Birthday Thoughts

Birthday cupcake against a blue background

Proverbs 16:31-33 (NLT) Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Happy Birthday to me. Today marks my fifty-first year of life. I say it, but cannot truly feel it. Age is really just a number. It has never really impacted me like some of my friends. But the idea of fifty-one has made me slow down a bit and take a look at the scenery. I am pretty sure my nose-to-the-grindstone, press-thru-the-pain, and get-the-job-done attitude has caused the last decade of my existence to pass by in a blur. In our ladies Bible study, we talked about our lifetime estimated in the Word to be about seventy years. Seems like a long time and maybe even endless to a teenager, but I took that number and broke it down into days. If I live exactly 70 years, it means that I was born with 25,500 days of which I currently have about 6,935 days left as of today. To some it may be an instance of glass half empty, but to me it is a glass full of possibility. I am not worried so much about my life running out as it ending without fulfilling my purpose.

Gray hair may be a crown of glory for some but as long as my hairdresser will schedule another appointment – not on my head. However, in the Word of God, it is called our crown of glory just the same. I have gray hair carefully hidden under hair dye but that doesn’t keep them from popping up from time to time. Proverbs says – it is gained by a godly life. Perhaps the point is that if we make it in life long enough to have gray hair that it is an accomplishment. Mine mark years of survival. It is representative of a life given to pursuing the Lord and missing Him a lot. It shows that there is grace to overcome our mistakes and misgivings. It marks me as one who should have something more to give for it is the crown of glory that should be woven with wisdom and good common sense that has led me through impatience and impetuousness to the place I am now. The truth about my place in life is that it is usually a crossroad. The place where many decide to dig in or give up on their dreams and inspirations. Is it folly to think that at this age dreams really do come true? Is it possible that we have buried seed meant for planting in the barren field of hopelessness marked with the sign called unmet expectation? It happens all the time. We left life get ahold of our perception and make it into a harsh reality absent of faith, hope and even trust until believing in what we see overshadows the truth of what we know to be true.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” The final fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Perhaps patience and self-control are not possible in our youth because endurance and perseverance are necessary to find them. Seeds don’t grow overnight. You may be full of potential that just hasn’t been given enough time to grow, develop and mature into the purpose that God intended it to be. Too often, like the fig tree, it is human nature to cover up a lack of fruit with a plethora of leaves and foliage. Hiding behind a well-constructed façade, no one is as they seem. But God knows…He sees inside of our heart. He knows our deepest desire and while we try to bury it, get over it and move on. The Lord whispers wait a minute. It is part of my plan. Hold on. Don’t be so impatient. You have to live a little more life in order to produce the harvest. Waiting is not a bad thing. It is part of God’s Timing and vital to His Process. If you compare the older me to the younger version, it is clear that I have developed patience. They came at a high price – through difficulty, lack of control, waiting and more waiting and helplessness. I am finally beginning to see small hints of patience in my character. Praise God – it only took five decades to achieve. Self-control. It has been a tough one. I have always been a great starter but horrible finisher. I lacked the self-control to remain engaged when the “woo-hoo” wore off and the process grew tiring. There is the ever so slight but definitely noticeable change in my character to hang on, wait for it, and stay put. All this is to the Glory of God. None of this is human nature, but godly influence. It didn’t come through personal victory but daily defeat. As I sit here this morning, I finally see His Glorious Plan coming together. Though the pieces are definitely spread apart, His Hand is carefully aligning them into a beautiful picture that I am excited to see even in my fifties.

Proverbs 16:1-4 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes…

The Lord has blessed our family. I spent Saturday with our youngest daughter. She is the only one who is still bound to us as she will not drive for a couple more years. Her oldest sister lives in New Hampshire and will arrive today for a visit. Her middle sister has a full agenda and a flourishing social life. So, it was just the two of us for a day of birthday shopping. As we wandered from store to store, she became very agitated with my lack of ability to share something I wanted that was not practical. It is your birthday, she told me. It is a big deal! My husband and I had more humble beginnings. I will admit that we have spoiled our children with love and things. They do not know the difficult times that shaped both of our childhoods. They only know the security and structure of family. I am so very thankful for that. However, walking with her, I feel a nudge inside. The Lord is pressing for my attention to this thing called dreams and desire.

We make our plans. BUT the Lord gives the right answer. When I was a little girl, I decided that I would be a professional mom with just two kids. I wasn’t interested in being a stay-at-home mom much less have a handful of children. Well, when the first one came, I knew my purpose. It was to be a mom. I wanted it more than anything else. I ended up with not two babies, but five of them. There were many times in my life that my priorities set a regulatory standard for my life which has fallen apart. I had good intentions but the Lord was moving in my heart. He has a much higher standard of living for us than we could ever plan or execute. Truth is most days – we don’t believe it any more. Fairytales and fantasies are for children and fools. Reality is adulting. Day dreaming is for the lazy. However, sitting here at fifty, I hear the Lord whispering why not believe? Why not go for it? Why not think my love is extravagant? My power limitless again. Why not?

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes. Is it possible that at my age, I am only beginning to see the harvest of years of planting and sowing in life and people? Could it be that there has been unseen purpose and greater potential in the ordinary steps of my life leading to an extraordinary finish? The Word of God tells us to commit our actions to the Lord AND they WILL succeed. What have you done for Jesus over the last days, months or years of your life? Do you know that there is purpose in each footstep to be discovered? The Lord determines our steps according to His Plan. (Proverbs 16:9) Those dreams and desires in our heart are a product of the eternity and faith hidden there. To bring them to fruition. In Proverbs 16:20 is the promise that those who listen to instruction will prosper and those who trust the Lord will be joyful. Prosperity and joy are found in fulfillment as the Lord brings to completion the work that He began in you before you were born.

Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, I handled it better than I thought it would. I began slinging the Word of God like a sword at it and held up my shield of faith against it. Fighting the good fight, I never considered it would take many years to accomplish. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die. I had no idea it would be a seed that took many years to grow. This summer marks remission times three years. However, after the battle was over, I found myself dry, empty and done. How could it be? How is it possible? Victory is not always easy that’s why defeat can be so agonizing. Laying it all on the field means that if winning doesn’t happen you have nothing left to fall back on. After three long years of fighting to keep the faith and finish the course, the reality was that my life would never be “normal” again. It would not be as I had expected. The reality of life’s brevity and uncertainly loomed over me like a tiny black raincloud. The numbness in my limbs from fighting traveled to my heart. Some days, I felt like it was barely beating. I had finally come to the end of myself. It was not pretty. She was no longer in control of her life, family and destiny. For those of us who have control issues, pride barriers and any other type of fear or insecurity – this is not a fun place. It is a realization that demands a choice. It requires a change. The only good part is that finally the Lord has the opportunity to lead us to fulfillment. Grace works best in our weakness. His Power takes over when we step out of the way.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. When the battle was won, our son declared cancer free. I rejoiced, but it was not as I expected. Three months later, more scans and still clear. I became depressed at my lack of enthusiasm. I felt very guilty because many had not been so fortunate. This would be a turning point in my life forever. I walked around in a daze for about a year. Clueless as to hold to operate outside of my overdriven and constantly controlling personality. These waves of emotions carried me yet I had no idea what to do next. That’s when Joel 2:28-29 was introduced to me in a different way.

Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike. What if brokenness and undoing is the point when potential finds its way into purpose? What if it takes reality and life to break our hearts to the point where God can reach the bottom? What if our best days really are hidden in the rest of them following our arrival at the end of self? Is it possible that the dreams and visions promised to the “old men” is really where the potential lies? Could it be possible that the course of my life is exactly as God planned it before I was even born? Yes. Yes. Yes. You are exactly where God planned for you to be. He orders our steps for His Destiny not necessarily our desired destination. He is not transporting you to the Magic Kingdom, but transforming you for His Kingdom. We want a better life, but the Lord is preparing us for eternal life. It takes time. It is a process. It will require years to yield harvest. You will have to wait. You must endure. It requires persistence. You will be remolded and reshaped – broken and more. But you know what? It will be worth it all.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

So what if it’s true? What if God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His Purpose for them? It means that every dream I have dreamed should be dug up from its grave and given a careful and thorough examination according to the faith and hope that I have. Possibility is hidden in every detail of my seemingly ordinary life so I must be careful not to dismiss bad days and mess ups as experience but decide if there is something to be gleaned in that moment. A lot of people my age life in regret, shame and guilt over the not-so-productive choices that they “think” they made when the reality is it is all working together for their good! To God’s Glory! What kind of God would He be if He only showed up for emergencies? He is definitely the First Responder to those who call on Him, but why do we put our God, faith, hope and trust in a glass case to be of emergency. He wants to work every detail of our existence with His Power, Potential and Purpose. He’s not holding back…we are.

As I celebrate with my family today, I am thankful for every one of those fifty-one years. Lord, help me to remember all the seed planted and remind me to continue to sow in the coming year. Age is just a number. My potential is not in my days but how I choose to spend them. Time is the only commodity that cannot be bought but you restore all things. You are a miracle working God who will multiply purpose and yield promises in the time offered to You. Whether I have one more day, 6,935 days to seventy or even more than that, may I give them completely and wholeheartedly to You – Jesus. Keep my heart soft and pliant in Your Hands even it means I must stay broken. Keep my eyes on You Jesus – focused on the future never on the past. Keep my ears open to hear Your Voice, value your instruction and apply it daily to my life. God, I truly believe that the best is yet to come. Thank you for life. Thank you for your promises. Thank you for a purpose and plan worth having a lifetime of lessons to see it come to pass. This is not the end of my life – it is only the beginning. I am thankful to report… He’s still working on me… To make me what I ought to be…It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be… He’s still working on me!

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

In the Waiting

In the Waiting

Psalm 27:14 (AMP) Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

The passage of time is probably the most difficult part of the process of God. To hear His Voice, to see His Vision, to dream His Dream and then to wait for all things to work together as He has ordered for us according to His Promise is the hardest part of human participation in God’s Plan. From the onset, it is labeled future and hope. However, future never seems so far as in the watchtower of waiting for the Lord. Hope feels weighty until it is the anchor of our soul that is holding us in that place too far from the starting point with no finish line in sight. It is the place where questions being to cloud our thinking and fog the image once so clear in our mind. Nothing is going the way that I planned yet somehow it is all falling into place. Everything seems to point to disappointment but I hear the whisper in the wind, “My hope never leads to disappointment.”

Waiting for the Lord takes courage. To expect what God has promised means letting go of human expectation to fully take hold of what the Lord has promised refusing to let go until it happens. Like Jacob, wrestling with God through the darkness of night, and in the donning of a new day refused to let go until he was changed and given a new name. God is faithful…even when I am not. Wonderful and perplexing at the same time. Grace works best in my weakness. When I am vulnerable barely hanging on, at the end of my rope, and on the verge of being completely undone – His Grace empowers me with strength as His Love gains more of my heart, His Grace heals more of my soul, and His Faithfulness roots itself in my life.

Psalm 27:1 (AMP) The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?

As I read Psalm 27, it is clear that the enemy has an assignment against the Plan of God for His Children. Adversaries at every twist and turn. The Lord is the Light. His Love beckons us from darkness. His Love is so strong it pulls us out of the depths. If only it were easy to remain in that place of new love or first love. The love that is naïve and carefree still shallow and unknown. True love must withstand the test of time and trail to be authentic and real. Otherwise, it is not love at all but some other kind of emotion. Love is patient. (I Corinthians 13:4) The definition of love begins with these words. The essence of love. It’s root and foundation is patience. Patience is the ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. It means to be quiet. To have steady perseverance and to be even-tempered. Diligence in our effort outside of comfort and control. Love is patient. Love is able. Love is willing to wait and withstand all that comes against it to maintain its place in any relationship. Over time, true love is revealed when all else and everyone else is gone.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, too curious and attracted to save its own life. I must ask myself am I willing to go all the way. Will I wait on the Lord because I love Him? Will I trust Him with my life even if I am consumed? The Lord is my light. He wants to spark a passionate wildfire of love in me that will consume those around me with His Light and His Love as well. Will I love Him enough to become the Light? Is He still my salvation? Before you say of course, one must examine their heart and mind to see the relevance of faith. Is there fruit in my life to indicate that the seed of faith planted in me has grown in the grace that I have been given?

The Lord is my refuge and my fortress. I was talking to our daughter one night during a tornado watch. Just revisiting safety procedures should a tornado touch down in our area. I asked her what she would do if it happen and she quite honestly and candidly told me that she would run. I explained the danger of going out in the storm and the futility of trying to outrun a twister. I took her to our laundry room and told her that this would be the safest place in our house. It has no windows. It is inside the house with no exterior walls. She didn’t like my choice. She didn’t understand. Sometimes our inability to see is frightening. She was uncomfortable with the idea of being trapped inside the dark house and unable to see. I tried to explain that a tornado could sweep her far away. She still was hesitant. Confidence in the shelter and refuge of God’s Presence is essential to keep us firmly grounded in the midst of every storm. He must become our refuge and fortress. Trust builds those walls. Faith fortifies them making His Presence our permanent dwelling place.

Psalm 27:4 (AMP) One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

“And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, in His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalm 27:6) Nothing and no one can snatch us from the Presence of God. Our place in His Presence is secure. It is our presence that is often in question. Am I willing to see my life from God’s Perspective rather than focusing on every perceived threat? Our focus should be on the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is our Champion. The one who hands us victory over and over again so in all things there is the opportunity to overcome. Overcome fear. Overcome doubt. Overcome anxiety. Overcome quitting. Overcome disappointment. Overcome all those things that keep us from living in the fullness and abundance of God’s Presence. Perhaps the enemy is not outside but inside of us. Weeding the Word the Lord has placed in us with lies and insecurities that threaten the harvest beginning to grow in us, the fruit that is budding in our life or even the prosperity on the verge of bursting into a harvest more than we can imagine or even think to ask for. What if the enemy of my heart is me? My impatience and inability or even unwillingness to stay put. To remain in the Presence of God even when I perceive dangers or threats to my comfort or well-being but remaining hidden in the Shelter of the Great I Am and waiting for the storm to pass and His Son to shine. Will I praise Him in such a place?

Psalm 27:8 (AMP) When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)
What am I waiting on? Good question. I am waiting on God’s Word to come to pass in my life. Every promise that He made is crucial to my fulfillment. God’s Word cannot and will not ever return void. The problem is not in the promise. The problem is not in the process. The only challenge I face is my belief in the Promise and Process of God. If all that I have to go on is the Word of the Living God, will it be enough to keep in His Presence until His Potential becomes my purpose? Will I keep repeating it like footsteps to the place where I am standing in the Promise of God for my life? Will I be patient? Will I persist? Will I push back against the pressure? Am I willing to take just more step? Knock one more time? Ask even if I have already done so a thousand times before? Can I persevere? The greatest progress of all is the single step right after saying you were quitting.

The Goodness of God is for this life. Today. Tomorrow. All of them. If your life does not line up to your dreams and visions, then it is just a work in progress. The Lord promises that as we live in love with Him – He will give us the desires of our heart. God is faithful to finish the work that He has started in you. He is committed to it. God does not lie or change His Mind. The Lord will never withdraw His Calling or His Blessing on your life. Jesus went to prepare a place for us. What if that place is not just our home forever but His Presence to keep us safe and secure on our way there? His Presence is open and available to us always. It is our source of strength in the midst of severe storms. It is the walls against the wind trying to blow us off course. It is a place of supplication when our reserve is drying up. Hope is the anchor for our soul. Faith secures us to the hope that we have giving it weight and substance. Faith is to believe. It means establishing trust not just for forever but to make it through today. This day. To keep coming when He calls. To continue to respond to His Spirit. To keep reaching for His Kingdom. There is more to life than this reserved for this time and place. The Children of Israel fled Egypt, escaped the army bent on keeping or killing them, and wandered for years – yet there sandals did not wear out and they had more than enough treasure to build God a proper temple. Where did it come from? How could refugees have such an abundance? God was with them in the waiting. The Lord is with us here and now.

Psalm 31:24 (AMP) Be strong and let your hearts take courage, all you who wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

Two things are absolutely necessary to wait on the Lord – we must have confidence and courage. Confidence in the reality of His Love, Grace and Goodness. His Love unconditional and unconquerable. His Grace that is more than enough. His Goodness that is for now. He is Resurrection and Life not just in our death but in our everyday existence. He wants to resurrect our dead dreams. He wants to renew our passion for our purpose and release our full potential once hidden in our hard hearts. “Surely every man walks around like a shadow [in a charade]; surely they make an uproar for nothing; each one builds up riches, not knowing who will receive them. And now, Lord, for what do I expectantly wait? My hope [my confident expectation] is in You.” (Psalm 39:6-7) Waiting is our undoing. It is the time and place where there is nothing for me to do just be. To live in the Presence of God – in the Shadow of the Almighty – lovingly, patiently, willingly and quietly while the Lord works our His Plan for me. Nothing I do will ever compare to what the Lord is doing inside of me. The person I am supposed to be is hidden in the Great I Am. I will wait. Lord, give me more confidence. Lord make me courageous. Give me what I need to wait just a little longer. I know that every good thing, every perfect thing and every other thing is just on the other side of waiting. Keep me in the waiting.

Micah 7:7 (AMP) But as for me, I will look expectantly for the Lord and with confidence in Him I will keep watch; I will wait [with confident expectation] or the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.

My Time

New Year's at midnight - old vintage clock and fireworks

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

When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the morning after his oncologist came by to make introductions and schedule his initial appointments for evaluation and treatment plans. He has two oncologists who are amazing and definitely sent to us by God. After explaining the beginning processes and possible avenues of treatment, they asked our 19-year-old son if he had any questions. He quietly looked up clearly processing all the information and said, “I do not smoke. I do not drink. I do not go places where these things happen. Why me?” Completely plausible question considering our son never really was a social kid and has always stuck pretty close to home. He was honest in his estimation of his life including the fact I was a complete fanatic about our kids not being exposed to secondhand smoke. Why? How is it even possible that he could have nasopharyngeal cancer? Good question. No, that is exactly what the doctor said to him completely validating his estimation that it was inconceivable. He went on to explain that our son’s case was indeed rare and they were at the moment scratching their heads as to where it came from and how they would fight it. But…his final words were quite impressive. His doctor walked around the foot of the bed to his side, placing his hand gently yet firmly on his shoulder, looking him directly in the eye and spoke something quite profound and unforgettable to him which applies to all of us. He changed positions in that moment from doctor to philosopher of sorts. “Everyone goes through something in life that defines who they are. This is your one thing. You can overcome this and life a better life because of it.”

Is this your “thing”? Are you going through something that has you asking the Lord, “Why me?” God’s Grace and Character can handle your question even when it becomes a harsh interrogation. He welcomes it, in fact. It is in the moments of time when everything we know and believe about the Lord is challenged that fallacies of faith are discovered and filled with His Grace to grow a little more faith each time. When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. You learn to believe God’s Word a little more. Walk out on the water just a little bit further. One day the thing will come that causes you to cross over from being caught up in little things and you will be consumed by one thing. Jesus will be all you need. He will become your greatest desire. It will be in that moment that satisfaction and completion produce fulfillment. Is your time coming? Is it already here?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

There is a time for every activity under heaven. The list is long and comprehensive but covers the whole gambit in Ecclesiastes 3. It does not change when Jesus becomes our Savior and Lord. The potential of each moment is infused with the Power of God so that every detail can result in our good according to Romans 8:28. The Christ in us makes us triumphant overcomes in all things but does not exempt us from the process of endurance that solidifies our faith. We all must endure something that allows our faith to grow larger than our fear, confidence in God greater than any human insecurity, and our perception of life greater than tomorrow but firmly secured by hope called forever. The realm of hope is the place where the impossibilities of life become possible by faith.

God makes everything beautiful when? He makes everything beautiful in its own time. This implies process which will require patience and endurance. These qualities of discipline must be part of our life to keep us on track yet they are not very pleasant physically or spiritually. I do not like to wait. I do not have a vast supply of patience. My entire being rebels against endurance. But God says, “Hold on, I am doing something here. Maybe not around you, but in you!” He has placed eternity in my heart that has become desire to know Him more. As I call out to the Lord, He answers but not always the way that I would like Him to. Growth is a process. It cannot be hurried to accommodate my feelings but rather I must learn to wait for its proper time. For such a time as this…

Esther 4:13-14 (NLT) Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther was not pursued by the King Xerxes but rather part of a roundup of sorts. After he had deposed Queen Vashti, his attendants suggested that they search the empire for the most beautiful virgins. They would be brought to the palace (whether they wanted to come or not) and be subjected to months of preparation for a night in the king’s bed. This is not exactly what I would call a fairytale but rather enslavement. Esther was one of those young women. I cannot imagine her fear at being taken from her family and prepared to be presented against her will to the king. She endured the process and would become his queen. However, God knew exactly where Esther needed to be for such a time as this… She is not the only one. David had his “for just such a time as this moment” when he faced a giant with only a sling and handful of stones. He didn’t go with an army or even in armor. He faced the giant by faith overcoming fear. Daniel spent the night in the company of lions. Alone. Surely he would become a feast, but that’s not what happened. Daniel had been groomed and prepared for just such a time as this. What about Abraham? Walking to the mountain alone, completely by faith as he hoisted his son on the altar. He would honor God even if it meant driving a knife through his son, his only son to honor his God. He left his servants behind. Just Abraham and God went up that mountain with a sacrifice, but came down with a son. Even Jesus had a moment when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” We are made for the moment, for that thing that moves us past ourselves into a faithful relationship with our God. When given the choice to press in and endure of give up and move on – we give our all to Jesus like He gave His All for us.

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Sin is rampant. Love is growing colder by the hour. The world is a dark and perverse place. We have a Light within us that must find its way out. Eternity planted in our heart is only potential unless it becomes our purpose in life. We are given the opportunity to have eternity by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Faith turns our potential into purpose. Jesus was clear that He came to give us a rich and satisfying life that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy daily. We must endure to the end to be saved. Our footsteps are ordered by the Lord to take us the valley to face the giant or lead us to the den filled with hungry lions or even to the mountain of sacrifice where the price may be more than our willingness to pay – it is that moment when there is nothing left of me to give and all I have is the Christ within me to offer. Jesus is enough. His Grace is always sufficient but if I never reach one of these places in life then my faith may not be strong enough or real enough to take me Eternity. It must be tested. I must know that it is true.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT) 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.

Peter the disciple of Jesus Christ was quite firm in his stance that he would die for the Lord. When the time of testing came – Peter denied Jesus three times in one night. However, when Jesus rose again and came to meet the group of disciples on the beach that day – Peter dove in the water and swam to Him. Something had changed. Peter became the Rock Jesus told him that he would be. However, what about Judas? He left the group and killed himself. I believe that if he would have come back to Jesus after the resurrection that the same grace I have been given would have been bestowed on him, too. Judas didn’t believe it. He felt despair so deep he could not go on. I know you are being pressed too far. I understand what it means to be perplexed when our life doesn’t look like what God promised. It feels like the enemy is hot on our heels…he is. We get knocked down. We feel the pain of suffering, the hurt of betrayal and devastation of trauma – but we are never crushed, driven to despair, abandoned by God, or even destroyed. No – all these things are the obstacles that must be removed so our faith can grow. It is all part of God’s Plan – “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

I Corinthians 9:26-27 (NLT) 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.

Be encouraged today! You have purpose in every step. Now is the time to begin to discipline your body like an athlete, take control of your thoughts making them subject to God’s Word, and it is up to you if you will choose His Way. If you have asked, “Why me?” You are very close to a breakthrough a moment when the Light of His Love breaks through the dark and your faith has a chance to grow a little or even a lot. Do not give up. Do not give in. Press. Push. Do whatever it takes to take the next step, reach out a little further, and make it through just one more day. God is with you. He did not abandon you but is trying to take all that potential and burst forth with purpose today. A successful life is a purposeful life. A purposeful life is a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is a satisfied life. It is impossible to have this kind of life apart from our faith. We must live, breath, move and exist in Christ to have all that He has promised expressed in each moment. You were made for just such a time as this – it doesn’t matter how it looks or what anyone thinks – it will be defined by what we know and believe which is relayed in our faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ. Beat the giant and you will win every other battle. Shut the mouth of lions and you will never fear their roar again. Go to the mountain and come back full of faith. There are a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on! You can do it. You were made for this moment! This your time! This is my time to be blessed, prosperous and fulfilled by the rich and satisfying life that Jesus purposed for me!

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

Time to Push

time-to-push

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

Over the years, as a woman, I have heard more than my fair share of birthing stories. Testimonies of life on the battlefield of childbirth shared as the glory days of each mother. Why not? Most of us bear the scars and weak bladders proving it was a fight for life to get that little person here. God made woman to bear children with bodies equipped to nurture their babies and hearts read to nurture and care for them. It is engrained in our purpose. This does not make having a baby any easier. In fact, included in all the joy and anticipation of preparing for the new arrival, somewhere around the eight-month mark with a belly too big to get around the revelation comes – what is in me must come out of me. I will not deny the pure beauty and wonder of seeing our child for the first time and falling in love all over again but the moments proceeding their arrival is not so glorious. Labor is hard. It takes every ounce of energy. It is surrendering our bodies to the process that God designed in us and is written in our DNA. However, when it is time to push, there is a sudden shift during the transition phase. With every fiber of our being and all that is within us, it is time to see our promise come to pass and hear the wail of a new being. What is God trying to get you to push out today?

We come pregnant with certain promises. In God’s Time, He makes all things beautiful and it is time to push them out into the atmosphere. That’s right, we have to push. To press and to push are too different forces. One is to obtain and one is to release or move away. There is a term to promises in our life set by the Lord for completion. If it were to arrive too soon, it would be a spiritual abortion. If left to its own devices inside of us, it will become a dead dream. But when God puts pressure on us to push, those who respond will see His Glory fill their life. His Glory and His Goodness begin to bring to life all the things He has promised and release His Blessings along the way. His Power in us must find its way into the atmosphere around us. It is time to push.

Hebrews 12:1-4 (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.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

When a mother is given the news that a baby is on the way, most moms will begin to make certain lifestyle changes to give her little one the best possible chance. She changes her diet, stops partaking in things that may be harmful and even may begin an exercise plan. Reading all the latest literature and seeking the advice of others, she engages on a journey to receive her tiny promise. She gives up her body. She disciplines her life according to the promise within her.

I have a promise. Truly many promises are wrapped up in my purpose according to my Champion who is Jesus Christ. He handed me victory in all things and the power to overtake every obstacle between me and His Glory. How do I get there from here? I have to push my purpose from the inside out of me. This is a process. I engage in it by preparing for the arrival of my purpose. I must “strip off every weight that slows me down especially the sin” that keeps derailing, detouring and delaying the completion of my promise. Jesus has initiated and even perfected my faith, but I have to use it to change the way I think, the things I do, my attitude and my actions. To push purpose from within me, I must prepare the way. The process is repentance. It clears the way for His Glory to be expressed and fill my world with the Light of His Love for all to see.

Psalm 44:4-8 (NLT) You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. 

Women endure many insults to her body during pregnancy. The growing child zaps her iron from her blood and calcium from bones and teeth as it develops. Many endure months of morning sickness, and continuous illness. There is swelling in her ankles and feet. She is exhausted in daily tasks and her body performs 24/7 in the background making a new person. Even though God made women to reproduce, it doesn’t mean that process of pregnancy any less difficult. Yet I have delivered five babies and I have friends who have even more than me. Why do we do it? Why do we push even when we know the toll it will take on our body? Because it is worth it.

The worth of our purpose does not go unnoticed by the enemy. He has but one purpose. He wants to steal, kill and destroy the purpose of God ready to come out of you before it makes its way out. The enemy wants to destroy our confidence in the Lord with doubt. He wants to force us out of process with discouragement. He wants to create delays that will make us want to give up. With our fifth child in the ninth month, I was exhausted, swollen and done with the whole business of baby making. I remember sitting on the table looking down at my elephant-sized ankles thinking enough was enough. When the doctor came in, he chuckled and asked, “how are you doing, mama? All I could say was “get this baby out.” It is important that when the pressure to give up or give in comes that we push it away and push back the enemy. How do we do that? Simple – praise.

When I choose to praise God in my process, it releases His Power all around me and protects me in my process. When it was time to deliver our children, my husband was by my side and the midwife close by. I was surrounded. God has given us His Spirit inside of us. His Power is in us. Praise release it to the surrounding atmosphere. It announces the promise is coming and prepares for purpose to break loose. Sometimes praise is difficult when the pain too much, the pressure to hard, and the process too long. Praise pushes back the enemy so to discard our complaints and grumbling and replace it with praise is God’s Power being released from us to prepare the way before us.

Psalm 18:30-32 (NLT) God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.

God’s way is perfect. Do you believe that today? Do you trust God’s Process for your life? Careful before you answer because a life of true believing is characterized by godly obedience. Those who truly believe in God’s Process, His Promise and His Purpose will walk in his ways. To the faithful – God shows He is faithful. My faithfulness to God tells God that I believe more than a single word uttered from my mouth. If I believe that every promise that the Lord has made me is true, then I would be ravenous for His Word and gorge on it daily. Why? Because if everything that God promised really is true, it would produce a much better life than I have now. Faith is just a word, believing it makes it a verb. When the promise of God becomes my purpose, I will discipline my life to have it. I must decide that I believe that His Purpose is what I want and push through to receive it.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

If there was not a process to the process of purpose, why would we need Christ to give us strength? We want God to do it. The Lord gave us the Keys to His Kingdom, and Jesus lives in us for a reason. We are supposed to do something. We must exert energy and force in pushing out the promise and purpose of God within us. Faith makes the impossible totally possible. However, we spend a whole lot of time shaking the Keys to the Kingdom while the enemy laughs. It is when I take those same keys and use them that he begins to tremble and retreat. The Lion of Judah is quiet and still confident in His Power. His next roar will be the shout of His Return. The enemy, however; is roaming around roaring on his leash hoping to instill fear, doubt, worry and despair so that rather than pushing through you will run and hide. Not today, devil. I am pushing out purpose today.

“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.” (Proverbs 24:10) Weakness is not failure but the very moment I am completely moved out of the way so His Power can become my strength. I cannot obtain spiritual things with earthly force. Heaven comes to earth when I say, “You are perfect in all of your ways, Jesus. Have your way in my life” and mean it. Five times in labor, I have said, “I can’t do this”, “I don’t want to do this” and “I am not going to do this.” Each time it was within minutes of delivering my precious child. The pressure to give in and give up is always the closest to breakthrough. If you are considering such things, tell yourself that transition has arrive and breakthrough is almost here. Praise Him in that moment for the victory that is close and promise that is just outside your reach. It’s coming!

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NLT)  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Holy Spirit is our partner in the process. He leads us, guides us, teaches us, instructs us, comforts us and even empowers us. Purpose has a process. The pressure is overwhelming as my flesh gives way to supernatural possibilities in my life. I need the Spirit to help me. That is His Purpose. Our purpose and God’s Promises that are obtained by faith are much bigger than me. I cannot comprehend fully what the Lord has in store for me. It is too big for my ordinary life and therefore takes an extraordinary process to prepare my environment for His Glory. God is able in His Mighty Power to accomplish “infinitely” more than we might ask or think. The productivity of our process is much larger than we think or know with this in mind the pressure may be indicative of the promotion and prosperity God has in store for us rather that when we think is going on or the end result. Faith is for those things that I cannot do. Faith is outside the boundaries of comfort and control strive for in by humanity. Faith is for the unfathomable and impossibilities of life. God is pushing us past all fear, doubt and insecurity because what He has for us is greater than anything we have chosen for ourselves. I must push to know the extent of God’s Love and Power invested in me so that I can push forth the purpose which He has placed inside me and empowered by His Son, Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NLT) Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

Whether pregnant with a promise, purpose or even a tiny person, you will need endurance and patience to endure the process. It is not a coincidence that God also uses these two things to perfect our faith. To strengthen it. What are you waiting on today? What is the promise that seems so long overdue? What is the purpose hidden in your heavy heart today? God’s Way is perfect. He created you with that longing in your heart and is perfecting all that concerns you. (Psalm 138:8) He works out EVERY detail of our life for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) Whatever your place in His Process, it is important that our response to pressure is to push. Push away every weight that keeps us being fully engaged. Push back the enemy. Push away the urge to give up knowing breakthrough is coming. Our promise is on the way. Pressing in to the Presence of God and pushing aside every obstacle. Protect your promise today. Do not douse with venom called complaining and grumbling but immerse it in praise and worship for the Father who gave it to you and the Savior who died for you to have it. It will be worth it but only if we push through the process and receive that which is greater than we can think, imagine or even ask for. We are birthing God’s Promise. Laboring for His Purpose. There is a glorious prize when victory is achieved in the life of a believer. It is time to push!

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NLT) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

 

Worth the Wait

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Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT) Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. 

The most difficult part of sowing and reaping is the inactivity of waiting. The seed is planted safely under fertile soil and watered sufficiently. Now what do I do until I see its potential? I must wait. Waiting takes a little thing called patience which I was not born with. One of my earliest recollections is my grandmother lovingly but firmly telling me, “Lori Lynn, you must learn to be patient.” However, historically in the church I was told whatever you do for the love of all that is holy DO NOT pray for patience. So where do I find this little genetic insufficiency called patience. Waiting. Waiting. And waiting some more. I have tried my whole life to do whatever possible to avoid waiting one moment longer than absolutely necessary. God has jokes, friend. If I pick a line at the grocery store, I can guarantee you it is behind the world’s most famous coupon queen or the cashier is slower than Christmas. Do not follow me, I am prone to extended wait times. I prefer ordering lunch from the sandwich that boasts being “freaky fast” and lives up to its name. God has prescribed the perfect plan for me and it has included long arduous periods of waiting. But, I can attest to one thing – each time I have waited for the Lord, it has been worth the wait.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

Forgive me, if this sound as though I am stating the obvious but indulge me for just a few minute. Ecclesiastes 3:1 is important. It is the purpose of waiting. Everything has a season. Not some things, but all things. This is referenced in two places. Psalm 139:16 tells us that during the Creation process as God packed us with potential that He prerecorded every moment of our life. Every year, every month, every day, every hour right down to this very minute. Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has a plan for us including a future and a hope. Future is not today but later. Tie it all together with the principle that God does not lie or change His Mind, and that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever – it solidifies the truth that EVERYTHING has a season.

There is a time for every activity under Heaven. Again the word “every” is used. There is not a moment of a person’s natural existence that does not have the potential to yield His Purpose and His Promises in our life. Seeds of potential that must be pressed in the broken and fertile heart to produce those things that faith has promised in our life. If Romans 8:28 and Psalm 138:8 are correct, and they absolutely are, it means every moment of our life can yield God’s Promises and Abundant Blessings. Every detail of our life can be made into something good no matter how terrible or tragic. God is always working to perfect those things that concern us. Everything good or bad in our life can be made right through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The seasons of life are carefully listed in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, while some are joyous others can be quite devastating. We celebrate life but mourn death. We complain about planting but love to reap the harvest. Killing is tragic but healing is a miracle. Tearing down is tough but building up quite rewarding. Crying is soulful pain that makes us all puffy and snotty, but doesn’t laughter produce the same tears sometimes. Nobody likes the grieving process. We all love to dance even if alone when nobody is watching. Who doesn’t love a hug? Parting is such sweet sorrow. There are times to hang on and times to let go. There are times to press in and times we give up. Things kept while others discarded as unwanted, unnecessary or not beneficial. Time to tear and time to mend. A time for conversation and long separations of silence. There is good and evil and so therefore love and hate. Finally, the Latin adage of “Si vis pacem, para bellum” or if you want peace, prepare for war. The Lord went to all the trouble to touch on every season of human life. God has a plan. It is a good one with a future and hope. It will always require waiting.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

In every detail of our life, God has placed a promise. God will make everything beautiful for its own time. The seeds of potential the Lord placed in us all have a set season or time for which they are entrusted. The attempt to harvest any seed prematurely will abort the potential within it. A baby born too soon, a harvest cut before it is ripe, and even a promise entrusted to God but snatched from His Hands impatiently because there is no faith to secure it. Hope is the anchor of our soul but it is not based on anything that can be seen with the human eye. It is help secure by one’s ability to trust God at His Word. The good seed planted in our heart. It is called eternity. It is based on forever and a day.

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

Faith is defined in worldly terms as confidence and trust that is not based on proof. Tangible evidence is absent when faith is applied. Faith comes from the Latin root word “fidem” which means “to trust.” The only way to engage in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is referred to as a mustard seed. The smallest of seeds with the largest potential. Faith demonstrates that hope is a reality in our life. It is evidence of our belief in the unseen God to the point of entrusting our life and future to Him. Hope is to look forward to (expect or anticipate) with reasonable confidence. To believe and again to trust.

In a world of broken promises, hearts and dreams, trust is a tough commodity. It is not harvested easily from our very human heart. Yet, it is in brokenness that the promise is received. If life was great all the time and our future secure – who needs a Savior? Why make Jesus Lord? Well, life is hard. Love is cold. The future uncertain. We need a Savior because sin has devastated the life that He purposed for the people who God calls His Special Treasure. Jesus died so that our faith could harvest hope in our life. Many people believe in a God or higher power, but few truly will commit their life by faith in the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I will not engage in such conversation. The need for a god comes from the eternity placed in each heart. Everyone searches for meaning and purpose in life based on this motivation. If my faith becomes a tree of life for me, it will become an attractive resting place for others. They will want what I have. What I have is not a law by which I cannot abide, but a book packed with promise and potential that by faith, hope and confidence trust – the Lord will produce in my life. It takes time.

Christian character is marked by three distinct qualities – faith, hope and love. The Lord is quick to point out that the greatest of these is love. Love for the Lord produced in our life gives us a distaste for sin. Why? Taste and see that the Lord is good. It is not based on my ability not to sin but avoidance of sin because I love Jesus. Christian character is not defined by doctrine or religious beliefs. This is why I do not argue with people about religious choice or how they choose to worship. No one could convince me. It is the moment in time when all there is to make the next breath possible is faith no matter how small, hope no matter how distant, and His Love that is not tangible yet perfect when something grows in me just a little. It is called confidence. Trust yields confidence in our Christian character. Trust is only possible by faith. Faith in its smallest form yields great potential.

Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The greatest test of my faith by far so far has been our son’s battle with cancer. The moment when his future became negotiable in this life and solely dependent on the Lord. Truth is that life is brief and uncertain no matter how hard one tries to secure it. If only each person could see the brevity of life and let it change our priorities each day. When I came to the throne boldly, angrily, devastated and broken before my God, I recanted the commitment of my life to Him demonstrated by the things done, ways served, and daily acts of devotion. The words fell on the hard cement floor accompanying the pieces of my broken heart. Like Elijah, it was after my rant, tirade, frustration and fear emptied and silence surrounded me that I heard the Voice of the Lord. It was calm and quiet just as described, the still small voice asked, “Do you trust me?” “Of course, I do!” Thinking back, I almost hurled them back insulted by the fact that clearly God did not listen to my previous rant. Chest heaving and tears flowing, the God of the Universe asked me again, “Do you trust me?” Completely broken before my Lord, I whispered, “Yes God, I trust you!” In that moment, He said, “Your son will live and not die.” This was not the end of the season, but only the beginning. It would take five years for God’s Word to come to pass.

Endurance develops strength of character. Christian character is faith, hope and love. Human expectation causes us to think that our faith is vain and trust misplaced when God’s Plan is not our way, our will, and in our timeframe. The one who endures to the end with faith, hope and love is saved. I added those three things to keep us focused on what we are after. If my faith is for today is not faith at all. If my hope is anything other than what I cannot see or do myself it is futile. If my love is conditional or contingent on any tangible quality of life – it’s not true love. Real love. Agape love. God love.

Hope will not lead to disappointment. A farmer cultivates the field, plants his seed in fertile soil, watering and caring for it when there is no sign of harvest. He trusts that something is growing underground based on what kind of seed that he has planted. A farmer believes in the process. It is his belief that allows him to wait and not dig up the harvest while it is seed in the ground. It keeps him from leaving the field when little plants sprout up rather than the harvest that he expected. It allows him peaceful rest knowing that if just waits until it is ready that he will reap what he has sown. He knows his labor is not in vain but that timing is everything. We must be like the farmer. We must be patient. We must learn to wait for God’s Promises to be ready for harvest. It is this confidence that keeps us close to Jesus through the process until the very end. It is the kind of faith and hope that opens the door to the eternity placed in our heart that satisfies our soul.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

God’s Plans for our life are always good. Never for disaster. The Lord has given you a future and hope. He has given us a desire for eternity. Forever is secure by seeking just three things wholeheartedly. Faith, hope and love that begin and end in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Those who desire His Kingdom will sow seeds of faith each day. God’s Word is proof of the promises that the Lord guarantees. If the tiny mustard seeds are never planted and given time to grow, how will I ever have confident hope? Hope that keeps me standing. Hope that keeps believing. Hope that endures to the end. Hope that cannot be shaken or moved by the not-so-favorable seasons of life. Hope is expectation. To look forward with reasonable confidence. Faith is only logical when confident hope causes us to trust Him more. The more we learn to trust God the greater our satisfaction, contentment and peace in this life knowing that our future is secure forever. It makes a difference. I cannot give you satisfaction, contentment or peace. I can only share what the Lord is doing in my life. My family was right. With each test of my patience and lesson in waiting – my faith in the Lord has grown into confident hope. To walk by faith and not by sight is a process developed by sowing God’s Word and waiting for it to come to pass and produce the harvest for which it is intended. It takes time. It requires waiting. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

What are you waiting for today? What is trying your patience? What seems to be taking forever so you are considering striking it from your prayer list? What is impossible? What dream is dying? God’s Purpose for us is that our character be fully developed, perfect and complete so that we need nothing. Satisfaction and contentment are godly traits that demonstrate trust in the Lord not the evidence of life. Are you confident in God’s Word today? Do you believe His Promises? Do you trust Him? Are you willing to wait for Him to make good of all the details and perfect all that concerns you?

God’s Goodness is for now. His Glory is promised by placing all that I am into the person of Jesus Christ. Grace is only sufficient in our weakness. Waiting is not a weak position but the very place when His Power overtakes my life and becomes a harvest in my life. The fruit of His Spirit are not of this world. His Harvest is named love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is what nourishes our soul and strengthens our heart to achieve the future and hope that is offered to those who invest wholeheartedly in pursuing the Lord and His Harvest. Wait for the Lord. It is a requirement as faith and hope make us confident in His Love for us. Believing God’s Word means trusting Him to do exactly what it says, not backing down, giving up, or even complaining about it but waiting patiently until it comes to pass. He promises that everything will be beautiful in its own time. Everything even that thing which is ugly and seems to be dying will produce new life according to its purpose. Nothing is impossible with God! It will be worth the wait!

Psalm 20:4-5 (NLT) May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.

Unfailing Love

unfailing

Psalm 143:8 (NIV) Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Unfailing. God’s Love for us is unfailing. It is unconditional. It is unfathomable due to the limitations of human intellect and life experiences. Yet, today I am overwhelmed by His Faithfulness. His Love is unfailing. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.” We all have days like that, weeks like that, seasons like that when our soul suffers from those things in life that seem uncontrollable and troubles relentless. Those times when it is tough to see the forest for the trees and just a momentary experience with the Lover of our soul would do wonders for our disposition. Today was one of those days. When my eyes opened, I just wanted to say in my weak voice, “I love you, God” in a soft whisper so that if there is no response it is to be expected. What I find is in that moment, I feel His Presence rush in.

With that I stumble out of bed to check on my tiny patient. Our little dog who decided to eat potpourri and found it not as tasty as she thought. Three days at the vet, endless hours of worry in her weakness, but with new resolve I carry her weak little body outside and then to the kitchen. Though her body seems fine after the near death experience, she refuses to eat. The pet clinic has checked her inside and out – not sure what is causing this aversion to food. I offer her everything she loves and she just turns her head now shaking violently in my arms. Sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with a syringe filled with disgusting wet dog food, I pry open her mouth just enough to squirt a little bit in at a time. Whispering soft encouragement to her as she tries to turn her head and get away. She doesn’t know that I am helping her. All she knows is that I am forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do. I am trying to keep her alive. It is in the silence of the house, covered in the dog food that missed her mouth holding five pounds of mad that I realize God does this for me every single day. His love for me never gives up or gives out even when I want to give up and feel all given out. He holds me gently while I struggle to get away. What is He after? Nothing. God wants and needs nothing from me. He desires to give me life.

The only reason the little creature in my hands does not bite me is because she trusts me. Though she doesn’t like my method, soon after she climbs in my lap for affirmation. If only every day in each hour and through every trial, I could be aware of God’s Unfailing Love. To submit to His Power in my life which is defined by grace and compassion – nothing more and nothing less no matter how hard I try to make it something else. Sometimes people become so intent on earning grace and seeking God’s Love and Compassion that they forget He loves us just as I am – right now. No matter how stubborn, rebellious or overbearing I am – God’s Love for me is constant and based on His Choice to love me.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Okay so maybe you are thinking today, I am just not a “dog” person. They are just animals. I completely understand. To those who are dog, cat or animal people, the perspective is that the poor, helpless and defenseless creature needs us to care for them in the domesticated life. They need us. They love us for very little in return. But I ask you today, if you are not an “animal” person. Are you a people person? Do you love them? I love that little dog of ours very much. I do not want to lose her. I do not want her to die. So when I could be sleeping or studying this morning, I chose sit on the cold hard floor in winter with a syringe full of nastiness and a squirming creature on my lap causing me to squire the gross stuff all over my favorite pajamas simply because I love her and want her to live. If you are not that kind of animal lover, I ask you today…do you love people like that?

God is love. His Love for us is unfailing. Jesus is the example of God’s Love for us sent to show us how to love and be loved. Do we love others as God loves us? Are we willing to lay aside comfort and convenience to give others life? Those people who refuse to come to church no matter how many times we ask. Do we keep asking? To others who make fun of us or even mock us for our beliefs. Are we able to continually show them kindness? To the family member who rebels? Do we continue to pursue? To those who lose their will to live. Do we give up too or keep showing them the Light. When our dog got sick, I cared for her and showed great concern. Now she is making a choice not to eat. There is no reason physically that can be found as to why she simply refuses to eat. She will not live if not cared for during this time. I choose to love and care for her even though it is frustrating. I must be patient with her as she begins to improve. I know she is just a dog. But as I sat there this morning reeking of dog food, all I could think was thank you Lord for not giving up on me! All those times I wandered, rebelled and chose my own way. The times I jeopardized my future, my present and everything you had in store for me because I didn’t trust you or anyone else. You have held me, nurtured me and even force fed me at times – words I did not want to hear, promises I never thought would come to pass, and a love that I did not always reciprocate. Yet you held me gently, spoke to me softly and cared for me just the same.

Love is a choice. It can be a messy. It can be hard because people are difficult. We cannot give up and choose other methods because there is only One Way – His Name is Jesus. He is our example. I do not have to beat people over the head with a Bible. They will not get it. It is not my job to point out every foul thing in their life – they already know. I must give them the choice I was given. Will they choose love? Will they choose life? I have no idea. It is my choice to love them and offer them life – just like Jesus.

Love is patient. I have to believe that God listed this first because it is the most difficult quality of true love. The fact that His Power is manifested in our weakness according to grace makes this relevant and important. Love is patient. It waits. It endures. It overcomes because of its patience. I know they say don’t pray for patience. Well, I say, don’t worry too much about it because God will teach His People patience one way or the other because it is a requirement to endure. Those who endure to the end will be saved. So God is offering us the opportunity to choose patience at every possible turn.

Love never fails. While there are many qualities given after patient, God ends with the most important point. Love never ever fails. It is His Promise to us. That we can never reach the borders or boundaries of His Great Love therefore we cannot set limitations on our love for others. All others even the ones called enemy. If it ends, it was not love in the first place. Think about that. We like a whole lot of people. We tolerate many too. There are even some we don’t really like who are allowed to exist around us. We entertain the enemy many times because as the old saying goes, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” I truly believe that the only enemy given to us is satan. People are not the enemy. I must learn to love them all.

Love is not a word – it is a verb. To say I love you and do nothing about it means it is not really love in the first place. Love is active participation in the life of someone. Even when it is inconvenient, costly and uncomfortable – to continually engage is to exemplify the unfailing love of God.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Do other people know that you are a Christian? What is their response? If our Christian walk is defined by love, the world will know that we are His Disciples. If our vain attempts to share the love of Jesus Christ, do not draw people to us but cause them to withdraw perhaps our love must be reevaluated. Love one another. It is open and broad in terms but specific in nature. Love one another. If you find yourself in their presence, they are yours to love.

Love like Jesus. People followed the Lord. They flocked to Him. They wanted to hear what He had to say. Maybe when the churches message is all about love and the people obey the message – revival will come. Love that is passionate to give new life rather than change lives, the people in it and the world around us. God isn’t going to save the world. Jesus is coming for His People. It doesn’t matter if everyone believes. The salvation experience, transforming encounter, and spiritual growth of a believer is individual in nature but corporate in building the Kingdom God desires and defines in His Word. Your hands cannot do it. Your words do nothing. It is the love fully expressed that is the Light of the Word. Love is a choice. Will you choose it today?

As I continue to encourage my stubborn puppy to eat, I cannot help but be reminded of the persistent passion of God’s Unfailing Love for me. Lord, teach me to be this interested and intent in every other weak and helpless creature you created. Those who are hurt. Those who are broken. Those who are difficult. Those who seem impossible. Teach me to love them like you do. Fill me with conviction if I start to pass them by never showing them Your Love, Kindness or Compassion that is the starting point of life. Help me to remember this is Your Church and must fulfill Your Calling which always begins and ends with Your Unfailing Love.

Psalm 36:7-9 (NIV) How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Scattered Thoughts

scattered

Proverbs 16:32-33 (NLT) Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.

Patience and self-control have proven quite beneficial yet the most hard gained lesson in life. I was born quite impatient. Waiting is not my natural response in any situation. Self-control is definitely a quality of the Holy Spirit and nothing I have derived from myself. This morning I opened the Word of God looking for purpose and a promise to remind me why I engage in the good fight of faith day after day. The Lord has been good to me. His Promise is that His Grace is enough for me (2 Cor. 12:9) so surely if I toss down my shield and sword for one day – I will be covered. I serve the Lord simply because I love Him. I also know now why new mercy is necessary on any given day – well, every day to be exact. It is given so in the midst of opposition and adversity that grows in my persistence to follow Christ that I can “still dare to hope” when I remember that “the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His Faithfulness; His Mercies begin afresh each morning! (Lamentations 3:21-23)

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” What’s the point of faith? Why must we learn to be patient? What is the betterment of self-control? If the Lord determines every outcome, why not just sit back and relax? Why must I stand on faith? Why do I need His Word? What is the point of His Spirit? Why do we follow Christ if we are all going to end up in the same place? Truthfully and transparently – I have discovered that the more immersed I become in my pursuit of Christ the more detached I feel from ordinary life. Always looking for His Handprint in the midst of chaos and uncertainty I wonder if maybe just maybe I have taken it too far. After all, I am only human. God created me and knows my limitations. So why must I press, push and pray until something happens. Isn’t it already predetermined by predestination?

Patience is better than power. Why? Power gives us the false confidence of control in life. Our power is limited by our inability to be perfect. Due to our fallibility, there is no possible way for us to be in complete control. Self-control is better than conquering a city. This thing called faith has the potential to produce great glory in our life. Our purpose is to be the Sons and Daughters of the One and Only True God. Our process is called life. Those that endure to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) Yet in the midst of this process, there is a disconnection from the world and its problems that creates a longing and yearning for the Kingdom. How does one deal with this displacement? How do I continue to stay engaged until the end?

Matthew 13:10-13 (NLT) His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

There are some days when I feel like a foreigner. We are called to be temporary residents yet the isolation and lack of community in this place can be overwhelming. People flock to churches each week. They hear the same word. Yet the seeds of faith found in God’s Word are scattered. Some hear the message but do not understand it so the evil one snatches it before a single root can form. There are those who receive it with hope and find a sense of joy that is quickly overshadowed by the problems of life so that give up on it quickly. There is seed that never makes it past the cares, concerns and worries of life to the heart. Only a few seeds will make it to the good soil of the broken heart ready to receive the faith that is offered in following Jesus. But what about the rest…

Faith is compared to the size of a mustard seed. If I hold it in my hand, it will die there. It must be planted and allowed to reproduce in my life which requires all the patience and self-control that the Holy Spirit and I can muster. It is in this tiny seed that I can have new life. As for “good soil” in my heart, it is brought forth by brokenness. It’s funny that as my mom continues to recover from open heart surgery that I have become more aware of how important the human heart really is. Listening to a doctor talk about her inability to maintain a steady heartbeat, he shared that her heart has been cut and handled – this is its response to the violation. My mom must be patient as the process of healing is well under way but to also be mindful that once her heart was manipulated it may never be the same. The Word of God that has been planted in my heart must grow. Growth potential in Christ will always displace self. We must be patient. We must maintain self-control – not responding to the change or the pain but the promise that is being birthed in our disposition.

Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 (NLT) Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.  Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

The wisdom that I have found in the Lord is labeled “wait”. Patience is birthed in our wait times. Though it seems like I have grown more patient, it is not hardly enough. I must wait on the Lord and endure to the end. No matter how frustrated, uncertain or overwhelmed I become – I must wait on the Lord. The Lord has ordered my steps with purpose. I have a future and hope found only in Jesus Christ. I can choose life or death today. It is in each moment that I decide to wait just a little longer for the Lord. It is decided in the crucifixion of my flesh to gain self-control. There are some days it is easy as hope in the future is as clear as day. But in those moments, days and seasons when I am begin tested for genuine faith and valid trust in the Lord, that I can see nothing but solely must rely on what I know of the Lord that I must seek more wisdom and grow the knowledge base so my roots will grow deeper in a love though fathomless requires faithfulness to be seen.

My thoughts are scattered today. I cannot understand the activity of God. I hate those days that seem like two steps forward and three steps back. I am terrible at line dancing including the electric slide. If given the opportunity, I will take you out inadvertently just trying to learn the steps. Lord, I need patience but hate the process most days. I desire self-control but my pride is hurting. I know You! I love You! I trust You – even on those days it seems hard and overwhelming! You have a plan for my life that is good and beneficial. It is Your Desire to bless me with every good thing Your Kingdom has to offer. Help me to keep planting today even though I don’t feel like it. Challenge me to press and push each seed just a little deeper and wait for each one to grow. I must not abandon my field but dig in to watch and wait until you come. I know that you are coming!

Proverbs 16:1-3 (NLT) We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

“The Lord examines their motives.” Faith is my motivation today. Nothing more and nothing less. It is the only thing that has allowed me to live through what I thought might surely kill me. The hope that I have in the Lord is life to me. We can make all the plans that we want but God will always be available to clue us in to His Way, His Plan and His Purpose. We may be pure in our own eyes but time and time again I have discovered in the Word of God and by His Spirit that my right is not as important as His Righteousness and sharing it with others. God does not cram righteousness down my throat or gloat in it – the Lord offers His Righteousness to me as a life giving gift smothered in grace that makes my worthiness of it unimportant. He is patient with me. The Lord exemplifies self-control because while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. The Lord examines the motives of my heart searching for a commitment to Him rising from faith, surrounded in trust, governed by patience and maintained by self-control. What will He find today? Will I continue to live a committed life based on what I know and not what I feel? I hope so. If I fail, then what? His New Mercy will be waiting for me again tomorrow.

Proverbs 16:22 (NLT) Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools.

As my life advances, those things that I once thought were important really aren’t anymore. It is true that people mellow with age. Brokenness will change hearts and minds, too. Patience is an invitation to be broken again and again as we give up our need for immediate gratification to wait on the Lord to grow His Plan and Purpose from the mustard-seed called faith that He has planted in us. Self-control keeps us from abandoning the field allowing others to reap the reward. I can live a disciplined life and experience the Blessings of God through the law of sowing and reaping. The Lord always honors His Word. Discretion is one’s ability to make the right choice based on the knowledge and discipline that they have acquired. It is to decide based on fact rather than impulse. It is to wait and watch for the Lord even when nothing points to His Arrival. Faith grows in the waiting. It responds to His Promise and not our predicament. There will always be days when you question what you are doing with your life based on the results. The Holy Spirit encourages us to wait and watch some more. To be patient. To maintain self-control. This is a trait of  endurance marking those who will be saved.

Isaiah 30:18 (NLT) So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Slowly but Surely

Slowly but Surely

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

The revelation was a bit discouraging but I am definitely slowing down. My body does not allow me to cram quite as much into a day before giving way to tiredness. I do not feel old yet I am beginning to experience the characteristics of aging. This is not a melodramatic tirade about old age and getting old but rather a simply stated fact. Youth gives way to the notion of invincibility. A teenager or young adult does not consider tomorrow but lives spontaneously for today. There will be endless tomorrows to plan and worry for the future so they live in this moment. The moment is filled with immediate gratification. There is no waiting but a constant need for movement. Anticipation gives way to impatience and the impetuousness of youth doesn’t allow for slowness, steadiness or careful consideration. As time passes, the choices made during these times welcome us into adulthood. With families and responsibilities being knocked around a bit by life, it is time to enter the rat race and chase the American Dream. Busyness consumes us. Climbing corporate ladders and chasing after children, life ticks by day by day. Until the day, the nest gets a little bigger. The endless pursuit of satisfaction leaves behind broken promises and dead dreams. Nowhere near the golden years, but maybe with a few gray hairs, there will be many who utter the words “there must be more to life than this.” There is. I believe that the Lord waits for us to get through those other things and do what we need to do so that coming to Him, we will be ready.

The Lord is not being slow. He is not slack concerning His Promise. Our God is filled with unfailing love, compassion and mercy for us. Countless times it has caused Him to calm His Anger, and hold tight the Hand of Wrath that our transgressions should release. However, in our finite thinking, taking freedom for granted in our prayer closet crying out – “Where are you God?” Oh, He is right here. Waiting and watching for us to respond to His Promises held securely in His Hand. When our minds reach the end of our knowledge, our bodies grow weak and weary, and when our soul is left unfulfilled, it is only the beginning. We must slow down. It is not our nature. God will wait until it is.

A day is like a thousand years to the Lord. When it comes to God the saying must be true that He’s got “nothing but time.” Each person create has a plan with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It is achieved by wholeheartedly seeking the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:13) Humanity has eternity in each beating heart that is ready to connect with the Kingdom. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Every day is recorded (Psalm 139:16) so our way is mapped out moment by moment so even the moments filled with mistakes and misfortunes our not dead ends but still line up with our destination. The Word of God promises that He perfects that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) so that takes the pressure off of me. Finally, my all-time favorite after living half my life, I “know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” It took a long time to get here, but I am glad that I did.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The more you grow, the more productive and useful you will be. The Word of God is seed to a fertile heart. It doesn’t always manifest fruit as soon as it is planted and often must go through many seasons to grow. We like immediate growth. Nobody likes to wait. Ever. The effort put forth to attain the Promises of God for our life is faith which is not an innate human quality. It begins with a tiny measure tucked within us that must grow into righteousness. The first step is salvation and the application of God’s Grace in our life. It cannot stop there. If we do not continue the growth process of redemption with such things as surrender and obedience to the Lord, there will be no fruit or satisfaction in our life.

The process of faith is marked by slowness. Moral excellence takes a great deal of self-control. It requires careful thought before each action. Self-control comes from knowledge. We have worldly knowledge that is good and useful such as not to touch a hot stove or it will burn us, but when it comes to spiritual wisdom – we must obtain it by studying the Word of God, praying it and living it until it yields each promise. This takes time. But then God’s Word talks about the things most people loathe like patient endurance and godliness. Making us think of exercise, our flesh comes up with a million excuses why there is no time or worth to seeking such trivial things. Without persistence in patience, exercises of endurance and the Holy Spirit’s production of self-control though it is possible to have a good life, we will not have the life that God has promised.

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

Do you see it hidden in this verse? Could it be a hint at why we are waiting all the time? “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.” We want the things of God. We find them in the Way of God. His Way is One Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Jesus Christ. God waits for us to find “the Way”. Let us strip off every “weight” that “slows us down.” I wonder if all this waiting and watching is meant to alleviate the weight of sin that slows us down. Could it be that in the patient process called faith that God allows things to slow us down so we will recognize each weight and burden? Yes.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Countless times in my life, I have felt like the watchman on the wall standing at the guard post waiting on the Lord. I have gone willingly and not so willingly. I have wasted a whole lot of energy climbing up and down indecisive about God’s Timing and unsure of His Faithfulness. It is not human nature to trust but to test everything. It is only now after much waiting that I am beginning to understand the futility of impatience. God is God. He is Sovereign. He will not change His Mind. God does not lie. There is no point in my attempts to rush the things that the Lord is doing in me, through me and all around me because His Will will be done. God is not delayed. He is perfect. His Way is absolutely flawless. He is working out the details for my full benefit and will not stop just because I am not happy or given to fits. Trust me. I have tried.

I want to encourage you today to wait on the Lord. Climb into the watchtower which strangely resembles your prayer closet. Stand guard at the door of your heart barring doubt and disbelief in the stillness of waiting. A lesson that I learned during our son’s illness is that our waiting is also filled with precious moments of life called time. Once time passes it cannot be recalled. No one can turn back the hands of time. I remember one evening early in the fight. The room that I shared with our son had twin beds – one for the patient and one for the caregiver. The silence was broken by the crickets outside and the rhythmic ticking of the pump by his bed. He said, “Mom?” “Yes.” “Thanking you for coming to take care of me. I know you are having to miss work and the girls and all…” My heart sank so deeply I could feel the mattress move. All I go utter was “there is nowhere that I would rather be.” During the next few years, I spent countless days and hours waiting and watching our son fight for his life with the Lord by his side. Because of that nighttime conversation with him, I recognized that while I did miss home that there was no place I would rather be or no more important use of my time. We had a lot of good times in the midst of what the enemy laid out for destruction. I think sometimes as believers that it is easy to become so focused on what we want the Lord to do according to our human expectation that we miss what He is doing in our heart. Even in the long hours of waiting each moment is filled with meaning, purpose, and promise. We must learn to live in the waiting periods of life and recognize the importance of patience. Impatience will rob us of the love, grace, joy and peace that the Lord has provided in those moments. However, as we learn to slow down and wait on the Lord our strength is renewed. (Isaiah 40:31)

James 5:6-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.  You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

In I Peter 2:2-3, it talks about our arrival as newborn babies who crave spiritual milk. Milk helps babies grow, develop and mature. Spiritual milk does the same for believers. The purpose is to grow into the full experience of salvation. In kindergarten, my very first science project was to grow a radish in a small Dixie cup. Every day I watched and waited, elated when the first leaflet pushed through the soil. However, when a radish was not produced in a week, I lost interest. My mom tended the tiny plant, watering it, putting in the sunshine, and tending it until she came to me one day so I could harvest the radish. We think that the Lord is slack concerning His Promise. Deciding that surely He has forgotten us. Yet when we refuse to wait rushing off ahead, or sit pouting in the watchtower, the Lord carefully continues the process of cultivation in us and around us so that nothing is wasted even in our inability or unwillingness to wait on Him. We have no choice so it seems that it would be beneficial to make the best of it.

Growing a radish in a cup is an elementary science experiment for children. Those who participate are not farmers. A farmer is someone who grows from experience. He understands the growth process and invests in it continually. We can experiment with Christ or learn to experience Him every day. It is our willingness to invest our life and time in spiritual growth and heavenly pursuits even when it means extended wait times that make the difference in our life.

Proverbs 20:29 (NLT) The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

Yes, I am definitely slowing down in more ways than one. Gone are the all-nighter. Done with the endless activities crammed packed in a day. No more going until I fall over because otherwise I would be in bed by 6PM. Those gray hairs peeking out will be dealt with by my hairdresser next week, but the experience that I have had with Jesus is priceless. I have spent countless hours waiting on the Lord only to know I cannot move forward without Him. Rather than escaping the waiting room, I find peace right there in that moment. I think that at my age, I am finally learning to pace myself and find balance. Where are you now?

Whether you are a kid, teenager, young adult or seasoned person, you will go through times of waiting. It is the process by which the Lord grows the Word in us to faith. He is an on-time God which seldom fits our schedule or routine. You think you need Him now, but just wait until tomorrow. God is making it come to pass slowly but surely. If you can find it in the Word of God, you can have it. If you can see it in scripture, you can be it. If your pursuit is Jesus, you will find Him. You just may have to wait a while. Is that okay? It is when you consider it will be worth it. It will be worth it all.

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 

Not Good Not God

Not Good Not God

Romans 14:17-18 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.

Are you living a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Lord? The Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit allows us to live in the midst of these three qualities each and every day regardless of our present circumstances, momentary troubles or even a completely broken heart. The most tragic night of my entire life although my mind perplexed, spirit crushed, soul devastated and heart completely broken, laughter could be heard resonating from our son’s hospital room as within a brief moment the Lord turned our sorrow into joy. The road to remission would be long with many peaks and valleys but in that moment of turning to God for healing, strength and power – He delivered. He always delivers to those who come to receive. When we serve Christ with an attitude that whatever I do, let it be pleasing to you Lord – it is at that moment, His Goodness reaches us. It doesn’t mean everything changes or we are delivered from our problem but when the Peace of God takes over it really doesn’t matter.

God’s Goodness is His Will for our life. If that “good thing” in your life causing you discomfort, discontent, discord or even distracting you is not good then it is not God. We must learn to differentiate from worldly goodness that always comes with a compromise or substitution and God’s Goodness that is His Glory. God is perfect. His Love complete. There is nothing for us to add to God’s Complete Perfection but to put our whole life in His Presence and strive to remain there. As believers, if we can learn to live a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Spirit than others will approve. Not only will they approve, they will seek Him, too.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT) Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

My grandmother was a wonderful cook. My favorite thing that she made was her melt-in-your-mouth pot roast with mashed potatoes and green beans. When I had a family of my own, I wanted to make the same pot roast for them. Gram’s recipe didn’t require any fancy spices or secret recipes, but it did require one thing I never seemed to have enough of. Time. Each epicurean failure, I would call Gram to consult her expertise. Every time she would tell me the exact same thing. You don’t have patience. See the roast required cooking low and slow all day. Who has time to tend a pot on the stove all day? Not me. Well, the result is until I made the time to cook a roast all day – we ate tough meat. There is a lesson to be learned in this – I promise.

God’s Goodness is not for a moment – it is for a lifetime. Faith in the Lord requires faith in His Timing. I still am not great at it but have learned to identify my weakness and try continually to be patient. I can now cook a pot roast because I am willing to wait the many hours it takes to cook away the toughness, melt the fat and let the flavors come out of the meat. It is a process and time is an element that cannot be overlooked.

Psalm 27:13 is such a great and awesome promise for those who love the Lord. I am confident that I will see Lord’s Goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Faith takes our confidence in forever moving it to the here and now. We futuristically look forward to Heaven and living in the Presence of God forever, but faith makes it possible now while we live on the earth with all its problems and impossibilities. Yes, hope is assurance of what we cannot see but by faith His Goodness becomes available right here and right now. We don’t have to settle for less. We are not called to compromise. Avoid cheap substitutions.

Genesis 1:31; 2:1-2 (NLT) Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 

When God completed creation, He looked over all that He made and saw that it was “very good.” So on the seventh day, the Lord rested from all of His Work because it was finished. We all know that it did not take long for mankind to mess up the good thing God had created. Sin entered the world. Humanity now were slaves to sin and needed a Savior. When Jesus came and died on the Cross, He also declared that “it is finished!”

John 19:30 (NLT) When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The Father and the Son have both finished their work and it is very good. Now it is up to you and I to become vessels of God’s Goodness and learn to live in it. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He released His Spirit. His Goodness. His Glory was now free to come live in us and free us from slavery to sin. Now we could return to the Father and live in His Love. God’s Glory is His Goodness. (Exodus 33:18-19) How do I get God’s Goodness in my life? It really is not so much as difficult as it is a decision. God has set us up to live in His Glory and Goodness before we were born, through our natural life, and forevermore. But…

Nehemiah 9:34-37 (NLT) Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your Law or listen to the warnings in your commands and laws. Even while they had their own kingdom, they did not serve you, though you showered your goodness on them. You gave them a large, fertile land, but they refused to turn from their wickedness. So now today we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land. The lush produce of this land piles up in the hands of the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They have power over us and our livestock. We serve them at their pleasure, and we are in great misery.

These verses in Nehemiah paint a clear picture of where humanity is today. We were given a perfect life in a perfect world with a perfect God. We chose something else. Nobody forced us into sin, it was simply offered and Eve quickly obliged. Everything went downhill from there. Even after Jesus came to release us from the debt of sin and open the windows of Heaven for us, we still choose lesser things on a regular basis so much so that most refuse to trust and wait on the Lord beyond the first fifteen minutes of faith. However many times do we pray and when the Lord does not immediately and miraculously move in our life, we give up and settle for less.

We are slaves in the land of plenty that God created for our enjoyment. We are slaves here in this good land. We serve this life and world because of our sins living in bondage to disobedience and rebellion of God’s Word and His Way wondering where God is and why He won’t come? God already finished His Word and Jesus, too. The rest is up to us. If my life doesn’t measure up to God’s Glorious Standard – it is up to me to find it. Repentance is the beginning. Determination to know the Lord and commitment to His Word is next. (Hebrews 6:4-5) Followed by an introduction and partnership with the Holy Spirit who produces God’s Goodness in our life is essential. (Galatians 5:22-23) Finally those who engage is such a lifestyle of careful obedience will be patient and wait on the Lord confident that they will see His Goodness in the land of the living – or present day. (Psalm 27:13) Why? Why wait? Lord, why not now?

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

The good things that God has planned for us include past, present and future. He cannot just give you what is left after sin eats away and erodes the goodness that God had planned for us. No, the Lord causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him. He is getting things in order. Every detail must be in place. Every prescribed blessing is perfect and requires God’s Seal of Approval. You cannot rush the Lord. Too many times our unwillingness to wait causes our blessing to be left incomplete. When we are not satisfied – it is easy to blame somebody else even the Lord. The Lord only wants His Best for our life according to His Glory. If we don’t look good – He don’t look good!

James 1:17-18 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Whatever is good and perfect in our life is from God. I find that when I am not looking at the Lord or living according to His Standard, it seems I cannot find satisfaction in any area of my life. I lack in patience, love, joy, peace and contentment. I just want more of everything and seldom seem to notice that I am blessed. It is when I decide that I want to see the goodness of God now rather than settling for something else that He opens the windows of Heaven and begins to pour out His Blessing. I have a good life. I can have a God life if I just turn around (repent) regularly and allowing His Goodness and Unfailing Love to catch and flood my life with His Glory over and over again.

Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT) O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!

God established a glorious standard of living for us from the beginning. He even called it very good. Sin stripped us of that glorious standard creating hardship, sickness and turmoil. (Romans 3:23) God’s Standards were not created to enable us but to supernaturally bless us and complete our life with the good things that He has already provided for us. When we repent of our sin, and decide to change our attitude to that of Christ, we will begin to earnestly search for the Lord. His Spirit will become active in our life turning worry into peace, doubt into belief, stress into satisfaction and we will live with the Mind of Christ saturated in the Presence of God. There is where we find God’s Unfailing Love that is better than life. We can live this life in His Goodness for His Glory in that moment. Are you weary today? Come find rest in the Lord. Are you dry, thirsty and discontent with your life? He will fill your life with His Goodness and Unfailing Love saturating your soul and permeating your life making all things new. God is good. Life with the Lord is good. He has given us good things that only grace will allow. If your life is not good, it’s not God! He has done everything He can to get His Glory to you. Just turn around and step in it. His Love truly is better than life. God is good. All the time God is good.

I Peter 2:9 (NLT) But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Apparently Not

Apparently Not

I Corinthians 2:9-12 (NLT) That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

There are so many days that would be so much easier if the Lord would allow us to see what He is doing. What’s the big secret anyway? Do you wonder why the Lord will not clue us in so that we can help facilitate certain processes in our life? Just when I think I have a glimpse of the direction things are going, how things might turn out, or what my expectation should be, something happens to show me that I have no idea what the Lord is working out on my behalf. It is a helpless and vulnerable position especially for those who waver from faith to fear. No eye has seen. No ear has heard. No mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. This statement is everlasting. It does not begin when we are born and it does not end with death. It is far reaching beyond the barriers and perimeters of this sequence of events called life.

God’s Word are His Written Instructions for life. His Spirit is our tutor, mentor and guide. We cannot see what the Lord is doing, or hear Him moving, and our mind certainly cannot make out the rough image of His Companionship though He is closer than a brother. The Spirit takes the Word of God and writes it on our heart weaving it in our life until we are seamless with the Lord or at least that is His Aspiration. It is only by God’s Spirit can we know what God is doing. Yet still it is not apparent in our life in terms of the natural so we must cling to the unseen, unheard and unperceivable thing called hope.

John 14:16-18 (NLT) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

John 14:26-27 (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 am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 

The Holy Spirit does not give us supernatural sight allowing us to see God’s Plan unfolding with vivid clarity like the sun rising in the east or setting in the west. There are some who would like us to think that the Holy Spirit manifests in such a way but that is just not Biblical. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He is seeking the Word hidden in our heart and equipping us with discernment to know right from wrong. He empowers us by taking that Word and strengthening our body, mind and spirit so when temptation comes (and it will come) it becomes a weapon of defense.

The Holy Spirit works with the Word in our life. Jesus is the Word. The Spirit is the manifestation of His Spirit in us. We are now linked to God through Jesus Christ, His Written Word and His Spirit living inside of us and even still we cannot completely perceive all that God is doing in us and through us. Why not?

Ephesians 6:12-13 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

Every person ever created has eternity in their heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) to begin the growth process of a new relationship in the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. We have everything we need to cultivate a godly life and live it. (2 Peter 1:3) The Word of God is seed scattered around our heart. (Matthew 13) Our hope is that at least one, if not more, will take root and grow into a promise. All of these things occur inside of us. We are here on this earth for such a time as this so the process of seedtime and harvest can be completed in us. We are not alone.

The ruler of this place called earth is not God or Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has full power and authority over the earth including everything and everyone in it. He chooses to wait and not exercise His Full Authority…yet. We live in the world but we are not of this world. Because the rulers and authorities are of an unseen nature, so is the battle fought day by day. The war waged against the human soul is an inward assault. We live in the natural, but our battle is of a spiritual nature. Everything we can see, hear, feel and understand is of a substandard nature compared to the supernatural Mind of Christ that we are offered to navigate life. How do I fight the unseen battles inside of me so that God’s Light can make its way out of me? Good question.

Colossians 1:15-17 (NLT) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Jesus is Supreme. His Rule and Reign secure. His Power and Authority above all others. He is everything. He puts it all together. He is the One who holds it all in place. In order to win the unseen war, we must depend on the invisible God through His Son, Jesus completely. We must trust what we cannot see and believe what is incomprehensible. This is called faith.

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith grabs hold of those things that are not apparent or readily seen hanging tightly to them. Faith is the substance, it is the glue that takes all the amazing pieces that seem undone putting it all back in place. But it is a work much like trying to build a giant puzzle without seeing the picture on the box. You have to go with what you know. I know that there will be a group of pieces with one straight edge to form the border. I know that each piece has a proper place that it needs to be connected to. I can do the puzzle. The more pieces the longer it takes. I must endure the process of sorting and moving until everything is in place and it is complete. Faith is doing this in our life today. The fact that you even think about this process is wonderful to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

God’s Ways are higher than our own and so are His Thoughts…with good reason. (Isaiah 55:9) The enemy operates in the here and now. His dominion is on the earth and nowhere else. The enemy cannot stomp into Heaven and take what belongs to you. He must work in the confines of this planet to entice you to give it up and follow him. God has given us His Word. Jesus gave us His Spirit. We are provided a destiny called eternity and a measure of faith that glues it all together until we are complete lacking no good thing. What’s the problem? It’s all good. We walk in victory. Yay. Apparently not but spiritually for sure.

The enemy wants to lure you into the present and out of the Presence of God. We have eternity, forever and more hidden inside of our fragile heart. The more of God’s Word that we pack around it, the more of His Spirit released inside of us, and the more we press against adversity to iron out the wrinkles and anoint our life, the more victory we will have both now and forevermore.

John 20:29 (NLT) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

When my oldest son was very young, probably about 3 or 4 years old, he used to stick tiny creatures in his pocket that he came across in the yard. He believed it to be safe keeping. However, when he would pull the insect or baby frog from his pocket there would be only a lifeless form. Either crushed from his constant activity or suffocated in his clothing, the animal didn’t make it. My little boy was destroyed at the thought. One day, I went to the store and bought him a little cage made just for such little explorers. He could take his tiny captives now and put them out in the open where they could live, move and more importantly breathe.

We must find a way to take an unseen God and push Him out into the openness of life. To move Him from our heart and manifest Him in the world for all to see. We have His Word to stand on. We have His Spirit to guide us. What will we contribute? Jesus told Thomas that those who believe without seeing will be blessed. You cannot see the Holy Spirit only manifestations of Him. You cannot see God or Jesus yet you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for you. Everything we base our faith and hope in is unseen. We must have confident hope in someone whom we have never laid our eyes on. If not, we will not make it. We will be crushed by our trials. Perplexed by problems. Persecuted and abandoned left for dead by an unloving and uncaring world. The roaring lion hunts his prey relentlessly. We just want to get home.

To live by faith makes believing without seeing inevitable or we have absolutely no hope. Hope is the anchor of my soul and I must cling to it dragging it into today whenever possible. The trials, trouble and obstacles that you are facing today are temporary. They only seem like they will last forever. Grab your faith and wrap your life in hope once again. It will change everything because it allows Christ to be Lord of all. Doubt is the human response to disappointment. It makes us jaded. However, when we reach apparently not moments of life and choose to rely on faith hanging on to hope, we will overcome because Jesus overcame the world. Complaining is celebrating the enemy’s victory over our life, but praise releases us to have all Jesus promised, do all that His Word says, and become a true Child of the Living God. Just because you cannot see how all the pieces fit together does not make the picture any less beautiful. All those seemingly insignificant details have a monumental moment within them. The best is yet to come for those who walk by faith and not by sight!

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.