top to bottom and graves of many godly people were opened and they arose from the dead. (Matthew 27:51-52) On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord released His Spirit to His People for holy inhabitation. (Acts 2:2-4) This is the mark of those who belong to God and changes our spiritual DNA. What we do with the Gift of His Spirit is up to the individual? I choose to fan that flame into a fiery passion for the Love of God? In Acts it appeared as flames or fire settling on each person in that place. We have this very same gift available to us. What we do with it is up to us? The Holy Spirit is the part of us that allows us to truly connect mind, soul and body with the Lord. He is the Seal on our heart that sets us apart as God’s Children. He is the guarantor of our inheritance and the One to show us where it is. (Ephesians 1:14; 4:30) When my youngest daughter compares the two camps, she feels like the big conference gets her all hyped up and excited about Jesus but that the little church camp out in the woods touches her here (as she places her hand on her heart). Sweet Jesus! How I thank you for revealing yourself to our girls this summer. Their love for You is evident. They have developed a passion that is not like other humans. Lord, make me who I need to be to fan the flame inside of them.

 

Revelation 3:15-20 (NLT)

 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.  I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

God is an all-consuming fire. It is clear that He is not interested in “lukewarm” lovers but those who come to Him like a moth drawn to a flame unconcerned of what will happen next but driven by love. Is their passion in our love for the Lord today? Will we stop at nothing or withhold anything from our One True Love. He compares to part-time, mediocre Christians as vomit in His Mouth. I have been that person off and on my whole life going a little deeper in His Love and stopping. Starting again… and stopping. I don’t want to be that person anymore. His Grace is sufficient for me and marks my place until I get myself together. He knows my heart and will work with whatever I give Him to reveal more and more of His Amazing Love.

The Lord has given me all of His Love. I want to experience it firsthand in my life. I am willing to make the commitment to change and be changed if that is what is necessary (and it will be) to finish the course. Passion for God’s Love will not allow for indifference. It is a seal on our heart that says, “Jesus I am Yours!” It is like a band on my arm that says, “Good soldier of God” so I am always on a mission to share His Great Love. It is love so strong that the close proximity of death will not change my mind. It is a jealousy that requires me to take my faith and confident hope all the way to my grave so I can be resurrected with the redeemed of God. Love that flashes so brightly others are drawn to it. I love so secure that near drowning cannot quench it. A love that is not for sale. I have this Great Love. Lord, let me live like a moth drawn to a flame completely consumed by Your Love.

Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

The one thing I ask of the Lord the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.